Thursday, December 24, 2015

My 4th Great-Grandparents and the Silver Baptismal Bowl

Fröliche Weihnachten, God Jul, Merry Christmas, and Vrolijk Keerstfeest!

My sixth-great grandfather, Zegert Dirksz Fonkert (1685-1737) had established a farm in the Oud Beijerland polder by the early 1700s. His grandson, Pieter Dirksz Fonkert (1762-1865) had inherited the farm and expanded it to 129 hectares -- an impressive estate in those days. When Pieter's son, Dirk Pietersz Fonkert died in 1860, the farm was sold at auction. A third son, Pieter, received an unknown cash settlement. Pieter was my great-great-grandfather.

The Dirk Fonkert whose Zinkweg farm was sold at auction in the 1860s had married a daughter of one of the richest farmers in the region. Neeltje was a daughter of Klaas Rochus Schelling and Jannetje de Koning. This was no random marriage. Dirk Fonkert and Neeltje Schelling were first cousins. The bride's and groom's mothers were daughters of Ary Klaas de Koning and Jaapje Bastiansdr de Vroom.*

Lasting evidence of the Schelling wealth is a silver baptismal bowl still in use in the Klaaswaal Dutch Reformed Church. Klaas Rochusz Schelling and his siblings gave the bowl to the church in honor of their parents, Rochus Arysz Schelling and Neeltje Troost. Set side-by-side in the bowl are the Schelling and Troost wapens. An inscription on the bottom of the bowl honors the legacy of Schelling and Troost, who had died in 1786 and 1776, respectively. The outside rand, or edge, named the heirs, all parishioners of the parish, including "Klaas Schelling Gehuwt met Jannetje de Koning."**

Why does this Schelling-Troost bowl matter to me? Because Klaas Schelling and Jannetje de Koning were my 4th great-grandparents. Put another way, they were my immigrant Fonkert great-grandfather's great-grandparents. A bit distant, yes, but to see something of such value still in use after 225 years is a treat that few family history researchers experience.

The problem is, I haven't yet seen it. The church was closed the first time we visited Klaaswaal in 1993. When my brother and I went back several years later, we timed our visit to stop by the church right after the Sunday service, but the church had emptied and been locked faster than we anticipated. Thankfully, a few years later, I was able to help a New Mexico cousin arrange for a visit, and her husband brought back photographic proof that the baptismal bowl is still there.

Ancestors of the Iowa Fonkerts moved only a few miles over 400 years.

Adriaen Willemsz Fonckert lived in the 1500s at Rhoon, a settlement on IJsselmonde, and island in the Rhine delta. A well-to-do farmer, his father-in-law was sheriff. He died in 1594.

Dirck Adriaensz Fonkcert was born about 1565. By 1610, he occupied the house that still stands just outside Westmaas in the Hoekse Waard -- an island diked and drained during the 1500s. Appointed dijkgraaf  is buried in the church at Westmaas.

Seger Dirksz Fonckert, born about 1600, farmed at least 50 hectares (124 acres) in the Nieuw Beijerland and Zuid Beijerland polders in the Hoekse Waard. He was a member of council (heemraad).

Dirk Segersz Fonkert farmed on the south side of Nieuw Beijerland polder. He died before 1690.

Zegert Dirk Fonkert was the first Fonkert to farm at the corner of the Plaastsweg and the Zinkweg dike in Oud Beijerland. By 1730, he had 65 hectares (160 acres).

Dirk Zegers Fonkert (1723-1768) worked his father's farm in Oud Beijlerland.

Pieter Dirksz Fonkert (1762-1815), the youngest son of Dirk, inherited his father's farm at age 6, and enlarged it to 139 hectares (319 acres).

Dirk Pietersz Fonkert (1789-1860), with the Fonkert's growing wealth, married into the rich Schelling, but at his death the Zinkweg farm was broken up at auction.

Pieter Fonkert (1815-1882) did not receive any of his father's land; he instead farmer nearby at Klaaswaal.

Pieter Fonkert (1845-1891), with diminished prospects in the Hoekse Waard, emigrated to Iowa where he farmed.

* N. Vels Heijn and F. M. van der Kolk, Kwartierstaat Fonkert-Steehouwer, self-published (Zeist, Netherlands, 1986); available at Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, Den Haag.
** Bas Schelling, Pieter Schelling, and Bert Schelling, De Familie Schelling uit de Hoeksche Waard (Schoorl, Netherlands: Priola, 1994), p. 22.

Photo of baptismal bowl courtesy of John Puckett, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

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