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A Family of Silversmiths

  While doing research on the branches of my family tree, some times I come across a little bit of “treasure”. Not a real treasure, but some interesting information or sometimes even a picture. Recently I was doing some searching on a Klaas Jansen Heixan (my mothers great – great- great – great – great -great grandfather) and came upon the following:

This particular branch of the family tree were Silversmiths. Klaas Jansen Heixan was born on August 11, 1678 in Dokkum, Friesland, and like his father also became a silversmith. Every silversmith in those days had his own sign, or seal, to mark his work. (I found his sign, the KH monogram, at Meestertekens van Friese goud- en zilversmeden, werkzaam in de periode van ca. 1700 tot 1812 (Masterseals from Friesian gold- and silversmiths that were working between 1700 to1812 – but this link is no longer active) Not only did I find his ‘signature’, a sign that he placed on every piece of silverware he created, I also found a picture of a piece he made. At the following site, Botma Genealogy I found the family crest of a family Botma, at the bottom of a seal, which is part of a pipe stamper and other helpful tools. The initials G.G.B, are that of the owner. Upon closer inspection you can see the silver mark of the maker. On this website you can read the following: “Gezien het zilvermerk is het werktuig gemaakt door de Dokkumer Klaas Heixan. Deze stond ingeschreven in het gildeboek van 1704 tot 1738′. So, to think that one of my ancestors (even though it was long ago), created this piece from silver, somewhere in the 1700’s. It is like finding a little piece of my history. When looking for my ancestors, sometimes I rely on the research some others have done on that same branch. Just ‘google’ the name you are looking for and add a bit of information while you are surfing, like; ‘Heixan, Klaas ,silversmith ‘ that is how I found this picture and some more information to help me on my search. Do not forget to credit the site where you got your information.
To read that this family of silversmiths are part of my family tree is really cool,
but to actually find a picture of something they created is even cooler.
The world wide web is an amazing source of information – after “googling” some more I found another piece of
piece of Klaas Heixan’s workmanship –
silverspoon-klaas-heixan1A DUTCH SILVER SPOON, KLAAS HEIXAN, (DOKKUM), BETWEEN 1704-1738
Description – oval rat-tail bowl, engraved with monogram LR/MS within a shield suspending from a log of wood, lobed moulded handle terminating in a figure, maker´s mark only

Klaas Heixan was my 7th great-grandfather



Sierlepel met De Wijsheid – by Klaas Justus KraSierlepel met De Wijsheid Top – by Klaas Justus Krants ca. 1750. Silversmith Mark of Klaas Justus Krantznts ca. 1750

Sierlepel met De Wijsheid - by Klaas Justus Krants ca. 1750Klaas Heixan’s son in law, Claas Justus Krantz (my 6th great-grandfather)
who married Dieuwke Klases Heixan in Dokkum on Jan 4th, 1739, was also a silversmith. He was born Feb. 25th, 1712 in Dokkum, and later worked from there.
Below is an example of his work, a spoon created in abt. 1750.
Klaas and Dieuwke had 5 children, son Joost (1744), who died before the of age 2, another son Joost (1746) who also died in infancy, a daughter Dirkje (1748), daughter Janke(1750) and another son Joost (Justus) in 1753, who was my 5th great-grandfather.

Images taken from Meestertekens van Friese goud- en zilversmeden, werkzaam in de periode van ca. 1700 tot 1812 (link no longer active)
Their main site is Zilverstudie

My Mother’s Story

My Mother – Her Early Years

Jacob Hiemstra & Baukje Hoekstra on their wedding day on 28 May 1927My mother, Dirkje , was born on August 12th, 1936 in Engwierum, a small village in Dongeradeel, Friesland, Netherlands in a small cottage, which housed the whole family. She was named after her great-grandmother Dirkje Jacobs Bos (the tradition was that you named your first son after your husband’s father, the second son after the wife’s father – the oldest daughter was named after the wife’s mother, the second daughter after the husband’s mother – the other children were named after the grandparents in the same order)
She was the 5th girl (after 1. Wijpkje,2. Sjoukje, 3. Stijntje,4. Froukje) born to Jacob Hiemstra (Pake)and Baukje Hoekstra (Beppe), later followed by one more sister (Romkje)and a brother Jacob(Oome Jappie as we knew him)
Pake, as I remember was short man, but he worked very hard to provide for his large family. When he was only 5 when his mother died, but his father remarried a few years later and from what Pake would tell that this new mother was extremely good to them, that is probably why he named his 3rd daughter after her.

