Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Great-grand uncle Eduard Bruyns (1939)


Ik ben ontzettend dankbaar dat mijn grootmoeder destijds zo veel namen heeft genoemd die bij al die oude familiefoto's horen. Een opvallende figuur in die foto's is zeker mijn overgrootnonkel Eduard Bruyns, die ook wel nonkel Ward werd genoemd. Met zijn 1 meter 76 was hij, voor die tijd, vrij groot van gestalte. Hij had zwarte haren en kastanjebruine ogen.

Eduard werd geboren op de schrikkeldag van het jaar 1908 in de gemeente Puurs. Zijn ouders waren Sophia Cappaert en Eduardus Bruyns en hij was een oudere broer van mijn overgrootmoeder Maria Bruyns.

Eduard Bruyns

Tegen zijn 11de verjaardag was de Grote Oorlog voorbij. Eduard werd eerst ijzerdraaier van beroep. Hij vervulde zijn dienstplicht vanaf december 1927 en voegde zich bij het 2de artillerie regiment van het Belgische leger. Eind september 1929 was zijn dienstplicht afgelopen en werd Eduard aan de reserves toegevoegd. Enkel in 1931 werd hij nog eens een maand onder de wapens geroepen.

Uit zijn legerdossier blijkt dat Eduard enige tijd gehuwd was met Maria Toelen, doch, zijn burgerlijke staat werd in zijn dossier gewijzigd naar ongehuwd, wat doet vermoeden dat het huwelijk niet stand hield.

Schoonbroers Michael Servaes (links) en Eduard Bruyns (rechts)

Eduard huwde opnieuw in 1939 met Pauline Lenaerts. Dit huwelijk was jammer genoeg slechts van heel korte duur. Volgens mijn grootmoeder was Eduard in 1939 werkzaam bij de spoorwegen. Toen hij op een dag op zijn werk, op een volle maag, een zware last moest optillen, zou hij een maagscheur hebben opgelopen. Dit gebeurde amper drie weken na zijn trouwdag.


Broers Eduard Bruyns (links) en René Bruyns (rechts)

Eduard werd naar het ziekenhuis gevoerd, doch, overleed tragisch genoeg op 31 jarige leeftijd aan de gevolgen van die maagscheur, op 3 oktober 1939 in Antwerpen. Pas een jaar eerder was zijn zus Maria Bruyns overleden op 29-jarige leeftijd.

Op zijn doodsprentje stond vermeld:
Wij betreuren een jongen echtgenoot wier verlies dubbel smartvol is: en omdat het aantal zijner jaren te gering is, en omdat door zijne minzaamheid hij de genegenheid van allen gewonnen had. Hij was de troost, de vreugde van zijn gezin; hij laat een teeder aandenken na aan die hem liefhadden. Heer, Gij hadt ons hem gegeven om ons geluk uit te maken; gij neemt hem na slechts drie weken huwelijk van ons weg. Wij staan hem af zonder morren, maar met een gebroken hart.




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I am very grateful that my grandmother has mentioned so many names that go with all these old family pictures. A striking figure in those pictures is definitely my great grand uncle Eduard Bruyns, who was also called uncle Ward. Since he was 1 meter and 76 centimeters tall (about 5 feet and 9 inches) he was quite tall for those times. He had black hair and maroon eyes.

Eduard was born on the leap day of 1908 in the village of Puurs. His parents were Sophia Cappaert and Eduardus Bruyns and he was the older brother of my great grandmother Maria Bruyns.

Eduard Bruyns

By the time Eduard had his eleventh birthday, the Great War was over. Eduard first started working as a lathe worker. He completed his military service from December 1927 onwards and joined the 2nd Artillery Regiment of the Belgian Army. At the end of September 1929 his military service was completed and Eduard was added to the Army Reserves only to be called back under the arms for one month in 1931.

From his army records I learned that Eduard was married for a while with Maria Toelen, although, his martial status was changed into single in his file, suggesting that this marriage did not last.

Brothers-in-law Michael Servaes (left) and Eduard Bruyns (right)

Eduard married again in 1939 to Pauline Lenaerts. Regrettably this was only a very short marriage. According to my grandmother, Eduard was working with the railroads in 1939. One day he had to lift a heavy load on a full stomach, which resulted in him sustaining a torn stomach. This happened only three weeks after his wedding day.


Brothers Eduard Bruyns (left) and René Bruyns (right)

Although Eduard was rushed to a hospital in Antwerp, he tragically died at the age of 31 because of this injury, on October 3, 1939, meaning he died only one year after his sister Maria Bruyns, who had also died very young, at the age of 29.

On the commemorative cards that were handed out during his funeral, the following text was written:
We mourn a young husband whose loss is sorrowful for two reasons: because the number of his years was too small and because he had won everyone's affection with his lovingnes. He was the comfort, the joy of his family; he leaves precious memories for those who loved him. Lord, You gave him to us to bring us happines; You take him away from us after only three weeks of marriage. We part from him without complaining, but with a broken heart.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The hospital wedding (1875)

I already mentioned in another blog post that great grand uncle Joseph Brusten got married in 1903 on his death bed, in a hospital. Tragically he already died that very same day. Now Joseph was not the only family member to get married in the hospital. In fact, also my 3-times great-grandparents Josephus De Lelie and Joanna Gelens got married in an Antwerp hospital, as early as 1875.

