Derk & Christina "Their Journey Begins"
Derk Van Peer, was born on the 18th of Sept 1851, in Wildervank, Veendam, Groningen, in the Netherlands. Derk then left Wildervanck, in the Netherlands in 1879, along with his two younger brothers, Klaas (Nick) and Hendrich (Henry). Derk migrated to Australie as it was then known (Australia) aged at 28 yrs old, on the 20th of July 1879. Nick (b.1863) and Henry (b.1861) went to the USA, on another ship and both settled in Patterson, New Jersey, in the USA. Derk's family never heard from him again. Fearing the worse, they assumed he had fallen overboard and drowned, or was shipwrecked somewhere on an island. We breached those brick walls and finally worked out his trail, thanks to a DNA match with Derk's brothers, relatives, on: gedmatch.com
Derk originally landed in Australia and a year or so later, he met with a young lady called Christina (Lewis) in Sydney NSW, Australia. She measured in at just 4' 6", with grey eyes and blond hair and at the time, was still married to a young Charles Saxby, however a friendship bloomed between all. Derk could neither read nor write english. Even when he passed away aged 92, his english was poor.
(Christina Lewis and Charles Saxby had married in Dunedin NZ, in July 18, 1883, then bolted for Australia, as Charles had had a fling with the girl up the road from where he resided with his parents and her father came a knockin with a shotgun. Christina was unaware as they had just left).
Around the end of the late 1880's, Charles found out about Derk and Christina. (we think that Derk was a lodger at the Pool Hall / Pub that Charles and Christina owned, in George Street, Sydney).
By this time, it could be assumed that both she and Derk, decided to move back to NZ, away from Charles, whom according to Court Notices and Newspaper Articles, had a temper. After settling back in Moeraki, life of sorts started to take shape for Christina and for Derk, this was a new adventure. Derk soon found work as both a Fisherman / Boat Builder with Frederick Buryeson and they both became rather well known in the area, both establishing a Fish Market & Processing Plant, as the Whaling Industry was in full swing. In his later years when the Whaling Industry changed, he and Frederick rented land off the local Council and went into farming, with Cattle and prize Bulls.(This is also where my great-grandfather Rod Lee learnt his butchery trade and skills, in later life. Rod also worked with Robert Smart (my grandmothers grandfather) a local Butcher in Oamaru, who expanded with several shops).
Around 1888, my Great-Grand Aunt, Hermina was born and my Great-Grand Father, Rod was born 1891. As Derk was then still known as Van Peer, Hermina and Rod were known locally as Hermina and Rod Van Peer. The other children were born after 1893, not long after Derk became a naturalised citizen. Derk was also friends with Andrew McKerrow, (the local MP) who aided Derk with his Citizenship. As he was now legally known as Thomas Lee, the other children, Annie, Thomas, Frederick, Frank and Robert became Lee. Frederick Buryerson, who came over on the Boat with Derk & Christina from Australia, later became the God-father to young Frederick Buryeson Lee, who died at infancy. Hermina and Rod used the surname Lee, but there is no official documentation to show deed pole or other. By this time, Tom was ageing in years and the decision for all to move to Oamaru was made, where he carried on fishing with his son, Thomas (TC) and they opened a Fish Market at the lower end of Tees St, Oamaru. Tom and Christina eventually built a House in Tyne St, overlooking the Oamaru Harbour, where sadly, their younger son Robert passed away aged 12 yrs old. TC lived in the house behind the Fish Market, where he eventually met his wife Alice Mattsson.
In there later life, with their children established, both Tom and Christina moved into a smaller house, at 2 Aln St, Oamaru. Derk could neither read nor write english, Christina could speak english but couldn't read. It is not known if she knew how to write. Even when Derk passed away aged 92, his english was still poor. They lived out their remaining retirement, Christina sadly passing away in 1937 aged 74 and Tom in 1943 aged 92. Their journey had now come to an end.