For this week’s Sepia Saturday, our prompt image featured an old, bearded man holding a sheep with a dog in the background. Well, no shepherds in the family, so I went with the dog. While the dogs here aren’t sheep dogs exactly, the coloring on the one on the left sort of resembles the dog in the prompt photo, so it works for me! This was actually a long-term project – I had gone through the list of upcoming prompts and started sorting out photos for them a few months ago. When I selected this photo, I knew I wanted to spend some time figuring out who these girls were. There was a name on the back of the photo, “Gezina Zomer.” Zomer isn’t a surname that appears in my husband’s family tree at all, so I assumed this was a friend of Hilje (Dijkema) Jaarsma’s, my husband’s grandmother. Gezina, in the photo above, is on the right with her arm draped over a large black dog. This girl also shows up in other photos labelled, “Fam Zomer, Lunteren,” along with Hilje, so I had some frame of reference for time and place since Lunteren is a town in Holland. Zomer also happens to be the Dutch word for summer, so I had first incorrectly assumed that it was just a family photo in summer in Lunteren, but it was actually the Zomer family. I did a little bit of googling for Gezina Zomer since someone HAD to have her in a family tree somewhere, but it turned out the name was common enough that it was getting hard to narrow down exactly who she was. I figured Gezina was born probably around 1930 and the photo above was probably taken late 1940s. I found one person with a website all about the Zomer family, so I sent off an email with this photo and the few details I knew. Many genealogical emails go unanswered, but much to my surprise, I had a response within a day!
After a few emails back and forth we had settled on Gesina Lubert(h)a Zomer, born 10 September 1925 in Franeker and died 8 August 1990 in Ede, and it looks like she didn’t have any children. There’s an extensive family tree (link to Gesina’s entry here) online maintained by my new contact. He had a photo of Gesina as an adult and it definitely matched the girl in my photos! I even shared back a letter I had found with her name printed on the paper, and he was able to translate it from Dutch and share it with me. Pretty incredible! One mystery still remains – how they knew each other. There doesn’t seem to be any biological family overlap between our trees, so my best guess is that when Hilje went to the Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Sonnevanck, she somehow met the family – whether they were visiting a relative at the Sanatorium or doing some kind of volunteer work with their church (the Sanatoria of Holland were broken up by religion, so you went to the Sanatorium that your religion sponsored). Hilje was almost a two hour drive from home, but Lunteren is only a 30 minute drive away from the Sanatorium so that would make the most sense, I think. The letter didn’t go into detail about how they met, unfortunately, even if it was a really lovely letter from one friend to another, sent to the USA after Hilje had left the Netherlands.
As for the other girl in my photo above, we have no idea on that either, probably a friend of Gesina’s as she had no siblings. It means Gesina was the last of her line, and as fate would have it that’s one of the things I actually enjoy giving a voice to – the end-of-the-line people who otherwise might not be noticed just because they didn’t carry on the biological line. So, there we have it, a photo of Gesina Zomer and her friend with their dogs for this Sepia Saturday!