Johann Anton Goossens (1765-1834)

Priest Goossens and His Children

Anton and Theodor van Dreveldt were the sons of Johann Anton Goossens, a Catholic priest and Provost of St. Martin's in Emmerich, Germany, on the lower Rhine, and his housekeeper Gertruida Brink. This fact of family would come to greatly affect the brothers. The sons were told that they were the couple's nephews. This fiction was given official cachet in 1833, a year before Goossens' death. He wanted there to be no question concerning inheritance rights, and so he filed the following document, a small masterpiece of creative family-building. Not a word of it was true.

Family attestation made by the former Provost of the Foundation, presently owner of the estate Voorthuyzen, Joh. Anton Goossens, concerning his three wards Anton van Dreveldt, born in Utrecht, in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, on September 16, 1804; Annette van Dreveldt, born in the same place, September 6, 1806; and Theodor van Dreveldt, born in Zutphen, on January 24, 1811.

The youngest sister of my maternal grandmother, Henrietta or Hendrina van Loosbroek, born in s'Hertogenbosch, was named Julia or Julietta van Loesbroek. She married a trader, Thierry de Beautxant, who came from Charleville in France. Their youngest daughter, Gerarda Julia, married the French colonel Antonius Gosuinus van Dreveldt, who came from around Dunkirk.

In 1812, when the French army under Napoleon fought its way across Europe, he was ordered to Spain. Because his wife had relatives in Bayonne in the Department of Basses Pyrennées, she intended to follow him there and stay with her relatives. Upon her departure in May 1812, she left her children, at my recommendation, being her only relative in these parts, at a school in Anholt. She gave me 300 guldens toward their education in the firm hope that she would soon return and resume care of her beloved children. To date, she has not returned. As far as I know, the family had no money and lived from his military pay. All attempts made thus far to track them down have been in vain, and it is more than probable that these good parents were killed, perhaps assassinated, in the chaos that engulfed that region.

Emmerich, January 17, 1833
J. A. Goossens
at Voorthuyzen
Former Provost of the abolished Capitulum
Canonicorum ad Sanctum Martinum in Emmerich

© 1997 by Kenneth Kronenberg and C.H. von Gimborn

Lives and Letters of an Immigrant Family: The van Dreveldts' Experiences along the Missouri, 1844-1866 was published in 1998 by University of Nebraska Press.

I have included four excerpts from the book. Click below to go on to the first:

Theodor Begs for the King's Mercy

Paper presented at a conference at Harvard University, "The German-American Tradition: German-American History and Literature in the context of American multilingualism," Sept. 17-19, 1998.

Personal Traits, Success, and Failure in Immigration: The Letters of the van Dreveldts

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This page was added on February 21, 1997