A Marriage Between Double Cousins

Now and then, I go back through my genealogy database looking for things I’ve missed before. A few weeks ago, I came across a first cousin five times removed, Catharina Mol. All I had on her was her date of birth, March 31, 1776, in Velp (Gelderland). This was surprising since much of the information I had on the Moll’s came from research published by the single-name society Genealogische Vereeniging “Mol(l)” back in the 1930’s. (You can find their publications on-line here.)

Most of their data was fairly complete, so seeing someone with just a date of birth was conspicuous. These days, research is a lot easier, and so it didn’t take long to figure out what happened with her. Catharina moved away from Velp to Echteld, a village about 35km to the east, situated on the Waal. There she married Peter van Beem, a planter. Research on their descendants turned up some interesting interrelationships.

In this drop chart, the people marked in blue are my distant cousins. If you look carefully, you can find three examples of two siblings marrying two siblings. In particular, note the two brothers Lubbartus Mol van Beem (1803-1875) and Peter van Beem (1806-1884) married to the two sisters Aartje van Setten (1816-1875) and Cuinera van Setten (1814-1882).

There are also three examples of marriage between first cousins. This was not uncommon back in those days. However, for the first time in my own research, after recording information on over 13,000 individuals, I found a case of a marriage between first cousins who also happened to be double cousins, Peter van Beem (1832-1901) and Elizabeth van Beem (1852-1901), married in 1890. That is, these two shared four grand-parents. Before this, the closest I got was a case where the bride and groom shared three grand-parents.

These days, laws regarding cousins marrying vary considerably from place to place. According to one web site, North Carolina allows first cousins to marry, but not double first cousins. According to another web site, almost half of all marriages in Afghanistan are cosanguineous. Of those, almost 7% are double cousin marriages.

Anyways, research on this branch of the family continues.

Cheers! Hans



Stories of My Grandfather, Part Three

There’s a German tradition known as Kaffeetrinken. Literally, that means drinking coffee. In a proper German household, people would gather at 4PM and drink coffee.  Many German immigrants to Canada continued this custom, including my grandparents. Every Sunday, we would drive over to the farm and visit my Opa and Oma, and the visit would conclude with the obligatory Kaffeetrinken. We would sit around the kitchen table, often with other German friends, and eat cakes, cookies, and pastries while drinking coffee or juice and engaging in conversation.

Hans Boldt and Anna Ludwigs ca. 1955

In 1953, my grandfather, Hans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt bought a farm just outside of Odessa, about 20 minutes west of Kingston. He worked hard on that farm, raising dairy cows. Up until the late 1960’s, they also had chickens and grew their own vegetables. I still remember digging up potatoes in that garden.

When I was old enough, I’d help out bringing in the hay. We would ride in a hay wagon out to the fields, and load it up with bales already sitting on the ground. It was hard work. Each bale typically weighed up to about 30kg, and we’d stack them five or six layers high on the wagon. They had to be stacked properly since the ride back to the barn was rough, and the load would sway back and forth as we drove over the bumps. Inside the barn, we’d stack the bales up high. They’d have to feed the cows for a whole year.

Usually, my Oma would walk out to the field bringing a pitcher of grapefruit juice, much appreciated on a hot Summer day.

Opa was a proud man, respected by all. At one point, though, he had to get a loan from the bank to upgrade his machinery. He expected approval to be a sure thing. My Dad wasn’t so sure, and before Opa went to the bank, Dad went there first. He wanted to make sure his Dad got the loan, and so agreed to co-sign the loan.

Once when visiting a neighbor down the road, Opa admired an antique curio cabinet. The neighbor offered to sell it, and Opa took him up on the offer. That cabinet now stands in my living room.

The first 50 years of his life was difficult, influenced by tumultuous events in Europe. For the next 30 years, he lived a quiet, relatively uneventful life in Canada. Apart from the farm work, he loved to read and listen to music. They had a large kitchen in their farmhouse. Beside the wood stove, there were two rocking chairs. Opa sat in the one closest to the stove.

I remember the last time I saw Opa alive. In April 1981, I was getting ready to move to Toronto. Before leaving, I visited the farm and chatted with my Opa. I had a sense that it would be the last time. The day I started my new job at IBM in Toronto, I got the call, and had to return home for the funeral. Opa was remembered fondly by everyone there.

Stories of My Grandfather, Part Two

In a previous post, I shared some stories about my grandfather, Hans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt. First, I mentioned before that he was tall. Here’s a photo showing how tall he was.

During the 1930’s my Opa played guitar. Now and then, he and a bunch of his friends would meet in a wooded area south of Hamburg to play music. I like to imagine them playing protest songs in the style of Woody Guthrie. But it was probably mainly traditional folk songs. Later, he loaned his guitar to a friend in the navy who was serving on a U-boat. When he got his guitar back, it was in pieces. Opa never played guitar again.

