The Dutch Branch



Did YOU ever wonder where you came from?
I did. Always, that is to say, for as long as I can remember.

Thanks to Uncle Willem, who was married to my mother's elder
sister To.
They were some ten years older than my parents and never had
any children of their own. They lived in a beautiful little
village, called Egmond aan Zee, along the Dutch coast and I
spent a great part of my younger years there.
One of the first pictures of me was taken in their tiny garden,
where I was sitting in my pram.
A happy child in a happy environment.
It was 1949, a few months after my birth, some four years
after World War II and Holland was recovering from its war

My aunt and uncle never skipped an opportunity to ensure my
parents I was better off, when staying with them for holidays
and during summer time.
I could enjoy playing safely in the streets of Egmond on Sea
and joining the other children on the beach and in the dunes.
This was not possible at home with my parents as we lived in
Amsterdam and because of the housing problem we were still
living with my mother's parents.
Right in the middle of Amsterdam, fourth floor with a huge
attic (in the eyes of a child) where my Grandfather used to
breed his canary-birds and my mother and Granny did the was-
hing once a week when they rented a washing-machine. There
were no possibilities to play outdoors because this was a busy
street with cars and a tramway. Looking from the window I saw
many an accident happen, so Egmond was also for me a nice
place to be. There I could play outdoors and wander through
the dunes and along the beach.

Uncle Willem worked at the harbour in Beverwijk and had to
leave real early in the morning, I did not see him then but at
five o'clock when he came home.
I used to meet him at the corner of the street where they
lived. My aunt could see me then and I could look around the
corner into the street where the bus  stop was. Did you ever
have a loving uncle, who could sing, play the mouth organ and
tell stories he would believe himself?
As far as I can remember it was always a feast to be with him.
He could hang by his feet on the doorpost and lift me up like
I was a feather. Such a man does not lie to you, although I
was rather sceptical about the fact that he had been a cowboy
when he was younger.

One story he always told me had many different versions,
but were about how I came onto the world. There was the story,
where he had found me while he was hunting rabbits in the
dunes. He did catch rabbits, but this was during the war and
they were used to provide the family with food or money when
he sold them.

Another story, which was more realistic, was that he was my
true father and I was born in Egmond as a child of his and my
aunt's. Whatever story he told me, its ending was always the
same. When my parents saw me they pleaded so long that he gave
me away and this was the reason I came to live in Amsterdam.

Although my aunt, on many an occasion, told him to stop teasing 
me, he could never stop and neither could I.
If he did not tell me spontaneously, I would ask him to.
So I was a foundling or at least given away to my parents.

Now my substitute parents are no longer part of my life.
Both my aunt (+1969) and uncle (+1993) have passed away, and
because of their ever lasting love and care, I really did lose
a spare father and mother.

As a child the wondering was always there and many years after
Uncle Willem told me these stories, I happened to be, for
professional purposes, in the Amsterdam Institute for Archives
where they keep the records of the Amsterdam population. I had
to go to a department, where they keep old photographs, in
order to get a few for the jubilee book of my boss, who was
going to retire in the spring of 1985.
While walking through the building I had to go through the
department where they keep the records of the inhabitants of
the city. After I had picked up my pictures, I went back there
and asked if and how one could find his ancestors there. One
of the staff assisted me in my first steps on genealogy.
My name was an advantage, how many Giesendanners could there
be, NOT being relatives. If your name is Jansen or de Vries
then you would be in bigger trouble, but with a name as ours,
there is nothing to it. I knew my father of course and when he
was born, but those records are not kept there, because the
archive stops around the beginning of 1900. So we could find
the birth of my grandfather. This record tells you who his
father and mother were and then you try to find this marriage.
There you can read who his parents were and so on. In one
afternoon I got as far back as Johannes Giesendanner, born in
1759 in Amsterdam, second son of Valentijn Gietzendanner and
Else Must. Not bad for one afternoon of research, but also the
beginning of an addiction that has been going on for many
years now.
I have spent many, many hours in the Amsterdam archives but at
the end of March 1985 I got stuck. Well, let's start at the
end of the line and work our way up.

                            Joop Giesendanner (c) 1995

Chapter 1