SOMSEN HORIZON Half-yearly family magazine Volume 1, no.2 November, 1998


At the Somsen lime tree, 'Japikshuis', IJzerlo, the Somsen campers bring gin and flowers. [Click for larger image]







Theo Somsen [P227]


Dick Somsen [P130]



genealogy and databases

Hindenhoek 11


Monteverdilaan 175

8172 AC Vaassen


8031 DL Zwolle

tel.: +31.578.572867


tel.: +31.38.4542360





Gree van Daatselaar-Somsen [P53]


John Somsen [P2353]

vice chairman


USA and Internet

Esstraat 22


35 Springdale Avenue

7131 CT Lichtenvoorde


Holyoke, MA. 01040-3421

tel.: +31.544.375783





tel.: +1 413 538 7724



Ada Somsen [P75]




Ben Somsen [P396]

Leusdenhof 298


audio-visual support

1108 DP Amsterdam Zuidoost


Lariksweg 1

tel.: +31.20.6961834


7151 XW Eibergen



tel.: +31.545.472546 - fax: +31.545.475359



Wim Somsen [P518]


vice secretary


Hoge Heurnseweg 8


7095 CJ De Heurne


tel.: +31.315.652115



Derk Somsen [P413]


Mrs Marieke Edwards-Jager Gerlings [P725]

vice treasurer


920 East Bay Dr. NE# 3D301

Weerdslag 67


Olympia, WA. 98506-1222

7206 BT Zutphen



tel/fax: +31.575.526048


tel.: +1 360 786 1583





Helmut Somsen [P1562]




Provinzialstrasse 70


46499 Hamminkeln


Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD)


tel.: +49.2873.536



Johan Somsen [P1089]


Somsen homepage:


Postbus 9


8160 AA Epe







Theo Somsen [227] the enthusiastic example, as ever. [Click for larger image]




Somsen Horizon
is issued by the Somsen Foundation
twice a year, in May and November
Dutch: 150
English: 50
The magazine is sent to the supporters of the Somsen Foundation free of charge. The minimum annual contribution is $15.00, which can be transferred to:
Mrs Marieke Edwards,
920 East Bay Dr. NE# 3D301
Olympia, WA. 98506-1222, USA
Editorial staff Somsen Horizon
Esstraat 22
7131 CT Lichtenvoorde
The Netherlands
Somsen Stichting
Leusdenhof 298
1108 DP Amsterdam Zuidoost
Tel. +31 20 6961834





Objective of the Foundation

The aim of the Foundation is:
to preserve and promote the solidarity between people bearing the family name of Somsen, those who are/were related to them or those who are interested in them.

The foundation will try to achieve this object for example by:
· doing historical research into the family history and the history of the region
· collecting documentation and genealogical data
· keeping and taking charge of a family archive and data bases
· publishing a periodical
· providing information to persons, institutions and official authorities
· organising activities so as to realise the object of the foundation.



Board and advisors 2

Colophon 3

Contents 3

Objective of the Foundation 3

Preface 3

Somsen Camping-weekend IJzerlo 4

Commemorating and Remembering in America 6

The Doesburg Somsen Branch 8

James Michael's Narrow Escape 8

Biggest Little Town in Wisconsin 9

Pilgramage to my American Relatives 10

Somsens Visiting Somsens Abroad 17

Internet News 18

Somsen - Plaque 18

Family Announcements 19

Rays of Hope for the New Year 20



There is an increasing interest in the activities of our Foundation! After the publication of Somsen Horizon I, we received a multitude of enthusiastic and stimulating responses. We could also welcome new supporters so that our family magazine can be posted to 174 addresses now. The number of readers is even larger, for in most cases there are more people at one address.

We have no cause for complaint as regards family members who want to co-operate. Information on birth, marriage and death are often spontaneously sent to us and if we ask for pictures to illustrate articles, we are often sent them by return mail.

Most beautiful of all, though, is the great number of new contacts that flourish among people who didn't even know of each other's existence before August, 1997.

They are not such a bad sort, these Somsens and their in-laws.

On behalf of the board,

Theo Somsen





An impression by Wim Somsen [518]

When I arrive at the camping-site on Thursday many Somsens have already settled down. Some of them in fancy caravans – others in humble tents, some of which are brand-new though, as they have been especially purchased for this event.

They come from Vaassen, Zutphen, Eibergen, Epe, Lichtenvoorde, Amsterdam, Amersfoort, Soest, Aalten, Dinxperlo, Zelhem and De Heurne. Most of them are camping out there; others just come by for a chat or for the barbecue.

Having only just arrived you feel at home again at once. The renewed meetings are enthusiastic – you can feel that the atmosphere is all right. Some think that I could have come a little earlier and that the organization is not quite perfect. They start teasing a little right from the start and I take it too seriously again.

The Board of the Somsen Foundation is to attend to serious matters first on Thursday evening. We are expected for a meeting at Helmuth and Liesel’s home in Werterbruch (Germany). After a 7 miles’ drive and a very hearty welcome, we make a quick start with the items on the agenda at eight o’clock. The first items fly by, but whether it is due to the beer and the wine that a large number of the board members have in front of them as early as half past eight or Liesel’s absolutely delicious onion cake, at any rate the speed of the meeting diminishes drastically.

When Johan is allowed to tell about his trip to America, which he really tries to do as concisely as possible, we don’t succeed in finishing the second part of the agenda anymore. Then it is decided to finish the remaining items the next morning with a smaller group.

If it is due to… but it is certainly worth mentioning that Theo on the way back, under the directions of Johan, has tried to cross the ‘green’ border by car several times. After a few attempts he has to give up and finally manages to cross the border near Bocholt. The other car has already returned to the home base over half an hour earlier then.

On Friday morning some continue the board meeting. Yvonne is very busy making a 2 hour compilation out of 10 hours of video film for that night’s presentation. Some others go for a bicycle ride – pay visits – or just enjoy the beautiful weather while reading a book. At half past four, a number of us are going to live up to our promise. Presenting Mr. Veerbeek with a bottle of Bokma gin and Mrs. Veerbeek with a bunch of flowers to express our thanks for taking care of and guarding the Somsen lime-tree at the Japikshuis.

Mr. Veerbeek gives us a hearty welcome and is very pleased with his bottle. When Theo is anxious if the brand is OK he replies: ‘The brand is not important, it is the quantity that counts and it is certainly a little less than all the buckets of water that the tree gets’.

Johan Somsen [1089] as a jolly rider at the 'Japikshuis', IJzerlo NL. [Click for larger image]

Also Mrs. Veerbeek, though she is confined to a wheelchair, comes to the tree for the picture. Johan still believes that he is in America at a rodeo, for he jumps without any fear on a pony that has come close, being very curious. Beforehand, though, he has established that the animal is very tame.

