were born in Zundert, a small village of the South-Brabant on the Belgian
A landscape of moor and heath. A very flat and very poor country where rye, oats and potatoes are cultivated. These landscapes would leave their mark on you forever. We will always keep something of the heath and the Brabant ploughed fields.
Zundert is a small village of the South-Brabant with 4000 inhabitants, most of whom are Catholics. Your father is the Protestant parish minister of 150 souls, only one-third of whom really goes to church. A very poor, small country village. Quite a bad place for the son of Bredas brilliant preacher and the brother of great art dealers. But your father Dorus liked the quiet and simple way of life of the Brabant countryside.
Your granfather was a famous preacher in Breda. He played an active part in the Brabant church, and was the leader of an association giving aid to the most impoverished.
A serious economic crisis was rife, impoverishing the countries and leading to an exodus to the North. The Brabant Protestants found themselves isolated, surrounded by a growing and threatening Catholicism. The association Société du Bien-Etre (Society of Well-Being) was mostly fighting to keep Protestantism alive in those regions. Each village was considered to be important. In the North, in Groningen and Utrecht, more radical associations, like Unitas questioned and criticized the moderate political and religious stances of the grandfathers association which was accused of not struggling against the Catholics threatening to take power in Brabant.
As a teenager, your father Theodorus attended the numerous meetings which were held at his place. He knew very early how difficult the South-Brabant Protestants situation was. Nevertheless, he wanted to follow in his fathers wake. In 1840, he enrolled at Ultrecht school of theology.
As the son of the President of the association, he had to endure Ultrecht religious authorities and studentss hostility and suspicions during his five-year course. He found it hard to find a post. After several failures, he was put in touch with the old minister of Zundert community where he was eventually admitted.