Prologue

 

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Prologue

The portrait is my fatherís, Wilhelmus Johannes Oteman, a schoolteacher in Ooij, (1895-1929)
I was 2Ĺ years old when he died at a very early age (34), so I remember him only vaguely.
This family study is dedicated to him.

My mother who was left behind with three young children coped with this grief in silence by working hard and seeking for support from her many relatives. My youngest brother, Wim, was only six weeks old and after the funeral my mother brought me for a couple of months to her parents ( the van Eck family) in Leuth in order to take better care of the two other children.
Most of her twelve sisters and brothers were still at home and I being one of the first grandchildren got a lot of attention from my grandparents, aunts and uncles.
My grandfather told me fairy-tales, grandmother let me feed the chickens and in the evening she taught me the names of flowers and plants on the bench at the south side of the house with that splendid view on the hills of Nijmegen.
My uncles took me with them on their milk-cars and let me, after the work was done, accompany them to take the horses to the meadow; they taught me to whistle and to sing German songs, which they had learnt in Niel, just across the German border, where they had friends.
All this I remember very well.
No wonder I was reluctant to leave when my mother came to retrieve me after some months. Even my "foster family" left no stone unturned to keep me there. I myself thought this was my home and I did not want to leave at all.

Before and during world war II we spent our holidays with our relatives of both fatherís and motherís sides. At the time there was little opportunity to travel in your land, let alone abroad, because of lack of money and ambition. This held good for most of the Dutch, I suppose. Going on holidays meant going to relatives. Since my mother was a widow and relatively free from obligations, this was not yet a problem, and by bike, children on the back seat, she could get everywhere.

We have a large family on both sides and in the course of the years we became closely related with all uncles, aunts and cousins. My mother buried her grief deep in her heart and she hardly ever spoke about my father to our great regret. Most information about my father I got from his brother, uncle Jan from Wijk-bij-Duurstede. He was not only my fatherís brother but also his closest friend.
We often went to Wijk on holiday, probably because, besides uncle Jan and aunt Corry, there also lived aunt Grada, my motherís youngest sister, who was married with Toon Wulterkens and who was the manager of the local brick-works " the Lunenburgerwaard", where uncle Jan also worked. Their houses stood side by side. Both families had children of our ages and with them and their friends you could have great times. There were horses and lorries and a big round kiln. And moreover the works was situated in the foreland of the river Rhine/Lek, so a lot of water to fish in and go through many adventures.
After working hours uncle Jan often told me about the family, preferably when the others had already gone to sleep. He too had lost his father very early, nor had he known his grandfather, but his motherís stories lay recorded in his excellent memory, so he could tell me that his grandfatherís name was Conrad and that there must have been one Peter Oteman. (Great-grandfather). He told about his relatives in Gendt and Millingen (uncle Theo and uncle Frans) and about uncle William in America he had once met in Ooij, when he stayed there on his one and only trip from America.
But by preference he talked about my father who had been his friend and whom he boundlessly admired. His death had given him a terrible shock and he had never get over it completely. He idealized him more and more and wanted to keep his memory for us, his children, to the best of his ability. In this way I got an idealized image of my father.
Because uncle Jan resembled my father in many respects he took his place in my heart.
All these conversations with uncle Jan, but also the many holidays spent with the relatives resulted in a strong feeling for family-ties and a desire to learn more about my roots.

Times change and evidently extensive family-relations now are out of vogue. Relatives hardly visit each other. We are all too busy with our own family matters. We go out by car or camper and mostly abroad. We spend our spare time on watching TV, hobbyís, study and careers. The children grow up independently together with their school-, club- or camping-friends. The necessity of having family is hardly felt. We do not need each other; we are insured for everything. Hospitals, old peopleís homes, holiday camps, organized trips, sporting clubs, day nurseries and all kind of institutions take over the family tasks. The government takes care of everything and we do claim to it.
Thereís no time to build up family relations and still less to maintain them. I state that the generation to day hardly knows its relations, let alone is interested in them. Without wanting to idealize or criticize these new, often inevitable developments, I think they hide a great impoverishment and loneliness.

Joseph (Joe) Kennedy, father of the murdered American president and patriarch of the Kennedy-clan once said: " The only thing that counts is family. I tell my children that, when this life comes to an end, they are lucky when they can count their friends on the fingers of one hand. Stick to the family.!"

