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, familysearch.org 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 familysearch.org, and could be reached through the web site zoekakten.nl.

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 familysearch.org, check out zoekakten.nl. Second, although secondary sources may be helpful, don’t fully trust them. Go to the primary sources.

Cheers! Hans

Researching My Boldt Ancestors

I started researching my ancestry back in the early 1990’s. Back then, the best way to do the research was by poring through microfilmed civil and church records at the local LDS Family History Centre. But often, other resources must be used.

Half of my ancestry was easy to uncover, since the LDS had microfilms for the Netherlands up to 1902. After finding birth records for both of my Dutch grandparents, going back further was clear sailing. However, the German side of my pedigree was not so easy. In this essay, I’ll discuss how I got a handle on my Boldt ancestors.

From documents in the possession of my grandmother, I knew that my great grandfather, Heinrich Christoph Hans Boldt, was born in 1873 in the village of Hindenberg in the former Grand-Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a predominately rural region on the Baltic Sea coast.

Unfortunately, the LDS microfilms for that particular parish stopped at 1871. Fortunately, I did find a baptism record for a Wilhelmine Johanna Elisabeth Boldt born 1870 in Hindenberg. Her parents were Johann Joachim Hans Boldt and Marie Catharina Dorothea Wulff. I proceeded under the assumption that Wilhelmine was my great grandaunt.

From this information, I was able to go further back through several generations of Boldt’s. However, the evidence was circumstantial. I still didn’t have that smoking gun proving a connection between Heinrich Boldt and these other Boldt’s. Five years later, however, I got the evidence I needed.

In the Spring of 1997, Sylvana and I took a trip to Europe, with visits to some of the places where my ancestors lived, including Hindenberg, a nondescript rural village of no more than a couple dozen houses and agricultural buildings surrounded by yellow fields of rape-seed flowers.

We left Hindenberg heading north on an unmarked back road, and within minutes came upon the parish church at Kirch-Grambow. It’s a typical church for that part of Germany, red bricks, red tile roof, and a steeple clad in gray slate, surrounded by pine trees with a grave yard on both sides. We quickly found several gravestones with the name Boldt, so we knew we were in the right place.

Since there was no one around, we decided to return on the following Sunday. We arrived shortly after the service started. Since there were no more than a dozen people in the church, our arrival drew the attention of the young minister who stopped what he was doing and came back to greet us and show us to our pew. He asked if either of us could play organ. He pointed out a new organ in the loft at the back of the church, but unfortunately, they had no one who could play it.

It was a pleasant service. Without anyone to play the organ, the minister led the hymns a capella. His sermon was a gentle admonition on taking life one day at a time, an appropriate topic I thought for people still getting used to a new political and economic reality in a recently reunited Germany. Although he had a small attendance at his service, this young, fresh out of seminary minister clearly enjoyed his rural posting.

After the service, the minister showed us around. I told him I was interested in researching my ancestors, some of whom were baptized in that church. We asked to see the church records, and he readily agreed.

At the parish office, he pulled out a stack of books, some going back to the late 1600’s. I didn’t need to touch the really old books, but I couldn’t resist a peak inside the oldest one.

Quickly, I found what I was looking for, the baptism record of Heinrich Boldt. And yes, as suspected, his parents were indeed Johann Boldt and Marie Wulff. I finally had the vital evidence linking my great grandfather to another four generations of Boldt’s going back to 1735.

We spent a couple hours more searching through the records, and found the baptism records for my grandfather, Hans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt (born 1900), as well as a number of other Boldt’s.

One more thing about the church at Kirch-Grambow: The parking lot at the church was circled by a dozen rough-hewn stones, one for each village in the parish, each with the names of soldiers killed during the First World War. The stone for the village of Hindenberg listed two names, Ludwig Boldt and Martin Boldt. These two brothers were half second cousins of my grandfather. Both were killed and buried in France.

Genealogy is a lengthy process, often requiring patience and diligence. But for most of us, the records are out there, waiting to be uncovered.

Don’t Cite My Site!

For decades, I’ve made the results of my genealogy research public via my website. I think that’s a necessary aspect of the whole endeavor. I want people to take advantage of my research. In my opinion, it is fundamentally wrong to do all the work and keep it to oneself.

Now and then, I come across information on the internet that clearly originated in my research. Sometimes, it’s clear since it’s an older version of my results. But lately, I’ve seen cases where my website, boldts.net/gramps,  is cited in someone else’s work.

On the one hand, it’s good to see my work being credited. And it’s good to see other people citing their research.

