Parental House


Parental House 2



My work on the book of the genealogy of the Oteman family from 1650 till now takes much more time than foreseen because more and more data come to my disposal and what started some two years ago as a “hobby” , good for my post-active period, becomes more and more a passion.



n the meantime I got more and more impressed by the unbelievable  efforts our family, our ancestors made to bring the family where she is to day. By suffering and working, by educating and showing that good exempla in hard circumstances, our ancestors handed down their norms and values, which are today the characteristics of the family: a strongly developed family solidarity, which I have observed in all generations and in the several Oteman's branches today; decency, probity , sense of justice and an adversity to bragging. I encounter all these properties  again and again , and the more I encounter new family members the more I learn about the ancestors.

“Honeste vivere, nisi laedere et suum cuique retribuere”, this old Latin adage, which means in English: “ live decently, don’t harm anybody and give everybody his due “ is in a nutshell, what we got from our ancestors and that is infinitely more than piled up capitals, possessions or noble titles. Let us realise that and as “ noblesse oblige”, let us pass on this family properties to our children

The investigations in my family brought me into contact with several Oteman  branches here in Holland from which I did not know so much before.From the beginning those new contacts were immediately hearty and spontaneous.

The most emotional experience, however was two years ago the rediscovery of our American relatives of whom my uncle Jan, from Wijk bij Duurstede had kept alive the memory at me as he spoke about the family. I regret not having taken the initiative to go and to find them earliert than two years ago when I went, with my brother Wim , to visit them. But better later than never!



his study about the history of the house of the Otemans in Erlecom was initially done as a part of the genealogical book about the family, but by doing it I decided to publish these data in order to inform the family in an earlier stage as the completion of the family book will take some more time.This English translation is made at my request by my brother Wim, who helped me a lot by going out to the archives in the Netherlands and to the family to find the necessary documents so that I could get on working on this essay.



or our family in America: when  the river Rhine enters into the Netherlands, the river arrives in its delta and splits itself in several branches. The most southern and widest branch is “The Waal”

The area between the Waal and a range of hills which , coming from Germany like the Rhine, form at Nijmegen, some 20 kms. in the Netherlands, the top of a V, is called “The Duffelt”.This region lies partly in the actual Netherlands and partly in actual Germany. But that has not always been so. That region was in the past part of the Dukedom Gelre and was considered as a Dutch speaking entity and still today most people are each other’s relatives and are speaking the same dialect on both sides of the actual frontier.

The land is flat and the bottom is formed by the river Rhine, so very clayey and we find there many farms, cattle but also brick works, which by clay winning made many, many water pools and swampy irregularities in the land. No wonder, that and on the German part and on the Dutch part, large areas have been declared : “ National Parks ” in order to secure the beautiful environment.

In winter the Waal reaches its highest level and can rise 15 meters , but enormous dikes of 20 m. high protect the villages. Should there be a break, which happened in former centuries e.g. in 1926, it means a catastrophe, for the houses will be submerged under many meters of water.

The villages in the Dutch part are mainly: Ooij, where I was born and where my father was a teacher, Erlecom, the place of the family house, Leuth, where the family of my mother lived ( the van Ecks), Millingen ( Branch Jan Oteman), Kekerdom and Beek/Ubbergen, where the county administration is located.

In the German part you may find: Zyfflich, where Conrad Oteman was born, Niel (Dl)l where several Otemans and my mother were born, Mehr, Kranenburg (the administration centre) , Nutterden, Warbeyen, Wyler, etc.

On both ends of the Duffelt there are two big cities, which mark the end of the region: on the Dutch side Nijmegen, a very old city founded by the Romans, and on the German side Kleef, also an old city with a rich history.

For your orientation a survey map of the region is joined.



o make it easier for you to recognise all those- for you unknown -new Otemans, I join to this essay a global pedigree of the Otemans from the oldest to Conrad and from him- more in detail- from the Otemans you will encounter in this book



 hope this book will help to re-attach firmly the American branch to the old tree in Holland and I can assure and confirm you that the family over here is very interested.


