The story of a community
Rose Marie Caporal | Alessandro Pannuti | Ft Joe Buttigieg | Mary Lemma | Antoine ‘Toto’ Karakulak | Willie Buttigieg | Erika Lochner Hess | Maria Innes Filipuci | Catherine Filipuci | Harry Charnaud | Alfred A. Simes | Padre Stefano Negro | Giuseppe Herve Arcas | Filipu Faruggia | Mete Göktuğ | Graham Lee | Valerie Neild | Yolande Whittall | Robert Wilson | Osman Streater | Edward de Jongh | Daphne Manussis | Cynthia Hill | Chris Seaton | Andrew Mango | Robert C. Baker | Duncan Wallace QC | Dr Redvers ‘Red’ Cecil Warren | Nikolaos Karavias | Marianne Barker | Ümit Eser | Helen Lawrence | Alison Tubini Miner | Katherine Creon | Giovanni Scognamillo | Hakkı Sabancalı | Joyce Cully | Jeffrey Tucker | Yusuf Osman | Willem Daniels | Wendy Hilda James | Charles Blyth Holton | Andrew Malleson | Alex Baltazzi | Lorin Washburn | Tom Rees | Charlie Sarell | Müsemma Sabancıoğlu | Marie Anne Marandet | Hümeyra Birol Akkurt | Alain Giraud | Rev. Francis ‘Patrick’ Ashe | Fabio Tito | Pelin Böke | Antonio Cambi | Enrico Giustiniani | Chas Hill | Arthur ‘Mike’ Waring Roberts III | Angela Fry | Nadia Giraud | Roland Richichi | Joseph Murat | George Poulimenos | Bayne MacDougall | Mercia Mason-Fudim née Arcas | Eda Kaçar Özmutaf | Quentin Compton-Bishop | Elizabeth Knight | Charles F. Wilkinson | Antony Wynn | Anna Laysa Di Lernia | Pierino & Iolanda Braggiotti | Philip Mansel | Bernard d’Andria | Achilleas Chatziconstantinou | Enrichetta Micaleff | Enrico Aliotti Snr. | Patrick Grigsby | Anna Maria and Rinaldo Russo | Mehmet Yüce | Wallis Kidd | Jean-Pierre Giraud | Osman Öndeş | Jean François d’Andria | Betty McKernan | Frederick de Cramer | Emilio Levante | Jeanne Glennon LeComte | Jane Spooner | Richard Seivers | Frances Clegg
|Willem Daniels – family heritage researcher|
Resident of Amsterdam, related to the De Jongh family through his mother Dorothy (1893-1981). We met by chance on the last day of his visit to Turkey in 2001. Among his sources of information on the family past are notes kept by his father, Willem sr (1881-1969) and his grandfather Henry Richard de Jongh (1862-1935 - tomb and that of his wife in Athens), a grandson of John, the first De Jongh to settle in Smyrna. According to Henry’s Family Notes, John de Jongh (born 1785 at Ostend in Flanders of a Dutch father and Scottish mother, died 1854 in Smyrna) arrived in Smyrna in 1812, “in charge of a small cargo of English goods belonging to an English firm [and] recommended to Robert Wilkinson, Consul for Sweden and Denmark. Entered into partnership with him and soon after married his daughter Mary Esther.” - register view:
After this auspicious start there followed a varied career that included consular appointments, industrial ventures and the founding, in partnership with the editor Anthony Edwards, of the newspaper the Impartial. Though the Edwardses were another old-line British expatriate family, Anthony had previously been editor-in-chief of the Journal de Smyrne, and it is not clear whether the Impartial was initially published in English or French, or perhaps both; in any case the paper prospered and was long known as a French-language publication.
