The Family Maasdam or Maesdam comes originally from the village of Maasdam, situated in The Hoekse Waard polder, in the South-West of The Netherlands.
The village of Maasdam in the 17th century.
The oldest traces of the family lead to the village and our ancestors adopted the name Maasdam in the middle of the 17th century. Other family members called themselves Vermaes, Vermaas and Van der Maese. In the north of Holland a family by the name Van Maasdam was traced, but no relation with the village or the Maasdam family was found. The name Van Maasdam was used by some members in the early 17th century, but that branch died in the 19th century. Maasdam means the dam in the river Maas (like Rotterdam is the dam in the Rotte and Amsterdam the dam in the river Amstel). The town is situated in the Hoekse Waard (island and polder), Province of South-Holland and was first mentioned around 1300-1365, when the Grote Waard (the Big Polder) was connected with other polders by dykes and a dam. To evacuate water from the polder, there was a sluice in the dam. This is the spot where Maasdam arose, when fishermen and sluice keepers settled on the spot.
The Hoekse Waard is an island formed by polders (see an explanation about polders in the frame below) that were successively built during the middle ages in the delta of the river Meuse (=Maas) and the Rhine. The old river bed of the Meuse was cut by the (Maas)dam and the stream was forced in northern and southern directions. On the borders of the former river we still find villages as Westmaas. A great part of the area was flooded in the AD 1421 desastrous "Elisabeth-flood", but was later re-poldered. The first polders started at Puttershoek. "Hoek" or "Hoecke" means "corner", "angle" or just "spot". This "hook" gave the name to the whole "Waard" which is an old word for "island" and "polder" . The most important city in the area since the Middle Ages is Dordrecht. It is situated 20 miles south of Rotterdam, that became an important harbour only much later. The little hamlet of Maasdam was administratevely depending on the city of Dordrecht. Taxes were paid there (on land and barrels of beer) and farmers and tradesmen had to bring their goods to the market of Dordrecht. The cities were, and still are, governed by the Mayor and his deputies; the villages had a "schout", very similar to the American sheriff, and polders had their own form of government, called the "Heemraad" with the "dijkgraaf" at the top. The administration of the "Heemraad" (Polder Council) was responsible for the dykes ("dijkgraaf" means the one who governs over the dykes, "dyke grave" in English ! ), the canals, the mills that pump the water from the polder to the river and the sea and all other functions related to the hydraulic and agricultural household in the area. The "Heemraad" is in some way comparable to a county. However, the "Heemraad" does not depend of the province, but directly from the Ministry of Waterworks and Roads. Many members of the Maasdam family became "dijkgraaf" or deputy member of the "Heemraad" in one of the polders of The Hoekse Waard. Others were "schout" or Mayor. Untill our days the family Maasdam lives in and around the little town of Maasdam and the other villages in the Hoekse Waard in a nutshell of 10 to 25 miles. The different branches of the family are called after the villages where they moved to: The branch (=tak in Dutch) of Maasdam, the "tak" of Strijen, Numansdorp and Zuid-Beijerland.
A polder is a part of land below the sea level, land flooded during high tide (as is the case here) or land below the level of adjacent rivers. A polder is surrounded by man-made barriers (the "dykes"). The construction of polders started in the early Middle Ages and continues until our era. This is why some have said that "God created the earth, but the Dutch have created Holland". The names Van Dyck, Van Dycke, van Dijk etc. refer to those living on or near the dyke. You find the word "dijk" also in many names of villages and towns, street names etc. The story of Hans Brinkers, who puts his finger in the dyke to prevent his polder from flooding is based on pure fantasy.
Coat of Arms
The Family Coat of Arms appear for the first time on the tomb of Arien Leendertszn, burried in 1644 in the Netherlands Reformed Church of Maasdam. It was discovered in 1971 during the restauration of the church. The tomb had Arms divided in 2 parts: on the left side two fishes in opposite direction, maybe the arms of his parents; to the right are the Arms as we still know it.
Below is the facade Netherlands Reformed Church in the very Centre of the village of Maasdam.
The oldest chapel in Maasdam dates from 1427, but was demolished in 1871 to be replaced on the same spot by the still existing Netherlands Reformed Church. This is why the grave of our ancestor Arien Lenertszn from 1644 could be found under the floor of the "new" church during the restauration of 1971. From the fact that he was burried in the church, it may be concluded that he was an elderman as were many Maasdams after him. On the map above house 6 (the so called "Schouthuis" = house of the sheriff, see next page) where some of the Maasdams lived during more than 200 years, is shown just behind the church.
The back of the church with graveyard where many family members are buried
Grave tomb of Arien Lenertszn (1565-1644) in the Netherlands Reformed Church of Maasdam.
