My Pet Peeves About Genealogy

Like any other pursuit, there are some things about genealogy that bug me. Some call these things “pet peeves”. They’re not enough to discourage me from my efforts. But, like some flying insects hovering around the backyard patio in the summer, they are annoying.

To begin with, allow me to complain about published genealogies. Don’t get me wrong, I take advantage of whatever resources I can. I don’t mind that they often contain errors. After all, I’ll still double check the information by searching for the original source documents at familysearch.org. But some things still irk me. For example, when a published genealogy uses the married name for women. Sure, many women adopt their husband’s name on marriage. However, it makes searching for people that much more difficult. It’s also confusing since you can never really be sure if it’s a birth name or married name.

Another thing that bugs me is lack of citations in many published genealogies. Most of the time, the information is enough for me to locate the relevant documents. However, as you go further back through time, and the information in the registries become skimpier and skimpier, it becomes more and more important to document how a particular conclusion was reached. For example, if only a year is given for a particular event, you know that the year is just an educated guess at best, unless there’s some other document that supports the fact.

Death/burial records in Dutch church registries bug the heck out of me. First, for children, they rarely list the name of the child. Normally, they just list the name of the father. In past centuries, couples often had lots of children, many of whom would die in infancy. And so figuring out an exact date of death for many children is an impossible task. Often, the best you can do is narrow down the date to a couple of possibilities. Take the family of Willem Moll and Dirkje Goetinks as an example. They had five children born in Arnhem between 1785 and 1796. However, when Dirkje died in 1800, the burial record noted that she had no children, which meant that all her children died in infancy. The burial registry for Arnhem lists deaths for three unnamed children of Willem Moll. The only definitive conclusion I can make for all five children is that they died before 1800. There’s not enough information to be any more specific.

Second, why are the burial records so hard to read? Marriage and baptism records seem much more easier to deal with. But for some reason, it often seems like the worst scribes possible were assigned to record deaths and burials. Perhaps that’s understandable, considering the nature of the task.

Finally, consider this scenario: You’re up late searching through various web sites, you’re tired, and you want to go to bed. You decide to visit just one more page. Bingo! You come across some previously undiscovered ancestors. What do you do? Do you bookmark the site and add it to your to do list? Or, excited about your new find, do you keep going? Do you enter the data into your database knowing full well that you’re too tired to do so without risking the introduction of errors into your database?

These are some of my pet peeves. What are yours?

Spurious Data and the Interconnected Web of Relationships

I spent some time researching the Matser family of Rheden, Gelderland. Since these were in-laws, and not blood relatives, I spent more time than I really wanted to. However, I did want to determine if two lines of Matser’s were related. The research was proceeding fine, until I reached a bump in the road. According to a couple of published genealogies, Wouter Matser (1791-1861) was a child of Gerrit Matser (1760-1810) and Johanna Arends (1764-1842). I found baptism, marriage, and death records for Wouter Matser, however, for the baptism and marriage records, his father was listed as Hendrik Matser, not Gerrit.

I found records for Wouter’s siblings, and he did seem to belong to the family of Gerrit Matser and Johanna Arends, and I could find no other mention of a Hendrik Matser. In addition, clearly, a least one other genealogist concluded that Wouter belonged to that family. So the name Hendrik must have been spurious. Or was it? If spurious, how could it be so in both baptism and marriage records?

I puzzled over this conundrum for a while. Finally, while loading the trunk of my car with groceries in the No Frills parking lot, the answer came to me. In the 19th Century, marriage applications in the Netherlands required a fair bit of paperwork. Normally, the marriage application included various documents, such as birth record extracts for the bride and groom, as well as possibly death record extracts for the parents. When Wouter Matser and Jantje Rong wanted to get married, the birth record extract for Wouter included the spurious name Hendrik Matser as the name of his father. This error was repeated verbatim on the marriage documents.

The additional paperwork for a marriage application can be found in the Huwelijksbijlagen. The information can usually be found elsewhere, with more detail. But if you’re having trouble finding a date of birth or death for someone, you might be able to get the information from this set of documents. Unfortunately, it can often be difficult searching the on-line images at familysearch.org for the records you need since each marriage typically has up to half a dozen documents and extracts.

