Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Great-grandparents' Bible

Last week I mentioned that, apart from the Bible of my maternal grandmother, I have another one. This one also originates in my maternal line. It belonged to Jan de Langen (1861-1942) and his wife Johanna Margaretha van den Bosch (1860-1934), my great-grandparents.  It was a hand out, be it a bit heavy, from the church where they married in The Hague on August 8, 1883. Their church was the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduitsch Hervormde Gemeente). 
Presented to ... on the occasion of the consecration of their marriage on August 8, 1883 on behalf of the Church Board of the Dutch Reformed Church at The Hague 
As was the custom in those days Jan de Langen kept a register of the births, christenings, marriages and deaths in the family. All these events were noted on the first blank pages of the Bible, usually by the head of the family. Therefore, it is safe to presume that the handwriting in the register below is that of Jan. 
The family register
Although the first entries in the register have been made in 1883, Jan also carefully noted his own birth, the names of his parents (Bruno de Langen and Elsje Louwiza Koelinga) and, very important in those days, the fact that his parents were married. He also mentioned the date of birth of his wife and her parents Jan Cornelis van den Bosch and Gerarda Dorathea Lith. Subsequently he recorded his children. The last one on this page is my grandfather Gerardus Theodorus de Langen ('s Gravenhage November 24, 1888). He is baptized in the Kloosterkerk (Monastery Church) by the Rev. Knotnerus.
The owners of this Bible in approx 1920,
Jan de Langen and Johanna Margaretha van den Bosch
The Bible was published by the Dutch Bible Society in 1882. Normally, the Bible is a means to spread the Word. But this one also served another purpose. After leafing through the Bible I found two dried leaves and a dried violet. I suspect they have been put there by my grandmother Antje Doelman, the daughter-in-law of Jan and Johanna. She was a lady with what we call green fingers. She loved her gardens and I can very well imagine that she tried to preserve nature's beauty. I'm sure the Church Board would have had no objection to the way my grandmother used the Bible.


  1. I'm always jealous of people who have a family Bible with all that good information carefully recorded at the time of the event. You must have felt much like an archaeologist when the leaves and violets slipped into view. Little discoveries reveal so much about people we know little about other than their significant dates recorded in a Bible.

  2. I expect the flowers were put there after they had been pressed and dried elsewhere, or the pages would have been affected. They were probably special flowers from a posy of bouquet of some semtimental value, or perhaps just a favourite from her garden.

  3. @Wendy
    Sorry to have made you jealous :) but indeed the register was a pleasant surprise to have all this first hand information. It also created clarity as to the spelling of the surname Koelinga. The dried material was an extra bonus.
    And Wendy, thank you for following my blog!
    @Little Nell
    You may very well be right, there was no trace of anything on the page. As to the why, that'll remain guesswork I'm afraid.

    Thank you both for your comments.

  4. Lovely post! Appreciated the dried leaves and flowers as an added surpise ...

  5. It certainly was. And it all looks so fragile which of course it is. There was even some purple left in the violet. Amazing isn't it?
    Thanks for your visit.


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