Josephus, who was a coachman by trade, and Joanna had a son, Petrus, who was born in 1873. While Petrus was born out of wedlock, he did get his father's last name at birth.

In January 1875, when Petrus was only a year and four months old, his dad got very sick. Josephus was now a cigar maker by trade, while Joanna was a seamstress. Two doctors diagnosed him with Phtisis, which is a form of tuberculosis. Due to the life threathening condition he was in, the Senior Crown prosecutor granted permission for Josephus and Joanna to get married and waived the publication requirement.

The picture bellow shows the medical attestation made by doctors Bessems and Schaeffer stating that Josephus was in a life threathening situation and that he was being treated for Phtisis.


Medical attestation by Dr. J. Bessems and Dr. M. Schaeffer


Josephus and Joanna did get married in the hospital with several family members attending. The marriage was conducted by politician and town councillor, Arthur Van Den Nest, who later founded an institute aimed at treating and figthing tuberculosis.


Marriage certificate of Josephus and Joanna


Josephus did survive his illness and he and his wife eventually had eight children together. Most of them grew into adulthood, however, one daughter, Charlotta, only lived to become two years of age and passed away in 1880.

Eventually Josephus lived to become seventy years old. He died during the Great War, in February 1918. His wife, Joanna, had passed away in January 1893 already at the age of 41.



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Ik vermelde reeds in een eerder blogbericht dat overgrootnonkel Joseph Brusten in 1903 huwde op zijn sterfbed, in een ziekenhuis. Tragisch genoeg overleed hij nog op zijn huwelijksdag. Joseph was echter niet het enige familielid dat huwde in het ziekenhuis. In feite trouwden ook mijn over-over-overgrootouders Josephus De Lelie en Joanna Gelens in een Antwerps ziekenhuis in 1875.

Josephus, die koetsier was van beroep, en Joanna hadden een zoon, Petrus, die was geboren in 1873. Hoewel zijn ouders nog niet getrouwd waren kreeg Petrus bij zijn geboorte toch al de familienaam van zijn vader mee.

In januari 1875, wanneer Petrus nog maar een jaar en vier maanden oud was, werd zijn vader erg ziek. Josephus was nu een sigarenmaker van beroep, terwijl Joanna naaister was. Twee dokters stelden vast dat Josephus aan Phtisis leed, wat een vorm van tuberculose is. Door de levensbedreigende situatie gaf de Procureur des Konings toestemming om te trouwen zonder aanplakkingsplicht.

De afbeelding hier onder toont het medisch attest opgesteld door dokters Bessems en Schaeffer waarin de levensbedreigende situatie wordt vermeld.


Medisch attest door Dr. J. Bessems en Dr. M. Schaeffer


Josephus en Joanna huwden in het ziekenhuis in het bijzijn van verscheidene familieleden. het huwelijk werd voltrokken door politieker en schepen, Arthur Van Den Nest, die later een instituut oprichtte ter behandeling en bestrijding van tuberculose.


Huwelijksakte van Josephus en Joanna


Josephus overleefde zijn ziekte en hij en zijn vrouw kregen uiteindelijk acht kinderen. De meeste van die kinderen werden ook volwassen, behalve één dochter, Charlotta, die reeds op tweejarige leeftijd overleed in 1880.

Uiteindelijk werd Josephus zeventig jaar oud. Hij overleed tijdens de Grote Oorlog, in februari 1918. Zijn vrouw, Joanna, was reeds gestorven in januari 1893 op de leeftijd van 41 jaar.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tragedy in the 1930's - Great grandparents Maria and Michael


Great-grandparents Maria and Michael with their daughter Sophia


My great-grandfather Michael Servaes was born on the cold, but sunny winter morning of January 22, 1906 in the Belgian village of Hove to a day laborer named Joseph Servaes and his wife Anna Lambrechts. Joseph and Anna had a very large family of sixteen children living into adulthood.
 
Great-grandmother Maria Bruyns was born three years later on the cold New Year's Day of 1909 in the Belgian village of Puurs, the second of five children of a railroad worker called Louis Bruyns and his wife Sophia Cappaert. More information on Sophia Cappaert can be found in a previous blog post about her.
 
During the Great War both Maria and Michael were still very young. No doubt the Great War must have had a serious impact on their family life as from the very beginning. On October 3, 1914 Belgian troops demolished the tower from the church of Michael's home village as well as the only wind mill in that village. Only three days later, on October 6, 1914, the German Army started shooting the villages of Hove and Lint on their way to Antwerp.
 
Without any doubt, similar scenes occured in the home village of Maria, due to the proximity of Fort  Liezele and Fort Breendonk, both fortifications making part of the second ring of defenses built by the Belgian Army to defend the port city of Antwerp. The village of Liezele was burnt down completely by the Belgian Army, while the nearby village of Blaasveld was heavily bombed by German troops.
 
