Year of publicatiuon 1998, issue 9
1998, a special year? I don't know. What might be special to me, might be not to you and vice versa. That's the way it goes in history, with facts and their interpretation. Everything is relative. That concerns the past year, our family history and the ones that keep themselves busy with it. We lived our life, we died, we have looked back, we interpret and we go on. That's life! As we find it worth to live, we find it worth to keep ourselves busy with the history of our family. Everyone in his or her own way. That is the case with Tice Boissevain in the USA and for Denise de Uthemann in Switserland, for Mia Canters and Bob Boissevain in the Netherlands. Each tells a history, interpretes it and contributes to its image. People are born, have died, did come and go, did record, write, change and erase. Philosophical? Yes, but also specific. Past year and this Bulletin do prove it. Member of the Board Anneke married and left for Spain and was replaced by her brother Raymond. Former President Ernst did a good job in their education! With Raymond we add Internet knowledge to the Board, "ni peur de l'avenir" with an own site. Guus transferred the Foundation finances to Jan Willem. You know that: young family, new job, not always at home etc. Anneke and Guus thank you very much for your contribution to the Boissevain - Foundation! In the future we will miss Tice as our contactperson at the other side of the ocean. All honour to him for what he has done for us. Are there any successors?
It turns out we have a polemic in our Bulletin. Papers written by others than the members of the Board are scarce and the small facts do count. We do publish it, because the image of our history will be polished up and newly recorded with it. Another thing to record is our family coat of arms. The most popular way to do so is the signet ring. We do inform you about the background, the design and the costs. Further an electrician from Amsterdam sent me the diary of Hester Boissevain dated 1859. Found during the renovation of a house. A man from Schagen (Netherlands) gave me a Boissevain signet ring with the inscription 1865 20 April 1890. So this was at the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversary of Edouard Constantin and Maria Calkoen. His father got the ring after being dedicated to the Boissevain bank for a long time.
1998, a special year? I think so. Dear family, thank you very much for your attention in word , writings and financial. And for that last mentioned thing we will also approach you in the near future. The members of the Board wish you a happy 1999.
Charles F.C.G. Boissevain (NP p 116),
president of the Boissevain - Foundation
On March 8, 1998 Tice Boissevain died, nearly 82 years old. A remarkable man, in appearance, in career and personal life and in his activities for the Boissevain family. My memories of Tice, who was 6 years older, go back to my childhood. His appearance, particularly during his last 15 years, strongly reminded me of his also remarkable father Walrave. After graduating from high school in Amsterdam he went to college in the U.S. and stayed in that country the rest of his life. He graduated from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and worked several years on the M.I.T. staff as assistant and instructor. Among his many professional activities a striking element was his assignment during World War II with the at that time topsecret Manhattan Project where he was closely involved in the design and construction of the first nuclear reactor. Ten years later he became involved in design and construction of the first nuclear power driven submarine, the Nautilus, which reached the North Pole under the polar ice. Besides his professional career Tice had many outside activities. A biographical record of him appeared in several Who is Who editions. At his death several papers in Connecticut wrote an article about him.
Tice played a stimulating part in the Boissevain family. In 1992 he organized in the Canadian town of Boissevain (Manitoba) a family meeting, attended by more than 60 relatives. Several times he came to the Netherlands to attend Boissevain meetings in Amsterdam.
Many relatives knew him from his extensive genealogical research during the last 10 or 12 years of his life in tracing the descendants of our ancestor Lucas Boissevain. He identified more than 2.300. He wrote hundreds of letters for this purpose. In 1987 the Central Bureau of Genealogy asked the Boissevain Founddation to cooperate in a renewed recording of our family in a "Nederlands Patriciaat" (= NP) edition. At about the same time Tice asked my assistance in a similar project initiated by him. This led to an extensive interchange of data. Especially his data about our family in North America made a valuable contribution tot the NP edition. But his research went far beyond the male lines, mentioned in NP, and comprised elaborations of the female lines too. Clarifying and in my opinion more conveniently arranged was his system of numbering descendants for identification.
As stated in the previous edition of this Bulletin he wanted to publish his findings in a book "The Descendants of Lucas Bouyssavy and Marthe Roux". To those who atended the Boissevain meeting in Amsterdam in November 1996 a draft was on view. Intended was to include biographical records of some Boissevains as well as short articles about the Boissevains before they came to the Netherlands as French Hugenots refugees. His children, notably eldest daughter Rommy, are firmly determed to finish the book. Publication has been delayed owing to work pressure. But it is coming! Purchase is a must to every Boissevain descendant, also to honour Tice!
Robert Lucas (Bob) Boissevain (NP page 74)
Coat of arms and signet ring
For the birth of coat of arms in general we have to go back in time more than eight centuries. At the tournaments that happened in those days, the knights were dressed in a suit of armour and they used a shield to protect themselves during the fight. They fought behind a closed visor. In this way the spectators could not see which warrior was in the helmet. The solution for this inconvenience was found in painting an identifying mark on the shields. Out of this the family coat of arms originated. Another family was not allowed to use the same coat of arms.
