The Ancestor Conspiracy

Do you ever have a feeling that our ancestors are conspiring to be found? I certainly do!

Back in 1993, just two years after I had begun doing genealogy, I used some money I had made baby sitting to buy the transcribed church records of Aalten in Gelderland. (And yes, I was a weird teen.)

Soon afterwards, there was a query in Gens Nostra, the monthly magazine of the Nederlandse Genealogische Vereniging (Netherlands Genealogical Society), asking about an Aalten family. The writer was stuck on a man named Lubbert Tammel, son of Arent. She could not find any Arent Tammels in the Aalten marriage records and wondered who he was.

Using my new purchases, I was able to find out that Arent had been born as Krejenbrink and married a widow who lived on the Tammel farm. He apparently moved in with her and as was the local tradition, Arent took the name of the farm. That’s why his descendants became known as Tammel.

The original poster was happy to have her brick wall solved, and I was happy to have been of service. My reply was published, the first time I ever saw my name in print. I was seventeen years old at the time.

Tammel reply in Gens Nostra

Tammel reply in Gens Nostra1

Fast-forward twenty-three years.

Genealogy has become more than my hobby, it has become my profession. For my portfolio for the Board for Certification of Genealogists, I wrote an article about my Kastein ancestors. As part of that project, I revisited the underlying research and discovered that I had identified the wrong person as my ancestor. Using a wide range of sources, I was able to prove that I descend from his same-named cousin.

The mother of the wrong cousin was a long-standing brick wall of mine. But the mother of the right cousin was easy to find. She was born in Aalten.


You can see where this is going, right?


Sure enough: she was a descendant of Arent Tammel, also known as Krejenbrink, the first man I ever published about.

I love it when ancestors want to be found 🙂


  1. “Vragenrubriek” [Questions and answers], Gens Nostra 48 (1993): 417, reply 519.
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Serendipity at it’s finest! 🙂

  2. Pamela MYER Sackett says

    I was researching MEYER in New York City. A genealogist directed me to the Riker book which had the Meyer line of Harlem all done. They had a Lawrence Meyer there, a name I knew was in my tree. This Lawrence only had 1 son, named Samuel, but I was looking for a Lawrence with a son named John. I kept thinking maybe all the children were not mentioned in the will. I searched the Harlem line for 3 years tracking Lawrence through NY. When I found a,voting list from the 1760s, I realized that my Lawrence would have been too young by a Longshot to have boted. There had to have been 2 Lawrence Meyers in NYC. There indeed wete, but my Lawrence had dropped the e MYER out of his last mame. His name was spelled exactly the same way my Grandmother taught me to say my last name,”MYER” no e or s.” I like to think that was carried down to help me find my ancestors, because there are lots of Meyer and Myers in New York, but not many MYER. I hope to come to Amsterdam next summer to see where this all started. Would love to start planning with you.

  3. Michel Doortmont says

    In the late 1980s I did research into the early generations of the Eijgenraam family for a genealogical friend of mine. His research in the Westland area, Delft, Maasluis, and Vlaardingen got stuck in the late 17th century in The Hague. As that place was my research speciality at the time I looked into it and was able to add a generation and untangle a mess in earlier research, due to two brothers having the same name. Some years later I met my wife whose father’s family hails from Maassluis and Vlaardingen, and she descends from the Eijgenraam family. So I researched the genealogy of my children some ten years before they were born.

  4. Sid Looyenga says

    I began with genealogy in 1980 when I was 16 years old. After researching one branch of my father’s family, one of his great-grandmothers was a Dirkje van der Galien born in 1838. Many years later later when my mother-in-law was visiting, she was looking at this info and said her grandmother was also a Dirkje van der Galien but was born in 1898.
    Needless to say, shortly after this I found the connection and both these Dirkje’s descended from Sjoerd Sybes van der Galien (1770-1855) and his wife Antje Sjoukes Vrieswijk (1769-1831).
    This makes me a 5th cousin to my mother-in-law… this was surprising!

    • Great find! Doesn’t that also make you a 5th cousin once removed to your wife? Even more interesting 🙂

      • Sid Looyenga says

        yes it does… but I like to think of her as my wife…
        Another interest fact for me, I guess, is that my grandparents are 11 cousins through the Navis family from Lintelo/Aalten which makes me a 13 cousin of myself.
        Another branch I am a 6th cousin of myself through the Smeenk/Veldkamp family from Hummelo/Zelhem.
        I guess most families have these issues seeing that years ago families lived in the same area for many generations.

