What do American rock star Bruce Springsteen and the recently deceased American actress Doris Day have in common? Both celebrities can trace their roots back to Groningen.
Translation by Hans de Preter
In his book “The Dutch Touch: A Small Nation’s Quiet Takeover of Main Street USA”, American publicist Willem Meiners describes the influence of 9,000 Dutch people who emigrated to America long ago. In an interview with Dagblad van het Noorden journalist Marijke Brouwer about the book, Meiners reveals that it was already known that Doris Day has German ancestors, but a little further back her ancestors are from Delfzijl in the province of Groningen.
Not Day, but Kappelhoff
The given name of Doris Day, a beloved American actress who passed away this week at the age of 97, is actually Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff. She was born in 1922 in Cincinatti in the US, and her father was Wilhelm Kappelhoff, who was also born in Cincinatti in 1892. Her Dutch connection goes back one more generation: her grandfather, Franz Joseph Wilhelm Kappelhoff, was a Dutchman born in 1834 in the Groningen town of Loppersum, and he married a German woman named Juliana Agnes Kreimer from Münster. Franz Joseph Wilhelm Kappelhoff was the son of Herman Kappelhoff, born in 1814 in Delfzijl, and he was married to Margreet Schoonbeek (1816), who was from Groningen.
According to Meiners, Bruce Springsteen’s ancestors also hailed from the province of Groningen. But those ancestors left for the US hundreds of years before Doris Day’s grandfather: Springsteen’s ancestors boarded a boat to America in the Dutch Golden Age (seventeenth century) and settled down in New Jersey.
Another famous American, Robert de Niro, also has Dutch ancestors, but they are not connected to the north: De Niro’s relatives came from the small village Schoorl in the province of North Holland.
“America is more Dutch than many think”
According to Meiners – who is Dutch himself and left for America 30 years ago – the influence of Dutch emigrants on American culture is often underestimated. “My book shows that America is much more Dutch than Americans and Dutch people think. The Dutch emigrants had very large families. They have laid the foundation for Dutch influences in America, especially in the fields of transportation and infrastructure.”