Friday night there is a two-hour video presentation of Yvonne and Johan’s visit to the USA. In a little over three weeks they have traveled the USA all over – have met many Somsens – have been welcomed very heartily everywhere. It was a fascinating meeting again of many people that visited our reunion last year. Johan will give an account of this himself. After a few more drinks and a short visit to the IJzerlo Orange festivities, most people return to their tents or caravans. Only a few die-hards consider it necessary to go on till late at night with squeezebox and guitar. It is so pleasant that some IJzerlo youngsters, who don’t feel like turning in, join the party. The playing and singing are passionate, time doesn’t exist anymore and the other visitors have gone to sleep long ago, or can’t sleep at all.

The next morning the very same night-revelers are woken up by the sounds of the IJzerlo brass band. They march along the camping-site on their way to the carnival marquee.

In the afternoon Dick Somsen from Eibergen frantically tries to win the shooting-contest in order to become ‘king’ of IJzerlo. He nearly manages – magnanimously he recognizes that his shooting qualities are not that great. Thus some have a good time at the Orange festivities; others enjoy themselves by going for a bicycle-ride or a walk.

Helmut [1562] and Liesel Somsen [1569] enjoying their meal. [Click for larger image]

We conclude the Saturday with a barbecue for everybody. It is very nice we can welcome also some Somsens who are not camping out themselves. It takes some time for the barbecues to get hot but according to some that is good for our appetites. To the pleasant surprise of the organization hardly anything is left over – those Somsens really do enjoy food.

In a pleasant, cosy and relaxed atmosphere the evening moves into the night. For most of us it is time to turn in. A few though have still got some energy left for a dance in the marquee. It is even reported that some Somsens are still hungry and ease their needs at a food-stand. The name of the snacks doesn’t leave much to be desired: ‘pig’s ass’.

Win Somsen [518] preparing the barbeque. [Click for larger image]

Sunday has come and it is time to say goodbye. In the course of the day tents are being pulled down everywhere. More and more empty spaces appear. New appointments are made for the next year. We will sure come back. A group goes out for a dinner at Stegers in Aalten. At eight o’clock in the evening there are still a few tents left. Some stay a little longer. Peace has returned to the camping-site

‘t Hoftijzer.

Au revoir..


Commemorating and remembering in America


America, beautiful country of dreams and wishes,
how rich and large from sea to ocean,
generous place of refuge for thousands of people,
sighing for their wretched existence.

In this way America was celebrated as an emigration country a long time ago and thus people inspired each other to go there.

What is long ago? As early as the seventeenth century the Dutch settled in America where they founded New Amsterdam and the Fortress of Orange by order of the Dutch West India Company.

Later these names were changed into New York and Albany.

Four months before the United States declared themselves independent from Great Britain, the American ship Andrew Doria sailed into the harbor of the Dutch island of St. Eustace in the West Indies. The ship sailed already under the new American flag. This happened on November 16, 1776. The governor of the island, the Dutchman Johannes de Graaf, decided to fire a salute to the ship and especially to the flag from the cannons in the fortress.

In a proclamation of 1991, the then president George Bush called this a risky and brave deed and declared November 16 the Dutch-American heritage day. The Dutch-American friendship day is on April 19. There is really something special between The Netherlands and America.

In the middle of the last century many Dutch immigrated to this country of unlimited opportunities. Also the Achterhoek supplied many new American citizens. In 1844 and 1845 only a few people from this area departed but in 1846 there were already hundreds and emigration really got started then. From the municipality of Aalten about 185 people left in 1846 and in 1847 there were 32 families, 140 people altogether.

The Phoenix

Tragic was the fate of part of the emigrants who left Aalten on August 16, 1847. After a prosperous voyage they arrived in New York and traveled through Albany to catch the last boat before the Great Lakes were all frozen over. This ship, the Phoenix, only two years old and very modern for the time, being equipped with a propeller instead of paddle-wheels, sailed towards its own fate. On November 21, 1847, when the emigrants had already been en route for three months, the ship went up in flames on Lake Michigan. Only seven miles from the final destination they were given the choice to die either from burning or from drowning. Since the ship was a freighter with only limited accommodation for passengers there were only two lifeboats for 50 people at the most. There were only 35 survivors of the disaster, 24 of whom were Dutch. Approximately 200 people perished among whom at least 14 emigrants from the municipality of Aalten. This last figure has come down to us from popular legend. The crew consisted of 23 people, 8 of whom managed to make their escape. They could give the names of the crewmembers who perished. Together with the American couple O’Connor and a Mr. Long from Milwaukee, WI, the number of people saved amounted to 35.

Hardly any records of passengers were kept. The office-clerk Donahue estimated that 250 people or more had died and the Fond du Lac Journal of November 24, 1847, reported about 300 people having died. The paper wrote: ‘Dead bodies keep being washed ashore’. The Milwaukee Sentinel of December 4, 1847, made mention of 150 Dutch being on board, 25 of whom were rescued. ‘All of them are still in Sheboygan in very needy circumstances and being in want of clothes’. For the first time a list of names of survivors is published as well as a very limited death roll. We read: ‘Who can read this list of names without a bleeding heart about these sad data?’

It was to last 75 years before William O. van Eijck started a thorough investigation into the identity of the passengers and crew. His report was published in 1923, which G.H.Ligterink drew on much later in 1981 in his book ‘The Emigrants’. Of course the data are not complete, cannot be complete, since they are difficult to verify. If there is still a place left where one can look for more it is in The Netherlands. With this in mind I wrote an article entitled ‘A Voice from Aalten about the Phoenix Disaster’ in 1987. In this article existing data were brought together and supplemented with complete names and dates of birth. It seemed right to me to conclude this article with a list of all the emigrants of the years 1846 and 1847. In the list of 1847 all those who left on the fatal day, August 16, 1847, were marked with an asterisk. These are over 90 people. Later I learnt that this publication stimulated further research in America. 1997 saw the publication of ‘A Phoenix Sesquicentennial Tribute 1847-1997’ in two volumes by Mary Risseeuw and Ione Pietenpol Heinen. They arrived at the conclusion that 35 people were saved and that 179 people perished, viz.151 Dutch, 13 Americans and 15 members of the crew. This exhaustive publication appeared on the occasion of the first commemoration after 150 years of this dreadful disaster and it may be seen as a continuation and extension of ‘Out of the Phoenix..A tragic Beginning’ of 1987.

