Our great-grandfather Vanden Bosch, who migrated to northwest Iowa in the late 19th century, was by all currently available indications born and raised in the village of Doornspijk. Doornspijk is a Dutch village that in the mid-1970s became a part of the larger but still relatively small town of Elburg to its north. In fact, his mother and other ancestors also were apparently born in this region … in northern Gelderland, the largest province of the Netherlands.
I knew very little about these places before I began researching this family, and Doornspijk is still a tougher research project than some of our other Dutch ancestors’ homes, such as Rijssen, about which more information is available. Having never been to Doornspijk (at least not yet), I’m forced to rely on fairly superficial research thus far. Photos, maps, and videos show a great deal of open space and farmland, with a fairly developed area and smaller residential areas. Our 2nd great-grandfather is listed in records as a farmer, so this makes sense.
The town of Elburg, of which the village of Doornspijk is now a part, is apparently known as a picturesque tourist town with medieval remnants and a recorded history dating back at least to the 13th or 14th century. A fishing and farming area until the mid-20th century, the region was once on the coast of the Zuiderzee, a southern bay of the North Sea, before the Zuiderzee was closed off and drained in 1932, leaving lakes behind. Elburg is now a town of about 22,000 people and has a harbor and a canal flowing through. It looks like a lovely place to visit, and one wonders about its relationship to Doornspijk in earlier times. Some sources say Doornspijk has the foundation remains of a washed-away church of St. Ludger, built about 1300 and named for a bishop and missionary of the 8th and 9th century A.D.
Establishing some confidence about our Doornspijk roots was at least a year-long project that involved on-line research, records from Dutch genealogy sites such as Genlias and Wie was wie, questions asked of my mother, notes from a cousin, and conversations with my aunt while looking through a photo album of my grandparents’ 1978 trip to the Netherlands, which appears to have included a visit to Elburg and to our Vanden Bosch ancestors’ home.
This 2011 video of a “helicopter flight over Doornspijk” (random Internet find) can be viewed without sound, and it offers some perspective. I am interested in learning more about Doornspijk and what it was like in the 19th century, so I invite emails and comments from anyone with insight on the region …
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