My great-great-grandmother Aafien Meijering (for whom my grandmother was named, and so for whom I am named) was born the day after Christmas in 1839. Her father was a carpenter, and her mother was a seamstress. She was the seventh child, five boys and one girl before her ( two boys died young), and another boy and girl were born after her. She was named after her father’s mother.
Being the second girl (her sister Klaassien was nine years older) in a household of boys, she probably was kept busy with many household chores. She would have learned to knit and sew at a very early age. She also learned to write, because she signs her name in the marriage certificates of her children.
In 1861 she married Jan Tonkes Starke, a sailor, the son of Roelf Jans Starke and Geertje Jans Tonkes. His parents were laborers, probably in the peat industry, but Jan Tonkes had escaped that fate by becoming a sailor. And he must have been good at it, he makes it from common sailor (1856) to second mate (1863), and then to captain (1879). As a sailor he mustered on for a year at the time, and so was away most of the time. For the year 1861 he was second mate on the ‘Janna Lukkiena’ (captain was A. Bontekoe). The ship was in Amsterdam over the winter, then sailed to Gothenburg in Sweden in May, to England (London and Newcastle), then to Roskilde (Denmark), Swinemunde (now in Poland), then to Rouen and Le Havre in France, and then to Cadiz in Spain, where the ship arrived on 30 Nov.
I know there was a letter written by Jan Tonkes, send from Rouen (This letter is referred to in the certificate of the banns). He authorized his wife and her parents to register the intentions to marry, which they do on Oct 5. He has also requested the need for second banns be dispensed with, as he needs to leave again on the following Sunday (request is granted). We don’t know whether he made it back before the birth of his daughter on 7 Oct, (because he is not present at the birth registration), but they get married on Wednesday Oct 9, at Aafien’s house, as she is in no shape to go to Town Hall to get married.
So that was the start of their marriage; her husband more absent than present. Once in a while he makes the paper, when he loses a ship. Even though he survives every time, it must be a horrifying experience to get that kind of news.
They have six children; five go on to marry and have children of their own. Son Roelf musters as 2nd mate on the ‘Maria’ with his cousin Roelf Meijering, who at 20 yo was the captain. Roelf Meijering had been married two month before, and takes his wife also on the voyage from Delfzijl to Laurvig in Norway. However, the ship disappears, and only a piece of a sea chest with the words R.J. Starke, N. Pekela was found. On 1 July the parents of Roelf Meijering and his wife take out an ad, in which they announce the presumed deaths of their children. No death certificate is issued in cases like this.
In 1899, after her last child married, she and her husband moved to Borger in Overijssel. Afina, Jan and Klaassien move also. Grietje had emigrated to America in 1889; Geertje (my great-grandmother) stays in Nieuwe Pekela. The farm they lived on is sold in 1901.