The Congregation of the Lord

Which takes precedence: God’s law, or man’s law? If you ask a conservative Christian that question, most will answer that God’s law takes precedence over any civil law. But what does that mean? The Bible contains a large number of rules, laws, and commandments. In this blog post, I look at a couple of laws laid down in the book of Deuteronomy, which have relevance to the field of genealogy.

The first is Deuteronomy 23:2: “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” (KJV)

A rather strict rule, that, applying even to the descendants of the illegitimate child. Even if your parents were legitimately married when you were born, you would not be allowed to enter into the congregation of the Lord if any of your ancestors going back ten generations was born out of wedlock.

As an amateur genealogist, I can attest that it would be quite the challenge to prove that all of your ancestors going back that far were born legitimately.

In my own data, there are roughly three generations per century. Ten generations brings you back to the late 1700’s. On the Dutch side of my pedigree, I know the names of all of my 4th great grandparents, as well as all but two of my 5th great grandparents. To complete my pedigree going back ten generations, I would need to get information on everyone back to my 8th great grandparents. That can be as many as 2046 ancestors!

Clearly, few people can accurately provide proof that they are allowed to enter into the congregation of the Lord based on Deuteronomy 23:2. If you believe in an omnipresent supreme being, then that being would know for certain, but you can never be sure.

You could take the approach that one is innocent before proven guilty. In that case if you can identify one bastard ancestor, the rule would apply to you and you would not be allowed to enter the congregation of the Lord. Since I do have a couple of illegitimate ancestors, the rule applies to me, as well as seven generations of my descendants.

In my case, the illegitimate ancestors are on the German side of my pedigree. Since it was not always easy for a couple to get permission to marry in the Grand-duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, even up to the end of the 19th Century, it was not uncommon for a couple to have a child (or two) before getting married. On the other hand, since the Netherlands was generally more affluent, illegitimate births were much less common there. So as far as I can tell, of my Dutch ancestors I know about, all were born after their parents were married.

But now let’s take a look at another rule, one chapter earlier, Deuteronomy 22:20-21: “But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: …

In a nutshell, according to Deuteronomy 22, for a marriage to be considered valid, the bride must be a virgin on her wedding night. And if a marriage is not valid, all children from the marriage must be considered bastard children. And then Deuteronomy 23:2 applies.

This means that for someone to be allowed to enter into the congregation of the Lord, one must not only prove that all ancestors going back roughly three centuries were born legitimately, but that as many as 1023 female ancestors were virgins when they married. Based on surviving records, of course this would be an impossible challenge. But as before, all it takes is one case to prove that one is not allowed to enter into the congregation of the Lord.

On the Dutch side of my pedigree, you don’t have to go very far. It’s not a secret in my family that my Dutch grandparents had to get married. Their first child was born in 1927 about four months after their marriage. Unless some sort of miracle occurred, my Dutch grandmother was obviously not a virgin when she married. (Coincidentally, that’s also true for my German grandparents, in 1926.) And as a consequence, all of my aunts and uncles, all 28 of my first cousins, and all of their many descendants are not allowed to enter into the congregation of the Lord.

If you believe that God’s law takes precedence over any civil law, then you have a problem. Specifically, I know of two ministers of one particular conservative Christian denomination who are technically not allowed to enter the into congregation of the Lord by these particular rules.

One might argue that one cannot be punished because of the sins of their ancestors. But then you would put into doubt one of the most fundamental principles of conservative Christianity, the doctrine of original sin.

I don’t envy the conservatives. Almost certainly they can find a way interpret the Biblical laws in their own favor. But it would take some interesting theological gymnastics. One would have to argue that these verses do not really mean what they say. Or perhaps they can find some other verses that contradict these particular verses, in which case they would have to admit that the Bible is flawed and subject to interpretation.

You really have to wonder, by these rules laid down in the Holy Bible, is there anyone who is able to enter into the congregation of the Lord?