The Family "Van der Duyn van Maasdam"
In 1426, just after the Elisabeth floodings, King Philips of Burgundy gave Jan Nemerij, first landlord (in the original sense of this word) of the area, the right to rebuild the village of Maasdam. After several succesions, the land came in hands of the family Van der Duyn in 1726. Adam Adriaan van der Duyn, lord of Maasdam, was already mentioned in the chronicles of the village in 1720 when the lord was present during the baptismal ceremony of Adriana Maria Maasdam, named after the lord and lady Maria Van der Duyn. Adriana was the daughter of Adriaan Maasdam Gillisz, the deputy mayor of the town. It is therefore very likely that there were close relations between the Van der Duyn and the Maasdam family. Since 1580 the family Van der Duyn was residing in The Hague. The members of this family were barons, one was chamberlain to Prince William V of Orange and Generals in the army of the Republic of the Seven Provinces of Holland (see note below) . In 1813, in the chaotic period preceding the battle of Waterloo, a "triumvirat", consisting of the noblemen Van Hoogendorp, Van der Duyn van Maasdam and Van Limburg Stirum governed the Provinces. In 1956 one of the last descendants of the family Van der Duyn van Maasdam died and bequeathed all his properties to the town of Maasdam. The fruits of this legacy are donated to the poor during Christmas each year.
The Princes of Orange
Note that the Dutch Royal Family has a Republican background. The Princes of Orange were Governors of the Republic and became Kings only in 1830 after the Napoleonic period.
"Maas en Veldlust" in Maasdam also called "The House of the Lords De Witt" or "Resenburgh". It is not exactly known how and when this seigniorial domain came into the Maasdam family, but in 1788 Machalina Maasdam, married to Johannes Holle and living in Rotterdam (she is the daughter of Cornelis Maasdam), sells several properties in Maasdam including the manor house "Maas en Veldlust" before a notary in Dordrecht. Unfortunatedly the Mansion was demolished and the grounds turned into agricultural land in 1825. After 1960 a new residential area was built on these grounds in the after war expansion of the village.
Map of the village Maasdam from the second half of the 17th century.
3. Manor house "Resenburg" later called "Maas en Veldlust" (One could translate this name as: "Meuse and Country delight").
6. The "Schouthouse" (House of the Sheriff) of the family Maasdam. In the centre of this map one can see the lake with the compass rose. This lake was the connection between The Maas river and several smaller streams, canals and ditches like De Vliet going to the north of the map. The surrounding polders, like the "Nieuw-Bonaventura" that play such an important role in the lives of our ancestors, are clearly visible.
This handwritten text is an announcement of a sale of Apples & Pears from the Mansion "Maas en Veldlust" in July 1737.
Map of the "gorzen" of Bonaventura by Symon and Corn. Jansz. copy of 1592. The village of Maasdam right under. The East is on top, the North left.
Villages and Farms of the Maasdam Family
The main activity on the Hoekse Waard island was agriculture. The members of the family Maasdam were mostly farmers or had professions related to agriculture such as miller or cooper. Some of the farms in the family are amoung the most prestigeous and beautiful in the region.
The Maasdams that emigrated to the United States of America have their roots in the villages of Strijen, Numansdorp and finally Zuid-Beijerland from where Johannes Bastiaansz, his sisters Jaapje and Pietertje and Jacobus Gerritsz left for America.
Millerstreet in Strijen
Village of Zuid-Beijerland also called "Hitzert".
Main street of Zuid-Beijerland (Dorpstraat 185) with Trijntje Johanna Maasdam (1886-1968).
Farmstead "Dijkenzicht" (View on the dykes), 2e Dwarsweg, Numansdorp. Built short after 1642. Sold by Lady Cicilia de Jonge van Ellemeet to farmers who later became related to the family. Photo dated 1925.
Farmstead "Goede Verwachting" (Good Hope). Built probably before 1800. Since 1909 in the Maasdam family.
Farmstead "Philipsburg", Middelweg 27, Numansdorp. Built by Philips van Cromstrijen after the reclamation of the polderland in 1642. Owned by Lord Van Waspik and farmed by Johannes Maasdam (1660-1732), his son Isaak (1714-1787), his grandson Pieter (1751-1803, who bought the farmstead in property from the Van Waspiks), his great-grandson Johannes (1790-1875), mayor of Numansdorp 1811-1817, and his great-great-grandson Johannes, married to Lena Herweijer who, when she became a widow, sold the farm to the De Waal family in 1889.
Mill at Helvoetsluis bought by Johannes Arieszoon Maasdam in 1913. Later operated by his younger brother Hermen and his son Arie until 1976.
Farmstead "Buitendijk" (Outside the dyke) in Strijen-Sas. Since 200 years in hands of the family Niemandsveriet. In 1903 Pieter Niemandsverdriet married Trijntje Maasdam, granddaughter of Arie Maasdam (1813-1891) from Numansdorp.
Farmstead Schenkeldijk 83, Strijen. Built early 18th century. Maria Maasdam, married to Rokus Wiekert Dam lived and farmed here early 20th century.