Author Archives: katsbow

About katsbow

Retired. Newsletter Editor, Sustainability Steward, Genealogist.

Conference Dress Up Day: Dutch Farmer

Geertruida Sara Theresia de Zwaan was a city girl, born in The Hague in 1884. She married a farmer from Lisse, Johannes van Aalst. He from a long line of bulb growers in the Tulip Capital of Holland. Soon after marrying, they looked for new business opportunities, eventually settling in Kirkland Washington. Half-way around the world, they kept the family tradition of bulb farming, selling flowers to merchants and florists in downtown Seattle. … She was a sweet, quiet, kind woman, who made a wicked split pea soup. She’s in the picture, toward the right, with the two small boys. He’s next to her, with the handsome mustache. The baby on her lap is Rudolf, my father. The Dutch wooden shoes I’ll be wearing to “Dress Up Day” at the Conference won’t be the ones that belonged to Johannes, but they’ll be similar.

De Zwaan Family, The Hague, 1909

De Zwaan Family, The Hague, 1909

Finding perspective thru genealogy

When I retired I thought I would start gardening. Maybe even become a farmer. Now, since I didn’t seem to have any talent in that field, I decided to look into my family tree to see if there were any farmers up there, sitting in that tree.

Funny how things turn out. The quest itself became the answer. Genealogy has opened new horizons for me. The garden limps along.

The first thing I found out through genealogy was that I come from a long line of tulip farmers — many more than I had originally thought. But the big surprise, which shouldn’t have been a surprise at all, is that my Swedish line has the printers, editors and census takers. All of these are things I do in retirement for the pure joy of it.

So that is my background. Now back to genealogy: Very early in my family search, I found out about FindaGrave. It’s that website where people take photos of headstones and upload them. Genealogists and relatives request photos of ancestors’ markers, and volunteers in the area go out and take the pictures. One thing led to another and I ended up taking pictures of whole sections in the local cemetery, as part of The Quest to photograph all of the headstones in Snohomish County.

And this, dear friend, is where my first epiphany started to come to me — the one that puts a lot of life into perspective. You see, in photographing all the headstones in Block 26 at Evergreen Cemetery, I found out that the empty spaces between headstones actually were graves too. So now I had another quest: go to the cemetery records to find out who was there. The driving force being: Everyone who has lived deserves some respect. As we go through the cemetery, we become cognizant of the people who have lived and died.

Now I am in a contemplative mood from being the cemetery, respecting those who dwell there. Then I drive home. Someone cuts me off. And here it is: All of a sudden I realize that that person deserves respect too. I can’t be angry. I don’t know what their day has been. I don’t know what news they have just received. I don’t know what their childhood was like. But I do know that they are living and deserve that same respect.  It makes me calm, and happy. I thank genealogy for that.