But on the other hand, this is not correct. Wherever possible, you should cite primary sources in your research, not secondary sites like mine. We all know what the difference is. A primary source is something like a civil registration record or a baptism book, written by an official within days or hours of the event. Secondary sources include published genealogies or history books.

We all take advantage of research done by others, and that’s fine. But in a secondary source, there’s always the chance of errors slipping in. I’ve certainly found a goodly number of errors in published genealogies, in print and on-line. That’s why it’s standard practice in my own research to cite only primary sources wherever possible. And use trusted secondary sources only when the primary document is not available.

For researching ancestors from the Netherlands and Mecklenburg in particular (my specific areas of interest), most primary documents are on-line. When I include a fact in my database, I normally download and edit the scanned image of the primary source record, and include that image in the citation. When Gramps produces the website for my data, it includes all data, including the primary source images.

So please do use the information on my website. But don’t cite boldts.net/gramps. Instead, download the images and cite them in your research.

To remind people, I even added a note at the bottom of each page of my genealogy site:

Note: If you find this information useful, do not cite this web site. Instead, cite the primary sources listed here. Feel free to download the images and include them in your own database.

Cheers! Hans

Tangled Webs in Nijkerk

Looking back at my posts in this blog, I haven’t done one of these drop charts in almost two years. First, it takes a bit of work to create one of these charts. But also, I haven’t found much in the way of tangled inter-relationships in my research. About a year ago, I signed up with Ancestry and spent some time on the German side of my family. However, the records for Mecklenburg-Schwerin on Ancestry only go back as far as 1876, and so I soon exhausted their resources. Later, I spent a few months researching distant cousins in the Achterhoek region of Gelderland, but without finding very many tangles.

But once done there, I turned my sights back to Nijkerk, where many of my ancestors lived. My great grandfather Gerrit Moll (1849-1929) was the first Moll born in Nijkerk, but his wife Geertje Beukers and most of her ancestors lived in the town for generations.

This chart explores the inter-relationships between my ancestors and a couple of other families, in particular, the van den Pol family and the van Dronkelaar family. In this chart, ancestors are marked in red. Blue indicates other blood relatives. (It may help to open the image in a new tab or window.)

Let’s start at the left side of the chart. We see my second cousins three times removed Wouter van Werkhoven (1823-1891) and Rengertje van den Pol (1840-1918) married respectively to Evertje van Dronkelaar (1838-1912) and Wolbertus van Dronkelaar (1845-1922). Wouter and Rengertje were first cousins, and so were Evertje and Wolbertus.

The rest of the chart is more complicated. There are five cases of a distant cousin married to a member of the van den Pol family, all descendants of Jacob van den Pol (1770-1860) and Aaltje Koppen (1781-1865):

  1. Gerrit van den Pol (1807-1877) and my first cousin four times removed Aaltje van Werkhoven (1804-1853), married 1939.
  2. Gijsbert van den Pol (1824-1893) and my second cousin three times removed Aaltje van Woudenberg (1821-1897), married 1848.
  3. My second great granduncle Lubbert Beukers (1822-1896) and Hendrina van den Pol (1824-1877), married 1850.
  4. My third cousin twice removed Evert van den Pol (1851-1938) and my great grandaunt Antje Beukers (1853-1934), married 1883.
  5. Jacob van den Pol (1826-1913) and my second cousin three times removed Geurtje van Woudenberg (1823-1885), married 1848,

It is interesting that, although there are many tangled inter-relationships in this chart, there is only one case of cosanguineous marriage, between second cousins once removed Evert van den Pol and Antje Beukers. Their common ancestors are Evert Teunissen and Aaltje Aalts, at the top of this chart.

I’m not done with this area of research, and so there may be more interesting tangles to discover.

Cheers! Hans

Genealogy – Then and Now

I started doing genealogy back in the early 1990’s. In the early years of my research, I discovered a fair bit of information about my ancestors. But after a few years, other interests grabbed my attention, and I put my genealogy research on hold. Two years ago, twenty years after beginning, I resumed my research. In this tome, I’d like to take a look back and compare how I did genealogy back then with how I do it today.

Back then, I used a DOS based program called GIM. Most programs at the time supported the GEDCOM 3 standard. Today, I use a program called Gramps, which implements fully the GEDCOM 5 standard, still under development in the early 1990’s. As far as I’m concerned, the most important improvement of GEDCOM 5 is robust support for sources and citations. Back then, if you recorded source information at all, it was done using notes. Today, you have no excuse for not including citations in your database.