Notes: 1- I am aware of other relatively long-lived French language papers in Izmir. According to the newspaper library in Colindale, London, the influential ‘Levant Herald’ was Istanbul based, however in its lifetime of 1873-1914, there were some time gaps in publication and its name changed (7) back and forth between the above and ‘The Constantinople Messenger’ and ‘Eastern Express’. The library does not hold in its collection any copies of the ‘Impartial’, however in the 1905 Almanac (book published that year detailing trade activity of the city) of Izmir the ‘concessionaire’ of the then French weekly is listed as Simon Rue p.178 and its printing press was at the ‘Barbaresko works’ p.179. It must not be assumed that the newspaper was published continuously since 1840, since in an 1893 listing of 11 foreign language papers of Smyrna, the name is not mentioned. The Colindale library also retains copies of French language papers such as ‘Le temps de Constantinople’, the Smyrna based ‘La Reform’ and the English language paper, the ‘Smyrna Mail’ (1862-64), amongst others. The listing can be viewed in the newspapers section of this site.
2- According to a contemporary book (Three years in Constantinople: or, Domestic manners of the Turks in 1844, Volume 1 - Charles White) published at the time the ‘Impartial’ was being published showed it to suffer from suppression (or rather withdrawal of state subsidy) due to its ‘too English’ independant street displeasing the two major powers with influence in the Ottoman Empire at the time: France and Russia - details:
3- According to the Turkish web site on the ‘Levantine Izmir chronology’, the ‘newspaperman’ Edwards was responsible for the opening in 1859 the first city gas factory in Smyrna, showing him to be a man involved in more than one venture.
The above papers provide records of clubs, theatres and the like but, there are precious few sources that give much flavour of the social life in Smyrna’s former expatriate community. One of the few to touch upon this are the letters of Gertrude Bell that can be read over the Internet, though they are limited to brief visits in the early 1900’s to the important British Whittall and the Dutch Van Lennep families. They inform us that the latter family had a few hundred acres farm south of Smyrna in a locality given as ‘Malcajik’ (modern Turkish sp.: Malkacik - though shown on old Ottoman-period maps as 30 km south of Izmir, difficulty in matching it to a present-day location). It is worth noting that the fate of this locality illustrates what happened to many villages in the Smyrna region after it was definitely incorporated into the new Turkish republic in 1923: names were changed, records were lost or destroyed, and many settlements – all of whose pre-1923 inhabitants were in many cases moved out in population exchanges between Greece and Turkey – can no longer be traced even if they show up on old maps.
Historical note: Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) English traveller and writer, held positions of office in Arabia and played a critical role in the establishment of the Hashemite regime in Baghdad (Britannica).
Despite John’s being born in what is now Belgium the family were of Dutch nationality. They are thought to have moved to London in 1795, where, according to an unpublished private memoir completed in 1987 by Emeric Eitel de Jongh (1914-1993), John eventually “went into partnership with an Englishman”. This may not have been the family’s first sojourn in Britain: they may have been returning there. He already had a Scottish wife, and one bit of family lore has the De Jonghs settled in Scotland for one or two generations before they moved to Ostend. This raises the question of just how Dutch the De Jonghs could claim to be. Though Dutch, John was probably English-speaking and many of his descendants remained British-orientated.
The British Wilkinsons had resided in Smyrna and Bournabat (present-day Bornova) since the mid 18th century. In addition to his consular appointments, John’s father-in-law Robert Wilkinson (1750-1822) was treasurer of the Levant Company in Smyrna. Four of John and Mary’s 10 children founded the family’s major lines of descent in Smyrna, two male and two female. Among other things, this involved an extensive internationalization of the family, with the injection of French, Greek, Italian, Austrian, Persian, Armenian, American and Canadian strains over the next few generations in addition to fresh British and Dutch blood. All this would seem to underscore the fact, noted by many observers, that nationality as such was generally a matter of secondary importance in the Levantine community, which seems to have functioned as a splendid melting-pot.
The history of the two generations succeeding John and Mary is sparsely documented. It is fairly certain that their son John Robert and grandson John Atkinson followed in John’s footsteps as consuls of Denmark, but nothing is known of their other activities in Smyrna: it can only be generally surmised that they were merchants. One grandchild of whom a well-rounded picture is available is Willem’s grandfather Henry Richard de Jongh (Smyrna 1862-Athens 1935). A ship broker and shipowner and longtime business associate of Thomas Bowen Rees jr. (1866-1923), he was the Smyrna manager of the Thomas Bowen Rees Co. Ltd. and a director of the Egypt & Levant Steamship Co. Ltd. until 1923, when he moved to Nice, France, eventually settling in Athens where he established a knitwear factory and spent the rest of his life. The “De Jongh house” he built in Boudjah at the turn of the century still stands as one of the remaining great mansions recalling Izmir’s Levantine past.