Henk Oteman

Jan van Brabantstraat 44

5282 NV  Boxtel.

Netherlands Tel/Fax 31 0411 673332 


                                                                                     Family Pedigree


                                                                           William Oteman   ( 1680 1750 ?)


                                                                           Petrus Oteman     ( 1710-1790)


                                                                          Joannes Oteman    ( 1744-1800)


                                                                          WilhelmusOteman ( 1771-1854)


                                                              Peter Oteman x Anna M. Puppinghuizen (1797 1870)


                      |                                            |                                                                             |

         Joannes 1823-1908               Theodora 1824-1846                                Conradus 1827-1890 x Hendrina Awater

                      |                                                                 _______________________________________________________

         Willem 1854-1932

                      |                                                                 |                        |                          |                        |                        |

         Gerardus 1888-1967                                     Hendrikus             Theodore            Fransciscus      Willem              Anna

                      |                                                                 x                       x                         x                      x        Sister Nicoleta

         Lambertus 1927                                             E. Barten           M. Geveling           M.Jansen       B.Kroes

                      |                                   _____________________        _________                                 __________

                  Wil 1951                                |                                                |                                                  |


               Peter 1979            Coen   1893-1918                                  Wilhelmus                       Mary, Minnie, Hetty (x Krechy)

                                         * Gerrit  1894-1956 (x H.Jans)                         |                       Conny,   Anne, Liz, George Oteman,

                                      **  Wim    1895-1929 (x A..v.Eck)              Wilhelmus                   Rose, Pauline, Trudy ( x Bell).

                                    Jan       1898-1976                                          |                                      Dorothy, Ceil

                                           Truus   1899-1975 (Nun)                        Wim 1931

                                           Diets    1902-1988

   * From Gerrit: Henk, Coen, Nico, Willie, Joep, Albert, Geert  ** From Wim (my father): Henk, Ger , Wim (Coen)


  History of the ancestral dwelling house of the Oteman family in Erlecom


magine an old house could tell us about the occurrences of the successive generations of a same family; about fortune and misfortune, joyful births an sorrow deaths, suffering and disasters, labour and efforts, success and disappointment, solidarity and love of family, discord and harmony.! We all should like to know that, but the inmates, our ancestors, are no more. We can only guess and try to learn something from the narratives and traditions. What do we have from them? What characteristics ? What do we owe them ?



hen several generations of a same family have been living in a same house, a genealogist can often reconstruct a vivid history of that family by studying notary’s archives. It's obvious that in such case several conveyances of land and property , public auctions, drawings up inventory, memories of succession, official valuations and the like  have been taken place and they often hold a wealth of particularities of the residents and their relatives.

It is no picnic studying notarial deeds. In the previous century the documents were hand-written and, dependent on a good or bad handwriting, extremely difficult to read. In addition to this, you need a fair knowledge to which notary the parties have gone to for their transactions and where the deeds are filed. Then it takes a lot of time to find them in the huge quantities of documents and microfilms . For the next generations it may be easier, when all the archives , provided with repertories of family names, are entered in computers and will be accessible via internet.


In the house in Erlecom , number 48, four generations of Oteman have been living and the following documents concerning them have been found:





 deed of purchase of land by Jan P. Puplichhuizen on November 21 1855. ( Notary Van der Goes. Land registry Nijmegen 31-12-1855 part 114, nr.49)

This lot came from tiller Hendrikus Rissenbeek, from whom he borrowed the amount of ƒ 700,-.

Jan Peter was a blacksmith and in 1853 he moved from Zyfflich, where he was born on 14-09-1813, to Erlecom where, for some time , he lived with his sister (?) Petronella Publichuizen, who was married to Bernardus Vierboom.

He married Maria Pauwels from Neerbosch (near  Nijmegen) and who was 20 years younger. The couple got three children in Erlecom: Maria Anna (*1860), Anna Clara (*1862) and Maria Carolina (*1865).

Thirteen years later, in 1868, he sold the house and smithy to Conrad Oteman, also blacksmith and from Zyfflich (actual Germany) and whose mother was a Publichhuizen too: Anna Margaretha Publichhuizen. (Zyfflich 1791-1858)

The relation between these three Publichhuizens, Jan Peter, Petronella and Anna Maria Margaretha is ,up to now ,not yet clear.