In a complete family coat of arms one can see a shield on which the mark of a specific family has been depicted, crowned with a helmet. The helmet is covered with a robe that is tied together with a wreath. On the helmet we find a second identifying mark: the helmet sign. This sign on the helmet became necessary because the shields became damaged during the fights, so it was not possible to see who was who either. Most of the time this sign on the helmet was an attribute out of the coat of arms on the shield, but this differed from case to case.
Although it is almost for sure that the Boissevain family does not have any Middle Age tournament tradition, we do posses a coat of arms. Against a silver background it shows three piramid form "buksbomen" (= "pinetrees"?). Just in 1935 these trees are defined as "buksbomen", in 19th and 20th century descriptions of our family coat of arms we also recognise other types of trees (see for detailed information Nederland's Patriciaat 1988, page 41).
In our days family coat of arms are also depicted in general paintings, leaded windows, plates, tiles and signet rings. These products are made in specialist shops, like Backer & Son in Den Haag (Netherlands). Here one will find an unique collection family coat of arms, sealing wax prints etc. like those of the Boissevain family. The 80 year old firm, located in the Royal Palace of Noordeinde area, gave us the information for this article, so the editor is quite willing to make an advertisement for their business.
When you visit a juweller you first make a choice out of the big collection of models for signet rings. Each model can be made of a stone of your choice. Stones that are often used are those in six tones of blue, the jasper (green), the heliotrope (green with red dots), onyx (black) and cornaline (orange/brown). The ring can also be made with a golden upper slab in stead of stone. The format of the stone and the colour are made in such a way that model and size are related to the format of the hand. First the ring will be made by the juweller. When it fits the ring will be engraved. For a father or a son the complete family coat of arms will be depicted. The woman that is related by marriage has to wear an oval shield, wreath and helmet sign. A daughter has a check shield wreath and helmet sign.
It is most profitable to go to Backers & Son Juwellers with whole your family for a ring: you get 10 % discount on the price of the ring. Take max. 2 months delivery time for the signet ring and engraving. For further information please contact Backers & Son Juwellers, Noordeinde 58, 2514 GK Den Haag, Netherlands, tel. +31.70.346.64.22, fax +31.70.365.65.19,
Du Pays des Rivieres au pays des Canaux
In Bulletin 8 Charles Boissevain from Leidschendam (Nederland's Patriciaat page 75 = NP p 75) writes about the above mentioned booklet that has been written by Denise de Uthemann - Mesritz. Charles says that it is a must for everybody who is interested in our family history and who is still able to read a bit of French. Let me first say that I also find it a pretty booklet, like Charles does. Denise de Uthemann has chosen the form of a roman for her book, as a tribute to the younger generations. This form of literature makes reading much more easier than a dull scientific story. The author pictures the historical headlines in a basic form, which has the disadvantage that in details many mistakes are made. And this is the reason why I do not share Charles' full enthousiasm for this book. Likely Denise de Uthemann made too much use of oral history, a form of history writing that might live its own life in the course of the time. To prevent that from happening I write down some corrections on the text.
The babtism of the ship Boissevain in Hamburg (see page 98) was done by my sister Ellegonda Duranda and not by my father Walrave. On page 99 you can read that Gédéon Jérémie was drowned in the Heerengracht "a deux pas de la maison maternelle ..". My aunt Mia (Dr Maria B. see NP p 54) says in her writing Een Amsterdamsche Familie that her eldest brother Gédéon Jérémie at a younger age, during a visit to some schips in the river IJ, fell into the water on a puzzling way and drowned. Why romanticize this by adding "close to the parental home"?
Chapter VII gives a description of Denise de Uthemann's grandfather Karel Daniël Walrave (NP p 54), the oldest brother of my father Walrave. Out of the family archives one can conclude that he went to Canada where he was co-director of The Alaska Feather and Down Company between 1894 and 1901. But it is a typical example of oral history to write that he went inspecting the railway tracks of the Transcontinental Railway on "raquettes de neige" during the works to see if the Indians didn'd go on the rampage. Denise de Uthemann herself writes some lines later, that the railway tracks were already finished in 1881. Her grandfather was 15 years old by then! In the Canadian Town of Boissevain will for certain hang a portrait of a Boissevain, namely Athanase Adolphe Henri Boissevain. But, with all respect, not of Karel D.W. "en uniforme de Consul générale".
Chapter VIII with page 109 and further deals with Jan Boissevain who was also named Jan Canada (NP p 55). Like this also the story about his uncle, my father Walrave, is complete imagination. My sisters and I do remember that our father was pressed by his two cousins to hide brassware in their house. My father would never have brought a cousin into danger on his own accord. He found the underground resistance work of one of his daughters too important, that he delivered his radio and shotgun freely like he would have done with his brassware.
In Chapter IX neither the ages of the children of Jan Boissevain nor the name of the youngest son Frans (NP p 56) are correct. It's not Frans A. but François Joan Daniël and he was 21 and not 16 years old. Also the two daughters Annemie and Sylvia wern't 13 and 12, but 18 and 17 years old. The way of thinking during this tragical period of a 21 year old young man and that of girls of more than 17 and 18 years old was - in my humble opinion and experience - completely different from that written in Du Pays des Rivieres au Pays des Canaux. Annemie and Sylvia were taken in our family by our parents after they had escaped in a miraculous way an attack on their parental home.