In his De Jongh Family Tree (2002), Willem reports the total number of De Jonghs in Smyrna in September 1922, just before the Great Fire, at about 40, defining a De Jongh as anyone born to that name or carrying it by marriage. Family records show no further De Jongh births in Izmir between 1922 and the Second World War. Most of them eventually moved to Greece, which for some became a jumping-off place for various farther destinations. Some members of the Van Lennep/De Jongh and Gout/De Jongh branches emigrated to the United States, where new offshoots have multiplied and prospered to this day (though not, of course, carrying forward the De Jongh name).
One De Jongh household hung on in Izmir after 1922: Isidor and Marina (Greek and French background) de Jongh and their two children, having lost their main residence in the Great Fire, made their summer house in Cordelio (across the bay and unaffected by the fire, and now known as Karsiyaka) into their permanent residence till they died in the 1940s. From their son Emeric’s memoirs we know that Isidor was assistant manager of the Anglo-French Bank of Salonica before the Fire and for some years thereafter, until the bank withdrew from Izmir. Emeric himself went where no De Jongh had gone before, turning his Dutch citizenship to account and pursuing a successful career as a Dutch diplomat, and his sister Zoe moved to France, where descendants are thought to live today. There are no known De Jongh descendants left in Izmir now, but the clan figures in the ancestry of the Beard family now living in Istanbul.
Willem’s great-grandfather, the Anglo-Irish railway engineer Edward Purser (1821-1906), arrived in Smyrna in 1859 from India, where he was chief engineer of the East Indian Railway, to become chief engineer of the new Smyrna-Aidin Ottoman Railway Company. In 1868 he was appointed general manager as well, in which capacity he successfully conducted difficult and protracted negotiations with the Ottoman government. He continued in both positions until 1900, when he finally retired at age 79. He and his Greek-born (Island of Andros) wife Sophia Miha lived in Alsancak – probably the Bella Vista section of what was then known as Pounta, but the exact location of the house is now unknown. It is a family joke that despite never learning each other’s language they lived together quite happily without conversing. In reality it seems more likely that like many other Levantines they found common linguistic ground in the lingua franca of the Levant, French (which Edward would also have needed for communication with Ottoman officials). Edward Purser died in 1906, and he and Sophia, who died in 1924, lie buried in the Buca cemetery.
When the Great Fire put an end to Levantine Smyrna in 1922, the De Jongh clan fled along with the rest of the expats. The majority of the British population of Smyrna were evacuated to the island of Malta, many by the British hospital ship ‘Maine’. A Dutch ship took Isidor and Marina and their children to Constantinople/Istanbul, whence they soon returned to Izmir, while Henry and Dora and their family were taken to the island of Malta on the steam yacht ‘Mingary’ belonging to the Rees family. The end came with a cruel added twist: the fire spared Boudjah, Bournabat and the more exclusive residential portion of Pounta, including Bella Vista, while it consumed the rest of Pounta, i.e. the international business district and the more modest residential quarters. So it was precisely the less affluent expats who suffered the total loss of their homes. Henry sr’s brother Oscar and Cleofe de Jongh were shot and bayonetted to death by Turkish troops entering Boudjah a few days before the Great Fire. 1922. The De Jonghs thus found themselves mourning two of the few actual casualties suffered by the expatriate community at the hands of Turkish forces. The atrocity was reported in the British paper ‘The Daily Mail’.
