Saturday, August 17, 2013

Surname Saturday: WIERSMA

WIERSMA is a Frisian "clan name," basically meaning "the family of Wier." Frisians are an ethnic minority in the north of the Netherlands, congregated mainly in the provinces of  Friesland and Groningen. In 1811, Napoleon, who ruled the Netherlands, required all the residents of that country to register a surname. Before then, the people of the Netherlands generally used patronyms, although some did have surnames. Many took on occupational, location, or clan surnames in 1811. It's not clear to me why my widowed ancestor, Jeltje Harmens, registered the surname WIERSMA for herself and her children, nor am I sure whether the WIERSMA surname was a reflection of her late husband's family or her own. She is referred to by this surname for the rest of her life, which was unusual, as most women in the Netherlands continued to use their father's surname after marriage. Her husband, Anne Klaases, is referred to posthumously with the WIERSMA surname in at least one of his children's death records. Thus, it is possible that the WIERSMA clan name could have been one from either spouse's family.

Stories and History:

Ahnentafel #432 - Klaas (dates unknown)

Ahnentafel #216 - Anne Klaases WIERSMA (b. c. 1776 - 1809?) - despite the name, this is a male ancestor. Anne is pronounced "AH-neh" and would be the equivalent of the English "Andrew." He was married to Jeltje Harmens. In 1811, after she was widowed, she registered the family surname with the authorities in Sneek, Friesland, the Netherlands, and used the surname herself (unusual). They had five known children at that time.

Ahnentafel #108 - Jouke Annes WIERSMA (c. 1805 - 1853) - He appears to have spent his entire life in the municipality of Wonseradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands. He married Doedtje Wijbrens DOUMA (c. 1801 - 1837) there in 1827. They had seven known children.

Ahentafel #54 - Wijbren Joukes WIERSMA (1831 - 1909) - My immigrant ancestor was born in the municipality of Wonseradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands, where he married Akke Dirks RENEMA (1832 - 1882) in 1852. They had perhaps 17 children, including two sets of twins. Between 1882, when Akke died, and 1884, when he appears as a witness to his daughter's marriage in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan, Wijbren immigrated to the United States. He died in Wyoming Twp., Kent Co., Michigan.

Ahentafel #27 - Doetje WIERSMA (1854 - 1916) - Also an immigrant ancestor. Born in Zurich, Wonseradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands, she married another Frisian immigrant, Geert Aukes TUINSTRA (1851 - 1928) in 1884 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. They had 10 children, including a set of twins. She died in Grand Rapids.

Ahnentafel #13 - Agnes TUINSTRA (1885 - 1921) - read her AnceStory here; a tale of tragedy

Ahnentafel #6 - William VALK (1912 - 1989) - read his AnceStory here

Ahnentafel #3 - my mother (living)

Ahnentafel #1 - myself

More About the WIERSMA Family:

1. Online database (I update this at least once a month): WIERSMA ancestors and relatives (no info on living persons available)

2. Some WIERSMA obituaries

3. Posts about WIERSMA ancestors and relatives on this blog

My WIERSMA Immigration Trail:

Sneek, Friesland, the Netherlands > Wonseradeel, Friesland, the Netherlands > Kent Co., MI > AK > Stevens Co., WA > Spokane Co., WA

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1 comment:

Letterlust said...

You are right that wiersma often is a patronymic. But not always. It may also be an address name, where 'wier' is a 'terp'; a people-raised piece of land. Regards, Erik Wiersma