Minna Boldt and Frederick D’Aperng

Up until recently, I didn’t know much about my grand-aunt Minna Anna-Marie Sophie Boldt (1902-1993) and her husband Frederick d’Aperng (1880-1954). During the early 1950’s, my grandfather had a falling-out with his sister and had very little contact since then. I was told that Minna emigrated to Canada in the 1920’s, and that her husband Frederick was married before and had five children. And I knew that the two were buried in the Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston:

A week ago, though, I came across an interesting fact. Prior to her marriage with Frederick, Minna Boldt was married in 1927, surprisingly in Amsterdam! The marriage lasted less than six years, though.

1927 Jacobus Johannes Penning & Minna Anna Marie Sophie Boldt marriage

I posted this on the Dutch Genealogy group on Facebook. Some of the members of the group were very helpful, and some provided links to population registers showing where Minna lived in Amsterdam. One of these had another surprise:

Prinsengracht 850, Amsterdam

In the middle of the back side of the card, look who’s name appears, twice: Frederick d’Aperng! Further research showed that Frederick resided in Amsterdam, at various addresses, between 1929 and 1938. And wherever he resided, it was either at the same address as Minna, or very close to her.

I then resumed my Ancestry membership to see what more I could find. So Frederick d’Aperng was born March 3, 1880, in the city of Thorn in the German Empire. (Thorn is now the city of Toruń in Poland.) He emigrated to Canada in 1902, and lived in a number of different places, such as Kingston, Montréal, Picton, and Odessa. With his first wife Frieda, he had a number of children born between 1912 and 1921: Erica, Adele, Eric, Frederick, and Hans. (Some of the children have interesting stories too, but I may save them for another time.)

From about 1920 to 1938, Frederick traveled frequently between Canada and Europe, because of his occupation as agent, merchant, or chemist, presumably engaging in import and export of pharmaceutical products. While he resided in Amsterdam, he also had a residence in Picton, Ontario. In 1940, his occupation was medical supply jobber in Montréal.

The big question is this: What was Frederick’s relationship with Minna during their time in Amsterdam? Clearly, the two knew each other. But although she was married, it’s not clear if Minna ever lived with her first husband.

One more thing about Minna. It turns out that she did emigrate to Canada in 1924. At the time, though, she didn’t stay long and by 1926 ended up in Amsterdam. In her entry to Canada, she claimed to be a nurse. I find that dubious, since in Amsterdam she worked as a boarding-house housekeeper.

In 1938, both Minna and Frederick left Amsterdam, separately, I assume to Canada, first Frederick in May and then Minna two months later. Frederick’s first wife Frieda died in 1939, and I assume Frederick and Minna married shortly afterwards.

There are still a lot of missing pieces to this puzzle, and many of them are probably lost forever now. But what is known so far offers up an intriguing story.

Hans

The Putten Raid

Jan Kamphorst

Recently I was adding distant cousins to my genealogy database when I came across the death information for one of them. Third cousin, twice removed, Jan Kamphorst died 1944 in Ladelund-Neuengamme, Germany. No doubt he was captured as a prisoner. My suspicions were confirmed when I discovered that Ladelund was a concentration camp. Further research revealed the gruesome details of the “Putten Raid“.

Aalt van Koot

On the night of September 30, 1944, a group of Dutch resistance fighters ambushed a German army car carrying two officers and two corporals on the road between Putten and Nijkerk. The subsequent reprisals against Dutch citizens were considered some of the worst of the German occupation of the Netherlands. 661 adult men of Putten were rounded up. 602 of them were taken to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg. Only 48 of them returned home after the war, many in emaciated condition.