From Malta, Henry and Dora moved on to Nice in the south of France, where Henry, having ceased his business connections, enjoyed the next two or three years as a gentleman of leisure, returning to Izmir only briefly to wind up his affairs. Their second son Henry jr. returned to Boudjah to occupy the house (along with his grandmother Sophia Purser) and resume his job as engineer with the Ottoman Railway. Eventually Henry and Dora moved from Nice to Athens, and in 1927 Henry junior too left Izmir for good to join the family in Athens, where he became manager of the previously mentioned knitwear factory established by his father. A number of other De Jonghs were also employed at this factory, including Henry and Dora’s eldest son Edward who became its chief accountant. Henry sr. built a large house in the Athenian suburb of Psihiko, where he died in 1935. After his death Dora had a smaller villa built nearby in which she lived most of the rest of her life, which lasted until 1964. On his visit to Athens in the autumn of 2001, Willem found this villa in fine condition, inhabited by an old Greek lady in her eighties, but couldn’t find the ‘big house’, which he had never seen but whose location had been described to him.
As a teenager on vacation in Greece around 1950, Willem was introduced to Mrs Gladys Forbes of Smyrna when she was perhaps 75 years old; she died approximately 10 years later (this timeline is from memory and may be off by several years). The lady with whom she shared the house, Lulu Keyser, also from Smyrna, was around 60-65 years old at the time. Gladys Forbes lived in a marvellous dilapidated old villa in an overgrown garden in Kifissia, which used to be a village out beyond Psihiko, just within the limits of present-day Greater Athens. Both ladies loved to reminisce about Smyrna and the people they had known there. Henry’s sister Eveline Peacock (1856-1926) had also lived in Kifissia, a neighbourhood popular with expatriate Brits.
Willem thinks he may have had a belated glimpse of some of the more enjoyable aspects of Levantine life as a boy in Turkey, where his family lived from 1945 to 1950. Childhood memories of Ankara: “We arrived there in the summer following the end of WW2, with the Netherlands just liberated. The ambassador’s residence consisted of something like an old farm near the top of Çankaya hill: a house set in extensive terraced grounds, with a beautiful view of the surroundings. An old gardener with a weather-beaten visage and baggy trousers of a kind I had never seen before watered plants from water jugs carried by a donkey, which would periodically lift its head and bray with gusto at nothing in particular. There was a pond filled with icy cold spring water, and a leaky old wooden washtub was kept on hand which I and others would try to navigate across the pond before it filled with water and foundered, freezing the crew in the process. There were cherry trees you could actually climb and eat cherries from. Sheep would sometimes stray onto the grounds, and the young spitz sheepdog we had acquired earned everyone’s admiration by expertly guiding them out the gate. And every day was sunny and warm.” Not that life was all play and no work: riding lessons from a retired Turkish cavalry officer required maintaining some semblance of a manly posture while riding bareback on a fairly spirited cantering horse. “Smyrna,” Willem concludes, “was only a word I occasionally heard from my mother then, but now I suppose these idyllic memories must be essentially very similar to some of those of old Smyrna hands waxing nostalgic about the good old days.”
The Danielses also spent some time in Istanbul, where the Dutch government had for centuries maintained a more imposing if less idyllic establishment, the ‘Palais de Hollande’ in Beyoğlu (formerly, and to many even then in the mid-1940s, known as Pera). The person in charge of the day-to-day management of the Palais was Count Daniel de Hochepied, a scion of a Dutch Levantine family that had been in Turkey for several generations, with branches in both Istanbul and Izmir (or, as the count’s ancestors would have referred to them, Constantinople and Smyrna). Dealing smoothly and productively with the Turkish authorities required the expertise of someone who spoke Turkish and knew local customs and resources, and this was his speciality. “He also had a resplendent uniform to wear on official occasions,” Willem recalls. “I now realize that although his official title was Chancellor he must have essentially been functioning as one of the last dragomans. In 1947 he was appointed Consul General in Istanbul. As I remember, he was fluent in French, Turkish, Dutch, Greek, English and German (I may be gilding the lily a bit). The chancellor, whom I remember as a kindly, courtly sixty-ish gentleman, was a good raconteur, and among the stories he regaled us with was that of the ghost that haunted the Palais. We never managed to sight it on its reported rounds of the garden on moonlit nights but occasionally one could hear mysterious rustling and creaking indoors as it made its way up or down the stairs. In fact a more haunting if less mysterious sound which has always stayed with me was the cries of the various street vendors and tradesmen on Istiklal Caddesi (formerly Rue de Pera) outside.
