Friesland Genealogy Research Guide

Friesland traditional dressFriesland is one of the northern provinces in the Netherlands. It borders on the province of Groningen in the east, Drenthe and Overijssel in the South, the IJsselmeer in the west and the North Sea in the north.

The capital city of Friesland is Leeuwarden. The largest towns are:

  • Bolsward
  • Dokkum
  • Drachten
  • Franeker
  • Harlingen
  • Heerenveen
  • Sneek
  • Wolvega

The province also includes several of the Wadden Islands:

  • Vlieland
  • Terschelling
  • Ameland
  • Schiermonnikoog.

Genealogy in Friesland

Before 1811, hardly anyone in Friesland had a hereditary last name. People called themselves after their father, which was called a patronymic. For example: If a man was called Jan and his father was called Rindert, Jan would call himself ‘Jan Rinderts’. In Friesland, this tradition continued long after the civil registration was introduced in 1811 which forced everyone to take an official last name. They would then be called ‘Jan Rinderts Hulshoff,’ for example. Some people in Friesland today still give their child a second name which is the same as their father’s name, though without the -s since it is no longer allowed to give the child a name that is also in use as last name. Name taking records often survive to show the first use of the last name.

Map of Friesland, 1718. Credits: : François Halma (public domain)


Especially in the period between 1880 and 1920, many people left Friesland to find a new home in the United States. Many of them settled in Michigan, although quite a few ended up in other states such as New York or Wisconsin.


Friesland is the only province in the Netherlands with an official language: Frisian. Although many people in Friesland also speak Dutch, many prefer to speak Frisian. The official documents in Friesland are now drawn up in both Dutch and Frisian, but until recently they were in Dutch. You may encounter the Frisian language in personal papers or some newspaper articles.

Websites for Friesland genealogy

Good starting points for online research in Friesland:

  •  AlleFriezen has indexes and scans of public civil registration records (births, marriages, deaths), population registers, name-taking records, some military records and some criminal records. They also have indexes of other sources, including church records, death duties files, and other tax records. They have images of court records (search for the name of the municipality as first name and select ‘Nedergerechten’ as type of sources. The website has an English version that translates the search pages and field names, not the contents of the database.
  • Open Archives has all the indexed data that AlleFriezen provides but has slightly different search capabilities.
  • FamilySearch has images and indexes of various Frisian sources, including church records and tax records. Search for the name of the municipality or parish in the catalog.
  • Tresoar is the Frisian provincial archive. The website is available in Dutch only.
  • Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden is the municipal archives of Friesland’s capital Leeuwarden. The website is available in Dutch only.
  • Fries Archiefnet is a website where several Frisian archives publish their finding aids and indexes. The website is available in Dutch only.
  • MpaginaE has name lists of various early Frisian records. The website is available in Dutch only.
  • Historische Vereniging Noordoost Friesland is the Historical Society of North-East Friesland. Their “bronnen” [sources] section includes several genealogical indexes. The website is available in Dutch only.
  • Memorabilia from Friesland. Website with inscriptions in Friesland on graves, museum pieces, art, etc. The website is available in Dutch only.
  • Genealogysk Jierboekje [Genealogical Year Book], a publication with compiled genealogies and articles about Frisian genealogy. This publication is mainly in Frisian. The books from 1990-2020 and an index are online.


There are several online sources for images of Friesland:


This article was first published on 9 May 2005 and last revised on 21 June 2020.
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Gareth Tjasink says

    I have always been told that my surname was Norwegian, but on entering the KLM business lounge yesterday I was informed by the staff that it is definitely Friesan. I would love to find out more about my unusual last name. I am a South African citizen, so it is quite likely we are from Dutch descent.

    • Dave Simmer says

      Gareth, It is important for you to first find out when your family came to South Africa and their names. I have used many sites in The Netherlands since 2009 to trace my family, but there is a new site that has combined the information from many. I went into this site and found 97 results by just looking for your last name. Some records will include scanned original documents that can be downloaded in PDF format. You may alo find copies or original documents on

    • The name Tjasink or Jasink is also a farm name in the hamlet Buurse near Haaksbergen in the province of Overijssel. I have Jasink/Tjasink ancestors myself. The -ink suffix is typical for the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland, so that would be my guess. Tjasink is definitely not a Frisian name, as Frisian names have different suffixes (like -stra or -ma).

