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The slavery past of Johanna Haagsman  [nederlands]


Just for the record: this is a translation of the original story i am writing in Dutch. The searchresults, the scans, everything i refer to will be mostly in Dutch. It's impossible to translate it all. I really want to make this accessible, so i will try to translate as much as i can, but there will be limitations. I hope you'll understand.

I was recreating an old animation, because I want to put it on this website in due course, but it was still titled with my 'old' name. Now that name is still my name, and it's no secret that my official name is Johanna Haagsman. I once chose the stage name Hannah Celsius, and a few years ago I decided to restore it.
When I saw my official name again, I hesitated for a moment whether I should still use it for that animation, or use my pseudonym. I wondered if there would be anything about me under that name at all, so I googled 'johanna haagsman'. I found a few websites that once featured an exhibition I participated in, or that I was a member of, at the top of the search results. Below that, a fake website with my official name, after I let the domain name expire because I no longer used it: a fantastic example of a capitalist, misogynist, stinking bastard who uses other people's names for his pathetic dealings.
And then something that immediately caught my attention:

A searchresult from Google, which refers to openarch.nl, which also mentions Registration Johanna Haagsman (in the year 1830-1863), Nationaal Archief Suriname: Slavenregister.

I am as white as white can be, so it was a strange sensation to see my full official name in the slavery register. Especially, because the family name Haagsman is not very common. I have searched for that name before, that was some years ago, even before the time that the slavery register was made public. And looked around on genealogical websites, both for my father's and mother's name. So I did found Haagsmans in other parts of the world, but I assumed that these were all white people. Why had I never thought about that before? Because I'm white myself, because I live in a white bubble, because apparently I wasn't thinking about it. The large white spot.

Immediately I wanted to know more about it, and I dived into the online archives.
Now there is a chance that this story will become very much a story of me, and not so much about the earlier Johanna Haagsman. A kind of 'how can I make this about me' is lurking here. I don't know if this is bad, and I don't know which way this story will go. There are, of course, many stories of people who stumbled upon the path of slavery history through a coincidence or a personal question. Then let this be the next, because I think it's good to pay attention to it anyway, from whatever point of view, because it's a shared history of both black and white people.

I hope you, my esteemed readers, find it educational and worth knowing as well.
Comments, clarifications, complaints, tips: hannahcelsius@pm.me, everything is welcome, provided it is respectful and friendly.

sat 1 apr 2023: Chapter 1  The first search steps

sun 2 apr 2023: Chapter 2  The family name

fri 7 apr 2023: Chapter 3  Who is that Haagsman?

sun 9 apr 2023: Chapter 4  Lists.

sun 16 apr 2023: Chapter 5  Much more search needed.

wed 19 apr 2023: Chapter 6  Timeline added.

fri 21 apr 2023: Chapter 7  The street guardians.

mon 24 apr 2023: Chapter 8  15 Franciscuses.

thu 4 may 2023: Chapter 9  This comes so close!

fri 5 may 2023: Chapter 10  Needles in haystacks.

tue 16 may 2023: Chapter 11  Atrocities.

thi 26 may 2023: Chapter 12  DNA.


sat 1 apr 2023: Chapter 1: The first search steps.  open the timeline
At first i thought: this must be a joke, my name in the Slavery Register. Not even because it's April 1st, but because it's so weird to see your name somewhere that you didn't associate it with in any way.
Anyway, i clicked on the link, and suddenly i was connected directly with our slavery past. "Registration (in the year 1830-1863)" and "registered Johanna Haagsman (7 years old)" i read. Owners, a street guardian, the N-word and... "deceased".
Beneath that many links and jargon: names of registers, archive access, inventory numbers. For a moment it made me dizzy. The link to the Nationaal Archief Suriname referred to a general page. Another link to a scan ended with nothing. I clicked the inventory number, and with that i entered the Slavery registers / registers of enslaved people of Suriname, between 1830 - 1863. It seemed most logical to me to type the name Johanna Haagsman in the search bar here.

The result is a scan of a page from that register, which names Johanna Haagsman, above the metadata is mentioned. The page was created in 1830, and names all children of the enslaved Zwantje van S. Sarqui born Jona, who where placed under guardianship of Willem and Betje van Reijke:

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Description in text
Source: Nationaal Archief, Suriname: Slavenregisters, 1830-1863, inventarisnummer NT00461?

Elisabeth (15 years)
Johanna Haagsman (her name is crossed out) (7 years), with mutation of 14th of november 1837 that she is deceased.
Franciscus Haagsman (3)
Jaques (9)
Jacobus (his name is crossed out, no age is mentioned), with mutation of 10 junij 1835 he is born from Elisabeth, and 26 april 1837 that he is deceased.
Eduard (no age mentioned), with the mutation of 30 augustus 1837 that he also is born from Elisabeth.

So Johanna died at the age of 14. This one page raises so many questions. Like: why did she and her one brother have a last name, and the others did not? Was Haagsman the name of the father? And who was he?
I did another separate search for Franciscus, but then you get the same scan. However, the metadata says '1838' under Deregistration date. Apparently he no longer appears as such in the subsequent registers. Does that mean that he may have died somewhere between the transfer of registration to the new register, and that it no longer ended up in the books? Perhaps he passed on to another 'owner' and lost his surname as a result? Did his father take him to the Netherlands? Questions, questions, questions.

