Unfortunately, I have no memories of my life in the Dutch East Indies although I was born there on 22 January 1932. It would have been nice if I could tell a story about the "tempo doeloe" in beautiful Tarakan, where my cradle stood. Tarakan is an island and the largest city in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan. The island is located in northern Borneo, halfway down the coast of the province.

Perhaps we had a nice house with the appropriate staff such as a babu for the children, a kokki for the food and a kebon for the garden. Unfortunately, I can only speculate on that.

However, fate decided otherwise and I moved to the Netherlands with my mother and brother at the age of 2, hence I have no active memory of the country and my father. I was never told what happened to my father and now at the age of 90, I have started my search. A family contact called Hans Jager, who himself has Genealogy as a hobby, had already figured out much of my family tree but my main question remained a mystery and unanswered. Through the I.G.V., Hans came into contact with the Indische Verhalentafel and Tilly van Coevorden and the search for the unknown could begin.

My question to Tilly was: What all happened on Tarakan and to my father? What Tilly found was quite shocking and proof that even well before WWII and the subsequent police actions and the Bersiap period, a soldier's life was not always safe.

In order to tell as complete a story as possible, I will go back several generations in order to include the much work Hans has already done.

Cornelia Johanna Henriette (Corry) de Vries - van Kempen August 2022

Civil register of 

Cornelis van Kempen, the brother of Bartholomeus

Marriage certificate of Kempen

and Cornelia Johanna van Engelen

Passenger list of the s.s. Vondel.

Only paying passengers are named

My father Bartholomeus van Kempen in search of the truth!


Bartholomeus van Kempen, was a farmers son and ws born on                30 October 1892. He was the son of Johannes van Kempen and Hendrieka Rietveld.

Here a brief Parentage of the male descendants starting with Mathijs van Kempen the grandfather of Bartholomeus:

  • Mathijs van Kempen born in 1825 in Wijk bij Duurstede apart from the information that he was married to Barthalena van Kempen             (née Barten) born in 1823 in Langbroek nothing is found on him. Mathijs and Barthalena have 6 children:


  1. Petronella van Kempen born 22.09.1851 in Langbroek, died 28.06.1866 in Langbroek
  2. Theodora van Kempen born 20.10.1853 in Langbroek, died 18.06.1915 in Wijk bij Duurstede
  3. Johannes van Kempen  born 05.1857 in Langbroek, died 05.01.1939 in Utrecht
  4. Jan van Kempenborn born 19.08.1859 in Langbroek, died 29.09.1934 in Wijk bij Duurstede
  5. Matheus van Kempen born 19.10.1863 in Langbroek, died 09.04.1941 in Wijk bij Duurstede
  6. Petronella van Kempen born 11.02.1862 in Langbroek, died 21.04.1880 in Langbroek.

  • Johannes van Kempen born on 11 May 1857 in Langbroek (Utrecht). Johannes marries Hendrieka van Kempen (née Rietveld) Hendrieka is born on 5 April1860, and 3 years older than Johannes, in Vleuten. Johannes and  Hendrieka have 10 children:


  1. Mattheus van Kempen born 20.08.1887 in Breukelen, died 09.12.1944 place unknown
  2. Hendrieka van Kempen born 13.01.1889 in Breukelen, date and place of death unknown
  3. Bartholomeus van Kempen born 07.07.1891 in Breukelen, died 10.10.1891 (3 months old)
  4. Bartholomeus van Kempen born 30.10.1892 in Breukelen, died 25.04.1933 in Tarakan
  5. Cornelis van Kempen born 05.04.1895 in Breukelen, died 22.07.1947 in Utrecht
  6. Johanna van Kempen born 20.06.1897 in Breukelen, date andplace of death unknown
  7. Johannes van Kempen born 19.02.1899 in Breukelen, died 12.05.1977 te Nijmegen
  8. Theodora van Kempen born 05.04.1900 in Breukelen, date andplace of death unknown
  9. Maria van Kempen born 22.02.1902 te Breukelen, died 02.03.1932 in Utrecht
  10. Adrianus van Kempen born 11.09.1903 tin Breukelen, died  22.08.1963 in Amsterdam
  • Hendrieka died on 17 January 1913 in Loenersloot, leaving behind husband and 10 children aged between 10-26. Johannes remarried 2 years after the death of the mother of his children on 28.07.1915 to Berendina Maria van Kempen (née Wentink), born in Arnhem in the year 1861


Bartholomeus grew up in a Roman Catholic family and still lived with his father in Abcoude-Proostdij on 01 November 1912. On 06 January 1913 he moved to Loenersloot (see marital status details)

Although he is actually rejected for military service because he is only 1.553m tall, he is nevertheless enlisted as a soldier in the colonial troops (both in and outside Europe) on 01 November 1913. This enlistment takes effect on 10 November 1913 and he receives a bounty of Fl.250.- of which FL.75.- is paid into a National Savings Account. According to the militairy logbook, he has a scar on the right thumb.

