Trip to the “Old Country” to Visit Ancestral Home in Holland

By: Thomas P. Bogart

In search of my ancestral roots, I traveled to The Netherlands in late June 2019 with my wife, Cheryl, to visit my ancestral home in a tiny village called Schoonrewoerd.  Schoonrewoerd is now part of Vijfheerenlanden, which literally means “land with five Lords.” It is a municipality in the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands. The municipality was created in January 2019 through the merger of the former municipalities of VianenLeerdam and Zederik.  On Thursday, June 27, 2019, we rented a car in Amsterdam’s Central Station area, where we were staying and drove approximately 38 miles south down Netherlands Motorway A2 to Schoonrewoerd, a village of approximately 900 residents.  This is where my family lived when they immigrated to the New World and settled in New Amsterdam.

The progenitor of my family was Tunis Gysbert Bogaert. He was born in Holland in 1625 and came to the U.S. to Bushwick, which is now Brooklyn, NY in 1652.  The cradle of my family was the Wallabout, which is now Brooklyn, was situated along on Long Island opposite Manhattan Island at the bend of the East River called Walloons Bay. The land is between the present Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. The site is now part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the former Marine Hospital.  Tunis was the son of Gijsbert Theuniszn Bogaert, who was born in Holland in 1597. His father, Theunis Gijsbertszn In Den Boogaertman was born in 1562 and his father, Gijsbert In Den Boogaertman, was born in 1540.  

According the book, The Bogart Family: Tunis Gysbert Bogaert and His Descendants, compiled by John A. Bogart in 1959, the family name Bogart is unquestionably of Dutch origin.  Bogart, according to the Dutch translation, means, “group of fruit trees, or orchard.”  Information from the book has been used as the basis for acceptance as a member of the Holland Society of New York (HSNY) by many Bogarts who enjoy membership to this day, including our Vice President Adrian Bogart III and his daughter Sarah Bogart Cooney, our Executive Administrator. I was accepted into HSNY in 2017 and my Dutch lineage goes back fourteen generations to aforementioned Gijsbert In Den Boogaertman.

As I traveled to Schoonrewoerd, I couldn’t help thinking how exciting it was to trace my roots and I wondered if the house we resided in was still there after all these years. When I arrived, I parked my car and went in to a small restaurant called The Swan.  We got lunch and as I started talking to the waiter, I showed him of copy of John Bogart’s book, The Bogart Family.  He instantly recognized my name and told me that, indeed, there were still many Bogarts (or variations of that name) living in the area.  In the book, on page 20-A, there is a photo of the Bogart family home located on what is now 96 Schaiksche Road in Schoonrewoerd.  That photo caption reads: “The Bogart homestead in Schoonrewoerd, Holland, built over three hundred years ago, is now maintained by the Netherlands Government. It was occupied a generation ago by a Bogart family.  Photo by P. H. Bogaard of Holland.”

I asked my waiter, a Mr. Van Damme, if he knew where the house was and if it was still standing.  Searching for help to answer my question, he took my book and went outside to nearby home where he spoke to an older gentleman there who was a life-long resident of the town.  The man said, yes, he recognized the house and it was, indeed, still standing.  Mr. Van Damme returned to my table and pointed down the road and said the house was only a short distance away on the very same street.  I immediately walked to the house located about 100 yards away and – lo and behold – there it was!

I had the photo of the house from the book as a reference.  The house still looks the same. It was easy to tell that it was, in fact, the same exact house – no doubt about it. The home is now privately owned and is no longer maintained by the Dutch government, nor is it occupied by any Bogart relatives currently.  No one was home at the time and besides, I didn’t want to disturb anyone. I did manage to speak to the next-door neighbor who was not fluent in English, but she was helpful.

Here is a picture of the house today.

Here is the photo from the book.

The fact that I could actually find the ancient home my ancestors lived in for hundreds of years is truly remarkable to me.  The fact that it is still standing after 500 – 600 years is even more remarkable.  I guess that’s why they call it the “old country.”

Thomas P. Bogart is an HSNY member and a resident of Lynnfield, MA and is a retired Fire Chief.  He is now a college professor at a private university in Massachusetts. He can be reached at thomas.bogart@comcast.net  or 978-314-1382.