Thursday, May 19, 2016

BOISSEVAIN Gen7 | Catharina–Teau (1885-1922)

Catharina (Teau) Josephine
Boissevain de Beaufort
May 19, 2016–As a 50th wedding-anniversary present for my parents on June 27, 1982, I prepared a biography of her family, much of it based on stories she told me, with some illustrations specially drawn by Brigid. My mother marked up my writing afterwards to correct details and to delete stories that on reflection she decided were indiscreet, so I have double confirmation of what she believed to be true and also what she believed to be fair comment on her ancestors, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

Family Group
Charles Boissevain (1842-1927) = Emily MacDonnell (1844-1931)
     B Teau Boissevain (1885-1922) = Fik de Beaufort
           B1 Nella (b. 1908) = Carl van Boetzelaer
           B2 Willem Ferdinand Arnold (b. 1911)
           B3 Charles Denis Hercules Creagh (1913-1931)
           B4 Henri Alexander (Hans) (1915-1942)

Catharina Josephine Boissevain was the youngest of the eleven children of Charles and Emily Boissevain, born in 1885. She was called "Teau" after the French contraction of Cateau for Catherine. Several sources say she was considered the prettiest of the six daughters of Charles and Emily. My mother said that Teau
could have been a famous actress. She had a marvelous talent for it and would keep visitors spellbound at home theatricals or charades. I heard her perform and she was entrancing.
Teau gave Hilda lessons on how to recite a story in front of a class and when Hilda went back to school her recital, she said, was sensational.

Hilda also said that Teau was the first person to talk to her (when Hilda was only four years old) about religion. Hilda's mother had a nervous condition and was sent to the Privatklinik Bircher-Benner at Keltenstrasse 9 in Zürich. (I spent a few days there myself being checked up in 1963.) During that time, Hilda and her brother Willem were entrusted to the care of their aunt Teau.

She married Lieven Ferdinand (Fik) de Beaufort in 1907. Fik was from another Huguenot family that had been dukes in France before Louis XIV chased them out; the titles could not be imported into Holland, which had no equivalents. Fik was a biologist of some distinction. He and Teau lived in Dutch India (Java) for a while. Teau is featured in letters from Java when Hilda was an infant. Obviously, Hilda missed her mother and Teau was very kind, says Hilda, and to console her told her about God and Heaven and the Angels. Hilda told me she was a fan off the angels ever since. That is why she wrote The Angels' Alphabet.

Teau's eldest child and only daughter Nella was born two months after my mother, and so they spent much time together as pre-teens. The de Beauforts had a governess named Ava whom my mother considered malicious toward her employer. In the last few years of her life, Hilda wrote several versions of an experience that she had with Ava; it was clearly one of the most meaningful encounters  she had in her life.

Teau with her four children. Hans, at lower
right, was a Resistance hero.
Teau died tragically of leukemia in 1922, when she was just 37.

Children of Fik and Teau de Beaufort:

1 Nella (b. 1908) = Carl van Boetzelaer. Nella and my mother were "twin cousins". Bella married Baron van Boetzelaar. I went with my parents to Holland in 1983 and accompanied them on a chartered boat down the river from Deventer on June 26, 1983. It was Nella's 75th birthday in Holland. Queen Juliana was on the boat.

2 Willem Ferdinand Arnold (b. 1911)

3 Charles Denis Hercules Creagh (1913-1931)

Henri Alexander (Hans) (1915-1942)Teau's youngest child and third son, Henri Alexander (Hans) de Beaufort, born in 1915, was a hero of the Dutch Resistance. He was killed by the Nazis in 1942.

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