I told about this at Mastodon, and got a good tip from someone from the book Voormoeders (Foremothers) by Suze Zijlstra (2021), which deals with slavery in Indonesia, where her family comes from. I immediately went to the library, and there the book was already on top of the row of books i wanted to search, as if someone had already laid it out for me. The situation was probably not exactly the same, but it seems to me that there must have been many similarities between the actions of the WIC and the VOC.
Right at the beginning of the book, the writer already gives a lot of insight into how European men treated the Asian enslaved women. If i transfer that to the situation of Johanna and her family, there are still many possibilities, but i now have more leads.

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sun 2 apr 2023: Chapter 2: The family name  open the timeline
For the unsuspecting reader, who may have just stumbled onto this while surfing and doesn't know me: i'm not a scientist, not a researcher, i have no idea how to do this kind of thing properly. And i don't have the patience to figure that out first. At the same time, i like to read about this kind of things, i occasionally listen to podcasts about research into all kinds of historic stories, so it is not completely unknown to me.
That's how i learned that you should never think in one direction only, and that you should always explore all other possibilities to see if there might be a starting point there as well. We are all familiar with the concept of 'tunnel vision' by now, of course you should try to stay far away from that. In addition, in this case there is also the fact that those directly involved from that time are no longer alive, so there is no real 100% certainty about findings. Plus: life was so different from ours now that the contemporary view never fits exactly. Fortunately, there are many people who have studied, and have already figured things out, so that can always be a guideline. In Chapter 1 i already mentioned Suze Zijlstra's book Voormoeders (Foremothers); i would now like to highlight a few things about this, which may also relate to the situation of Johanna's family.

According to the register, Johanna's mother Zwantje had 4 children: Elisabeth was born around 1815, then Jaques around 1821, Johanna in 1823 and Franciscus in 1827. There are no dates of birth of them mentioned in the registers. Because only Johanna and Franciscus have the surname Haagsman, the first possibility seems to me that it must have been their father's surname. In the enslaved registers i found no other Haagsman. What about the naming of enslaved people?

At the registers i consulted on the website of the Nationaal Archief, there is a search guide, in which i read that enslaved people had just a first name, and only got a surname or other first names when they got their freedom. And that of the people that were freed before 1863, their surnames are mentioned in the registry. Which makes me wonder: were Johanna and Franciscus both freed?

In the book Voormoeders (Foremothers) (which is about the situation in Indonesia) i read that some women who had children from a European were set free. Often they remained part of the household. But also that women were regularly sexually abused by a European in his own household for a longer period of time. And that it was quite common for low-ranking European men in colonial society to have children with women. It is not entirely clear to me whether that was also with enslaved women. For how then did low-ranking men — who i assume did not own households — have access to those women? I can think of all sorts of horrible things about it, but i don't know if it was.

Regarding the position of Eurasian children born out of wedlock, Zijlstra writes that the father "[can] adopt them, so that they officially became part of the household and also received his European surname. There were some marriages, but the majority were children born out of wedlock. " A little further on i read about why women sometimes opted for a relationship with a European; one of the reasons was that there was a chance that he would release the child, adopt it as his own and give him his name. I also read that children were normally enslaved automatically at birth. All in all, it seems most logical to me that Haagsman was a European who worked there and adopted the children. I don't think there was a marriage, because then the name of the mother would have been different, i think, and then the children might not have been placed under guardianship. Then again: nothing is certain.

Meanwhile i found through DBNL on the internet an interesting and educational article, but i do want to add a CW / TW for the horrible colonial naming conventions, that are described therein: the (Dutch) article was published in OSO, Tijdschrift voor Surinaamse taalkunde, letterkunde en geschiedenis (yearsgang 9, 1990) with the title "What's in a name? Slavernij en naamgeving in Suriname tijdens de 18e en 19e eeuw", written by Alex van Stipriaan.

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Description in text.
Source: dbnl.org

It states that if an enslaved person had a surname before 1863, it usually indicated a link to the namesake. That changed from 1863, because for colonial reasons it was considered necessary to 'give' the liberated a (other than their original) surname. So when people were enslaved they were given a different first name, without a last name, and then when they were released they were once again forced into something by the rulers. Horrific, bullying, racist names were not shunned. Also, sometimes things were written down haphazardly, due to a lack of ideas. It's all horrible, but good to keep this in mind.

Let me first see if i can find Mr. Haagsman.

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fri 7 apr 2023: Chapter 3: Who is that Haagsman?  open the timeline
Gradually it dawns on me that this is quite a strange situation. Someone with exactly the same name as me, turns out to be the daughter of an enslaved woman in Surinam around 1830. Because it is not a very common surname, i think: could i be a descendant of her?
Then it turns out that she died at the age of 14, had no children. But... she had a little brother with this last name as well. Which seems to have disappeared from the registers in 1838. Suppose he was taken to the Netherlands by his father. Eventually had children with a white Dutch woman. And then, 6 generations later, there i am. Then i would be the descendant of a black, enslaved woman, and of a white man who probably worked for the colonial regime.

I find it an uncomfortable question: in how many generations does a black skin color become white like mine? I don't want to get caught up in fascist subpopulation theories. I found a (Dutch) website about over heredity, which states that skin color isn't easy to predict, and that even generations later siblings can have different skin colors.

As for the situation itself, it turns out that it was actually quite common: white European men having children with enslaved women of color. That seems complicated, if that's your background. But let me not get ahead of things: first of all, there is a very good chance that Franciscus disappeared from the books for other reasons, and there are plenty of other Haagsman branches from which i could of course descend.

