kolff: history: geography: 5: 1

kolff family coat of arms

The Youngest Branch at Middelharnis (part 2: 1/5)*

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The first part dealt mainly with the occupations of the family at Middelharnis since Adrianus Quirinus (1745-1826) started the Firm in 1768. Part of these were of a gouverning nature, sometimes for the Nut van het Algemeen. Others dealt with private enterprises. Often these activities merged, as we can see with the savingsbank of the Nut. This activity soon became a part of the Firm of Wed. C. Kolff, Middelharnis Vloot Kolff under which name the firm became known after A.C.'s son Cornelius in 1830. The portfolio, one can say, of this public-private conglomerate was filled with a diverse number of activities. In this article I will try to describe the period between 1980 and 1953, when the last of our family members left the island.

In 1892 Middelharnis numbered two shipping companies, that of Slis and the one of Kolff. Each had ten fishing boats that were used for fishing on the Northsea. They fished on cod, and at times also on herring. On each boat something like thirteen found steady work. Additionally personnel was hired for steady or temporary tasks on shore. Carriers, ship builders, sail, hive and barrel makers, blacksmiths, and delivery men. A ropery shop and a rope walk (lijnbaan) near the Beneden Zandpad (where the Lijnbaanstraat still can be found today). New rigging, new nets, painting on the ship yard, all needed attention. Returns in the end were small. More than once it occurred that the advance of three guilders, that ship owners gave to the housewives before the ships came back from fishing, could not be paid out of the returns from the catch. When the final account was settled with the IJmuiden fish auction and the part for each fisherman was calculated it could happen that the men were paid nothing at all. The returns had been less than the costs of furnishing the ship to go out to sea for fishing. Sometimes a fisherman 'deserted' the company to find better employment with more lucky profitable companies. One fisherman who sailed on a Maassluis based company's vessel, but who had his wife and children at Middelharnis, deserted his company because he had earned nothing. He was sentenced to four days in jail. The judge concluded that the fact that he had not earned anything was no reason to break a contract.

* Sub-title of this article at De Colve has been: "Wat je hand vindt om te doen - De Jongste Tak te Middelharnis" which I translated freely as "Things one finds to do - The Youngest Branch at Middelharnis" - Source of image: Middelharnis in vroeger eeuwen (See at the Links Pages: Middelharnis).