Jo Benner and her husbands
A coloured picture of an old street in pre-war Rotterdam, around 1900. You are now standing on the Botersloot whose water has been closed and you are looking towards the old town hall. The town hall was built tightly between the houses. If you look at the facades, the houses still seem reasonable but nothing was less true.
The living conditions were very bad. Large families, packed in small dark, moist and often cold rooms. The city councils in the 19th century were not interested in the health of the poor people. Their situation only improved after 1880. And only very slowly. The infant mortality rate at the time was enormous. For example, Grietje Kamper lost 8 of her 12 children she gave birth to. however, She survived her eldest daughter Johanna, she must have have been a very strong woman because she became 89 years old.

My Rotterdam Roots

View of Rotterdam from the centre to the north. You can see clearly the Delftsche Poort (the Delft gate), three corn mills and the river the Schie. In the foreground is the Haagsche Veer that runs to the Delftsche Poort. In the middle of the photograph, in the distance, there are two mills in succession. Between the mills lies the Coolskade, a street, where at the moment the photograph was taken Jo Benner and her mother lived.

Part of the pedigree chart

The diagram above shows a part of my pedigree which I will discuss here. It’s only a small part and it looks more complicated than it is. The crux is that my great-grandmother Johanna Cornelia Wilhelmina Benner has been married three times. That makes it to schematically display a bit more difficult. If you study the schedule a little longer, you will find that it is not too difficult.

Below is where I stand. Above that my mother is connected to a dense line. Above her the father of my mother, again with a dense line. Then again a dense line to the parents of my grandfather. And above the parents, Johan Bastiaan and Margaretha, of my great-grandmother Johanna. The dotted lines represent the relationships.

Rotterdam in 1860. The photograph was taken from the tower of the Laurens Church and looks out to the south of the city.
The water in front is the Kolk, behind it lies the old harbour that still exists. The bridge between them is the Kleine Draaibrug. The street in the foreground is the West Nieuwland. ‘Het witte huis’ ┬áis not there yet. The North island, the other side of the Meuse is still completely agrarian.

Mother and daughter Kamper

How the family ended up in Rotterdam

This is the story of Margaretha Kamper and her daughter Johanna Cornelia Wilhelmina. Johanna Kamper, later Benner, is my great grandmother, the mother of my mother’s father. Her mother, margaret, is my great grandmother.

Margaret Kamper

Margaret’s ‘s name is Grietje and she is the eleventh child and the youngest daughter of reed thatcher Steven Kamper from Haastrecht. She was born on Wednesday 21 February 1827. The whole family Kamper lives in the Kerkstraat 141 in Haastrecht, near the Dutch Reformed Church.

Around her 10-the the family moved to Gouda. Grietje is at a young age, around her sixteenth presumably, working as a maid at affluent people in the Hague. Her sister Cornelia who is 6 years older has been working in The Hague and has helped her to get work.

It is the year 1845, a year in which a great famine erupts because the potato harvest that year has completely failed as a result of a plant disease. In the same year, hundreds of thousands of Irish people die as a result of the failed harvest and the great emigration from Europe to the United States is underway. Also because of the shortage of food breaking in different places in the netherlands, including the hague, rioting out. Johan was possibly involved as a law enforcer on behalf of King Willem II.

A grenadier meets a maid. So it must have gone about this way in the Hague.

Rotterdam, 1865. The city is about to expand in all directions. For hundreds of years, Rotterdam was formed by a triangle between Leuvehaven, the Delfsche Poort and the Oostplein (yellow lines). But now Rotterdam is bursting with its joints.
Johan Bastiaan and Grietje come around 1850 from The Hague and end up in the Schubdevissteeg (green dot). Later they move to the Coolsekade or Coolsche Kade (red dot), on the map really in the outside area, on the river Schie.

John Bastiaan Benner

Around that time, Johan Bastiaan Benner serves as grenadier in the Army. Born on Sunday 14 May 1820 he is about 25 years Old. A grenadier was an elite soldier who was well recognizable to his uniform and headgear. Grenadiers carried a So-called. Bears hat, a high hat of fur. The Guard Regiment Grenadiers and hunters was stationed in the Orange Barracks at the Maurits Quay in the Hague. Whether Johan actually lives and works internally in the barracks is unclear. His parents also come from the Hague. His father, who was also called Johan Bastiaan, was a florist and died in 1840. His mother, Maria Schouten, will eventually die in 1875.