The commemoration

Ron and Ione Heinen had a dream: for the first time in 150 years a commemoration of the great disaster and tragic start of the State of Wisconsin. Lest one should not forget! They contacted Mary Risseeuw in Illinois, a genealogist and very much interested in the field of Americans of Dutch ancestry. She consulted 16 sources to finally complete the list of people saved and the list of victims for publication in the memorial book. She also became the chairwoman of the memorial committee. This committee consisted mainly of descendants of survivors of the Phoenix disaster, originating from Sheboygan Falls, WI and surrounding places. The committee presented an extremely good program and sent out many invitations. Sympathizers from 17 States in America, Germany, Canada and The Netherlands accepted the invitations. Those interested from The Netherlands were to be put up with private people. In the east of The Netherlands a group of 10 people arose, consisting of Willie Bilderbeek, Birgit Heynk, Arjan Ligtenberg, Gerda Ligtenbarg, Henk Voges and Willem Wilterdink, all of them from Winterswijk. There was Yvette Hoitink from Oldenzaal and the undersigned from Aalten who also joined the party. Arie Ribbers and Ton Tijdink joined in as reporters for radio and newspaper.

After a successful flight we stayed in New York for a couple of days to visit Ellis Island, the immigrants’ island, the Statue of Liberty, Williamsburg, Broadway and Time Square. A couple of days’ visit to Clymer, south of Buffalo, NY, was the next highlight. That’s where many descendants of Dutch emigrants live who drifted north in former days. Via New York and a stopover in Detroit we flew to Chicago. Flying over vast, notorious Lake Michigan gave us a special feeling. In rental cars we drove 150 miles to the north and in the evening of Monday, November 17, 1997, we were most heartily welcomed in the former town hall of Sheboygan Falls, WI. After a speech of welcome the program was disclosed and we were given so much information that in the end we didn’t know anymore what had been said at the beginning. Fortunately we also received everything on paper and armed with this everyone left for his or her host-family. Fortunately we had a few more days for getting settled, for taking part in some excursions and for paying visits.

Very interesting was the visit to the Jensema-Hoopman farm, 2000 head of cattle, fully automatically controlled wherever possible and with a huge amount of machinery. Coffee in the morning was more like a very extensive lunch. The visit to Richardson’s furniture factory was worthwhile. When talking to a group of four employees, three turned out to bear names from the Achterhoek while not being aware of this. In the care-center ‘Pine Haven’ some inhabitants still spoke the dialect of our region and the sign in the entrance hall with the names of the inhabitants might just as well have hung in Aalten.

To be continued and concluded.

Mr. E. M. Smilda, Aalten, is a specialist of the regional history of Aalten and the emigration from Aalten to the United States.



On the border of The Netherlands, in Slenaken, Limburg, the Somsen branch that originates from Doesburg has its annual family weekend.

Half November we come from every corner of the country and gather at the rented hotel ‘De Gouden Horizon’ (The Golden Horizon) from Friday afternoon till Monday morning.

A very suitable name, certainly in this magazine! We really have some golden days over there. This year there were 48 of us!

After Mother’s [46] death in 1978 we looked for a place where we could be together. The first fourteen years a fairly large guesthouse farm in Vorden used to be big enough. But as the grandchildren started families themselves we grew out of it. We have been in ‘De Gouden Horizon’ for six years now. It is a do-it-yourself hotel, very informal and that is what we like.

We celebrate our birthdays, births and wedding-anniversaries. Every occasion is taken advantage of to make it a real happening. Somsen esprit combined with Limburg friendliness. That is a great combination.

Babies, toddlers and infants roll untidily on the floor and enjoy each other’s toys.

The witticisms of the grown-ups are heard all the time and the so-called ‘cold side’ surely adds extra warmth.

Till late at night all the world problems are discussed switching from Dutch into English with a Greek or an American accent. And if necessary a survey is e-mailed to the Southern Hemisphere.

A golden weekend.

Gree van D.-Somsen


James Michael Somsen [2832]. [Click for larger image]


James Michael's Narrow Escape

April 1, 1998

The weekend's giant storm that swept through the San Juan Mountains, CO, USA, didn't claim any lives, but it meant the narrowest of escpes for Michael Somsen [2832], p 258. A snowplow operator working Saturday evening to clear 8 to 19 inches of snow from US 550 north of Caol Bank Pass jumped for his life when the plow swerved out of control and rolled 200 feet down a steep embankment.

James Michael Somsen, 33, of Durango, CO, USA, escaped injury and walked several miles through driving snow to safety.

Meanwhile Somsen has no plans to quit snowplowing for the highway department. "It's no different from any other job," he said Tuesday. :Every job has its dangers. I like working outdoors."

Somsen and his plow were caught in a small slide a few years ago, but he managed to dig himself out. He was uninjured then, too.

"We are so fortunate he is alive," Somsen's father Gary [2828], p 226, said Tuesday. "We went up yesterday and we saw the scene, and God was looking after him."

Adapted from the Denver Post by Johan Somsen



John Howard Somsen [2353] living at Holyoke, MA, our well-known adviser and Internet ‘Guru’, travelled with his mother Janet Flaskamp-Somsen to his relatives in Baldwin, WI, in the end of October. For the first time in 25 years he came back to his American roots.

That must be great!




Submitted by Cindy Somsen Zignego, great-granddaughter of Jan Hendrik

Baldwin, Wisconsin, known as the "Biggest Little Town in Wisconsin," was incorporated in 1874. In 1881, it became the home of the biggest little family in the Somsen lineage. Jan Hendrik Somsen and Johanna Hendrika Rauwerdink left Aalten in the Netherlands on 7 July 1881, taking with them $50, Jan Hendrik's tools for clogmaking and their three children. In the course of time, they were to have fifteen children in all, forming the largest family in the Somsen line: an absolute record as far as numbers of children in one marriage go.

In Baldwin, Jan Hendrik worked with his brother-in-law, Jan Schepers, and then began farming with one acre of pasture and two cows. He soon began buying up land at a rapid rate, and in 1900 he consolidated his property and built a new house on his land. In addition to farming, Jan Hendrik continued his old trade of clogmaking, especially in winter. His clogs, made of willow and lime wood, were known as the best in the whole area.

Today, Jan Hendrik's grandson, Don Somsen, still lives in Baldwin where he proudly displays those same clog-making tools used by his grandfather.

Baldwin and its surrounding area continues to be home to many of Jan Hendrik's descendants including Jeanne Somsen, Barbara Delander, Marilyn Olson Lear, Jim Wernlund and Bill Somsen, to name a few.

Many of the early pioneers who settled in Baldwin were immigrants from the Netherlands. Today Baldwin continues to remember and honor its Dutch heritage with annual festivals. The largest annual celebration, 'Let's Go Dutch Days,' appears to be growing each year with participants from all over the area attending three festive days of food, competitions, displays and activities. Initiated in 1983, 'Let's Go Dutch Days' is held the first weekend of August. Events are held throughout the village of Baldwin, at designated parks, centers and schools. Community-wide garage sales are usually organized for the first day of the celebration. Friday and Saturday events include an arts and crafts fair, wooden shoemaking demonstrations, carnival games, variety stage shows and pie and ice cream socials. The evening Grand Parade has become one of the main events.

