Friday, May 25, 2012

An Ancestor’s Thoughts About Genealogy

Have you ever wondered what your ancestors would have thought about the genealogy research you’re doing? Well, for one of my ancestors I no longer have to wonder! Lodewijk Wesselo (1875-1962) made his thoughts very clear! During his lifetime, there were several people researching his family. The Wesselo family was being researched mainly by one of his brothers, although another brother was also doing genealogical research. His mother’s family – van Grasstek – was being researched, in that time frame mainly by Lodewijk van Grasstek and Wilhelmus Hendricus van Grasstek. Although there were several members of both family’s interested in genealogy and doing research.

All in all, Lodewijk often got questions about himself and his family. He wasn’t so open to answering them, though. In fact, when the brother-in-law of his brother wrote to him to ask questions about Lodewijk’s wife and children, he simply didn’t answer. Instead, Lodewijk’s daughter Antje Wesselo answered the man in a letter to her uncle:

“Considering Dad “couldn’t care less” about his family tree I will answer your brother-in-law’s questions.”(1)

Lodewijk himself also shows his feelings about the topic genealogy (and genealogists) in two later letters he wrote to his brother, after a book about the Wesselo family has been published:

“I don’t care about W. H. v. Gr. [Wilhelmus Hendricus van Grasstek], nor about the “tree” that I didn’t buy. Counting family doesn’t make you wiser.”(2)

“So your family tree isn’t right, I’d ask for my money back from de Bot [the publisher], I’m waiting for a corrected version. If you write to Willem [Willem Lodewijk Wesselo, the genealogist who published the book] about that W. in Almelo, I’d do it in gentle words. My confidence in the family tree is upset.”(3)

Lodewijk Wesselo is not very taken with genealogy. Well, he’ll have to apologize me then, as I find his life story very interesting and am knee-deep in his letters right now. At least I also know that some of my ancestors are genealogist and they are probably happy I’ve taken up the torch!

1. Handwritten letter Antje Wesselo to Abraham Wesselo, Familiearchieven: CBG, fa 00472, familiearchief Wesselo, Doos 1, portfolio 1, CBG, Den Haag.
2. Handwritten letter Lodewijk Wesselo to Abraham Wesselo 18 Juli 1952, Familiearchieven: CBG, fa 00472, familiearchief Wesselo, Doos 1, portfolio 3, CBG, Den Haag.
3. Handwritten letter Lodewijk Wesselo to Abraham Wesselo 28 Juli 1952, Familiearchieven: CBG, fa 00472, familiearchief Wesselo, Doos 1, portfolio 3, CBG, Den Haag.

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