The war broke out in 1939. Shortly thereafter, Opa was arrested and imprisoned a second time. He never discussed the reasons why, but he clearly was a critic of the Nazi regime, and openly speculated that the Nazis would eventually invade Russia. We believe his sisters Bertha and Frieda ratted him out. (By this time, Minna was already living in Canada.) His brother-in-law was a member of the Nazi party, but he insisted he had nothing to do with his arrest.

While Opa was in prison camp, my Oma, Anna Ludwigs, had to work to support the family. At first, the authorities wouldn’t let her since the Nazi’s believed that a woman’s place was in the home. But since Opa was not available to support the family, they relented. She had a job as a railway crossing guard, a job she enjoyed a great deal. Whenever someone came by who she didn’t like, she would lower the gates and make him wait, even though there wasn’t a train coming. She would smile and say she was just following procedures. One time, she earned a commendation for her bravery in stopping a train when there was a cow on the tracks.

When Opa was released from prison, he wasn’t allowed to return to work in the shipyards since it was considered too vital for the war effort. But he got a job working for a company developing prestressed concrete technology. Go figure! Did the Nazis not see a military application for prestressed concrete? But at the time, the technology was new. At one point, the company built a concrete roof. When they brought in the building inspector, he took one look and said the roof had to come down. They then took him outside, and showed him a bunch of heavy trucks parked on the roof!

In July of 1943, allied bombers attacked the city of Hamburg. The resulting fire storm destroyed a significant part of the city, and killed more than 40,000 people. The Boldt family survived in a bomb shelter, but their home and all their belongings were destroyed. A distant cousin of my Oma was not so lucky. Here’s her death certificate. At the bottom, the cause of death is listed as “enemy action”.

By the end of the war, my Oma and Opa were in the town of Groß Görnow in the Russian zone. When the Russian troops were advancing, a lot of elected officials fled to the west. Opa agreed to take the position of Bürgermeister (mayor) of the town since he felt he could deal with the Russians. He held that position for six months from June to November of 1945. If they were to have any hope of reuniting with their son, they had to return home to Hamburg. (At the time, my Dad was in an American POW camp in France.) They did get permission to leave, but Opa had to bribe a Russian official with his leather jacket.

I’ll end this installment with one more anecdote: Because of his skills in the field of prestressed concrete, my Opa was offered a job in Canada. But before that could happen, some amount of paperwork was necessary. First, he had to get his criminal record cleaned up. Because his “crimes” were political in nature, that was no problem. Second, Canada wasn’t yet fully open to immigration from Germany, and so his immigration required federal cabinet approval. In 1949, he started working at the Fred Elgie Company in Belleville. His wife and son arrived in Canada shortly thereafter.


Stories of My Grandfather, Hans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt

For the first half of the 20th Century, life in Germany was not easy. A world war, hyper-inflation, depression, the rise of fascism, and finally another, even more destructive world war. This is what my grandfather, Hans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt faced. One could argue that my Opa was lucky, damn lucky to have survived all that. But that’s a form of “survivorship bias”. That is, it’s the survivors who get to tell their stories. Here are some his.

My Opa, Hans Boldt, was born almost on the eve of the 20th Century, September 1900, in a small village in the former Grand-Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. His father, Heinrich Boldt, worked as a day laborer, as did most other men in rural Mecklenburg. But when he figured out that the land-owners were cheating the workers out of their rightful pay, he could no longer find work, and so the family moved to the city of Hamburg.

During the First World War, Heinrich Boldt went off to serve in the army, and Opa went to work to support the family. Food was scarce. Heinrich was often able to send food packages home. But by the time Opa returned home from work, his sisters Bertha and Minna and half sister Frieda would have already finished off all the food. As soon as he was able, Opa joined the army, if only to be properly fed. He joined an elite unit whose members were over two meters tall, and he served as a motorcycle courier on the eastern front.

Fast-forward to one of the last “free” elections in Germany before the rise of the Nazi party. Hans brought his son Ernst (my Dad) with him to the polling station. While waiting in line to deposit his ballot, he suspected something amiss (probably from the presence of brown-shirts monitoring the process). He handed his ballot to his son, a typically rambunctious six year old, who promptly ran to the front of the long line, and dropped the ballot into the ballot box. Of course, kids will be kids. Once the ballot was in the box, that was that, and they left. We’ll see the relevance of this anecdote later.