Floats are encouraged to use lights to make a very pretty twilight parade. Included in the parde are many forms of music and dancing. Traditional Dutch street scrubbing has been made a special highlight in the past as well as the performances by the Klompendancers.

As a permanent symbol of its Dutch heritage, the citizens of Baldwin erected a windmill of authentic Dutch design. Today the windmill serves as a tourist information center in which visitors will find literature on area attractions, souvenirs and candy from the Netherlands in addition to 'Let's Go Dutch Days' wares.

Many people also display their Dutch heritage by having little windmills as lawn ornaments.

This community, which early on in its history could boast of having the biggest little family in the Somsen line, continues to honor its Dutch heritage, uphold Dutch traditions and remain the home of generations of Somsens.




A travel account of a trip to the USA by Johan F. Somsen [1089] – summer 1998

New York

On Monday morning July 20, 1998 Yvonne, Laurie and I leave from an overcrowded Schiphol airport to finally land, after an eight hours' flight, in an overheated New York.

Yvonne and I have reserved three and a half weeks to visit American Somsens and Laurie will spend just one week in New York doing dance-classes.

The trip from the airport to Manhattan is exciting, especially when we spot skyscrapers for the first time, and this excitement will last. Whenever we catch sight of such a huge building, we produce the cameras: I believe we have over a hundred pictures and over two hours of film of skyscrapers only.

When, after a long ride, we finally arrive at the hotel it is by six o’clock in the evening, midnight European time. This cannot prevent us from going into Harlem with a resident, though, and visit a jazz-club; such an opportunity is rare and on the whole Europeans are very strongly dissuaded from wandering about Harlem on their own. The jazz-club is what we had expected it to be: a smoky den with Afro-Americans enjoying themselves in the sultry room, savoring the music, though their faces hardly show. Still it’s got something special, especially when all of a sudden a waitress, who has left her youth a long way behind, leaps forward to grab the microphone and sings like mad, like an almost genuine Ella Fitzgerald. When we return home at the hotel in the small hours of the night, we have skipped one night by then, but then one should avail oneself of every single minute when in New York.

When we walk towards Midtown Manhattan early in the next morning there is consternation all over –numberless helicopters hang over the city, surely more than three dozens of fire-engines scream past. We appear to be only six blocks away from Time Square where from a skyscraper the scaffolding, lifts and cranes have crashed down. In the street below the scrap metal forms a pile of certainly more than 100 feet and is it a small miracle that only one person got killed. For the rest of the week the whole area will be inaccessible so that traffic in Manhattan, which is normally completely jammed already, is totally stuck now.

Yet we take the risk of a round-tour in one of the red double-decker buses towards Downtown Manhattan on the south point of the peninsula of Manhattan, where the financial heart of the world is throbbing. This is where you find Wall Street and the World Trade Center. Since we don’t make much progress by bus because of the extra chaos in the traffic we get off several times on the way. The first stop is at the Empire State Building, for a long time the tallest building on earth. Heading for the top!

But if you’re not in a traffic-jam in the street, you’re bound to be in a queue when waiting at a cash deck. Subsequently you find yourself in the queue for the elevator. If, in addition, you are so unfortunate so as to be in need of a restroom, you have to queue up there as well. Not even ambulances and fire engines can escape this fate. They actually have to go to their destination through the congested traffic and that doesn’t go unnoticed: they leave the sirens on all the time! Often New York reminds me of a huge factory where long ago someone pulled over a lever to switch on tens of thousands of machines at full speed. After that they simply forgot where the ‘off’-button was. In short, a madhouse, but then a very funny madhouse that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

On we go into the direction of Downtown Manhattan. On the way another stopover for a short walk through part of Greenwich Village, across Washington Square, past the buildings of New York University and then eventually to Wall Street. In the background there is the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island.

Finally we return along the bank of the East River, past the United Nations buildings towards Broadway, for we ought to go to a theatre of course. Just in time we arrive at the half price ticket office in Time Square where we manage to get hold of tickets for the musical, ‘Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk’. A sparkling tap-dance show with the usual weak plot but with fantastic dancing and a tremendously enthusiastic house and that is very important on Broadway. After the show we walk back to the hotel through Broadway, brightly-lit by illuminated advertisements: totally exhausted!

The next day reveille is early as usual so as to utilize all the available time for a visit to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The Statue of Liberty is very well known of course but seeing it at close quarters is something completely different. And then Ellis Island – for a long time the sluice-gate which all the emigrants had to pass through on entering the United States. This is where they were put in quarantine. Here it was decided whether they were admitted to the land of milk and honey and in some cases they were really sent back. Would some of the American Somsens have been here? That very thought adds excitement to the trip. All the impressions keep inspiring us and similarly the lines of people waiting remain long everywhere. Unfortunately that is the price one has to pay.

Today Ellis Island is a museum; the archives cannot be consulted there anymore. For that you are referred to the National Archives in Washington (web-site: http://www.NARA.GOV).

Back on board of the ferryboat the quarterdeck suddenly fills with extremely tall Chinese, all of them nearly seven feet, which is a bit unusual for these people. It turns out to be the Chinese national basketball-team and this is not the last we see of them.

For the rest of the week we have separate programs for the most part, Yvonne and Laurie are taking dance-classes in the Mecca of dancing and I will be out and about by myself and also go on a short trip.

A visit to the New York Stock Exchange with a guided tour of the floor itself – it is almost unreal - which looks more like a theatre, but still the most important financial decisions for the whole world are taken here.

Then a very extensive ramble in Chinatown where the Chinese are the normal sizes again and where you don’t hear a single word of English anymore. In spite of desperate efforts to get in touch with Pennell Somsen, who lives in the heart of Manhattan, I am not very successful, much to my regret. Since the first set of soles of my shoes have nearly worn out and night is falling, I take the subway to visit an old friend who has been living in this madhouse for 15 years.

The next day, Thursday, another full day in New York with a visit to Radio City Music Hall, watch the Rockets rehearsing. I may even touch one of them – you are allowed to take a picture with one of them and rest your arm on her shoulder!

Then wandering about in the Rockefeller Center, rambles in Manhattan, visiting a multitude of antiquarian bookshops and finally settle down, fatigued but satisfied, in the stand of the main hall of Madison Square Garden for an international basketball match.

This is really American. I mean the match together with the whole spectacle around it. Sometimes the shows, the acrobats and the hip-hoppers in the intervals are almost equally interesting as the matches themselves. And it is here that my Chinese giants turn up again.

