The Camstra Trail: A Little Box with a Photo – 52 Ancestors #332

The day began out similar to some other day, however THIS day would maintain one thing very particular.

Hello Roberta,

I’m writing you from the Netherlands. I don’t know the place you reside. Your title got here up in my seek for the offspring of Douwe Baukes Camstra. I feel you’re offspring of his sister Lijsbeth. I’ve a bit of field with a photograph of Douwe and his spouse Iebeltje Egberts Kijlstra taken on their silver marriage ceremony in 1856! I wish to give it again to their kin.

It is a image of it:

Are you able to assist me? Are you aware different kin? If not, you possibly can have it. Would you like it?

Do I Need It?

Is the Pope Catholic?

Of COURSE I would like it – assuming it’s my relative.

First, I needed to scurry off and search my family tree software program. Was this, certainly my member of the family?

Might I presumably be this fortunate?

Holding my breath…

Oh my gosh – this IS the brother of my ancestor! I didn’t know his center title, and I’ve a unique spelling for his spouse’s title, however it’s undoubtedly the identical couple.

That is so thrilling!!!

I requested Marga the place she discovered this treasure.

The little field belongs to my mom, however she doesn’t know the place it comes from. We don’t have any household within the north of the Netherlands. I put an image of it on Fb and it’s many instances shared, however no reactions in any respect. I discovered on the web that there should not many individuals left in our nation with the title Camstra…

Within the field there’s a little paper. It says: “Ybeltje Kielstra en Douwe Baukes Camstra beiden geboren +/- 1810 bij hun zilveren huwelijksfeest in 1862.” Which implies: Ybeltje Kielstra and Douwe Baukes Camstra each born +/- 1810 at their silver weddings get together in 1862.

The date 1862 is mistaken as a result of it was in 1856.

Marga took this scrap of knowledge and commenced looking out, looking for in the event that they have been associated to Douwe. She fleshed out his very important data, together with his mother and father.

Marga had clearly accomplished her homework. I simply need to say this – it’s extremely complicated when Bauke Douwe Camstra names his first and second sons each Douwe Bauke Camstra. The primary son died, however I digress.

I replied to Marga, then I attempted to attend patiently for her response.

The web/Fb in some way bollixed issues up and my reply to Marga went AWOL. Although I might see it from my finish, Marga couldn’t.

Two days later, she queried, “You’re not ?”

You’re Not ?


Fortunately, Marga obtained this second message and posted the envelope.

Longest 3 weeks of my life.

What if it received misplaced within the worldwide mail? The mail right here within the US has been taking weeks to months for some objects mailed in the identical county – not to mention from throughout the ocean.

The place was it?

Wouldn’t it EVER arrive?

“Be affected person,” I informed myself, time and again.

I didn’t obtain the endurance gene.

One Chilly February Day

Lastly, one chilly mid-February day, virtually a month later, a small envelope arrived.

I point out the envelope was small for 2 causes.

First, I laid it apart within the pile of spam as a result of I used to be anticipating one thing bigger. Who needs to kind by spam if you’re impatiently ready for one thing VERY valuable?

Second, honestly, I didn’t count on one thing THAT small. It’s miniature.

Did I point out that I am keen on miniatures???

The little field itself is about 2.5 by 3 inches and it’s lower than half an inch thick. Perhaps nearer to 1 / 4 inch.

After I was sorting by the mail later, I squealed with pleasure, as a result of there it was.

I opened the envelope fastidiously and noticed a face that seemed no less than vaguely acquainted. Was my ancestor a feminine model of him, minus the beard? They shared the identical mother and father.

Lijsbeth Bauke Camstra married Hendrik Jans Ferwerda on February 19, 1829 in Leeuwarden. Hendrik was a college instructor and so they lived their married life in Blija, about 13 miles (22 km) away, close to the ocean.

Their first little one was Bauke Hendrick Ferwerda, born January 26, 1830. He married Geertje Harmens DeJong who handed away earlier than Bauke remarried and the household immigrated to America, settling in Indiana.

Some siblings don’t have a look at all alike and others are dead-ringers for one another. Did my ancestor, Lijsbert Baukes Camstra, born March 13, 1806 look something like her youthful brother, Douwe Baukes Camstra, born on Might 15th of the next 12 months? In that case, did she move it on?

I don’t know. You could be the choose.

Douwe Bauke Camstra pictured beside his great-nephew, Hiram Bauke Ferverda, at proper. Hiram was about 15 years older than Douwe on this photograph and his hair is just not gray. It appears like Douwe may need been blind in his left eye.

Douwe could be my great-great-great-great-uncle. I consider that is additionally the earliest photograph of any member of the family.

The Camstra Residence

Douwe and his sister Lijsbeth, each with the center title of Bauke, Camstra have been born on this house, in Leeuwarden.

