Time to read: 21 minutes, 29 seconds
This article starts with my Great-Great-Grandfather Johann Friederich Pieper. As many families that moved from the dutch indies back to the Netherland and stayed quiet about the colonial past. Family descendants are left with many questions about their origin. The research behind this story is more than 5 years old and has many facts checked, before it got published here. Sadly I cannot ask my grandparents about it anymore or present these findings. My intention is to find all descendants of this ancestor and share this story and also hear their stories and hopefully get more information to write a real book about the "Descendants of Johann Friederich Pieper".
The blog article itself is still a rough collection of data facts and newspaper articles that might give an impression how the lifes journey of Johann might have been in bits and pieces.
Before reading the full article note that this story is translated from a PDF document written in Dutch. For Dutch people I would recomment to download the PDF and read that instead. It contains more detailed information and images.
Barmen was the birth ground of J.F.Pieper. and is now part of the large agglomeration of Wuppertal in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The city of Barmen had about 2000 inhabitants in the early 1800s and flourished as an industrial textile city in the 19th century. The Wupper Valley, with capitals Barmen and Elberfeld, was one of the oldest industrial regions in Germany, along with Leipzig, and after Manchester one of the oldest and largest in Europe. The Wupper Valley was therefore called the “Manchester of Germany”.
Barmen was also the cradle of Marxism. Friedrich Engels born in Barmen (1820) was a German industrialist and philosopher and provided financial support to Karl Marx for writing the book “The Capital”. He also co-authored Karl Marx in 1848 when writing The Communist Manifesto. Friedrich Engels moved to England to study further the effects of the Industrial Revolution and wrote there “The state of the working class in England” (1845). In Barmen there is still a statue of Friedrich Engels with texts in both German, English and Chinese!
Child labor was an everyday concept in Barmen during the industrial revolution. With the "Child Labor Act" Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Preußen made a clear end to this on May 16, 1853: "Young workers up to the age of fourteen may only be employed ... for six hours a day." and work was no longer allowed for children under the age of ten. In 1855, the ban on work was raised to the age of twelve.
Friederich Bayer (1825-1880) started a factory for synthetic dyes in 1863. In 1881, Bayer became an international company and started a division for laboratory research on dyes, semi-preparations and medicines. Including the “Drug of the century” Aspirin®, which was developed by Felix Hoffmann and came on the market in 1899.
The Ruhr region to the north owes its origins and growth partly to the demand for coal and iron ore from the expanding Wupper region in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1870 Barmen was completely immersed in Industry.
According to the Dutch Winkler-Prins from 1870 (Not translated): “Barmen, eene stad in het Pruissische disstrict Dusseldorf en hiervan sedert eenigen tijd een afzonderlijk arrondissement uitmakende, ligt in het dal der Wupper langs den spoorweg en heeft eene lengte van 2 uren gaans, van EIberfeld tot aan Langerfeid. Men verdeelt haar in drie hoofdwijken, namelijk in Boven-, Middel- en Beneden-Barmen, die te voren gescheiden waren, en één voor één uit eenige dorpen bestonden, namelijk Boven-Barmen uit Wupperfeld, Rittershausen , Wichlingshausen en Heckinghausen, — Middel-Barmen uit Gemerke, Werth en Scheuern, — en Beneden-Barmen uit Dörnen, Bruch, Haspel enz. De bevolking bestaat er uit 60,000 zielen , waarbij zich ongeveer 7000 R. Katholieken bevinden. Men heeft er eene regtbank, eene kamer van koophandel, een aantal kerken en scholen enz. Bij deze laatste zijn 23 scholen van lager onderwijs, 2 middelbare meisjesscholen enz. Barmen is eene der voornaamste fabrieken handelsplaatsen van Duitschland, ja, van geheel Europa. Tot aan de 16de eeuw stonden er slechts eenige boerderijen, wier bewoners van landbouw en veeteelt leefden. De eerste tak van nijverheid was er eene bleekerij, — toen kwamen band- en garen-fabrieken, en weldra volgden er linnenweverijen. Vooral sedert 1706 heeft er de fabriek-nijverheid eene verbazende vlugt genomen. Geweven goederen worden er thans in groote hoeveelheid vervaardigd, en ook andere fabrieken hebben er zich gevestigd. Er is eene beurs, en men heeft er 120 groote handelskantoren. In Beneden-Barmen is ook een badhuis met eene minerale bron.”
