In the early-to-mid-1600s Crefeld was home to a number of our families – the Op den Graeffs, the Tyson/Tiesen/Thiessens, and the Sellens.
Crefeld sits near the Lower Rhine River almost on the Dutch border. Many of the names associated with Crefeld were of Dutch origin although the language spoken and written by our family members was German. During this time, Crefeld was known for two things: its linen weavers and its religious tolerance.
It’s difficult to get a clear picture of what life was like for our relatives in Crefeld at this time. While others around Europe were being persecuted for their Reformed Protestant religious beliefs, the Protestants – being anyone who protested being a member of the Catholic church – and the Mennonites of Crefeld were worshiping freely and in the open.
We do know that the elder Herman Op den Graeff – who stayed in Crefeld – was a wealthy cloth and linen merchant and the Op den Graeff sons were linen weavers of fine cloth, as they brought their skills with them to Germantown when they emigrated.
If you look on a map today, Krefeld is spelled with the letter K and with around 240,000 inhabitants sits between the city of Dusseldorf and the border of the Nederlands. You will also see that two other towns associated with our families, Kleve and Goch, sit between Crefeld and the Dutch border.