Peter Burggraaf (1824 – c.1877)

People that are not in your direct line are often called collateral and genealogists research them to see if they might provide documentation leads for other generations. Willem’s younger brother (Peter the Younger), is so much more than collateral in our family. He appears on the passenger manifest for the Maastroom with Pieter (the older) and then I tracked him through the early years in Pella. Peter’s granddaughter Muriel stated in a phone interview that her father William told her that his parents John Burggraaf and Elizabeth Burggraaf were cousins. It is probable that Peter is the first cousin of Willem Burggraaf. This is based solely on the concept that he and his wife Katie followed the naming patters – if so than he could be the son of Arie Burggraaf and Teuntje Van Stenis of Schoonrewoerd. I have not yet located a birth registration for him.

Peter is important to our family because two of his children married two of Willem’s children – which made for some very confusing research when I first began.

Peter’s timeline:

16 Feb 1824 – Peter Burggraaf is born in the Netherlands,
June 1847 – Arrival in Baltimore, Maryland, on the Maastroom,1
Sep 1850 – Laborer, Pella, Marion County, Iowa, census,2
c. 1855 – Married Tryntje (Katie) Brouwer,
1854 – Voter, militia, with a female, Pella, Marion County, Iowa, state census,3
1856 – Farmer, Pella, Marion County, Iowa, the 1856 Iowa State Census lists Tryntje and Father Wybe Brouwer in his household,4
c. 1856 – Daughter Teuntje (Jane) is born in Pella, (named for his mother)
Sep 1857 – Daughter Sientje (Zynthia) is born in Pella, she married John Vanden Oever (named for her mother)
21 Mar 1859 – Daughter Adriana (Matilda) is born in Pella,5 she later married Linzy Enos.
Aug 1860 – Farmer, Pella, Marion County, Iowa, census,6
11 Sep 1860 – Daughter Elizabeth is born in Pella,7 she later married William’s son John.
21 Aug 1862 – Son Arie is born in Pella,8 he later married William’s daughter Annetje (Anna). (name for his father)
1864-65 – Military service, Private with the Pella Guards, Iowa State Militia,9
16 Oct 1868 – Daughter Goverdina is born in Pella,10 she later married Barendt Otten.
Aug 1870 – Farmer, Pella, Marion County, Iowa, census,11
19 Mar 1873 – Son William is born in Pella, he later married Johanna Eggink. (name for her father)

Peter disappears from the available records between the birth of his son in 1873 and prior to the 1880 census. Katie Brouwer Burggraaf marries Dirk J. Eggink on 21 May 1883 in Marion County,13 so Peter deceased by that date. I have not been able to locate Katie or the children on the 1880 census. I’ll be doing some in-depth searching later this year looking for, land, tax, and court records, and I’m hopeful that by going through all of these records I may be able to learn more about the situation. I would like to be able to go through newspapers, but the Pella Blade (which is in Dutch) is not yet available on line.

[note -There is also a marriage record for a Peter Burggraaf to Cornelia Vanham on 23 June 1853 in Marion County, Iowa.14 There are only two Peters in Marion County and Pieter’s wife Cornelia Verschoor appears to still be alive and married to him on later census records. I believe this Peter married Cornelia in 1853, but whether she died or they divorced is unknown at this time. It’s always another question!!]

[This post updated Jan 2015]



1. National Archives, Washington, D.C., “Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1848,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 9 Feb 2010), Peter Burgraff, age 23.
2. 1850 U.S. census, Marion County, Iowa, population schedule, Pella, p. 292A, dwelling 107, family 173, Pieter Burggraaf, age 24; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 Feb 2010); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 187.
3. 1854 Iowa State Census, Marion County, Iowa, population schedule, Pella, p. Roll 122, line 24, P. Burggraaf, voter, militia; digital images, The Generations Network, Inc., Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 Feb 2010); citing State Historical Society of Iowa.
4. 1865 Iowa State Census, Marion County, Iowa, population schedule, Pella, p. 16, dwelling 94, family 96, Peter Burgraff, age 31; digital images, The Generations Network, Inc., Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 Feb 2010); citing State Historical Society of Iowa
5. First Reformed Church (Pella, Iowa, USA), “Communicants and Baptisms 1857-1975,” Baptism & birth, Adriana Burggraaf, FHL microfilm 0,985,401.
6. 1860 U.S. census, Marion County, Iowa, population schedule, Pella, p. 216, dwelling 1559, family 1464, Peter Burggraaf, age 34; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 Feb 2010); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 335.
7. First Reformed Church (Pella, Iowa, USA), “Communicants and Baptisms 1857-1975,” Baptism & birth Elizabeth Burggraaf; FHL microfilm 0,985,401.
8. First Reformed Church (Pella, Iowa, USA), “Communicants and Baptisms 1857-1975,” Baptism & birth, Annetye Burggraaf, FHL microfilm 0,985,401.
9. Marion County, Iowa, Militia Rolls, 1861-1865, Peter Burggraaf, Private, Age 39; Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, Des Moines, Iowa.
10. First Reformed Church (Pella, Iowa, USA), “Communicants and Baptisms 1857-1975,” Baptism & birth Goverdina Burggraaf; FHL microfilm 0,985,401.
11. 1870 U.S. census, Marion County, Iowa population schedule, Pella, Lake Prairie Twp, p. 51, dwelling 413, family 411, Peter, age 44; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 5 Jul 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 409.
12. First Reformed Church (Pella, Iowa, USA), “Communicants and Baptisms 1857-1975,” Baptism & birth, William Burggraaf, FHL microfilm 0,985,401.
13. “Iowa Marriages, 1851-1900,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 10 Feb 2010), Tryntje Burggraaf to Dirk J. Eggink, 21 May 1883.
14. “Iowa Marriages, 1851-1900,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 10 Feb 2010), Peter Burggraaf to Cornelia Vanham, 23 Jun 1853.