      • w. aardsma says

        In the U.S. we’re told that “-ink” names are “Dutchified” Germans, cases in point were Masselink, Veurink, Stegink, Bronsink, i’ve forgotten the rest.
        in earlier years Dutch communities usually drew Hollanders, Frisians, East Frisians, Germans. and Huguenots. One of the last 3 men who could still preach in the Holland language at the time that Dutch immigration “took off” was actually of Huguenot stock. The First Reformed CHurch of PHiladelphia was part of the REformed Church in AMerica (“Dutch REformed”) ’til the post-Civil War 1860’s, and it was “High German.” .

        also, not all Frisian names have suffixes – Bode and Wyckoff (various spellings) are very common over here but are East Frysk as is Freylinghuysen, the great preacher of the First Great Awakening. Dirksen, a political leader of the 1960’s, was East Frisian. Buwalda is supposed to be DUtch Frisian but there is disagreement on that . HOwever a man named “Bulwalda” was one of the 3 who worked on the Frisian-ENglish bilingual dictionary in the early 20th century.

  2. Thank you Yvette, much appreciated

  3. Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma says

    Hi Yvette: I am looking for the first names of the Parents of Aaltie Degrouw, she was born about 1902/1905 and married Tjeed Boomsma about 1930/1931 in Ostermeir Friesland. I was told that Aaltie’s Parents drowned at Sea when she was a child around 1910/1915. I am gathering the information for a Family Tree for my Great-grand-daughter and I hope you can help me in my quest.Having a time as I do not write or speak Dutch and all information on line are in Dutch. The first names of the Boomsma Family would be helpful also, Tjeed Boomsma date of birth was 1907. Many Thanks for your time. Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma

    • Hi Diana,
      The best place to look would be the marriage record, since that contains the names of the spouses so you can be sure you have the right couple. Marriage records are public until 1932, so Aaltje and Tjeerd’s marriage record should be public. However, the 1923-1932 batch has not been indexed yet. The records themselves are available at Familysearch and can be found through, but you would need to know the town in order to look in the contemporary tables to find the date and then browse to find the correct image. This is hard to do if you don’t read Dutch. Alternatively, you could order a copy of Aaltje’s personal record card from the Central Bureau for Genealogy. See the article about personal record cards for more information about this source and how to order.

      • Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma says

        Hello Yvette: Thank you so very much for your quick response and for giving me the information for the web sites to look at. I was told the Town or Village, hope I spelled it correctly was Ostermeier, Freisland, Netherlands that both Aaltje and Tjeed were born. It is so wonderful to have people like yourself helping with the history of past which is important for the future generations. Looking for my Grand-parents side of my families I got back to the 1740’s which is awesome. Again Thank you. Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma

        • Correctly it is OOSTERMEER, or in Frisian EASTERMAR

          I guess this is “your” TJEERD:

          He lived at Oostermeer 68
          Since 1950 called Achterweg 6

          2. Tjeerd Boomsma

          in 31.05.1939 van Small
          out 27.04.1948 naar Canada

          • Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma says

            Bert: Thank you for all of this wonderful information and will be Posted on the Family Tree for my Great-grand-daughter to see and to know and to be inspired by her Dutch Roots and the History of the Netherlands. Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma

        • Aaltje De Grouw

          Geb.datum/Birthdate: 13 april 1906 Bijzonderheden: Wonende te Oostermeer Laatste woonplaats/left from: Gekomen van/came from: vertrokken naar/left for: Waterdown Ontario, Canada, 27 april 1948

          • Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma says

            Bert: Thank you very much for your reply and yes this Tjeerd and Aaltje are the family members that I am looking for. They did come to Waterdown Ont Canada. I did not know the year they came to Canada and thank you for that information. I have the date of birth for Tjeerd Boomsma as 1907 ( the month and day not known) and death Feb. 9 1991. Aaltje ( De Grouw ) Boomsma’s death may be around 2001 not sure and I will check Canadian records here for the date. Again Thank you very much. Diana ( Kuzyk ) Boomsma

  4. Hi Yvette (or anyone with some tips!)

    From what I could find out from my grandfather (Johannes Petrus Eygelaar) before he passed away my family came from the Netherlands around the 1790’s from the Friesland area. Have you heard of the my surname Eygelaar in the Friesland area? I’m a South African citizen (Afrikaans), but has been living in Oslo, Norway, the last 7 years. As I grow older I have became more interested in my ancestry and today strongly associate myself with the Netherlands.