After he had sold his house, Jan Peter settled down as a blacksmith in Neerbosch, where his wife came from.





 deed of exchange between the above mentioned Jan Peter Publichhuizen and Jacob Rissenbeek on May 1st. 1863 is found.( Notary Willem C.Bothlingh.; Land registry Nijmegen 8-05-1863, part 168, nr.12).

By this contract the lot got his final size viz. 6554 m2. The house and smithy were built by Jan Peter Puplichhuizen and probably shortly after the purchase of the land ,but before his marriage, so between 1855 and 1859.






deed of purchase on Jan.21, 1868 (Nr.14, Notary Franc.W.van der Goes in Beek) by which Conrad Oteman, blacksmith in Zyfflich (*16-06-1827), obtains lot and house from Jan Publichhuizen. Purchase amount ƒ 2.000.-

Conrad Oteman was born in Zyfflich on June 16. 1827 as a son of Peter Oteman (1797-1870) and Anna Margaretha Publichhhuizen (1791-1858). He had a brother, Johannes Oteman (Jan, 1823-1908), who later moved to Millingen ( Netherlands) and who was a building contractor there ( like his father  Peter in Zyfflich). This Johan we'll meet again later, when he , at the age of 67 at Conrad's death in 1890, has to value the latter’s immovable as a sworn expert.

All John's descendants practise the same profession and  his great-great-grandson, Will Oteman, now lives in Tegelen ( Netherlands) . He has a Do-it-Yourself  and building-material business. His son is also called Peter!

Conrad ( also called Coen in Dutch), had also a sister, Theodora Oteman ( 1824-1846), who died at an early age and unmarried in Zyfflich.

Hendrina Awater




Willem (William)

Coen married when he was thirty on May 8, 1857 in Zyfflich and with his cousin Hendrina Awater (1828-1886) from Erlecom ( Netherlands). Her mother was Maria Gertruidis Publichshuizen from Leuth (Netherlands). Hendrina had worked as a dairy-maid at the farm '' The Big Cat'' of the Kroes family in Ooy. We mention this here, because her youngest son, William, later married one of Kroes' daughters, Betje (Elisabeth) in 1891 and emigrated with her to Little Chute (Wisconsin U.S.A.), together with two of her brothers, Theodore and Paul!

So when Coen went later on to Erlecom in 1868 and bought the land there, he was already 41, married for 4 years and had 4 sons:

Heinrich (In Latin Hendricus, in Dutch as nickname Driekus 1858-1903), was 10 at the time. This Hendrikus is my grandfather, whom my name Henk comes from. I have never known him, for he died in 1903 and I was born in 1927.

He is the founder of what we call the Erlecom branch of the family.  


The second son was Theodorus (nickname Dorus in Dutch, 1859-1930). He was 9 and settled down ,later, as a blacksmith on the other side of the Waal river ( main branch of the Rhine in the delta of the Netherlands), in the town called Gendt. ( Gent at that time.) This county lies just opposite of Erlecom but, across the river, which is several hundreds of metesr wide.) He got many children and grandchildren. So there are many Otemanns to be found in that  '' Over-Waal''  area. These Otemanns used to be called to day the Gendt branch. Most of them write their name with a double n.




he third son he took with him to Erlecom, was only three and named Frans. Later on, he also went to Millingen, like his uncle Johan did. But he as a tailor. There are no more descendants of him any more in Millingen today. Almost all of them can be found in Nijmegen nowadays. This branch is called the ''Second Millingen Branch”. ( The one of Johan is called the first Millingen branch.)

The fourth son, Johannes Wilhelmus, called Willem in Dutch and William later in America, (1866-1941), can hardly have had any memories of Prussian Zyfflich, because when the family moved to Erlecom, he was only two years old. After his father's  death , he emigrated in 1891 to the United States and settled down in Little Chute in Wisconsin. There, in the State of Wisconsin, the Otemans as well as the many descendants of the Kroes family, are now concentrated in Racine.