In 2008 i had an exhibition at the livingroom galerie of Alja Spaan in Alkmaar. On the day of the opening i was a little early, and Alja told me, that my brother had called to say he would also join the party. Now my family contacts aren't quite the way it should be for such a call to be logic, and i have several brothers, and it turned out to be my brother Jan. Great, but i don't have a brother named Jan. I knew someone called Jan, but Alja was certain he said his name was Haagsman. So, we were quite curious of who would enter the stage.

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Description beneath photo.
Photo by unknown during the opening, 2008, with from left to right Johanna Haagsman, Alja Spaan, ?, ?

Jan turned out not to be an unknown brother, but someone who had been researching the Haagsman family lines for some time. He came along with his sister, whose name I forgot (sorry) and his wife. He had come across my name somewhere, and they thought it was a nice coincidence: both his sister and other people from his branch of the Haagsman family were creative, and so was i, so they thought it would be a nice idea to get acquainted. We linked through Linkedin. I contacted him again, and then also asked if he was still working on the genealogical discoveries, but he indicated that he was no longer involved. He was a bit brief, and i didn't know him well enough to continue probing. Maybe at that moment there was a difficult situation in his life, maybe not. In the meantime i no longer have Linkedin, and therefor unfortunately that contact line has been closed.

A few years ago I threw myself into trying to figure out the family lineage on my mother's side; she is from Limburg, and i found out that her family originally came from Drenthe, but probably moved to Limburg for employment reasons to work in the mines. Interesting, but irrelevant to this story. Maybe i'll dig into that later.

Back to that Haagsman in Surinam.
I searched in the 'owners' in some of the slavery and freed people registers for the name Haagsman, but found nothing there. I doubted whether i was doing it right, so i spent some time browsing through it at the letter H, and did a sample with a different name, and everything worked and i did fine: that name was not to be found there. At some point i lost track of which indexes i had already searched, so i proceeded more systematically: via the index overview of the Nationaal Archief i went through all relevant Surinam indexes. The third one (Suriname: Ambtenaren) came up with 1 result:

Screenshot with: Suriname: Ambtenaren, Naam: W. Haagsman, Periode: 1820-1828, Bronverwijzing Nummer toegang: 2.10.01, inventarisnummer: 3599, (lijstnummer: 11), (volgnummer: 151)
Source: Nationaal Archief

It is the inventory of the archive of the Ministerie van Koloniën, 1814-1849, and then it is this one: "3599: Naamlijsten van ambtenaren in de kolonie Suriname, met klapper. 1820-1828". In the front folder it says the name W. Haagsman is first mentioned in list 11, indexed with pencil number 151.

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Description in text. Source: Nationaal Archief, see the previous screenshot for reference

The list is the Nominative State of Paid Civil Officials in the Colony of Surinam for the First Quarter of 1823. He is registered as a 'servant' and his wages amounted to 1200 guilders per year. Under the heading 'Changes' it says that he was "appointed by resolution as above dated 19 November". "As above" refers to other comments made by other servants, and refers to the year 1822.
I find him on list 12 (2nd quarter 1823), but suddenly i can't get any further in the list, and further attempts to go through the lists today fail for reasons unknown to me. In any case, it seems clear to me that this must be the father of the children. Johanna was born around 1823. Hopefully i'll be able to dig through that list tonight or tomorrow morning. It would be most likely that he is mentioned in those lists until at least 1826, because Franciscus was born around 1827.

I wonder if i can find one W. Haagsman in any registry office in the Netherlands. That will be difficult, i think, because i don't know in which city he was born and/or raised.

(to be continued)

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sun 9 apr 2023: Chapter 4: Lists.   open the timeline
It became a bit difficult to search: every time i was thrown out of the system, with strange error messages. Is half of the Netherlands and beyond searching in exactly the same register? Is my story being read so much that everything is stuck, and is everyone checking those links now? Will i have to continue searching at night from now on?:-)
After a night's sleep i came up with the good idea to first switch off the ad blocker. That immediately helps, although it is also possible that every searcher is still having an Easter brunch and it is just a very quiet search moment. Anyway, i found out more.

Yesterday i had tried a few more things and although i was also kicked out then, i also made some progress on that salary list. At least until the last quarter of 1825 W. Haagsman is still on the list. I also found some more interesting information: he worked as a judicial officer for the Fiskalaat, or prison. Somewhere there is a note along his name and that of his immediate colleagues:
"When they are appointed, they receive a bonus of fl. 200 Sur. 1Ct, respectively for clothing & equipment; they are also granted a military ration in kind."
So it seems to me his was a prison guard.

Because i couldn't get any further in the National Archives, i started looking for ship's letters. I had come across a ship roll before, so i thought / hoped to get further with something like a passenger list. When did he arrive, was his year or place of birth written there, did he go back to the Netherlands? Obviously i don't know anything about these sort of things. But strangely enough, in my first search i immediately found a link to information about ships sailing from Amsterdam to Suriname. From there i came to the muster rolls, but there are no passengers listed, only the crew. Then i suddenly ended up in an archive of the municipality of Amsterdam, which, to my surprise, contains quite a few Haagsmans, and no matter how i searched, i found 1 Willem Haagsman, who had already died in 1789. So i didn't get very far with that either.

