Thursday, February 4, 2016

More Dutch Name Fun: Zorgdrager and Qoryedruger

Let's be clear about one thing: Fonkert is an odd name. Let's be clear about one more thing: Zorgdrager sounds at least as odd.

Those are my two main Dutch lines.  My grandfather was the son of an immigrant from the Rhine delta are south of Rotterdam. My grandmother was the daughter of immigrants from Terschelling, a narrow sandspit of an island off the coast of Friesland.

Sipke Zorgdrager
I wrote about the Fonkert name a few weeks ago. This week, the focus is on Zorgdrager. Sipke, that is. Sipke Zorgdrager emigrated from Terschelling to Stephenson County, Illinois, in 1867. Upon his departure, his occupation was classified as arbeider, or laborer. But, several months earlier, upon the birth of his daughter, Maria, the civil birth registration stated his occupation as zeeman (seaman). It is not known how much time he spent at sea -- it could have been a seasonal occupation -- but there no doubt was a zeeman or two among his ancestors.

Terschelling had a long sailing history, including whaling and exploration. The famous Arctic maritime explorer Willem Barents was from Terschelling. He died in 1597 during the sail home from Novaya Zemblya after being stranded there over the winter. As you can imagine, he was not the only zeeman to not come home to Terschelling from the stormy North Sea.

This may explain the origin of the Zorgdrager name. In Nederlands, een zorg is a care or a worry, perhaps even a sorrow. The verb dragen means to carry or suffer something. So, there you have it: a Zorgdrager is a bearer of sorrow -- perhaps for a zeeman who didn't come home.

Three Zorgdrager brothers -- Sipke Pieters, Andries Pieters, and Jan Pieters -- emigrated to North America, eventually all settling in northwest Iowa. Their elderly father joined them sometime in the early 1880s.

The name gave American census-takers some trouble. While it's not always clear if the informant gave a variant spelling of the name, the enumerator wrote it down incorrectly, or the enumerator just had bad penmanship, the name has been indexed a variety of ways: Syadager, Zorganager, Zorggedrazar, Zorgdragar, and even Gorgedrager.

Andries Sorgdrager, Alton, Iowa
Andries, or Andrew,  seemed to give census-takers the most trouble. First, he sometimes spelled his name with a "Z," but seemed to prefer it with an "S" -- Sorgdrager. His gravestone reads Sorgdrager. It is not clear why he preferred Sorgdrager, but the S-spelling was not unheard of in The Netherlands. It was in use on the eastern part of Terschelling in the early 1800s, but in later years was found mostly on Ameland, the next Frisian Island to the east.

In census indexes, the name seems to flip back and forth from Z to S.

  • 1870, Hardin County, Iowa -- "Anchises Sorgadrane"
  • 1880, Sioux County, Iowa -- "Andrew Qoryedruger"
  • 1885, Sioux County, Iowa -- "Andries P. Zorggedrazar"
  • 1900, Sioux County, Iowa -- "Andrew Zorgedrag"
The spellings are all understandable -- even "Qoryedruger" in the 1880 U.S. Census. In some handwriting styles, a capital Z can look like a Q. If you look at the actual census manuscript, you can see that the enumerator meant the first letter to be a Z. index and manuscript, Sioux County, IA, 1880 U.S. Census

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