To get back to the interconnected web relationships, I was interested in tracing the Matser’s since two distant Moll cousins married Matser’s. Barend Moll (1850-1929) and Jan Willem Moll (1850-1937) were third cousins to each other. Barend married Hendrika Mariana Matser (1855-1931) and Jan Willem married Johanna Matser (1854-1918). We’ve met Johanna Matser once before, in A Tangled Web – More Interrelationships.

Seeing the name Matser crop up twice, I wondered if Hendrika Mariana and Johanna Matser were related. It took some effort, but I determined that they too were third cousins, descendants of Jakob Matser (1717-):

No doubt there are even more interrelationships between the people in my database. In this case, the clue was the common surname. But when tracing through maternal lines, the interrelationships are of course not as obvious.

A Tangled Web, More Interrelationships

In my previous blog posting called A Tangled Web, I describe some of the tangled interrelationships between some of my distant cousins. In this missive, I continue, describing an interesting case of first cousins marrying. All of us necessarily have ancestors who were related. Indeed, if you double the number of your ancestors on each generation going back, you eventually reach a point where the number of ancestors exceeds the total population of the world. Which means that at some point, the rate of increase in the number of ancestors slows down while ancestors marry relatives, close or distant.

That said, in my own pedigree, I’ve so far not found any cases of ancestors who were related. But I suspect I’ll find at least one case of that, since on the German side of my pedigree, I’m a descendant of four separate lines of Wulff’s. Mind you, Wulff is a very common name in Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

But there are cases of cousins marrying among others in my database, among my distant cousins. In this study, we start with the central person of my previous essay, Willemina Woutrina Moll (1808-1882). In the following drop-chart, most people lived in the village of Velp, east of Arnhem, in the south-eastern corner of Gelderland.


Descendants of Jan WIllem Moll and Neleke Looijse. (Not all children shown)

Consider a niece and a nephew of Willemina. Willemina’s nephew Jan Willem Moll (1849-1915) married Willemina’s niece, and Jan Willem’s first cousin, Catharina Moll (1844-1921). Jan Willem was the son of Willemina’s brother Jan Willem Moll (1819-1851) and Geertje Gerritsen. And Catharina was the daughter of Willemina’s brother Lubbertus Moll (1812-1877) and Everdina de Roos.

But there’s more. Jan Willem and Catharina had a son, Jan Willem Moll (1883-1959) who married his first cousin Johanna Wilhelmina Moll (1883-1955), daughter of Hendrik Moll (1851-1903) and Woutje Snellink. Hendrik was a brother of Catharina Moll.

Now consider the pedigree of the youngest children in this drop-chart: As the children of first cousins, they have six great grandparents, instead of the usual eight. In addition, since one set of grandparents were first cousins, they have just ten great great grandparents, instead of the usual sixteen.

There’s one more example of a tangled interrelationship in this chart: Geertje Gerritsen married again after the death of her first husband, to Jan Matser. One of their children, Johanna Matser married another Moll, Jan Willem Moll (1850-1937).

A Tangled Web

When researching my distant cousins, I normally try not to put much effort into the in-laws, and devote most of my time into finding blood relatives. I suspect that’s true for others as well. I do try to find birth, marriage, and death records for the spouses of blood relatives, but usually that’s as far as I go. However, when I see the same names crop up again and again, I can’t help but investigate the interrelationships between various in-laws.

In this essay, I consider some distant cousins who lived in the south-east corner of the Dutch province of Gelderland, east of Arnhem and south of the Veluwe, in the villages of Velp, Angerlo, Lathum, Hummelo, and Westervoort. This is an area where it seems like everyone knew everyone, where many people seem to be related, if not by blood, at least by marriage. Let’s look in particular at the immediate family of my distant cousin Willemina Woutrina Moll (1808-1882).