Great grandfather Michael Servaes
 
A few years after the war, Michael started working as a factory laborer in the company L. Gevaert & Cie in the village of Mortsel, which was a company manufacturing X-ray plates, photographic paper and film products.
 
Maria and Michael got married in 1929 in the village of Mortsel and later that year my grandmother Sophia Servaes was born. The young family lived in Mortsel and nine years later, Maria gave birth to a boy named Laurent. Regrettably, 16 days after giving birth, Maria died, aged 29, on May 31, 1938 leaving Michael with the care of their two children.
 
 

Great grandmother Maria Bruyns

On her obituary Maria was described as an intelligent, sincere and hard working woman, that took good care of her children.
 
Tragically Michael got sick and died less than a year after Maria on May 14, 1939 at the age of 33. Before she reached the age of ten, my grandmother had lost both her parents. According to an account by my grandmother, her father suffered from stomach cancer and died during an operation.

I do remember her smiling affectionately as she told me that her dad would wear his hat most of the time when he went out the house.

Although they did not live to be very old, Maria and Michael were never forgotten...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Overgrootouders Maria en Michael met hun dochter Sophia


Mijn overgrootvader, Michael Servaes, werd geboren op de koude, maar zonnige winterochtend van 22 januari 1906 in het Belgische dorp Hove. Zijn vader was een dagwerker die Joseph Servaes heette en zijn moeder noemde Anna Lambrechts. Joseph en Anna hadden een erg groot gezin met zestien kinderen die uiteindelijk volwassen zijn geworden.
 
Overgrootmoeder Maria Bruyns werd drie jaar later geboren op de koude nieuwjaarsdag van 1909 in het Belgisch dorp Puurs als tweede van vijf kinderen van een spoorwegarbeider Louis Bruyns en zijn vrouw Sophia Cappaert. Meer informatie over Sophia Cappaert is te vinden in een eerder blogbericht.
 
Tijdens de Grote Oorlog waren zowel Maria als Michael nog erg jong. Ongetwijfeld had de oorlog echter een grote impact op hun dagelijks leven vanaf het prille begin ervan. Op 3 oktober 1914 vernietigden Belgische troepen de kerkspits in Hove, het thuisdorp van Michael, evenals de enige windmolen die in datzelfde dorp stond. Slechts drie dagen later, op 6 oktober 1914, voerde het Duitse leger beschietingen uit op de dorpen Hove en Lint tijdens hun tocht naar het meer noordelijk gelegen Antwerpen.
 
Ongetwijfeld deden zich gelijkaardige scenario's voor in het thuisdorp van Maria, door de nabijheid van het Fort  Liezele en het Fort Breendonk. Beide forten maakten deel uit van de tweede verdedigingsring gebouwd door het Belgisch leger ter verdediging van de havenstad Antwerpen. Het dorp Liezele werd door het Belgisch leger platgebrand, terwijl het nabijgelegen dorp Blaasveld zwaar beschoten werd door Duitse troepen.
 
Overgrootvader Michael Servaes
 
Enkele jaren na de oorlog begon Michael als fabrieksarbeider te werken in het bedrijf L. Gevaert & Cie te Mortsel. Door dat bedrijf werden platen voor röntgenfoto's vervaardigd, evenals fotografisch papier en filmproducten.
 
Maria en Michael huwden in 1929 in Mortsel en later dat jaar werd mijn grootmoeder Sophia Servaes geboren. Het jonge gezin woonde in Mortsel en negen jaar later schonk Maria het leven aan een tweede kind, deze keer een jongen die de naam Laurent kreeg. Spijtig genoeg overleed Maria 16 dagen na de bevalling op de leeftijd van 29 jaar op 31 mei 1938 waardoor Michael de zorg kreeg over de twee kinderen.
 
 

Overgrootmoeder Maria Bruyns

Op haar doodsprentje werd Maria beschreven als een verstandige vrouw die oprecht was en een werkzame moeder.
 
Tragisch genoeg werd Michael ziek en overleed ook hij, minder dan een jaar na Maria op 14 mei 1939 op de leeftijd van 33 jaar. Nog voor ze de leeftijd van tien jaar had bereikt, had mijn grootmoeder al afscheid moeten nemen van haar beide ouders. Volgens mijn grootmoeder had haar vader maagkanker en overleed hij uiteindelijk tijdens een operatie.

Ik herinner me wel haar vertederde blik als ze me vertelde dat haar vader meestal een hoed droeg wanneer hij zich naar buiten begaf.

Ook al werden ze niet oud, Maria en Michael werden nooit vergeten...
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Warrant Officer Joseph Hennebicq (1916)


Today, November 11, is Armistice Day in Belgium, marking the ending of the Great War. That's why I decided to write one more blog post relating to yet another relative who fought in the Great War, my great-great grand uncle Joseph Hennebicq.
Joseph was born in the city of Antwerp on October 6, 1883 to Maria Jansegers. No father was mentioned on the birth certificate and Joseph carried the Jansegers last name. In 1888, when Joseph was five years old, Maria married a Warchin native named Antoine Hennebicq. On the marriage certificate is mentioned that Antoine officially recognized the child as his own. At that time, Joseph's last name was changed to Hennebicq.