A marvelous spectacle and of course I want to take some video-shots. To be honest, one is allowed to do as one pleases in America for it is a free country, but taking video-pictures is kind of a problem, it is forbidden practically everywhere – there is always some legal problem concerning copy rights. Every right-minded Dutchman will of course take some stealthy video-shots. Usually this won’t benefit the quality of the pictures but it certainly increases the suspense in a tremendous way.

In Madison Square Garden they catch me, though, and for a moment I fear jail sentence. Fortunately the problem is limited down to an angry gentleman, who, after all is not that angry at all. When his mask drops – sometimes a little communication can do wonders – he comes up to me to tell me that he won’t see a thing if I do it very discreetly. I have to make him a promise not to tell anyone about this secret deal in case someone else catches me. That corrupt I sure am.

Around midnight, again totally exhausted but very much satisfied, I turn in after having packed a little luggage and having set the alarm at 5 o’clock for the real goal of the trip: visiting my American relatives.


Back home in The Netherlands I have already been in touch with many American Somsens – the Internet certainly has some positive sides – and of course also with John Howard Somsen, our Internet guru. John Howard and his closest relatives live Northeast of New York. At a central place, at the home of his mother Janet in Avon CT., only 4 hours by train, I am to meet the whole family.

In early New York I make for gigantic Penn Station. A stray coffee-stall is just opening and furthermore peaceful quiet prevails. From the deep of the belly of the city I leave by Amtrak train for Hartford. After a long time, somewhere in Brooklyn, the train finally emerges and the journey has really started. The train glides through the American landscape and at last I see trees and green again after so many days in the city.

Fully according to schedule the train arrives in Hartford and also just as planned John Howard is there. Seeing each other again is perfect, the weather is splendid, this is bound to be a marvelous day.

Quickly we drive to Avon to meet a radiant and enthusiastic Janet again. She looks even more youthful and sparkling than last year at the time of the reunion. She is totally self-supporting, drives her own car and cares for everybody who is a guest in her house. I am very glad having had the honor of being a guest in her house for two days.

We started talking and have actually never stopped doing so. Where New York wore out the soles of my shoes, thus my vocal chords are tried during this first Somsen visit and this is only the beginning!

Everything passes in review, personal affairs, the Somsen Foundation, Somsen Horizon and, last but not least, a possible Somsen reunion in America in the near future.

Suddenly there is a phone-call from Canada in the evening: Teun Hunse is calling, he has learnt that I am in Avon and would like me to come over to his place and that desire is reciprocal, but unfortunately some practical problems are in the way this time.

The Janet Flaskamp-Somsen clan. [Click for larger image]

The next day there is a true mini-reunion. All the children of Janet are present. Besides John, the only son, the four daughters are there, whose names all begin with the letter J: Judy and Paul Zavracky with two of their sons, Jane with one of her daughters, Jeanne and Richard Connell with their two daughters and Joanne with her three daughters. Some of them come from far away, everybody brought something nice to eat, Janet is the radiant center and the whole day is a real feast. It is relaxed in such a lovely way and time passes by much too fast. Unfortunately the next day I have to say good-bye so as to travel further in this immense country. When John Howard sees me to the station we know for sure that our contacts will be continued, also thanks to the Internet.

When I arrive in new York I have a last afternoon and evening left in this metropolis, one more walk in Central Park, cautiously avoiding cyclists and roller-skaters, for on Sundays everybody seems to be in Central Park to create new traffic jams over there. And then, finally, one more time Broadway. Then late in the evening one more drink in the rotating bar on the 46th floor of the Marriott Hotel. One after the other the tops of the skyscrapers float past.

The next morning very early the time has come to fly away. Yvonne and I will go to the Mid West and Laurie is returning to The Netherlands.

Wisconsin - Minnesota

Wisconsin, the state where there are still so many Somsens with the real Somsen center: Baldwin, ‘The Biggest Little Town in Wisconsin’.

When, after a long flight, we finally land on the airport of the ‘Twin-Cities’, St. Paul – Minneapolis, Don and Irene Somsen are waiting for us. It is a very enthusiastic greeting upon seeing them again. We met, for that matter, at the great Somsen reunion and moreover we have been in touch since through letters and telephone-calls. It is all right from the very beginning. We drive to Baldwin and on the way there we see traffic signs with familiar names, it is a little like coming home. Then we arrive at Baldwin. The Dutch mill is just about the first building we see and that is our first stop.

The atmosphere in Baldwin is very friendly, it is as if time has stood still there for a long time, people have time and attention for one another and Don and Irene are the living examples of this.

When we drive into their street we need not guess what their house is: a true Dutch flag is flying from the flagpole in their garden as a sign of welcome. Oh, how beautifully done!

Baldwin is a solid community and Don and Irene know everybody there and everybody knows Don and Irene. That is noticeable everywhere. Everybody is very friendly. And everybody has his own background-story: the one half of Baldwin originates from the Achterhoek and the other half from Norway and the two ‘nationalities’ go hand in hand wonderfully well. Don and Irene are the living symbol of this: an Achterhoek Somsen who married a girl of Norwegian descent. And when later that week, the Dutch Days are celebrated the ‘Norwegians’ move around in the Dutch national costume as enthusiastically as the Somsens, the Klein-Hesselinks, the Heebinks or the Geurkinks.

David Somsen and company. [Click for larger image]

We do not have so much time, for almost immediately after our arrival in Baldwin we are on our way again, together with our host and hostess, to Woodville, just a few miles from Baldwin, where long ago William Somsen used to run his elevator. We have been invited for lunch by Barbara and Alan Delander and that’s where we will also meet her sister Marilyn again with her husband Ward. Barbara and Marilyn – great-grandchildren of Jan Hendrik Somsen – were also present at the great Somsen reunion. It is a great lunch!

When we visit the Cemetery of Baldwin later that day, we drift from surprise to surprise: so many Somsens, it is unbelievable.

In the evening we have a very pleasant dinner at the ‘Coachmen’ which is run by … Jerry Somsen, Don and Irene’s eldest son.

The following day we meet their other son David Somsen who runs an oil company and who is also a collector of antique cars. It is a strange experience seeing your own name on a tanker: ‘Somsen Oil’. After a very warm-hearted welcome by David and Carol and their children we travel further on to Balsam Lake to see Kathy again. Kathy was at our reunion together with her parents, Don and Irene. On the lake Kathy and her husband Gary run a water sports business. We also meet two of their children. Don and Irene have a site caravan on the premises and after a boat trip on the lake we have a delicious meal and a great evening together.

Very late at night we return to Baldwin.

