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Common ancestor Soepboer clan earned name with milk route

Dutch spelling rooted in Frisian language

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

DOKKUM, the Netherlands - A fifteen-year long genealogical research into the widely-dispersed Soepboer clan recently was crowned with the publication of a 648-page family history. At the book launching which coincided with a reunion in the northern Frisian town of Dokkum, the first copy was presented to 85-year-old Sietse Soepboer.

Co-author Minne Soepboer who in his book documents two centuries of family history, discovered that the surname which in English translates to soup farmer actually had a logical origin.

The family’s ancestor Taekele Douwes made the rounds picking up dairy milk from local farmers and delivered buttermilk - sūpe in the Frisian language - on his way home from the factory. Since his customers called him sūpe boer, the nickname turned into a surname when Taekele registered his identity to comply with a Napoleonic decree. The surname received a Dutch spelling, hiding its linguistic origin.

Minne Soepboer and co-author Ank van der Werf cover 8,500 family members (including those who married into the clan) in the book. While the clan particularly is concentrated in the vicinity of Dongeradeel, the reunion which was held shortly before the grand July Simmer2000 event also attracted participants from Canada and South Africa.