Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tangled Webs, The Tale Gets More Complicated

In previous blog postings, I discussed various examples of tangled interrelationships in my database. This time, we visit the towns of Nijkerk and Putten in northern Gelderland. Have a look at the following drop chart. (Click on it to see the full picture. Better still, open the image in a new browser window.)

Previously, I used an image program to produce a nice, easy to read chart. This time, there were just too many people to include, so I decided to take the easy way out, and just scan my rough, hand-drawn chart. In this chart, the black rectangles represent direct ancestors and the red rectangles represent distant cousins.

I began this saga of exploration researching some descendants of my 4th great grandparents Steven van Coot (1743-1813) and Helena van Hagen (d.1799). In my pedigree, these are persons #108 and #109. When I got down to their 2nd great grandchildren Gerrit van de Nautena (1862-1945) and Jannetje van de Nautena (1865-1931), I noticed that they both married a child of a van de Beerenkamp. Although these were in-laws, I just had to dig deeper. Gerrit married twice, to two sisters, Willempje van Korler (b.1853) and Maartje van Korler (b.1855). Their mother was Maria van de Beerenkamp (1820-1856), a daughter of Hendrik Elbertsen van de Beerenkamp (1797-1888).

Hendrik Elbertsen had another daughter, Willempje van de Beerenkamp (1822-1901), who married Abraham van Wijland (1821-1872). The name van Wijland was familiar. It turned out that Abraham and Willempje were the parents of Hendrikje van Wijland (1865-1893), whose husband was my great grand uncle Cornelis Moll (1855-1907), child of my 2nd great grandparents Herman Moll (1822-1902) and Johanna Anthonia Laboths (1821-1887), persons #24 and #25 in my pedigree. That is, the van de Beerenkamp family provides a link between two separate lines of my ancestors!

As if we haven't seen enough interrelationships so far, if you look more closely at the van de Beerenkamp family, you'll see even more. For example, we have yet another case of siblings marrying siblings: Aart Elbertsen van de Beerenkamp (1799-1872) married Maria Bleumink (1807-1874). Aart's younger brother Aalt Elbertsen van de Beerenkamp (1805-1866) married Maria's younger sister Jannetje Bleumink (1809-1866).

And we also have a couple of cases of cousins marrying: First, Willem van de Beerenkamp (1837-1897) married his first cousin Johanna van de Beerenkamp (1851-1931). Second, Willem van Wijland (1853-1917) married his first cousin once removed Aaltje van de Beerenkamp (1849-1919).

Looking at the chart, I wonder what other interesting interrelationships might be uncovered with further research.

Before I close off this epistle, I'd like to offer one more observation: Among the thousands of individuals born in the Netherlands in my database, I have very few cases of illegitimate births. And one of them shows up in this drop chart. My database does contain a number of cases of "miraculous" births, occurring less that nine months after the marriage of their parents. But during the 18th and 19th Centuries, illegitimate births seem relatively uncommon in the Netherlands.

Cheers! Hans

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Pet Peeves About Genealogy

Like any other pursuit, there are some things about genealogy that bug me. Some call these things "pet peeves". They're not enough to discourage me from my efforts. But, like some flying insects hovering around the backyard patio in the summer, they are annoying.

To begin with, allow me to complain about published genealogies. Don't get me wrong, I take advantage of whatever resources I can. I don't mind that they often contain errors. After all, I'll still double check the information by searching for the original source documents at But some things still irk me. For example, when a published genealogy uses the married name for women. Sure, many women adopt their husband's name on marriage. However, it makes searching for people that much more difficult. It's also confusing since you can never really be sure if it's a birth name or married name.

Another thing that bugs me is lack of citations in many published genealogies. Most of the time, the information is enough for me to locate the relevant documents. However, as you go further back through time, and the information in the registries become skimpier and skimpier, it becomes more and more important to document how a particular conclusion was reached. For example, if only a year is given for a particular event, you know that the year is just an educated guess at best, unless there's some other document that supports the fact.