The cousins Cindy, Sally with Johan and Yvonne. [Click for larger image]

Early in the morning Cindy Somsen-Zignego and her cousin Sally Rasmussen-Berkholder – again two guests at the Somsen reunion – come to collect us for further adventures. But first we go to Woodville to say hello to Cindy’s mother Sally Forman-Somsen and her son Bill Somsen. Then on we go into Wisconsin, via Stillwater, a true antique-city, to Sally’s home in New Richmond where we see their husbands Dave and Ron again and that certainly is very amusing indeed. Sally has cooked a Thanksgiving dinner and that carries so much symbolic meaning that it is really emotional. Fortunately Dave and Ron are real comedians and that keeps us well balanced. And of course the whole long night we keep talking and talking.

Late at night we join Cindy and Ron in their car to their home in River Falls. On the way home, for the very first time in our lives, we smell a skunk and this story is to have certain effects.

On Thursday we go out together with Cindy and Sally and visit, among other things, the Mall of America in St Paul-Minneapolis, the biggest one in the country. The day is concluded with a delicious dinner at Ron and Cindy’s home in the company of Sally and Dave and afterwards we play music.

The next day we go back to Baldwin, for the Dutch Days will be celebrated in the weekend. Cindy takes us back to Don and Irene and there we have another small-scale family reunion. Don’s sister Evelyn has arrived with her husband Tim Tousley, her sister-in-law Arlene Zillmer-Somsen and Jeanne Somsen, John Howard’s aunt. Jeanne, 81, is getting a little forgetful, but when she sits at the piano she faultlessly remembers all the famous songs from before the war. We have a splendid music afternoon with Tim and Evelyn, also over 80, even having a dance to the music of Jeanne.

Later that day we visit the farm of John Vrieze, also of Aalten origin, who keeps about 1000 cows. The highlight is our visit to the milking room, where the cows stand a little higher so that you almost walk under them. And of course it is bound to happen that one of the cows has to drop something and there is hilarity all over when Evelyn and Yvonne become the victims. The video camera keeps going and the two unfortunate ladies need a shower as soon as possible.

Of course we also see the old Somsen farm, the place where Jan Hendrik Somsen started in Baldwin in the last century. When we come home I have an interview with Tim Tousley. In Somsen Omnes Generationes (p 92-93) it says how Tim was searching for Somsens in Arnhem during the war. Even after 53 years he manages to relate a very interesting story and the interview has become a beautiful document.

Meanwhile Baldwin is getting more and more crowded because of the celebrations. People come from far and near and among them also several Somsens or related Somsens. We make the acquaintance of all of them: Russel Wernlund from Florida, his sister Lois from Texas, their mother Arlene and even some descendants of the first American Somsen branch from 1851, the Veenendaal brothers.

Saturday is the most important day of the celebrations. We start with a Dutch breakfast in the Community Center with pancakes and ‘balkenbrij’. Many people wear Dutch traditional clothes, the Volendam bonnet and wooden shoes being most popular. At the breakfast we meet more new family members: Sally’s parents Charley and Bettie Rasmussen-Somsen and many ‘old’ friends and even a 90-year-old lady who still speaks the dialect of the Achterhoek with a heavy American accent, though.

Paula, Mary Ellen, Kathy. [Click for larger image]

In the afternoon there is a concert of a big band and then there is the highlight. After that Don has fired the cannon in the park the big parade begins with dancers on wooden shoes, tulips and just about anything that reminds of The Netherlands. Then we meet our ‘old’ friends of last year again: Paula Somsen-Crist and Mary-Ellen Somsen-Gilbert. Also Don and Irene’s children, Kathy and David and Carol have come to see the parade and there is another new face: Sally’s sister Connie with her son. Connie was so amused about my interest in the smell of a skunk that she gives me a skunk hat for a present, which I have to wear right on the spot. And there we are, some 20 Somsens, sitting on the curb in the hot evening sun of the Mid West, watching the parade and meanwhile talking and talking.

In the evening we go out with a whole party of Somsens and after the fireworks we join Don and Irene in their home for a cozy gathering with the whole group.

Very late at night the suitcases are being packed for the trip to California.

As early as half past six Dave and Sally are at the door quite unexpectedly to say good-bye one more time. Then Paula and Mary-Ellen arrive to take us to the airport. One more picture of Don and Irene and then the journey through America goes on with many precious memories in our luggage.


After our landing in San Francisco history repeats itself. Right at the exit American relatives are waiting for us. This time it is Ken Anderson and his lovely girl friend Doreen. It is another very warm meeting again. After the great reunion Ken came over to Holland for a short visit in May 1998, so we really start getting to know each other pretty well.

The trip by car takes us through a sun-drenched San Francisco along places we have already seen in films so often: Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street and The Golden Gate Bridge.

It is very close to this bridge that we will have another Somsen reunion. Ken’s parents Paul and Ruth Elaine Anderson-Somsen have invited us to a lunch in the yacht club on the Bay, where Paul is a member of the board. The view of The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz is breathtaking.

After a while Jeanie Somsen-Jacobson, an ‘old’ friend, arrives together with two new Somsens: Steven Somsen and his wife Kathy. They have spent a few hours’ drive just to meet us. The lunch starts at one large round table but in course of time the papers and stories about family affairs lie on the table and very soon we have spread in small groups exchanging information in high spirits.

After a drive along the Pacific coast we end up the day with a drink on the deck at Ken’s caravan. Waiting for his building plans to be executed he lives in a big caravan in his large apricot orchard in the Los Gatos Mountains. He has put up a small tent for us, knowing that we love camping, and there our tired bodies retire for the night.

The next day we go together with Ken on a tour of the countryside around San Francisco through the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey on the coast with Cannery Row where some of the novels of John Steinbeck are set to the Big Basin National Park with its gigantic redwood trees.

The following day we travel further into California by rental car, all along the coast down south, to Los Angeles.

The coastal road is really terrific and you really have to take it from north to south so as to have a direct view of the Pacific. The most beautiful part is the ’17 Miles’ Drive’ with a chain of magnificent coastal scenes, tinged in thousands of shades of blue.

The journey leads us past the Hearst Castle further down to Obispo where we spend the night. Then via Santa Maria and Santa Barbara to Malibu, where we are the guests of Albert Mons, a former neighbor of Yvonne. He is a great host and we end the evening in his swimming pool, together with his other guests, with our drinks on the edge of the pool.

Early the next morning we drive into Los Angeles. Since we are in the neighborhood we just drive along Sunset Boulevard and through Beverly Hills and then also Hollywood with its Walk of Fame, but what we have actually come for are the Somsens in Downey.

