Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Tangled Web

When researching my distant cousins, I normally try not to put much effort into the in-laws, and devote most of my time into finding blood relatives. I suspect that's true for others as well. I do try to find birth, marriage, and death records for the spouses of blood relatives, but usually that's as far as I go. However, when I see the same names crop up again and again, I can't help but investigate the interrelationships between various in-laws.

In this essay, I consider some distant cousins who lived in the south-east corner of the Dutch province of Gelderland, east of Arnhem and south of the Veluwe, in the villages of Velp, Angerlo, Lathum, Hummelo, and Westervoort. This is an area where it seems like everyone knew everyone, where many people seem to be related, if not by blood, at least by marriage. Let's look in particular at the immediate family of my distant cousin Willemina Woutrina Moll (1808-1882).

Family of Willemina Woutrina Moll (Not all relationships shown)
Willemina was married twice, in 1829 to Barend Thomas van Zadelhoff (1793-1832) and in 1833 to Nicolaas van Zadelhoff (1792-1872). Barend Thomas died before the birth of their third child. Seeing the same surname twice was certainly enough to raise my curiosity, and a bit of investigation revealed that the two men were first cousins. The children of Barend Thomas and of Nicolaas had an interesting relationship since they were related in two ways. First, they were half siblings. Second, they were second cousins. That means they shared six of eight great grandparents: All four of Willemina Woutrina's grandparents, plus the two common grandparents of Barend Thomas and Nicolaas.

But there's more to this tangled web. The two daughters of Barend Thomas and Willemina Woutrina, Catharina van Zadelhoff (1830-1897) and Berendina Theodora van Zadelhoff (1832-1914), married two brothers Lambertus Wentink (1825-1899) and Jacobus Reinerus Wentink (1832-1914), respectively. In fact, the two weddings happened on the very same day, with the same four witnesses. There were children from these two marriages. Whenever two siblings marry another pair of siblings, their children are known as "double cousins". Normally, first cousins share two grandparents. However, double cousins share all four grandparents.

The same pattern repeats with the children of Willemina Woutrina and Nicolaas, not just once, but twice. And in one of those cases, three siblings marry a trio of siblings. We have Nicolaas van Zadelhoff (1839-1909), Wanderina Margaretha van Zadelhoff (1842-1869), and Barend van Zadelhoff (1850-1914) marrying the three siblings Elsken Smit (1841-1904), Hendrik Smit (1839-1890), and Christina Smit (1844-1892). And we have Hendrik van Zadelhoff (1844-1875) and Antonica Geertruida van Zadelhoff (1854-1936) marrying the siblings Jacomiena Ploeg (1842-1933) and Wessel Ploeg (1838-1929), respectively.

The interrelationships don't end with what's depicted on the diagram. For example, Barend van Zadelhoff was married twice. His second wife was Elske Geurdina Kets (1835-1931), a first cousin of his first wife Christina Smit.

How far does one go when investigating in-laws? It's entirely up to you. With almost all the records available on-line, it's now much easier to see the tangled web of interrelationships of our ancestors.

(You can read more in a followup at A Tangled Web, More Interrelationships.)