Crommelin Family Reunion - Amsterdam, 2004

(A report compiled by Frederik Fabius, Govert Deketh, Mariad & Elske Crommelin and Maryse Trannois)

The Crommelin reunion took place in Amsterdam on Sept. 11 and in St. Quentin on Sept. 12-13.

Amsterdam, Holland - Saturday, Sept. 11
Some 60-70 members of the Crommelin family gathered together in the Maritime Museum at Amsterdam. This meeting was scheduled 4 years after our last reunion in the Verwolde - Castle in the Eastern part of The Netherlands. At that event some 120 Crommelins were assembled.

The happy clan, Amsterdam Maritime Museum

This time those who gathered ranged in age from over 80 years, while about 5 children were under the age of 10 years. The median age was about 60 years. Unfortunately Crommelins under the age of 30 years were nearly absent this time. The median age of the organizing committee was about 45-55 years.

There were some foreign guests from England (7), Scotland (2), France (1), Belgium (2) and the USA (4). Two regulars from Switzerland who normally attend Crommelin reunions unfortunately had to cancel due to health problems.

An introductory welcome (10.30 hrs) was given by our Dutch Crommelin Foundation chairman, Anne-Marie Crommelin. This included obituaries and mention of special up-coming events related to the Crommelin family ( e.g. an antique Crommelin damast tablecloth, an art exhibition of the Tutein Nolthenius family who married Crommelins in the last century, etc.).


Then a group picture of all assembled Crommelin relations was made in the open-air courtyard of the Maritime Museum.

Crommelin Family Reunion,
September 11, 2004

The first part of the progamme started with a lunch. This provided ample time for meeting new people, chatting and looking for family, relatives and friends during the buffet. Pictures, family trees, and memorabilia were displayed and related information was exchanged regarding updating names, dates, spelling, etc.

Next the organizing committee explained the second part of the day which was to commence at 3.00 p.m.

Miss Bunce, Karen Day, Gay, markel - Frederik Fabius

Four options were offered:

1. A city walk to see the houses and buildings where Crommelins used to live having banked and worked along canals in the center of Amsterdam. This tour was guided by Willem Sillem of Amsterdam who is married to Anne-Marie Crommelin, our chairman, and by Henk Visser who also lives in Amsterdam and is the partner of Liesbeth Crommelin.

2. A canal trip by water-taxi along these buildings, guided with the help of route maps which explained the names, houses, dates of birth, marriages, business, death, etc. of our ancestors who settled here in Amsterdam for business reasons, mostly in the eighteenth century.

3. Touring the Amsterdam Maritime Museum and the VOC (United Eastern Company) ship, The Amsterdam, a full size replica of a historic (17th century) sailing ship.

4. A workshop on high-wire tightrope walking by Henk de Kanter of California. Henk's mother was Kitty Crommelin of the American family which originated with Daniel Crommelin (1647-1725).

Henk de Kanter from U.S.A.

Gay Crommelin and her husband, markel, from London, U.K. were the guests of Mariad and Elske Crommelin in Deventer (70 miles east of Amsterdam). On Friday they were picked up at Eindhoven Airport, 80 miles south east of Amsterdam.

Elske, Mariad Crommelin

They attended the reunion and lunch, took the water-taxi tour with Elske, paid a visit with Elske to a jazz-café called the Cotton Club at the Nieuwmarkt in downtown Amsterdam where Guus Crommelin, 34 yrs, played saxophone. He is a fine artist in a unique music club that provided an enjoyable sideshow after the official Crommelin meeting.

The Cotton Club

After dinner in a bistro in Amsterdam, Gay and markel returned home with Mariad and Elske to Deventer. Next morning they briefly toured the medieval market around the Weigh-house, part of the old restored downtown area of Deventer; and the former Crommelin - Lathmer castle near Voorst (10 miles south west from Deventer across the Ijssel river) before visiting Mariad's eldest brother Gulian and Trix Crommelin in Gorssel (5 miles south of Deventer). They kindly hosted Gay and markel before their return flight to the U.K.

'New' Lathmer

Saint Quentin, France - Sunday & Monday, September 12 & 13
Thanks to our very dear friend, Maryse Trannois, a program in St. Quentin was well-organized. Frederik Fabius took Bernard v.Wickevoort Crommelin by car from Holland to Saint Quentin.

