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   FAMILY RESEARCHIn 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.

   street viewShe 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.

family research   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.

   At dinner the first night, I struck up a conversation with two couples sitting next to me. The men were the realtors in Mensingeweer. They told me there was a builder named Jolman and if I liked they would drive me the next morning and show me. They drove me to many Jolman Homes. He built in the 1950, 60’s and 70’s. They were all flat roofed and extremely utilitarian.

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Family ResearchFamily Researchcustomers house

   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.