Hendrik Haverkamp

One of the most important web sites documenting the events of October 1944 is Stichting Oktober 44. At that site, you can find a list of the victims of the Putten Raid reprisals, as well as documents relating to their captivity and death, some from the Arolsen Archives. Going through that list, I found a number of distant cousins who died in concentration camps:

  • Dirk Buitenhuis, born June 2, 1920, Nijkerk, died November 16, 1944 in Ladelund. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
  • Gerrit Buitenhuis, born March 31, 1923, Nijkerk, died December 14, 1944 in Versen. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
  • Willem Buitenhuis, born June 1, 1908, Nijkerk, died January 18, 1945 in Neuengamme. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
  • Hendrik Haverkamp, born August 13, 1905, Nijkerk, died November 29 in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
  • Jan Kamphorst, born April 2, 1910, Nijkerk, died November 25, 1944 in Ladeund. (3rd cousin, twice removed)
  • Aalt van Koot, born September 20, 1925, Nijkerk, died December 9, 1944 in Neuengamme. (5th cousin)
  • Albertus Stoffelsen, born December 25, 1914, Nijkerk, died December 7, 1944 in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
  • Evert Stoffelsen, born April 13, 1912, Nijkerk, died November 28, 1944 in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
  • Ruth Stoffelsen, born November 2, 1919, Nijkerk, died November 24, 1944, in Ladelund. (4th cousin, once removed)
Dirk Buitenhuis

The first three in this list were brothers, as well as the last three. Also, Jan Kamphorst and Aalt van Koot were half 3rd cousins, twice removed. In addition, there are other victims who are not directly related to me, but can be connected to people in my database.

Gerrit Buitenhuis

Genealogy is not an easy pursuit. Recording information can be boring, and sometimes you can get blase about things like infant deaths. But connecting your blood relatives to an atrocity like this can be quite jarring. I’ve heard stories of the war from both my parents, but nothing they’ve told me was quite as shocking as this. Surely, my mother’s family must have known about this. Even more personal is the fact that one of the victims listed above shares my birthday.

Willem Buitenhuis

When I first posted this back in February, I knew of six distant cousins taken up in the raid. Today, a month later, I found another three. As I continue my research, I may well find a few more.

WordPress – Some Lessons Learned

As you’ve read before in this blog, I’m working on some plugins to display genealogy data on a WordPress site. I have a plugin for Gramps (written in Python) that creates data files, and a plugin for WordPress (written in PHP) to present that data. This currently requires the webmaster to manually copy the resulting files to the server. The next step in the development process is to make the Gramps plugin communicate directly with the WordPress plugin to update the data.

This is one of the most ambitious projects I’ve embarked on as a hobby programmer. I spent the past few days getting up to speed on programming the WordPress REST API. The last hurdle to get past was interesting. The REST API requires creating a nonce, and passing it on all API calls to the server. Since my code needs to update data on the server, these API calls must be in the context of a logged-in session. The first step in the process must, however, be allowed for a not logged-in user since it logs the user into the server.

The problem is that the value of the nonce is determined based on the session cookie, and that cookie is different for a logged-in session and a not logged-in session. I struggled for a while to try to figure out how I could create a nonce for the logged-in session while performing a function in a not logged-in session.

After a few days of trying different things, searching on-line, and at times spinning my wheels, I finally found that one source on-line that explained the solution. Here’s my working signon function code with the necessary code in bold:

function my_update_cookie($logged_in_cookie) {
    $_COOKIE[LOGGED_IN_COOKIE] = $logged_in_cookie;
}

function tangled_web_start(WP_REST_Request $request) {
    add_action('set_logged_in_cookie', 
               [$this, 'my_update_cookie']);

    $creds = ['user_login' => 
                   $request->get_param('id'),
              'user_password' => 
                   $request->get_param('pw'),
              'remember' => true];

    $user = wp_signon($creds, false);
    if (is_wp_error($user)) {
        return $user;
    }

    wp_set_current_user($user->ID);
    wp_set_auth_cookie($user->ID);
    return wp_create_nonce('wp_rest');
} 

The key is to add the 'set_logged_in_cookie' action. Once the signon takes place, that action is called and the LOGGED_IN_COOKIE is updated. Once that is done, the correct nonce is then created.

On the python side, the session issues are managed by an instance of the requests.Session() class. Here’s how the call to the above API is done:

# Logon to WordPress site
session = requests.Session()
parms = {'id': logon_creds['userid'],
         'pw': logon_creds['password']}
res = session.post(url=tgturl + 
                   wp-json/tangled_web/start',
                   data=parms);
if res.status_code != 200:
    return 'Login failed'
nonce = res.text
session.headers.update({'X-WP-Nonce': nonce})

Once the nonce is returned, it gets added to the headers for all subsequent API calls.

