Another Marriage Between Double Cousins?

So I was researching the family of my second cousin five times removed Geurt Kets (1799-1881), who lived in the village of Rozendaal, near Arnhem. I have some ancestors from that village, and it’s been a long time since I’ve looked at those books. As I was adding marriage events for Geurt’s kids, one in-law family caught my interest.

One of Geurt’s daughters, Wilhelmina Cornelia Kets (1827-1895), married Johannes Willem Urselinus Avelingh (1829-1881). His mother was Elsje de Ridder (1797-1823). I saw that surname before, Geurt Kets was married to Aletta de Ridder (1801-1862). If you’ve read my genealogy posts before, you know I just have to investigate to see if there’s a connection.

The first issue was geography. Elsje lived in the village of Amerongen (Utrecht). While Aletta was born in the nearby village of Rhenen, her father Dirk Leksius de Ridder (1771-1871) was born further away in Schalkwijk (Utrecht). However, Dirk’s father Dirk de Ridder (1745-1832) was born in Amerongen, so the possibility of a connection was still very much a possibility. The rest of this post involves people who lived in Amerongen.

Going back through Elsje’s ancestry, I found a couple of interesting things. First, her parents both had surname de Ridder. Could her parents Tieleman de Ridder (1760-1842) and Johanna Wilhelmina Urselina de Ridder (1763-1838) be related?

Second, look at that the names of Elsje’s grandparents. Could Frederik de Ridder (*1730) be related to Otto de Ridder (1736-1820)? And could Elsje Haefkens (*1736) be related to Johanna Arendina Haefkens (*1738)? If they were two pairs of siblings, I would have my second case of a marriage between double first cousins! (You can read about my first case here.)

When I go through the Dutch civil registrations, I sometimes get bored. The indexes (like WieWasWie) are so good, and the information in the records is so detailed, that the research can be too easy sometimes. However, by now I was well into the 18th Century church books of Amerongen, where research can be much more challenging. Those records contain much less information than the civil registration, spelling of names can vary considerably, and the older hand-writing scripts can take some getting used to. As you go further back into the 17th Century records, things get worse.

However, the church records for Amerongen aren’t the worst I’ve seen. It’s not a large place, so you don’t have to read through a lot of pages of records. And to make things easier, there’s an index for baptisms for the years 1655 through 1713. It’s grouped by year, but names are ordered alphabetically within each year.

Still, it took a while to find all the baptisms I was looking for, even after scanning through the expected range of records multiple times. At one point, I resorted to Google searches to try to find the information in secondary on-line sources. Eventually, I did find the records I was looking for. Sometimes it can be easy to miss something even if it’s staring you in the face.

Back to the research, Elsje and Johanna Arendina Haefkens were indeed sisters. Frederik and Otto de Ritter, however, were not brothers, but rather, first cousins. And so the married couple Tieleman De Ridder and Johanna Wilhelmina Urselina de Ridder were double cousins, first cousins maternally, but second cousins paternally.

I’m not done with this in-law family yet, though. I have other people with surname Avelingh in my database. Perhaps I can find additional connections with the family of Hendrikus Avelingh?

Cheers! Hans

Using the “People” view in Gramps

A few days ago, I was going through the people in my Gramps database and came across the entry for Ruth Kraaij, with a birth date of “calculated 1819”. I checked and noticed he didn’t have parents recorded. On a hunch, I looked him up on WieWasWie, and quickly found his birth record. I noticed that his parents, Lubbert Riksen Kraaij and Hijntje Rutgers (AKA Hendrikje Rutgers van Schalm) were already entered into my database. Within minutes, I downloaded Ruth’s birth record, updated his birth information, and added him as a child of Lubbert and Hijntje.

When your database grows, as mine has, to the size where you need five digits to count the number of people, there are likely to be at least a few unrecorded relationships like this. In this case, it was a parent-child relationship. But on my desk, I already have four pages of notes outlining more complex relationships between other people already entered in my database.

Here’s a screenshot of the “People” view in my Gramps database. I have it configured to show name, birth date, birth place, death date, spouse, and last changed. I often use the last changed date. By clicking on the column title, Gramps will order the records in that sequence. I then scroll down to the end, where I can see where I ended up in my previous session.

But consider the birth date column. Note a couple of things. First, a birth date in italics is actually a baptism date in those cases where a birth date is not known. Likewise, a death date in italics represents a burial date where date of death is unknown. For births and deaths in the Netherlands prior to 1772, this is very often the case.

A “calculated” date is computed by taking the date of some event and subtracting the age of the person at that event. In Dutch records, the quality of a calculated date can vary considerably. For marriage records, the bride and groom had to submit extracts from their birth records, and so their age at marriage can generally be counted on as accurate. Age at death, on the other hand, can often be off by a few years.

(By the way, when entering a calculated date into Gramps, all you need to type is “calc”. Gramps will fill in the rest.)