    Kind regards

  5. Hi,
    my grandmothers family name is Cats, she is from Franeker, but was raised in Toronto.
    I am curious as to the origin of this name… it may have been Vanderkats, or maybe even Katz.

    • As you can see in the family names database at the Meertens institute, the name is not uncommon in Friesland. The origins are unclear: it could be a topographic name derived from the town of Kats in Zeeland, a patronymic derived from the name Kat or Kette, or several other theories. The best way to find out why your family was named Cats is to research the Cats line until you find the first person using that name and researching what their reasons might have been for choosing that name.

  6. Kenneth Jansma says

    Hi there. There are also Frisians in Australia. I’m sure you already knew that. We have quite a Jansma dynasty here in two states, NSW and QLD. Hi to all my cousins in Europe and North America.

  7. Hi Yvette
    I am researching my family that comes from Groseingen (I can not locate this town). My 8th great grandfather was Hannes Reynier Vander Sluys. According to American family history, he was born in about 1673, married a women named Anna. To this union he had the following children, all born in Harlingen: Adriann, Anna, Johannes, Arnold, Henry, Anthony, and Elencha.

    He emigrated to the United States (Philadelphia) in 1709 with his wife and children and he died in 1713.
    Family legend states that he is an ancestor of a baron. The American legend is, The first Van der Sleize was found by a nobleman’s wife lying on a beach of the North Sea near or in the city of Groseingen, Holland. He was adopted by the family, but could not take their name. They, not knowing his right name, gave him the name of Van der Sleize, meaning – From the sea Beach. He grew up in their family and married their daughter. The father and mother died and left him and his wife their estate and title which was the father’s, he being a Baron. The crest of the Baron was an Arm with a Coat of Mail on it and a dagger in its hand striking downward. The Baron Van der Sleize on taking his title was given as a Crest a Shell representing the place or beach where he was found. He amassed a fortune and was very charitable. For his charity, which was very great, he was endowed with the Cross of the Legion of Honor which was put on a Shield (Dutch) in addition to his Father-in-law’s Crest and his own, and the motto ‘Sans Crainte’ to constitute his Coat of Arms. The motto means ‘without fear.

    I cannot locate a baron or any family history that agree with this history. Can you point me in the correct direction?

    • Connie VanDerslice Kreis says

      Hey Betty,

      My tree has led me to the same spot, and I also am stuck on finding any information about this Baron. Have you been able to find anything?

      • Nick Posthumus says

        Hello Connie VanDerslice Kreis,

        I have more information about this and other families Van der Sluijs from Harlingen but am also still searching.
        Can you please send me an e-mail on

        Best regards,
        Nick Posthumus

  8. Christian Wright says

    Would the surname Misegaes/Muesegaes/Myseagaes sound Dutch or Frisian?

    My ancestors were from Oldenburg

  9. Don’t know if this website is still ongoing or not?
    My mothers maiden name was DeFreese from Hillburn NY/ northeast NJ across the Hudson river. My genealogy dates back to Lenape (Native American), African American and Dutch ancestry. Trying to learn more of our history and connections. Some good, some bad. With that said, it has always been of great interest to me all of my life.

  10. Sarah Harrison says

    I was told that my mothers side (Monsma) were Freislander. I do not have much to go by or know where to start.

  11. I grew up in Michigan and have ancestors from Friesland with the last name of Esther. We have been told it is neither a Friesian name, nor is it common there, so I am wondering where it may have come from. I am wondering if it might be German or Huguenot.

    Can you shed some light on this?

    Thank you very much.

  12. Mark Spencer says

    Hello Yvette. Very nice page. I have been doing a lot of research on on my Mother’s side. Based on what I found it seems her side is Dutch although she still thinks is from Sweden. Maybe when I get my DNA test back will shed some light… 🙂 Her maiden name was Corson, and according to what I found came over from the Netherlands in the 1600-1700’s to New York, then settled in Cape May, New Jersey. I may need your services some day to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. :-).