Now that I’ve got this working, the rest of the development process should be relatively straight-forward. I’ll have to program API’s for the following tasks:

  • Get a list of checksums for the JSON data files on the servers for a given Tangled Web instance
  • Upload a JSON file or image file to the server
  • Update the names index on the server
  • Update the global settings for the instance

Once this is done, my usual Gramps workflow will have one more step. At the end of a session adding and updating people in my Gramps database, I’ll be able to invoke the “Export to Tangled Web” function in Gramps to update the server immediately, instead of having to manually copy and unpack the files on the server and reload the data.

The Tangled Web Project

Genealogy research doesn’t (or shouldn’t) happen in a vacuum. We all want to share the results of our research with others. These days, that usually is done on the internet. I’ve regularly posted the results on my own web site. Ever since using Gramps, I’ve posted my data using the Gramps Narrated Web Site, but I was never been fully satisfied with it. The information wasn’t always the easiest to navigate, some pages were very large, and it wasn’t very mobile friendly.

Web technology steadily changes. For the past four years, I’ve been using WordPress. The genealogy data was the only section of my web site still using static html pages. I knew programming a new web publishing system would be a big project, but a few months ago I dove in. And so now, I’m able to publish my data using that new system. You can see my genealogy data at Boldts & Molls.

I call this project “Tangled Web”. The most common metaphor used in genealogy is the tree. However, that’s a flawed metaphor, useful only in narrow scopes. Relationships are complex, and form a vast web of interrelationships, often quite complicated.

Clicking on Boldts & Molls, you first see an introductory page. That “home” page includes a list of people born on today’s date in history. It also shows a list of the most common names in the genealogy, in the form of a name cloud, with the bigger names indicating the more common names. There’s also a “search” button, where you can search on last name, given name, location, or a range of years.

For individuals, the new system uses a tabbed layout. The “Family” tab shows parents, grand-parents, siblings, spouses, and children. The “Timeline” shows a history of the person, starting with the marriage of the parents. All events recorded in the Gramps database are listed, and birth, marriage, and death events include witnesses and informants. The “Pedigree” shows the pedigree for the person, with instances of pedigree collapse shown. And the “Sources” tab shows the sources and citations, including scans of the primary source records.

One aspect I wanted to emphasize was relationships between people. And so wherever a person is listed on someone’s page, their relationship is shown.

How was this implemented? First, there’s a Gramps plugin, which creates a set of data files. Like all Gramps plugins, this code is written in Python. Next, there’s a WordPress plugin, written in PHP, which processes that data, and maintains the search index. Finally, there’s a good chunk of code written in JavaScript that formats the data in a browser. The latter uses a technique called Ajax, which is becoming more and more popular. The idea is that the content of the web page is written dynamically, under the control of the JavaScript program. The browser doesn’t have to refresh the whole page whenever you click on a link, but just has to request the changed data from the server. This is how pages like Google Maps work. Altogether, it’s about 5000 lines of Python, PHP, JavaScript, and CSS code.

What’s next? My first priority is to write up some documentation, and upload the code to my GitHub page. The code will be available to anyone under a GPL license. For the next version of the code, my goal is to make it easier to update a Tangled Web instance on the server. That is, I want the Gramps plugin to have the capability to communicate directly with the WordPress plugin to update the data changed since the last update.

Finally, I invite other people to contribute to this project. WordPress isn’t the only content management system out there. Although it’s the most commonly used CMS, there are others like Drupal or Joomla!. If you’d like to have a Tangled Web instance running on your self-hosted web site running on a different CMS, feel free to rewrite the PHP code to suit your CMS.

Cheers! Hans

Six Newly Discovered Ancestors!