Further searching on passenger lists Amsterdam Suriname, i found this (Dutch) link to Passagierslijsten.pdf of the foundation for Surinam genealogy (stichting voor Surinaamse genealogie), i quote from this document:

"In a genealogical search it can sometimes be very important to find out when and from which country a certain ancestor settled in Surinam, or when and to which country he or she left Surinam. Such information, in the form of reports of arriving and departing ships and their passengers, can be found, but are scattered across various sources and incomplete. It should also be borne in mind that a statement of departure or arrival does not yet prove that the person concerned arrives in Surinam for the first time or leaves permanently. It is also possible that only a short (return) journey is made."

In the same document i find the link to the list 'Departed from the Netherlands for Surinam, 1818-1823': Lists drawn up in the Netherlands with passengers to Surinam in the period 1818-1823 are in the archives of the Ministry of Colonies 1814-1850 ( 2.10.01), inventory number 3600, Lists of names of passengers on board ships to Surinam 1818-1823.
HURRY, i thought, but when i was finally able to look into it this morning, it turned out that there was only 1 list from 1822 (the year that W. Haagsman was appointed), on page 139 of the 140... and no W. Haagsman to be found. In the index i found another list: 3601: Lists of persons of European origin, deceased in the Surinam colony, Feb. 1816 - June 1829. Well, not that i hoped to find anything there, but since the other entrances gave nothing, and i remembered the tunnel vision mantra (Keep All Roads Open), i decided to look into it. Fortunately, this list has a clear hit, in which i unfortunately found the name Haagsman, W. on page 7, with a reference to list 39. And yes ... on April 11, 1825 it is noted that Willem Haagsman died at the age of 34 years old (so he was born around 1791). And that he was Christian. But that's all.
Because i now seem to be able to get into the lists, i will go back to the remuneration lists just to be sure. After the list of 1825, his name indeed no longer appears under the heading Fiskalaat. Also his colleague J. Zevenbergen, whose death was reported on that list of 1825 ('deceased on March 21, 1825') no longer appears on the list. You would almost think that they died from the same cause. Illness, an 'occupational accident'? We'll never be able to figure that out.
What caught my eye on the list:
On list 13 W. was suddenly noted as W. Hageman... and that made me laugh so much, because if there is one big red cable running through my life, it is that of people who misspell the name Haagsman: Haaksman, Haagmans, Hagemans, Haaxman. I once got a call from an organization: "Do I speak to Mrs Haakmans?". Me:"No, you obviously have the wrong number." Ten minutes later they called again, this time with the correct name. I find it very funny that that was already a thing in 1823: how many Haagsman's faces have clearly shown themselves not amused because of this :-D.

But Willem's death in 1825 immediately raises the question: what about little Franciscus Haagsman? He would have been 3 years old in 1830, according to the books. We now know that many dates were not described, including dates of birth, and also that there were often months between a birth, for example, and its note, so there can be a lot of leeway in that. Because the mother had also died in 1830, they may have estimated the ages of the children. We just don't know exactly what happened. I would like to try to find out what happened to Francis.

(to be continued)

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sun 16 apr 2023: Chapter 5: Much more search needed.  open the timeline
The past few days i had some other, more technical things to do, and i lost a few files because of that. Including the Dutch version of this page.... very handy, i only had it in English, so had to translate it back to Dutch as soon as possible. Sigh! Hopefully things will be a bit better from now on.

So the search was also briefly suppressed. While it is now also getting a bit more complicated: Willem is dead, Johanna too, and Francis seems to have disappeared. Where do i go from here?
Let's see what the exact questions are now, and how i might be able to find them.

I've listed it per person:
Franciscus Haagsman was born in 1826/1827; a note with the register-scan of 1830-1838 says he is written out, but that is not noted in the register itself. Turns out that was a choice when opening up the registers:
"Because it is not known on which date someone was transferred into the new series, we solved this by taking the starting year of the new series as the mutation date: 1830, 1838, 1848 or 1851."
Francis would therefore have to be in the new series. Only: i did see a number of Franciscuses there, but no Haagsman. I could check that further, see if there is a link with an age statement in the new register.

Willem and Betje van Reijke could be helpful to also look for them, maybe that will yield some new facts or ideas.

Willem Haagsman is perhaps a distant relative of mine, that is also interesting to find out. He was born around 1791. I have now registered at MyHeritage, but i did not have time to explore this further. I did see that the 'Smart Matches' that i had quickly accepted, were not all equally smart... the system is not watertight. I also bought - and i find that really exciting - a DNA kit, which i will send back next week. For the story i hope something very interesting comes out of that of course; that i suddenly turn out to be descending from a completely different family, such a dramatic turn.

Zwantje van S. Sarqui geboren Jona: i've been trying to look for her this week, but haven't found anything. I have to say that i did it in a hurry, so maybe i missed some options. It could also be that she was called Zwaantje; i found neither of them. A note in the search help of the Slavery Registers: "The oldest series of slavery registers from 1826-1830 is completely missing." If she is already registered as deceased in 1830, it is therefore logical that she can no longer be found, i think. I could still search for the name of S. Sarqui.

Elisabeth, although she does not have the surname Haagsman, is also interesting. It now appears that many Elisabeths are listed in the registers, also for example in the manumission register, in which the liberated persons are listed. I also have to look further for that; i took a quick look, and found a possible candidate, who was listed as 50 years old in 1863 (she would have been 48, according to the 1830 register).