Camstra home in 2014

Yvette Hoitink, Dutch genealogist extraordinaire, positioned this property for me in 2012. In truth, you possibly can see my very first glimpse for your self on this quick YouTube video that Yvette recorded whereas strolling down the road. You possibly can hear the church bells ringing within the background.

I’ve since been to Leeuwarden myself, however there’s nothing like that first glimpse on the opposite aspect of what you believed to be an insurmountable brick wall.

Whoever would have guessed that one other 9 years later, a Camstra household photograph would floor in an unrelated household within the south of the Netherlands and make its method to me in America.

In fact, I needed to discover out extra.

What Occurred to Douwe Bauke Camstra?

Douwe died in Leeuwarden on August 20, 1869.

We don’t know the place he lived, however it definitely might have been within the very home the place he was born.

The clock tower and the gardens have been on the finish of the block, fairly conveniently positioned. In truth, the Camstra house was handy to just about all the pieces in Leeuwarden.

The Camstra house was positioned at Grote Kerkstraat 33, proven beneath on Google maps right this moment.

Tresoar, the present-day regional archives the place Douwe’s father’s Pleasure Backyard was positioned was only a couple blocks down this avenue within the route we’re wanting, and what seems to be Douwe’s closing resting place was throughout the moat ringing the previous metropolis.

Yvette additionally filmed the situation of the Pleasure Gardens in this video.


Cemeteries work otherwise within the Netherlands (and the remainder of Europe) than they do within the US, even again then.  Actual property is at a premium, particularly dry land. You actually didn’t wish to dig a gap and have it fill with water. Coffins aren’t alleged to splash.

Individuals have been buried on the terps, raised areas constructed for church buildings, then the plots have been reused just a few years later. How lengthy? Effectively, that is determined by the situation and the circumstances. In lots of circumstances, relations shared grave areas with different relations. If the grave was deserted, then some years later, typically roughly 20, another person was buried in the identical area.

If the unique inhabitant hadn’t completely returned to “mud” but, no downside.

A small ossuary constructing allowed no matter stays remained to go to with their neighbors and proceed their degradation stacked, respectfully, collectively. Most cemeteries within the Netherlands have an inobtrusive little constructing for simply this function. Nobody thinks something of it.

This little Ossuary is discovered within the church cemetery in Wolsum the place Hiram Ferwerda lived for just a few years.

Initially, the Leeuwarden cemetery would have been contained in the fortified metropolis partitions, after all, beside that church tower in what’s right this moment the car parking zone.

This map from 1612 reveals the church and indifferent church tower at far left, though different data inform us that the decrepit church was demolished in 1595 or 1596. The “yard” surrounding the church would have been the cemetery.

It’s additionally price noting that the Dutch Reformed Protestant church is proven at proper, on the different finish of “Grote Kerkstraat,” or Nice Church Road.

This 1664 map reveals the stays of the church, together with the churchyard in entrance of the bell tower. I can’t assist however marvel if the little home on the base of the tower is both the caretaker’s house, or the ossuary, or each.

The crimson arrow factors to the Camstra house. You discovered a church or a cemetery regardless of which route you walked. Church buildings, previous or contemporaneous, at both finish of the road.

By Ymblanter – Personal work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Protestant church, already a number of hundred years previous by that point was a pair blocks east of the Camstra house. There have been burials contained in the Protestant church, Grote of Jacobijnerkerk, in crypts and within the ground, however I discover no file of exterior burials. Certainly they existed. Individuals needed to be buried someplace and churchyards have been the place cemeteries have been positioned. Solely the rich have been buried contained in the church, within the ground. There’s area across the church on the previous maps. Treasured area inside town partitions was by no means wasted.

A royal interdiction in 1827 put an finish to the unhygienic burials in and beside church buildings. Communities needed to search extra appropriate areas to bury exterior the cities. In Leeuwarden, the “new” cemetery at the Spanjaardslaan opened in 1833. In fact, it’s now referred to as the “Outdated Metropolis Graveyard,” however it definitely wasn’t the oldest. The churchyards have been far older.

The residents have been reluctant to surrender their churchyard burial practices, however a Dutch panorama gardener designed a beautiful cemetery that may operate as a park along with being a cemetery. Situated on the previous dwelling mound, Fiswerd, as soon as a monastery, the attractive, quiet cemetery permits guests, then and now, to depart the busy metropolis behind.

Coming into these gates, between the skulls on the highest of the fence, the park doesn’t a lot resemble a cemetery as we understand them right this moment.

The peaceable essence that the landscaper had in thoughts to lure these Frisians away from their church graveyard can nonetheless be felt right this moment.

Bushes, grass, and landscaping are discovered everyplace.

However the place is Douwe?

The cemetery was designed in 5 “departments.” The primary was for the wealthy middle-class and nobles. Many graves had spectacular monuments which stay right this moment. For sure, these graves weren’t reused. The second division burials weren’t fairly as dignified however nonetheless rich. The third space consisted of individuals we might in all probability take into account center class, however no nobles. The fences on this space are essentially the most ornate although. Go determine.