At the end of the 19th century, a prestigious construction project was launched: The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn designed by Eugen Langen, with the aim of selling it to the city of Berlin. The elevated station installation was built in Barmen, Elberfeld and Vohwinkel between 1897 and 1903. A proud industrial city that promoted “Groß denken” on the postcards. But as Maurice Blessing writes in the Historisch Nieuwsblad (2009): "The atmosphere in this "German Manchester" is oppressive - and not just because of the heavy air pollution. The already strongly Protestant Wupper Valley was influenced by Pietism, a Puritan variant of Lutheran Protestantism, during the economic crisis. When the Barmensche factory workers put themselves in the pews after a hard and monotonous working week - cheered up only by abundant schnapps consumption, bawdy songs and an occasional brawl, they are told from the pulpit that in the short term Redemption is not for them is sitting. All they can do is wait humbly and hopefully for Judgment Day. Piety and hard work may be a duty for every believer, but they don't necessarily take you further into life. After all, God has already predestined everything"
Become a K.N.I.L. soldier
It is not surprising that at the end of the 19th century many workers wanted to escape the smell of this city. Those with enough money chose to migrate to America to build a new life. For young adventurers and ex-soldiers there was an other temptation to register with the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL). Where the Dutch government advertises with very high rewards for that time
Johann Friedrich Pieper (1865-1900)
Here begins the story of my Great-great-grandfather Johann born on February 6, 1865 in Barmen. His parents were married in Barmen on December 22, 1863. His father Johannes Wilhelmus Pieper (born April 8, 1835 in Bühne, Nordrhein-Westfalen) and his Mother Johanne Dell (born September 15, 1833 in Dönberg, Neviges).
It is unknown whether Johann remained an only child in the family, but for those who visit Barmen-Wuppertal will notice that many companies bear the name Pieper in that region. So it is possible the family may have been bigger. His father's profession was "Manual Worker", which may have been one of the professions in one of the textile factories. His grandfather Johannus Wilhelmus Pieper (born November 14, 1794 in Bühne, Nordrhein-Westfalen) was also a simple day worker. Which indicates that Johann was born into a simple working-class family.
Given the fact Johann's uncles and aunties eventually start relationships in the Barmen area. You can conclude that his grandparents had already moved to Barmen with the whole family, attracted by the employment of the early industrial revolution.
At the age of 17, Johann travels to the Netherlands - Rotterdam (Auswanderungs-Jahr: 1882, Date September 13, 1882, Auswanderungs-Ziel: Rotterdam, Niederlande (Quelle: Landesarchiv NRW, Auswanderer aus dem Rheinland, BR 0007 12041 206) to live with his uncle Carl Pieper (born January 6, 1838 in Bühne) Carl lives there at 17 Oostmolenstaart in Rotterdam and was a Bierhuishouder (A beer house is an occasion where beer is tapped, for example an inn or pub.) Carl later will move back to Barmen when his wife Bertha Vogelbusch (born July 10, 1834 in Barmen) dies (in Rotterdam on April 19, 1889).
According to the description in the Military Studbook, Johann claimed he lived in Rotterdam for exactly 2 months before he registered at the KNIL. His studbook number then is 15730. In addition to the data of his parents, some external characteristics are also mentioned, such as brown hair and gray eyes. The last page also states his (later) death and also that a report has been written out to the family in Barmen. Although the register of Rotterdam mentions 6/2/1855 as the date of birth, the military studbook clearly states February 6, 1865. The latter is also confirmed by the scan of the birth certificate in Barmen.
Considering the fact Johann left for the Netherlands at the age of 17 and lived with his uncle from July 1882 to August 1882, after which he registered with the KNIL in early October 1882. Probably was planned all along with his deregistration in Germany and his short stay with his uncle, Johann clearly states he had a mission to register as a KNIL soldier.
