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The history of the Gillishof
700 years of existence on paper
1700 years of existence according to the archaeological calendar
407 years of family history
On February 10, 2021 it will be 700 years ago that Goswinus, knight of Keverenberg, donated a chapel with accompanying farm and land in Aachen to Gerardus van Loon, Grand Commander of the Balije Alde Biezen of the Teutonic Order, with the condition that Aachen a Commandery of the Order would be founded. The current farm the Gillishof probably also belonged to these goods.
The fact is that a few years later, 21 tomorrow ‘ackerland’, located in the Banck van Simpelvelt, on the spot called ‘Kronenberch’ right next to the monumental Gillishof, was leased to a certain Iwoin van Bouchouts.
It is also a fact that there was already a structure in 1321. After all, goods were donated. Bocholtz and Simpelveld are located on a popular Roman main road that ran from Heerlen (Coriovallum) to Aachen (Aquis Grana). Many legionnaires who had been served settled along this route, as evidenced by the many excavations that were done in this area. A Roman bath bottle from the 2nd / 3rd century AD was also excavated at the Gillishof. A silent witness to a long series of residents on the site of today’s Gillishof. A history of almost 2000 years.
Over the centuries, the Gillishof went by various names.
In 1452 there is a mention of the Ackhof zu Buicholt. Around 1520 we find the name Gullishoff in various old deeds. It is striking that the names Gu (i) llishoff and Sint Gillishoff are used by the outside world. Until the mid-18th century, the Teutonic Knights consistently used the name “Der Hoff su Bocholt”. In the 20th century, Gillishoff was completely forgotten and is popularly called Hoeve “Samerich” or op d’r Samerich, referring to the local street name “Zandberg”. Around 2000, for technical marketing reasons, the old name in the simplest spelling of the moment was again chosen: Gillishof!
In 1595 the first descendant of the Ortmans family ended up on the farm as a tenant. Because of the “saeppeliche zeiten” they get a considerably more favorable lease contract. Times were bleak indeed. Rolling army gangs of the House of Orange as well as the Spaniards, French, Austrians etc. did not leave the countryside untouched. The regionally notorious gang of the Goat Riders are also making their home in our region. In fact, from about 1580 until after Napoleon, 1814, there was constant war.
Around 1750, the Ortmans family was already tenant of the farm in the sixth generation. In 1788, after 193 years, the long lease left the family. Until the confiscation by the French in 1797, the Gillishof was inhabited by three different tenants. The farm then quickly falls into disrepair. After the confiscation, the French auction the farm. On September 18, 1804, the current owner’s great-great grandfather buys the farm. Penners is married to Josepha Hennen. Around 1840, 2 daughters take over the court. The farm is divided in two and a wall is built across the courtyard. The ladies did not get along so well. One of their descendants, Jacob Gerards, doctoral candidate and doctor in The Hague, succeeds in bringing everything back together around 1890. Not least because he was unmarried and had sufficient means. The wall is demolished and he leases the farm to his sister Theresia. She is married to Peter Joseph Senden. Son Leonard Senden, Jacqueline’s grandfather, tackles the modernization of the farm together with his uncle Jacob. The thatched roofs are replaced by tiled roofs. The walls of the front house and of the left wing are also raised by +/- 1 meter, so that an upper floor was added to the houses and the bag space in the barns and stables was increased. Leonard brought electricity and machines to the farm because of his poor health. To raise the families income he was the caissière from the local Rabobank until his death in 1959.
Leonards son Jan and his wife Mia start in 1977, with the rise of tourism, with the rental of holiday apartments in addition to their work as farmers. First in the empty part of the front house and later in the right wing.
Daughter Jacqueline takes over the development of the right wing from 1994. From 2005, Jacqueline manages the entire heritage. She is the sixth paternal generation who kepts the key from Gillishof.
Jacqueline’s paternal great-great-grandfather bought the farm on September 18, 1804. Jacqueline’s paternal grandmother, Maria Caubo, descended on her mother’s side from the Ortmans family who had a lease on the farm for 193 years before the French era.
Added together, this means that the Gillishof has been in the same family for more than 400 years.
In search of Traces of 700 years of Hoeve History
The history of the Gillishof
Jan Senden wrote a book about it. Searching for Traces of 700 years of farmhouse history! ( Speuren naar sporen van 700 jaar hoeve historie). In this book he describes his quest for the hidden stories of the robust walls of the complex. How did it originate? When was the 1st stone laid? Who were the residents and how did they live. An enormous amount of material turned out to be found in the archives of Maastricht, Aachen, Dusseldorf, Heerlen, Liège and Hasselt. A mega job to unravel and decipher everything. His brother Zef Senden did the latter. It turned out that he quickly mastered transcribing the old texts. Both men have spent about 10 years writing this great book.
Gillishof at the time of WWII Memories of WWII by residents of the Gillishof
From: Gillishof; Search for traces of 700 years of farm history: p. 134, 135, 136
Friday, May 10, 1940, we were awakened in the morning between four and five o’clock by the engine noise of airplanes. We didn’t know what that meant, of course. Some time later we saw soldiers on foot and in a kind of cars passing under the road towards the Prickart. This took a long time. I don’t remember how long. What I remember most about that day is that during the morning we children were in front of the house in the garden, on the bleach, and that my father stood there with some other men watching that spectacle and that he smoked a cigar! I had never seen Dad smoke. I don’t remember anything about the rest of that day. We were immediately told that it was the Germans who had invaded our country. Much later I found out that the planes we heard had sailplanes with soldiers in tow, which a little later would occupy Fort Eben-Emael. Later still I read with the historian Marianne Jungen that in the first days of May 1940 40,000 soldiers were housed in private homes in Aachen.
