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Name probably borrowed from farm and inn at Vlaardingen

Broom Maker Dirk Oldest Ancestor of Rijnsburg's Hogewoning Clan

Tags: Genealogy

RIJNSBURG, the Netherlands - Six children of Jan Hogewoning's family of eight perished in an Illinois house fire, just over fifty years ago. Six years later, the farmer, whose cradle stood in Rijnsburg, Zuid-Holland, lost his wife as well. Later on, Hogewoning remarried but he became a widower again in 1972. Thirteen years later, Hogewoning died at the age of 91, 65 years after he left his hometown for the USA.

The story on Jan Hogewoning is one of the more dramatic entries in the recently published book Terug naar de Hoege Woeninckst01, a family history and genealogy on the Hogewoning clan of Rijnsburg, a 1000-year-old town near Leiden. The oldest Hogewoning entry dates back to before 1580 when Dirk Jansz. earned his living as a broom maker in distant Rotterdam. As a member of the broom makers guild, Dirk Jansz. occasionally signed deals before a notary public in which he used Hochwooning as his surname. It is not clear why he chose that name. The book's authors present a logical explanation: in those days people often identified themselves as being from a certain town, region or building, in Dirk's case a farm/inn known to have existed in Vlaardingerbroek, near the estate Holy, from 1561 to 1775.

Thumb-nail histories

This information may well have remained buried in obscure records, had it not been for the persistence of retired factory worker Frans Hoogewoonink who carried on his father's interest in family history. Hoogewoonink, who belongs to a Roman Catholic branch of the Hogewoning clan, used his spare time to visit others who carried the common family name or its variations. Bitten by the genealogy bug, Hoogewoonink turned his sight on Rijnsburg where the main Hogewoning-clan was still living. He found the distant Rijnsburg cousins to be interested as well in family origin.

Many genealogies are documents loaded with vital statistics. To the publisher's credit, the Hogewoning volume reads more like a history book, as many entries are accompanied with a thumb-nail sketch on the person's trade or business, personal information such as ability to read and write, and about locations where they lived. Equally interesting is the switch from the broom maker trade (during the pre-Rijnsburg times in Rotterdam and Leiden) to agriculture (farming as well as vegetable growing) and horticulture and how descendants who moved to the cities (to Amsterdam for example) began making wagons and carts, or worked as blacksmiths. The highest profile Hogewoning is no doubt Jacques, a long-term board member of the Royal Dutch soccer league.

Family connections

As may be expected, the Hogewonings were not isolated from changes in Dutch society. The book mirrors many such influences. For example, in the seventeenth century there is a branch of which it is noted that it belonged to the liberal Remonstrant church while later there are those who through marriage became Roman Catholic. Again later, a Hogewoning joined the Secession of 1834. Over the centuries, there were frequent second marriages among clan members: the earlier ones due to death of the first partner (complications with childbirth and disease), and in more recent times after a divorce. Frans Hoogewoonink already had been doing genealogical research for thirty years when he and a number of distant cousins struck a committee in 1993 establishing a foundation, which became the book's publisher. Frans, now 88, is the proud co-author of the 311-page, hardbound coffee-table book. It includes 27 pages of Hogewoning listings, 16 more on the clan's in-laws, reprints of original documents, a small list of sources, a short list of unrelated namesakes, and a number of Hogewonings listed in American death records whose origin could not be traced.

In earlier times, most Dutch villages and small towns experienced a degree of isolation. Travel depended on canal traffic and life proceeded at a much slower pace. As a rule, the Hogewonings found marriage partners in Rijnsburg and vicinity. It is therefore not surprising that the same surnames appear in successive generations. The most frequently listed marriage partners - all can be found in Canada and the USA as well - are the Van Egmonds (23), Van der Meij (19), De Mooij (14), Van Duijn (10), De Jong, Van der Plas and Van Delft (8 each), Bakker, De Vries and Van Klaveren (7 each), Pauw and Ravensbergen (6 each), Heemskerk and Langeveld (5 each) and Barnhoorn, Glasbergen, Guijt, Noort, Van der Vijver and Zwaan (4 each). Six times both marriage partners were a Hogewoning!) The Hogewonings contributed emigrants as well. Besides Jan Hogewoning of Illinois there were others who settled in the USA before World War II. First to go was Pieter (then 54 of age) who left for economic reasons with wife Henderijntje, two sons and a daughter in 1868 (unfortunately, there is no further information on them). Among those who emigrated after 1950 is mechanic John who started his own garage in Brantford, Ontario, and who in 1965 became one of Canada's first Toyota dealers. Another Hogewoning with one leg in the 'new' world is Daniel C., the chairman of Stichting De Hoege Woeninck, whose family's dried flower business operates a flourishing subsidiary Regenboog in Atlanta, Georgia.

Family branches outside Rijnsburg notwithstanding, the Hogewoning's identity is intricately interwoven with the Zuid-Holland town's history. No doubt, their family book provides depth to this identity and serves as a memorial to former, present and future generations.

Anyone interested in this Dutch book (US$38.00 and Can$50 plus postage), an English version of the first 35 pages or the foundation's newsletter Berichten van de Hoege Woeninck may write to: Dr. F.C. Hoogewoning, Herculesstraat 131, 1076 SK Amsterdam, the Netherlands, tel. 020-664 74 08.