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Three Centuries

When Gijsbert van Hall, Esq., some years ago was appointed mayor of Amsterdam, many articles appeared in newspapers about the Van Halls. Gijsbert was called a scion of a distinguished dynasty, and a newspaper amusingly followed this up with an article trying to answer the question: “When does one become a scion? Is a baby already one, or does one become one at a later age? Can one lose his scionship, and if yes, why?” As members of the family, we carefully read the reports; there was also much news for us.


We noticed that the great-grandfather of the author and the mayor had “A. M. C. van Hall, Esq.,” in common, though the whole press, with the exception of the Reformed, kept quiet about that and rather focused on F. A. Baron van Hall, Esq., his oldest half brother. This A. M. C. van Hall, after a turbulent life, died young. He and his wife came in contact with the Justice Department a couple of times—perhaps a reason for his descendants to lose their scionship!


Our curiosity was whetted, and we began to nose around in old archives and writings. In the yellowed journals and letters, vague figures started to appear. One clue led to another, and slowly our forefathers took on firmer forms until they stood in front of us and began to tell us about their lives and their goals—not only the ponderous subjects but also the more intimate and domestic events. They told us much, and in the following pages, the reader will find their story—a story with a laugh and a tear.


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