As the American visitor’s eyes rested on the peaceful scene of a Dutch business office containing much of the same furniture which had been in daily use for many decades if not for centuries or more, his imagination could picture the man who had worked here and had solved the problems of business arising daily during the French Revolution which, with its new theories shook the foundation of the old order of things.
When the great Corsican conqueror pressed the heels of the French soldiers hard upon the necks of the subjugated nations of Europe, including the people of Holland. All these events had transpired during the lifetime of the very man who sat in the very chair in which his American descendant was sitting…
Adrianus Quirinus Kolff (CB, XIIf) of Middelharnis passed through trying and turbulent days during the French Revolution and the Napoleontic Period. That Adrianus Quirinus Kolff was a man whose administrative and commercial instincts were strongly developed cannot be questioned, and it is an established fact that he trained the members of his family, particularly the men, along principles and lines which were successful in making them men of recognized ability when they left the small fishing village of Middelharnis and moved to the large commercial centers carrying with them that wisdom, experience and knowledge of human beings and business affairs which are more easily acquired in a small town than in a large city. Many of them went to Rotterdam and there established family units of their own. Most of them followed the advice of there forfathers to settle within the familiar sound of harbour noises.
From Middelharnis to Rotterdam
Middelharnis on the island of Over Flakkee, apparently was the center for the fishing industry of South Holland and there were many ships of different kinds whose home port was Middelharnis, plying the waters of the North Sea. The industry was reported to be quite an extensive and profitable one and the fish brought into Middelharnis were sold at auction and were distributed by boats over the networks of canals to the many populous cities of Holland.
Rotterdam, easily accessible by water, had growing business relations with Middelharnis, and these commercial relations often were merged into matrimonial connections, so that pretty soon we read about marriages between the residents of Rotterdam and those of Over Flakkee.
The first one to move from Middelharnis to Rotterdam was Gualtherus Kolff (CBA, XIIIe), who establised himself there as a merchant, maintaining important trade relations with Middelharnis through his son Adrianus Quirinus. Apparently the members of the Kolff family combined commercial instincts with administrative sagacity, because while promoting their business interests, they also served their community as public officials of various kinds.
The office of Town Clerk, a not unimportant one, for many generations was held by members of the family, with credit to the community and themselves.”
Cornelius G. Kolff of Staten Island