At that time, the Colonial Recruitment Depot was still located in Harderwijk (1814 to 1909), which at that time was easily reachablel by steam train from Rotterdam. "In Harderwijk one could sign up for a fixed period of service in the Dutch East Indies. In the depot, the soldiers were prepared for this service in about six weeks. Once they have completed their training, the soldiers usually left in detachments under the guidance of an officer by train to Rotterdam or Amsterdam, or by tjalk to the Nieuwe Diep, for embarkation to the Indies. Before their departure, a portrait photo was often taken in Harderwijk as a souvenir for the family, with texts such as Tot Weerziens or Naar Indië. Nearly 150,000 soldiers found their way from Harderwijk to the Indies. Many of them would never return to Europe due to illness, acts of war or integration into Indian society."
The journey to the Indies.
From November 17, 1869, it became possible to sail through the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal. The Egyptian channel also marks the beginning of a new era for the relationship between the Netherlands and its eastern hinterland. It is the time of steam, screw drive and steel. Previously, the journey took up to eight months, depending on the wind. But now that the journey is no longer about the Cape of Good Hope, the hills of Sumatra are in sight within six weeks. Two shipping companies try their luck with the sailing on the Dutch East Indies. Every week a ship is waved off, alternately from the quays of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Indians stay in luxurious huts, with running water. The European view is slowly giving way to a different perspective. The Strait of Gibraltar, Port Said, the Suez Canal, Colombo. The tropical sun is burning, Batavia is luring.
In the military studbook you can read in the top line that Johann had left Amsterdam on 14 October 1882 with the Princess Amalia. This ship transported Mail, Goods and passengers.
Conteminations in the Middle East
Because there were health warnings about contagious deseases in the Middle East, ships coming from the Suez Canal had to dock an island in front of Marseille for several days in the quarantine place (Frioul archipelago). The Amalia had also been held here for a few days on September 19, 1882 on the way to Amsterdam, but nothing had been found. On the journey (back) to Batavia there was no further delay.
Short War between England and Egypt
The Egyptians who are defiantly opposed to the English rule in the area, and want to close the Suez Canal to the English. The French and English who controlled state finances since 1877 and demanded major austerity measures. Europe suddenly got threatened to lose control and investment due to the Egyptian resistance, led by Colonel Ahmed Urabi. In June 1882, Alexandria raged violently between Europeans and Egyptians. The power struggle between Urabi and the British navy fleet that had already arrived off the Egyptian coast escalated. The British bombed the Egyptian fortifications on the coast of Alexandria. Urabi then declared war. But the much stronger British army was victorious in early as December 1882. After which a prolonged occupation would follow, by the British, on Egyptian territory.
Fortunately, the battlefield was far enough away from Port Said. And Princess Amalia leaves the Suez Canal unscathed on November 5 and continues the journey to Aceh.
On November 23, 1882, Princess Amalia arrived in Aceh. It had to stay there for 2 days to become informed about the Aceh situation. So the report about the military state of affairs could be delivered to Batavia.
As soon as the ship arrives in Batavia November 30, 1882, it becomes clear from the many new paper advertisements that the ship transported all kinds of luxury items, just before the Dutch Sint Nicolaas fest.
So Johann was there when one of the greatest natural disasters in history occurred in the Dutch East Indies.
The eruption of Krakatau (1883)
That same year in May, the newspapers were still full of advertisements that invited you to visit the site of the smoking volcano. It was clear that the shipping company asked for lucrative amounts for this pleasure craft, but the fun was short lived.
On August 27, 1883, just after midnight, a major eruption of Krakatau occurred, probably between the Danan and Perboewatan peaks. The mountain rose, ripped open and collapsed, and the sea poured into the gaping hole. This happened with four explosions, which were so severe that the volcano destroyed itself. The catastrophic bang could still be heard almost 5000 kilometers away, off the coast of Africa. The landslides also triggered massive tsunamis. Merak, Java, was destroyed by a 46-meter high tidal wave. Krakatau then fell under Dutch authority, just like the rest of the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch authorities estimate that 36,000 people died.