Since Bartholomew had committed a criminal offence, before his enlistment in the army, he had to be detained for 7 days on 3 December1913 and was released on 10 December 1913. (see log book entry)

At the time of enlistment, the address registered for father van Kempen was Wachtpost 3 in Lunetten.

On 20 December 1913, Bartholomeus leaves for the Dutch East Indies with a group of other soldiers on the steamship Vondel. The ship will arrive in Batavia on 27 January 1914. A passenger list of the Vondel was found but the soldiers were not named on it.

On 17 November 1919, Bartholomew enlisted for another four years as a sergeant.

    On 1 March 1921, he signed up again for four years as a sergeant with severance from the ranks to go to Holland on leave. He was now 29 years old and it was high time to find a Dutch wife.

    He left on leave around 01 April 1921 on the SS Goentoer of the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd and the ship docked in Rotterdam on 30 April 1921.

    Between 30 April 1921 and 08.09.1921, he meets the then 16-year-old Cornelia Johanna van Engelen. Cornelia Johanna is the daughter of Cornelis Christoffel van Engelen and Johanna Cornelia Bonemeier.

    Here is a brief Parentage of the female descendants starting with Christoffel van Engelen the grandfather of Bartholomeus:

    • Christoffel van Engelen born in Utrecht in 1833, he was skipper by profession and married on 31.05.1865 to Petronella Mulders, who had also been born in Utrecht in 1833. Three children were found from this marriage but more may be added at a later date:
    1. Cornelis Christoffel van Engelen, born 11.08.1866 in Utrecht, died 06.08.1910 in Jutphaas
    2. Wilhelmina van Engelen, born 20.10.1868 te Utrecht, died 28.09.1951 in IJsselstein
    3. Petronella van Engelen, born 04.06.1878 te Utrecht, died  09.07.1960 in Utrecht
    • Cornelis Christoffel marries at age 29, on  24.04.1895 with Johanna Cornelia Bonemeier, born in Utrecht on 27 September 1862. Johanna Cornelia was then 32 and thus 3 years older than Cornelis Christoffel.

    Cornelis Christoffel and Johanna Cornelia have 7 children:


    1. A son, no information available
    2. A daugther, born in 1895 in Utrecht, died 22.07.1895 in Utrecht (not even one year old)
    3. Petronella Henriette van Engelen, born  11.02.1899 in Utrecht, died 09.04.1984 in Zeist
    4. Anna Henriette van Engelen, born 24.04.1900 in Utrecht, date and place of death unknown
    5. Henriette Leonora van Engelen, born 13.08.1906, date and place of death unknown
    6. Cornelia Johanna van Engelen, born 10.03.1905 in Utrecht, date and place of death unknown
    7. Christoffel Cornelis van Engelen, born 13.08.1906 in Utrecht, died 26.08.1906 in Utrecht only 13 days old

      On 8 September 1921, the then 28-year-old Bartholomeus married 16-year-old Cornelia Johanna, and on 19 November 1921 barely two months after the marriage, the young couple is sent back to the Dutch East Indies. They make the crossing on the steamship Sindoro and embark in Rotterdam. I have not been able to find out the exact place and date of arrival (as yet).

      And again Bartholomeus signs on for four years in the tropics on 1 March 1925.

      On 1 June 1929, Bartholomew is held personally liable for an incident that must have taken place in March that year. A "petition" for conclusive guilt arrives from the Netherlands. Bartholomeus returns to the Netherlands by m.s Christiaan Huijgens, where he arrives in Amsterdam on 13 June 1929. Presumably he has to attend the tribunal and is granted leave of absence. On 8 January 1930, he returns with the ss. Tjerimai back to the East Indies.

      When he returns, he is stationed in Tarakan, Tarakan is an island and the largest city in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan. The island is located in northern Borneo, halfway down the coast of the province. A daughter named  Cornelia Johanna Henriette (Corry) van Kempen is born on 22 January 1932. Another two children are born, a sonA.C.D van Kempen (Andre Charles Desiree)  and another son who dies in Tarakan at a very young age. 

        And here the story gets a bit grim because on 25 April 1933, Bartholomeus is murdered by a convicted native. Not much is known about this and the family register only indicates that the family is notified and a land pension and parental assistance is paid as of 1 July 1933 of fl.500 and fl. 307 a year respectively, which was a lot of money in those days.

        Cornelia Johanna leaves with her two children Cornelia (Corry) and Andre back to the Netherlands to leave the Dutch East Indies forever. Andre Charles dies during WWII and Cornelia Johanna Henriette marries on 1 May 1928, the 1 year younger Jan de Vries born on 27.03.1931 in Hengelo. From this marriage, 3 children are born:

        Alex de Vries
        Marco de Vries
        N. de Vries, lifeless child born 14.12.1960 in Hengelo

        Both Cornelia and Jan are still alive...

        Militairy logbook of

        Bartholomeus van Kempen

        Entry in themilitairy log book of both Bartholomeus in 1913 and his brother Matheus in 1914 and Cornelis Johannes, (brother or cousin) in 1915