History family Kolenbrander, Colenbrander and Koolenbrander


The Colenbrander or Kolenbrander family originates from Varsseveld, which is located in the Achterhoek region of the province of Gelderland. The first known forebear is N. Reijmans off Colenbrander who lived on the farm Reijmansstede near Varsseveld. In addition to being farmers,  he and his first generations of descendants were also burners of charcoal, which was used at that time in the iron industry, hence the name. Wander Colenbrander (1671-1747), who lived on the farm 'The Keurhorst', was probably the last one who was engaged in this sideline .

Different family trees and family traditions adhere to the belief that the family originated in Germany and fled to The Netherlands for religious reasons during the Thirty Year War of 1618-1648. However, evidence for this belief has not been found. In contrast, church and tax records from Varsseveld provide indisputable evidence that the family existed in earlier times in Varsseveld.

Different names

The different spelling of the name arose with the church registration of baptisms, marriages and burials before 1811/1812. It was not uncommon to be born as Colenbrander, marry as Kolenbrander and be buried as Colenbrander or the other way around. With the registration of children, it could go either way. After the Civil Registration was introduced in 1811, new events were referenced with regard to the original document. However, it still took a whole generation before the name of a family consistently was implemented. In addition, due to a clerical error, the spelling of Koolenbrander was also created. In this way, different names for one family can occur. For this genealogy the name in the register of baptisms and later from 1811 in the civil register of births is leading.

We can safely assume that all Colenbranders, wherever they are on this world, belong to the same family. Almost every Kolenbrander also belongs to the family with the exception of a small family originating from Borne. This family assumed the name Kolenbrander in 1826 and originally bore the name Olde Wierik. Of course they are not a part of the family tree.


The family increased enormously and occupied a prominent place in the region. A branch of the Colenbrander family is or was present in almost every town and village in the Achterhoek. Roughly, the family has broken up into three groups. A large part just stayed in the Achterhoek and continue farming even today on different farms. Most of those farms have age-old names, and, if they are known, they will be stated in this family history. In the 17th century a branch took residence in Zutphen and became leading citizens. Although it’s certain they belong to the family tree, the connection has not yet been established. Also family members emigrated to the Dutch East Indies, South Africa and Australia.

Furthermore a large number emigrated to the USA and Canada. The first group left about 1840 due to the Schism of 1834, which resulted in the establishment of the Dutch Reformed Church. A large number of Colenbrander/Kolenbrander families fled The Netherlands for religious reasons, because they adhered to the new faith. The second group left about 1870, because of extremely bad economic circumstances in The Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Moreover, in the course of the centuries, dozens left their native soil of the Achterhoek, to build a new existence in another part of The Netherlands. Today, in the whole of The Netherlands, we have come across descendants of the Colenbranders from Varsseveld.


The authentication of the current family tree is developed by searching in the various archives and of course the internet. The research is still continuing and is really an ongoing project. An additional difficulty is due to the burning down of the church in Varsseveld in 1723; a lot of data was lost. Eventually we decided to extend the family tree to related families. In earlier centuries the conception of ‘family’ had a much broader meaning than it has today, especially in-laws. By extending the family tree relationships family ties are more easily recognized and as a consequence it simplifies research of the Colenbrander/Kolenbrander family. A good example is the appointment of guardians to a minor. These guardians were family members and from these appointments the family relation of a child can be established. As a result the family tree contains data of a great number of families from the Achterhoek. For those who are interested this hopefully means a lot of fun.

We still have unconnected details of dozens of families and hundreds of individuals who still have to be incorporated in the family tree. Also, a lot of data is missing from families who during the last century and a half, have emigrated. However, many relatives have responded to our requests for information and to this website. We are very grateful to them. If you have suggestions, corrections or additions please let us know. Every scrap of information is very welcome. We are also interested in stories, histories, biographies, photo's and so on for our digital family archive, which at the moment consists of about 10.000 documents.

Rent paid 1675

Food distribution 1723

Fire damages 1723

Church payments 1728

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