Principles and Points

I’d like to start out by saying that, although we were members of a Unitarian congregation for a number of years, I was never comfortable calling myself a “Unitarian”. Since Unitarianism is a “creed-less” faith, the term is too non-specific for my tastes. Terms like “atheist” and “humanist” are much more descriptive of my beliefs. In fact, probably a majority of Unitarians in Canada identify as atheist or humanist. At least, that was probably true in the past at our local Unitarian fellowship.

Unitarians may not have a specific requirement for what they must believe, but they have a set of Seven Principles. I’ll repeat them here:

We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote:

1) The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2) Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;

3) Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

4) A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5) The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

6) The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

7) Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

These principles are fine, but they are not exclusive to Unitarianism. They are lofty enough that anyone can accept them, even those who wouldn’t even consider themselves as Unitarian.

The Seven Principles begin with an important statement, that every person has value, and is worthy and deserving of being treated with respect and dignity.

Compare the First Principle with the second sentence of the US Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The inherent worth and dignity of everyone is one of those principles that should be considered self-evident by any thinking and caring human being.

In comparison, read the Eight Points of the (now defunct) Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity (CCPC):

1) Centre our faith on values that affirm the sacredness and interconnectedness of all life, the inherent and equal worth of all persons, and the supremacy of love expressed actively in our lives as compassion and social justice;

2) Engage in a search that has roots in our Christian heritage and traditions;

3) Embrace the freedom and responsibility to examine traditionally held Christian beliefs and practices, acknowledging the human construction of religion, and in the light of conscience and contemporary learning, adjust our views and practices accordingly;

4) Draw from diverse sources of wisdom, regarding all as fallible human expressions open to our evaluation of their potential contribution to our individual and communal lives;

5) Find more meaning in the search for understanding than in the arrival at certainty; in the questions than the answers;

6) Encourage inclusive, non-discriminatory, non-hierarchical community where our common humanity is honoured in a trusting atmosphere of mutual respect and support;

7) Promote forms of individual and community celebration, study, and prayer that use understandable, inclusive, non-dogmatic, value-based language by which people of religious, skeptical, or secular backgrounds may be nurtured and challenged;

8) Commit to journeying together, our ongoing growth characterized by honesty, integrity, openness, respect, intellectual rigour, courage, creativity, and balance.

I list the Eight Points of the CCPC in full here since they don’t seem to be available else on the internet. Clearly, there is a great deal of overlap between the Seven Principles and the Eight Points. Just as most atheists and humanists would probably agree with the Seven Principles, most would probably also agree with most of the Eight Points (expect, of course, for point 2).

As I mentioned before, the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity closed down a few years ago. They claimed that they accomplished their goals. I suspect the truth is that they were simply too progressive for most Canadian Christians.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the Seven Principles and Eight Points, US and Canadian versions, click here.

As a contrast, let’s consider another set of principles, the five points of Calvinism. These points are identified by the acronym TULIP:

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

I won’t go into great detail about these points other than to contrast the first point, “T”, with the first principle of Unitarianism. While Unitarians believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, Calvinists believe in the total depravity of mankind. You can’t get a wider difference than that. You have to wonder how a Calvinist can treat any of their fellow humans with any degree of respect if they believe that everyone, and I mean everyone, is intrinsically evil.

Of course, most Calvinists can’t see the inherent contradictions in the Five Points. For example, they also believe that humans have no free will. That is, mankind is inherently evil not of their own choosing, but rather, because their god wills it.

It is interesting that if you debate a Calvinist and press them on the points, some will admit that they don’t actually believe in all of the Five Points. Even though they learned and accepted the catechism of their church, many Calvinists believe, for example, that man does have free will. These are the so-called “Three Point Calvinists“. (There are also “Four Point Calvinists” and even “One Point Calvinists“.) In the past, people have gotten themselves killed because they didn’t believe in the full Calvinist catechism.

I’ve always considered the fact that Christians can’t agree on basic principles one of the biggest arguments against Christianity. If there were a God, it should be considered a heresy that such a supreme being was incapable or unwilling to get its message out in a clear and unambiguous manner. Instead, we have thousands of different prophets each claiming to know what God wants of us, and few of them agreeing on all their claims. I must conclude that they’re all wrong.

