by Donald L. Van Beck
since my son Ted started the web site vanbeck.com
he has received numerous inquiries regarding our name, history, etc. I
hope this will give you some of the information you have been seeking
and won’t be to boring…..
Louis and Emily Van Glabeke immigrated from Ecklo, Belgium in 1900 and
settled in the west side of St. Charles, Illinois, a town of 4000, in an
area called “Belgium Town”. All of the men worked at the local foundry
which was affectionately called “the Belgium College”. They had a
daughter Madelain and a son August, who was my father. My father “Gus”
also worked at the foundry and with my grandfather made a little bathtub
gin during the prohibition. He married my mother Doris Howard who had
immigrated from England and decided that since prohibition was abolished
he would open a tavern. “Gus’s” became the home of Belgium “Rolle Bolle”
in the Midwest and tournaments were held there each year with
contestants coming from the surrounding area. Dad sold the tavern in
1946 and moved to Florida.
I was born in
1928 during the great depression, my brother John six years later and my
sister Beverly twelve years later. We all had trouble with people being
able to pronounce our name and had joked about some day changing it to
something everyone could pronounce. I joined the Army in 1946 and went
to Japan where my name saved me from going to Hokkaido, the Siberia of
Japan. When our troop ship landed in Tokyo we were all sent to Zama for
assignment. We started with 7000 troops in the field the first morning
and names were called for shipment to various bases. After 32 days I
was the last man standing and I went up and identified myself. They
indicated that I had been called 25 days before and had been marked
AWOL. There are many more stories connected with the mispronunciation of
our family name but to make a long story short after my return to the
USA I told my parents and siblings that I was going to change my name.
They all thought it was a good idea and so the family name was changed
to Van Beck.
Having been to
Belgium I could not find any more “Van Becks” and it wasn’t until the
Internet that other Van Becks began to appear on the scene. My personal
opinion is that most “Van Becks” were once know by a more complicated
name and it was changed as many other immigrants did when coming to the
USA. There were several other areas with a large Belgium population
including Paterson, NJ.
My wife’s Julia’s
father came from Holland and his name was Johannas Vander Waal know as
Hans or later John. His father was Joseph Vander Waal and he settled
with his wife Henritta first in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and then in
Mosinee. With five sons and three daughters, he has many descendants in
the Wisconsin/Illinois area.
My three sons
live in Atlanta, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale. However my only Van
Beck grandson lives in Atlanta and so the Van Beck name may not carry on
if he doesn’t have sons.
Would appreciate hearing your story and
any history of your name…..