I also want to create a timeline, where all this should be visible at a glance. I do have something in writing, but it's a bit messy, and i don't know how to get it here on the website in a neat way. Yet.

So much to do, and I hope to find out more in the coming week.

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wed 19 apr 2023: Chapter 6: Timeline.  open the timeline
A picture of a timeline with several colorful blocks, with names and dates in it.

This one is a bit small, so i made another one on a separate page, so it's easier to have it opened and switch. The link to this timeline is now on top of every chapter, the yellow thingenie. The timeline has some Dutch text, but my guess is this doesn't really matter, it's all about the names and the numbers.


fri 21 apr 2023: Chapter 7: The street guardians.  open the timeline

I think it would be useful to look at the guardians first. Because in my attempts to find Johanna's relatives, I came across many of the same names, with all different owners (excusez le mot, but it remains a shitty word in this context). But I did not come across the names of Willem and Betje van Reijke there. In previous blank attempts I saw things about them, and I have the idea that at least Willem already quite shortly after the start? of his custody of these children, passed away. Now it may be that they were automatically inherited by Betje, but it is also possible that they either immediately went to another owner, or maybe Betje also died shortly afterwards. If I know to which owner(s) they were transferred, it might make it easier to search later.

In 1830 the children came under their guardianship. Then these people must have been at least 20 years old (more likely they were older), so born before 1810. Usually more is known about men from that time, so let me search for Willem van Reijke.

In 'Slavenregisters 1851-1863 particuliere slaven van Francois Gaspard Caupain' (Slavery registers 1851-1863 private slaves of Francois Gaspard Caupain) i find information that might be about him. When scrolling down a bit, there is a part about the family Reijke or Reyke. For instance it's about some houses at Saramaccastraat E.54 and E.42 he owned. Also it states that he might be married to the free black woman Elisabeth Willem Carolina Reijke. It seems quite logic, that she is Betje.

While i'm poking around in the online archives of the Nationaal Archief, i find the "Alfabetische naamlijst van personen die tot 'straatvoogd' over slavenkinderen zijn benoemd 1825-1840" (Alphabetical list of people that were assigned as 'street guardians' 1825-1840).

text continues beneath picture
Scan of an old archive folder, with a little sticker at the top 'Old Archive Surinam, nr. 573, and beneath in old fashioned handwriting 'Register of Street guardians 1830-1840'. At the bottom of the page another sticker, which says 'General State archive/ West-Ind. Possessions and Surinam, 1828-1845 / Gouvernor-General of West-Ind. Possessions / No. 624 (translation by me, see the original Dutch in the Dutch version of this page) Source: Nationaal Archief, toegang, inventarisnr 624.

It is only confusing me more.
I go on a gamble to page 100 (for the letter R) and to my great surprise and delight immediately end up on the page with Reyke's name.
"1826 – Reyke – Bea? Namen der slaafs: Sipora? Elisabeth of ? Cicoeba?, Jacques, Frans of Franciscus Hageman & Eduard – aangesteld bij resolutie van 30 mei 1825", which states that the names mentioned here were all appointed by resolution at may 30 1825.
On other entries i see some things were written at a later date. Eduard (son of Elisabeth) was born only in 1837, according the other register, and that is not stated here. Where was Johanna? And does this mean that Zwantje also died in 1825, as did Willem Haagsman? But how on earth can Franciscus been born in 1837 then? Or were all children put under guardianship after Willem's death? I don't think i can find out, so i will leave Franciscus' year of birth be as it is now in the timeline: somewhere around 1826/1827.

What would really help me though, is to know to which guardian or owner the kids went after Willem Reijke's death. First of all Franciscus ofcourse, because he had the official last name Haagsman, as Johanna did - also here corrupted to Hageman....... insert the Universal Haagsman Eyeroll, which i just declared official on Mastodon:

What was a street guardian anyway?
In an article about another street guardian i read: "He acted as a street guardian for slaves who no longer had owners, for example because they were part of the “estate” of deceased owners. They were afterwards known as 'piki nyan', people who had to hustle for their income, which they acquired to finance their manumission." (Manumission is the legal term for releasing an enslaved person according to certain rules of law.)
More information i found in "De vrije gekleurde en zwarte bevolking van Paramaribo, 1762-1863" (The free colored and black people of Paramaribo, 1762-1863) by Wim Hoogbergen & Okke ten Hove (Source: OSO. Tijdschrift voor Surinaamse taalkunde, letterkunde en geschiedenis. Jaargang 20, 2001, via DBNL). For instance:
"There is a difference between an owner of a slave and a releaser. A releaser could also be another person (for example: a street guardian, a trustee or an executor)."

That piece also says that quite a few of the owners were people of color; the information i found about Willem van Reijke on the SurinaamseGenealogie site, also states that of Van Reijke. According to this information, in 1818 a young, colored man with the slavesname Willem was freed. His owner was W. Reyke, and the young man got the name Johannes Wilhelmus van Reyke. On another site i found a confirmation of this information, but i could not find a scan, although it is referenced there.

