(William was almost forgotten here in the Netherlands, when Henk and Wim Oteman in 1996 undertook a trip to America in order to rediscover our family and to visit William’s and Betty’s grave.)
rans marries, on July 24 in the same year 1891 ,a girl from Doornenburg, a neighbouring village of Dorus’ place, and brother Driekus became in 1894 godfather of his son Conradus Theodore.
Brother Theodor became in 1901 godfather of his son Wilhelmus, who only lived for a short time. Sister Anna became godmother of a child ,that died at a very early age in 1901 and Hendrikus’ wife, Elisabeth Barten, became godmother in 1895 of Joseph Wilhelmus, the one who later on emigrated to France and got there two daughters and an adopted son. All this points out that the brothers and the sister remained in a close relationship, which is characteristic in the whole Oteman family!
riekus marries on April 27, 1892 also a girl from Gendt, Elisabeth Barten, my grandmother, match made by Dorus’ wife , Mient.
nna probably kept on working for some years and in about 1894 she became a nun, sister Nicoleta, in a J.M.J. nunnery, where she took her first vow on Aug.15 1896. It is recorded that she brought in ƒ 2300,- .So she must have taken good care of here inheritance and saved quite a sum. The nunnery must have been well off! ( The archives of the J.M.J. nunnery in ‘s-Hertogenbosch are hardly open to the public and only dates of entry and taking vows are available. I should like to glance over the family letters to a/o. brother William in America, if any.) XI
n Febr. 8. 1892, a good two years after Dorus from Gendt had tried to keep a piece of land in Erlecom for himself, he sold it back to his brother Driekus for ƒ 150,- (He bought it for ƒ435,- but meanwhile he had had the profit of the clay.) The deed ( Nr.3/7963 46/33 400/59 notary Alphonse Hekking in Nijmegen. ) mentions the numbers B 904 and B 905 and the size is now 1400 m2 in stead of 1100m2. (Was the first measurement not correct or are the changes caused by the “ de-claying” ?)
Both brothers sign and write their names with one “n” ! Witnesses: Gijsbertus Geurts, notary's clerk and Theodore Janssen, farmer at Leuth.
n Jan. 18-1903, thirteen years after he had bought his parental house and only eleven years after his wedding, my grandfather Driekus died quite unexpectedly in Erlecom, 45 years old, of a heart attack.( There is a succession document nr.68578 about the lots: B903, 905, 904, 907, 1010 and 1011, together 6354 m2; the six children became owners of 1/6 of their father’s part each, so 1/12 of the total each.)
For the second generation Oteman in this house the death of their father and breadwinner was a downright disaster. Elisabeth was left behind with six children; Coen the oldest was 10 years old and Diets, the youngest girl only 4 month. Elisabeth had already lost three children, girls, in an early stage and was now without a breadwinner! In those days ,without any pension and social welfare or care, which we all in spoilt Europe consider as self-evident, this meant bitter poverty. The clients of my grandfather, the rich peasants and tillers ,for whom he had made suits, pretended not to remember any order or invoices, when the young children of Elisabeth appeared at their doors with improvised bills, and in this way the unpaid bills could not be collected either! ( My uncle Jan, from Wijk bij Duurstede told me once, that 15 years later , when he got twenty , he had tried again, together with my father , to obtain the payments, but with zero results. After that final attempt , the two brothers have burnt father’s total administration) Moreover, Elisabeth, who could neither read nor write , had to provide for her children by helping the tillers with their reaping and slaughtering.
Fortunately the family owned some land, a garden and an orchard, so that they could produce a little bit. The oldest boy, Coen, a tall boy, was nearly twelve and could leave school and go to the brick-yard. He could have made studies, for all the children were rather intelligent. But no way! There was no money and the elder had to work for the younger! The whole family had set their hope on Coen, but after some years he had to join the army for a long time, because of World War I and the mobilisation of 1914-1918 and on the top of it all ,he died in Arnhem in an military hospital of the notorious Spanish influenza (1918) that caused hundreds of thousands of victims in Europe at the time.
In 1929 Elisabeth lost another son, my father Wim Oteman, a teacher in Ooij, only 34 years old!
t the death of my grandfather, Hendrikus on Jan.18 1903 a memorial of succession had to be drawn up, for there were seven heirs: mother Elisabeth and the six children. This document (nr.4/8578) mentions the section nrs. in Ooij: B 903, 905, 904, 907, 1010 and 1011, together 6554 m2. So at the time the family in Erlecom had got back the land of Dorus from Gendt and was in the possession of the whole original lot.
Naturally the property remained undivided, all children being still very young:
Coenraad Gerrit (Coen) was not yet 10.(* Feb.1. 1893)
Gerardus Hendrikus (Gert) was not yet 9 (* July 5. 1894)
Wilhelmus Johannes ( Wim, my father), was 7 (*Nov.16. 1895)
Joannes Theodore ( my uncle Jan), was 4 ½ (* July 3. 1898)
Geertruda Wilhelmina (Truus, later sister Coenrada) was 3 (* Oct.31. 1899)
Bernadine Maria (Diets) was 4 months (* Aug.23. 1902)
n May 23 .1909, there was in Ooy an offer of sale of a lot B1197 to Peter Bekker for Elisabeth Barten, widow of Henrich Martinus Oteman. Also the six children are mentioned in this deed, because each of them owned 1/6 of the half of the undivided property, so each 1/12 of the total. This document (nr…./4198) , is mentioned in other documents but has not yet been found. Had mother Elisabeth been urged to sell land?