I’ll conclude this missive with a quote from Thomas Jefferson in a letter written to John Adams in 1823:

I can never join Calvin in addressing his god… his religion was Dæmonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his 5 points is not the God whom you and I acknowledge and adore, the Creator and benevolent governor of the world; but a dæmon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no god at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin.

Cheers! Hans

A Wubbels Mystery

Much of genealogy research is simply slogging through records. A good index, such as WieWasWie, can make the task much easier, if not down right boring. But occasionally, we find a mystery that warrants a detour in our research.

When I found the death record for my third cousin three times removed Willemina Slats (1839-1908, Bredevoort), I noticed that the first informant was Gerrit Jan Wubbels, landbouwer, age 56. I have ancestors named Wubbels, many of which are in my database. However, Gerrit Jan was not already in my database. So of course, I needed to find out how he was related to my ancestors. Bredevoort isn’t a big town, so he must be related somehow, right?

The next step was to find information about Gerrit Jan. WieWasWie turned up some information. Gerrit Jan was born in 1852 in Bredevoort to Bernardus Engelbartus Wubbels (born 1825) and Janna Elisabeth Walvoort, married 1851 in Bredevoort. The parents of Bernardus were Jan Wubbels (born 1796) and Gesina Kampe (born 1806). Again, none of these people were in my database.

Finding information about Jan Wubbels and Gesina Kampe turned out to be a challenge. There was precious little about them apart from the birth and marriage records for their son. I tried different spellings of the names, but no luck. Finally, I turned to the bevolkingsregister, a register of people living in a particular place at a particular time. I knew that Jan Wubbels and Gesina Kampe lived in Bredevoort at the time of their son’s marriage in 1851, so I went to the bevolkingsregister for the 1850’s Bredevoort.

Reading through the bevolkingsregister isn’t easy since there’s no index and no meaningful order to the records. Going one by one through hundreds of records, I eventually found the pertinent record.

This record shows a family with parents Hendrikus Joannes Arnoldus Wubbels (born 25 Nov 1795) and Gesina Catharine te Kampe (born 13 Aug 1805). Bernardus Engelbartus Wubbels (born 17 Maart 1825) is listed as the first child. Clearly, this was the family I was looking for. For some reason, the birth record for Bernardus Engelbartus referred to his parents using their familiar names, and not their full formal names.

This record also shows why I hadn’t previously come across this family. The seventh column shows the religion of the person. In this case, their religion is listed as “R Cath“. As far as I know, all the other Wubbels in my ancestry are Protestant.

One mystery was solved, but others remain. I still don’t know the parents of Jan (Hendrikus Joannes Arnoldus) Wubbels. His death record doesn’t list them, and FamilySearch doesn’t host baptism records for the Catholic church in Bredevoort prior to 1798.

Cheers! Hans

Connections Between Two Families – Labots and van Zadelhoff

Readers of this blog know that I am fascinated by the vast web of interrelationships between people. In my own research, I often come across interesting connections and interrelationships. With more than 11,000 people in my database, many of them in a few specific places, finding these interrelationships is inevitable. That’s especially true for my ancestors and distant cousins in the town of Rheden, in southern Gelderland.

When seeking out the interesting interrelationships, marriage records are a good starting point since they include the names of the parents of the bride and groom. In some cases, where the parents are deceased, they may also include the names of grand-parents.

If I see a familiar surname in an in-law family, I usually invest a few minutes of time to dig a bit further using WieWasWie. Normally, I record birth, marriage, and death information for blood relatives and their spouses only. But if I see an additional connection to other people already in my database, I also record the B/M/D information for the people along that interrelationship chain.

In this missive, I show two connections between two lines of ancestors, the Labots’ and the van Zadelhoff’s.

As usual, red indicates ancestors and blue indicates other blood relatives. Most of these people lived in or near, or had some connection to Rheden.

The first connection I found was the marriage between my 1st cousin 3 times removed Johannes Labots (1853-1934) and my 5th cousin twice removed Derkje Janssen van Gaalen (1851-1926).

A few days later, I found another connection. my 4th cousin 3 times removed Jacoba Blankers (1835-1871) was married to Teunis van Engelenburg (born 1845). Teunis was the nephew of Jantje Willemsen (1802-1868) who was married to my 2nd great granduncle Johannes Labots (1804-1884).

Cheers! Hans

On Poe’s Law

Recently on Facebook, someone posted a quote which, on first glance, seemed totally absurd. It took a bit of googling to realize that the quote was intended as satire. And indeed, a brilliant piece of satire it was. After thinking some more about it, I realized something I’d known for some time: The best satire is that which is virtually indistinguishable from what’s being satirized.