Family of Willemina Woutrina Moll (Not all relationships shown)

Willemina was married twice, in 1829 to Barend Thomas van Zadelhoff (1793-1832) and in 1833 to Nicolaas van Zadelhoff (1792-1872). Barend Thomas died before the birth of their third child. Seeing the same surname twice was certainly enough to raise my curiosity, and a bit of investigation revealed that the two men were first cousins. The children of Barend Thomas and of Nicolaas had an interesting relationship since they were related in two ways. First, they were half siblings. Second, they were second cousins. That means they shared six of eight great grandparents: All four of Willemina Woutrina’s grandparents, plus the two common grandparents of Barend Thomas and Nicolaas.

But there’s more to this tangled web. The two daughters of Barend Thomas and Willemina Woutrina, Catharina van Zadelhoff (1830-1897) and Berendina Theodora van Zadelhoff (1832-1914), married two brothers Lambertus Wentink (1825-1899) and Jacobus Reinerus Wentink (1832-1914), respectively. In fact, the two weddings happened on the very same day, with the same four witnesses. There were children from these two marriages. Whenever two siblings marry another pair of siblings, their children are known as “double cousins”. Normally, first cousins share two grandparents. However, double cousins share all four grandparents.

The same pattern repeats with the children of Willemina Woutrina and Nicolaas, not just once, but twice. And in one of those cases, three siblings marry a trio of siblings. We have Nicolaas van Zadelhoff (1839-1909), Wanderina Margaretha van Zadelhoff (1842-1869), and Barend van Zadelhoff (1850-1914) marrying the three siblings Elsken Smit (1841-1904), Hendrik Smit (1839-1890), and Christina Smit (1844-1892). And we have Hendrik van Zadelhoff (1844-1875) and Antonica Geertruida van Zadelhoff (1854-1936) marrying the siblings Jacomiena Ploeg (1842-1933) and Wessel Ploeg (1838-1929), respectively.

The interrelationships don’t end with what’s depicted on the diagram. For example, Barend van Zadelhoff was married twice. His second wife was Elske Geurdina Kets (1835-1931), a first cousin of his first wife Christina Smit.

How far does one go when investigating in-laws? It’s entirely up to you. With almost all the records available on-line, it’s now much easier to see the tangled web of interrelationships of our ancestors.

(You can read more in a followup at A Tangled Web, More Interrelationships.)

My (Distant) Kamerlingh Onnes Cousins

As we all know, genealogy can take us anywhere. We don’t know what we’ll find when exploring down some dark alley. A few days ago, I was researching some distant Moll Schnitzler cousins when I came across a photo from 1928 of the staff of the Bureau voor Handelsinlichting in Amsterdam. The man standing at left was A.J. Moll Schnitzler. The surprise came when I looked at the names of the people. The man sitting in front of Anthony Julius was O. Kamerlingh Onnes.


25th Anniversary of the Bureau voor Handelsinlichting, 1928.

Now then, “Moll Schnitzler” is not a common name. Everyone with that name is a distant blood cousin of mine. Likewise, with the exception of one person, everyone named “Kamerlingh Onnes” is also a distant blood cousin of mine. A bit of investigation revealed that Onno Kamerlingh Onnes was my 4th cousin twice removed. I was intrigued, and decided to do a side trip into the Kamerlingh Onnes family.

Some twenty years ago or so, I received an e-mail from a distant cousin stating that I was related to not just one, but two Nobel Prize recipients, Hendrik Antoon Lorentz (second cousin twice removed) and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (4th cousin twice removed). As someone interested in science, I was surprised and honored to be related to two of the most significant scientists of the early 20th Century.

Heike (1853-1926) was the oldest of seven children of Harm Kamerlingh Onnes (1819-1880) and Anna Gerdina Coers (1829-1899). (I’m related via the Coers family.) Heike is best known for his research into the properties of matter at extremely low temperatures, which earned him his Nobel Prize. In particular, he was the first to liquefy helium and the first to observe the property of superconductivity.

Onno (1861-1935), pictured above, was the fifth child of the family, and was the director of the Bureau voor Handelsinlichting. However, later in life he became an artist, following in the footsteps of other close family members.