In addition I have a distinct recollection of a family excursion to Prinkipo - known in Turkish as Büyükada, of course, but that wasn’t impressed on me - which may have included going through the neighbourhood of Moda? I swam in the sea from a yacht and believe it or not a couple of dolphins came by to say hello, their glistening backs and dorsal fins surfacing nearby several times. That’s the one clear memory I have of the occasion.”
A Dutch government in exile was established in London during WW2. It was headed by the queen (of the Netherlands) and among other things it set up the Princess Irene Brigade and ran the diplomatic service. The embassy in Turkey (actually a ‘legation’) officially continued in existence during the war years but Willem thinks was semi-dormant with only the ambassador (or ‘minister’ to be precise) and De Hochepied keeping an eye on things. When the Danielses arrived there was no junior staff and Willem’s sister Trinette, then just 20, was pressed into service as secretary until The Hague was finally able to send out some people.
The De Hochepieds were connected in days of yore with the Dutch Levant company; Dutch traders operated not as a monopoly but under a loose organization of private traders under the Levant Trade Authority (Directie van de Levantse Handel), founded in Amsterdam in 1625 and abolished in 1826. The Dutch played an extremely active commercial and diplomatic role in the Levant in the 17th century but their star dimmed in the 18th and 19th as the French and then the Brits gained ascendancy. The Dutch Levantine community or “nation” accordingly ended up much smaller than the British but had its own church and cemetery which can still be visited in Alsancak. The Dutch consulate, right from the early years (17th century) was located on Frank Street, but the consul subsequently (18th century?) had his summer residence built in Boudjah, possibly one of the first Levantine buildings in a village that a century later would be predominantly populated by British and other Levantines. A historically interesting feature of the Dutch community is that unlike the other Levantine ‘nations’ it was drawn to a considerable extent from the home country’s upper crust, as attested by the presence in Asia Minor back to the 18th century if not earlier of the Van Lenneps, De Hochepieds and similarly well-situated families. For more on the De Hochepied family.
Willem’s mother Dorothy de Jongh met his father, Willem Daniels sr. (1888-1969), while the latter was serving as Dutch vice consul in Smyrna (1919-1920). No doubt it never entered their heads that they would one day return to Turkey with Willem sr. serving as Dutch ambassador. And by coincidence, the young Emeric de Jongh’s first post as a Dutch diplomat was also Ankara, during almost exactly the same that the Danielses were there.
According to Willem there are now several good books and articles available on the history of Asia Minor from the 16th century to 1923, though a definitive study of the success of the Levantines during the Ottoman era remains to be written. As a good general introduction he recommends ‘The economic and social history of the Ottoman empire – volume 2 (1600-1914) - Cambridge University Press - ISBN 0 521 57455 2 edited by Halil Inalcik with Donald Quataert’ - google sample.
Willem has spent considerable time since 2000 researching the De Jongh and Purser family histories, making new discoveries of distant relatives past and present, and his findings, which I have made significant use of above, are summarized in the unpublished De Jongh Family Tree and Purser Family Tree. Willem is currently (May 2005) investigating possible links with the Smyrna De Jongh family and the Dutch church of London, where the names Johannes (John) and Maarten/Meerten (Martin) de Jongh figure among the preachers during the 18th century.
Note: An Athens based contributor, Achilleas Chatziconstantinou, has kindly created a reference file for Google earth (free to download program to navigate over any part of the world), pin-marked with neighbourhood names referred to above, (Psihiko, Kifissia), that can be downloaded here: Double clicking the file when google earth is loaded onto computer will automatically steer the viewer to the aerial view of modern Athens, and clicking roads box will highlight the ways to these centres.
Willem Daniels was one of the speakers at the Levantine Symposium held in November 2010 in Turkey. The following text is his presentation added here for further family history detail:
Vicissitudes of an Expat Family: the De Jonghs, 1812-1964
Main text of presentation made at the Levantine Symposium held at the Izmir Chamber of Commerce, November 3, 2010 - Willem DanielsI’m Willem Daniels, a great-great-grandson of the Dutchman John de Jongh, who in 1812 settled in Smyrna, where he married my great-great-grandmother Mary Wilkinson, an Englishwoman born into a Levantine family of merchants and consuls going back a couple of generations into the 18th century.