In 1840, the deceased Johan Bastiaan Benner sr., Florist in the Hague. The fact that a mourning advertisement could be placed means that it went relatively well with the Benners. And with the advertisement not only family of his passing was informed, but also customers and business Relations.
In the message Maria mentions that they have 7 Children.

How Johan and Grietje meet each other will probably never become completely clear. In 1845, Johan is 25 years old and is Margaret 18 but it will certainly have happened in the Hague. Johan is a soldier, Grietje is employed by wealthy hedgers and in their sparse free time they will meet. Johan is a friend of Abraham Lagas, a thirty year old Leidenaar who is also grenadier.

In 1840, the deceased Johan Bastiaan Benner sr., Florist in the Hague. The fact that a mourning advertisement could be placed means that it went relatively well with the Benners. And with the advertisement not only family of his passing was informed, but also customers and business relations.
In the message Maria mentions that they have 7 Children.

This is the birth certificate of Johanna from 1848. She is a Hague but lives almost all her life in Rotterdam. The deed states that the declarant Johan Bastiaan Benner is a grenadier ( a ‘grenate man’). Grietje is not married, yet Johan reports the child’s birth to the town official.

Johanna Cornelia Wilhelmina Kamper

In April 1847, Grietje, when she is 19, becomes pregnant. She is unmarried and it probably will not be desired but on Tuesday 11 January 1848 her daughter Johanna Cornelia Wilhelmina is born, my great grandmother. The names come from three Sisters of Grietje, she is apparently attached to her family.

The declaration shall include by Johan Bastiaan Benner and his friend Abraham Lagas at the civil status of the Hague.

The declaration states that he is grenadier, just like Abraham Lagas. Johanna Cornelia Wilhelmina Gets the last name of the Camper. They are difficult times. Johan and Grietje want to stay together but have no income. They decide to move to Rotterdam where the port grows and there are more opportunities for work and therefore money. Cornelia, Grietje’s sister, and her husband Egbertus Edwards are also involved.

In Rotterdam

Bitter poverty

On 20 July 1851, Johan and Grietje’s second daughter, Margaretha Cornelia, was born in the Schubdevisteeg in Rotterdam. Johanna is over 3.5 years old, the living conditions are heavy. And again 1.5 years later, a third daughter, Wilhelmina Antonia, was born, this time to the Schiedamsche Dike.

In 1853, Margaretha Cornelia dies, over 2 years OLD. A year later, in 1854, a son is born, Johan Bastiaan. Then the deceased in 1855 Wilhelmina Antonia and a small year later also dies their son Johan Bastiaan. Johanna is once again a child and is over 8 years OLD.

Johanna becomes a Benner

In May 1857 again, a son is born again, who gets the names Johan Bastiaan. Johanna is over 9 years Old. Apparently it’s a bit better with Johan and Grietje because at the end of that year they marry in Rotterdam. The two children Johanna and J.B. Jr. be recognized by Johan as his children and get the surname Benner.

Rotterdam is growing and new neighbourhoods are being built. In one of these neighborhoods, Johan and Grietje are living. They arrive at the Cool Quay 521 in Rotterdam-Noord just north of the train station of Hollands Spoor. There they continue to live until Johan Bastiaan dies in 1877.

Grietje gets 7 more Children. Only two of them will grow up, the others die for their first or second year of Life.

Johanna’s Young Years

Johanna grows up at the Cools quay in Rotterdam. There are many docking workers, almost all families in the area have come to Rotterdam from all over the WORLD. here, The men hope to find work to maintain their families. Johanna is older and has a boyfriend at a young age. When she is 17 years old she becomes pregnant and she will be in 1866 of a daughter, Margaretha, at home, with her parents at the cool quay. Her mother Grietje is very pregnant and she is a month later from Willem Carel Benner, a boy who dies in December of that year.

Margaret’s daughter is only 2 years Old. Shortly thereafter Johanna becomes pregnant again and she now has a son, Cornelis Hendrikus in 1869 on the window street 45. It is only 4 months OLD.

John David

Johanna has now found a man with whom she marries on December 21, 1870. Whether he is the father of her two now deceased children is not clear. Her husband is named Johannes Marinus de Swart and is 6 years older than Johanna. He may have lived on the “alley”, a street near the cool quay, on the other side of the Station. Possibly the fathers of the two knew each other through Work.

The young couple draws in Johanna’s parents on Coolsche Quay 519 and she will be on July 20, 1871 of a daughter, Maria Alida. John is a warehouse Servant. A second daughter, Johanna Margaretha, is born on 26 January 1873 in the Sandy street, a notorious street in old Rotterdam.


