In 2004 I traveled to The Netherlands in search of my paternal grandfather’s birthplace. I was armed with documents I discovered on Ellis Island. He arrived in 1901 at 21 years old and had a dollar in his pocket. But the name of his birth town was smeared. A concierge at the Pulitzer Hotel in Amsterdam took my copy to research the name of the town based on what letters were not smeared.
She found a town named Mensingeweer in the north province of Groningen. And found an address of a Jolman. My grandfather change the spelling after arriving in the US. I wrote them a letter but no reply. I returned a year later and drove to the town of Enrum which was next to Mensingeweer. I stayed at the World’s Smallest Hotel and visited the Province Archives, which were closed.
Mensingeweer had one huge windmill, an antique shop, a real estate office and a few homes and the Jolman I had written had died two weeks before my arrival.
We also passed his personal residence which was more traditional. While in a bar talking to the barmaid she exclaimed she knew a Jolman, he was a sail maker. She called them and I met them the following morning. I was told Yolman means “man of boat”. In Dutch Jol is a yawl sailboat.
I’ll be going back to hopefully uncover more Yolman design builds in the Netherlands.