Historisch artikel / webpublicatie

Roosa Genealogy (2019)

The Roosa family is a well-researched family, both in the Netherlands and the United States. Many articles and webpages have been devoted to the story of Gijsbert Goertsen and his descendants. But over the centuries, the history of the Roosa family has also been intertwined with legends and sometimes questionable theories.

Take the illustrious tale of the very first Roosa ancestor, who (for faith’s sake) fled the distant Spain to settle in the Dutch village of Herwijnen, on the banks of the river Waal. There (as tradition has it) he became the family’s founding father. The story is mentioned in Engel van Zee’s ‘Family Tree’ (1844). But Engel’s great-grandfather Arien van Rijckhuijsen was, as far as I know, the first to write it down, about 1730:

The aforementioned Aeldert Roosa, or his ancestors, because of the religous persecution fled from a city called Roosa (or, as others have it, Rosas, Roses or Rose etc.), located in the kingdom of Spain, in the eastern part of the north of the region (or province) Ampurdam. I found in the old documents that they have been people of wealth, the oldest family I know of, according to what old people say.

These few sentences in the Van Rijckhuijsen manuscript became the source of much speculation and mythologization. They provided the background for the remarkable story of the settler Alert Heymens Roosa (who left Herwijnen in 1660 and crossed the ocean to build a new life in ‘New Netherland’). On several genealogical internet forums the Spanish connection moreover led to a lot of speculation about a possible Jewish origin for the Roosa family, though that debate remained undecided. In short, the Roosa origin legend crossed the world and led to a lot of discussion and further mythologization.

In the meantime, professional researchers steered away from the traditional Roosa legend and referred all Spanish and Jewish connections to the realm of fairy tales. They pointed out that the 16th-century Roosa family seemed quite settled in Herwijnen. The names of the first generation Roosa’s sounded as Dutch as you can have it, and they seemed to have inherited a considerable amount of land in Herwijnen and other places in the district of Tielerwaard, a clear sign that earlier generations also lived in this region. That sounded very convincing. But on this solid foundation recently a somewhat shaky construction has been built. And as a result, a new legend is circulating the internet. [lees verder]

‘Roosa Genealogy: legends and facts’, webpublicatie, 2019.