Googling some more, I was reminded of “Poe’s Law“, which states that without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.

RationalWiki has a good list of examples of Poe’s Law. One of the oldest and still best examples of such extreme parody on-line is the website for the Landover Baptist Church.

Which brings me to the point of this tome, the current president of the United States, whose name I can barely utter without reaching for the barf bag. As many of my friends and acquaintances know, I’m no fan of the “orange asshat” (Also sometimes called the “talking comb-over” or “Decomposing pumpkin pie inhabited by vicious albino squirrels“.)

But here’s one reason why I personally detest the man so much: He has spoiled late-night TV for me. Ever since the “Hairpiece come to life” was elected, I can’t watch such great shows as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. And especially not The President Show.

After all, how can you satirize someone who himself is such a parody? Who in their right mind can take such a man seriously as a politician? How can you read about him hiring a Disney star to his staff or his lunatic tweets without wondering if it isn’t all some big joke. True satire just can’t compete with the reality of the “Hair plug swollen with rancid egg whites“.

We can only hope that this nightmare of a presidency will soon come to an end. At least we all know that now, fewer and fewer people in politics are taking him seriously, while more and more people are ganging up against him. He is the true epitome of a lame-duck president, holed up in his bedroom in the Executive Residence, simply counting the days before he’s hauled away in chains.

Cheers! Hans


The Tangled Web In Rheden

A Bridge Between my Moll and van Sadelhof Ancestors

I was casually recording information about some distant cousins with surname Brouwer, descendants of my Moll ancestors, and I came upon one distant cousin named Christian Brouwer, born 1847 in Zevenaar.  As I sometimes do, I did some searching on his wife’s family.

Christiaan Brouwer was married to Cornelia Jurriens, born 1843 in Rheden, a place that was home to many other cousins and ancestors. Her mother was Johanna Belder, born 1811 in Velp, a village just west of Rheden. When I found a few other people with surname Belder in my database, I had to dig further. Quickly, I discovered connections between the Belder family and my van Sadelhof ancestors.

In this drop chart, red indicates my ancestors and blue indicates other blood relatives. Most of these people lived in Rheden or in neighboring villages such as Velp. (To follow along better, open the chart in a new window.)

First, I must note that as we go further back in time, the evidence becomes more and more sketchy. But we do the best we can with what we have.

Within the van Sadelhof family, we see a couple of cases of cosanguinuity (or marriage between cousins). In 1774, Antonij van Sadelhof (born 1747) married his second cousin Bartjen van Sadelhof (born 1748). And in 1790, Jan van Sadelhof (1754-1831) married his third cousin Hendrina Wamsteker (1773-1820).

Not shown in this chart, the first wife of Jan van Sadelhof was Jenneke Brouwer (born 1759 in Lathum). Her sister Fenneken Brouwer (1761-1801) married Jan’s brother Willem (1759-1831).

But let’s get back to the main theme of this posting, the bridge between my van Sadelhof ancestors and my Moll ancestors. Jan Belder (1745-1797) married twice. First in 1788 in Rozendaal to Anna Maria Ekses (died 1789), and then in 1790 in Lathum to Gardina Hermsen (born 1766 in Lathum).

From his first marriage, Jan Belder’s son Martien Hendrik Belder (1789-1849) married Hendrika van Sadelhof (1792-1858). And from his second marriage, Jan’s son Hendrik Belder (1793-1827) married Margrieta van Sadelhof (1791-1863). Both weddings occurred in 1812.

Jan Belder’s brother Cornelis Belder (1754-1832) was married in 1808 in Velp to Enneken de Winkel (1785-1866). These were the grand-parents of Cornelia Jurriens, mentioned back at the beginning of this tome, thus completing the bridge between the van Sadelhof’s and the Moll’s.

Some additional notes: Note that there’s another Belder, Teuntje Belder (1745-1799), who was married to a distant cousin, Willem Wamsteker (1717-1784). It isn’t yet clear if she is related to the other Belder’s in the chart. Also, the name Brouwer shows up a few times. Unless otherwise indicated, no relationship is known between them.

Anyways, this particular diversion opened up several new avenues of research, which I hope to get back to once I resume my research on the Brouwer’s.