When I started doing genealogy 30 years ago, I started recording my pedigree on an “IBM Programming and Charting Worksheet”, a sheet of paper 11″ x 15½” in size, lined with half-inch squares. Back in the dinosaur days of programming, sheets like these were used to document programs using flowcharts. By 1990, that was already long considered an obsolete programming technique. But I still had a pad of these worksheets. And for the past 30 years, I’ve steadily maintained this chart.

Here’s the Dutch side of my pedigree. Over the past few years, I haven’t had much chance to update it. Generally, I had thought I had reached the limit of records available on-line for each ancestral line. However, over the past week, I’ve been able to add six previously undiscovered ancestors to my pedigree. Four are indicated in green on that picture. (There’s no room on that page for the other two.)

Lena van Hagen

So about a week ago, I thought I’d have another go at pushing back my ancestry, starting with my 4th great grandmother Lena van Hagen. I knew she lived in Nijkerk in the mid to late 1700’s. But I couldn’t find her baptism record. Using the usual arsenal of on-line tools (WieWasWie.nl, FamilySearch.org, and GeldersArchief.nl), I now decided on a different tack. I looked for marriage records in the early 1700’s for people named “van Hagen”. I came up with two marriages. The first, dated 1740, didn’t match. After marrying, that couple moved to Harderwijk and had a number of children, none of whom were named “Lena”.

The second turned out more successful. Early in 1744, Arent van Hagen married Anna Maas in Nijkerk. I then found a baptism record dated 4 months later for Lena, daughter of Arent Cornelissen and Annetjen Maas. All together, I found 5 baptisms for children of Arent and Anna. Although the marriage listed Arent by his surname “van Hagen”, every other record refers to him by his patronymic “Cornelissen”.

This evidence isn’t the greatest. I’ve seen cases before of people referred to by either surname or patronymic in different records. In some cases, I have found records that included both, which added confidence to my conclusions. I wish the evidence here was better. But I’m still adding Arent van Hagen and Anna Maas as two 5th great grandparents, and will look for more evidence to support that conclusion.

Heintje Wouters

The next brick wall I looked at was my 4th great grandmother Heintje Wouters (also known as Hendrikje Wouters). Unfortunately, there’s no progress to report on that front. She lived in the village of Hoevelaken, and I haven’t found any church records covering when she was born. Maybe she was baptized in neighboring Nijkerk? If so, I would run into another problem since there was another Hendrikje Wouters alive at roughly the same time, living in Nijkerk. At some point, I will make another attempt to attack this roadblock.

Weimptje Dirks

Which brings me to my 4th great grandmother Weimptje Dirks. Before, I couldn’t go further back with her since FamilySearch did not have the church records for the town of Ede, where she was born. Well, FamilySearch isn’t the only game in town. With a bit of digging, I found the Ede church books on the GeldersArchief web site, and quickly found her baptism, dated 1760. Her parents were Dirk Jurrijsze and Lijsbeth Evertsze, my 5th great grandparents. Plodding through the baptism records, I found another 10 children in the family. Of the 11 kids, only two reached adulthood.

Could I go back further? I couldn’t find a marriage record in Ede for Dirk and Lijsbeth (also known as Elizabeth). I had a hunch I’d find it in the neighboring village of Lunteren. At first I resisted looking there since as far as I could tell I had no good reason to. But I still did, and there I found their marriage record dated 1758. That record indicated that Dirk, or Derck, was born in Renkum. Then, in the Renkum church books, I found a matching baptism record. Derck was baptized in 1726 with parents Jurjie Janssen and Anna Gijsberts, my 6th great grandparents.

In conclusion, I’ll make a couple of points. First, it never hurts to go back and revisit those brick walls. The indexes are always improving and more and more historical records are being added to the various web sites.

Second, trying to come up with definitive conclusions when going through the pre-1811 Dutch church records is rarely easy. In all of these cases listed here, I wish the evidence was better. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s at least good enough to record and use as a base for further research.

When I was learning genealogy 30 years ago, the recommended practice was to record a fact first in pencil. Once you had three corroborating pieces of evidence, you could then go back and retrace the fact in pen. It’s just bloody hard to reach that level of confidence reading those old Dutch church books.