Shortly before Joseph turned seven, in September 1890, Maria and Antoine had a second child. Another son they called Fernand and who is my great-great grandfather. During those days father Antoine was working as a white collar at the national railroad company in Antwerp.

In 1905, when Joseph was twenty two years old, his father died being just 43 years old. Other than that Joseph got married to a woman named Anna De Keersmaker, I don't have a lot of information about his personal life.

While being in the Army, Joseph climbed up to the rank of Warrant Officer (Adjudant).

In January 1916, Joseph was in charge of works being performed by his plattoon at the cemetery of Poelkappelle in Belgium. As they were busy burrying fallen fellow soldiers, a German grenade exploded and Joseph got wounded. Despite his condition, immediately after having been under fire, Joseph had the works continued and only returned back to the base after he had made sure that al works had been conducted as scheduled.

For this show of "courage and persistance" being in charge of a team performing works while under enemy attack Joseph was awarded the title of Knight in the Order of Leopold II and a War Cross.

He was taken to the military hospital Sint Rijckers on January 31, 1916. Because of the pieces of shred metal that had wounded him, Joseph got Tetanus (or "Lock jaw"). It was this complication that eventually resulted in Joseph's death a little over two weeks later, on February 10, 1916.

Joseph was burried at a plot for fallen Belgian soldiers at the municipal cemetery of Bourbourg in France, where his grave marker can still be found today, a hundred years after the facts.

Grave of Adj. Joseph Hennebicq in Bourbourg, France

Belgian military plot at municipal cemetery of Bourbourg, France



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Finding Private Edouard Broeckx (1918)


As we are approaching November 11, Armistice Day in Belgium, I wanted to dedicate a blog post to my great great grand uncle, soldier Edouard Broeckx.
 
On August 14, 1986 Edouard was born as the second of three children from my 3-times great grandparents Hendrik Broeckx and Joanna Herteleer. Before his birth, his parents were living in the Belgian city of Mol where father Hendrik was a painter. But then, when Edouard was just two weeks old, the family moved to the city of Antwerp. His baby sister Joanna was born in Antwerp, when Edouard was two and a half years old. His older sister Maria was five years old then.

On August 4, 1914, only ten days before Edouard reached the age of 18, German forces invaded neutral Belgium and only two months later, Edouard stopped his job as a mechanic and joined the Belgian army. Edouard was active in the army for almost the entire duration of the Great War. Only from the very end of March 1917 untill mid-July 1917 he spent three and half months in a hospital, to return to the trenches after he recovered.
 
During the last weeks of the Great War, in the morning of September 28, 1918, the Belgian Army started a liberation offensive. One of the first goals was to take back the town of Houthulst in the province of West Flanders. The point of departure was a little village called Kippe which is about one mile to the north of Ypres. At 2.30 AM Belgian artillery started shooting the German troops. The shooting lasted for three ours before the Belgian troops started moving further. Another thirty minutes later Edouard got killed by hostile fire, in the village of Merkem, as heavy fighting continued.

Only four days later, on October 3, 1918, Edouard was burried in a temporary grave at about 27 yards from the road between Kippe and Nachtegaal. Many soldiers were later exhumed to be moved to their final resting places, however, for unknown reasons, the grave of Edouard could no longer be found...

In May of 1920, the following letter was sent to my 3-times great-grandmother by the Belgian Army:
 
Dear Mrs. Broeckx,
 
I have the honour to inform you that your mourned son, soldier Broeckx Edouard of the 3rd line regiment, who fell gloriously on the Field of Honour, will be included in an upcoming Royal Decree, by which he will posthumously be awarded the Cross of Knight in the Order of Leopold II with Palm, as well as a War Cross. As soon as this Decree is published in the Belgian Offical Gazette, these decorations will be handed over to you during an upcoming official ceremony.
 
 
On August 2, 1922, my 3-times great grandfather, Hendrik, sent a letter to the Belgian Army to ask why they still had not been able to find the remains of his son. He also asked if perhaps there had been a mix up with Corporal Jan Broeckx who had been burried at the Antwerp cemetery Schoonselhof, however, the army responded that this did not appear to be the case. 


Grave of Corp. Jan Broeckx in Antwerp
Corp. Jan Broeckx was a native from the city of Turnhout and was born as a son of a shoe maker in December 1894. At the time of his birth, his family had already been living in Turnhout for at least fifty years, meaning that there is no closeby relation with the family of Edouard Broeckx that came from the Belgian city of Mol.

The searching for the grave of Edouard continued, and even Edouard's father attended several search actions in February and March 1923. Sadly, the grave was never found again and a death certificate was eventually issued in the second half of 1923.
 
Schoonselhof Cemetery in Antwerp, Belgium
I haven't found any records mentioning possible reasons why the grave of Edouard couldn't be found. Maybe he was actually exhumed but not properly identified. Perhaps Edouard is amongst the many unidentified soldiers burried in Antwerp...


Four unknown soldiers burried in Antwerp, Belgium

The city of Antwerp did erect a memorial in honour of the Belgian soldiers burried at the Schoonselhof Cemetery.

