I was going to choose a commonly researched ancestor for my first post, but I decided to do it on an ancestor I don’t post about as often. My first 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks post is about my 3rd-great-grandfather, Charles Ludovicus VAN PARIJS. The Dutch surname was Americanized to Van Price not long after immigration. This caused a lot of grief in the beginning, as I’ll talk about.
Charles was born in IJzendijke, Zeeland, Netherlands on 6 July 1846 to Jacobus and Janneke (DEES) VAN PARIJS. There isn’t much else known about Charles’ childhood, but he met and married Johanna Marie KREBBEKX on 22 December 1870 in the nearby town of Hoofdplaat. He and his family emigrated to the US around October 1874 and they finally settled in central Wisconsin along with many other families from the Netherlands and Belgium. Johanna and Charles had 8 or 9 children, depending on the source of information. My ancestor, Peter, was born in Zeeland right before they left for America in 1874. Mysteriously, there is no definitive date of death for Charles as I’ll talk about, since he basically vanished.
As I mentioned previously, the change from Van Parijs to Van Price caused some problems early on. Not only was it tough to search for “Van Price” in search engines, nothing ever came up. It turns out that “Parijs” is pronounced somewhat like “Price”, which is why it was probably changed in America. I talked about the day when I found this information from an older post:
That all changed one day when searching for information using Google. I was looking for information on the Van Price line, but I always hit a brick wall. I had happened to find something that mentioned that “Parijs” was sometimes written as “Price” in America. So, I searched for Van Parijs and ran across a Dutch Genealogy website, Zeeuwen Gezocht [Zeeland Archives]. It turns out that the VAN PARIJS family is from the Zeeland area of the Netherlands and this website was a treasure trove of information.
I was able to add a lot of information to my tree over the next few days, which I have confirmed with other sources and researchers since then.
So, the year is 1922 and Charles tells his family he is going grocery shopping and, according to family lore, is never heard from again. Here is the story as told by my grandmother:
Charles Van Price was born in the early 1800s and came to U.S. in 1874. He traveled to Dousman, Wisconsin in Waukesha County and worked for Mr. Dousman, later moving to Little Chute, Wisconsin, then to Phlox, Wisconsin in 1887. While staying with his daughter, Effie, in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1922, he went grocery shopping for her and was never seen again. After investigating, it was assumed that he returned to Holland from Milwaukee. He sold his land earlier, and was now one of the wealthiest men in that part of the state. His daughter found he had withdrawn all his savings (a very sizable amount) and probably left for Europe. They traced him to Antwerp, Belgium — then all trace was gone. He was never heard from again.
It’s still a mystery to me. I’ve done some basic research in Antwerp for 1922, but found nothing. On a random Ancestry.com search one day, I did run across a passport application for a Charles O Price in 1922. Browsing over the information located on it, I’m pretty sure it’s the same Charles. Though, after looking at my documents again, there is a second application in 1923. Some of the dates in the 1922 application are a bit off from his documented dates that I have, but the 1923 application fixes a lot of those mistakes. I wonder if he came back to the US and then went back again, or if the story is not complete and the 1923 trip was the one where he vanished after visiting the Netherlands for a bit in 1922.
One neat addition to the passport documentation is that they include photos, though they’re not super-high quality, it still lets me see how my ancestor looked.
My next steps are to keep looking into the last years of Charles’ life. Maybe I will do some research of cemeteries or death records in his hometown of IJzendijke in Zeeland to see if maybe he passed away there.