|Most Kolffs have earned their living either by trading, working
for companies, or in free professions. This is still the case,
in general. Few worked for gouvernments, as civil servants
or in the military. Ofcourse there were exemptions of which
the most spectacular are the six members of the oldest branch
of the family, the Betuwe Kolffs (see also: Biographies:
Deil). For 170 years, with an interruption of a mere twelve
years, the municipality of Deil was gouverned by Kolffs, first
as bailiff later as mayors. This was from 1804 untill the
liquidation of this municipality which became then part of
a larger entity. Were they civil servants? They can better
be described as gouvernors in the region - in the best sense
of its meaning.
And so there were only a few that choose a military career.
One of them was Dirk Hendrik. That choice was obvious. His
father, also a Dirk Hendrik, had climbed to the rank of naval
captain, while the grandfather on his mothers' side had even
reached the rank of vice-admiral. So since 1814 he had joined
the navy and, for its great prospects in opportunities there,
he joined the service 'following the advice of his guardians'
in the Neth. East Indies. He must have regretted that later.
His 22-year carreer in the navy shows notable achievements
but at the same time disappointment in the carreer he had
a few years his qualities drew attention. Nelleke Manneke
mentioned in her book the battles near Sumatra in 1821, for
which he was awarded with Militaire Willemsorde 4e klasse
which is the highest in its class). In 1824 he was commanding,
as lieutenant-commander 'a colonial war brig of the first
charter'. This ship was the Doerga, with which in 1825 and
1826 he explored the Eastern part of the Indonesian Archipelago.
This voyage had the character of both exploration as well
as colonial expansion. During his leave 1828 and 1829 in the
Netherlands he published his "Reize door den weinig bekenden
zuidelijken Molukschen archipel en langs de geheel onbekende
zuidwest kust van Nieuw-Guinea ... (translation: below)
", which was later also published in English. The King
awarded him with a Gold Medal with inscription: "To award
good behaviour and exceptional attempts to expand useful knowledge".
At the same time the Minister of Colonies and Navy informed
him that he would be recommended 'with special notice' with
the gouvernment in the Neth. East Indies.