In the early afternoon we are at the door of Stanley and Jeanne Somsen’s house. They were also at the reunion. And like everywhere else, family stories are the main topic. Stanley is in the process of writing his biography and reads passages from it. Neighboring relatives come along to say hello. Their grandson Aaron Goldberg is there, very enthusiastic, and a little later their daughter Carol Somsen-Goldberg. We love Stanley and Jeanne’s hospitality and their stories and say good-bye the next morning after a delicious breakfast.

Stanley, the most western Somsen. [Click for larger image]

Before leaving Los Angeles we visit the Getty Museum, which is very impressive with its Rembrandts and Van Goghs. Then, around noon, we drive into the valley away from the city. On our way to the Yosemite National Park we want to go to Visalia where there is a Somsen we do not know yet.

After a few hours’ drive I get out of the air-conditioned car to fill up. Breathing becomes almost impossible. A 110-degree-hot blanket of air falls down on me: a heat wave.

Then on we go to Visalia. There we meet Hennie Somsen, whom we only called just the day before. Hennie immigrated to the USA in the sixties and she is pleasantly surprised to meet an unknown Somsen and she also loves to be able to speak her mother tongue for just one night. It is a very pleasant evening and of course we talk nineteen to the dozen.

The next day our route leads to Yosemite Park, which is beautiful beyond words. Numberless waterfalls hang down like garlands from the steep rock-faces. It is teeming with bears. For a short while I have the illusion to have found gold in one of the many mountain-streams until a warden puts me back into reality. It is pyrite: fools’ gold.

Then the trip goes on towards the San Francisco area, where we arrive at the tent at Ken’s place in the middle of the night.

On Sunday, together with Ken and Doreen, we drive up to Moe and Jeanie Jacobson-Somsen in Novato, north of San Francisco, a few hours’ drive. Jeanie has prepared a delicious lunch and after that we go on a wine tasting tour the six of us, all in one car, moving from chateau to chateau. We were already in good spirits but at the end of the afternoon we are in an excellent mood.

Time passes by so rapidly; we have only got one single day left, which we spend roaming in San Francisco. That night the suitcases are packed for the last time.

We drive to Silicon Valley where we have to deliver our car. There, Ken will pick us up.

We have to be at the airport at two, but just before our departure we are to have our last reunion. Friends of Ken, the Heebink family, who come from Baldwin and who also originate from Aalten, have invited us for lunch. In Baldwin the Somsens and the Heebinks were related through marriage. Doreen and Ken’s parents, Paul and Ruth Elaine, also come by to say good-bye and then the party is really over. Ken drops us at the airport just in time to catch our plane and after a last warm farewell we are back on Dutch soil again after 12 hours.

Very much satisfied but still stupefied because of the many impressions and emotions, the multitude of encounters, the intensive conversations – for talking is something the Somsens are quite good at – the long journey home with a little bit of jet-lag, we rapidly pack our suitcases when at home just for one more time. The following day the Somsen camping-weekend will start and we absolutely have to be there to tell the stories, to show the pictures and the films, but more about this weekend can be read in Wim Somsen’s contribution in this same magazine.

It has been a fantastic trip and certainly not the last one to America. There are so many Somsens in America after all, but the country is far too big to visit them all in one trip.

One big happy family, Jeanie, Yvonne, Ken, Doreen, Moe and Johan. [Click for larger image]

I could go on for hours on end. I have to force myself to stop but not without expressing a word of gratitude to all my American relatives, whose ancestors ventured that great crossing so long ago and who, so many generations later, have been so hospitable to us. You opened your homes, you let us share a small part of your lives, and you all contributed to our trip being a tremendous success. You are just great, thank you so much!



In the past year quite a number of Somsens packed their suitcases to go on a journey. On a journey to visit other members of the family abroad. In most cases the Great Reunion of 1997 actuated this desire for travelling and resumed meetings. This World Wide Reunion has certainly aroused something!

Sometimes a Somsen was abroad on business and had asked our Foundation for names and addresses in the area and in this way new contacts were made. It also occurred that they just visited relatives, children, cousins, etc.

In this new column we would like to inform you about the visits that we know of. A sort of ‘shipping news’ enabling us to see unexpected distances and relation networks.


  • Jon Somsen [2389] and his girl friend Karen from Orlando, Florida, visited Dirk and Mirjam Somsen-Berends [136/197] in Hillegom. And of course they also met Dirk’s parents: Dick and Dikky Somsen-Lenselink [130/133] from Zwolle.

  • In their turn Dick and Dikky Somsen-Lenselink visited the Gerrie Kierulf-Bovenhoff [1369] family in Trondheim, Norway, during their vacation.

  • Johan Somsen [1089] and Yvonne Reijs-Edel from Epe/Apeldoorn rambled extensively in the USA. More about this trip and the people they met can be found elsewhere in this magazine.

  • Emma Somsen [1190] from Dinxperlo visited the Moe and Jeanie Jacobson-Somsen family [773] in Novato, CA.

  • Gree and Jan van Daatselaar-Somsen [53/679] from Lichtenvoorde visited their son Jan Bart [1622] and his family In Wantagh, NY, Janet Somsen-Flaskamp [2324] in Avon, CT. and her son John Howard Somsen [2353]. They traveled to Teun and Jo Hunse-Somsen [68/63] in St.Catharines, ON, Canada, and spent nice days with them.

  • Derk Somsen [413] from Zutphen visited the Obert Somsen [2467] family in Jamestown, ND, and he also visited Ank Somsen [431], who lives on the Spanish island of Menora.

  • Gertjan Somsen [145] from Haaksbergen paid a visit to Teun and Jo Hunse [68/63] in St. Catharines, ON, Canada.

  • Ken Anderson [3934] from Los Gatos, CA., was at the wedding of Mariska Somsen [694] and Edwin Teunissen in De Steeg and he also visited Johan Somsen [1089] and Yvonne Reijs-Edel in Epe/Apeldoorn and the Joep and Margriet Iserief-Somsen family [2883/2878] in Amersfoort.

  • Derk Somsen [721] and his wife from Tacoma, WA, visited the families of Theo Somsen [227] in Vaassen and Ben Somsen [396] in Eibergen during their annual visit to The Netherlands.


‘Old customs – persued afresh – give the support of a safe guardrail

along an uncertain path’.

Helène Nolthenius, writer


Internet News


The brilliant Somsen Home Page on the Internet has moved to a new address:

John Howard Somsen [2353] extended the home page again, so that is certainly worth visiting!




This year a number of members of the family have been so pleased with the initiative to start the Somsen Foundation and the magazine Somsen Horizon that they transferred extra gifts to us.

It has done us all the good in the world. We felt appreciation and it will give us new energy for the future. Besides, these donations will give us some more financial elbow room so that we can make our magazine even more attractive and new possibilities may arise to do something additional.

So for more reasons than one we would like to thank the generous benefactors!


