F.O.H.R. Farwerck (1856-1930)

Here and there I have information about the Pater Familias but not yet a text solely dedicated to him.

The photo above is from 1929. From left to right you can see Carl Wilhelm Farwerck, Otto Hans Farwerck, Franz Otto Heinrich Richard Farwerck, Willem Arnoud Farwerck and Johanna Farwerck-Borrius.

The man we are talking about is ‘grandpa’. His baptismal names vary a bit. Sometimes his initials are F.O.H.R., sometimes F.O.R.H. and sometimes F.O.H.

According to a family genealogy that I got Franz Otto was born on 24 February 1856 in Schöppingen, Germany, only a few kilometers passed the Dutch border. Public archives from Amsterdam have him listed as being born on 25 February. Franz’ Otto’s father was also called Franz. The name runs in the family! For all Franz’s goes that every ones in a while the writing Frans is used. (For senior one time Frantz, but I think this is a setting error.)

On 19 January 1888 Franz Otto marries Elise Dorothea Struve (or as you can see on the right, sometimes called Theodora Elise Struve) who was born on 1 May 1950 in Varel in the North of Germany. The marriage seems to have taken place in Amsterdam, so the couple must have moved there before that time.

I can’t find too much about Franz Otto, but he made the papers a couple of times. The announcement of the marriage in 1888 is the oldest that I can find though.

According to Hans Hoogenboom (1) Franz Otto had moved to the Netherlands in 1897 and “made fortune” in brown coal and briquettes in Rotterdam. I have no other source for this information, but some Farwercks are indeed listed in Rotterdam and Franz himself also started his career in brown coal.

The public archives of Amsterdam have Franz Otto living at Westerdokstraat 9, a street which seems to no longer exist. Nowadays there is a Nieuwe Westerdokstraat (‘new’), which is very close to the central railway station. Franz Eduard seems to have been born at this address, of Carl Wilhelm I’m not sure. Hoogenboom says that Franz Otto moved to the Nieuwenstraat in Amsterdam when he moved to the Netherlands. If either is correct, this means that Franz Otto either already moved to Amsterdam immediately, but had a factory in Rotterdam, or he moved from Rotterdam to Amsterdam within a year. The reason he moved to Amsterdam remains unclear. In Rotterdam he could have had business as we will see later. As far as I know, in Amsterdam he never did.

I ran into a somewhat weird case involving Franz Otto and a business partner called Johann Anton Kemper (1847-1909) who was naturalized in 1886 and lived in Rotterdam. Kemper also seems to have had factories in Germany. In 1891 Kemper (“merchant and shopkeeper”) was appointed guardian (tutelage) of three underage children of Juliane Scheelje, the widow of Bernard Gerscher. Franz Otto was appointed surveying guardian. I suppose Franz Otten and Kemper were business partners and quite likely in Rotterdam.

In 1898 Franz Otto and Max Keller started a company “Zürcher en co.” for “manufacturing in the widest sense of the word”. The original Dutch sounds as vague as this translation. The company was located in Amsterdam, but appears to have made electric trams all over the country, including Hilversum where the family Farwerck would move to later.

In 1909 Franz Otto officially gave permission to another manufacturer to produce his products.

Hoogenboom suggests that Franz Eduard was rapidly made ready by his father to take over business and when he was around the age of 25, the entire family moved to Hilversum to start a carpet factory there. This appears to be a too simple rendition of the events as Franz Otto himself had a carpet factory at least before 1915. That is to say, in 1913 the company “Eijlardi & Farwerck” built a steam weaving factory in Hilversum. It is unclear to me if this is senior or junior. Whatever the case, I think both had something to do with it.

In 1930 the carpet factory where Franz Otto and Franz Eduard (and likely Carl Wilhelm and Johanna) worked celebrated its first centenary. This event gave me the only ‘civilian’ photo of Franz Eduard and a photo of Franz Otto. The news was big enough for the papers, so I also have some history of the factory.

In 1830 a hand-weaving factory was founded in Hilversum. In 1848 H. de Wit joined the company. In 1860 the transferred to a nephew of the founder Tijmen de Wit and the factory was renamed. Many years later steam powered weaving factories made a rise and Tijmen de Wit had a hard time competing with their manual machines. Franz Otto Farwerck had such a steam powered factory and in 1915 the Tijmen de Wit and Farwerck factories merged. Apparently Franz Otto’s factory was smaller, as the new name became “steam weaving factory Tijmen de Wit and sons”. F.O.H.R. Farwerck became president-commissioner and at the age of 74 (in 1930 at the anniversary) he still worked full-time! He was knighted at 2 August 1930 and passed away on 19 september of the same year.

Not all newspaper articles mention Franz Eduard, let alone Carl Wilhelm or Johanna. Since there appear to be several factories owned by the family it is not always clear to me what is what, but -as mentioned- another article has a photo on which both Franz Otto and Franz Eduard can be found.

What is of some interest is that a family genealogy that I got mentions that Franz Otto converted to Protestantism. I had indications that the Farwercks were Protestant and this adds to the idea.

Franz Otto Richard Heinrich Farwerck passed away on 18 September 1930 leaving two sons and two grand children.


(1) Tapijtfabrikant en Dominee (‘Carpet manufacturer and clergyman’) by Hans Hoogenboom in Eigen Perk (‘Own perk’) 2015/3, a publication of the Hilversumse Historische Kring (‘Historic circle Hilversum’). The text is available online (PDF) when I write this.

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