The "Gretzendanner"- documents
Valentijn 1730 - 1773
Once upon a time there was a farm-boy in the valley of
Toggenburg in a country called Switzerland.
His father was a landowner with many sons.
Therefore there was no opportunity for him to inherit
or own any land for himself. This was the reason
why he left his home country and took it upon himself
to find his fortune elsewhere.
This sounds like the beginning of a fairy-tale but
in fact could be Valentijn's own story.
Valentijn (* 1730) was probably son number so many
and had to leave his village and wander into the world.
In fact this is a fragment of the letter he was carrying
with him when he left.
His reverend, Pfarrer Joh. Jac. Schadler, wrote
this letter for him before he left. This letter,
which served as a kind of passport, stated that :
Johann Valentin Gietzendanner, was born from
the honest Evangelic Reformed marriage between
Johannes Gietzendanner, deceased, and Maria Baumann.
He was baptized on June 18, 1730 in the presence of
Georg Gietzendanner and Elsbeth Bueller.
When now he went to search his fortune outside his
homeland or found a position somewhere, I want
you to know that this is a honest young man,
whom I can recommend firmly because he follows
the rules and law of the good God.
This was signed and sealed by the reverend
on August 8, 1752.
The original letter was amongst the papers in our
personal file in the orphanage. Some day after August 8,
Valentijn kissed his loved ones goodbye and
left for the north.
Whether he followed the river Rhine or searched
for his relatives in Germany, we do not know.
We do know that the latest stop he made, before he
arrived in Amsterdam, was Namen, which could mean
that he went through Belgium. Between his leaving
Switzerland and his arrival in Amsterdam in
October 30, 1755, three years went by, in which
he had to support himself, so probably he worked
his way up north.
The inscription in the New Church, right in the
middle of Amsterdam, was probably done, shortly
after Valentijn arrived and found lodging and work.
The letter, he was carrying, must have been a help.
The fact that he joined the church in Amsterdam is
supported by a little piece of handwritten paper I
found in the portfolio, which stated:
"on October 20, 1755 the attestation of Valentein
Gietzendanner is handed in; in November that of
When we carefully examine the handwriting, we have
to conclude that this note differs significantly
from the signatures of Valentijn and Else, when they married,
so this note was probably written by somebody else.
The same goes for the separate memo of Elsebeen Must,
"In November of 1749 I, Elsebeen Must, have handed
in my attestation in the New Church"
I do not think she wrote it herself. On the other hand
these two little pieces of paper indicate that the wife
of Valentijn was also born outside Amsterdam, a fact
that is supported by her inscription in the New Church,
dated December11, 1749, where it says:
"Elisabet Muijst in the Oldwomen's Almshouse
Also we find proof of this when they are married, then we
are informed that they both are "Reformiert".
By now Valentijn is living on the "heeregragt" and
Else in the "Lindestraat" and while handing in
the publication of the banns, she is supposed to
be assisted by her mother "Swaantje Wijnberg",
which is hard to believe without further proof.
What was she doing in the Almshouse anyway?
Well, when she arrived in Amsterdam, she must
have been 18 years old. This was often the only
place for orphans to stay in those days or maybe
she was working there.
"Susanna Luurse", who assisted Valentijn,
we do not know her at all.
So far we have secured all evidence of Gietzendanners
in Amsterdam and nothing indicates that there are more
of them here but our very own Valentijn.
What could have been going on then?
On Saturday December 17, 1757, which is two
weeks before the publication of the banns of
Valentijn and Else on December 30, 1757,
when the burial-book of the West Church states:
"the child of Cornelis Gietzenteuner called Valentijn,
on the Roosegraft".
Up till now I have not been able to secure more information
than this. No baptism of this child and nothing to support the
existence of a "Cornelis". What if a little error was made?
Suppose: "the child of Valentijn Gietzenteuner called Cornelis"
was meant to be written. In that case our Valentijn was burying
his pre-matrimonial child a fortnight before the publication of
the banns. I think it is acceptable to presume this, but mind you
there is no proof this has happened. Up till now every thing was
done in the New Church and the burial was taken care of by the
West Church, could it be that Valentijn did not want his
Reverend, who was going to marry him only a month later, to
know? We can only guess.
One thing is sure, a little baby was put to rest and as far as
we know now this was the first Gietzendanner in Dutch soil.
In the meantime I have found new evidence and also an
assistant the Amsterdam archive has set me straight
on an error. If "the child of" is buried, this means that
the baby was born dead, but if it has a name, it has
in any case lived long enough to be baptized, no dead
children were ever baptized. So our Valentijn
Gietzenteuner still remains a puzzle.
We discovered another document he is mentioned in.
When somebody was to be buried, this
was also registered in the financial books of the church.