In 1826 this (probably named) Willem van Reijke brought a child of 5 years to the grave, son of the free, colored woman Maria Helena Harris. A bit further it states that Willem Reyke had at least one child with:
Maria Johanna Reyke
Betje van Willem van Reyke
Louisa van Willem Reyke
Maria Helena Harris.
But, is that still about the owner W. Reyke, or over the released Willem (van) Reyke? And does that matter for my search? If i'm right, i should again dive into the manumission registers, and maybe search for different Reijke/Reyke variants. Then again: is that useful? If street guardian Willem van Reijke was deceased, he couldn't have released anyone after that. Still, i will search some more in the register "Suriname: Vrijgelaten slaven en hun eigenaren (manumissies), Periode: 1832 - 1863", (Surinam, freed slaves and their owners (manumissions), Period: 1832-1863). Who knows what i might find again.

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mon 24 april 2023: Chapter 8: 15 Franciscuses.  opens the timeline


It seemed logical to me that after Willem Reyke's death, the children they had under guardianship would pass to his wife, Betje. Via the link about the house on the Saramaccastraat i found this page in the National Archives from the District Register 1841, with the residents of no. 42 there:

A scan of the page.

She lived there with her daughters Anna Margaretha Clasina and Hendrina Christina Anthoinette (names often change here and there, so not entirely sure if they are correct). And if Betje dies, who will inherit her enslaved ones? Probably her daughters anyway. So i search the registers again on the name Reijke, and then look at Anna Marga Clasina:

A screenprint with the list with 18 names of all enslaved people in possession of Anna Marga Clasina.

Here you can immediately see that the names of the mothers do not correspond. I've looked through everything, and can't find any leads.
What i suddenly realize: i wondered why there is such confusion about Willem (van) Reijke/Reyke. But that is probably (for me at least) due to the writing style of Betje van Reijke. That is actually: Betje van Willem Reijke. And Willem is simply Willem Reijke, who is also sometimes spelled Reyke.

I can't really get any further.
So let me see if i can get on with Franciscus.
Born in 1826/1827, transferred to a new register in 1838. At least, that is what people assume, because the mutation from when it was transferred is not mentioned in the old register. That's why they set that en masse to 1838, when the new registers came. However, the name Haagsman has disappeared, the only Haagsman in all slavery/manumission registers is the one from the first scan i found. So i had thought if i could find a match between the Franciscuses who are in it, in terms of age. It's also a gamble, but i have to do something.

In 1838 he was about 12 years of age, according to the register it would be 11.
In the register 1838-1848 i find 15 Franciscuses... of which 7 with the fixed date 1838. He should be one of those, but just to be sure i'll go through the whole list anyway. For my convenience, i even put them in a spreadsheet. But unfortunately. There are no years of birth listed. I think i must conclude, unfortunately, that the quest ends here, as far as Francis and his relatives are concerned. It seems that his surname Haagsman has been taken away from him. Or there's missing data in the books... i have no idea. I'm sorry, because i had hoped to learn a little more about him. Maybe also, in order to be able to give Johanna some more acknowledgement in a way.

Well, the search isn't quite over yet. Because: Willem Haagsman. Am i somehow related to him?
I recently registered with MyHeritage. With some doubts about privacy issues. But i did realize that if i really want to try and figure out all those things, i'm going to have to dig deeper, and that's a good place for that (i think). So i sent my DNA last week, and if all goes well (i hope so!) i will get insight into my ancestors in some time. In the meantime i had already started building a family tree there, so i will continue to research that from this week on. I would find it very special if i was related to Willem in any way, and therefore also to Johanna.

And if that trail also ends, it is also nice that i have learned a little more about our slavery past, and that hopefully a few readers have also become more interested in our history, which of course continues to this day. affects how we deal with all kinds of things. Today i browsed the library in the Black Archives box and found the book 'We slaves of Suriname' by Anton de Kom. I think you could get this book for free a few years ago, but i completely forgot about it. Luckily i was able to borrow it now. (Incidentally, it is special: the copy that is now in my own data on my loan list is not present anywhere in the catalog.)

(to be continued)

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thu may 4 2023: Chapter 9: This comes so close!  opens the timeline

MyHeritage: i registered a month ago, and made an attempt to start a family tree, and then suddenly received all kinds of so-called 'Smart Matches' notifications. There are now so many that you have a working week to clear it. And i keep asking myself: how do i know which information is correct? Do i have to verify all this myself? That is impossible. Just confirmed or deleted everything for an hour or two and it's a weird thing. In the meantime i try to keep an eye at my goal: 'Is Willem Haagsman related to me?' and that's not easy.

Firstly because i have now come up with the family tree to one Jan born in 1779, and Willem was probably in 1791. So it is not his father. But i haven't found any other data yet. They could be brothers. Or cousins. I found some Willems with links to Family Search, so i also created an account there, but the years of birth were incorrect or had been deleted. One Willem was very special: born in 1850, and baptized in 1750. You can call that a foresight. So now i have to keep looking for Jan, who was born in Buren in 1779. Who knows, i might find something about him.

Screenprint of a part of the Haagsman family tree on MyHeritage.
The Gerrit Haagsman at the bottom right is my grandpa. The Jan Haagsman at the upper left is the Jan i have to search for.

What's also quite unusual, is that among all those Matches i suddenly found one concerning my own father, who died in 2016. Date of birth is correct, death also has the correct year. And it refers to a little pedigree, that may have just sprung up, the creator of that with a completely different last name. The latter is not very strange, by the way, i see that with everything. Of course, there are always in-laws and distant relatives who start somewhere. I don't know the system very well yet, maybe i don't get to see things, i don't know. But at first glance it now seems that my father had a relationship with someone other than my mother (not sure either, there is no name), and that a child was born from that. Now, all sorts of strange things have happened in my family, so if this happened, i wouldn't be surprised. I googled the name of the family tree maker, that's a young person. Her last name is also not very common, and in the G.search results of the images, i also saw a picture of a woman with the same last name, she looks about my age. That could be her mother; maybe she is searching for the father of her mother? The strange thing was, she reminded me a lot of my sister...