Below a piece by R.A. Sandick's book - In the Realm of Volcano - 1890 I was in the months following the eruption on Sumatra's West Coast. That is an extraordinary volcanic terrain. The Earth's crust is anything but quiet there. Earthquakes and subterranean sounds are no rarity. Less than a month had passed since the eruption of Krakatau, when I attended an earthquake at Padang on September 21. In India, an earthquake is usually regarded as a fairly harmless thing. But to him who, less than a month ago, has had an experience like the passengers of the "Loudon", a simple earthquake or subterranean rumble brings about a sensation of nameless woe, an indescribable feeling of helplessness; an unmotivated fear takes hold of him; he expects nothing but the waves of the Indian Ocean to flood all over Padang, as the waters of Sunda Telok Betong Streets disappeared. By the way, history shows that such a disaster is no impossibility at Padang either. However, the Padang of the 18th century has just disappeared in this way. On February 10, 1797, when Padang was in English hands, it suffered a violent earthquake and seaquake. The waves ran several tens of meters against the Apenberg. The entire settlement flooded and became a mess.
The Vrijmetselaarsloge "de Ster in het Oosten" in Batavia took the initiative to create a fund in order to help the relations of Europeans who died in a lasting way. In addition, various art magazines were published in the Netherlands, as a result of flood poetry. "Holland-Krakatau" was published with the assistance of numerous literary and drafting artists; on the occasion of a fancy fair in Amsterdam, a polyglottic newspaper devoted to Krakatau was born, in which heartfelt words were devoted to the disaster in all sorts of languages, including even Hungarian, Spanish and Russian. ”
On May 13, 1889 (Op Goenoeng Sitoli, Pulau Nias, Dutch East Indies) Johann Friederich Pieper married Pauline Margaretha Bellaart (born 1873 Priaman, Sumatra) and they had 5 children:
- Daughter: Maria Johanna Bertha Pieper (Born February 17, 1890, Nias, Sumatra)
- Daughter: Paula Margaretha Francina Pieper (Born August 15, 1891, Padang-Panjang, Sumatra)
- Daughter: Wilhelmina Sophia (Fietje) Pieper (Born September 5, 1893, Padang-Panjang, Sumatra)
- Son: Cornelis Gerardus Frederik Pieper (Born October 12, 1895, Padang, Sumatra)
- Daughter: Alida Cornelia Petronella Pieper (Born April 4, 1898, Padang, Sumatra)
After living in Padang-Panjang for several years, the family moves to the larger town of Padang, where they live for about 5 years, before Johann has to travel for a transfer in Meureudoe (Aceh) in late December 1899. In November 1899, he put all his household goods for sale in Padang for sale. This also indicates that his entire family moved to the new destination. He had some interesting things; like a barrel organ and quite a few ornamental birds. Which indicates that the family was quite prosperous.
Within the 15 years that Johann was in the Dutch East Indies, he has studied a lot. He was also a member of a Officers Association "Eendracht maakt Macht". This association was founded in the Netherlands in 1885 to provide financial support to surviving relatives when a soldier died. Only officers were allowed to participate with a monthly fee of 10 cents.
The death of Johann
His stay in Aceh will not last long. Although Aceh had been annexed by the Netherlands for quite some time and the area was fairly quiet except for a few rebels. It was anything but a safe area for people with an aryan appearance. Not only because fair skin was seen as the color of the “Belanda” the Dutch oppressor in Aceh, but also fair skin was a vulnerability. Many German soldiers did not grow old in the tropical sun and unfortunately this was also the case for Johann. At the age of 36 he died in Meureudoe (Aceh) due to high fevers. As a respected citizen, many condolences were published in newspapers. In the Society "De Eendracht" a performance was given with the aim of donating part of the proceeds to the next of kin.
