Aunty Cornelia


Aunty Cornelia- Strong as a horse (Image courtesy US Library of Congress)

I was googling my mother’s family name “Bergen” and found this website because I seemed to have made a typo: I type Burgeron instead of Bergen.

I saw these old photos and the word “Holland” on the picture of the woman towing a canal boat caught my attention immediately.

The Burgerons came to the Netherlands during the French occupation in the early decades of the 19th century. Due to errors made by county council clerks, the name Burgeron changed in some parts of the family into Bergen.

Now it happens to be known in the Bergen-family that after some strong discussions, long time ago, part of the Bergen-family left Holland and went to America. The story goes that they were so angry with the rest of the family, that they changed their last name back into the original family name Burgeron.

My grandfather used to tell old stories about the wife of his second cousin’s grandfather.
“That woman was as strong as a horse”, he used to say. The whole family had heard the story millions of times, the story about how strong aunty Cornelia was.

So this picture of the woman towing a canal boat, could just be a picture of aunty Cornelia at work. Though it’s a complete mystery to me how this picture ended up in your home.


3 thoughts on “Aunty Cornelia

  1. Pingback: Burgeron Blog Update | The Burgeron Family

  2. This is the true story of Aunt Cornelia
    Aunt Cornelia was literally working like a horse and was the wife of a boat owner. She was working as a draught horse. She was a strong woman. But you will understand she did not enjoy her life. Her captain made her work as a slave, as a horse.
    One day she met a kind and friendly man. He was the owner of the harbour pub. He did not look upon her as a human draught horse but he talked with her. Next time when the boat was in that harbour, they met again, and of course she fell in love with Anne the pub owner.
    In those day lots of people talked about Emigrating and America and Canada. Anne decided to sell his pub. After that Cornelia abandoned ship and took the cow with her. She sold the cow on a market, to get money to pay the boat to Canada.
    After that they went to Rotterdam with a ticket for a ship to Halifax. (I found the list of emigration service of Canada and the names of Anne and Cornelia) And they arrived in Halifax in March.
    The abandoned husband bought a horse to draw the boat. He did name his new ship “Cornelia”.


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