Generation IX - Louisa Roä

Louisa Roä was the wife of Izak van Gorkom (generation IX-i18) and mother of some ten children. She was born in Utrecht on 24 May 1819 and married Izak in Utrecht on 26 February 1845. She was 25 then. Four months earlier, on 1 October, Izak had turned 26. The name Roa itself is very outlandish in the Netherlands. Reason enough to investigate its origin and try to find out more about this Roa family.

Louisa Roä was the daughter of Ida Roa. The difference in spelling of the family name is not a typo. In all records in which the name Louisa Roä appears there is this umlaut over the a, also in those cases where there is a signature of Louisa herself. Her mother, however, didn't use the dots.

The birth record of Louisa doesn't mention a father. The report to the register was made by the midwife, Cornelia Verhoeff, wife of Dirk van den Broek. According to the record, Ida Roa lived with this family at the Varkenmarkt in the north of the city of Utrecht. The record also says that Ida was born in Arnhem, something that turns out not to be true. Seventeen years later, on 8 June 1836, mother Ida married Gijsbert Hensen. He was a bricklayer and widower of Sandrina van der Schoot. He was born in Amerongen and baptized on 29 April 1764. Amerongen is a village halfway Arnhem and Utrecht. Ida was 47 at the time, meaning that she was born in 1788 or 1789. At the marriage an Acte van Bekendheid, i.e. a "deed of familiarity", was presented to prove the identity of Ida. This deed was passed in court only six days before the marriage took place and was needed because there were no documents available to prove the date and place of birth of Ida or the identity of her parents. The deed was accompanied by a document that gives the date on which Gijsbert had been baptised. This is a relevant detail, as there is some unclarity about his age, stemming from other records.

The deed reveals a lot of information, making it the record of a sad story. It mentions that the father of Ida Roa served in the Swiss Regiment under the command of General May. This was Regiment 697a, led by Lieutenant-General Frederik May, from 1772 onwards also known as Regiment Swiss 5. It consisted of Swiss mercenaries from Neuchâtel (Neuenburg), Schaffhausen, Zürich, Bern, Vaud (Waadt) and Grisons (Graubünden). Swiss mercenaries were very popular for several centuries. The Vatican for example still has a so-called Swiss Guard. This is already an indication that father Roa (generation VII in fact), who was Louisa's grandfather, came from Switzerland. The first name of the father and the full name of the mother were unknown. The reason for this is given as well.

In 1794, the regiment was sent from Bergen op Zoom to Grave, which is a village at the river Maas, south of the city of Nijmegen. Father Roa took his wife and children with him. In Grave though, the regiment came under siege of the French troops of Napoleon at the end of 1794. Ida's mother and her mother's mother were killed. After the surrender of Grave to the French the father had gone missing, presumably being killed as well. Ida must have been six years old at the time. She and her sisters and brothers were taken to a children's home in Arnhem, which is not so far from Grave. The children's home found foster homes for the children. Ida returned to the children's home when she was approximately 11 and stayed there till she was 18. From then on she worked as a servant, the last twenty years before her marriage having done so in Utrecht, the deed tells. According to a 1813 census record, she came to Utrecht even earlier, the record mentioning her as living at the address Janskerkhof 5, as one of the five servants of the Nepveu family. She was believed to be 25 then.

The deed also mentions that the books and registers in which the Swiss regiment kept the birth records of children that were born in the regiment, were lost or destroyed in 1795. Therefore it is difficult to tell when and where Ida or her sibblings were born. In several records it can be found that Ida was born in Amsterdam, but this is very unlikely. Her father's regiment was always quartered in the south of the Netherlands in places like Maastricht, Venlo and Vlissingen. Around the time that Ida must have been born the regiment was staying in Bergen op Zoom. As a matter of fact on 28 June 1789 a child was baptized in the Lutheran church of Bergen op Zoom, one of the witnesses being Johanna Christina Roa. It is very tempting to believe that she was the mother of Ida. Furthermore the deed tells that the father of Ida's mother, nor the parents of her father could be traced. It states explicitly that these parents of her father lived in Switzerland, confirming the idea that Roa is a Swiss name.