2 years after Johann's death, the name of his wife Pauline suddenly appears in the Praenger Bode (11-11-1902) in an application to start mining for sites located in the sub-division Toba (Tapanoeli) requested by SJW Mully, P.M. Pieper-Bellaart and F.H. van Praag. Pauline may still have been in the higher circles with the generous widow income she enjoyed. But I suspect that this operation never got off the ground and eventually Pauline remarried in 1904 (April 15) at the age of 31 in 1904 (15 April) to Frederic Achille Bédier de Prairie in Padang Pandjang (Pagan Uplands, Batipoe and X Kota's). that location is quite a distance from the earlier intended mining area.
She gets 2 more children:
- Henriette Pauline Bédier de Prairie (Born 28 Apr 1904 in Padang Pandjang)
- Paul Emile Bédier de Prairie (Born 1 Aug 1905 in Padang Pandjang)
Pauline dies in Tanjungkarang, Bandar Lampung, Lampung on November 16, 1918 at the age of 45. Most likely, the whole family had already moved south in Lampung.
The children of Johann Friedrich Pieper
The story continues with Johann's 5 children, but from them came only a few descendants.
Maria Johanna Bertha Pieper
(Maria is my grandfather's mother)
She moved to Batavia and got a relationship with Lodewijk Gerhardus Jerome Böger who is 21 years older. Lodewijk was an "Adjudant Onder-officier" and later a "Warehouse Master" employed by Staats Spoorwegen. He was married to Saridjem (nickname Sophie), but they struggle to give birth to healthy children. Only 1 survived childhood and that was Lodewijk Albertus Böger.
- Daughter: Ida Katharina Böger (Jul 21, 1905 - Nov 10, 1905)
- Daughter: Anthonia Albertina Cornelia Böger (Aug 9, 1906 - Oct 8, 1906)
- Son: Lodewijk Albertus Böger (Nov 26, 1907 -?)
- Son: Gilles Böger (10 Oct 1910 - 10 Oct 1910)
- Son: Cornelis Gerhardus Böger (24 Nov 1911 - 13 Dec 1914)
Louis Albertus Böger was known to be a soldier and was captured in World War II. Sergeant 2nd class in WWII capture. - Source: GEBBAS - Richard van Holtz. Louis Japanese Internment Card can be found in the “National Archives” in The Hague (and within the PDF).
The exact relationship between Maria and Louis Gerhardus Jerome Böger is unknown (or concealed). No evidence has been found that Louis and Maria were married. It may very well be that Sophie was no longer able to have children and that Maria has been asked to become a surrogate mother, but it is also entirely possible that an extramarital affair may have arisen. In the later funeral ad Maria is still honored as his wife. But the children all carry the mother's name and may never have been legally recognized. In my grandfather's wedding book, his father is not mentioned.
Maria's first delivery was a twins of which only 1 child (Rosalie) survived.
- Son: René Pieper (27 Aug 1918 Batavia - 31 Aug 1918 Batavia)
- Daughter: Rosalie Pieper (27 Aug 1918 Batavia - 14 Mar 1987 Emmeloord, the Netherlands)
- Son: Raoul Pieper (7 Nov 1919 Batavia - 17 Dec 1988, Dordrecht, Netherlands)
- Daughter: Esther Pieper (18 Dec 1920, Batavia - 15 Dec 2004, Rotterdam, Netherlands)
After Esther's birth, also known in the family as Aunt Dé, things went wrong. Maria became seriously ill after giving birth and died on Dec 30, 1920.
Paula Margaretha Francina Pieper
What exactly happened is a mystery, but it is known in the family that Paula (Mary's sister) has taken care of the children. Lodewijk completely disappeared from the scene and may also no longer welcome within the family. According to family traditions, Paula always spoke shameful about the situation, claiming that there was a curse on the family. Paula was married to Frederik Willem Karel Schrieder (on Aug 4, 1915 in Lampung). She did not bear children herself.
Wilhelmina Sophia (Fietje) Pieper
Aunt Fie was married (on Feb 5, 1916 in Lampung) to Nicolaas Arthur Schönherr (Dec 8, 1892 Fort de Kock, Bukittinggi, Sumatra - Apr 26, 1971 Rijswijk, South Holland, Netherlands (78 years old). died on May 27, 1966 in Leidschendam-Voorburg, The Netherlands. Nicolaas Arthus Schönherr (Occupation Inspector of the I.U.) was later knighted in the Order of Orange Nassau.