On de maps of the Land Registry, which my brother Wim has detected and which are joined to this study, one can see the piece of land of neighbour Bekker, which he got from the Otemans.
ow the story continued needs, if you are interested, full attention and you need some calculation. If you are not interested in the figures, which I have to mention in order to be complete, you can pass over them.
In those days “child’s portions” for the parent, who became widow, (the so called longest liver) did not yet exist in the Dutch law of succession. ( only in 1923 it was introduced). In other words, if the parents were married on equal terms and one of them died ,only the children inherited the portion of the deceased parent. So, if there were six of them as the case was here, each of them got 1/6 . Nota bene only of half the property. The survivor keeps his own other half of course.
(Since 1923 the surviving party inherits together with the children also a portion , equal to the children, the also called ”child’s portion. In that case the children would have had inherited 1/7 each and the mother too. So at my grandfather’s death, Elisabeth kept ½ of the property and each of the children got 1/6 of the half ( ½) which makes 1/12.
Bear this in mind for things are growing more complicated further on. There was, as said, no division of property. The children were much to young, but they had to pay succession duties, because each of them had become owner of the house and land for 1/12 and as the exchequer is not willing to wait for a division, he claimed ƒ 2600,- for succession duties, and all this was an extra burden on Elisabeth shoulders, whose outlook was none too bright. How she had managed, we do not yet know, but probably she had to mortgage the house. ( This amount must be verified, for it seems to me extremely high.!)
n June 23. 1918 there was another blow of misfortune for the family. The oldest son, a sturdy and promising boy, who was during the war of 1914-1918 in the Dutch Army, died of the notorious Spanish Influenza in St.Elisabeth’s Hospital in Arnhem. He was one of the hundreds of thousands of victims in Europe.
Another problem of succession raised ; as we had seen, he owned 1/12 of the immovable in Erlecom, like the other children. Now the mother first inherits ¼ of his part, which is ¼ x 1/12 = 1/48.
Because she already owned half of the whole property, she has now 1/48 + ½ = 25/48. The notary may have figured it out for her, no doubt, for Betje had never learned to read or to write. Unimaginable nowadays!
The other five children had to divide the remaining ¾ of Coen’s 1/12 portion . So each of them had now 23/240 ( 1/5 x ¾ x 1/12).
There is more to come, but remember this for the time being, for eventually this undivided property has to be divided.
n Aug. 4 1929 the family met with another disaster, for Elisabeth lost a son again, my father Wim, teacher at Ooij.
In 1926 Wim had married, as the first and only one of the five remaining children, Antonia van Eck and at his death he had already three children: Henk (myself), Ger and Coen ( after his father’s death called Wim, but this only within the family) .The latter being only 6 weeks old. This too was probably a belated remainder of the Spanish influenza, which he had caught during his years as a sergeant in military service; a damage of the tympanum membrane which inflamed in 1929 and caused within a week’s time the death of meningitis in immense pain and at full consciousness. Today it can quickly be cured with the antibiotics we have since W.W.II.
Antonia was left behind with three little children, repetition of the same disaster as which has struck her mother-in-law 26 years before. Meanwhile ,however, there was a government pension-system already , only for employees of the State, but Wim had only been in office as a teacher for a few years (He was 34 when he died)1
Wim had been enabled to study at the “Bisschoppelijke Kweekschool” ( The Episcopal Teacher’s Training College) in ‘s-Hertogenbosch ( The capital of the Province of Brabant. He could do so with the complete moral support of his poor mother and brothers and sisters and the financial support of the parish from which he got a grant for 4 years. He became a teacher in Ooij and was the pride of the family.
Elisabeth had hardly ever overcome this blow and every day she went the long way from Erlecom to Wim’s grave in Ooij on foot until her death two years later in 1931.!
Again memories of succession had to bee drawn up. Who possesses what of the immovable in Erlecom, for mother Elisabeth was still alive and nobody had the slightest intention to claim his inheritance.
Now it becomes really complicated:
As we have seen Wim, my father, owned like the other children 23/240 part of the parental property. Meanwhile the succession laws had changed in the Netherlands and the survivor (my mother Antonia in this case) and the children were co-heirs. So she got a child’s portion.( N.B. half of that 23/240 part remained hers, because she was married on equal terms, which means that she kept: ½ x 23/240= 23/480). From the other half –also 23/480- she and each of the three children inherited ¼ which is 1/4x23/480= 23/1920.
To summon up the house had now the following owners:
Antonia: 23/48 + 23/1920 ( the ¼ part she inherits from Wim, with the children) = 115/1920 or 23/384 part in total. ( Divide teller and denominator by 5. What a job to be notary!)
Henk, Ger and Coen (Wim) each 23/1920 (together also 23/240)
Gerrit: 23/240, Jan: 23/240, Truus: 23/240, Diets: 23/240 and mother Elisabeth: 25/48.