In last week’s article, The Camstra Trail, I was gifted with the beautiful miniature photo of Douwe Baukes Camstra and his wife and subsequently found the burial location of the couple, at least in general terms.
It’s interesting how publishing something like that opens the floodgates. Well, maybe not floodgates in this case, but definitely the faucet.
Three things happened.
- Another photo of Douwe surfaced
- We found the burial locations of Douwe Bauke Camstra who died in 1869
- We found the burial location of his father, Bauke Douwe Camstra who died in 1866
Douwe’s Actual Burial Plot
As it turns out, I actually HAD more information about Douwe that had been previously provided by Yvette Hoitink. Of course, I made this discovery right AFTER I hit the publish button.
Yvette unearthed a letter written almost a century ago.
Ybeltje Camstra – a granddaughter of Douwe Bauke Camstra wrote in May 1923:
“My grandfather was somebody of fairly large mental gifts. He appears to have been a good mathematician, in that we had in our family an antique silver tobacco jar with an inscription, which read that this tobacco jar was given to him for important services, rendered to the City of Leeuwarden; these services were regarding calculations that he was required to do. This tobacco jar disappeared during the theft that took place in Maartensdijk around 1895, which is a shame.”
On 12 May 1846 the family Camstra settled in Leeuwarden. For years, the family lived in the house at the Grote Kerkstraat nr. 262. From this marriage were born six children, while the family Camstra-Kijlstra also took care to raise a niece Anna Elisabeth Camstra.
Also in the house lived Catharina Proost, school teacher, charged with teaching the children. Servant was Berbertje Koopal.
The couple Camstra-Kijlstra lies buried on the old Cemetery at the Spanjaardslaan in Leeuwarden, section 3, row 26, nr. 11.
There you have it. If I were Douwe’s direct descendant, I’d be placing a FindAGrave request for a photo – even if there is no marker and even if he’s currently sharing a grave with a few of his neighbors.
Yvette provided additional information about Douwe too.
After he married, Douwe B. Camstra was first head teacher in Drachten for several years, but was later appointed arrondissementsijker [district calibrator].
He was joint founder of the “Selskip foar Fryske Tael en Skrifekennisse [Society for Frisian language and writing knowledge]” and for many years was a member as “earste skriuwer [first writer]”. Douwe also wrote Frisian novellas, of which 12 were published in “Idu[…]” and “De Swanneblom.”
In regards to his appointment as district calibrator in Leeuwarden we find the following in the Resolutiën van Burgemeesteren der Stad Leeuwarden [Resolutions of the City Leeuwarden]:
28 February 1846 – Was read a resolution of the Provincial Executives of Friesland of 24 February 1846 nr. 29 regarding information about the transfer of district calibrator D.B. Camstra from Heerenveen to Leeuwarden, to replace the fired assistant calibrator G.M. Cahais, as well as determining the time for the calibration of the measures and weights, over 1846 and all the Cities and Municipalities of the province etc. This resolution has already had the required effect, so was decided to consider as notification.
Douwes Bauke Camstra would have been very familiar with “The Waag,” or weigh house in Leeuwarden where all types of goods were weighed, located on the canal center city, a few blocks from where Douwe was born.
Speaking of a Descendant
My cousin, a descendant of Douwe, dropped me a note immediately after he read last week’s article. He had been gifted with a copy of the same photo in 2013 along with another one of Douwe apparently taken a few years later.
Douwe looked to be a bit older and his black eye seemed to have healed. So my speculation that Douwe might have been blind was clearly wrong. Now I wonder if what we thought was a black eye was an artifact of very early photography.
These two photos provide secondary confirmation of the identity of this man.
Burial Location of Bauke Douwes Camstra (1779-1866) and Anna Elizabeth Jonker (1778-1856)
I surmised in the article that since Douwe Bauke Camstra and his wife were buried in the Spanjaardslaan cemetery in 1869, that his parents were surely buried there too. That seemed reasonable, given that his father only died three years before Douwe and since there was no other cemetery in Leeuwarden following the 1827 edict that burials could no longer occur in churches and churchyards for sanitation reasons.
Then, I received this from Yvette:
About Bauke’s burial place, all the way back in 2013, I did a research report for you with the inventory of the estate of Bauke Douwes Camstra, created on 21 July 1866, after his death.
Among the estate was:
“Graves: Four graves at the churchyard in Goutum, the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grave from the church in row 18, with the two grave stones, valued at fl. 20 Deducted for maintenance and prohibition to open the two graves in which the deceased will be buried within 20 years.”
So Bauke was buried in Goutum just south of Leeuwarden. I once had a McDonald’s picnic dinner there and sent you a photo.
Yvette to the rescue once again, and my bad for not rereading the Camstra reports. The great irony here is that I was very excited about receiving that picnic photo from Yvette at the time and remember it well.
I even managed to find the photo on my computer.
They owned 4 graves on the churchyard in Goutum, a small hamlet just south of Leeuwarden. They owned graves 4, 5, 6 and 7 in row 18.
Of course, this begs the question of who was intended to be buried in the other two graves, and if anyone in the Camstra family actually was ever buried there. I also thought his wife predeceased Bauke. I need to do some more reading and digging. Actually, what I need to do is write their own individual ancestor articles where I review everything.
That has to be on the north side since the south side doesn’t have 18 rows. I made a guess that they started counting the rows from the tower and indicated the location of these graves on the Google Map.
Yvette even marked their grave locations.
Google Streetview drove by the churchyard as well, but the trees were so full of leaves you can hardly see anything.
The estate bill included a provision for maintenance of the graves of Bauke and Anna Elisabeth for 20 years, so that’s long gone by now as many graves are cleared in the Netherlands after 20 years, I do not think these graves are still there. There is a small chance that they still exist because this was an owned grave, not a rented grave.
The graves at the Goutum cemetery are listed at Graftombe but the Camstra grave is not among them so it was probably cleared.
You can see the area where they are/were buried from the street beside the church. They are near the rear of the church, just the other side of the trees.
Why Was Bauke Buried in Goutham?
OK, so my logic was sound, but it was also wrong.
It made perfect sense that Bauke was buried in the only cemetery in Leeuwarden when he died. It made sense, especially since his son was buried there three years later.
In fact, now I wonder why Douwe wasn’t buried in Goutum with Bauke.
Furthermore, why WAS Bauke buried in Goutum?
After all, Bauke was a deacon in the Grote of Jacobijnerkerk Dutch Reformed church in Leeuwarden, just down the street from his home. He didn’t attend church in Goutum.
The beautiful new Leeuwarden cemetery park was just across the bridge, outside the city wall, much closer than Goutum.
This doesn’t make sense, at least not at first glance.
The church in Goutum (Buorren 23) is just south of Leeuwarden, about 3 miles as the crow flies from Bauke’s home church. Bauke would certainly have been familiar with the churches surrounding Leeuwarden.
My bet, at this point, is that Bauke was NOT in favor of being buried in a grave outside of a churchyard. There were gravesites available at the church in Goutum, and Bauke took advantage of the opportunity to purchase four. I think this comes under the category of, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Bauke found a way to be buried in a churchyard, even if it wasn’t his home church or even inside the city of Leeuwarden. It didn’t matter. The churchyard in Goutum is where he rested until at least 1886 when his 20 years was up.
Were it not for the purchase noted in Bauke Douwe Camstra’s estate record, we would never have known.
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