Welcome to my Website!
Its purpose is to provide genealogical infomation concerning the ancestry of our parents, Cornelius Bylsma and Sylvia Dykstra (names at birth: Kornelis Klaas Bijlsma and Sibbeltje Durks Dijkstra). They were married in Haskerhorne, Fryslân, the Netherlands, on May 6, 1943, and immigrated to Canada in 1950. They lived in Belleville and Iroquois, Ontario, and died in Ottawa in 2002 and 2003.
The family name of Bylsma, or Bijlsma as it was originally spelled, derives from the word 'bijl' (axe); carpenters and butchers tradionally used axes in their trades and this explains the origin of the name. In 1811, all Netherlanders were obliged by Napoleon to choose surnames. Meindert Cornelis chose Bijlsma as family name to honour the trade of butcher as practiced by both his father and grandfather. If you have ancestry with this family name, this does not mean that we are likely related; about 90 heads of families chose this name in 1811 in Fryslân and most of these families were not related to each other.
The four main branches of the family tree derive from the names of paternal grandparents: Klaas Bijlsma and Reinschje van der Meer, and the maternal grandparents: Durk Dijkstra and Grietje Berger. The Bijlsma, van der Meer, Dijkstra and Berger family trees are the primary branches of the tree. Further branches are linked to one or occasionally two of the primary branches. Most family names are listed alphabetically in the left panel under Bylsma.
The family is almost exclusively Frisian. The origins of most family branches are found primarily in the following traditional municipalities ('grietenijen') in Fryslân: Haskerland, Doniawerstal, Schoterland, Gaasterland and Wymbritseradeel. However,most other 'grietenijen' in Fryslan are also represented, especially Lemsterland, Aengwirden, Hemelumer Oldeferd, etc.; In addition, all of the traditional eleven cities of Fryslan but one were also inhabited by our ancestors; newer cities such as Joure, Heerenveen, Wolvega and Makkum are also represented. Ancestors included mayors of the cities of Leeuwarden (Ljouwert), Harlingen (Harns) and Ijlst (Drylts) as well as ministers ('dominees') in the Hervormde church. In terms of religion, most were members of the 'Hervormde' (Reformed) church but a large minority were 'doopsgezinden' (Mennonites). A significant branch of the family also originated in the neighbouring province of Overijssel and migrated to Fryslan in the latter half of the 18th century; they were involved in the peat-digging industry in the Haskerland/Schoterland/Aengwirden area.
A narrative is provided regarding the origins of the surnames of the four primary branches, as chosen by our forefathers in 1811. An analysis looks all 35 forebearers who chose family names in 1811 and demonstrates that 89% of them were literate. A further narrative discusses the long relationship between the Dijkstra family and the Mennonite (doopsgezinde) church in Joure. A recent addition details how the Bijlsma family has maintained a tradition as blacksmiths for almost 200 years.
This website is a joint endeavour. My now deceased aunt, Grietsje Krikke - Bijlsma from Joure, has written about her war memories for an exhibit about World War II which took place in April, 2005, in Ouwsterhaule; it is now included in a recently published book (see end of story). Her story is presented in the original Frisian as well as in an English translation. In addition, I have also included the experiences in the underground during World War II of my uncle Jan van der Tuin and my aunt Antje van der Tuin Bijlsma, from Wolvega, now also both deceased. Their story, originally published in a book about the resistance in Wolvega, is in the original Dutch as well as in an English translation. To place these stories in context, I have included a selection from a book on the resistance in Fryslân published in 1946; the story relates the dropping of weapons to the underground in Fryslân. This story is presented in the original archaic Frisian as well as in an English translation.
This is work in progress; for further inquiries or if you spot errors, please send me an email! Or if we have common ancestors, I would also like to hear from you. If you borrow information from this website and add it to your own genealogy and/or website, I would appreciate acknowledgement via email and a link to my website. Please advise if you wish any material to be removed from this website. I also wish to acknowledge the assistance provided by fellow genealogists: see link.
A selection of old family photographs as well as some recent photos taken during a recent trip in 2005 back to Fryslân have also been added to this website: Photos link.
I am also interested in preserving in photos heritage extant one room school houses in eastern Ontario and western Quebec. A separate website has been created for this purpose.
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Ik lees nederlands en frysk ...et le francais!
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Klaas Bylsma, Gatineau (Aylmer), Quebec, Canada.