Once the Nazi’s were in power, the first groups they went after were their political opponents: leftists, socialists, and communists. At the time, the shipyards in Hamburg were a hotbed for leftist groups. Although, my Opa was not officially a member of any left-wing group, he certainly sympathized, and he certainly knew people belonging to these groups. While the communists were being rounded up, Opa helped one of them escape, the editor of a communist newspaper. Opa took him to the top of one of the tall church steeples in the city, and he was able to hide there until it was safe to leave, and he then successfully escaped to Denmark.

While at the top of the steeple, Opa couldn’t resist taking a picture of the city. That photo, and other evidence left at the top of the steeple was enough for the police to arrest Opa for aiding a fugitive. During questioning, two factors worked in his favor. First, the Nazi’s had a lot of respect for veterans of the First World War. Second, they mistakenly thought he had voted Nazi in the previous election. How could they know who he voted for? Probably, someone was able to merge arrival information at the polling station with the ballots, still in arrival sequence, to figure out who voted for which party. When my dad dropped the ballot into the box prematurely, that put a number of ballots out of their proper sequence, and so some of the resulting data was incorrect.

The arrest resulted in my Opa’s first imprisonment. More stories later.



Wikipedia and Genealogy

Occasionally, I go back through my ancestors to see if I’ve missed anything. For the Dutch side of my ancestry, I think I’ve gone back about as I can go along all of the lines. But I still hope to be surprised.

A few weeks ago, I came across a 5th great grandmother, Rijkje van Assenraade, who lived in Amersfoort during the 1700’s. If she was born there, then surely there should be a baptism record. The WieWasWie index is steadily improving, and I was pleased to find a baptism record for Rijkje, dated 1733.

Searching through the Amersfoort church records, I soon came across another baptism dated five years later:

I also found a burial record for a child of Wijnand van Assenraade dated 1734. Through a process of elimination, I was able to conclude that that burial record referred to the Rijkje born in 1733.

So now I had names for two new 6th great grandparents, Wijnandt van Assenraade and Hendrikje van Willikhuize. Going back further is turning out to be a challenge. From their marriage record, Hendrikje was from Nijkerk. However, there’s no sign of her in the Nijkerk church records. Also, the name van Assenraade doesn’t seem to occur any earlier than the 1730’s. So more work is needed to extend the pedigree further.

However, my search through the Amersfoort baptisms turned up a few siblings of Rijkje, one of whom, Jan van Assenraade (1732-1810) also survived into adulthood, married, and had children. Going down that line turned up some interesting people. Which brings me around to the topic of this post, using Wikipedia as a source.

One of the children of Jan van Assenraade was Wijnand van Assenraad (1764-1855). In the death record for his wife, Hendrina van Uijttenhoven (1766-1838), the occupation of Wijnand was listed as Burgemeester. Now then, most people in my database were just regular folk, such as farmers or workers, and rarely get mentioned anywhere outside the church records or civil registration. However, for some people, it’s always worth doing a web search. Someone as important as a mayor is likely to be mentioned elsewhere, and sure enough, a search found some information in Wikipedia, as well as a picture.

Going down another line, I discovered a few more distant cousins mentioned in Wikipedia, my 3rd cousins 4 times removed, the composers Johannes Albertus van Eijken (1823-1868) and Gerrit Isak van Eijken (1832-1879). That was three Wikipedia relatives found in one day!

All together now, out of the more than 13,000 people in my database, 25 of them have their own Wikipedia pages. While it obviously can’t be relied on for most people, it can be a useful resource for the more famous (or infamous) people in our databases.

I’ll end this missive with a list of the Wikipedia people in my database:

Just to emphasize the point, it never hurts to do a web search on names you come across in your research. You never know what it will turn up.

Cheers! Hans

p.s. After publishing this tome, I realized one famous artist was missing from the list. I checked, and found that while Evert Moll (1878-1955, 4th cousin 3 times removed) is listed in a Wikipedia page of painters, he does not (yet) have his own Wikipedia page.

Groote Beer Passenger List – August 1953

In August 1953, my mother, Johanna Maria Moll, came to Canada on the S.S. Groote Beer, along with her parents and nine siblings. Of the remaining siblings, one arrived in Canada a year earlier, another emigrated a year later, and one more stayed in the Netherlands.

About 20 years ago, I downloaded a passenger list for that voyage. As far as I can tell, the website that hosted that passenger list is no longer active, so now I offer that list here.

The Groote Beer left Rotterdam for Montreal on August 10, 1953. Along the way, she stopped in Le Havre, Southampton, and Quebec City. My mother and her family disembarked at Montreal and then traveled by train to Kingston, Ontario.

Passenger List – R.M.S. Franconia

I was just given something I didn’t know was in our family’s possession: A copy of the passenger list for the R.M.S. Franconia, for it’s voyage across the Atlantic on December 13, 1950, carrying my father and grand-mother.

Here are scans of this passenger list. Please feel free to download these scans if they are useful for your research:

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

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