My name is Erik Berkhof and my parents, as most of my ancestors, originate from a small rural village in the east of Holland called Vriezenveen. This village became very well known for its trading connections with Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the main shopping streets of Saint Petersburg called the Newski Prospekt was, before the Russian Revolution, largely in the hands of people who originated from Vriezenveen.
Let me introduce some remarkable members of the Vriezenveen Berkhof branche.
Wicher or Wieger Berkhoff, in Russian Vasili Ivanovitch Berkov, was an important Russian boatbuilder and head of the Admirality shipyard in Saint Petersburg. He wrote important books in Russian abouth the building of ships and became a member of the Russian nobility. In May 1820 he married in Saint Petersburg Alexandrine Wolkow the daughter of Johann Wolkow who took care of bringing the drinks at table to the mouth of the czar, his profession was called "mouth pourer" (literal translation).
As well as Russia, two other Berkhof´s from Vriezenveen, Jan and Hendrik, went in 1758 to the Dutch Antilles for trading.
Another important Berkhof from the Vriezenveen Berkhof-branch was Hendrikus Berkhof, a cousin of my father. He died in 1995, and was an important Professor of theology. He was a member of the central committee of the World Council of Churches from 1954 till 1975. He also was chairman of the Dutch Council of Churches (1974-1983) and played as such an important roll in the late seventies. He lobbied against nuclear weapons (taking part in demonstrations in the seventies) and also lobbied for equal rights for woman, also in the church! He had world-fame, but the right wing of the church had, -because of his so called political opinions-, problems with him as a chairman of the Council, they thought he was too left-wing. He baptised the Princes Constantijn and Bernard and married Princes Margriet and Pieter van Vollenhoven. During the second world-war he had connections with the resistance and preached against the Germans. For that reason he was jailed for six months in October 1940. .
The other members of the Berkhof-family were largely farmers and believe it or not decendants of the first Berckhoff still live on the exact same location were they settle in 1583!! There is still an old stone well which dates back from 1784 with the Berkhof initials still in it. Most of the family stayed for centuries in this village with its heavy Calvinistic imprint. Although a comparison with the Amish in the US goes maybe a bit far, in some way the livestyle resembled their way of living. My great grandparents from my mothers site were not allowed to be photographed, it was considerd unbiblical, so I have no photographs of them. In my fotoalbum you can see photographs of other ancestors of who were more relaxed about this. My site contains a lot of family-information about Vriezenveen families and also a little bit about my ancestors from Friesland. I've also made an effort to digitalize some old sources which are mostly connected with taxation and give a glimpse of the welfare of the inhabitants of this rural village in the east of Holland.
On my site is a lot of family-information of Vriezenveen familys and also a little bit abouth my ancestors from Friesland. Besides that I have made an effort to digitalize some old sources which are mostly connected whith taxation and give a glimpse af the wealth or poverty of all inhabitants of this rural village in the east of Holland.
In this picture you see the family of my great grandfathers brother Johannes Berkhoff. You can see the way they were dressed in Vriezenveen in the victorian times. This was a common way of dressing in the east of the province of Overijssel where Vriezenveen is located.
You can find an English version of the Berkhof family tree in the The general Dutch Berkhof-Berkhoff website For the moment this is all the information in English for this site. Please feel free to email me for further information.
© 2005 Erik Berkhof Amsterdam. e-mail: onweersberkhof (at) chello.nl