This is a photograph of my great grandparents: Walther Simon Joseph van Waterschoot van der Gracht and Maria Cornelia Adriana Josepha van der Does de Willebois. You will note they had three sons and one daughter.
My next writing project will tell the story of my family, beginning with Walter Simon and Maria Cornelia’s marriage about 1870. I will illustrate daily life in the Netherlands and then follow my grandfather all over the globe… to Arabia, Borneo, Indonesia, Australia, Antarctica and everywhere in between.
Joseph was trained as a geologist. He was also an accomplished painter and learned many other skills during his lifetime. He and his brother Willem, also a geologist, traveled to San Francisco in about 1915 to explore oil reserves in the southern USA. My grandmother, a suffragette, soon arrived on the scene to sweep him off his feet.
A small pretty woman, Florence Ross had a powerful persona. It was she who asked her husband to shorten the family moniker from “van Waterschoot van der Gracht” to a more manageable “van der Gracht.” Joseph never returned to Holland, and his large family (about 100 descendents) lives primarily in Canada.
Our family story is full of interesting characters, migration between continents, adventure and no small share of mystery and intrigue. The research alone is taking a great deal of sleuthing – thank God for Google Search and the assistance of a couple of historians that I am in touch with. I am looking for the recommendation of a book about 19th century Western Europe. Anyone who can point me in the right direction will have my eternal gratitude.
So if I don’t post for a few consecutive days… just assume I am digging through the past, comparing it with the present and wondering how it will affect the future…