    Traced back to Barent Jansen in the Netherlands. But then before the Netherlands they seemed to come from Germany? Gets very confusing as the entire name seems to change from father to son… not like typical English names which generally keeps the same last name.

    Barent Jansen
    BIRTH 1594 • Harlingen, Harlingen, Friesland, Netherlands
    DEATH 1647 • New Amsterdam, New York, United States


  13. Marguerite Butzow says

    I live near a community of people whose ancestors immigrated from East Frisia in the 1870s. Most of them came from Emden and Aurich and surrounding towns to IL by way of New Orleans and up the Mississippi River, and traveled north of the Illinois river. They founded the town of Emden, IL.
    Many came east to settle in Champaign County. IL where they live in the countryside surrounding the towns of Flatville and Royal, IL.
    These new settlers knew how to drain the flatlands and today, that part of the county has the richest soil and their descendants enjoy the wonderful yields from their farms.
    Some of the surnames are: Osterbur, Busboom. Huls, Sjuits, Schleuter. Emkes. Jansen, Frerichs. Franzen, and Ehmen – among others.

    My own ancestor immigrated from Harlingen in Frisia to
    New Amsterdam in the 1600s. His name was Jan Wybesse Spoor.
    Thank you for your very informative articles

    • Alison Martin says

      I too am a descendent of East Frisians. My family came in the years 1851 to 1868 and the first of them traveled through New Orleans and up to Illinois. The later immigrants (all were sons of the same man) came through New York. My family settled first in Gillespie Illinois.where the brother of my direct ancestor founded the Zion Evangelical Luthern Church along with the 2 other East Frisian immigrants. Branches of the family moved further west with land obtained through the Homestead act. This saw the family spread to Iowa and Nebraska. I descend from the Oyen, Wempen and Weyen families Members of my family married into the Jansen and Frerichs families. I find the East Frisians absolutely fascinating to research. Thank you for this article.

  14. Jerry Ennen says

    Good evening. I am looking for information on the last name of ENNEN. I have seen some from Friesland and Germany. My father passed away last year, leaving us with very little ancestry answers. My great grandfather John Ennen b. 1881 or so supposedly came to the US around 1895 or so and settled in Iowa and Minnesota. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • “Ennen” is not a Frisian name, but does occur in Groningen and Drenthe. I see several Ennen records on WieWasWie, including several for a Jan Ennen (Jan is the Dutch version of John). If he arrived around age 14, chances are that his parents or other relatives were also in the US, so I would recommend you first try to reconstruct his family in the US so you have more information to compare to the Dutch families.

      • jerry ennen says

        thank you. I have traced my GG Grand father, he was born in Wirdum, Ostfriesland , 7-15- 1856 (Peter Janssen Ennen), and G-Grandfather was born in Grimersum, Ostfriesland, 9-1-1881 (Jan Peter Ennen). I have learned alot over the last year or so, and had a lot of assistance from people everywhere. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. thanx again.

  15. Brent Clark Elzinga 1945- says


    I happened upon your site in a search for my Dutch roots (Harlingen Friesland I am told but you can correct me)

    I am looking at the point that the single name gained a last name going from Sybren Clases Elzinga 1753-1828 from Claes Sybrens 1712-1782. (I’m generally familiar with the fact that they used to use their father’s first and last name as last and last names) It then goes back/forth a few generations and last I can find ends with Claes Sybrens 1620-deceased.

    I am confused on how to go back further and would like to get some advice on how to proceed.

    Thank you very much! Brent

    • Most Frisian church records go back to the early 1600s. Before that, it depends on the circumstances of your family whether you will be able to trace them back further. If your family owned property, they may be traced in court records. These records are mostly unindexed and are time-consuming to use. For Harlingen, also check the Kleine Kerkstraat website, which has several abstracts of records and a reconstruction of the owners of many of the houses in the town.