In fact the name might well be Roua instead of Roa. On a webpage of the Eichenberg family an Elisabeth Roua is mentioned. She is believed to be born in Arnhem in 1784. It is very likely that she was an older sister of Ida, meaning that she was not born in Arnhem, but was coming from Arnhem. Elisabeth married Gerrit Blankestijn in Overlangbroek on 7 May 1807. Eleven children were born and among them are children named Yda, Louis and Karel, names which strongly suggest a close link with the family of Ida. According to the death record of Elisabeth, who died in Amerongen on 28 July 1859, the names of her parents were Louis Roua and Christina Roua. This would imply that Louisa was named after her grandfather — directly, or perhaps indirectly through a brother of mother Ida.

The Van Viegen family mentions Catharina Roua. They published a transcript of the marriage record, which clearly indicates that Catharina came from the same children's home as Ida did, making it very likely that she was a sister as well (generation VIII). Catharina married in Amerongen Stoffel van Viegen on 10 February 1813. Amerongen is the same village where Ida's husband came from. Witness to the marriage was Gerrit Blankestijn, the husband of aforementioned Elisabeth Roua. Seven children were born in Amerongen. The first child was Christina van Viegen, born about 1804, but she died at the age of 17 on 15 June 1831. The youngest child of this couple was Louis van Viegen, born on 21 June 1830. He died three days later on 24 June 1830. Again the first names are similar to those in Ida's family. Two other daughters of Catharina were Cuneira van Viegen and Catharina van Viegen, who were both more lucky and survived childhood. Another child who survived was a son, called Suffrein van Viegen. Cuneira had approximately the same age as her cousin Louisa (generation IX). The deed also mentions brothers of Ida, Catharina and Elisabeth. The register of Utrecht does indicate that an Alexander and Carel Louis Roa died in 1855 and 1856. These boys, however, turn out to be two infant sons of Alexandrina, a daughter of Ida and sister of Louisa.

The two ways of spelling the name Ro(u)a is not unlogical. Until 1811 the spelling of names was not standardized in the Netherlands, meaning that names were not spelled very accurately. Roua is therefore a more likely way of spelling the name as this name can be found in France and Switzerland in contrast to Roa. On internet you find information about the copper mines of Roua in the South of France for example and in Luxemburg there is a Société de Roua. Another possibility is that the name was corrupted at some stage. In that case Roua might stem from Rouart, Rouard, Rouand, Rouan, Rouen or anything like it. But at the other hand, Roa is also a widespread Spanish name, so the name might just as well have even more exotic roots.

Ida had three daughters and a son. Louisa's first sister was called Christina Gijsbertha Roa, born on 29 October 1822. It is interesting to see that Franciscus van Gorkom (generation VIII-f01), tanner, 21 years old, was a witness when the authorities were notified of Christina's birth. She later married Hendricus Franciscus Bedel on 21 February 1849. He was 26, so born in 1822 as well or in 1823. Their first child was Hendricus Franciscus Bedel, born in February 1853. He died however on 16 December 1873, 20 years old and unmarried. In July 1855 Christina had a daughter Ida Christina Bedel (generation X) who married Jacobus van Dorssen on 12 September 1877. Both were 22. Earlier, on 23 March 1863, her mother Christina Gijsbertha had died at the age of 40. Hendricus Franciscus remarried two and a half years later on 6 September 1865 Adriana Allegonda van Hassel, a widow. So, Ida Christina must have been about 10 years old then. Ida Christina had at least one more sibling. She herself and Jacobus had three children of which two survived and married.