First to fourth class burials were to be paid for from
30 to 3 Dutch guilders, but the biggest record in this
book is of the poor. In this section we can find:
"Angenieta hartog for Valentijn Gietzenteuner",
which means that a certain Angenieta Hartog and Cornelis
Gietzenteuner were involved in the burial of Valentijn.
Could Cornelis have been a brother of Valentijn (* 1730),
who also came to Holland. If so, why did he not enlist
in the church at the same time as his brother did?
No marriage can be found so far, nor the fact
that he died in Amsterdam. Let's hope that further
investigation will reveal the answer. My Swiss friends
and researchers are almost sure Cornelis is not a Swiss
originated name, so he remains a mystery.
The marriage between Valentijn and Else was registered
on Sunday, January 15, 1758, by Rev. Tijken in the
New Church of Amsterdam as:
"Valentijn Gitsentammer x Elsje Muust".
Their first child in marriage was baptized in the
Old Church on Friday, May 11, 1759, by Rev. Serrurier
and called Johannes.
His father is called Valentijn Gietzenteinner and his mother
Elsie Mast. The sponsors are named, but unknown to us.
The male sponsor comes from Zürich.
One and a half years later, Wednesday,
December 10, 1760, Roedolf was baptized in the
New Church by Rev. Budde.
Roedolfs father: Valentijn Gietzentunner;
mother: Elsebet Must.
Again, the sponsors are unknown to us, but the male sponsor
certainly has a German or Swiss sounding name.
We do not know what happened to this child,
nothing was found in any archive.
Again in May, on Friday 14, 1762, a son called Valentijn is
baptized in the Old Church of Amsterdam, witnessed by two
sponsors whom we do not recognize. For the father: Valentijn
Gietzendaner and the mother: Elisabet Must. Although we
cannot find anything further on this child, he is probably
dead, because in 1766 another Valentijn is born.
The first girl of Valentijn Gietzendanner and Elsebeth Must
is baptized in the New Church by Rev. Westerhoff on
Wednesday, February 8, 1764, and named Schwangi.
Her sponsors are again people we do not know.
A second baby girl is baptized in the Nieuwe Zijds Chapel
on Sunday, December 8, 1765, by Rev. Kessler.
Her name: Maria Cathrina. No trace of her after this date.
Again a Valentijn is born and baptized in the New Church on
Wednesday, December 10, 1766, by Rev. Serrurier,
two sponsors with unknown names.
Maria Elisabet is baptized on Sunday, January 8, 1769, by
Rev. van der Vorm. Her sponsors are Willem Gotz and Maria
Elisabet Gishamer, is no relative with a somewhat
The last child, called Bernhartus, was baptized
October 20, 1771.
The baptism was sponsored by Berhart Huert and
Johanna Must. For the first time, we can trace the name
of a sponsor to be a relative of Else Must.
Valentijn (* 1730) died January 15, 1773 and was buried
January 17, 1773 in the North Churchyard.
His body was fetched from "t Dwarshol 12",
which was a very, very small alley, near the bakery
for the poor. (see picture: bread is distributed among to the poor)
This bakery was owned by the parish,
the same parish that was mentioned, when his wife
was enlisted in the church in 1749. The burial was paid for
by the relief board for the poor, he was fetched from home
with "Roefbaar", which means "covered bier" and
that did cost money. Could he have been working for
this board? Certainly there is a strong bond between
them and the family. When Else Must, his widow died
and was buried on December 20, 1777 in the same
churchyard as her husband, again the board
paid for the burial. Her body was fetched by evening
from the "Hol", very near to the place where she lived
when she was widowed.
This is the moment where fortune and misfortune shake hands.
Four living children, named Johannes (Jan) aged 18 3/4,
Schwangi(Swaantje) aged 13, Valentijn aged 11 and
Maria Elisabet (Elisabeth) aged 8, become orphans,
when their mother dies. The brothers of the parish will
take these children into their orphanage, but not before
some things are thoroughly examined.
On January 7, 1778 Deacon Schotsman reports to
the Honorable Big Assembly that he has proof of
the following facts:
As our records show Valentijn Gretzendanner,
his widow, Eliesabeth Must has had our support for
the total sum of 619 Dutch florins and 1 shilling.
According to the records of the undertaker of
Northern Churchyard, both are dead and buried,
she to be the last one. She was a member since 1749,
according to the records examined by
Father Gijsbert van Deventer. Now there are four
children, members, left, names and ages, who have
no friends with fortune, who are indigent (poor) and
ask to accept them into your orphanage as proposed
on December 30, 1777 to your Assembly.
The children can be found in the "Hol",
behind the parish bakery.
