David: For the past 25-years I've heard from other family members doing geneological research that the Van Sickle family is indeed from the original Van der Zickelen family in Ghent. Unforutunately, I do not have the 'trail' of a family tree to back it up, and I don't think my family members do either.
However, I did have a chance to visit the house/castle, when in Belgium several years ago.There are actually 3 large buildings that could be considered 'castle' material, connected with the Van der Zickelen family. One is now the Royal Conservatory of Music, given/sold to the state in the 1700's by the family, and is the structure from which you see postcards and tourist book pictures of its lovely courtyard.The building next to it houses the superintendent of schools office.I did not visit the third.Inside the conservatory is one room which appears to be of 'original' plaster and artwork displaying the Van der Zickelen coat of arms painted on the wall, as well as the seal for Ghent and I believe one for Flanders.It's a beautiful room.. the rest of the building has been 'refurbished' to the point that it looks like the inside of any other public building.
If we're indeed connected to this family, it's a wonderful experience to find oneself standing in the midst of this beautiful place, however.. without some concrete proof of lineage, it's just a nice idea and gives us about as much real claim to the ancestry as "Joe Bob Windsor" has to the English throne.On the other hand, what proof is there that we're not connected?
As for Gene Van Sickle, I only recall his sending letters to my parents offering to sell them his book. I don't believe they bought one but someone else in my family may have, if you're interested.I wish you much luck in finding any real evidence of whether/how the Van Sickle family of Europe is indeed connected to the family here.. and would appreciate any information you might gain. Sincerely, Sonya Van Sickle