Walvoord History.com

Connecting Walvoords & Walvoorts together Past, Present, and Future



Geographic Origins

Map of Gelderland, The Netherlands circa 1802

Map of Gelderland, The Netherlands circa 1802

The Walvoort family originated in the Netherlands in the province of Gelderland.  The Eastern-most area called the Achterhoek  (or back corner) of Gelderland is where the Walvoorts lived.

By drawing a triangle from the town of Aalten in the West (just under the “N” in Gelderland on the map above) to the larger village of Winterswijk in the East, to the town of Lichtenvoorde to the North you would encompass the entire area the the Walvoort family came from.

Origins of the Family Name

The Walvoort name was spelled a variety of ways, but seemed to settle on the spelling “Walvoort” in the 19th century.  In America most Walvoorts changed the spelling to “Walvoord.”
Why this occurred is not known.   The “Walvoord” spelling does not exist in Holland today.  As of 1995, Dutch phone books have only about sixteen or so phone listings of the “Walvoort” name most of which are located in the Gelderland province where the name originated.

In America, in 1995,  there were just over one-hundred telephone listings of this name — the majority now spelled “Walvoord” with only a handful spelled the original way.

In Dutch (Nederlands) the word “voort” or “voorde” means: “place in or part of a river or stream that is shallow enough to permit crossing it by (or on horseback).”

The same word exists in most Germanic languages:

  • English: ‘ford,’
  • Old Frisian: ‘forda,’
  • German: ‘furt.’
  • Welsh: ‘fiordd‘ meaning “way, or road”
  • Norwegian: ‘fjord‘ meaning “firth, waterway, or sea-arm.”
Some place names in the Netherlands that are examples of this wording are:
  • Zandvoort:  ford in the sand;
  • Westervoort:  ford on the west side;
  • Bredevoort:  wide ford;
  • Lichtenvoorde:  ford with much light or easy going ford.


  • Amersvoort: ford in the river Aam, now called river Eem;
  • Coevorden: ford where cows cross the river

(someone of the local noble family ‘van Coeverden‘ was the founder of Vancouver, BC, Canada).

The name WALVOORT probably means: ford near a “wal.”  “Wal” in Dutch does not mean “wall” as in the side of a building like it does in English, but it means a “man-made earthen fortification; or rampart around a town.”

So literally, “Walvoort” means “ford near a town’s earthen defense mount.”

The ‘wallen’ (plural of ‘wal’) in Amsterdam, used to be (non-stone) defense structures around the successive outer canals. It is now the name of the red light district.

Just east of Aalten, Gelderland, Netherlands, is a small castle called the Walvoort.

This is what the Walfort Castle located near Aalten, Gelderland6 Netherlands looked like in 1743. Caption: "Huis Wallvoord, by Bredvoord 13.August.1743."

This is what the Walfort Castle located near Aalten, Gelderland, Netherlands looked like in 1743. Caption: “Huis Wallvoord, by Bredvoord 13.August.1743.”

The surrounding farmstead has gone by that or other similar names for centuries.

In 1402, it was called Waldenvort and was owned by Derich van Lintelo.

In records of 1424 it was called Walvoort.

In 1500, it was called Waelvaert, and in 1600, Walvaert.

The van Lintelo family owned it until 1609 when it passed to a Johan van Coeverden who had married a Fredrica Margriet van Lintelo.

In 1712 it was called “het (the) Walfart.”  The van Coeverden family owned it until 1730.

het Walfort, what is looks like today

het Walfort, what it looks like today

Today maps identify the castle as “‘t Walfort.” It was the local seat of power for many years. Presumably most, if not all, variants of the name originated from people who lived and worked the farmstead.

According to family tradition, a court official in the country of Holland by the name of Walvoort wished to establish his name. He was married but childless. He was a wealthy man and had many servants. So, to solve his problem, one day he made a proposition to a man and woman who happened to be two of his favorite servants. He told them, “If you will marry and adopt my name, Walvoort, you can inherit all of my wealth.” So the couple were married. Their original name was Geezink.

Updated: August 21, 2016 — 9:03 PM
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