Cheers! Hans

 

Introduction to Gramps

About a decade ago I resumed my genealogy research. I started using the program Gramps since there were not a lot of options available for Linux users. Gramps is a powerful, full-featured program, available for Windows and Mac, in addition to Linux. But it can take some getting used to. In this essay, I’ll offer some hints and walk you through the process of adding some information to your Gramps database.

One of the first things to do after installing Gramps is to set the base path for your media files. Gramps does not save image files in its own database. Instead, it saves the filenames to the image files on your computer. By default, Gramps will save the filename to an image as a full path. However, it’s better to save the file name as a relative path. But first, you’ll need to set the base path in the Gramps Preferences. On the main toolbar, click on “Edit”, then “Preferences…”. Then set the path in the entry field “Base path for relative media paths”. In my case, it’s “/home/hans/family/gramps-media”.

The first thing I always do when starting up Gramps is to open the clipboard window. This is where you can drag and drop any item, such as a person, source, citation, or place.

My screen then looks like this:

In this picture, the clipboard is already populated with a couple of places, a source, and a citation. The relationship view is where you do most of your work. And at the right is a gramplet pane showing a gramplet that I’m currently programming. A gramplet is an extension to the program adding some functionality. (Programming gramplets is a topic better left to brave souls with experience in programming.)

Let’s look at the relationship view in more detail. The buttons can be a bit confusing, but moving the mouse over an icon shows what it does. If in doubt, check that help text before continuing.

The icons are consistent throughout the program. The plus-sign always indicates creating a new item. The pencil icon indicates editing an item. And the finger-pointing icon always indicates adding some existing item to some other item. (I’ll let you figure out what the minus-sign icon is for.)

To illustrate my usual workflow, let’s update an event for an existing person, in this case, Hendrik Krasenberg. Click on the edit icon for the person, and we get this:

In the events, double click on the birth record. Or alternatively, right-click, then click on “Edit”.

Note that we already know that Hendrik Krasenberg was born around 1848. Using WieWasWie, we look up the birth record in the Dutch civil registration. In FamilySearch.org, we find this document, which I’ve edited and saved on my computer as “1848 Hendrij Krasenberg birth.jpg” in folder “family/gramps-media/records13”:

So in the Event Reference Editor, I enter the new date of “1848-03-13”, which I immediately select and copy (ctrl-A, ctrl-C). I’ll need to paste that date a few times during the next few steps. We then drag and drop the place name, Rheden in this case, from the Clipboard to the Place.

The next step is to create a new citation for this birth record. We already have a source in the clipboard.  Click on the “Source Citations” tab, and then drag and drop the “Netherlands, Gelderland Civil Registration” item from the Clipboard to the Source Citations window. We then get the “New Citation” window with the Source already filled in. Note that a citation always requires a source.

Click on the date field and press ctrl-V to paste in the date. For Volume/Page, enter “Rheden 1848 #34”. It can be whatever you want, but best to adopt a consistent standard throughout your work. Then click on the “Gallery” tab, then on the plus icon to create a new media record: You’ll then get this dialog:

One important hint on this dialog. Make sure the “Convert to a relative path” box is checked. Otherwise, the full path will be saved. (Remember, the first thing we did after installing Gramps was to set the base path.) After selecting the right file, press OK to continue. In my case, I view the files in reversed modified order, and so the file I normally want is usually the one at the top of the list. You then get the Media Reference Editor dialog. Expand the “Shared Information” and we see:

Note that the title is automatically filled in from the filename. I usually paste in the date before pressing OK. I then press OK on the New Citation dialog, and the citation gets added to the event. Then, I drag and drop the newly created citation to the clipboard since I’ll need it for adding additional information to other people. Press OK, and we’re then back to the Person dialog for Hendrik Krasenberg, and we see the updated birth record.

Where do we go from here? Before we press OK on this person, we check the birth record again. If we want to add this event to another person’s events, we can drag and drop the event to the clipboard. For example, perhaps a witness to the event is already in our database. We can drag and drop the Birth event into that person’s events, and give them a role of “witness” to the event. The Dutch birth records usually include the age and occupation of the witnesses, and so we can add those facts as well, using the citation we just created and saved in the clipboard. Actually, the information we started off with for Hendrik Krasenberg was based on the fact that he was a witness to the wedding of his sister.