My idea for this talk, though, is not to dwell on family pedigrees so much as to sketch the history of a Levantine lineage that strikes me as representational of the history of many Smyrniot expat families in the period from the latter part of the 18th century till about the mid-1900s. I’ll highlight this story mostly with male members of the De Jongh family. This gives me a somewhat uneasy feeling of visiting an injustice on the women, but I decided that for the purposes of this short talk the traditional patrilineal approach would work best.
In looking at Levantine families that settled in Smyrna between say the mid-18th century and about 1825 – in particular British and perhaps Dutch ones – I’ve been impressed by the recurrence of a certain pattern in which the founder of the Smyrna line was drawn to the city by an opportunity which he pursued successfully enough to encourage him to settle there, often achieving a degree of success which later generations found difficult to replicate. I would speculate that the supply of niches for entrepreneurial or pioneering spirits didn’t keep pace with the growth of the expat community during the course of the 19th century. Also that the new arrivals were by definition men with a bent for bold initiative, an adventurous spirit, perhaps something of a buccaneering streak, not necessarily transmitted to their descendants. On the other hand, the expansion of established enterprises in Smyrna does seem to have generated plenty of suitable employment opportunities to go around, and it was thanks to these that the later generations mostly made quite a decent living. We also see, from about the middle of the 19th century on, the importation from the UK and elsewhere of more and more technical experts, managers and the like for a specific purpose such as building a projected railway or managing an existing factory. By the end of the 19th century Smyrna had a well-developed modern capitalist economy with a considerable diversity of jobs and skills among the burgeoning expat community, and this meant that incomes and lifestyles between members of the same family were more and more likely to diverge.
We certainly see all this reflected in the De Jonghs. The first Smyrna De Jongh, John, was a 27-year-old Dutch merchant who had apparently been living and working in London when he arrived in Smyrna in 1812 to enter into partnership with Robert Wilkinson, the treasurer of the Levant Company and consul of Sweden and Denmark. Presumably he already knew Wilkinson, and in the same year he married Wilkinson’s daughter Mary. Here was a man who wasted no time! It wasn’t quite plain sailing from that point on, however, as for some reason he had to wind up his partnership with Wilkinson in 1814, losing all of his capital in the process. But he managed to bounce back and by 1827 his business activities, most notably the operation of a cotton press factory, were so successful that he was appointed consul and ultimately consul-general for Denmark. And in 1840 he launched a newspaper, The Impartial, which was apparently another successful venture. So in John de Jongh we see a prime example of a man who made his mark as a successful entrepreneur and first-generation Smyrniot. Many another Levantine lineage was launched with similar panache.
Two of John and Mary’s sons carried forward the De Jongh name, having allied themselves through marriage with two other British expat lineages, the Wilkins and the Barkers. The fact that this second generation possessed only two male lines meant that the De Jonghs got off to a fairly unprolific start in Smyrna, at least in terms of male lines, which of course are the ones that preserve the family name. Only two of John and Mary’s daughters went on to have children as well, having married into the French Fonton and the Dutch Van Lennep families respectively.
As far as we know the two sons, John Robert and David, helped run the cotton press factory and the newspaper and engaged in banking and other business, and John Robert followed in his father’s footsteps as Danish consul. In short, they seem to have prospered quite nicely without undertaking any noteworthy initiatives. David was only 40 when he died but he nevertheless left three sons and two daughters to be looked after by his 34-year-old widow. John Robert lived longer but left only two sons who reached adulthood.
With the next generation we enter the second half of the century, with Levantine Smyrna steadily modernizing along Western lines and the De Jongh family picture growing more complex. John Robert’s eldest son John Atkinson reportedly also represented Denmark in Smyrna, albeit merely as vice-consul. This consular appointment came to an end in 1915, during the First World War. Of his brother William we know only that he died in 1909 and had a son and daughter who may or may not have been part of a group of family members considered undesirable, at least by my grandfather, who had the following to say about them in the all too sketchy notes he kept on family affairs: “All a queer lot assisted them and sent them off to New York in 1910, other relations also helping”. Just who made up this group and why he took a dim view of them is not explained, but his cryptic comment does seem to suggest something of a comedown from the glory days of John de Jongh.