Memorial in honour of the WWI soldiers burried in Antwerp


Now if we return to September 1918, one day after Edouard Broeckx died on the battlefield, the Belgian army had advanced from Merkem to Houthulst and was able to recapture the forest there, however, not without suffering a lot of casualties. As silent witnesses of the battles in and around Houthulst, stand the many headstones in the Belgian Military Cemetery in Houthulst. Also there, several unknown soldiers have been burried. Perhaps Edouard was one of the soldiers who eventually got interred at the Houthulst cemetery... 

Map showing the locations of Merkem and Houthulst
One name that particularly caught my attention at that cemetery was that of Corp. Albert Hennebicq, because Edouard's older sister Maria, had married a man called Ferdinand Hennebicq, who was my great-great grandfather. The quite rare Hennebicq name will be a topic of a later blog post.
 
Belgian WWI Cemetery in Houthulst, Belgium
 
I can already add that I have not yet been able to find a family relationship between Edouard's brother-in-law, Ferdinand Hennebicq, and this Corp. Albert Hennebicq, although both Hennebicq men did have ancestors living in the same small region in the Walloon province of Hainaut, near the city of Tournai wich could be an indication that they were in fact related.

Corporal Albert Hennebicq, a 25 year old native of Saint-Sauveur in the Belgian province of Hainaut, died only one day later than Edouard Broeckx, on September 29, 1918 during the end offensive of Passchendaele, which was a little to the southeast of Houthulst. 


Grave of Corporal Albert Hennebicq


As I was trying to find more information on Edouard Broeckx, I did come across a picture of a Belgian WWI soldier who was named Edouard A. Broeckx and who lived in the village of Hoboken, just to the south of Antwerp.


Edouard A. Broeckx of Hoboken, Belgium

 
There are quite a lot of indications that this Edouard A. Broeckx from Hoboken was not the same person as my great-great grand uncle Edouard Broeckx, but still I decided to also include the picture of Edouard A. Broeckx here. Perhaps at some point in time I will figure out if the two gentlemen were actually related to each other.
 
I know my 3-times great-grandparents must have been devastated by the loss of their only son at such a young age. It must have been difficult for them to not be able to visit a grave. Maybe they re-visited the grave of Corp. Jean Broeckx instead, still hoping that it was in fact their son who had been burried there...
 
 
 
 
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Friday, September 30, 2016

My grandma's name is Sophia (times 3)

 
Sophia Servaes
 
Mijn grootmoeder heette Sophia Servaes. Ze was een ongelooflijk lieve en zorgzame vrouw. Ik heb even de betekenis van de naam Sophia opgezocht. De naam komt uit het Grieks en betekent "wijsheid". Blijkbaar is er ook een katholieke heilige die Sophia heette, Sophia van Rome die vaak wordt afgebeeld met haar drie dochters: Geloof, Hoop en Liefde. Nu ook bij mijn grootmoeder ontbrak het niet aan Geloof, Hoop en Liefde. En daarenboven kreeg ze niet alleen drie dochters maar ook vier zonen...
 
Hoewel er in de wereld van de genealogie vaak familienaam projecten worden uitgevoerd, heb ik persoonlijk nog nooit een voornaam project gezien. Ik herinner me dat ik moest glimlachen toen mijn grootmoeder me vertelde dat haar grootmoeder ook Sophia heette. Bij het verder uitspitten van de stamboom ontdekte ik later nog een derde Sophia in de familie...
 
Onlangs plaatste ik een korte enquête met de vraag welk het onderwerp  voor mijn volgende blogbericht moest zijn. De meerderheid van de stemmen ging naar "Mijn grootmoeders naam is Sophia (3 keer)". Hier dus een blogbericht gewijd aan deze drie bijzondere dames...
 
 

1. Sophia Servaes (1929 - 2010)

Grootmoeder Sophia werd geboren op 18 juli 1929 in Mortsel als dochter van Maria Bruyns en Michel Servaes. Tot haar 8 jaar was ze enig kind, maar dan werd, in mei 1938, haar jongere broer Laurent geboren. Of het iets te maken heeft met complicaties tijdens of na de geboorte weet ik niet, maar overgrootmoeder Maria overleed wanneer Laurent slechts 16 dagen oud was...
 
Sophia Servaes
 
Vader Michel zorgde voor de twee kinderen, maar tragisch genoeg overleed ook hij vroegtijdig, net een dag voor de kleine Laurent de leeftijd van één jaar bereikte. Sophia Servaes was op dat ogenblik nog maar negen jaar oud. De doopmeter van Sophia Servaes was haar grootmoeder, Sophia Cappaert. Het was naar haar dat grootmoeder vernoemd was. Terwijl Sophia Cappaert en haar man, Louis Bruyns, zich ontfermden over de jonge Sophia Servaes, werd haar broer Laurent opgevangen door de grootouders aan vaders kant van de familie.
 
Mijn grootmoeder vertelde me dat haar grootmoeder, Sophia Cappaert, elke ochtend pannenkoeken voor haar kleindochter bakte.
 
