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.

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