The fourth space is the furthest from the doorway. Many individuals buried right here couldn’t afford stones, so that they had a easy wood cross, or maybe a standard, uninscribed stone for a number of burials. The fifth is the newest and the cemetery is now closed to new burials.

You possibly can feast your eyes on beautiful photos, here.

As you would possibly collect, the Camstra household was comparatively rich. Douwe and Lijsbeth’s father, Bauke Camstra owned that lovely house, only a few doorways from the ducal residence, as in Duke of Orange, now a museum. Plus Bauke owned one other property AND the Pleasure Gardens.

I absolutely anticipated Douwe to have a memorial stone, maybe a big one.

The identified burials are searchable, here.

There are certainly 4 Camstra burials, however not Douwe☹

This was the ONLY cemetery in Leeuwarden at the moment, so Douwe is assuredly, or was, buried right here. Perhaps in a kind of unmarked, or shared, graves., though that appears odd, given what we all know in regards to the household.

Maybe his grave is one which had a monument that, over time, sunk.

Maybe Douwe was not as rich as his father.

Wait? What?

Wait….his father.

Was Douwe buried within the grave beforehand occupied by his father?

Because it seems, no, Bauke Douwes Camstra, his father, died on Might 24, 1866, not fairly three years earlier than his son, which suggests he’s buried someplace right here too. Bauke’s spouse, Anna Elizabeth Jonker, Douwe and Lijsbeth’s mom died in 1856, so she’s close by as effectively.

Bauke Douwes Camstra was unquestionably rich, so there’s actually no query that he was not buried in part 4 of the cemetery. I can’t assist however marvel if, in some way, he obtained particular dispensation to be buried within the previous churchyard beside his Pleasure Backyard. However then once more, the Dutch are sticklers for guidelines and group – so I’d guess not. In the event that they let Bauke do this, then they’d need to let everybody do this. Apart from that, Bauke labored, no less than for a time, for the municipality.

Effectively, then, what about Douwe’s grandparents? Was he buried of their graves?

Nope, the final one in every of his 4 grandparents died in August of 1830, so that they aren’t buried on this beautiful park. They in all probability relaxation beneath the car parking zone in entrance of the clock tower, right this moment, or possibly within the churchyard of the Dutch Reformed church down the road.

My ancestor Lijsbert Baukes Camstra, in all probability carrying her son, Bauke Hendrick Ferwerda, about 9 months previous, would have stood right here too, together with her mother and father and siblings as she buried her final grandparent. I used to be in all probability standing not solely on their graves, however strolling of their footsteps.

If they’re buried on the protestant church just a few blocks away, that’s OK, I visited there too.

As a result of the grandparents have been the final technology of burials earlier than the brand new cemetery was opened, they’d by no means have been eliminated. They have been, nevertheless, finally bricked over if actually they’re buried in both location.

Good Heavens, I walked on them, in all probability ate honest meals on prime of them, with out giving it even a thought. As a result of we don’t “reuse” cemeteries right here, I ought to have, however by no means realized I used to be actually “visiting” their graves as I celebrated “Orange Day” once I visited the Netherlands.

Speak about oblivious. Additionally, speak about excellent. I hope they’ve a humorousness!

My DNA is throughout Leeuwarden, or possibly I ought to say within the earth surrounding the previous church buildings and cemeteries in Leeuwarden.

Lighting the Means

We don’t know precisely the place my ancestors Bauke Douwes Camstra (Dec. 28, 1779 – Might 24, 1866) and his spouse, Anna Elizabeth Jonker (Dec. 30, 1878 – 1856) are buried on this beautiful cemetery park in Leeuwarden, however they’re unquestionably there.

We are able to, nevertheless, hint their life’s path.

We are able to begin at their house on the crimson arrow, stroll west to the cemetery, now a car parking zone (crimson star) in entrance of the clock and bell tower the place they could have buried their mother and father. We are able to go to Bauke’s Pleasure Backyard (crimson star), now the pristine Metropolis Gardens and Tresoar archives, and stroll to the Durch Reformed church (crimson star) to the east of their house the place they worshiped and Bauke Camstra was a deacon.

This church is the place their lives have been celebrated at their funerals.

Paradoxically, 152 years after Douwe Bauke Camstra died, in 1869, it was the “little field with a photograph” that allowed me to seek out him, and his mother and father, within the lovely previous cemetery.

Come along for a stroll in this video and go to the ultimate resting place of the Camstra household.

Replace: I household notice data that the Camstra-Kijlstra couple is buried in part 3, row 26, quantity 11 of the cemetery.

Thank You!

An enormous thanks to Marga, her mom, and Yvette.

None of this might have occurred with out Yvette’s unique discovery and subsequent analysis or Marga’s dedication to return the photograph to a member of the family, mixed together with her and her mom’s generosity.

Thanks! Thanks!



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