Family Matters – A Happy Story


This week something rather extraordinary happened. On Tuesday, quite of the blue I received an email from a man in Holland; he explained that he had found me via my blog and was interested to know how I was related to Izaak Dignus Fransen van de Putte? (1822-1902) (About a year ago I mentioned this relative and must have tagged his name in the post. He was an important figure in Dutch politics)

I sent an email straight back explaining that I was descended via my Dutch Grand-Mother. Less than an hour later through the ether came an email from Holland explaining that I was related but only distantly. What transpired was that in fact my new correspondent and I were in fact related. It surmises that I may not be as directly linked to ID F v d P as I had originally thought (he was the younger brother of my great, great grand-father) but I’ve gained a new cousin and a rather a wonderful one as it turns out.

Jan-Fransen-Van-de-Putte
My Great, great Grandfather – Jan Fransen van de Putte
Fransen-Van-de-Puttes
My Grandparents second row from the front on the left with Cousins Father between them in the front row, and my Great-Aunt Utje in the white dress in the front row on the right. (Family reunion 1935)
Oma-and-siblings
Oma with the large bow, and her siblings. 1921

Over the next couple of days, emails were flying between Indonesia and Holland as we exchanged various bits of information about the family and then on Thursday evening my newly found cousin asked me if I had any photographs of my Grandparents later on in their lives? I sent an email back saying that I probably did have one or two but back in storage in London. However what I did have was a small painting of my Grandmother made when she was about 5 years old. I took a photograph of the miniature and sent it in my next email.

This little portrait of my Oma (Grandmother) is one of my most treasured possessions that I inherited 25 years ago after my Mother died. I have often looked at it and wondered where, and when it was painted and thought how very sweet my Oma looked, wondering how old she was and how true the likeness really was to her?

Oma

The following morning I received an email back from my new Cousin thanking me for the photograph and also giving me back answers to some questions that I had about an Uncle and Aunt. We bade each other a good weekend and that was that until on Friday evening I received another email.

When I opened the email from new cousin and saw the photo attachments I felt goose bumps.

Oma-at-5-Digna-Fransen-Van-de-Putte
Oma aged 5.5 yrs old and her baby sister, Utje.

I was speechless that Cousin Dignus had found amongst his collection of family photographs, the exact one that the painting had been made from.

Dear Cousin, it’s been quite a week! If you read this, Thank you for getting in touch with me and for putting together lots of pieces of my family puzzle that have been missing, it means a lot. You are a genius. Lottie

20 thoughts on “Family Matters – A Happy Story

    1. Gerard, I was delighted – I’m sure you can imagine! I’ve carried this little picture of Oma around for so long and through the wonders of the internet to have found a cousin and find the missing link is an extraordinary thing! A very happy Lottie 🙂

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    1. In one word….TERRIBLE! so sorry. My darling Ma tried to teach me but to no avail – I should be ashamed! Thanks for the link, I shall see if I can play about with Google translate.

      Cousin told me he was a banker but I love the brewery side of things – goodness I’m learning a lot this week!

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  1. Gee as I read your story I was crying. I am so sentimental it is pathetic. What a wonderul thing to discover someone via your blog. And, to get the photograph was a huge bonus. Your Uta was a pretty little thing. The artist, whoever he was, surely was excellent . Your grandmother looked just like the photograph. I can not get over how your cousin produced the picture of your great grandmother and grandmother. I loved this story so much. You just never know what might come along in life to brighten your day and your way. I hope that at some time or the other that you will be able to visit with your cousin. Was it not the Dutch and the British that had early settlers in Indonesia? I might have conjured that up from out of nowhere.

    The sepia tones of the photographs are just up my alley. I like those sepia tones very much. Just beautiful.

    Take care Lottie,
    Yvonne

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    1. I’m glad you liked this post Yvonne. It was a wonderful surprise to hear from someone from my family and to have discovered so much in just a short space of time. When my cousin sent the last photo it was pure magic! I know he was thrilled too to have discovered it – I’m just so pleased that I thought to send him a photo of the little painting. Sometimes things are just meant to be! 🙂

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  2. I get goosebumps reading this and feel so happy for you Lottie. Families are fragile and fickle things but they cement us over the centuries. To find another relative and one with little treasures like this is a rare event. Thanks be to the internet and to PRINTING photos.

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    1. Absolutely, and as I said to Yvonne, thank goodness I thought to send a photo of the little painting – I thought my cousin might like to see it as he seemed to know a lot about my Oma but when he sent the photograph back which was clearly the original that it had been taken from I did actually burst into tears! It was so lovely of him to have looked through all his pictures and found it for me. I know he was very excited too! Thanks to the internet, printing photos and to tagging. let this be a lesson to us all the importance of tags in posts!! Still looking for that damn Only Fools and Horses clip btw….:)

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  3. A wonderful post — as I read it, I was gasping at the similarities from your story and one my family and I experienced. Eight years ago we received a letter in the mail. To cut a very, very long story short, WWI, Spanish influenza, WWII, all got in the way, but the desire to find family is strong. You’ve inspired me to sit down at some point and write a post that covers more than a century. Thanks for your story.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, thank you Lydia. I tried to make it as brief as possible – there was a lot that I left out and there were some wonderful anecdotes that my cousin told me but probably really only of interest to our family. But it was when I was sent the last photo that I thought it would make quite an interesting post because of the chance element and the fact that the world does indeed work in mysterious ways!
      I hope you do write your story, it sounds fascinating.

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  4. How fabulous for you, Lottie!! What an amazing thing to happen. It is absolutely marvelous that your cousin reached out to you. And yes, TAGS really ARE important.

    I absolutely love old photographs…there’s something magical about them, in addition to the feeling of awe at the history. All the photos you’ve posted are incredible, but I am especially fond of the last one, because it’s so lovely and touching. xoxo

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  5. Oh Lottie.. that story and photographic surprise gave me goosebumps! What a delicious discovery it must have been for you… quite out of the blue.. thanks to the kindness of strangers – who are also family (or become friends). It reminds me of the work I used to do tracking down long-lost relatives of dead people, in order to gift them with the remainder of estates. Old photographs always held invaluable clues for me… and for you, the key to a family mystery. Wow, wow, wow.. 😉

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  6. What a wonderful story, Lottie! How fantastic that you’ve made this connection with your cousin. What a precious pairing and photo of your Oma. It sounds a bit cliche, but indeed, this is a very heart-warming story! xxxx Cheers!

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