On the other side of the page:
Further more our supervisors have examined and
validated the goods that were found in the room of Else
and her children and found:
1 bed, 1 bolster, 2 pillows and 4 blankets;
1 woman's pair of trousers, 3 jackets and some old clothes;
10 skirts, 4 shirts, 5 small underwear, 2 aprons, 6 sheets;
6 pieces of copper and tin, 6 chairs, 3 tables;
2 cupboards, suitcase and basket;
4 curtains and blinds;
3 mirrors, some rubbish and 5 iron things
which totals Dfl 29-2-:
Room rent, food, peat and fire-wood, milk, coffee and
olive oil, at the pawn-broker's shop 1 skirt and 1 jacket
totals Dfl 27-7-8
Which leaves Dfl 1-14-8
Furthermore there are no goods, nor debt and no
inheritance to be expected. Because there are no
friends with fortune, we take these four children into
We will take all goods in our warehouse and pay the debt
as cheaply as possible. All the documents are in good order
and the children are really poor.Therefore the admission
is proposed to the Honourable Big Assembly on
January 6, 1778 and approved on January 7, 1778.
As we have seen in the above document, all things that were
in the home of Else Must and her four children came into
the possession of the Brothers. Their records were minute
and in the home of Else they also found some papers.
Together with the certified copies of all necessary
documents, they were kept in a separate file
under the name of "Gretzendanner".
Here we found the original of Valentijns letter,
which he had brought from Switzerland,
the little handwritten notes concerning the date they joined
the church and a handwritten inventory of their home.
Among these papers was also a second original letter from
Cappel-Switzerland. In this letter the birth and baptism of
Johannes (Jan) (* 1759) was confirmed and the reverend
in Cappel, Rev. Joh. Jac.Schaddler, the same one who wrote
the letter for Valentijn, writes that he has entered this
baptism in the parish register of his father on
February 27, 1772.
Strange that we could not find anything on the missing
children, no records of their death, but from the fact
that only four children go to the orphanage, we have to
presume the others were all dead in December 1778.
In the files of the orphanage we also discovered the reason
why Johannes (Jan) was married, introducing
his mother-in-law as his own mother.
When he reached the age of 24, he left the orphanage
in May, 1784. The records show that he has learned,
what he had to learn very well, and he left with
the normal outfit, whatever that was.
According to these books he was entitled to a second
outfit, but a little memo, which was glued to the boys
book of the inhabitants of the orphanage stated, he was
to be interrogated, because he was married to a Lutheran
woman, called Sara van Kerkhellen, "without our consent."
The girls, Schwangi and Maria Elisabeth, were placed
into the households of ladies in town.
Schwangi (Swaantje) left the orphanage in May 1785,
age 20, she earned Dfl 30, being a maid.
Her sister Elisabet left in May 1790, she was a maid too
and earned Dfl 40 then.
This leaves Valentijn (* 1766), who leaves Holland in 1781
by ship. We will deal with him in a separately.
Subject: family 1730
Valentijn Gietzendanner, christened in Cappel-Toggenburg
(Schweiz) Jun 18, 1730, died in Amsterdam Jan 15, 1773,
buried there Jan 17, 1773, son of Johannes Giezedannner
and Marja Bauwmän(in).
He got the banns published in Amsterdam Dec 30, 1757 and
was married there Jan 15, 1758 in church
Else Must, born ca.1731, died in Amsterdam Dec 20, 1777,
buried there, probably daughter of Swaantje Wijnberg.
1 probably Cornelis, born b. Dec 1757, died in Amsterdam
Dec 17, 1757, buried in Amsterdam on het Westerkerkhof.
2 Johannis, born May 08, 1759, christened in Amsterdam
May 11, 1759, died there Mar 16, 1814.
He entered a notice of marriage in Amsterdam. He was
married there Jun 10, 1783 in church to
Sara van Kerkhellen, born in Amsterdam, christened
at the Lutherse Kerk Sep 10, 1758,
daughter of Hendrik van Kerkhellen and
Anna Margareta Pielhou.
3 Roedolf, born Dec 08, 1760, christened in Amsterdam at
the Nieuwe Kerk Dec 10, 1760, died b. 1777.
4 Valentijn, born May 11, 1762, christened in Amsterdam
at the Oude Kerk May 14, 1762, died b. 1766.
5 Schwangi, christened in Amsterdam at the Nieuwe Kerk
Feb 08, 1764, died in Amsterdam
at "t france pad" Dec 28, 1798.
6 Maria Cathrina, christened in Amsterdam at the N Z Kapel
Dec 08, 1765, died b. 1777.
7 Valentijn, born Dec 07, 1766, christened in Amsterdam
Dec 10, 1766.
8 Maria Elisabet, christened in Amsterdam at the Nieuwe Kerk
Jan 08, 1769, died in Amsterdam Feb 24, 1829.
9 Bernhartus, born Oct 18, 1771, christened in Amsterdam
Oct 20, 1771, died b. 1777.