Case study – Using Death Duties Files to Gain Insights into the Financial Situation

While researching my third great-grandfather Teunis van Nijkerken, I discovered he owned quite a bit of capital when he died in Winterswijk on 1 June 1887. His death duties file indicated he and his wife Johanna Vonhof owned over 2,000 guilders in assets, including 500 guilders in a bank account, and about 700 guilders in money lent to … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Find Facebook Groups about the Town

Many towns in the Netherlands have their own Facebook groups dedicated to the history of that town. Many of these Facebook groups are called "Oud [town name]," such as Oud Winterswijk [Old Winterswijk] or Oud Breda [Old Breda]. You can use the Facebook search option to search for these groups. Discussions in these groups are usually in Dutch, … [Read more...]

Another Long-term Tenant

A few weeks ago, I wrote about two tenancy contracts that showed that the Ten Haken farm in Winterswijk was in the family for three generations of tenants. As a result, reader Gerrit Stemerdink shared the story of his Wieberdink ancestors with me. They were tenants of the Wieberdink farm for more than two centuries. The following is an adaptation … [Read more...]

Two Tenancy Contracts from the 1700s

Most farmers in the Netherlands were tenants, not owners. This can make it hard to find out where they lived, since we can usually only find deeds for the owners, not the tenants. Since so many of us descend from tenant farmers, I thought I'd share two tenancy contracts with you that I found for my ancestors. It is rare to find such a contract, … [Read more...]

Open data case study: Changing names in Winterswijk

The Gelders Archief just published many of their genealogical indexes as open data. This allows everyone to download the indexes and re-use them. Being a bit of a geek, I could not resist downloading some of the sets for Winterswijk to see what I could do with them. Winterswijk is the town where my father was born, and most of his ancestors to0, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrants often used agents

Did you ever wonder how your emigrant ancestors bought their tickets and how they knew where to find a ship to go to America? By the end of the 1840s, many shipping companies had agents in most of the emigration hot spots. Emigrants would be able to purchase tickets form these agents, who would arrange for their travel to the harbor and for the … [Read more...]

Amazing find: Image of the Murder of my 16th-century Ancestor

Last week I made a fantastic discovery that underlines why you should always check the records of neighboring towns and not limit your research to the place where your ancestors lived. On a German map, I found a drawing of the killing of my ancestor Tonnis Willinck. Many of my ancestors lived in Winterswijk, on the Dutch-German border. As you … [Read more...]

How I use DNA for my one-place-study

My father's family is from a small village in the Netherlands called Winterswijk. All 2,000+ ancestors of his that I've been able to trace so far were from Winterswijk or the immediate surroundings. People first started living in that area in the early Middle Ages and I would not be surprised to find out that most of my paternal ancestors descend … [Read more...]

Worst case of pedigree collapse ever?

My father's side of the family comes from a small village in the east of Gelderland called Winterswijk. Because so many of his ancestors came from that place, I am reconstructing its entire population. Doing such a one-place-study has given me a deeper understanding of life in that village and allowed me to make some interesting discoveries and … [Read more...]

Paper ‘from Winterswijk to Wisconsin’

In 2008, I wrote a paper called 'From Winterswijk to Wisconsin' for the Dutch in Wisconsin conference in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I decided to put the paper online so more people will be able to read it. Download the paperRelated articles: Q&A about the presentationDutch in Wisconsin resources … [Read more...]