Pake Jacob, a farm laborer (right)I wish my mother was still alive, as I am writing this story about her, to ask questions and again listen to the stories she used to tell. I also wish I had listened better, so I would remember more.
When she was only a small girl the family moved to the village of EE – it was a small house – with a small barn attached to the house. There was no indoor plumbing and no running water, however there was a well with a pump in the kitchen, so lugging water was not a problem . Water had to be boiled for doing the dishes, which were then cleaned in a bowl on the table. There was an outhouse at the end of that barn and chamber pots were used during the night. There was one bedroom upstairs where all the girls slept on 2 beds. It probably was great for sisterly bonding or not, mom would tell us that often invisible lines were drawn on the bed – and when lines were crossed it was “war”. Pake and Beppe would sleep in the living room in one of the 2 bedsteads ( my sister and I would visit Pake and Beppe during the summer, and we would get to sleep in the other bedstead, and watch TV through the cracks)

Beppe Baukje with her 2 youngest children

Beppe Baukje with her 2 youngest children

My mother barely remembered the war (WWII), since she was only a little girl when the war broke out, Even though she did not remember specific incidents, she remembered the whispers, the fear, the tension which was always present, but there were glimpses of things she remembered:
The windows had be be blackened out at night, so no light could be seen on the outside. This was a rule implemented so the villages would not be targeted by bombers flying by overnight. They would be laying in bed at night, hearing bombers overhead, often sirens going off somewhere and in one instance
a bomb going off close by killing only a few cows and leaving a big crater. I wonder if one gets used to living in fear, not knowing what the next will bring. German soldiers could come into your house anytime and take whatever they wanted, so people would try to hide their things so they could not be taken. Villagers would drive their bicycles without tires, either the tires were taken by the soldiers, or people would hide their tires so they could not be stolen.
There was certainly a shortage of food in these days, but not as extreme as it was in the big cities. Because Pake was a farm laborer he was often paid in food, milk was usually plenty, as well as potatoes and turnips.
The food that was available was portioned out, even cooking it was often a problem since there was no coal to be had close to the end of the war for heating and cooking. Village elders would cut down trees, even though there were not that many, and the wood was rationed between the families to cook their meals. My mother often told us, that she remembered the worry on Beppe’s face, that she was unable to feed her children properly and often they had to go to bed hungry.

one of my mother's sisters, dressed all in wool

one of my mother’s sisters, dressed all in wool

Clothes were always hand-me-downs, re-used and remade. Sweaters were taken apart, unraveled and new sweaters knitted from it. Socks were darned. Pake had wool available, also from the farmer he worked for and during the evenings by candlelight Pake would spin the wool, and Beppe and the older girls would knit. Because of the lack of other materials even underwear was knitted from wool, and as my mother described it, it was very scratchy and hot. There were no disposable pads or any such things, so let us leave all that to our imaginations. Neither was there much soap, so laundry was done only if it was dirty.
They did go to school during the war years, but often in the winter school was dismissed because there was not enough heat. Germans demanded that the Dutch children had to learn the German language in school and soldiers would often come to school to make sure that this rule was implemented.
My mother also remembered that close to the end of the war care packages sent from the US and Canada. These packages were parachuted down, collected and distributed to the families. Pake and Beppe also received one of these packages and every family member received an item out of this box. My mother was given a pair of pink, fuzzy slippers, a treasure for her indeed. She wore them to school the next day, and the following day, and these beautiful pink slippers were worn out by the end of the week. She was very sad!
No matter what age anyone was, everyone remembered D-Day, the day when Canadian soldiers drove into the village with their tanks. There was rejoicing, cheering and singing – what a party.
These soldiers brought with them things that my mother had never seen before – an orange, and her first taste of chocolate – she was 9 years old.
Even though peace returned to the country, it took a few years for things to get back to normal. The children went back to school, breaks would be taken in the fall, so the kids, including my mother and her siblings, worked in the potato fields to dig potatoes by hand, in the spring they worked for tulip farmers to skin tulip bulbs. Saturdays and Wednesday afternoons, when there was no school, all