Normally, Dutch birth records in the civil registration include some additional facts about the father and mother. In this case, we know that the father, “Jan Derk Krasenberg” had occupation Timmerman, or carpenter, and that he was 44 years old at the time of his son’s birth. In addition, the mother, Everdina Hermina Hupkes, was 30 years old. We can update the records for both of those people, again, using the citation we just created.

Note that when adding events to a person, the events are not sorted by default. If you want the events in order, you’ll have to manually move the event to its proper place. You can either use the up and down arrow buttons, or you can drag the event to another location in the list.

There’s a lot more to Gramps than this. I’ve already written a thousand words on the subject, and I could easily write a thousand more and still only scratch the surface. But hopefully, this will help you get started on the right path with Gramps.

Cheers! Hans

A Case of Quadruple In-law Marriage

Out of my 28 first cousins, I have two cousins, sisters, who married two brothers. Double in-law marriage is not very common these days since we all now have a large pool of potential spouses to choose from. But in the case of my two cousins, the tradition in that family was to marry within their church, a conservative Protestant denomination. That’s an example of endogamy, the practice of marrying within a specific social group, caste, or ethnic group.

In the past, however, choice of potential spouses was much more limited, especially in small isolated communities. In my genealogy database, I have numerous examples of double in-law marriage, as well as at least one case of triple in-law marriage. However, up until now, I hadn’t come across a case of quadruple in-law marriage.

As usual, blue indicates distant cousins. Consider some of the children of Aris van Manen (1779-1863) and some of the children of Johann Heinrich Ostermann. We have four van Manen siblings married to four Ostermann siblings. That is, a case of quadruple in-law marriage.

This raises a lot of questions. The van Manen’s were born in the village of Velp, and most stayed there. Although Velp is a small village, it is not isolated, being very close to the city of Arnhem. On the other hand, the Ostermann’s were from a small village about 60km to the south-east, in the neighboring Kingdom of Prussia. The parents, Johann Heinrich Ostermann and Wilhelmina Kamps remained in the village of Ringenberg, while four of their children moved, most to Velp, one to Arnhem, to live with their van Manen spouse.

European railways in 1861

Perhaps Johann Ostermann had reason to visit Arnhem in his position as an official in the post office. (In one record, he is listed as a Postdirecteur.) By the mid 19th Century, a railroad line had already been built connecting a major industrial heartland of Prussia with the commercial centers and seaports of the Netherlands. By rail, the trip between Wesel (the closest large town to Ringenberg) and Arnhem would have taken about an hour. Since the post office was a major customer of the railways, and since Arnhem is the first major city across the border, it’s not unreasonable to expect that Johann would have to do business in Arnhem. However, we may never know the details of how four of Johann’s children connected with the van Manen siblings.

This drop chart has a few more interesting features. First, consider the marriage between Aris van Manen (1858-1901) and Wilhelmina van Manen (1866-1946). This is just the second instance of double first cousin marriage in my database. The first, between Peter van Beem and Elizabeth van Beem, I found almost a year ago.

There are also two cases of regular (not double) first cousin marriage, between Willem van Manen (1827-1899) and Hermina Aleida de Bruin (1826-1902), and between Jacobus Petrus Felix (1861-1938) and Wilhelmina Henriette van Manen (1861-1928). Also, Hendrik van Manen (1854-1909) and Johanna Harmina Schut (1853-1921) were fifth cousins once removed, although their full ancestries are not shown in the chart.

One more unusual situation in this drop chart. Consider the Arnhem winkelier Jacobus Petrus Felix (1801-1875). He married twice, first in 1826 to Petronella de Bruin (1789-1854), and second in 1855 to Hermina van Manen (1825-1899). Hermina was Petronella’s niece.

That’s quite the handful of tangled interrelationships!