The Germans had entered through all the openings in the border barrier; the whole village was overrun. They had come not only over the paved roads, but even through the fields. We had a few parcels on the Huelend that were sown with oats. One of those lots had been completely plowed up because the Germans had driven through it with their armored cars. The border barrier had been built by the Germans in previous years, as the front line of the Westwall or Siegfriedline. The second line consisted of the höcker, concrete obstacles to stop enemy tanks. Behind it were the bunkers where the cannons were located.
The front line consisted of a six-meter wide and three-meter high barbed wire barrier that, with the best will in the world, you couldn’t crawl through without leaving your clothes, skin and half your body behind. It was made of rock-solid Krupp steel. After the war, the farmers and others demolished entire sections of that barrier and used wire and poles, among other things, to make fences that would last for many years to come.
In the first months of the occupation we were twice confronted with einkwartierung, the forced shelter to the occupiers. A platoon of soldiers arrived at the farm with officers, horses, field kitchen, and so on. The horses were kept in the cowshed. Uncle Joseph, who normally milks the cows in the barn, had to do so outside on the dung heap. The soldiers slept in the hayloft and the officers demanded a bed in the house. They stayed for a day or two or three and then moved on. During the stay, the soldiers kept watch. They would then walk around the farm to keep an eye on everything.
On a beautiful, sunny day, for example, a soldier walked up and down in front of the house. Our mother had the kitchen window open and the soldier started a conversation with her about the war. At one point the soldier said to mother: Dieser Krieg could not win, we will never win this war.
I don’t remember how long it took before everything went back to normal. However, at the end of the school year, the entire class was transferred to the fifth grade and that this had more to do with a lack of space in the fourth grade than with the knowledge acquired.
On the St. Gillishof and in the vicinity, resistance was fought against the occupiers in various ways. The sons of the Grooten family on the Prickart were members of a pilot line. This was a group of people who helped pilots of crashed planes to stay out of the hands of the occupiers and to return them to the Allied territories via the pilot lines. At the time, only a handful of residents had a telephone connection. One of those connections was in our house and the Grooten group made use of it.
In 1943, all university and college students had to sign a declaration of loyalty that they would not take any action against the German Empire. If they didn’t, they were arrested and taken to Germany to work there. To avoid that fate, many students went into hiding wherever possible. This is also the case with us. The first was Jan Boumans from Heerlen, a student at the Agricultural College in Wageningen. His parents had a clothing store in Willemstraat in Heerlen. I don’t remember how long he stayed. When at one point the Germans threatened to arrest his parents, he reported and left. The second person in hiding was Wim Oomen, also a student in Wageningen. This one also eventually reported. Both survived the war. Jan Boumans’ father was a bee lover. He kept beehives with us until long after the war.
During the Allied bombing raids on Aachen, bombs occasionally ended up in Bocholtz. In the night of 3 to 4 May 1942 it was that time again. That night an airplane discharged its load a little early; two bombs landed less than fifty yards from the farm in the pasture beyond and a third near ours
neighbor Sjeng Steinbusch.
The first bomb exploded immediately and threw a hole ten meters deep out of the ground, the second was a blindgänger, a time bomb, which exploded more than four weeks later on June 1 at one o’clock in the afternoon. We were just sitting at the table for lunch. Suddenly there was a huge bang. Creemers, a seasonal worker who helped clean the beets, nearly fell off his chair, someone yelled “the bomb!” And we all ran outside, and yes, another huge hole. Bomb shards lay everywhere. Brother Zef picked up one and burned his hand. As mentioned, the third bomb ended up just behind the shed on neighbor Steinbusch’s sjop. The seeder was on top of the roof of the stable. On the edge of the hole the bomb had made was a small stable that had been set up as a sleeping quarters for Steinbusch’s servants. That night three young men slept there, the brothers Joep and Gerard Dumont and Sjeng Hameleers. They didn’t have a scratch!
During another bombing raid, an airplane lost some incendiary bombs. About ten of them ended up around the farm, but none fell on the farm. We have been very lucky.
The last weeks of the war
September 1944. A very exciting time. The Germans withdrew further and further. The troop association was already very chaotic at that time. For example, it could happen that in the evening some German soldiers were at the door and asked if they could sleep in the stable. They put their equipment or what was left of it aside, including weapons, and went to sleep. No wait, nothing. You could have shot them like that.
If something more formed groups came along, you had to be careful, you still had to comply with their orders. For example, during this time, troops could demand that you provide a horse. In this way we lost the old mare Laura. On Sunday, September 16, around noon, we saw the first American soldiers across from our house in Martin Huppertz’s pasture. That Sunday morning the pastor had said in early Mass that he was relieving the parishioners of the Sunday obligation to attend Mass, because the fighting was now very close.
On Saturday the Bocholtzerheide was already liberated. On Sunday afternoon, the G.I.s (the American soldiers) dug in the pasture behind the farm.
They made foxholes behind the hedges, holes in the ground, covered them with everything that was suitable for this and threw the ground back on top.
Then they crawled under it to hide. Two G.I.’s went into a foxhole, one kept watch while the other slept.
It turned out that the war was not over yet. The advance of the Americans to Aachen stopped and as a result Bocholtz and the surrounding area remained on the front line. There were frequent bombardments with 75mm shells. The G.I.s set up a cannon next to the field shed and fired dozens of those whoppers towards Aachen and the bunkers on the Vetschauerberg. The Germans fired back. I would not dare say how many impacts there were, but the fact is that people were killed in the village, that the church tower had to deal with several impacts, and that around the farm and the field shed a dozen shells ended up without causing any damage. . The hardest blow that month was when a plane with apparently heavy bombs on board crashed into farmer Ingelsin’s field about 100 meters behind the Herenpaal on German soil. A huge bang and a gigantic hole were the result.