In addition, it is also strange that i get Smart Matches from my brother-in-law, my sister's husband, while i have no contact with my family, except very occasionally with my middle brother. Not even with my sister. That is of course completely automatic, i assume that he will only receive a message as soon as i confirm or reject something. Sometimes i think: why do i come from such a strange family? To be clear, my family thinks i'm the weird one (or so i assume). At the moment i have already removed 3x 3 sentences, because i think it is better not to write that now. Which is not good for an autoficography: i should write everything, especially now that no one cares for me anymore. (I can now hear them shouting in unison: yes, that's your own fault! You didn't want to anymore!). [note: do these sentences stay?]

In the meantime i also received an email from MyHeritage: my DNA has arrived and is now being examined. With a pressing question: whether i would quite coincidentally - while we're at it - also want to know my genetic disease progression chances, because that's useful after all. I just ignored that. I mean: i'm already 60, i already have several illnesses that can't be helped, my child already has two children of his own; i don't know if that's all very welcome. It's not what i'm up to either, so it doesn't seem wise to me. Plus, i also had to pay a lot of extra money for that, there is really a clear end to my (holiday) money.

You see: distractions everywhere. And what if the results are out soon? Will i get extra family? Will i lose some more? My god, what have I started?
Anyway, from the very beginning, we are all related. That's so nice! #CircleBirthday

(wordt vervolgd)

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vr 5 mei 2023: Chapter 10: Needles in haystacks.  open the timeline

It is a pity that Johanna, the person my search was intended for, seems to be getting further and further out of the picture. She's waiting quietly somewhere in the back of my mind, and i think about her often. Of course i hope i can find Willem, although that seems like a needle in a haystack at the moment. And if i find him, maybe i'll get a little closer to Johanna after all. No idea, now.

Let me continue my search for Jan Haagsman. Born in Buren in 1779, died in 1857 in Lienden.
I thought it would be smart to google first, and the first thing i find is a link to Family Search, where it becomes clear that his father is Dirk Haagsman. This Dirk was born in 1760 in Buren. Did this one have more children? Yes, but not Willem, but Anthonie born around 1790. The link to siblings doesn't work. There is a notification that there is more than 3 years between two children, and that this may mean that data from another child is missing.
Another link leads me to the Rivierenland Regional Archives, where several pages of Haagsmans seem to come from. Unfortunately no Willem with matching dates.

Then just add Dirk to my family tree in MyHeritage, and immediately a number of Smart Matches pop up. He appears to have been born on January 1, 1762, was a farmer and died on April 27, 1808. Now there is another family tree maker who seems to be (was?) doing that, but he has all kinds of things on private. Maybe because they haven't been verified yet?

On MyHeritage i perform another search for Willem Haagsman, this time with 1792 as year of birth, and i find a match with a record of the 'Staatse legerofficieren en manschappen' = the State army officers and men:

A screenshot of a record in MyHeritage where it says that Willem Haagsman was a member of the infantry in the Van Den Bergh / De Drevon / Evertsen regiment, with the source named 'Regimental roll'. In addition, there is a short explanation about the collection: This collection contains information about Dutch officers and men who served in the Dutch armed forces between 1698 and 1814. Data typically includes the person's name, year of employment, and year of discharge.

Very nice i can add this to my family tree, but i did not found the man yet, let alone he is already in the family tree. Also, i can't see anywhere which years are associated with this Willem. Maybe it's a completely different Willem. It would be very logical: that he first joined the army, and then went to Suriname to work there as a judicial officer. So quickly look for the years!

After some searching here and there and everywhere, i find the index:
Army: Officers, NCOs and Men (State Military) (Landmacht: Officieren, Onderofficieren en Manschappen (Staatse Militairen)).
I decide to give it a try and type 'Willem Haagsman', and yes, he's in it! My heart made a small leap of joy at this - do you know that feeling? funny and special how something so small can give you such a feeling. Quickly i clicked and clicked further and.... oooooooooooooooooooooooo unfortunately. It turns out to be about the period 1707 -1795; in 1795 he was 4 or 5... . Looking further is not possible, it can only be viewed by appointment, or i could order scans, and that is an expensive joke (as well as going there, by the way). But he falls under Access 1.01.19 Inventory of the archives of the Council of State, (1574) 1581-1795 (1801), Inventory number 1952, Colonel O.W. van den Bergh, later F. de Drevon, 1707-1771. So that can't be him. It probably wouldn't have helped me either, since there are no dates of birth, only the year of employment and dismissal.

Somewhat aimlessly i look around, wondering if i might be able to find it in a municipal archive; then the only problem is: which municipality? An archive of Buren brings me to one genealogy site in the Betuwe and there is this:

According to the latest data, only 20% of the Dutch archive content has now been digitized (by the end of 2022). Handy to know where and how to investigate.
Around the year 1810 a Civil Registry was introduced. And that Civil Registry has already been made digitally searchable.

This means that the chance is very small, perhaps zero, that there is a record somewhere of the birth of Willem, his parents and further family. But: how do other people find information about their ancestors from before 1810? And to ask this question means that i will have to immerse myself further in the noble art of genealogy.

