Dear Tina and Margaret,
I read your messages with great interest.
My mother was a Nelk. She had two sisters. Her father and mother were both African-Javanese. Her grandfather was an African who served as a soldier in the Dutch Army in Indonesia.
The Dutch sought volunteers or bought the freedom of slaves in the Gold Coast (Ghana) so they could be recruited for their Colonial Army. During this recruitment process these African men were given new names administered by people with little imagination. The names were typically very short, such as Ijs, Troon, Herbig, Van Dyck, Van Dam, Calis, and Nelk.
This little piece of Dutch history has fascinated quite a few scholars, one of which is Larry Yarak of Texas A&M. His book "The Asante and the Dutch" has explained a lot of what the Dutch did in the Gold Coast from 1744 to 1873.
My great-grandfather, after serving 18 years, went back to Ghana in 1890 but left his only son, my grandfather Joseph Nelk, in Indonesia. This recruitment campagne was not very successful as they managed to engage only 3000 men over a period of some 30 years. Contrary to the Atlantic slave trade the Dutch did not ship any women to Indonesia. Two generations later their descendants have lost the strong African features, unlike their American counterparts.
For the past eight month I've begun a search for the name Nelk in Ghana. There are lots of families with Dutch names up and down the coast near Elmina, Ghana, but no one with the name Nelk. I was hoping that my great-grandfather may have started another family after returning from Indonesia.
As you can see, I do have something to say about the name Nelk, but I don't think there is a connection between your Nelk and my Nelk.
Feel free to write me if you're interested.
And if you happen to know of a Nelk-Ghana connection then you must write me.
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