Cornelis Gerardus Frederik Pieper
Was a soldier and was captured in World War II in 1942, placed in a camp in Japan Tokyo and died there. He died on September 28, 1944 at Shinagawa Hospital, Tokyo, Japan of Beri-Beri. He was cremated in Japan. His ashes were handed over to LT. BRYAN James of the Quartermaster Corps of the US 8th Army at Main Camp of Tokyo POW Camp on September 10, 1945 ”
Alida Cornelia Petronella Pieper
Alida was married (circa 1920 in Batavia) to Emile François Dumas (Oct 29, 1880, Magelang, Java - Oct 21, 1948, Jakarta, Java - Buried at Tanah Abang European Cemetery). Emile was a widower and his first wife was Emilie Brünner (Nov 9, 1884, Temanggung, Java - Mar 11, 1915, Cilacap, Java). Emile was the father of a daughter: Laura Dumas (28 Jun 1914 Cilacap, Java - 22 Feb 1996 The Hague, the Netherlands. Buried in the Oud Eik en Duinen cemetery.) Emile and Alida together have another daughter and her name was Thera Dumas (May 22, 1917, Medan, Sumatra - Nov 22, 2008, Groesbeek, The Netherlands). Alida moved to the Netherlands with the 2 daughters and died in the Netherlands.
Grandchildren of Johann Friedrich Pieper
27 aug 1918 Batavia, Java - 31 aug 1918 Batavia, Java. Son of Maria Johanna Bertha Pieper and Lodewijk Gerhardus Jerome Böger. He died 4 days after birth and was twins with Rosalie.
27 aug 1918 Batavia, Java - 14 mrt 1987 Emmeloord, Nederland Rosalie Pieper is the daughter of Maria Johanna Bertha Pieper and Lodewijk Gerhardus Jerome Böger and sole survivor of the twins.
Rosalie married on January 25, 1946 (in Bandung, Java) to Hans Christian van Holtz (Jun 23, 1891, Batavia, Java - Oct 12, 1973 Noordwijk, The Netherlands). Hans was a widower and had 2 children of his first wife Ijoet (1897 - 1931). Hans was only later recognized by his fathersname in the Netherlands and previously bore the surname of his mother Bénard.
Rosalie and Hans had 4 sons and 1 daughter.
He married Betty Broersma (Feb 14, 1924, Sukabumi, Java - Apr 17, 2009, Dordrecht, Netherlands) on 21 Mar 1946 in Bandung, Java and had 10 children.
In 1978 Raoul was employed by the Dutch Army for 40 years and on the birthday of Queen Juliana (on April 30, 1979) he received, for his proven services, an honorary medal in the Order of Oranje Nassau.
18 dec 1920 Batavia, Java - 15 dec 2004 Rotterdam, Nederland
Esther, who was nicknamed Aunt “Dé” for the family, was married to Heinrich Johann te Boekhorst (11 Oct 1921, Zwijndrecht, The Netherlands - Sep 8, 1990 Rotterdam, The Netherlands). They had 2 daughters.
May 22, 1917 Medan, Sumatra - Nov 22, 2008 Groesbeek, The Netherlands (Cemetery: Jonkerbos R.K.Cemetery Nijmegen) Thera was the daughter of Emile François Dumas and Alida Cornelia Petronella Pieper. She married on January 16, 1946 to Henry Adolph Curio (Harry) Senstius van der Meulen (Dec 10, 1911, Djogjakarta, Java - Nov 18, 1994, Nijmegen, The Netherlands). They had a son Larry Senstius van der Meulen (Jan 27, 1951 - Feb 23, 2005 Nijmegen).
Great-grandchildren and further descendants of Johann Friedrich Pieper
Many of the great-grandchildren are still alive while writing this article. This is also where the “free” genealogical research in the context of the currently applicable privacy legislation of Europe (GDPR) and the Dutch (AVG) ends. All living descendants will be approached as closely as possible for an interview. Only those who have granted permission will be added in a book that is not accessible by the public.