Quick tip – Did the family hop the border or vice versa?

The borders of the Netherlands have not always been what they are today. The borders were much different before 1839.  Several towns that are now in Germany once belonged to the Netherlands, and several Dutch towns were once part of the German states. Also, what used to be the southern part of the Netherlands is now Belgium and Luxembourg.  Records of the same town could be in repositories in different countries. It helps to research the history of the town to know where to look. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Buurtschap

A buurtschap is literally a neighborship. It is a part of a municipality or parish. Unlike a village or town, a buurtschap usually does not have a center or church but consists of a group of farms dotting the landscape. Buurtschap is a word most commonly used in rural parts of the Netherlands. The closest English term would be hamlet. In many places, the buurtschap had an economical and a social function. Often, taxes were collected at the buurtschap level, and each buurtschap would … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Beware of same-named towns

If you are researching immigrants, beware that immigrants often named towns after their place of origin, so there might be two or more places by that name, perhaps thousands of kilometers apart. When a New Netherland records says "Haerlem," did they mean Harlem in current-day New York or Haarlem in the Netherlands? If your Michigan ancestor was born in Holland, was he born in Holland, Michigan or somewhere in the Netherlands? Studying the surrounding records can help, for example if you … [Read more...]

Dutch Genealogy Webinar – Questions about Dutch Names

This is my third post answering the questions asked by viewers of my "Researching Your Dutch Ancestors" webinar. In this post, I will answer questions about Dutch names. What are patronymics? Patronymics are names that are derived from the father's name, like Jansen = son of Jan. In some parts of the Netherlands, people did not  have a hereditary surname before the introduction of the civil registration in 1811. Read more about patronymics. What were the naming patterns? Most Dutch children … [Read more...]

Was your ancestor born in Reusel-De Mierden, Noord-Brabant? Guess again!

When I look at online trees, especially on Ancestry.com, I often see "Reusel, Reusel-de Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands" listed as the place of birth. At first I was puzzled how all these people with names that are typical for Friesland, Groningen or Gelderland would have children in a village on the other side of the country. There was obviously something wrong there. But then I started using FamilyTreeMaker and tried to resolve some place names. Guess what? "Holland" resolves to "Reusel, … [Read more...]