Death/burial records in Dutch church registries bug the heck out of me. First, for children, they rarely list the name of the child. Normally, they just list the name of the father. In past centuries, couples often had lots of children, many of whom would die in infancy. And so figuring out an exact date of death for many children is an impossible task. Often, the best you can do is narrow down the date to a couple of possibilities. Take the family of Willem Moll and Dirkje Goetinks as an example. They had five children born in Arnhem between 1785 and 1796. However, when Dirkje died in 1800, the burial record noted that she had no children, which meant that all her children died in infancy. The burial registry for Arnhem lists deaths for three unnamed children of Willem Moll. The only definitive conclusion I can make for all five children is that they died before 1800. There's not enough information to be any more specific.

Second, why are the burial records so hard to read? Marriage and baptism records seem much more easier to deal with. But for some reason, it often seems like the worst scribes possible were assigned to record deaths and burials. Perhaps that's understandable, considering the nature of the task.

Finally, consider this scenario: You're up late searching through various web sites, you're tired, and you want to go to bed. You decide to visit just one more page. Bingo! You come across some previously undiscovered ancestors. What do you do? Do you bookmark the site and add it to your to do list? Or, excited about your new find, do you keep going? Do you enter the data into your database knowing full well that you're too tired to do so without risking the introduction of errors into your database?

These are some of my pet peeves. What are yours?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spurious Data and the Interconnected Web of Relationships

I spent some time researching the Matser family of Rheden, Gelderland. Since these were in-laws, and not blood relatives, I spent more time than I really wanted to. However, I did want to determine if two lines of Matser's were related. The research was proceeding fine, until I reached a bump in the road. According to a couple of published genealogies, Wouter Matser (1791-1861) was a child of Gerrit Matser (1760-1810) and Johanna Arends (1764-1842). I found baptism, marriage, and death records for Wouter Matser, however, for the baptism and marriage records, his father was listed as Hendrik Matser, not Gerrit.

I found records for Wouter's siblings, and he did seem to belong to the family of Gerrit Matser and Johanna Arends, and I could find no other mention of a Hendrik Matser. In addition, clearly, a least one other genealogist concluded that Wouter belonged to that family. So the name Hendrik must have been spurious. Or was it? If spurious, how could it be so in both baptism and marriage records?

I puzzled over this conundrum for a while. Finally, while loading the trunk of my car with groceries in the No Frills parking lot, the answer came to me. In the 19th Century, marriage applications in the Netherlands required a fair bit of paperwork. Normally, the marriage application included various documents, such as birth record extracts for the bride and groom, as well as possibly death record extracts for the parents. When Wouter Matser and Jantje Rong wanted to get married, the birth record extract for Wouter included the spurious name Hendrik Matser as the name of his father. This error was repeated verbatim on the marriage documents.

The additional paperwork for a marriage application can be found in the Huwelijksbijlagen. The information can usually be found elsewhere, with more detail. But if you're having trouble finding a date of birth or death for someone, you might be able to get the information from this set of documents. Unfortunately, it can often be difficult searching the on-line images at for the records you need since each marriage typically has up to half a dozen documents and extracts.

To get back to the interconnected web relationships, I was interested in tracing the Matser's since two distant Moll cousins married Matser's. Barend Moll (1850-1929) and Jan Willem Moll (1850-1937) were third cousins to each other. Barend married Hendrika Mariana Matser (1855-1931) and Jan Willem married Johanna Matser (1854-1918). We've met Johanna Matser once before, in A Tangled Web - More Interrelationships.

Seeing the name Matser crop up twice, I wondered if Hendrika Mariana and Johanna Matser were related. It took some effort, but I determined that they too were third cousins, descendants of Jakob Matser (1717-):
No doubt there are even more interrelationships between the people in my database. In this case, the clue was the common surname. But when tracing through maternal lines, the interrelationships are of course not as obvious.