Their brother Menso (1860-1925) was a relatively famous portrait artist. Among his subjects were professors at the University of Leiden, including his brother Heike and Hendrik Lorentz. One of his more famous portraits hangs in the Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal in Leiden, portraying his sister Jenny (1863-1926).


Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, painted by Menso Kamerlingh Onnes


Jenny Kamerlingh Onnes, painted by her brother Menso

Menso’s son Harm (1893-1985) was also an artist, working in a variety of media, including drawings, watercolors, oil paintings, and ceramics. Some of his designs for stained-glass windows depict discoveries and instruments of contemporary physicists, including, again, Lorentz.


Fall trees in the city park, painted by Harm Kamerlingh Onnes


Stained-glass windows designed by Harm Kamerlingh Onnes depicting the Zeeman effect with explanation by Hendrik Antoon Lorentz

The connections to the arts do not end there. For a time, Menso shared a studio with artist Florist Verster (1861-1927), who in 1892 married Menso’s sister Jenny. Verster was known for his bold and colorful still-life and landscape paintings, many of which hang in museums in the Netherlands.

Of the other three siblings, one died in infancy and the others emigrated to North America and India.

Throughout this missive, I’ve mentioned physicist Hendrik Lorentz. Clearly, there were connections between Lorentz and the Kamerlingh Onnes family. But it’s not clear whether or not they knew that they themselves were distant cousins. Lorentz was a fifth cousin to Heike and his siblings. Getting back to the photo that initiated this diversion, Onno Kamerlingh Onnes was not a blood relative to his coworker Anthony Julius Moll Schnitzler. However, they also probably did not know that a distant great grand uncle of one was married to a distant great grand aunt of the other.

For additional details about this family, start with my page on their father, Harm Kamerlingh Onnes.

Genealogy and Technology

We all know that a big part of genealogy research is managing the data. So it comes as no surprise that computers are an essential part of the research. Fortunately these days, the technology is quite affordable, both in terms of hardware and software. In this blog posting, I consider some of the hardware you need.

If you download lots of images from FamilySearch.org or some other similar web site, you’ll need lots of hard disk space. Disk space is relatively inexpensive. And these days, computers with terabyte hard drives are common, even in budget priced computers. If you need more, you can easily add an external drive for about a hundred dollars per terabyte. How much can you store in one terabyte? Roughly half a million images from FamilySearch.org.

Next, consider your displays. If you’ve ever used multiple monitors, it’s hard to imagine having to put up with just one. On my system, I have Gramps running on one monitor and a web browser open on the other. In addition, I also have multiple virtual desktops configured for one of the displays. I use the virtual desktops to further organize my work. On one, I do my image editing. On another, I have a number of folders open for various other sources of information. Note that your monitors can be different sizes and orientations. Some people even have one display positioned horizontally and the other vertical. The latter may be useful for word processing.

Another useful piece of hardware is a scanner, so you can easily digitize old document and photos. If you already have a multi-function printer, you already have a scanner. If you don’t, then you should consider getting a new printer. The latest generation of multi-function color ink-jet printers are inexpensive, with a cost per page that’s lower than ever. And some of these affordable printers even support duplex printing, allowing you to stuff twice the number of pages into your three-ring binders. (That is, if you still keep paper documentation!)

Finally, note that even if you read films the old-fashioned way using microfilms at your LDS Family History Center, you can usually scan the films there. So always remember to bring a memory stick with you. It may not be practical to scan everything you find. But you should at least scan records that are related to direct ancestors, or records that you’re having trouble deciphering. The former is useful in establishing certainty about the family members that are the most relevant to you. The latter is important so you can ask others for help in reading the difficult records.

Hard drives, monitors, scanners, memory sticks. These are some of the more important hardware tools we now use in doing genealogy. I’ll discuss the software tools another time.

Cheers! Hans

Six Things To Know About Dutch Genealogy

So you’ve got ancestors from the Netherlands. Congratulations! There are great resources available to you to make your genealogy research easier. But there are a number of things you need to know about before you jump in and research your Dutch ancestors.

