Hi. I am a Norwegian writer doing research for a book and would like to confirm 2nd hand information I have of one of my subjects. The information below is from a family bible, and I assume the dates are fairly correct, though the spelling of names could vary.
Constance Melanie Van Der Straeten, born December 12, 1884, Antwerpen, Belguim. Parents were Jean Van Der Straeten and Octavie Van Ness.
Constance died (as Constance Seppala) in Seattle, April 16, 1969. In an interview late in life Constance said she was the daughter of a diamond cutter in Antwerpen, but in general she was very quiet about her background. She emigrated to Nome, Alaska, USA about 1905 (apparently together with an uncle), and married Leonhard Seppala in Nome, Alaska 1909. I am mostly interested in information/confirmation of her life before 1909. In 1912 she travelled from Antwerpen back to USA together with Arthur Van Der Straeten (whom I assume was a relative, ship records say he was 31 years at the time, the ship was SS Lapland, arrival New York City April 15, 1912). Constance also visited Europe in 1920 and 1932, I have records of that.
I am looking for whatever may confirm the background of Constance, especially her birth, her parents, did she have any siblings, was her father a diamond cutter, what was her family's social standing in Antwerpen at that time, when and how did she emigrate to the US, did other family members also emigrate to the US? As she was in her 20s when she emigrated, did she have any type of professional life in Belgium before leaving? Also, would it be possible to trace living members of her family today (grandnieses, grandnephews or such)?
I know I'm asking much. If this exceeds the limits of this forum, I would be grateful for tips on how to get in touch with volunteers/freelance researchers who may help me.