The following family members assembled in St. Quentin:
Totie Deketh (nee Crommelin, a sister of Frederik's mother)
Hans Gualthérie van Weezel (whose mother was Conny Crommelin, daughter of Marinus Crommelin)
Rob and Carla Crommelin (Frederik's cousin, they having common grandparents)
Mieke and Govert Deketh (from Geneva, Switzerland who had not seen their cousin, Frederik, since 1971)
Frederik Fabius (of Paris) and
Bernard v.Wickevoort Crommelin (from Germany)

Frederik Fabius, Mieke Deketh, Hans Gualtherie van Weezel, Maryse Trannois, Robert Crommelin, Govert Deketh, Carla Crommelin, Totie Deketh-Crommelin, Bernard van Wickevoort Crommelin

After the large get-together on Saturday 11th September in the Maritime Museum, Amsterdam a small group of 8 re-united Sunday PM in St. Quentin. The "Kortenburg" descendants were well represented: Adam Crommelin's daughter Totie Deketh-Crommelin (La Doyenne) and one son each of Adam's 3 children: Rob & Carla Crommelin, Frits Fabius and Govert & Mieke Deketh. Hans Gualthérie van Weezel and Bernard van Wickevoort Crommelin completed the group.

Maryse uncovered a young, handsome Rob Crommein in the archives of the Société Académique of St. Quentin. Do you see the resemblance?

Robert Crommelin

Maryse Trannois, the Crommelins' "hidden treasure" in St. Quentin, warmly received us around 4:30 at the Antoine Lécuyer Museum (which celebrated the anniversary of 18th century painter Maurice Quentin de la Tour, who lived and died in St. Quentin). There we enjoyed a nice portrait of Suzanne Crommelin (married Rondeau) painted by Louis Toqués in 1667, and various other paintings.

Suzanne Crommelin

Maryse then took us to the St. Quentin Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) where in 1591 Armand Crommelin received a nobility title by King Henri 4th as a token of gratitude for having established the linen industry in St. Quentin. Maryse had arranged for a guided tour: the wedding hall, albeit restored, had a medieval decor. (We admired the beautiful wooden doors which in days gone by had been a gift of the Crommelins) and quite special also was the interior decoration of the assembly room of the City Council - a blend of Gothic and decorative arts ("Art Deco") styles-see picture.

Bernhard van Wickevoort Crommelin, Govert Deketh (center), Mme Deketh-Crommelin
at municipal council chambers, St. Quentin

We made a short stop at the St. Jacques church (where several Crommelins are interred), or rather what was left of it. It consisted of one small arched area (at the rear of the Butterfly Museum). There we saw a Crommelin memorial plaque for various mayors of St. Quentin, including Samuel Crommelin. We then stopped for aperitifs and gave our legs a much-needed rest and used the opportunity to thank Maryse for all her hard work in preparing for this tour. As a gesture of thanks she was given a book on The Netherlands.

An anecdote on the side: Rob, Carla and Hans arrived after we had already toured the Lécuyer Museum. Rob parked his car right in front of the Town Hall, where we had agreed to meet them. Since there were no other cars to be seen on the large square, obviously there was plenty of space!

Govert & Robert stare with great relief!

Two hours later, after the St. Jacques tour, we returned to the market square to see a white police car next to Rob's Volvo. Rob and I ran over to the car, but the policemen drifted away, obviously not eager to meet these two heavyweights from Holland! Actually it was the lady from the Town Hall, a friend of Maryse, who saved Rob. She probably told the men that Rob was a foreign dignitary, which of course was true! (Picture and text provided by Maryse... No further comment necessary!)

Then we were off for an 8 o'clock appointment with a bus (that could easily hold 50 people - Maryse not really knowing until the last minute how many Crommelins were going to show up!) There were only eight of us, so Maryse hastily rustled-up some St. Quentin friends to fill the bus up with some more folks. We criss-crossed St. Quentin and surrounding areas and got a good feel for the terrible wars that had wrought havoc in the region during two wars (several French and German war-cemeteries), even though it was getting pretty dark by that time.

We ended up at Place Crommelin and to our great amusement the bus driver made about ten circuits around the square - no doubt inspired by our enthusiastic applause and 'bravo' calls! It must have been a weird sight for the few St. Quentin bystanders who were around. For a short time Place Crommelin was not a safe place to be. However, the bus driver enjoyed himself and earned a good tip to boot!

