Sunday, 24 March 2019

The disappeared ancestor and the lost T

Voor de Nederlandse versie van dit blog, klik hier.

The beginning
Just suppose, you are a 14 year old girl, you are pregnant, it is 1880, you arrive in Amsterdam from the Dutch East Indies, you find yourself in the house of complete strangers and there, you deliver a son! That is what happened to Maria Johanna Francisca Schulze, the great-great-grandmother of our grandson Tobias Hendrik.
Until recently it was completely unclear as to who she was, where she came from and where she went to after delivering her baby. I wrote about all this earlier.
Fortunately I am not the only one reading these texts, others do as well. A lady sent me a valuable hint which helped me very much clarifying a number of uncertainties. After having set all the known facts in chronological order, the following picture emerges.

Looking for clues
Ever since the early 17th century until just after WW2 the East Indies have been a Dutch colony. And no colony without military presence. One of them was Karel Frederik Schultze who served there in various positions during the second part of the 19th century. He was a commanding officer in southern en western Sumatra (a.o. Palembang), in southern Borneo (Banjermassin) and on Java in capital Batavia and in Semarang. Ultimately he became a major general.
All  this, including the existence of the major general, was unknown to me when I delved into the ancestors of our grandson Tobias. By the time I got to his 4th great grandmother I ran into what appeared to be a brick wall. Her name was Maria Johanna Francisca Schulze (written without a t before the z). In short the problem with her was that neither did I know where she came from nor where she went to after the delivery. I did know that she delivered a child called Frans. This event took place in Amsterdam in the house of what seemed to be complete strangers. The calender reads April 4, 1880. On the birth certificate of Frans it says that his mother lives in Semarang. No father is mentioned so Frans bears the last name of his mother: Schulze.
Frans stayed behind in Amsterdam and was brought up by the couple in whose house he was born. Their names are Gerrit Box and Hendrika Scheeffer. The Amsterdam population register shows Frans as their foster son. So there seemed to be no family relationship. All I was able to find was that at one point Maria went to Heijthuizen, a small village in the southern part of the country. And almost 7 years later she pops up in Rotterdam as a shop assistant. There, in the singles archive, I found she was born in Palembang on October 1, 1865. In 1889 she disappears from the radar.
Desperate for clues as to her origin I first started investigating the Box-Scheeffer family. The Box-side did not provide anything useful but the Scheeffers produced something that I initially considered a coincidence. And that something was that Hendrika Scheeffers mother was part of a Schultze (with a t) family. However, Schultze and Schulze is close but not the same. Still I looked further into the Schultze family for a good reason. Earlier research turned up proof that on two occasions Frans Schulze, Maria's son, called himself Schultze… Another peculiarity was that when Frans died in 1952, he was buried in the grave of his foster mother. All this was food for thought and sufficient reason to suspect that there must be a family tie somewhere. But nowhere did I find a connection. I couldn't find a male Schultze who had a daughter named Maria Johanna Francisca.

A tip of the veil in an email
One of the advantages of blogging is that other people (hopefully) read it. And sometimes these other people react and make helpful remarks. One day a lady emailed me that one Karel Frederik Schultze was a military man living in the Dutch East Indies, in particular in Palembang.
When I looked into the Schultze family earlier I also found this Karel Frederik. But since he was unmarried, I ignored him. I was also unaware of his presence in the Dutch colony. So when I received the ladies message I decided to concentrate on his stay in the East Indies. I soon found out that when Maria was born in Palembang on October 1, 1865, Karel Frederik was there as well. He was also in Banjermassin on Borneo in 1870 when a foundling was taken care of there. Earlier that year army major Meinard Simon Dupui died in the same city leaving behind three little girls.
According to newspaper articles the major general retired and subsequently travelled from Semarang to Batavia in 1879. He was accompanied by "1 child". Later that year he boarded the English steamer Hampton from Batavia to Rotterdam. The passenger list shows that there were "children" (plural) in his party.
All these children including Maria later show up in the population register of Boxtel, a community in the southern part of the Netherlands where the major general bought himself a manor. The only difference with the Amsterdam birth certificate is that here her last name is written as Schultze, not Schulze.
When the general dies in december 1885, a speaker at his burial praises him for taking care of orphans whom he took with him from the East Indies. In the tax return drawn up by a notary public after his death, money is set aside to pay for the education of both Maria and foundling Goesti Amat.
In the Boxtel register mentioned above, Maria is mentioned as the niece of Karel Frederik. (Please note that the Dutch word for niece is nicht also meaning cousin.) 
So no doubt there is a family relationship between the two. The question is what that relationship exactly was.

A hypothesis based on facts
Since I couldn't find any male Schultze who could fulfill the role of Maria's father, the only option is that unmarried Karel Frederik is her daddy.
Is that possible or even likely? In those days it was an accepted practice for unmarried Dutchmen living in the East Indies, to live with a native woman, a socalled njai. Children from these relationships obviously had mixed blood and were called Indo's, even today. In a number of cases these couples got married but not always.
My assumption is that the major general was involved in such a relationship which resulted in the child Maria Johanna Francisca. To give her a certain social status he gave her his name. Whether he did that already there in the colony or upon arrival here, I don't know. There may have been social conventions here that forced the unmarried general to call Maria his niece. Following this supposition means that Karel Frederik is the grandfather of Amsterdam born Frans, a boy with obvious Indian traits. In this hypothesis the father of Frans remains unknown.
Another possibility is that Karel Frederik is Frans' father. It is possible but in my view not very likely. Because of all the other orphans he has taken care of, I do not feel he is the person to abuse a 13 year old girl. The fact that Frans grew up in Amsterdam, and not in Boxtel, also somewhat contradicts Frans being his son, certainly if his name should be Schultze. He might have called him his little cousin and had him live near him. In any case nothing is known about this in the Schulze family and no doubt would there have been stories about Frans being the child of a general…

Frans Schulze
Amsterdam, 4-4-1880/Bussum 10-14-1952
Grandson and ...
Karel Frederik Schultze
Twello, 7-28-1825/Boxtel, 12-11-1885
... grandfather??

The lost t
Amidst all uncertainties, one thing is clear. And that is the date on which the "t" disappeared from surname Schultze.
On April 6, 1880, Maurits Meijers, the MD who helped Maria with the delivery of Frans in Amsterdam, informs the civil servant in the cities town hall about the name of the mother. Phonetically both Schultze and Schulze are almost the same. So the doctor may have said one thing, the civil servant understood what he wrote down. And that is when the "t" got lost. Ever since Frans and his offspring will have to do without. Such is life.

In conclusion I like to express my appreciation to Mrs. M.L. in Z. for her valuable contribution in the unraveling of this story!

Photo credits:
F. Schulze: private collection

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