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Lynden North American ‘centre’ concentration for Tjoelker clan

Five generations in same area

Tags: Genealogy

LYNDEN, Washington - Five generations, two continents and covering just about a century is the summary of the Meindert Tjoelker legacy in this Dutch American town, located in the northwestern most corner of the U.S. mainland.Whatcom County has been home to 99-year-old Meindert Tjoelker and his family for 53 years. The former woodenshoe maker emigrated from the Frisian town of Surhuizum to Lynden where he capped his working life as a dairy farmer.

The Tjoelker family in 1948 joined its namesakes and cousins who had settled in the Lynden vicinity some twenty earlier. Meindert Tjoelker has over 50 grand-children.

There are 26 households in Lynden, 72 in Washington State and 95 in all of the U.S.A. as well as 14 in Canada which answer to this distinct surname which traces its origin back to a farm name called Tjoele. The field is located on the Blauwverlaat, a drainage canal, near the Frisian town of Drachten. However the word Tjoele in Van Dale’s “Etymologisch Woordenboek” also is de-scribed as meaning a type of fishtrap, suggesting the possibility that Tjoelker could be a tradename (as in “Kooiker” or “Timmerman”).

Many of the 160 Tjoelker households in the Nether-lands are centred in villages such as Augustinusga, Bui-tenpost, Surhuizum, Surhuisterveen, as well as Grootegast, Opende and Stroobos.

It was a common practise in the Netherlands to assign a name to fields, farms (as the Tjoele) or properties which in turn lent them to their owners who during the early 1800s adopted them as family names. Many people simply adopted their trade as a surname.