Sophia Servaes (links) en Sophia Cappaert (rechts)
Spijtig genoeg overleed bet-overgrootmoeder Sophia Cappaert in bezet België, tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, in februari 1941. Op haar elf jaar moest Sophia Servaes dus opnieuw afscheid nemen van iemand die voor haar zorgde. Grootvader Louis stierf in 1947, enkele dagen na Sophia's 18de verjaardag. Twee jaar later trouwde grootmoeder met mijn grootvader, Ludy Van Minnebruggen en ze stichtten een gezin met zeven kinderen.
 
Sophia Servaes met de Singer naaimachine

Grootmoeder Sophia Servaes overleed in 2010, kort voor haar 81ste verjaardag. Haar echtgenoot, grootvader Ludy, overleed reeds enkele jaren daarvoor in 2006. Over hem zal ik later nog een blogbericht publiceren. Mijn grootouders waren op dat ogenblik maar liefst 56 jaar getrouwd. Naast hun 7 kinderen, kregen Sophia en Ludy ook 15 kleinkinderen. Op het ogenblik van haar overlijden had Sophia Servaes ook al meerdere achterkleinkinderen.
 
 

1950 - Grootmoeder Sophia met mijn vader René

1981 - Mijn grootmoeder en ik
 
Geloof, Hoop en Liefde... Ze had het allemaal. En het meeste van al denk ik Liefde. Liefde voor haar ganse familie...
 
 

2. Sophia Cappaert (1883 - 1941)

Bet-overgrootmoeder Sophia Cappaert werd geboren op 2 december 1883 te Hingene. Haar ouders waren Petrus Cappaert en Maria Foubert. Ze was het tweede kind van Petrus en Maria en na haar werden er in het gezin nog vier kinderen geboren. Enkel de jongste van die zes kinderen was een jongen.

In 1907 huwde Sophia te Bornem met bet-overgrootvader Louis Bruyns. Op de huwelijksakte wordt vermeld dat Sophia dagloonster was, wat waarschijnlijk betekent dat ze als arbeidster actief was in de landbouw.
 
Sophia Cappaert

Sophia en Louis kregen drie zonen en twee dochters. De kinderen werden bijna allemaal enkele jaren voor het begin van de Eerste Wereldoorlog geboren. Enkel de jongste zoon, Henri Bruyns, werd pas geboren in september 1918, tijdens de laatste maanden van de Grote Oorlog.
 
Het overlijden van haar oudste dochter, Maria Bruyns, op 29-jarige leeftijd, heeft Sophia Cappaert zwaar aangegrepen. Mijn grootmoeder vertelde me dat ze herinnerde dat haar grootmoeder uitriep: "Waarom ons Marieke en niet ik"!


Overlijdensakte Sophia Cappaert
Sophia Cappaert zelf was 57 jaar toen ze in de gemeente Boechout overleed tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog. De aangifte van het overlijden werd gedaan door haar jongste dochter Leopoldine en haar jongste zoon Henri.

Op haar overlijdensberichtje stond het volgende tekstje:
"Zij was eenvoudig, goedhartig en werkzaam, in oprechtheid en rechtvaardigheid heeft zij in deze wereld geleefd".

 

 3. Sophia Luyckx (1797 - 1866)

Petrus Cappaert, de vader van Sophia, kwam uit een groot gezin met  negen kinderen. Sommigen van die kinderen overleden jammer genoeg lang voor ze volwassen waren. Eén van de zussen van Petrus noemde Sopia en was vernoemd naar hun grootmoeder aan vaders kant van de familie, Sophia Luyckx.

Wanneer Petrus Cappaert en Maria Foubert beslisten om hun dochter Sophia te noemen, weet ik niet of ze werd vernoemd naar de zus van Petrus of naar zijn grootmoeder. Misschien was het wel naar allebei... In elk geval maken we zo nog een verdere sprong terug in de tijd. Sophia Luyckx werd immers geboren tijdens turbulente tijden...

Twee maanden voor haar geboorte, in maart 1797, werd in Oostenrijk de Vrede van Leoben ondertekend door Generaal von Merveldt en Napoléon Bonaparte. Daarmee erkende Oostenrijk de afstand van de Oostenrijkse Nederlanden aan Frankrijk. Later dat jaar werd deze overeenkomst formeel door de Vrede van Campo Formio, waarmee een einde kwam aan de Eerste Coalitieoorlog tegen Frankrijk, welke oorlog voornamelijk werd uitgevochten in de Oostenrijkse Nederlanden.

Een jaar later, in 1798, brak de Boerenkrijg uit, waarmee de Vlaamse bevolking in opstand kwam tegen de Franse bezetters. Zo werd ook het Oost-Vlaamse dorp Sint-Niklaas aangevallen door opstandelingen, doch, de Franse soldaten konden tijdig hun kannonen richten en de aanval afslaan. Sophia Luyckx die toen één jaar oud was, zal van het hele gebeuren op latere leeftijd waarschijnlijk weinig of niets meer hebben herinnerd, doch, zij woonde toen wel effectief in Sint-Niklaas.