Yet the solidarity with oneís family, the desire to learn about its history is a natural instinct of every human being though often deeply hidden, denied or clearly absent by the altered ways of living and conceptions, but still.....!
From the very moment in the evolution of mankind that man became self-assured and began to reflect, he made use of his remarkable intelligence, not only to preview the future but also to remember the past. In this way man, who is mortal, finite and temporary, can still take part by means of his intelligence in the past and the future inside and beyond him and his limited temporality.
Considering this it places each individual in the center of creation; with his reason he is part of the infinite. This set him apart from the animals and gives him a total unique relief, his own identity.
Nobody is like him and yet he is the product of his ancestors.... of creation and evolution. Not only physically does he have in his genes descent and past and passes them on, he is also a product of his parents, family, vicinity, country and evolution, and even this he passes on, nolens volens.
So our desire to know the past is a human instinct, whether we realize it or not. To get some distance from ourselves- who am I- we try to understand our past; our history; as citizens the history of our country, as cosmopolitans the history of the world, the universe, the cosmos and as individuals the history of our parents, our family.
People have always wanted to keep their history in mind; primitive people by passing on their habits and stories from generation to generation; the Egyptians by recording in hieroglyphics their military operations on obelisks, the Syrians in cuneiform writing and especially the Jews who recorded every thing accurately on papyri. A good example of a people whose identity is marked by a thorough knowledge of its history.

The invention of typography in about 1450 was a revolution and an extremely important fact in manís development because his memory became enlarged and reinforced. More facts and knowledge could be recorded and preserved than was possible by memory and traditions; it meant a great stimulant for manís development. The same goes for the invention of the computer. It invigorates and increases in an incalculable scale manís capacity to memorize and his ability to record all knowledge in a very convenient and easily accessible way and it will accelerate the development of whole mankind towards the future.

Genealogy is part of (science) history, namely family-history. Science can be defined as knowledge of causes and like in any field of science a genealogist is in search of the direct and deep causes of facts and phenomena.

Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to know more about my ancestors incited by the stories of uncle Jan in Wijk bij Duurstede. But it took a long time before I came into action. Study, wife and children, career, they all claimed my time. I am sorry now of that "lost" time! I could have questioned many relatives who are no longer amidst us. Alas! After my retirement, however, I got the opportunity and the time to start the study of my family history.
In the meantime other members of the family had already collected quite a lot of data and with the help of a good computer programm one can work nowadays much quicker and better.
Nevertheless this work took me six years, with several interruptions, by the way, because one regularly gets off track and becomes interested in all kinds of other family-matters. For the time being this work is finished, otherwise the family would be too long deprived of the collected data. This does not mean a definite end to search for more information. Others or even myself may go on searching in the depth.

My second-cousin, Gerald Kreyche in Dolores, Co. USA, was professor of philosophy at DePaulís University in Chicago and also president of the Association of catholic philosophers in the US . He is now retired. His mother, Henriette Oteman, was the third daughter of William Oteman who immigrated in 1891 in America. I am in touch with him in an intensive and friendly way about our family and he provided me with a lot of information about the American Otemans.
He was so kind to write a prologue for this book and for our family:

"The dictionary defines genealogy as " the investigation of ancestry and family histories".
This clear-cut definition, however, only tells the old statistic facts. What it leaves out is the existential meaning of family ties, of struggles of related generations, of spirit over flesh and blood, of joys over sorrows, health over sickness, and of life over death. It does not tell of the sacrifices and love, which bond one to another in familial union. It does not speak of proud grandparents or of equally proud aunts and uncles. Nor does it speak of mother love, nor father duty; it tells nothing of the wonder of children and the personal growth that results from interaction between brothers and sisters and cousins. Yet all it draw their vitality from the roots of the same family tree.

The reality of family assures us that we are not alone and it is good to have this genealogy to remind us of that in an otherwise uncaring world. In a sense, we are never wholly what we are- the past is part of us as are the generations yet to come. Our family past (when we are not yet born) has made us what we are today, as surely as we help make the future what it is to be.

The Old Testament tells us that we live through our children; in a sense, we even have our immortality through them. But as generation life is a continuum, our children also live through us. In our day, which witnesses the disintegration and dysfunctionality of the nuclear family, it is of vital importance then that we keep alive traditional families and family tradition. We do also by respectfully paying homage to those who came before us. Such, then, is the raison díÍtre for this genealogy.

The Oteman descendants all owe a debt of thanks to Henk Oteman of Boxtel, the Netherlands, for initiating, taking charge of energizing and completing this loving project. It is a staircase to future generations."