John and Mary de Jongh’s youngest son David had three sons, each of whom left a different legacy: the eldest, also named David, brought forth a line of descendants of whom the younger generations now live in Greece as Greek nationals; the second, Oscar, became with his Italian wife Cleofe one of the few expats who lost their lives in the chaos accompanying the Turkish forces’ capture of Smyrna from the fleeing Greek army in 1922; and the youngest, Henry, became the only De Jongh whose career can be said to have rivaled that of his grandfather John in terms of worldly success.
At this point, around the turn of the century, we’ve seen the De Jonghs by and large doing all right for themselves, but so far none of them – except perhaps John himself – has made it into the wealthy elite. Henry succeeded in working his way into this charmed circle as a business partner of Thomas Bowen Rees, with whom he founded the highly profitable Egypt & Levant Steamship Company in 1906. It was he who built the De Jongh house, one of the Levantine mansions still standing today in Buca. That was around 1910, and he was in London, partly to buy furnishings for it, when the First World War broke out in 1914. And, as we know, the war led to the fateful events of September 1922 and the great fire, when the De Jonghs along with the rest of the expats fled from Smyrna.
By my count there were about 40 De Jonghs in Smyrna at the time, most of them presumably still in possession of their Dutch nationality, and the Dutch government offered to repatriate all of the Dutch expats. To the best of my knowledge not a single De Jongh made use of this offer. I don’t think any of them had ever been to the Netherlands and few of them had even a smattering of Dutch: they were all completely anglicized, or in some cases gallicized, and most of them ended up in Greece or other countries around the Mediterranean.
Only a small minority of Smyrna’s expat community opted to return to Smyrna soon after the fire to start over in what was now Izmir in the new Turkish Republic. The only De Jonghs to do so and stay for good were Isidor and Marina de Jongh. They were young, with two children, Isidor had a good job, Marina was from a well-off family, they thought the good times would return soon, so they hung on. Their son Emeric was conscripted into the Dutch army when the Second World War broke out, joined the Dutch foreign service after the war and rose to the rank of ambassador. Thus the last De Jongh to grow up in Turkey became the first Smyrna De Jongh to pursue a Dutch career – and he was notably successful at it.
Several De Jonghs sought refuge in Athens, but they had lost their homes and everything they had in the fire, and were mostly reduced to very modest circumstances indeed. On some the trail simply runs cold, but others produced descendants who are now completely assimilated into the Greek population. One refugee who stands out was Eric, the son of Oscar and Cleofe who were murdered in Smyrna. He and his wife Eva were about the same age as Emeric and Marina and also had a little boy and a little girl, he had a good job too, but Izmir had lost its appeal for them. He eventually emigrated to Canada. His son Geoffrey gave his life for the Allied cause in World War II as a Dutch aviator with the RAF. A son and a grandson of Henry and Dora also served in the war – Holland was neutral in the First World War, but in the Second World War whatever young Dutchmen were registered as available for service with the government-in-exile in London were called up.
Henry and his wife Dora eventually also settled in Athens, still very well-off. They were joined there by their three sons, two of whom for a time ran a factory established by Henry – an echo, if you will, from a century earlier when John de Jongh established his factory in Smyrna. The third graduated from Oxford and became a naturalized British subject. Meanwhile, across the Mediterranean in Alexandria, Henry’s nephew Frederick de Jongh joined the Egypt & Levant Shipping Co., the new incarnation of the Reeses’ and Henry’s former steamship company. However, he held a less influential and less lucrative position in it than his uncle Henry had. Henry died a few years before the Second World War, but Dora lived on in Athens until 1964 – and it is in my granny’s honour that that is the end date in the title of this talk.
The notes version of this talk in pdf format:
Simplified family tree of the De Jongh family of Smyrna:
interview date 2000-3