Dirkje Hiemstra as Teenager

Dirkje Hiemstra as Teenager

kids worked to make extra money for the family. My mother’s oldest sister stayed home with Beppe, helping her with all her chores, while the others went out to work. Wages earned from everyone were given to the parents, they got to keep a few cents for themselves and the oldest sister at home also got some allowance from that. This is how the family survived during these financially poor years.
After elementary school my mom changed schools, form the village one-room schoolhouse to the MULO in the city of Dokkum. It was a 30 to 45 minute bike ride, depending on the wind, and only during the coldest times in the winter were they allowed to take the bus.
Later it was off to the huishoudschool – learing to be a housekeeper and wife. In her teenage years during vacation times and Saturdays she was hired out as a servant for a wealthy farmer. Farmers in those days were quite high up on the social ladder, and they had a lot of servants doing all their work. This particular farmer was highly looked up to, he was as my mother called him a “Sunday Christian”. He went to church twice on Sunday and mid-week prayer assembly on Wednesdays, had his own ‘booth’ to sit in in church (when you were tithing more you could sit further in the front, closer to the stove, I guess). But he was a horrible man to work for, a hypocrite swearing and cursing and treating his employees unkindly. My mom would often tell of the time when she had to clean the outhouse and polish the wooden seat on it. She purposefully had used an extra amount of wax and polished it so hard, that when the farmer using the outhouse shortly after , sat down on the seat and slipped right off, his feet pushing the outhouse door open. A lot of cursing and profanity was heard in the barnyard that Saturday afternoon.

Dirkje about age 15

Dirkje about age 15

As a maid, or a servant, my mom was often responsible to do the laundry. These were the days before washing machines, before indoor plumbing and running water. The clothes had to be taken to the wash house, clothes were rinsed in cold water, and during thee winters my mother’s hands would be red, raw and swollen because of the icy temperatures. I can understand why mothers were so extremely diligent to potty train their children as soon as possible. Often children now are trained by age 2 or later, but my parents were bragging, that they both both just over 1 year old when they were potty trained. There were no Pampers or disposable diapers, and they did not even have plastic pants over the cloth diapers, so when the babies were wet, so were their clothes, the bed sheets and everything else –they did have rubber mats to cover the mattress, so at least it would stay dry most of the time. On top of all that, the wash had to done by hand, hung to dry outside, or if the weather was miserable all the clothes had to be dried inside, in front of the stove. Of course people had a lot less clothes back then, even I remember when I went to school, I had 2 outfits: one which I wore to school every day of the week (in Germany we also went to school on Saturdays), on Sundays we changed into a clean outfit to go to church and wore it for the rest of the week. I was no different than my fellow students, maybe except for 1 or 2 ‘rich’ kids.
For one year my mother worked as a servant in a doctor’s family. They were kind and generous and treated her like one of the family. She remembered that one time the doctor told a patient to bring in a stool sample, so after a few days the patient came back with a large mason jar full of number 2, guess who had to clean that out.

dirkje hiemstra

dirkje hiemstra

Maybe it was during this time that she decided that she wanted to be a nurse, because one day she packed her suitcase and announced to her family that she was moving to Zuidlaren to become a nurse. The rest of the family thought she was joking, and expected her to come back within a few weeks, but she stayed. She started nursing training in the psychiatrisch ziekenhuis in Zuidlare, Groningen. She would tell many stories about her experiences there, I only wish I could remember more – if only I had listened better.
She did not finish her training there though, she got married before she was done, and in those days, women stayed at home after they were married.

Dirkje Hiemstra in Zuidlaren

Dirkje Hiemstra in Zuidlaren

On the job as a nurse

On the job as a nurse

Giving and Receiving

I found the followinfor it is in Giving that we Receive!g  story “The Rich Family In Church” online, and as I was reading, it reminded me of our first year in Canada.
Most farming immigrants to Canada usually came to Canada to continue farming, so they sold their existing farm, bought a new farm here in North America – usually because there was a better future for the next generation of farmers.
We moved here from Germany, where my father leased a farm for almost 13 years. He did not have a farm to sell, so we came with little money here to Canada. The first year was very difficult, not only because we had to learn a new language, make new friends, etc., but because there were so many expenses that first year – money was very tight.
I remember our first Christmas – there was no money for anything, but we really did not mind. One afternoon one of the deacons of our church showed up on our doorstep and dropped off a box full of goodies, including a large turkey. The deacon must have felt bad – because he never said anything about it, he just left it there.
I remember the reaction of my mother; instead of being thankful for what she had received, she was almost upset and angry.
Her pride was hurt, to think that people thought of us as a poor family that needed a “handout”.
I could not understand her feelings at the time – but we certainly enjoyed that turkey.

The Rich Family In Church

by Eddie Ogan

I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1.

We made $20 on pot holders. That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change.

We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.

But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night.

We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor.

That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed—I didn’t even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor!

I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor. We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way.

Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering.

When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.”

Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that “little over $100.”

We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary said so? From that day on I’ve never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!


Acts 20:35 ESV

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Proverbs 11:24-25 ESV

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.