  16. Lisa Teemsma says

    I am trying to trace my 3rd great grandmother, Aukje Teemsma, and her parents. I am certain that this is a mispelling but it is the name used on the birth certificate of her son, my 2nd great grandfather Harmen Hendrik Teemsma, This name was carried to Belgium and then to the US. I found records of many children for her, no father listed on any birth certificates or marriage records. A census has her birth as either being April 11, 1823 or April 11, 1821 in Harlingen. There is no birth record for her.

    I was able to find a record for a Harmen Henrik Teensma and Gerbentje Germens Kingma having a son Andries in Harlingen, 1818. In other’s geneology trees, I see that these people linked to the name Kiewiet instead of Teensma, with daughters being born with the name Kiewiet instead of Teensma. This Harmen Hendrik Kiewiet was born in Sciermonnikoog where Teensma is a popular name. One of the daughters was born April 11, 1921 but her name was not Aujke, it was Marijke. I see Gerbentje passing away in 1837. Marikje would have only been 16 at that time, I have seen people change their names. Marikje’s maternal grandmother was Aukje Rinses; perhaps she decided not to use her given name.

    I am getting very confused with the names Teens, Teensen, Teemsma and I am starting to think that it is not a last name; it is reference to something else. Any tips on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • This is very soon after the mandatory adoption of surnames, so perhaps they mistakenly used a different name in some of the records. I recommend you try searching without a last name, just focusing on the first names and dates. It is also possible that her parents lived in Harlingen but that she was actually born elsewhere. I would recommend researching her in the places where you know she lived to see if she ever appeared with any relatives or if the records tell you about alternative places of origin.

      • Lisa Teemsma says

        Hi Yvette!
        The person I think is my 3rd great grandmother lost her mom in 1837. She waz 16. Her father was already deceased at that time. If she was placed in an orphanage( I read you stayed until age 25), would there be searchable records available?


  17. Hi Yvette,
    This is a fascinating blog. I love research, and I love to learn more about Friesland, as my great grand parents emigrated from there. Of course there’s Dykstra (which I know is rather common), but I was wondering about the last name Gezel . (I believe that’s the spelling). I haven’t had much luck finding it anywhere, or what it might mean. Could it be an “Americanized” version of a Frisian last name?

    Also, as a family, we are getting our DNA tested, and the service we used apparently does not recognize the “Dutch” much less Frisian Dutch as a group. My results are not in, but family members (with no) Irish/English/Scandinavian roots are skewing that way. Do those ancient roots have an effect on last names? Or are they so far back, it was before last names were given? I am curious for your thoughts on this.

    • “Gezel” doesn’t look like a Dutch name I’m familiar with. “Gezel” is a Dutch word, meaning apprentice, but I haven’t seen it as a last name.
      Most Frisians only had last names since 1811 so DNA would definitely go back to before the surnames got fixed. There was a lot of interaction across the North Sea so it’s not surprising the DNA on both sides is similar.

  18. I’ve been grappling with the suffix -ma for some time. Most of the family assume that Thomasma means “son of Thomas”. The problem is, our ancestor who chose it wasn’t. His father was named Johannes; his grandfather was Thomas. And in the end, he kept both names, Rein Johannes Thomasma. That leads me to think that -ma denotes more of a general relation to a place or family, such as the Thomasma Huis in Leeuwarden, which predates our family name by about 300 years.

    • The -ma is not “son of” but more like “the people of.” So “Thomasma” is “Thomas’ people” or “Thomas’ family.” That works with a grandfather named Thomas, especially if Thomas was a well-known person in the area.

      • My guess is that his grandfather raised him. Johannes Thomas died when Rein Johannes was 5 (he had a younger sister named Johanna Posthuma, who grew up to marry a Boersma). I think he chose Thomasma as a family name in deference to his Oom Thomas.

        I have only been able to find one more Thomasma family in the Friesland records, Freerk Thomas Thomasma, a shoemaker in Westdongeradeel. No relation, and the Freerks Thomasmas all died out by the 1960s. So if you meet a Thomasma today, it’s a Reins Thomasma.

        • I agree that being raised by a Thomas would explain the name. And those names derived from first names can occur independently in different places like you discovered, which can be confusing. Glad you figured it out!

          • The name’s still fraught with mystery for me. When we were in Friesland, I was surprised to find the phone books with pages full of Thomas families, but no Thomasmas. We even had to learn how to pronounce the name properly before people recognized it as a Friesian name.