First, FamilySearch.org. In the past, we did our research by reading microfilms at the local LDS Family History Center. Now, a lot of source documents can be viewed on-line. So much so that you can literally spend all your time doing just on-line research. You can find those source records in the Netherlands section of FamilySearch.org. It doesn’t contain everything, though. But if, for example, you need to see church records from Overijssel, you can try Von Papier Naar Digital. After downloading the records you need, you can crop and resize the images, and then insert them into your database. You can’t get better citations than that! (You do cite your sources, right?)

Second, WieWasWie.nl. While access to the source records is great, you can’t just scan them one by one to find what you want. There are just too many records, so you need an index. WieWasWie allows you to search the civil registration records using a number of different criteria, such as surname, given name, patronymic, and role in the event. If you’re searching for a marriage record, you can search on the surnames of both the bride and groom. Unfortunately, not all records have been indexed. One big deficiency in the index that affects my own research is birth records in Gelderland. Fortunately, you can often find an index in the source records.

Third, understanding the Dutch language. At least a basic knowledge of Dutch is needed since most public records are written fully in Dutch. That is, even ages and dates are written using Dutch words rather than decimal digits. FamilySearch.org provides a useful document entitled Netherlands Language and Languages. In particular, here are a few basic things you need to know: The letters “ij” together are considered equivalent to the letter “y”. That is, the names “van Dijk” and “van Dyk” are considered the same, and will sort as “Dyk”. Oh yeah, for the purposes of sorting, prefixes like “van” and “de” are ignored. So look for your “van Dijk” ancestors under “D”, not “V”.

There are, of course, exceptions. To read Catholic church records, you’ll need to know some Latin. Some churches used German. And some civil records during the French occupation were written in French.

One more thing about sorting: In some alphabetical indexes, names within a particular letter group may not be ordered alphabetically, but rather by date. In such indexes, you’ll have to read through all the names in that letter group.

Fourth, Dutch script. Dutch handwriting in the civil registration is generally relatively easy to read, following a style that should be familiar to most English-speaking people. But as you go further and further back, especially in the church records prior to 1811, the hand-writing can become harder to decipher. Here’s an example from the Arnhem marriage book:

Again, FamilySearch.org has some good resources to help you learn how to read Dutch records. Check out these on-line lessons.

Fifth, patronymics. A pivotal point in Dutch history of special importance to genealogists is the French occupation of 1810 to 1813. A number of reforms were established by the French. The first was civil registration. The second was the abolition of patronymic naming in 1811. That is, the system where your surname was based on your father’s first name, not surname. Surnames were formed by adding a suffix to the father’s first name, such as “sen”, “sz”, or “s”.

Not all regions of the Netherlands used patronymics. For example, while northern Gelderland used patronymics, the southeast corner of the province generally did not. But even in areas where patronymics were common, if someone had a conventional family name, it would be recorded in the church records. Needless to say, it can get a bit confusing.

Theoretically, then, you shouldn’t see patronymics in the civil registration. However, many families held on to their patronymics well after 1811. I even found one ancestor in the 1830 census still using their patronym.

Sixth, infant mortality. Like most other regions, infant mortality was high in the Netherlands prior to the 20th Century. In my own data, where age at death can be computed, roughly 18% of all deaths occurred before the age of five. So be prepared emotionally to view lots of infant deaths in the burial records. To make things for difficult for genealogists, names of children are often not written down. Here’s an example of one month of deaths in Nijkerk:

Of the 22 deaths reported in that month, 14 were unnamed children. Linking the burial record to a particular person is not impossible, though. In one family with eight children, through a process of elimination, I was able to identify a date of death for all but two children. For each of those two, I just listed both possible dates in my Gramps database.

For those starting out with Dutch genealogy, this may be a lot of information already. And you’ll discover more things with experience. If you have any more tips for beginners, please add them in the comments.

Cheers! Hans

Cite Those Sources!