These days, I don’t add any fact to my database unless I can cite the source. When I restarted my research, one of the first things I did was go through my data, adding sources and citations to every fact. I also cross-referenced my hand-written notes by adding the citation id to every event in my notes. Using a filter in Gramps, I was able to locate every event without a citation. I had to be brutal, but some facts had to be deleted since I had no idea where they came from.

Back then, the general public just started getting access to the internet. This was a great boon to genealogists since it allowed us to better share data. But we still needed to visit the local LDS Family History Center to view microfilmed records, and record the data in hand-written notebooks.

Twenty years later, the technology continues to improve. There are a couple of incredible on-line resources that I take advantage of on a daily basis. The first is FamilySearch.org, which hosts jpeg images of almost all of the LDS’s collection of civil and church records from the Netherlands. Since half of my ancestors were born in the Netherlands, I fully take advantage of this incredible collection. Whenever I find a record of interest, while working at my desk at home, I download the image, crop and scale the image, and then include the image in my database as part of the citation. You can’t support your facts any better than that.

Another incredible resource is WieWasWie.nl, an index site for the Dutch civil registration. There are a few holes in their coverage, such as Gelderland births, but otherwise, it’s the first place I visit when searching for people. As far as I’m concerned, if for whatever reason I can’t find a scanned image of a record, cutting and pasting WieWasWie data into a citation is an acceptable alternative.

For the German side of my research, the on-line resources are still lacking. FamilySearch.org has the images for the 1867 and 1900 censuses of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, which helped me connect with my Ludwigs ancestors. However, to view the Mecklenburg-Schwerin church books, I still need to visit the local LDS Family History Center. It’s a 20 minute drive, and is never very busy. But since the Dutch on-line resources are so much better, I haven’t done nearly as much research on my German ancestors.

There is hope, however. There is an effort underway to digitize the German church books and put them on-line. Hopefully, the site will be as easy to use as FamilySearch.org. And more importantly, I hope that the quality of the scans will be as good. Once the Mecklenburg-Schwerin church books are on-line, I expect to spend a lot of time downloading those records. (Of course, the LDS are working hard digitizing all of their microfilms, but who knows when they’ll get to the books I need.)

Finally, here’s a summary of what’s in my Gramps database as of this morning:

  • Number of individuals: 8196
  • Number of families: 3167
  • Unique surnames: 2375
  • Number of unique media objects: 5909
  • Total size if media objects: 1592 MB

The last number is significant. The vast majority of media objects are jpeg images of scanned source records. As I mentioned before, you can’t have better citations than scans of the original civil and church records.

Cheers! Hans

Tangled Interrelationships in Utrecht

In my previous posting, I commented that I didn’t expect to find many tangled interrelationships in Utrecht. After all, in a city like Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, people have a much greater choice when looking for a mate than those living in isolated rural areas. However, even before I wrote that last epistle, I saw hints of some interrelationships. I noticed the name “van den Hoeven” in a couple of records, and I wondered if they were related. It turned out that they were.

Let’s start with Hendrik Vink (1826-1906) and my distant cousin Everarda Houpst (1838-1905). This couple also appears in the drop chart in my last posting. But here, we look at the offspring of a different child, Casper Cornelis Vink (1861-1942) and his wife Elisabeth Maria Rijnders (1855-1902). All together, they had eight children. However, two were still-born, and three more died shortly after birth. The remaining three reached adulthood and married.

Hendrik Vink (born 1890) and his sister Elisabeth Maria Vink (born 1893) married two siblings, respectively, Wijntje Spierenburg (born 1891) and Barend Spierenburg (born 1893). The remaining Vink sibling, Aletta Gesina Vink (1886-1925) married Willem Franciscus van den Hoeven (born 1871). Willem Franciscus was a half first cousin to Wijntje and Barend Spierenburg. That is, all three Vink siblings married a grand-child of Jan van den Hoeven (1807-1882).

So although the cities are not fertile ground when searching for tangled interrelationships, they still can be found there.

Another Link Between Two Ancestral Lines

In a previous blog posting, I described a rather complex set of tangled interrelationships connecting two of my ancestral lines. In that post, the van de Beerenkamp family provided a link between my Moll and van Coot lines. In this post, I uncover another, albeit less complicated connection.

Lately, I’ve been recording distant cousins who lived in the province of Utrecht, either in the city of Utrecht or in Amersfoort. In such large communities, I don’t expect to find much in the way of tangled interrelationships. And to a great extent, that’s exactly what I found. No cousins marrying, no double cousins, etc.