            • Thomas is quite an uncommon first name in Friesland, so that explains why there weren’t many families who adopted the name Thomasma.

              • I can see you’re right. A quick search through the Friesland online phone guide gives me only Thomas and Thomassen as results. And not as many as I remember. With generations of male children named either Rein or Johannes, it seems just a lucky happenstance that our family would intersect with Napoleon’s Family Name Act just when there was a Thomas in the mix.

  19. Lisa Teemsma says

    Hi Yvette!
    The person I think is my 3rd great grandmother lost her mom in 1837. She waz 16. Her father was already deceased at that time. If she was placed in an orphanage( I read you stayed until age 25), would there be searchable records available?

    Also, her brother was about 19. I am told that he went into Dutch India Trade Co. If it was common for children to be sent there, would there be records from 1837 to about 1850?



  20. Do you know of any information on the surname Balt? My ancestors are from Sint Annaparochie/ Sint Jacobiparochie.

  21. Elizabeth Walma Brady says

    Dear Yvette, my father’s family, Walma, immigrated from around Sneek to western Michigan in the late 1800’s. Walma is still a very uncommon last name! Thank you for your interesting site!

  22. Barbara Titus says

    No one has researched my ancestor, Titus Syrach De Vries, in the Netherlands and now I am coming there in August 2019 specifically to see my ancestor’s homeland but I don’t have a clue about where to go! I believe records start in New Amsterdam in 1650 as he is listed as one of the first settlers there. I am wondering if I should visit Friesland since his last name could be from that general area or visit Vries. I only have one day to travel out from Amsterdam to see the countryside. I would like to find a genealogical tour guide too if you could recommend someone or if you do that, Yvette.

    This is the basic information I have on Titus Syrach De Vries:
    Born about 1630 in Friesland, Nederland
    Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
    [sibling(s) unknown]
    Husband of Jannetje Teunis — married 7 Mar 1660 in Flatbush, New Netherlandmap daughter of Teunis Janse Couverts and Femmetje (Jans) She b. Mar. 29, 1648 at Heemstede, Netherlands. Her parents had emigrated from Heemstede, North Holland in 1651.

    Father of Tryntje Titus, Femmetje Titus, Arays Titus, Teunis Titus, Syrach (Titus) Tites, Jannetje Titus, Francis Titus and Pheobe Titus
    Died 26 Jan 1689 in Flatbush, Kings, Province of New York

    I am descended from Titus Syrachs De Vries’ son Teunis Titus listed above.

    Thank you!

    • Julia Lee says

      Hi Barbara,
      Did you have any luck on your trip to find out more about Titus Syrach De Vries, b 1630?
      I am now researching this line and stuck.

      Thank you,
      Julia Lee

      • Barbara J Titus says

        Hi Julia! I didn’t get to go on the trip! It was rescheduled for June 2020 and then you know the rest. Alas, I’m still stuck with no knowledge on Titus Syrach DeVries. Our genealogical tour guide was going to take me to 17th century places. He was unable to easily see any info on Titus and said that his last name did not mean that he was from Friesland. That’s all I have at this point.

        I see others listing DeFreese as a last name. If we think of Titus Syrach DeFreese does that help anything?

        Thanks for writing!

  23. Jeremy Shank says

    Dear Yvette
    My grandfather Freese’s family says they are from Friesland. I am unable to trace them before 1800 so I have no idea when they arrived in the US. When I started researching the family history I discovered that 5 men in 4 generations had the middle name Adelma. This looks like a Frisian patronymic. Since they arrived in the US before 1811 is it possible they had no surname in Friesland and selected “Freese” once they arrived here? Can you offer me any advice on how to connect my Adelma Freese’s to Friesland?
    Jeremy Shank

    • What is the earliest generation you find in the US? What were their names and where did they live? What is the earliest record you have?

      • Jeremy Shank says

        The earliest generation is Michael and Barbara Freese. They were born around 1765. They lived in New Jersey until about 1807 after which they lived in Tompkins County, New York. The earliest record I have is a record of the marriage of their oldest daughter in 1806.