He got two sons and ten daughters, who all have many descendants all spread over the United States today.



n Erlecom Coen got another daughter, Anna (1869-1941), who spent most of her life as a nun in Vlijmen,( Netherlands) in the Convent of J.M.J.( Jesus, Maria and Joseph, a rather big Dutch Congregation) as Sister Nicoleta.


The youngest children, Willem and Anna, who stayed at home for the longest time, often corresponded with each other, afterWilliam’s emiration to America.

I am very interested to get access to the archives of the congregation and to study this correspondence, if there is any left. It could learn us more abut the early days of William's experiences in America.

Aunt Ceil, William’s youngest daughter ,who still lives today (1998), can't tell us so much, as she is the youngest of the twelve children.





randfather Peter, so Coen's father, was still alive at the time of the removal to Erlecom.  He even witnessed Anna's birth , but died two years later at the age of 73.

Grandmother Anna Margaretha Puppinghuizen deceased ten years  earlier in 1858 and Peter remarried in 1861 Everdine Hendriks (1828-1863) from Frasselt (Prussia), but this second wife died two years later in 1863.

Anyway, those moves in that area were quite common. The distances were rather short; Zyfflich, Niel, Leuth, Erlecom, Ooij, Millingen and Gendt lay 5 to 10 kms. from each other and there was not a frontline between the Prussian and the Dutch townships and all people in that area spoke a similar Dutch dialect and were often family. Those official frontiers and language boundary came later.



ack to Conrad and his removal.!

He was a blacksmith and it suited him well that the previous occupant of the house in Erlecom, Jan Peter Publichhuizen, was of the same profession, thought, '' all tools of the smithy were reserved by the seller'' !. Jan Peter clearly wanted to continue this profession in Neerbosch. Coen had to bring with him his own equipment from Zyfflich!



onrad buys, and now we cite the deed: '' a house and yard, garden and arable land, situated in Erlecom  Land registry Ooij, section B, nrs:
472: house and yard, size 3 roeden and 24 ellen. ( Today 324 m2)

  459: outlet as 'wood' , 4 roeden and 20 ellen ( 400m2) ( The Klever bos/wood. Disappeared to day)

  552: arable land, 17 roeden and 20 ellen ( 1720 m2)

  553: arable land, 41 roeden and 10 ellen (4110 m2) ''


These land registry numbers were altered in later documents because of renumbering and remeasurement. (But I don’t understand the system ,which lies behind!) The historical maps of the section B from Ooij are found in the land registry archives by my brother Coen .


So the total 6554 M2 for  ƒ. 2000,- Nowadays in the Ooij polder – which is now a National Nature Park – that piece of land means quite a fortune, something to dream of! The date of the purchase is January 21 1868, but Coen was not allowed to move in until May 1st. But he can take possession of the garden and the “unsown land”on February 22nd. (St Peter) and the sown land as soon as it is '' free of stubbles''.

Land and polder taxes and remaining taxes and payments are on Coen's account from January 1st.

Excluded from the purchase are the above mentioned tools and further individual “beams and cross-beams.''


The witnesses present were, Theodorus Beeker, carpenter in Beek and Reinier van Baal, ditto.

The notary was Franc. W. van der Goes.



onrad signed his name in the Dutch way with one 'n', as he already used to do in Prussia. He considered himself as Dutch.

With the exception of Theodorus ( Gendt branch) all his children and their descendants have followed this example. Theodorus , his son in Gendt, went on spelling his name with double 'n', so not always consistently, for I found several deeds signed by him where he writes his name with one 'n'. Theodore’s descendants kept on writing their names with two 'n's', except one of his children, who went back to one 'n' and so did his descendants up to now.( Gendt's under-branch Winterswijk.)


The deed of Conrad's purchase was registered in Nijmegen on February 1st 1868 ( part 97, folio 159, recto vak b. Reg. fee ƒ.116,61) . 22 Years exactly, until his death in 1890, Coen was to live there in Erlecom with his five children. Then a new generation of Otemans came to live in the house, when the eldest son, Hendrikus, (Driekus), my grand-father, bought the house in a public auction, married and raised a family. We can learn this from the following deeds.