Good intentions for 1999?


If you are still worrying about your good intentions for 1999 we know one for you: look around in your family for people who are not yet supporters of the Somsen Foundation.

Or a variant: Give the membership as a present to one of your relatives, e.g. for his or her birthday. In this way we got two very young supporters thanks to their grandfather!

Copy, pictures and documents


As your editorial staff we have no complaints. The amount of unpublished copy, pictures and documents is fairly large. Nor are we in want of new ideas. But that does not imply that we would not be grateful for new material. On the contrary. Every one of you who would like to write something is welcome to it. Every one of you who would like to suggest an interesting subject to be published is equally welcome to it. In that case we will contact you when you let us know.

We are, for that matter, also very much interested in family pictures and documents. We are always very much pleased if we may borrow them or if we get them, for after all we collect anything relating to the Somsens, their lives and their history.

One phone-call, letter or e-mail to our secretariat will do.



On the hot afternoon of Sunday, August 10, 1997, Stephen D. Somsen [2459] from Edmonds, WA. planted the Somsen lime-tree in front of the Japikshuis in IJzerlo. He also unveiled the plaque in commemoration of the first Somsens who immigrated to the USA.

Everybody was enjoying him- or herself and numerous pictures were taken of this plaque. But…, the plaque turned out to contain a very annoying error. De Christian names of the first male emigrant, Hendrik Jan, were in the wrong order.

Find the difference. [Click for larger image]

The error has been retrieved, thanks to the efforts of Dick Somsen [408] from Eibergen.

The picture shows the old and the new plaque.


‘Life is knitting

with two threads,

the one of the present

and the one of the past.

Nothing will ever be over.’

Nelleke Noordervliet, writer



In this column we would like to draw your attention to the family announcements that have reached us.

We are very much pleased to present them to you and are grateful to everybody who took the trouble to inform us about the merry and sad events in their and our family.

This also enables our advisor Dick Somsen from Zwolle to keep our genealogical files up-to-date, so that we, in turn, can inform you in Somsen Horizon.

We really appreciate it very much that you send in your family announcements to our secretariat:

Somsen Foundation
Leusdenhof 298
1108 DP Amsterdam Zuidoost, The Netherlands


30 Jun 1997:Soraya Lisa [4038], d. of Ard Johan Somsen [544] and Angelique Soyer [549].
03 Sep 1998:Yannick Ferron [4039], s. of Ard Johan Somsen [544] and Angelique Soyer [549].
27 Mar 1998:Wouter Govert Willem Somsen [4022], s. of Ard Johan Somsen [544] and Angelique Soyer [549].
24 May 1998:Matthew Joseph Somsen [4023], s. of Glen Joseph Somsen [2362] and Kristy D Wainscott [2365].
27 May 1998:Lieke Bezemer [4025], d. of Philoppes Adriaan (André) Bezemer [1525] and Irene Somsen [248].
10 Aug 1998:Sarah Hunse [4032], d. of Ard Johan Somsen [544] and Brenda Lynn Christopher [193].
29 Sep 1998:Gerrit Jan Hendrik Scholten [4040], s. of G. J. W. Scholten [3698] and A A (Sandra) Somsen [258].


20 Jun 1997:Willem (Wim) Somsen [1378] and Marianne Lagerwey [4025].
19 Aug 1997:Darren Allen Somsen [2544] and Katrin Ursula Kittel [3935].
19 Aug 1997:Elizabeth Ann (Liz) Somsen [3301] and Phillip Alma (Phil) Papenfuss [4031].
29 Aug 1997:Ernst Jan Somsen [254] and Ellen Theodora Helena van Aken [3944].
08 Oct 1997:Ingeborg Margietha Somsen [682] and Pieter Bernard Bor [3956].
13 Nov 1997:Kinga (King) Zwarts [2035] and Rembrandt van den Bos [4024].
28 Feb 1998:Leah Rachel Somsen [2698] and Kent Jerome Kippes [4009].

Mariska and Edwin Teunissen-Somsen. [Click for larger image]

22 May 1998:Mariska Somsen [694] and Edwin Teunissen [3887].

René and Anke Somsen-Wijnia. [Click for larger image]

11 Jul 1998:René Somsen [429] and Anke Wijnia [3885].
22 May 1998:Jeffrey Lee Reed [2736] and Nicole Jean Harder [4037].


11 Jul 1997:Lynn Dale Somsen Somsen [743], age 78.
21 Feb 1998:Klazina van Drimmelen [96], age 97.
28 Jun 1998:Arie de Jongh [100], Zwijnfrecht, age 88
11 Jul 1998:Joseph Don Somsen [2398], age 80.
12 Jul 1998:Ruth Johnson [2665], age 89.
26 Jul 1998:Scott Jon Somsen [2842], age 36.
18 Sep 1998:Hendrik Johan Smits [386], Eibergen, age 82
Johan Smits took an active part in the resistance in Eibergen during World War II, which is related on page 100-103 in ‘Somsen Omnes Generationes’. For one of his fellow-partisans this gave rise to insert this obituary notice:

With respect I remember
Deceased September 18, 1998

During the war he printed several issues of the illegal paper Trouw (According to the Germans a vicious paper). Moreover he took care of many people in hiding and Jewish fellow-countrymen. All this in view of the Commandments, but blind to the outcome, which he entrusted to the Lord.

Nic. Noorlandt
Haarlem, 26 September 1998


It is a centuries-old tradition in the Achterhoek to visit the neighbors - some 10 close neighbors – on New Year’s Day and wish them a happy New Year.

Also the Somsens who lived in the hamlet of IJzerlo knew this custom.

In the morning people used to go to church for the New Year’s service and in the afternoon the neighbors were visited. As the afternoon proceeded the mood during these visits became increasingly cheerful and boisterous, since from the very first visit they started drinking.

Even the Somsens who settled somewhere else in The Netherlands stuck to this tradition. Thus I remember my father freeing himself just after the beginning of the New Year to visit his four sisters in Aalten in the company of my mother..

Nowadays this tradition is less strict but nevertheless alive. Many inhabitants of Aalten and many of the Achterhoek in general still visit their neighbors, relatives and friends in the New Year.

I think it is a nice tradition for it is based on the good concept that you wish the people with whom you feel connected well and joy and light. People whose society you are thrown at when in need and whom, in this way, you want to show that they can also rely on you in the coming year.

For all times and all places.

The underlying idea still seems worth putting into practice in the year 1999. It does not matter any more where we live, nor which form we choose to make known the concept of hope and light to each other.

Therefore I would like to wish you a happy New Year in the vernacular of our ancestors:

Völle heil en zegen in’t ni’je jaor!

On behalf of the board,
Theo Somsen