The other sister of Louisa was Alexandrina Roa, born on 11 April 1825 at six in the evening. She married Hendrik Volmuller in Utrecht on 12 August 1846. He was born in Vianen on 23 June 1819 and was a son of Johan Hendrik Leonard Volmuller (aka Jan) and Bartholomea Prenger. Three children were born. Johan Hendrik Leonard Volmuller, born around 1847, and Hendrik Gijsbert Volmuller, born about 1850, moved to Den Helder and both married there. Carel Louis Volmuller lived from 10 February 1852 just till 25 August 1853. But also father Hendrik passed away in Utrecht on 2 May 1853, only 34 years of age. In 1858 Alexandrina would marry again, but in the mean time she gave birth to two children carrying the surname of Roa, who both died young. Alexander Roa was born on 28 November 1854, but died five weeks later on 5 January 1855. Carel Louis Roa was only three months old when he died on 28 May 1856. On 13 October 1858 Alexandrina married Johannes Henricus Wilhelmus Höfig (can be written as Hoefig as well). This Johannes came from Recklinghausen, nowadays a town with 125.000 inhabitants near Dortmund, not very far from the Dutch border. Alexandrina was 33 then. Johann was 59, with an age difference of 26 years a bit older so to say. Nevertheless three more children were born but all died young. Alexandrina passed away on 8 October 1863. She was 38 years old then and left behind two teenage boys and her second husband. He died ten years later on 3 August 1873. Finally there was a brother of Louisa, called Carel Lodewijk, born on 26 April 1828, at one o'clock at night. He passed away on 18 February 1840, only 11 years old.

It was already mentioned that mother Ida married Gijsbert Hensen in 1836, when she was 47 and he 72. However, from an Utrecht census record, recently found by a descendant of Christina Roa, it can be learned that already in 1829 Ida, Gijsbert and their children Louisa, Christina, Alexandrina and Carel were living together as a family at the address Steenweg 472. Another important detail in this record is the remark that Christina (Gijsbertha) is an "illegitimate child of Henssen and Roa". Sandrina van der Schoot, the first wife of Gijsbert, was still alive then, as she only died on 10 February 1836, a few months before Gijsbert's second marriage. Sandrina was 85 then. It is even more confusing to note that the name of Gijsbert's youngest daughter with Ida is very similar to that of his first wife. In the record the children are called Louisa Hensen, Christina Hensen, Sanderina Hensen and Carel Hensen, and all their ages are definitely wrong.

Mother Ida Roa died in Utrecht on 27 October 1875, 84 years old, the record says. She lived in the Vrouwjuttenstraat at no. A.339 then. In the same year her daughter Louisa had lost her husband Izak, on 20 January 1875, and her 24 years old daughter Christina, on 19 February 1875. She stayed behind with one son who was still living at home. This son was Evert Dirk (generation X-e62) and born in Utrecht on 19 April 1862. He was twelve therefore when his father passed away. When Louisa's eldest son Izak (generation X-i53) married in 1877, she was suddenly living in Amsterdam, as the marriage record shows. Fortunately Evert's daughter Louisa Johanna had told Johan van Gorkom, greatgrandson of Evert's other brother Abraham (generation X-a55), several years ago that Evert Dirk had moved to Amsterdam to go and live with an older sister when he was fourteen. The registers of Amsterdam prove that this story is correct. According to the bevolkingsregister (citizens register) of Amsterdam Evert Dirk and his sister Aletta registered as citizens of Amsterdam in January 1877. As Aletta (generation X-a51) married Philip Phoel in Amsterdam on 19 October 1876, she and her brother will already have been living in Amsterdam by the end of 1876. As mother Louisa lived in Amsterdam as well according to this marriage record of Aletta's and Everts' brother Izak, it is very likely that their mother came to Amsterdam together with them, maybe a bit later as the marriage record of Aletta states that the mother still lived in Utrecht at the time of the wedding.

At the age of seventy Louisa died in Amsterdam, on 17 September 1889. Her death was reported to the register by her son-in-law Philip Phoel. The death record says that she was living in a street called Lange Niezel. People from Amsterdam will consider this to be rather funny as the Lange Niezel is really at the core of de Wallen, the nowadays world famous red light district. At the time, however, the neighbourhood was not like that yet. Philip, her son-in-law, was 49 years old, when Louisa died. He was a fireman, living at the address Nieuwmarkt 4, more or less around the corner of the Lange Niezel. For people who like to visit Amsterdam, this is an interesting address as well, as the Nieuwmarkt is a very trendy square nowadays, bordering the red light district and famous for its sidewalk café's (not to be confused with the 'famous' Dutch coffeeshops!).

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