Cheers! Hans


Skate The Lake

Every year, Portland Ontario hosts an event on the Big Rideau Lake, about an hour north of Kingston. They clear a one kilometer long track on the ice and host skating races. Here are some pictures from this year’s event:

Start of the 5K race
Skater approaching the finish line
Impressive back-lit scene during the 5K relay
Warming up on shore
Snert is a thick pea soup, popular with the skaters

A Walk Through a Graveyard

It’s a popular theme that genealogists like visiting cemeteries and graveyards. If you see a bumper sticker that says “This car stops at all cemeteries”, you know you’re following a genealogist. That said, looking at gravestones is not really much use from a research point of view. Normally, if you visit a cemetery, you already know what you’re looking for. But occasionally, a visit to a cemetery can turn up some useful information.

I started genealogy back in 1992. Although I could immediately find ancestors in the LDS microfilms for the Dutch side of my pedigree, I seemed to hit nothing but brick walls on the German side.

In this post, I consider the mother of my paternal grandmother. Here’s the information I started out with, given to me by my father and grandmother: My great grandmother was Anna Schmidt from Satow, born May 17, 1877. She had a half sister named Marie Diederich who lived in Hohen-Luckow. Her maiden name was something like “Elerd”.

Church at Hohen-Luckow, 1992.

In the Spring of 1992, I visited these places in Germany. Hohen-Luckow is a small village south-west of Rostock, with a modest church. A few meters from the entrance to the church yard, I found this gravestone. Back home, I verified with my dad that Marie Elhers was indeed my great grandmother’s half-sister.

Gravestone for Werner Diederich.

So then it was back to the local LDS Family History Center. I searched the IGI and found a marriage record for Ernst Carl Josua Ehlers and Elisabeth Sophia Maria H Schmidt, dated May 13, 1880, in Satow. Assuming Ernst Ehlers was the father of Marie Ehlers, could Elisabeth Schmidt be my great great grandmother?

Since Anna Schmidt was supposedly born in Satow, I ordered the microfilm for the Satow church records. Unfortunately, the baptism record of Anna Schmidt wasn’t there. I did find the marriage record of Ernst Carl Josua Ehlers and Elisabeth Sophia Maria Hennerike Schmidt on June 4,  1880. But, if Anna Schmidt was the daughter of Elisabeth Schmidt, wouldn’t she have the name of her father instead of her mother?

I was getting rather discouraged by this line of research and was about to give up for the evening when I decided to have a look at the confirmation records on the film. There, I found a confirmation record dated March 22, 1891 for Anna Dorothea Frederike Schmidt born May 17, 1877, in Reinstorf, a village south of Satow. Certainly, this was my great-grandmother! Her mother was listed as Elisabeth Sophia Maria Hennerike Ehlers, nee Schmidt, of Satow. It is interesting that in all other confirmation records, the father of the child is listed. But in this case, the name of the mother is listed. Clearly, I was dealing with an illegitimate birth here.

I then ordered the microfilm for Reinstorf and found Anna Schmidt’s baptism record. As expected, it was an illegitimate birth – the name of the father is left blank in the record. Interestingly, in all other records where the name of the father is unknown, the entry states “Unbekannt“. Perhaps they knew full well who the father was? Perhaps this child would have been an embarrassment for him?

So now I had a definite handle on this branch of my ancestry, and was able to go back further through the microfilmed records. You can find more information on Anna Schmidt and her ancestors here.

Cheers! Hans

More Tangled Interrelationships in Arnhem

In my previous posting, I discussed some tangled interrelationships in the city of Arnhem, in the southern part of the province of Gelderland. Today, I continue the discussion. In the previous missive, I considered one line of descendants of Jan de Roos (1756-1810) and Evertjen Evers (1750-1791). In this, I look at some of their other descendants.

As before, blue indicates my distant cousins.

First, we have what I believe is the marriage between third cousins, Jan de Roos and Evertjen Evers. Their common ancestors (not shown) are Steven Berends van Sadelhoff and Hendrina Willems. However, this conclusion is based on secondary sources which I can’t confirm in the records publicly available. Of course, details get more and more sketchy the further back you go. So the best you can do is make your guess and document the reasons behind it.

The next thing to note is a connection between two separate ancestral lines, with the marriage of Lubbertus Moll (1812-1877) and Everdiena de Roos (1818-1894). Lubbert was my second cousin four times removed, and Everdiena was my third cousin four times removed. (Looking at their descendants in my database, I see some more tangles that I haven’t discussed yet in this blog.)