Doopakte van Sophia Luyckx
 
Zo ook woonde Sophia Luyckx in Sint-Niklaas toen Napoléon Bonaparte in 1803 een bezoek bracht aan dat dorp. Het was toen een marktdag en Napoléon wou graag het volle marktplein  oversteken. Het moet een indrukwekkend schouwspel zijn geweest op het grote marktplein, waar honderden mensen hem toejuichten. Kort na zijn bezoek besliste Napoléon om Sint-Niklaas stadsrechten toe te kennen, omwille van het relatief grote aantal inwoners in dit tijd.
 
Schilderij van Napoléon Bonaparte in het Paleis van Versailles
Wanneer Sophia 12 jaar oud was, overleed haar moeder Joanna Van hove. Intussen had Sophia wel een 7 jaar oude zus die Anna heette. De vader van de zusjes, Petrus, was boeren arbeider van beroep.

Wanneer Sophia 18 jaar was, in 1815, vond de Slag van Waterloo plaats, waarna de Zuidelijke Nederlanden werden samengevoegd met de Noordelijke Nederlanden ter vorming van het Verenigd Koninkrijk der Nederlanden met als koning Willem I.

Vier jaar later huwde Sophia met Constantinus Cappaert en ze kregen vervolgens verscheidene kinderen.

Ook tegen de Nederlandse overheersing kwam de Belgische bevolking in opstand, wat uiteindelijk in 1831 resulteerde in de onafhankelijkheid van België. Ook die heeft Sophia Luyckx mogen meemaken tijdens haar leven.

Sophia Luyckx overleed in 1866 in het hospitaal te Sint-Niklaas. Haar echtgenoot, Constantinus, was reeds vier jaar eerder overleden...





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Sophia Servaes
 
My grandmother's name was Sophia Servaes. She was an incredibly sweet and caring woman. I looked up the meaning of the name Sophia. It's Greek for "wisdom". Apparently There is also a catholic saint that was called Sophia, Sophia of Rome who is often depicted with her three daughters : Faith, Hope and Love. Now my grandmother had all three of those Faith, Hope and Love. And on top of that, she didn't only have three daughters, but also four sons...
 
Although I have seen quite a few surname or family name projects, I haven't yet come across a first name project. I remember I was smiling when my grandmother told me that her grandmother was also called Sophia. As I was researching the family tree, I discovered that there was in fact also a third Sophia in the family...
 
Recently I placed a small survey online to ask what should be the subject of my next blog post. The majority of votes were directed to "My grandma's name is Sophia (times 3)". So here is my blog post dedicated to these three special ladies...
 
 

1. Sophia Servaes (1929 - 2010)

Grandmother Sophia was born on July 18, 1929 in Mortsel, Belgium as the daughter of Maria Bruyns and Michel Servaes. She was an only child untill she was 8 years old because then, in May 1938, her younger brother Laurent was born. Whether or not it had somehting to do with complications from giving birth, I don't know, but great-grandmother Maria died when Laurent was only 16 days old...
 
Sophia Servaes
 
Father Michel took care of his two young children, but tragically also he died way too young, just one day before little Laurent's first birthday. At that time Sophia Servaes was only nine years old. The godmother of Sophia Servaes was her grandmother, Sophia Cappaert. It was actually after her that she had been named. While Sophia Cappaert and her husband, Louis Bruyns, were looking over the young Sophia Servaes, here brother was being adopted by the paternal grandparents of Sophia and Laurent.
 
My grandmother told me once that her grandmother, Sophia Cappaert, made pancakes for her granddaughter every morning.
 
Sophia Servaes (left) and Sophia Cappaert (right)
Regrettably, great-great-grandmother Sophia Cappaert died in occupied Belgium during World War II, in February 1941. So when she was eleven years old, Sophia Servaes had to say goodbye to yet another caregiver. Grandfather Louis died in 1947, only a few days after Sophia's 18th birthday. Two years later, grandmother married my grandfather, Ludy Van Minnebruggen, and they raised a family with seven children.
 
Sophia Servaes with the Singer sewing machine

Grandmother Sophia Servaes passed away in 2010, shortly before her 81st birthday. Her husband, grandfather Ludy, already died in 2006. I will publish a blog post about him later. My grandparents were married for more that 56 years at that time. Apart from their 7 children, Sophia and Ludy also had 15 grandchildren. At the time of her death, Sophia Servaes already had several great-grandchildren.
 
 

1950 - Grandmother Sophia with my father René

1981 - My grandmother and me
 
Faith, Hope and Love... She had all of them. And most of them I think Love. Love for her entire family...
 
 

2. Sophia Cappaert (1883 - 1941)

Great-great-grandmother Sophia Cappaert was born on December 2, 1883 in Hingene, Belgium. Her parents were Petrus Cappaert and Maria Foubert. She was the second child of Petrus and Maria and after her, another four children were born in the family. Only the youngest one of the six children was a boy.

In 1907 Sophia married in Bornem, Belgium to great-great-grandfather Louis Bruyns. On the marriage certificate is mentioned that Sophia was doing day labor on the land of farms.
 
Sophia Cappaert

Sophia and Louis had three sons and two daughters. Almost all of the children were born before the Great War started. Only the youngest son, Henri Bruyns, was born in September 1918, two months before the Great War was over.
 
The death of her oldest daughter, Maria Bruyns, at the age of 29, had deeply saddened Sophia Cappaert. My grandmother told me she remembered her grandmother shouting: "Why did it have to be our Marie and not me instead"!