We all know the importance of citing sources in genealogy. It is absolutely a necessary practice in any form of research. Why then do so many published genealogies lack citations?

Citations are important for several reasons. First, when publishing your research, you need to convince others that you applied a sufficient level of due diligence to ensure the correctness of your work. For example, many of us have looked for people in the IGI, and so we all know how unreliable it can be. But think about it: Each entry in the IGI is based on the work of a genealogist. If you see a published genealogy without citations, you really have no idea about its quality.

Second, citations can help you in your own work. When I started genealogy 22 years ago, many programs didn’t have any meaningful support for citations. We had to use notes for that, if we cited our data at all. So when I resumed my interest in genealogy a year ago, I had to spend some time to line up all my data with my sources, mostly hand-written notes in a number of three-ring binders. I was able to find a source for everything, except for a few things. I ended up deleting some people since I had no record of how I got their data.

When you know where your information came from, you have a good idea about its quality. If you get some data from a published source with no citations, you can flag that with a confidence of  “Low”. Or perhaps “Very Low”. You can then use that information as a starting point in locating sources with a higher confidence level, such as the original civil or church records.

Version 5.5 of the GEDCOM standard has been in force since 1995, and so all genealogy software now should have a reasonable level of support for sources and citations. Unfortunately, not all do. For example, when evaluating WikiTree, I was disappointed in how the data was presented after importing some sample data. While it does a reasonable job with citations on import, WikiTree requires you to manually edit the raw GEDCOM data into a presentable form. For any new data, you need to manually edit the text, including the citations. Clearly, in my opinion, WikiTree is unsuitable both for serious research and for publishing data. However, note that point VIII of the WikiTree Honor Code is “We cite sources”. When I considered joining WikiTree, I took that point to heart, and spent considerable time making sure all my facts were properly cited. Time well spent, though. It had to be done.

I use the program Gramps, which does have good support for citations. Now, I never add any information to my database without also adding a citation. Here’s a useful tip when using Gramps: Always keep a clipboard window open. Since one citation can support multiple facts, when you create a new citation, drag and drop it right away to the clipboard window. Then when you need that citation to support another fact, you can drag and drop from the clipboard to the new fact.

Here’s another Gramps tip: You can create a custom event filter to find events without citations. Set the name to ‘Events with <count> sources‘ and values to ‘Number of instances:=”0″‘. This way you can easily find uncited events.

These days, there’s really no excuse not to include good citations. Considering that you can now easily download images of original source records, you can even include those images in your citations. Even if you still read microfilms at your local LDS Family History Center, you can often digitize images from the microfilms. Sure, a single image may take up a lot of disk storage. But disk drives are cheap, with external drives costing roughly $100 per terabyte. How much can you store in 1TB? About half a million images from FamilySearch.

So get to it! Cite those sources!

Cheers! Hans

Dr. Anthonij Moll (1786-1843)

As I mentioned earlier, there were some rather important people among my roster of distant relatives. In this posting. I’ll say a few words about my 2nd cousin, 4 times removed, Anthonij Moll.

Anthonij Moll was born in Maassluis March 8, 1786, the eldest of the Reverend Evert Moll (1755-1805) and his first wife Catherine Knipschaer (1766-1790). He attended the University of Leiden from 1801 to 1806, and graduated as Doctor of Medicine after defending his thesis entitled “Specimen med inaug, exhibens generalia quaedam circa theoriam, sic dictam, Incitationis”, which he dedicated to “the friends of truth”. He then moved to Nijmegen, holding the position of assistant extraordinaire in the military hospital, which at the time was treating numerous Prussian prisoners of war.

He also served as city physician, and later in 1814 became surgeon-major extraordinaire in the militia. He showed dedication and courage during the 1813 typhus epidemic. He himself was affected by the disease, which nearly killed him, and never fully recovered afterwards. In 1927, Moll succeeded Dr. F.W. Everts as town doctor of Arnhem. He also became president of the provincial committee of medical research in Gelderland.

