Thursday, July 14, 2011

Named in America: Second Generation Van De Riets

I've been collecting records on Herman and Sarah Elmyra (Hale) Van De Riet and am fascinated by the change that some of these Dutch names underwent. My good friend Elsje (pronounced Elsha) is half Dutch; I met her Mom recently and she taught me how to pronounce some of these names.
So, here is a little quiz for you. These are all names of Van De Riets, born to Herman and Sarah in Kansas. They were pretty good about naming their kids for their parents, which meant that some of the Dutch names showed up, strange sounding to our Yankee ears or not. Actually, they weren't that unusual because Herman and Sarah actually lived in a Dutch community where these names were common.
Herman and Sarah with six of their eight children
 Can you match these Dutch names to their American counterpart, or the American name to the nickname they ended up with?
Can you identify which grandparent these kids got named for (apparently)?
Can you guess how they were pronounced?

Which child did not actually belong to Sarah and Herman?

Remember, these are Grandma LaVonne's aunts and uncles, siblings to our Great Grandpa Harry VanDeRiet. I know that the Dutch names were used originally based on the census records, marriage records, and from Grandpa Herman's will that I recently picked up in Great Falls, Montana. (PS, Herman left quite a chunk of change--over $25,000 at his death in 1920.  I looked that up in today's money on an inflation calculator and it would be the equivalent today of over a quarter million. Pretty good for an immigrant farmer turned ranch boss!  Maybe he had just sold some property?  He was renting in Great Falls when he died.)

1. Gerrit Jan                  A. Alice
2. Gerhard                     B. Will
3. Geziena                     C. Grace
4. Aaltje                        D. Minnie
5. Hermina                     E. John
6. Mary                         F. Harry
7. William Garrett          G. Hi
8. Hiram                        H. Marie
9. Grace                        I. Hazel AND Zina AND Sinnie

You got that?
1. Gerrit Jan is actually John. Herman's Dad, the original immigrant, was also named Gerritjan. The fun part is that it is pronounced with a gutterel G, which means you say a hard H sound down in your throat, so it comes out like "Herreet-Yawn."
2. Gerhard is the biggest surprise to me. This is actually my Great-Grandpa Harry. It also is pronounced with an H sound, Hairhard, so I guess it makes sense he would have gone by Harry. Of all the paperwork I have on him, the only place I've seen his name as Gerhard is in Herman's will. Harry was named for Herman's little brother Gerhard (who, I think, also went as Harry.)
3. Geziena. If you've caught on to the G=H trick, you might have figured out that this is Aunt Hazel. Sounds like, Hay-seena. As a young girl she went by Sinnie (I know, weird, but there are several in her community. Then, in Herman's will he refers to her as Zina. I've only heard her spoken of as Aunt Hazel.
4. Aaltje. This is the bogus child. Aaltje got Americanized to Alice. She is actually Herman's sister-in-law.
5. Hermina is Minnie. Understandable. Herman has a sister and a grandmother named Hermina, a very prevalent name in the Van De Riet family.
6. Mary is Aunt Marie. I don't know why she didn't just stick with Mary. Too common? Sarah's mother's name was Mary Ann Poole Hale.
7. William Garrett is Uncle Will. Sarah has a brother Will and also a Grandpa William Poole, so I guess that's where this comes from. It's kind of funny that they use the name Garrett twice.
8. Hiram is Uncle Hi. Named for Sarah's father Hiram Hale who fought in the Civil War.
9. Grace is Grace.

Now do you want to meet these half-Dutch Americans? Here are a few photos.
John, Harry (my Great-Grandpa), Will, Hiram Van De Riet
Uncle Hi Van De Riet, 1941, Portland.  Talk about a 100 watt smile!

Aunt Marie, 1947.  Marie went to college at Dillon, Montana and either saw, or played a small part in a play with Gary Cooper, who later made it big in Hollywood.  And she loved him ever after.  She also married and divorced Bailey Schnee, a fun uncle to my grandma, but also a bootlegger across the Canadian/Montana border.  She remarried James Kenyon.

Marie, Minnie, Hi, Hazel, and Grace.  Love the fancy dresses.  
The photos came from my Grandma LaVonne Van De Riet Haynes.  I helped her go through hundreds of family photos and write labels on them when I was in high school.  It was fun to hear her talk about her aunts and uncles.  She thought very highly of them.

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