|Photo by MJA Nashir
Sandra Niessen holding up a batik made by
Eliza van Zuylen Niessen
Elize van Zuylen-Niessen’s father, Matthias Nicolaas Niessen, was a KNIL (Royal Dutch-East Indies Army) officer who received a military medal called the Willemsorde. He fought in Bali in 1849, in Borneo in 1850 and Riau (Sumatra) in 1858 and 1959. He was then Luitenant.
Elize’s mother, Elisabeth Christina Anna Geertruida von Ranzow, was the fourth generation of the Von Ranzow family to live in the East. Her great great grandfather sailed for Ceylon from Germany. Two generations of his descendants lived on that VOC Island, but her father was born on board ship heading towards Batavia. His mother was a “princess” from Palembang.
In other words, aside from a common last name, probably half of The Netherlands, to say nothing of a certain family in Palembang, is as closely related to Elize van Zuylen Niessen as I am. There are 6 generations between myself and the ancestor that Elize and I have in common. Moreover, Wijnand, our common ancestor, married twice; she descends from the second wife while I descend from the first. Very distant family indeed. Nevertheless, it is always nice to have an illustrious family member; I enjoy feeling a personal attachment to her life and times in Indonesia.