MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU . . . DEBRA VAN DRIEL KLUIT
I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Debra van Driel Kluit and her blog, Moments in Time, described as, “ . . . Family history and family stories.”
Debra, please tell us a little about yourself.
“I was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, England but have moved around a lot as a child and lived in several countries. My husband is a real Dutch Miller, we live in Rotterdam next to a windmill that was built in 1776 and where my husband makes bread and cake mixes which we sell in a little shop inside the mill.
I am a mother of three children and a grandmother of five.
I speak Dutch fluently but my English has deteriorated so please forgive any grammatical mistakes.”
How did you get started in Genealogy?
“I caught the family history bug at a very young age, I was 16 when I was first given a lesson about genealogy and a desire was planted to start researching my own family history. My maternal grandmother was still alive as were two older sisters of my father and they were able to provide me with many stories of their childhood and several other facts to point me in the good direction. My early years of research was before the era of computers and entailed traveling down to London to visit St. Catherine’s house where all the birth, marriage and death indexes were housed. These were huge tomes which caused muscle ache after spending a whole day lifting and carrying them to the tables. Viewing the census returns was no easy matter either as you either needed an exact address or you would have to view the whole micro film roll of a village or town with the hope of finding your ancestors. We are so blessed nowadays that we can do so much research in the comfort of our own homes.”
Why Debra created her blogs and her thoughts on blogging
“After completing a genealogical course with Future Learn, I was given a tip to create a genealogical blog, this seemed like a perfect way to share all the interesting facts and stories which I have discovered during my many years of research with my family who are scattered over the world.”
Debra, how did you choose the name for your blog?
“About 10 years ago, I wrote and self-published a book about my paternal line, during the course of writing this book I had been reading Daphne du Maurier’s book ‘The House on the Strand’ and came across the phrase ‘Moments in Time’, this sounded like a perfect description of my book because it is just small moments in time which we are recording whilst doing genealogical research, as we try to build a picture of our ancestor’s lives. I decided to give my blog this same name as sometimes I will use excerpts from my book as well as adding stories and facts from my maternal line.”
What research tool or source has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?
“I have used Ancestry a lot but I have also found the website from the British National Archives very useful, especially the A2A access to archives section which indexes the records of local record offices throughout the country. I was able to discover many records of my Strickland ancestors in the Cornwall County Record Office through this site which I could then apply for and receive the copies via the post. The great thing about having ancestors from Cornwall is that there are so many mineral rights for the tin and copper so that almost every land purchase or rental is accompanied with an indenture of the mining rights, these can be amazing sources of information about family connections. Recently I have also used the website of the British Newspaper Archive and have found some really interesting articles about my ancestors which have given me more background information about their lives.”
Debra, what has been your most exciting genealogy discovery in your research?
“Every genealogical discovery is exciting, that’s what makes it so addictive, the joy of discovering the name of an ancestor that you have been searching so long for is so exhilarating. My husband is a Miller and works in a real windmill so it was quite exciting to discover that my maternal great great grandfather and his family were Millers. Even more so when I discovered a book in my father in law’s book case about Kent windmills which he had bought in England many years ago, and which made mention of my ancestors and described my fourth great grandmother as being ‘a veritable Amazon, a masterful woman of wonderful personality’ a woman who lived to be 101 and had 26 children.”
Debra’s favorite blog post
“One of my favourite posts is about an ancestor who was so upset about the death of his wife that he killed his young daughter and then tried to kill himself.
It’s not always nice to find a criminal in our family tree but the wealth of information that can be found about a notorious ancestor in old newspaper articles and record offices adds so much colour and interest to your tree.
The 4th great grandfather of my husband was a solicitor and also in charge of collecting taxes, during the French occupation of Holland in the early 18th Century he used some of this tax money for his own means. In 1807 he was held accountable and declared bankrupt, in the National Record Office in Den Haag we were able to find the original handwritten bills of the money he owed to the tailor and the grocer etc., fascinating reading and remarkable that such things had been kept in an archive for more than two hundred years.”
How much time are you able to spend on research?
“This depends on how much my time is taken up with other demands. I could easily spend hours looking for newspaper articles related to my ancestors or trying to get past a brick wall, but being a Grandmother and also looking after my mother in law fills my time as well as working in our Windmill shop.”
Debra, who is your favorite ancestor?
“I think that I would have to say my great grandmother Rose Tozer because she had such a tragic life. Her own father died when she was two years old and her first husband died when her daughter my grandmother was only two, she remarried a widower with 5 children who was unfaithful but ended up divorcing her and accusing her of being unfaithful and separating her from two of her children. Eventually she ended up committing suicide by putting her head in a gas oven. I would love to meet her and tell her that she is loved.”
Debra, what family story or heirloom do you cherish?
“I don’t have many heirlooms but I do have a small cut glass perfume bottle which belonged to my great grandmother Rose Tozer, if I open it I can still smell her perfume.”
In what ways has genealogy improved your life?
“Genealogy has made me realize that I am who I am through the combined choices of my ancestors. I have inherited not only their genes but also their decisions on where they choose to live or work and how they treated their children, all have had an influence in my life and who I have become.”
Debra, what do you love most about doing your genealogy/family history?
“I love putting together the puzzle pieces and building a picture of my ancestors life.
Genealogy is like detective work, finding clues and sometimes unrelated facts that eventually lead you to find someone you’ve been searching years for.”
What is on your genealogy bucket list?
“With my paternal line I have managed to get quite far back but with my maternal line I have hit quite a few brick walls, my 4th great grandfather Robert Orwin, the Miller was married in London and died in Hull just two years before the 1851 census which would have told me where he was born. I have a lot of information about his life and where he lived but not where he was born and who his parents were. I have tried so many avenues but hope one day to find for certain where he came from.”
If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you say to them?
“Sometimes I wish that my ancestors had left more information for me, a diary or a letter telling me about their lives. That is why I think it is so important to keep a record of my own life so that my children and grandchildren and their children will know who I was and what I thought about things.”
Please take a moment to visit Debra’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Debra, it’s great to have you here!
© 2016, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.