Then on 6 November 1873, her daughter Maria Alida dies and a day later her husband, John Marinus, died at the age of 31. What was going on here?

A page from the Rotterdam newspaper De Maas Bode from Monday 9 November 1873. In the section “civil status”, Maria Alida and Johannes Marinus are listed among the deceased of the last few days.

If you look at the section correctly, a large part of the deceased is very young Children.

Disease? An accident? Fire? Coincidence? From this time newspaper reports I know that red Spark prevailed in Rotterdam. Now a reasonably innocent disease, then often fatally due to poor hygiene and greater chance of PNEUMONIA.

Johanna stays behind with her youngest child and is Widowed. She retires to her parents on the Coolsche quay.

A page from the Rotterdam newspaper De Maas Bode from Monday 9 November 1873. In the section “civil status”, Maria Alida and Johannes Marinus are listed among the deceased of the last few days.

If you look at the section correctly, a large part of the deceased is very young Children.

The Crescent street, 1912. This street ran from the Sandy Street to the Westerly street and was in the middle of the area with the worst reputation of Rotterdam. In the slums and lanes around the sand street was danced and Drunk. or often worse still! It was the most important entertainment area for the sailors who took up Rotterdam from all over the WORLD. In this neighborhood worked and lived the people, the Lesser Man. The meergegoeden, as the other class was called, Medes these neighborhoods.

The houses stood on three sides to each other so that only the front was place for windows and exterior doors. Rear were box beds and back rooms, dark and Moist.

In this picture you see the houses that were on the Street. Often there were also ‘ houses ‘ between the other, surrounded by other houses. There you could only come through small by alleyways. In Such houses daylight was very scarce.

In This neighborhood Johanna gets several children who all die early

At the beginning of 1910, the Rotterdam directors have enough of all lawlessness around the sandy Street. It is decided to build a new town hall and the whole district must be Demolished. In 1914 the demolition starts and the new Town hall on the Coolsingel is Built.

(thanks to Mr. J. Haider)

The Schubdevisteeg (green) lay in a place in Rotterdam near the Gouda Singel and the East Square. It was what we would call a back area, very bad houses, dark, very unhealthy to live there. On this card you can see well how the houses were built (red). Against each other, 3 or 4 floors, barely windows, often only a door. No toilets or kitchens, everything happened in the same spaces.

In A house here she got her second daughter, Margaretha Cornelia.

Once it could have lived children on the street, there was still no attention to them at Home. Grietje was 25 years old when she lived here, Johanna was 4.

The Laurens Church in the heart of Rotterdam. The picture was taken on April 9, 2016. As the only building, after the devastating bombardment of May 1940, the church was completely restored. It is now a museum.

In the meantime somewhere else in Rotterdam….

Rajesh Talukdar

Kornelis Trouw Borst is born in 1829 in Ouderkerk aan den IJssel. In 1843 or 1844 the whole family of Teunis wedding chest, The father of Kornelis, goes to Rotterdam. Teunis is Skipper. Kornelis is over 13 years Old. There he meets as a 20-year-old young man the likewise 20-year-old Maria Engelina de swart, the sister of Johannes Marinus de Swart. John is only 7 years Old.

In April 1850, Kornelis and Maria Engelina Married. Kornelis then lives with his parents in the Banqueting Street 226, the family of Petrus Josephus de Swart, the father of Mary and of john, living in the supreme of the Hoedemakersgang. Their marriage will last 35 Years.

Barbara, the eldest daughter of Kornelis, is born in 1850 in the Banqueting street 126. His second daughter, Maria Engelina, was born in 1855, on the Butters loot 546.

Kornelis is first sjouwer, than Earth worker (ground worker), later Heiknecht and Heibaas.

View of the Steigersgracht, around 1900. The picture was taken from the sweet Bridge. Rotterdam is fully-equipped, the canals are nasty, the houses are of poor Quality.
As Johanna Benner and Johannes Marinus de Swart married in 1870, Kornelis and Maria Engelina have been married for 20 Years. They have two daughters, Barbara and Maria Engelina. So Kornelis learns to know Johanna. The eldest daughter of Kornelis, Barbara, is only 2 years younger than Johanna. If Johannes Marinus dies in 1873, It is probable that there was a lot of contact between the 44-year-old Kornelis and Maria Engelina and Johanna who is over 25 years.

