Last week I mentioned that both Lambertus and Gerrit Leeuwenhoek were at the orphanage together after their parents died.
I wanted to share with you information that Adriaan Leeuwenhoek discovered and shared with me about Gerrit’s stay. Gerrit was living in an orphanage located in Neerbosch in 1893. Here is the photo I posted last week of the campus.
Various newspaper records show that Gerrit was beaten by teacher Cornelis de Bruin.
Unlike the Dickens’ stories about the abuse of orphans in 19th century England, in this real life 19th century Dutch story, Gerrit went to the police station to report this crime!
The articles indicate that the court prosecuted four cases of the mistreatment of children at Neerbosch. Superintendent Leendert Sies abused 9-year-old Willem van Deth, teacher Frans van Geelen assaulted 11-year-old Marie van Deth. Another child was abused, as well, but the Google translation gets murky there.
The 3rd victim listed is our Gerrit. Teacher Cornelis de Bruin was given a 14 day jail sentence for assaulting Gerrit. I hope he fulfilled his time!
With so many teachers abusing children, it appears that abuse was rampant at the orphanage, but that they were prosecuted shows, to me, a determination to try to improve the situation for the children.
Adriaan has informed me that within a half year of registration one child died, as well. I wonder what the statistics were for the entire run of the orphanage regarding child “mortality.” I am sure abuse was rampant in orphanages around the world at that time.
The case was important enough that even De Volksvriend, one of the various Dutch speaking newspaper in the U.S., reported about the lawsuit. Adrian says to refer to page 7 of the attached PDF. Note that this is not the Michigan paper that my relatives worked on, but a paper out of Iowa!
Thanks for Adriaan for this wonderful information (which I would not have found since I don’t read Dutch).
I’ll conclude this 3 part story of Gerrit and Lambertus Leeuwenhoek with a photograph of one of Adriaan Leeuwenhoek’s handsome ancestors, his grandfather Adriaan Leeuwenhoek, born 1896. I love the straw boater hat.
I’ve tried to stick to the punctuation rule of not capitalizing “van” and “de,” but the sources list them both capitalized and not, which REALLY confuses me because I had thought that they were not capitalized in the Netherlands and then were capitalized in the United States. Apparently not true!