When I started doing genealogy 30 years ago, I started recording my pedigree on an “IBM Programming and Charting Worksheet”, a sheet of paper 11″ x 15½” in size, lined with half-inch squares. Back in the dinosaur days of programming, sheets like these were used to document programs using flowcharts. By 1990, that was already long considered an obsolete programming technique. But I still had a pad of these worksheets. And for the past 30 years, I’ve steadily maintained this chart.
Here’s the Dutch side of my pedigree. Over the past few years, I haven’t had much chance to update it. Generally, I had thought I had reached the limit of records available on-line for each ancestral line. However, over the past week, I’ve been able to add six previously undiscovered ancestors to my pedigree. Four are indicated in green on that picture. (There’s no room on that page for the other two.)
Lena van Hagen
So about a week ago, I thought I’d have another go at pushing back my ancestry, starting with my 4th great grandmother Lena van Hagen. I knew she lived in Nijkerk in the mid to late 1700’s. But I couldn’t find her baptism record. Using the usual arsenal of on-line tools (WieWasWie.nl, FamilySearch.org, and GeldersArchief.nl), I now decided on a different tack. I looked for marriage records in the early 1700’s for people named “van Hagen”. I came up with two marriages. The first, dated 1740, didn’t match. After marrying, that couple moved to Harderwijk and had a number of children, none of whom were named “Lena”.
The second turned out more successful. Early in 1744, Arent van Hagen married Anna Maas in Nijkerk. I then found a baptism record dated 4 months later for Lena, daughter of Arent Cornelissen and Annetjen Maas. All together, I found 5 baptisms for children of Arent and Anna. Although the marriage listed Arent by his surname “van Hagen”, every other record refers to him by his patronymic “Cornelissen”.
This evidence isn’t the greatest. I’ve seen cases before of people referred to by either surname or patronymic in different records. In some cases, I have found records that included both, which added confidence to my conclusions. I wish the evidence here was better. But I’m still adding Arent van Hagen and Anna Maas as two 5th great grandparents, and will look for more evidence to support that conclusion.
The next brick wall I looked at was my 4th great grandmother Heintje Wouters (also known as Hendrikje Wouters). Unfortunately, there’s no progress to report on that front. She lived in the village of Hoevelaken, and I haven’t found any church records covering when she was born. Maybe she was baptized in neighboring Nijkerk? If so, I would run into another problem since there was another Hendrikje Wouters alive at roughly the same time, living in Nijkerk. At some point, I will make another attempt to attack this roadblock.
Which brings me to my 4th great grandmother Weimptje Dirks. Before, I couldn’t go further back with her since FamilySearch did not have the church records for the town of Ede, where she was born. Well, FamilySearch isn’t the only game in town. With a bit of digging, I found the Ede church books on the GeldersArchief web site, and quickly found her baptism, dated 1760. Her parents were Dirk Jurrijsze and Lijsbeth Evertsze, my 5th great grandparents. Plodding through the baptism records, I found another 10 children in the family. Of the 11 kids, only two reached adulthood.
Could I go back further? I couldn’t find a marriage record in Ede for Dirk and Lijsbeth (also known as Elizabeth). I had a hunch I’d find it in the neighboring village of Lunteren. At first I resisted looking there since as far as I could tell I had no good reason to. But I still did, and there I found their marriage record dated 1758. That record indicated that Dirk, or Derck, was born in Renkum. Then, in the Renkum church books, I found a matching baptism record. Derck was baptized in 1726 with parents Jurjie Janssen and Anna Gijsberts, my 6th great grandparents.
In conclusion, I’ll make a couple of points. First, it never hurts to go back and revisit those brick walls. The indexes are always improving and more and more historical records are being added to the various web sites.
Second, trying to come up with definitive conclusions when going through the pre-1811 Dutch church records is rarely easy. In all of these cases listed here, I wish the evidence was better. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s at least good enough to record and use as a base for further research.
When I was learning genealogy 30 years ago, the recommended practice was to record a fact first in pencil. Once you had three corroborating pieces of evidence, you could then go back and retrace the fact in pen. It’s just bloody hard to reach that level of confidence reading those old Dutch church books.