Obviously I have read with great attention the facts about the period of the German occupation of our country, because I was (and still am) a close friend of my great-niece Sylvia (NP p 56). I experienced the tragical events in the family of my cousin Jan Boissevain. It is clear that Denise de Uthemann passed this period of war in Switserland. For example her description of the concentration camp Vught, where Jan Boissevain after 11 months internal in Camp Amersfoort arrived on the 18th of January 1943, is rather naive. How is it possible for her to describe the meeting of Jan B. and his wife Mies Boissevain - Van Lennep as a meeting in which Jan was "déguisé en plombier en un salle de bain"! This is an inplausible story to the people who have experienced the occupation period. As if it was possible to change clothes as a plumber! The real story is that Jan and Mies met in Camp Vught on the 6th of October 1943 where they could talk - dressed in the stroped prisoners clothes - together with their son Frans in the workshop of Philips or in the Camp hospital where Mies worked.
The complete passage on pages 128 - 129 about Annette, who is worrying about her acceptance as a Jew in the family, is complete nonsence. And also one page later you can read that the home of Jan and Mies - Corellistraat 6 - was a hiding place for Jewish people. By the way, in the whole book Denise the Uthemann never uses a pseudonym except here where Gi's fiancee suddenly became depicted as "Annette", while her real name is Louise (Wiesjes) van Santen.
On page 137 is written about Frans' report of his last meeting with his brothers, who were condemned to death. This is all romantic fantasy, and absolutely NOT a "recit recuelli de Frans A. Boissevain, le plus jeune frere alors age de 16 ans". On the 5th of October 1943 four days after the death of his brothers Frans J.D. became 21 years old. A careless part in the book is also the statement that it was "the first execution done by the Germans" (page 111) and the amount of 18 persons that were shot. The real first executuion of 18 resistance people - as depicted in the fantastic poem De Achttien Doden by Jan Campert - took place on March 13, 1941. That was the "Geuzen" resistance group. The execution of 19 members of the resistance group CS 6, to which Janka, Gi and Louis Boissevain belonged, took place early in the morning of October 1, 1943. During a couple of minutes Frans was allowed to say good bye to his brothers in the passage way of the building before they were executed by firing-squad. The author is correct in her writings about this. By why does she make this history, already emotional in itself, more dramatic by saying that all 18 (in reality 19) condemned persons were standing in the passage way and that Frans "leur saisissais la main pour la serrer avant d'arriver vers mes freres tout au bout de la lignee"? That's not the way it went in reality.
You might think that I'm splitting hairs with my critics on the book of Denise de Uthemann. But for me, who experienced the German occupation of our country in general and in particular the resistance work and prisonship of Mies, Frans, Janka and Gi (and later that of myself, Annette, my mother and sister Lies) and the news of their execution so closely, these romantic descriptions of Denise de Uthemann are difficult to accept. I do realise that it will be different for the younger generations, who will have read the booklet of Denise with much pleasure.
Mia Canters - Boissevain, Rotterdam (NP p 61)
Family archive and neck tie
In the Municipal Archives of Amsterdam you will find the company records as well as extensive family records of the Boissevains. From both inventories are made, so you will be able to select information per capita and / or per person. This is important for members of our family who want to know more about the earlier days of our family and for researchers, who will find sources for a more wider historical research. These records are brought together because members of the family donated correspondence, diaries, diploma's etc. to the Municipal Archives. Most of the time this happened after the passing away of a family member and with or without interfearence of the Board of our Foundation. The Board encourages you to think about this possibility whenever the time is there. If you wish to do so you can contact the members of the Board.
The family neck tie is a success. More than 100 (of the 200) copies already found their way all over the globe. If you wish to order a copy please let us know and put cash paper money in your currency in the equivalent of 37,50 Dutch guilders per copy and send it to the Secretary of the Boissevain-Foundation, Poortlaan 5-A, 2242 GN Wassenaar (Netherlands). Your order will be sent to you as soon as possible. An original present for next birthday or X-mas.
Genealogy and surnames
Genealogic research increasingly meet new social developments and allied legislation. This influences publications in this field. For instance adoption, various kinds of cohabitation (whether registrated or not) and partnerships, legal abolishment of discriminating terms al "illegitimate" and "natural children", choice of surnames, etcetera.
As to surnames a new legislation came into force in the Netherlands on 1st January 1998 (similar regulation existed in several other countries already). Married couples now have the option to give their children the surname of either the father or the mother. Children born out of wedlock but legally accepted by the father no longer get automatically the surname of the father, but only on explicit request of both parents.
For the time being the Central Bureau of Genealogy sticks to elaboration of pedigrees along male lines inly, irrespective of surnames. The consequence will be in the long run a complex system of numbers and inconveniently arranged lists of surnames.
Robert Lucas (Bob) Boissevain (NP page 74)