        • Jeremy Shamk says

          To expand on my earlier reply, the daughter who married in 1806 was Mary Freese. She was 16 years old when she married William Sovocool . He is in the Dryden, Tompkins County, NY Census in 1810. The marriage could have taken place in either Dryden or New Jersey. Michael Freese’s other children are Henry (1794-1829), John (approx 1802- 1880), Rachel ( 1807-1871) and William (1812-1895). The names Henry, William and John occur 3 times in the next generation. I realize this info is meager, but It’s all I have. Is it possible that the first arrival in the US had only a first name and patronymic and added the family name Adelma and Freese (or perhaps DeFreese) to designate his place of origin)?. He would have done this well before the 1811 decree in the Netherlands.

          I appreciate anything you can do for me.
          Jeremy Shank

          • Dolores Freece Stafford says

            Jeremy, I believe that we might be related. My Freese’s lived in Tompkins County, NY in the 19th century. I, too am searching for further information on that branch. I’d love to hear from you!

            • Kelly O'Neil says

              Hello –
              I believe we may be related as well, as my Freese relatives also lived/still live in Tompkins County NY. My great-great grandfather was Charles Delmar Freese, his son, Percy Freese, was my great grandfather, Percy’s daughter, Evelyn Freese, was my grandmother.


  24. Hello, the earliest names of my Van Loon ancestors start in 1593 when Jan Van Loon was living in Leeuwarden. His son, Willem, was born there in 1595. Jan Van Loon was born in Meppel in 1621. His son, Willem, was born in Meppel in 1645 and fought with William of Orange III. I have more but was wondering if records before 1593 may still exist. Future Van Loons were born in Steenwijk, Oldemarkt, Jacob Parochie and my great-great grandfather in Oostermeer.

  25. Jeremy Shank says

    I agree we should put our heads together and see if we can help each other.

  26. Ruth B. Self says

    Thank you so much for posting this web site. I am not a certified genealogist but for a fundraiser for my neighbor’s son I offered to do a family tree. This is the second time I’ve done that & I enjoy it. Anyways, the lady who “purchased” the offer lives over a 100 miles from me. She gave me the basics to get started on (surnames de Jong/ DeYoung, Bottema). So interesting! I’ve never done research in Friesland before. Anyways 🙂 my question is “Why did so many people from this area leave to settle in America from 1870-1900?” “Was their political upheaval or famine?”

  27. Stephen Handorf says

    Hi Yvette,

    I thought I posted a version of this question in August, but I’ve never been able to find it, so I will try again. This question isn’t actually about Dutch genealogy but it relates to residents of East Friesland where naming conventions seem to have been similar to those in the Frisian Netherlands.

    Here it is: Have you seen instances in your research in which men changed their patronymics in midlife, before 1811? Do you know why such a change would have been made?

    In my family tree I have found two such men:

    1) Geert Janssen was born about 1754. His name appears on his marriage record and on children’s birth records in Visquard as some variant of “Geert Janssen” until 1799, when it starts to appear as “Geert Helmers.” On his 1824 death record his name appears as Geert Helmers Smit (though it’s not clear if “Smit” is a surname or just an occupation).

    2) Heere Tÿssen was born in the late 1600s and lived in Greetsiel. His name appears that way on childrens’ birth records from 1712 to 1724. A son Tÿss was born in 1721. Still when he died, his name was recorded as Heere Mathews and it appears that way on his childrens’ marriage records in the 1730s and 1740s. (Heere also had a son Mathew who may have been born around 1720 but I can only find a marriage record for him, not a birth record.)

    Anyway, I am mystified as to why adults would change their patronymics after they were married and had children of their own. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!

    • I haven’t come across situations where people changed their patronymics, unless they are variations of the same name. Tijs is short for Matthijs, Matheus in German and Latin. So Tijssen/Matheusen is the same name. Helmers and Jans are different names though and require an explanation. “Smit” could well be an occupation as well as a last name since by 1824 everyone was required to adopt a last name.

      • Stephen Handorf says

        Thank you very much for this information, Yvette. It hadn’t occurred to me that Tyss was short for Mathews! This now explains why I had a birth record for Tyss Heeren, but no marriage record, and a marriage record for a “brother” Mathews Heeren, but no birth record: They’re the same person!

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