(to be continued)

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tue 16 may 2023: Chapter 11:   Atrocities.open the timeline

Right now i'm struggling with everything, and to keep my head above water, i'm looking for distraction. There are all kinds of addictive resources for this, one of which is binge-watching all kinds of series via many streaming services. I haven't had a teevee for years, but i do stream! nice on my 2nd hand laptop, that's fine; i don't need wall-devouring interior-ruining screens. You can find all kinds of things about that, but it helps me to keep my mind away from annoying things. And i notice that it is really addictive: immersing yourself completely in a story is very pleasant.
The disadvantage of all that binging, which i only do in the evening when i'm tired, is that i have less time to read. That sometimes succeeds for an hour, at breakfast, or in between, or at the end of the afternoon, and sometimes even in the evening. I always read several books 'at the same time', so it doesn't seem to make much progress. Last week i finally started in Anton de Kom's 'We slaves of Suriname'. The book is very heavy, with the descriptions of all the cruel atrocities - it is necessary, one must know what happened.

On page 45 i came across this passage:

“In order to spare the whites in the city the unpleasant chore of such chastisement, the slave could be handed over in Paramaribo to the jailer of Fort Zeelandia, who had specially trained himself in this trade with his accomplices, and for a decent tip would be happy to some extra effort.”

I will omit the description of the chastisement, it concerns the infamous 'Spanish buck', read the book or google it. There are many, many others described in the book, and i am vicariously ashamed to be a white person, or a human at all. Why i put this here in particular is the link with Willem Haagsman. After all, he was a 'servant of justice' at the Fiskalaat, or jailer, and i wouldn't be surprised if that was at Paramaribo, and therefore Fort Zeelandia. Now the description above is from an earlier period than he worked there. And i haven't read the whole book yet. But browsing a bit, i get the impression that it wasn't any better later on. That could mean that my (possible) relative also participated in this kind of disgusting torture. Not necessarily, but the chances are quite high.
It's a very bad idea, especially since it wasn't that long ago at all. I just turned 60 myself. And those 60 years passed in a fart, so 1830 is only 3 farts back in time. That's nothing. And regardless of whether that man is related to me or not, who cares. It's just so shitty, how people have been mistreated, and on such a large scale. And that this large-scale dehumanization because of a different skin color was considered 'normal' so recently. How can there not be a link with current racist ways of doing and thinking? It seems logical to me, then, that the statement that slavery is a crime against humanity also receives a legal basis. And fuck Rutte (but that anyway).
Searching further on Willem has also yielded nothing.
A good starting point is the (Dutch) site Wie Was Wie, with all kind of information about which sources to use for your inquiries. Because there was no Civil Registry before 1810, you have to look for birth data, etc. in the DTB registers, which are the church registers with information about baptism, marriage, burial. Those are also not complete, of course, i read somewhere that there are still hundreds of registers languishing in pastors' cupboards.
Now i don't know to which church Willem's family belonged, and i don't know in which region they lived, but through (Dutch) OpenArch.nl you can search those registers. Unfortunately, nothing was found there. Although there are several Willems in this registers, they are all from other periods. I also searched for name variants: niente. Of course i was talking about needles and haystacks for a reason.

My conclusion regarding Johanna Haagsman's family must then unfortunately be: i cannot find them. Maybe one day i will find Willem again via MyHeritage, where i am still working on the family trees. Who knows, if i dig further through all kinds of branches.
In the meantime i received the DNA results. I really want to check it out and share it, but i also have many other things to do, so that will be in the next chapter.

(to be continued)

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thi 26 may 2023: Chapter 12: DNA.  .open the timeline

In the meantime i have looked at the DNA results in peace…. Exciting, because who knows what unsuspected secrets will appear on the scene.
Until now: not many.
Obviously not many people in my family have made their DNA available through MyHeritage, so i have few direct matches. Ultimately, there is a whole string of distant relatives behind it, so it is not boring. A whole host of surnames with which i am associated are presented to me.

I did get some further Haagsman-matches, of which 1 branch led to a Willem, but that turned out to be the same i found earlier, and with which i didn't get any further. In terms of ethnicity, i appear to be largely Dutch, mainly of Frisian, Drenthe and Overijssel descent, mixed with South Holland. And then a small part of Scandinavian blood.
There is also a map showing the number of distant relatives in countries around the world. Most of them are located in the Netherlands, the US and Alaska, followed by Western Europe and Canada, with even fewer in Brazil and South Africa, and an extension to surrounding regions.

I feel very white now :-| , if i stay on topic, and look at the reason and the beginning of this whole search. Is that bad, being white? Not in itself, it is the way it is, and it depends on how you behave, but i find it hard to realize (again) how much suffering my ancestors caused other people. Of course, i have not been able to find any direct link to my family as to any financial or other benefit from slavery. But when i look at the bigger picture, it's different. I find it a bit complicated; i don't know if it's shame or guilt, vicarious shame is probably the most appropriate term for how i feel about this.

There was another strange match with someone that i wrote about before, but i can't find it anymore. Probably after i confirmed, that person deleted it. I have no idea. Too bad, because i was very curious how that person can have a link with my father. I had made a screenshot of it, but i lost that too... so immediately created a separate folder for all my screenshots, where i now save them by default. #muddlehead

This is how this story - i think - ends. If i come across something special, i will certainly share it again in a subsequent chapter.

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