Gerald F.Kreyche. 1977 Dolores Co. USA

These words of his are really too complimentary! This work is to be true, a family work. Many relatives have contributed their mite by sending me texts, photographs, personal research, oral and written explanations and encouragements. All this made working on this genealogy a pleasant family happening. By the many contacts and visits old family ties were tightened again and many new ones made. Without detracting from anyoneís merits I wish to thank some of the many co-workers specially:

Wil Oteman from Tegelen, a descendant of Johannes Oteman from Millingen, Conrad's brother, has been busy as a genealogist from his early youth. He collected a good deal of information from German and Dutch archives, which he sent to me spontaneously. I appreciated this very much. In this way this work got a running start. Without his help I would have to do it all by myself.

 

Wim Oteman from Gendt, a descendant of Conradís son Theodorus Oteman who left for Gendt.He provided me with a lot of data, beautiful self-written stories with photographs of the many Gendt relatives. He frequently and minutely corrected the Gendt part of this book I sent him.




Ger Oteman, my brother in Vancouver, Canada, who sent me data he had already collected in his youth.

 

 

Wim Oteman (Coenraad), my youngest brother, helped me uninterruptedly by making contacts, corrections, research, layouts, and translations for the American relatives, collecting maps and photographs. He was a good sounding board and helped me to keep up my heart.

 

Thea Oteman, uncle Janís daughter from Wijk bij Duurstede, who has, like her father, an excellent memory, especially as far as family matters are concerned. She corrected many data and preserved many family photographs.

 

Gerald Kreyche, grandson of William Oteman from America. Many years ago he laid the basis, by means of questionnaires, for our knowledge of the American relatives. Through my nearly monthly correspondence and some visits to him in Dolores I got all the necessary information of the transatlantic branch. Thanks to him we are well informed, no sinecure, for these relatives are spread all over the US.
Helmut Otermann from Eberbach am Neckar, helped me to translate the whole Oteman book in German and to work out the recently discovered German Otermann family, which now is proved to belong to our familytree.

Luc Oteman, my son, was of great help to projekt this website.His experience with his own website, opdefiets.net , comes in very usefull to our Oteman family.

 

 

Jan van Eck, from Leuth, cousin from both motherís and fatherís side, was always ready for me with data, photographs, documents and especially with local information about the Duffelt.
More to mention are: Michael Kreyche from Kent Ohio USA; George Oteman from Racine WI. USA, Jo Glaap from Malden, Coen van Eck from Leuth, Carla Martina van der Starre from Oud Gastel, Marion Oteman from Winterswijk, who provided me with data, information and corrections.
Rob Kroes
from Nijmegen provided me with data about the Kroes family.
Agnes Arnts
, Michael Arnts from Ooij and Jules Lauwerier from Didam sent me spontaneously data from their personal research.

Lita Oteman from Zevenaar, Terence Oteman from Doetinchem helped me with data through E-mail and Wil Oteman, a descendant from Frans Oteman from Millingen brought me, on the last moment, many new data of the second Millingen branch.

As said before, this book will never be complete. Without any doubt the reader will meet with errors, mistakes, incompleteness or wrong translations.

Possibly the reader may wish to read more about his children, grandchildren or ancestors or maybe you have more data available. All this can be published in a later edition or supplement. Please donít hesitate to send me your remarks and comments.

 

Henk G.C.Oteman
Jan van Brabantstraat 44
5282 NV Boxtel
Tel. 411 67 33 32
Fax 411 61 19 90
E-mail: [email protected]

After the publication of the first edition of the Oteman book in 1999 a lot of new Otemans has been found: a small french branch was discovered, the descendant from Walter Oteman (1848-1926) were found in Germany, the important branch of the descendants of Johanna Otermann in Germany, all called Otermann, has been joined to our family tree, and we could made a reasonable hypothesis of the familytree byond 1705 up to 1570 and we found even our familyseal or weapon in 1505 (Henrik Hotman).
This made new versions of the Oteman book, which covers now 400 years family history, necessary.
The third version is now under preparation in the German Language.
The former versions in English and Dutch (200 of each) are sold out and spread under the family in the Netherlands, America and Canada and in several archives and libraries.
The book has over 400 pages and contains hundreds of pictures and schedules of trees and can be commanded for Ä 25,- excl.postage in English or Dutch ( old version) and German ( new version)
The whole book can also been delivered on CD for Ä 6,- incl.postage.
You will find on this website the several familytrees in a simplified version. ( names and dates)