Place Crommelin today and in 1908

We ended the evening with dinner, Maryse being our gracious hostess who handed out large envelopes containing old letters, photos and other historical information about St. Quentin and the Crommelin family. Very thoughtful!

The next morning we saw the remnants of the Folembray castle, formerly a hunting castle for King Henry 4th (and where he entertained his mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées). This was also where in 1595 Jean Crommelin was married to Marie de Semeries in the presence of the King's sister, Catherine de Navarre. Shortly thereafter Jean was also given a title of nobility and the right to use the French Lily ('fleur de lis') in the Crommelin coat of arms. There was a great deal of history at the Folembray site however little visible evidence remained of the old castle - only a stretch of old wall and a few stones, etc. Later we saw real buildings and ruins when we visited the nearby medieval castle of Coucy - a splendid site very worth visiting.

Folembray yesterday and today

We had lunch in town and afterwards visited the Textile Museum (La Filandière) where we were given an introduction into the weaving and embroidery industry. (We are now experts in wefts and warps!). This museum accurately recalls our forefathers' activities in the linen industry. We saw a weaving room [see picture below], had the Jacquard mechanism explained, saw a real weaver in action - possibly one of the last ones in the Western world since, unfortunately, this profession is dying out here.

We ended the day in the weaving mill of the Bauchard family, a small business with a mixture of old looms and state-of-the-art equipment from Sulzer, Switzerland. Several amongst us took the opportunity to buy some linen or cotton products from Mrs. Bauchard's factory shop. It was obvious that the textile business is in dire shape since competition from India and Asian suppliers is fierce. Profit margins are low, and there is little money available for things that are mandatory in most Western industries such as fire-prevention equipment and protection against dust explosions, etc. This kind of equipment was lacking at the Bauchard facility.

While we were initially surprised at the low turnout at this reunion, it was in retrospect an advantage. The tours were easy to follow, and so were the explanations of our hosts. It also afforded a great opportunity to bring each other up to date since we don't meet so often as a consequence of living in different countries. (The eight of us live in 5 different countries: The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland...!)

A BIG word of thanks to Bernard van Wickevoort Crommelin, who - as our family historian - brought a great deal of perspective to this visit. He was always there to answer our questions, and when further help was needed he would refer to his old friend 'J.H. Scheffer', the librarian and custodian of the Rotterdam archives, who wrote a book on the Crommelin family and background in 1878.

Bernard van Wickevoort Crommelin

Finally, no words can fully express our thanks for all that was done by Maryse Trannois. She prepared this visit with absolute dedication, took time off, made appointments for us at numerous places, arranged a bus tour, did a "dry run" of many events before our arrival, and put together 16 or more packages of historic material that we still browse through back home. She's been unwilling to accept any financial reimbursement for her time and incidental expenses like petrol, telephone expenses, etc. I'm not quite sure what we would have done had she not been there. I know she has this "special feeling" for the Crommelins, as she has been communicating for a long time with several Crommelins, most importantly with Miff with whom she has worked so closely to put together the superb Crommelin web site.

Let me quote what Maryse said when questioned on this point:

Maryse Trannois

"Pour moi, le principal est que vous ayez passé un agréable séjour dans notre ville, Saint- Quentin, la ville qui vous sourit. Je n'ai eu aucun frais. Pas de réservation à l'hôtel puisque je connaissais la responsable. Le bus? L'adjoint du maire me l'a fourni avec une grande gentillesse. En échange, je lui ai donné un dossier comme le vôtre maintenant il veillera certainement à appeler la Place Crommelin par son nom. Mes coups de téléphone? Là je n'ai pas l'habitude de compter. Je corresponds avec Gay, Miff, Mariad, Robert depuis plus de 3 ans. Entre Miff et moi il y a une grande amitié et je n'ai pas l'habitude de demander quoique ce soit à mes amis".

The next day, Tuesday morning 14th September, Rob and Carla and "La Doyenne", Totie Crommelin were the last to leave. They took the opportunity to pay a brief visit to the St. Quentin Cathedral "Basilique", where they saw among other things the baptismal font donated in 1763 by a Crommelin. According to Rob: "A fitting and dignified end to our memorable visit in St. Quentin"!

- Govert Deketh

Baptismal Font, St. Quentin Cathedral