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April 2001


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Scott Monje <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 25 Apr 2001 15:49:53 -0400
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After days of trying, I was able to get the Ellis Island web site and found several of my ancestors who came from Breskens, Zeeland, Netherlands. In my frustration during those first few days, however, I started doing web searches for related things and made a few discoveries. I am afraid they will be of interest to a very limited circle of people, but if your ancestors came from the Breskens area (and if you're Dutch and come from Wayne or Monroe counties, it's not unlikely), then it may be of help to you. (Wayne County was home to about 25% of New York's Dutch immigrants in the 19th century.)

On an earlier occasion, I had found the Friends of the West Zeeland Flanders Archives Foundation (Stichting Vrienden West Zeeuws-Vlaamse Archief) Since the emigration records were deteriorating in the Breskens area (a small region on the Belgian border known as Zeeland Flanders, or Zeeuws-Vlaanderen), this group put the emigration records online--a sort of Ellis Island web site in reverse. Unfortunaltely, I don't seem to be able to find it anymore. Perhaps, it will be back. In the meantime, however, I have the records of my grandparents and other relatives both going and coming.

This time around, I found a web site dedicated to the history of the village of Breskens. Put up as a hobby by an employee of the Dutch Ministry of Education, it includes various documents from the 1610s to the 1820s, including, for example, a list of all the draft-age men in 1813 (ordered by Napoleon) and the name, age, and occupation of every resident in the village, house by house, in the year 1826. I was able to find my great-great-great grandfather and discovered that the name Monje was spelled Monier at the time. Actually, the spelling varied slightly on every document (Monie, Monnier, Monier). (Either way, it would have been pronounced Mon-YAY then. Now, it's MON-jay) He was an immigrant, too; evidently from the French part of Belgium. I also discovered that my great-great grandmother (then 9 years old) lived three houses away from my great-great grandfather, who was 10 at the time. I also discovered that my relatives have been stonemasons for a lot longer than I had realized. I'm afraid the site is only in Dutch, but if anyone is interested, it's at: http://www.grijsbaard.demon.nl/Breskens/Geschiedenis_van_Breskens.html

Surely, there must be other sites like this for other places. If you're interested in the subject, it would be worthwhile to look for them.

Scott Monje