Sometimes, I’ll randomly go through my “people” view looking for possible avenues of investigation. The people with a calculated date of birth are often worthy of further study. I’ll look for these individuals in groups of people with the same surname living in the same general area. In my data, I have a lot of people who lived in Nijkerk, and it often takes little effort to link together people already recorded.

In the case of Ruth Kraaij, his daughter Hendrikje married my second cousin three times removed Evert Woudenberg. Ruth’s brother Rik Lubbertsen had a daughter, Aleida. She was the first wife of my great grandfather Manus van de Bunt.

Cheers! Hans


The Evolution of a Page of Notes

Many of us use hand-written notes to keep track of our genealogy research. It’s especially useful as a sort of “to-do” list, to keep track of complex inter-relationships. Normally, I record birth, marriage, and death records just for my blood relatives and their spouses. But if there’s a chain connecting different in-laws, usually I’ll also record information about the people along that chain. Those interconnections can get quite complicated.

In this tome, I discuss how one particular page of notes got complicated quite fast. Here’s how the page started. These are people who lived in the Nijkerk area, most in the area between Nijkerk and Amersfoort. The people marked with a rectangle are blood relatives.

I was looking at the children of Teunis van de Bunt (1860-1927) and Gerritje van den Heuvel (1866-1927). (Teunis was my second cousin three times removed.) My research showed that the spouses of at least four of them had connections to someone already in my database. The chart starts by showing the pedigree of Hendrika Walet (1891-1915), wife of Barend van de Bunt (1888-1970). Of her eight great grandparents, six were already in my database. The other two weren’t, but they were the parents of someone already there.

The chart morphed into this:

I discovered that Barend married a second time, to Maartje van Dunschoten (1894-1893). It turned out that I already had her maternal grandparents, Jan Dijkhuizen and Grietje van Dasler, and that she was a blood relative, my third cousin, twice removed. Oh yeah, Barend and Maartje were third cousins. Their common ancestors were Aart Woutersen and Jannetje Jans, who married in 1778.

Which now brings me to the latest revision of the chart:

There’s a lot more going on here now. Maartje van Dunschoten‘s father, Gerrit, married a second time, to Gerritje van den Brom. Now that was another surname I recognized! It turned out that she was a first cousin once removed of Hendrika Walet.

Back to Gerrit van Dunschoten, his maternal grandparents, Gerrit Willemsen Guliker and Mechteld Aalten van de Bunt were already recorded in my database. Note that in the Nijkerk area, there were two separate, unrelated lines of van de Bunt’s. I’m related to the larger of the two groups. Mechteld was a member of the other, unrelated van de Bunt family.

Going back to Gerrit’s paternal line, I found he was a descendant of yet another couple already in my database, Aelbert Gerrits and Maartje Klaasen. Other descendants of Aelbert and Maartje were married to various other van de Bunt’s.

Will there be more revisions? Probably. I’ve already entered in most of the people on the right side of the page. As I enter in the ancestors of Hendrika Walet, the next item on my to-do list, I’ll probably add more to this chart.

Cheers! Hans


More Tangled Webs in Nijkerk

Whenever I add an in-law to my database, I usually do some additional checking on that person. Using WieWasWie, it doesn’t take long to make a rough sketch of someone’s pedigree. Occasionally, I find a connection to some existing person in my database. That seems to happen more and more these days. That’s probably inevitable since I’ve recently surpassed 14,000 individuals in my database!

Today’s chart overlaps another chart I did about four years ago, mapping out some Tangled Webs in Nijkerk. In that chart, I noted that I had connections to three children of Jacob van den Pol and Aaltje Koppen. More recently, I’ve found an additional three children with connections to my distant cousins. (It may help to open this chart in a new browser window.)

In this chart, red indicates my ancestors, blue indicates other blood relatives, and yellow indicates the family of Jacob van den Pol and Aaltje Koppen. Not shown are other children of Jacob and Aaltje that have no connections.

First, consider Cornelis van den Pol (1800-1885). Two of his children, Hendrina and Jacob married distant cousins Lubbert Beukers and Geurtje Woudenberg (respectively).

Next, Jan van den Pol (1805-1879) had a daughter, Aaltje, who married distant cousin Mathijs van der Heiden. This was the second marriage for Mathijs. He’ll come up again in a few paragraphs.

Gerrit van den Pol (1807-1877) married blood relative Aaltje van Werkhoven.

Johannes van den Pol (1811-1890) had a grand-daughter who married my second cousin twice removed Geertrui van de Bunt.

Arend van den Pol (1813-1879) was the father of Margrietje, first wife of Mathijs van der Heiden, mentioned before.

Finally, Gijsbert van den Pol (1824-1893) married my second cousin three times removed Aaltje van Woudenberg. Their son Evert married another distant cousin, Antje Beukers.

At the top of the chart, note the two people, Jan Koppen and Klaas Koppen. They lived in Nijkerk at the same time, one married in 1780, the other in 1785. It’s perhaps not unreasonable to assume that they might be brothers. However, so far, I can find no evidence linking them together.

Cheers! Hans



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.