  5. Sid Looyenga says

    Any suggestions available…
    Seeing that you were from the Aalten area (I also have many family members who came from the Aalten area), you’d be familiar with the fire in Varsseveld in 1723… the story begins with the GrootNibbelink family earlier that same year who’s farm burned to the ground. These were one of my direct ancestors.
    My mother’s family is “van Arragon” and because of the fire I can’t go any further back than 1698. At the time of the fire I know that this Gerrit van Arragon had a mother and sister still alive but don’t know their names. There is a mention in an old record in 1659 of the family van Arragon but no first names… I think this would be Gerrit’s grandparents.
    Verbal family stories going back about 200 years ago already talks about Francisco de Mendoza (Admiral van Arragon) as being a forefather but there are no records that I can find to prove this. Along with these verbal stories it has always been said that we are connected to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, the monarchs who sponsored Christopher Columbus. With this in mind I had written to Spain a couple times about 30 years ago but their response was that there would be nothing in Spain to connect the Mendoza family to a family in the Netherlands. A couple years ago I thought I’d take a look at Mendoza’s family. He is directly connected to the royal Aragon family in Spain (a couple times over) and also directly connected to Christopher Columbus through is wife who died in 1591, the great-granddaughter of Columbus.
    Mendoza had conquered Doetinchem in 1598, so the possibility of him having left a child there is not out of the question and then he also went into Germany where shortly later where a d’Arragon family also began around the same time period.
    Any suggestions on where I could go to look and see if there are any records between 1600 and 1700 to prove this theory of being connected to Mendoza (even though he was not a nice guy)?

    • Not all Varsseveld records from before 1723 burned. There are some church records and court records. Some of the church records are available at the Digitaal Archief Varsseveld and some of the court records have been photographed at Genealogiedomein. The Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers probably has some more records in other record groups.
      Another angle would be to try and trace male descendants of the Mendozas and the Van Arragons and compare their Y-DNA. But that is a very, very long shot since not many Dutch people are willing to test and Mendoza was quite a common name.

      • Sid Looyenga says

        The oldest record from Varsseveld is from 1659 from the church records that are still available but they are VERY difficult to read, but no first names were provided.
        I have thought about doing a DNA test but I don’t really know much about it what it can provide me at this time being as you said, Dutch people are still very private about it…
        From what I have been able to find on Mendoza’s family in Spain, this was a powerful family of Spanish nobles especially during the 14th to the 17th centuries in Castile. The family originated from the town of Mendoza in the Province of Álava. This province became part of the Kingdom of Castile during the reign of Alfonso XI .
        Mendoza was married in 1584 to “María de Liori Folch de Cardona Colón”. She was a great-granddaughter of Christopher Columbus. At the time of this marriage was when Mendoza received the title of “Admiral of Aragon”… this title was given to him through his wife’s family. Mendoza’s father-in-law was the previous “Admiral of Aragon”. I have only found one child, a daughter named “Maria Jose de Cardona y Mendoza”. As she was not well, they went to Tendilla, Spain in 1589 hoping that the better air would improve her health. Their daughter died very young on January 25, 1590 and was buried in the Monastery of “Santa Anna de Tendilla”. Mendoza’s wife died on August 5, 1591. From what I can find, after 7 years of marriage, Mendoza was a widower and childless. If there were other children I have not found them yet. I think because his family was dead, it made it easier for him to leave in 1598 to go to the Netherlands and Germany.
        There is plenty to find on the internet about the Mendoza family but there is also plenty of the information which is contradictory.
        I guess time will tell.

  6. Virgil Hoftiezer says

    Yes you were a weird teenager, but Dutch genealogy is in such a better place because you were! And my family tree is much fuller because you were a helpful teenager. I have learned so much Dutch history, culture and genealogy from you over the years and yet I keep learning new and helpful information from you every time I read your newletter or contact you. Thank you for having been weird and wonderful.

  7. Chris Bukoski says

    What a wonderful post! Thanks! So you are aware, I’ve shared it on the East European Genealogical Society’s Facebook page:


  1. […] The Ancestor Conspiracy by Yvette Hoitink at Dutch Genealogy – Yvette tells what happens when ancestors want to be found. […]

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