Death certificate of Sophia Cappaert
Sophia Cappaert herself was 57 years old when she died during World War II in the village of Boechout, Belgium. The registration of her death was done by her youngest daughter Leopoldine and her youngest son Henri.

On her death notice was written:
"She was down to earth, good hearted and worked a lot. She lived truely and righteously in this world".

 

 3. Sophia Luyckx (1797 - 1866)

Petrus Cappaert, the father of Sophia, came form a big family with nine children. Some of these children never made it to adulthood. One of the sisters of Petrus was called Sopia; she was named after their paternal grandmother, Sophia Luyckx.

When Petrus Cappaert and Maria Foubert decided to name their daughter Sophia, I don't know it was after his sister or after his grandmother. Maybe after both... Either way, we're going even further back into time now. Sophia Luyckx was born during turbulent times...

Two months before her birth, in March 1797, the Treaty of Leoben was signed in Austria by General von Merveldt and Napoléon Bonaparte. Thereby Austria recognized the conveyance of the Austrian Netherlands to France. Later that year, that Treaty became formalized by the signing of the Treaty of Campo Formio, which ended the First Coalition War against France, a war that had been fought mainly in the Austrian Netherlands.

One year later, in 1798, the Peasants' War started, when the Flemish population started to rise up against the French rule. The village of Sint-Niklaas was being attacked by farmers, but the French soldiers were able to timely redirect their canons towards the approaching troops and were able to counter the attack. Sophia Luyckx who was just one year old then, probably didn't remember much about this later in life, however, she did live in Sint-Niklaas at that time.

Baptism record of Sophia Luyckx
 
Also she was still living in Sint Niklaas when Napoléon Bonaparte visited that village in 1803. it was a market day and Napoléon wanted to cross the huge and packed market place. It must have been quite a sight on that market place with hundreds of people cheering. Shorlty after his visit, Napoléon decided to grant Sint-Niklaas the title of city, because of the relatively large number of inhabitants for that time.
 
Painting of Napoléon Bonaparte in the Palace of Versailles
When Sophia was 12 years old, her mother, Joanna Van hove, died. In the meanwhile Sophia did have a 7 year old sister named Anna. The father of the sisters, Petrus, was working land for farmers.

During the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815, Sophia was 18 years old. After that important battle, the Southern Netherlands were united with the Northern Nederlands so as to form the United Netherlands which were ruled by king Willem I.

Four years later Sophia married Constantinus Cappaert and they had several children together.

The Belgian population revolted also against the Dutch rule, which eventually led to the independence of Belgium in 1831. Also that historical event is one that Sophia Luyckx has witnessed during her lifetime.

Sophia Luyckx died in 1866 in the hospital of Sint-Niklaas. Her husband, Constantinus, had already died four years earlier...
 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Great-grand aunt Aline Sterckx and cousin Irma Sterckx


With the help of several family members I'm learning a lot lately about the siblings of my great-grandfather Louis Sterckx and some of their descendants.
 
One cousin, Leen Van Gool, sent me the incredibly beautiful picture of her grandmother, my great-grand aunt Aline Sterckx, who was a sister of great-grandpa Louis. Aline was born in 1897 and after the first World War she made some money as a model. This picture probably dates from somewhere around 1920.

Aline Sterckx

Aline and her family lived in Wommelgem in a house right next to that of Mathilde Sterckx, another sister of Louis and Aline.
 
While I initially thought the below picture is of another one of Louis' sisters, Irma Sterckx, it turns out that picture actually shows a niece of great-grandpa Louis who was also called Irma Sterckx. She was a daughter of Louis' brother Alfons Ferdinandus Sterckx and was born in 1919 and was married to Franciscus Severens.
 
Still hoping over time I will be able to get even more pictures of the Sterckx family together...


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Met de hulp van verschillende familieleden leer ik de laatste tijd veel bij over de broers en zussen van mijn overgrootvader Louis Sterckx en sommigen van hun afstammelingen.
 
Een achternicht van me, Leen Van Gool, stuurde met de prachtige foto die hierboven is weergegeven van haar grootmoeder, Aline Sterckx, die mijn overgroottante was en een zus van overgrootvader Louis. Aline werd geboren in 1897 en na de Eerste Wereldoorlog verdiende ze wat centen bij als fotomodel. Deze foto werd waarschijnlijk omstreeks 1920 genomen.
 
Aline en haar gezin woonden in Wommelgem in een huis naast dat van Mathilde Sterckx, nog een zus van Louis en Aline.
 
Hoewel ik aanvankelijk dacht dat de onderstaande foto nog een andere zus van Louis toont, met name Irma Sterckx, is inmiddels gebleken dat dit in feite een foto is van een dochter van Alfons Ferdinandus Sterckx, een broer van Louis. Deze dochter noemde ook Irma Sterckx, vandaar de aanvankelijke verwarring...

Irma werd geboren in 1919 en huwde met Franciscus Severens.

Irma Sterckx
Ik hoop hier zeker in de toekomst nog meer foto's van de Sterckx familie te kunnen verzamelen...