Andrew John Davidson

In October 1875 again a daughter is born, in the second Lombardstraat in Rotterdam. She gets the name Cornelia and the surname Benner, the maiden name of Johanna. Whoever the father is is not clear but it is possible that Andreas Johannes de Vries. On March 20, 1876, Andreas and Johanna and Andreas acknowledge Cornelia as his daughter and she gets his surname. Andreas lives in the Lion street, Johanna in the 2nd Lombardstraat.

Their second daughter Elisabeth Maria is born in a house at the Zwaanshals. Andreas and Johanna have thus moved to another new district in the north of Rotterdam. In This area, he will also grow up with the development of the Van der Hoop.

Johanna has four daughters, one by Johannes Marinus de Swart, now 6 years old, and 3 by Andreas. In 1880, a son is born, Cornelis. In 1882 again a girl. It will not be older than 5 months. Then again a boy named after his grandfather, Johan Bastiaan.

The question now is how it stands with the marriage of Andreas Johannes and Johanna. Kornelis was separated from Maria Engelina de Swart in 1885, after having been married after 35 Years. He lives a few houses of the de Vries’en from the Fabriekstraat in Rotterdam. In 1885, The last child is born with the name de Vries, my grandfather, Johannes Marinus. It is significant that he is fully named after Johanna’s first spouse who has died for 12 years before that Time. Was Andreas Johannes de Vries leaving the family? In 1890, He marries again, now with Elisabeth Maria Jagermans. It is striking that Elisabeth is about 53 years old, Andreas is 37 years Old. The marriage does not last long. Andreas dies at a relatively young age in 1894, 42 Years.

Johanna de Waschvrouw and Kornelis de Heibaas

In any case, Johanna and Andreas also separate in 1887, at the request of Andreas. Shortly thereafter, Kornelis draws in Johanna. Johannes Marinus de Vries is then 2 years and gets in this way a new father, Kornelis Trouw Chest. In 1888, Kornelis and Johanna married when they were 59 and 40 years OLD.

My mother sometimes told the story that she really should have been called a wedding breast and not De Vries. I have never understood anything of that story, but now that the data has come above water it becomes clearer. Grandpa de Vries probably felt more loyal chest than de Vries. His (sister) father was called so, his mother from 1888 also, his Little Sisters as Well. It is possible even that Kornelis is the biological father of Johannes Marinus.

He has undoubtedly told the story to his Children. His later wife, Mjin grandma, has never known her husband father and Mother. She could not check it. We will never really know.

A page from the Rotterdam newspaper De Maas Bode from Monday 9 November 1873. In the section “civil status”, Maria Alida and Johannes Marinus are listed among the deceased of the last few days.

If you look at the section correctly, a large part of the deceased is very young Children.

View of the Steigersgracht now. The photo was taken from the Soetensteeg, from the same location as the previous photo was Taken. Although it looks clean and spacious, the atmosphere of the old City of Rotterdam has been totally lost.
The signature of Andreas Johannes de Vries
Thus a separation in the newspaper was Announced. The advertisements were obligatory and had to be published 3x so that people who believed to still settle accounts with them had been warned on Time.
For example, the protagonists of this story are included in the Rotterdam Address Book of 1887. J.m. De Vries is Johanna. C. wedding breast is Kornelis and widow B. Benner is Margaretha, the mother of Johanna.


What happens next?

Kornelis and Johanna Cares 19 years in Age. That avenges itself relatively fast. Kornelis dies at the age of 70 in Rotterdam in 1899. Grandpa is 15 years Old. His mother is over 51.

As Johannes Marinus 23 he marries Elizabeth timmers, in 1908. His mother is still there. But 2 years later in 1910, she also dies, at the age of 62, after a very eventful life. She had a total of 5 different surnames, got 12 children and had 12 grandchildren in Life.

Johanna and her mother Margaretha lived together for a long time of their lives. Margaret even survives Johanna and eventually dies in 1916, at the age of 89.

The marriage of John and Elizabeth is not good. Although they are given 3 daughters, the eldest dies within a year. The second is 9 Years. The third will eventually be 23 years.

John and Elizabeth divorced in 1919, 9 months later he marries with grandma, Rajesh Gerritsen van der Hoop. They have had a relationship for a number of years because their eldest daughter, Johanna Maria, Aunt Jo for me, is their first child, born in 1917. As a last child, my mother is born in 1929. She was a real rotterdam. And by fate I have also become a rotterdam-squad. I am proud of my roots, especially those from Rotterdam!


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