Wentink’s and Geerlings’ and the Tangled Web

It’s a fact that we’re all related to each other. However, some people are more closely related than others. This post describes another case of complex interrelationships between two people. In particular, let’s look at how Hendrik Bernard Wentink (1904-1957) and Johanna Geerlings (1906-1991) were related to each other.

(As in previous posts, you might find it useful to open the chart in another browser window. People marked in red are ancestors of mine, those in blue are distant cousins.)

Hendrik Bernard and Johanna were married 1930 in Rheden. Likewise, most of the people in this chart lived in the area around Rheden, east of Arnhem, in the Dutch province of Gelderland.

When looking at a marriage record, I often do a search on their parents and grand-parents to see if any of them are already in my database. Doing so, I quickly realized that Hendrik Bernard and Johanna were 2nd cousins once removed, with common ancestors Gerrit Brinkhorst (1766-1831) and Paulina Petronella Dieterink (1768-1831).

I also realized that they both had van Zadelhoff ancestors. Mapping out their ancestors took a bit of effort since their common ancestors were quite a few generations back, well into the 17th Century. Johanna had a single path back to Steven Berends van Sadelhof and Hendrina Willems. But Hendrik Bernard’s ancestry was much more complicated. His parents, Jan Hendrik Wentink (1873-1946) and Hendrika Wentink (1873-1934) were first cousins. Likewise, both sets of his grand-parents were also cousins, paternally 1st cousins once removed, maternally 3rd cousins.

So there were three distinct paths from Hendrik Bernard to Steven Berends van Sadelhof. So along that side of the chart, Hendrik Bernard and Johanna are 6th cousins twice removed in two ways and also 7th cousins.

We’re not done yet. Once I noticed that both had Kets ancestors, I had to investigate further. So it turned out that Hendrik Bernard and Johanna had another pair of common ancestors, Gerrit Kets and Jantje Geurts. As before, there are three distinct paths from Hendrik Bernard to Gerrit Kets, resulting in relationships of 4th cousins once removed and 4th cousins twice removed.

Finally, we come to another pair of common ancestors, Hendrik Brinkhorst and Catharina Turgels. From this pair, Hendrik Bernard and Johanna were 5th cousins.

If you’re keeping track, we have a total of eight different sets of distinct paths from this married couple to their four pairs of common ancestors.

Cheers! Hans

Genealogy Site Updated

When we upgraded our home internet to high-speed broadband a few years ago, I hoped to update the genealogy data on my web site more often. With our old 2Mbps internet, it could take hours to upload the data. With a fiber optic connection, uploading a 4.4GB tarball takes about 10 minutes. That said, a few weeks ago I noticed that I hadn’t updated the information in more than two years! So I figured it was about time to do an upgrade.

One change I made for this version is a different photo on the home page. Since the site is called “Boldts and Molls”, I thought it appropriate to have a photo with both Boldts and Molls. This photo taken on April 7, 1956 is perhaps the only one I have with my parents and all four grand-parents. From left to right in the photo, Hans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt, Anna Paula Alwina Hermine Ludwigs, Ernst Ludwig Boldt, Johanna Maria Moll, Gerrit Moll, and Johanna Maria van de Bunt.

As a general rule, I try to include full birth, marriage, and death data for all of my blood relatives, including where possible scans of the original source documents. I also apply this standard to the spouses of blood relatives. However, when I find interesting inter-relationships between various in-law families, I often go further to map out these inter-relationships. As my database grows, finding such connections is becoming more and more common. Check the Genealogy category of this blog, and you’ll find a number of example of such connections.

I also include some data for some of my in-law aunts and uncles, in particular, for those born in the Netherlands: Leen Moraal, Joop van Dyk, Henk Honing, and Diane Luimes. This information is not complete, and in many cases relies on secondary sources. However, for 16 of my 28 first cousins, this can provide at least some information about the other side of their pedigree. And if any of my cousins want to dive in to the hobby of genealogy, this can give them a good head start.

Anyways, click here, or on any of the links mentioned in this post to start exploring the Boldts and Molls.

Cheers! Hans