The Moll’s and de Roos’ both also have a common connection to an in-law family, the descendants of Pouwel Baerents and Mechtelijna van Someren. On the Moll side, it’s with the marriage of Lubbert Wander Moll (1802-1886) and Megchelina Raadman (1815-1893), the grand-daughter of Pouwel Baerents.

On the de Roos side, the Baerents’ have numerous connections to the de Roos’. First, note the marriages between two de Roos siblings with two Berends’ siblings. Two generations later, there’s yet another marriage.

Anyways, it’s back to the research. There are always still unexplored alleys in this adventure.

Cheers! Hans


Tangled Interrelationships in Arnhem

Face it, genealogy can be boring. Sometimes, I get bored after processing just a few birth, marriage, or death records. But there are times when things get interesting, and I can’t wait to see what comes up next in my research. That happens typically when I see the same surname crop up multiple times, or when I see a surname I’ve come across before. I can’t resist digging further to see if there’s a connection.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been researching distant cousins in the Arnhem area with surname de Roos.  The following photo shows the notes I’ve taken during this time, five pages of drop charts mapping out the tangled interrelationships.

There’s too much information to cram into one post, so today I’ll concentrate on just one page, the page at the lower left, where I started this particular line of research.


In this drop chart, blue indicates distant cousins. While researching the inlaws of my third cousin four times removed Jan de Roos (1821-1886), I noticed the name van Grootheest appearing multiple times. It turned out that Jan’s daughter Johanna WIllemina de Roos (1862-1915) married her first cousin Willem Hendrik Nikkel (1852-1928). Their common grandparents were Willem Hendriksen van Grootheest (1796-1872) and Maartje Willemsen van Grootheest (1786-1841). With the same surname, I had to find out if those two were cousins.

I quickly found the names of their fathers. But the trail turned cold. Hendrik Petersen van Grootheest (1767-1833) and Willem Petersen v Grootheest (1753-1824) were both born in Bennekom. However, did not have the church records for that village. I then did a Google search, which turned up some genealogies indicating that the two were brothers, with father Peter Hendriksen.

I don’t like citing secondary sources, so I asked on-line if the church records for Bennekom were somewhere on-line. I quickly got the answer that the records were indeed on, and could be reached through the web site

Very grateful, I then easily found the baptism records I was looking for. It turned out that there was a different mother listed on the two baptisms: Maartjen Hendriksen and Willemtjen Tijmensen. There were several possibilities: First was that one of the names on the baptisms was incorrect. Not likely, but I have seen cases like that. Second, there could have been two people named Peter Hendriksen in Bennekom. Third, and most likely, was that Peter Hendriksen was married twice. I needed to dig a bit further.

So here’s the vital piece of evidence, the marriage banns record showing Peter’s second marriage in 1757:

There are a couple of lessons from this: First, if you don’t find what you’re looking for on, check out Second, although secondary sources may be helpful, don’t fully trust them. Go to the primary sources.

Cheers! Hans


Nothing defines Canada as much as Winter. Every December, the question everyone asks: Will it be a white Christmas? This year, there was no doubt. Considering the amount of rain we had during the rest of the year, the quantity of snow falling in December didn’t come as much of a surprise. We had a fair bit of snow in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and still more snow on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was bright and sunny, with even more snow on the ground.

We had no choice. We planned on having lunch with my mother-in-law on Christmas day. At her retirement home, they had a special turkey dinner planned, and we promised to be there.

We started shoveling, but I had my doubts. It didn’t take long to clear half the driveway, enough to get the car out. But our street looked bad. Fortunately, a few cars had already carved out some furrows in the snow. When we set out, I once again appreciated the advantages of front-wheel drive as we made our way, slowly, along the snow-covered streets.

Fortunately, we didn’t have far to go since it’s only a 3km drive to my mother-in-law. The biggest challenge was crossing Taylor-Kidd Boulevard, where we saw one car that needed to be pushed through. But with patience and careful navigation through the snow, we managed. And the closer we got to our destination, the better the roads became.

These photos show our street on Boxing Day. The snow plow finally came by late on Christmas Day, which meant I had a bit more shoveling to do. Certainly, we’ll see more snow this Winter. But we’re only five days into the season, and the snow piles can’t get much higher.

Cheers! Hans