However, when coming across a new family name, I still do a search to check if I’ve seen that name before. I traced my distant Utrecht cousins down to Gerrit Vink, born 1885 in Utrecht. He married (for a second time) in 1926 to Derkje Dorland, born 1901 in Rheden. I checked the name Dorland in my database, and turned up a few others, including Jacob Dorland. Jacob was a witness to the marriage of his brother Johann Christoffel Dorland and Berendina Moll, in 1884.

(In the above chart, red indicates ancestors, and blue indicates other blood relatives.)

A bit of research revealed that Jacob Dorland was the father of Derkje Dorland. So the Dorland family had a connection to two of my ancestral lines. First to my Moll ancestors, and secondly to my Laseur ancestors, through their Vink descendants. Evert Moll and Geertrui van Donselaar were my 4th great grandparents. Herman Laseur and Bellitje (Peters) Birckhoud were my 6th great grandparents. These two lines converge with my grandparents, Gerrit Moll and Johanna Maria van de Bunt.

So it always pays off to check your database to see if you’ve come across a particular family before. Likewise, it always pays off to add witnesses of events to your database.

Consanguineous Marriage in Heerde

After I posted my last blog entry, I resumed my research by verifying information I already had, in particular, for my van Apeldoorn in-laws. My grand-aunt Johanna Moll (1886-1927) was married to Adrianus Gijsbertus van Apeldoorn (1885-1962). Adrianus was the step-son for Johanna’s aunt, Geertje Moll (1853-1935). At that time, the van Apeldoorn’s were best known as the owners of a soap factory in Heerde which manufactured soap under the brand name “De Klok”.

My research turned up a gravestone for Gerrit Jan van Apeldoorn (1878-1933) and Hendrina Hendrika Willmina van Apeldoorn – van Apeldoorn (1879-1967). Could these two be related, I wondered? The answer turned out to be yes. But the subsequent research turned up quite a number of other cases of cousins marrying in that family.

In this drop chart, the individuals marked in red are my ancestors. Blue indicates other blood relatives. And the yellow indicates descendants of Andries Lamberts van Apeldoorn. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there are so many inter-relationships. Heerde is a fairly isolated village, bounded to the north-east by the Veluwe, and to the east by the River IJssel.

Here’s a summary of the cosanguineous marriages among the van Apeldoorn’s. Note that some couples are related in two ways. Almost all lived in Heerde.

1st cousins:

  • Klaas van Apeldoorn (1790-1823) and Aleida van Apeldoorn (1789-1867)
  • Gerrit Jan van Apeldoorn (1878-1933) and Hendrina Hendrika Willemina van Apeldoorn (1879-1967)

1st cousins, once removed:

  • Willem van Apeldoorn (1782-1840) and Elsjen van Apeldoorn (1773-1808)
  • Johannes Lambertus van Apeldoorn (1781-1815) and Adriana Antonia Hafkamp (1783-1870)

2nd cousins:

  • Berend Boeve (1780-1853) and Johanna Aleijda van Apeldoorn (1778-1848)
  • Johanna Lambarta van Apeldoorn (1816-1848) and Lammert van Apeldoorn (1817-1861)

2nd cousins, once removed:

  • Johanna Lambarta van Apeldoorn (1816-1848) and Lammert van Apeldoorn (1817-1861)
  • Gerhardus van Apeldoorn (1813-1887) and Willempje van Apeldoorn (1808-1865)
  • Lambert van Apeldoorn (1813-1883) and Maasina Boeve (1809-1892)
  • Evert Jan van Apeldoorn (1815-1883) and Geertje Boeve (1815-1877)

3rd cousins:

  • Gerhardus van Apeldoorn (1813-1887) and Willempje van Apeldoorn (1808-1865)
  • Lambert van Apeldoorn (1813-1883) and Maasina Boeve (1809-1892)
  • Evert Jan van Apeldoorn (1815-1883) and Geertje Boeve (1815-1877)
  • Adrianus van Apeldoorn (1845-1934) and Hendrika Willemina van Apeldoorn (1849-1910)

3rd cousins, once removed:

  • Adrianus van Apeldoorn (1845-1934), Hendrika Willemina van Apeldoorn (1849-1910)

This research was assisted greatly by the existence of a number of on-line genealogies for the van Apeldoorn family. However, it is my policy to verify all the facts by downloading and checking the relevant civil and church records. Listed at the top of this chart, most on-line genealogies consider Joanna van Marle as a sibling of Berent van Marle. If this were true, there would be even more cases of cousins marrying. However, this fact cannot be easily verified since there’s no baptism record for Joanna in the Heerde church book.

This diversion into the van Apeldoorn family was quite the adventure. I think I now need to take a short break from genealogy to catch my breath.

Cheers! Hans