Moll was a skilled speaker and writer, giving numerous speeches. In addition to original publications, he also translated a number of works on natural philosophy from German. He was one of the first doctors in the Netherlands advocating for the importance of hygiene, and defended the therapeutic benefits of a seaside climate. He was a member of numerous societies, and was bestowed several honors, including Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (1841).

Moll married Albertina Mos (1791-1866) in Nijmegen, May 26, 1813, with his brother Jacob performing the ceremony. From this marriage came four children: Evert (1814-1896), Johannes Gijsbertus (1816-1817), Anna Sophia Catharina (1819-1898), and Johannes Gijsbertus Jacob (1822-1903). Anthonie Moll died in Arnhem, March 16, 1843.

My Boldt and Moll Families – a Short Overview

As I mentioned earlier, about half a year ago I returned to my hobby of genealogy after a 15 year break. Since my return, I’ve added significantly to my database. It’s now time to start blogging about some of what I’ve learned.

My Boldt ancestors lived in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a small Grand Duchy at the western end of Germany’s Baltic Sea coast. This was always one of the more rural of the German states, with a predominately feudal society up until the end of the 19th Century. Most people worked as peasant farmers or day laborers. For most, their only hope of bettering their lives was to move away. My 4th great uncle Jochen Boldt (1824-1910) moved his family to south-central Ontario in the 1870’s. where many of his descendants still live.

My earliest known Boldt ancestor was Aßmus Bolt, who lived in the village of Dümmerstück in the early 1700’s. His son Christoph Boldt (1735-1821) moved to Vietlübbe. His great grandson, born in Hindenberg, was my great grandfather Heinrich Boldt (1873-1957). Like many others, Heinrich worked as a day laborer. That is, he did, until he discovered that the land owners were cheating the workers out of their fair wages. When he could no longer find work in Hindenberg, he moved with his family to Hamburg, joining other relatives who moved there earlier. The surviving descendants of Heinrich Boldt, all four of us, now live in Kingston, Ontario.

There is a lot more information available on my Moll family. One of the single most important documents is a list of the descendants of Evert Moll, born about 1628 in Velp. (The document incorrectly lists the progenitor of the Velp Moll’s as Claas Moll.) This was published by the Vereeniging “Families Mol(l)”, an organization active during the 1930’s and 40’s. You can find scanned copies of their publications at Jan Wies’ website. This document includes more than 450 descendants in the Velp Moll clan, including three of my aunts (#384 Geertje Johanna, #385 Marritje, and #386 Gerrie).

In general, the Moll’s were fairly well off. There was even a coat of arms described: three black moles, one above the other, on a field of silver. My direct Moll ancestors were generally bakers, merchants, or farmers. My great great grandfather Herman Moll (1822-1902) moved to Nijkerk shortly after getting married in 1847, and worked there as a baker.

Looking further afield at some distant Moll cousins, you can find some relatively famous individuals. For example, my 2nd cousin, 4 times removed, Antonie Moll (1786-1843) was a distinguished medical doctor and surgeon in Arnhem. His first-born son Evert Moll (1812-1896) was a learned liberal theologian and minister who served the congregations of Hengelo, Vollenhove, and Goes. My 4th cousin, twice removed Evert Moll (1878-1955) was a well-known painter, known for his impressionist paintings of the Rotterdam harbor.

But my most famous distant cousins weren’t Moll’s, although one was the grand-son of my 3rd great aunt Teunisken Moll (1803-1839). My 2nd cousin, twice removed, was the Nobel-Prize winning physicist Hendrik Antoon Lorentz (1853-1928). But he’s not the only Nobel Prize recipient in my list of relatives. I’m also related to Nobel Prize recipient Heike Kamerlingh-Onnes (1853-1926) in two ways: As 4th cousin twice removed, and also as 5th cousin twice removed. The two of them were 5th cousins, and although they both worked as physicists at the University of Leiden, they probably didn’t know they were related.

There were also a few “black sheep” amongst my distant relatives. For example, Elisabeth Keers-Laseur (1890-1997) was an unrepentant Nazi supporter both during and after the war.

For some of these people, I’ll write more in the months ahead.

Cheers! Hans