Leaving the Netherlands

There are lots of great books and sites that can explain, far better than I, why so many Dutch migrated in the mid-1800s. The IowaGenWeb Project has up the Pioneers of Marion County by Wm. M. Donnel,1 and Part II, Chapter VI provides a good basic story of the immigration to Pella. Our three Burggraafs, Pieter, Willem, and Peter, departed Rotterdam in April 1847 aboard the Maastroom.2 Pieter Burggraaf was the third child of Jan Burggraaf, (1811-1892); he came with his wife Cornelia Verschoor (1816-1896),3 his sons Teunis (1842-1904) and Jan (1846 – ). According to the records on Genlias, Pieter and Cornelia had two other children, Jan and Jannigje who had died young.4,5

The passenger list was my first discovery of Peter Burggraaf. He is #59 on the line directly above Pieter and lists his age as 20. Willem is passenger #196 on a separate page of the passenger list and Sygje Stek is on the line directly below him, indicating there may already have been a relationship between them. Sygje is the only member of the Stek family listed, but she may have traveled with other relatives. It should be noted that Dutch women were known to be very independent and many did travel on their own.

They arrived 2 June 1847 in Baltimore, Maryland and there are some interesting accounts of the trip available from letters and also some fun things written up in the Souvenir History of Pella.6 Apparently the Dutch women cleaned the ship from stem-to-stern while at sea, and it was remarked upon by the inspectors at the Port of Baltimore.

From Baltimore the group of immigrants traveled to Pella via Pittsburgh and St. Louis and finally arrived in the fall of 1847. Sygje and Willem married in 1848 and settled into the hard work of farming in Marion County, Iowa. Their family of 5 children is fairly small by Dutch farm standards of the day. Also unusual is that all their (known) children survived to adulthood.

Older brother Pieter had a total of 9 children and he died in Pella on 20 Jan 1892.7 He is buried in Graceland Cemetery with his wife Cornelia. I have posted a family group sheet for Pieter Burggraaf, but I don’t plan on providing any more information on his family in this blog. His line is well documented on Ancestry, Rootsweb and FamilySearch.

The family of Peter Burggraaf (I have come to think of him as Peter the Younger) will be discussed as they are closely intertwined with Willem’s family.



1. William M. Donnel, Pioneers of Marion County (N.p.: n.p., 1872), Part II: Chapter VI, transcribed on the Iowa GenWeb Project, http://iagenweb.org/marion/DONNEL.
2. National Archives, Washington, D.C., “Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1848,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 Jul 2009), Ship name: Maasstroom, Passenger: Willem Burggraaf, age 24, Farmer; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland.
3. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en : accessed 9 Jul 2009), Marriage – Pieter Burggraaf and Cornelia Verschoor 2 May 1840; Civil Register – Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
4. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en : accessed 9 Jul 2009), Death – Jan Burggraaf, 24 May 1841; Civil Register – Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
5. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en : accessed 9 Jul 2009), Death – Jannigje Burggraaf, 12 Jun 1845, age 1; Civil Register – Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
6. G.A. Stout, Souvenir History of Pella Iowa, (Booster Press, 1922).
7. Graceland Cemetery (Marion County, Iowa), Pieter Burggraaf marker.

The Immigrant Generation

Once upon a time, three brothers (maybe) journeyed from the Netherlands. The Three Brothersstory is a running joke in the world of genealogy. Every family seems to have the family myth that three brothers came from the old country to make their way in the new land of America. Most of the time it is simply a myth, but in our case it appears to be true.

I have already posted a family group sheet for Jan Burggraaf (1779-1844) to show all the siblings of Willem Burggraaf. I have found eight well documented children, and then I have also found some evidence of Peter being the ninth child. Three of the children I have found came to Iowa in a large migration of Dutch. This family is well documented in the wonderful vital records provided online by the Dutch at Genlias. Don’t panic when you go to the site and it’s in Dutch, simply go to the upper right side and click on English. Select Searching in Genlias on the tabs and get started with your search.

The beauty of this search is that if you put in the last name of Burggraaf and the first name of Jan it will provide all the birth, marriage, and death events available for all the Jan Burggraafs that it has records for. Use a map of the area to narrow down your search. I looked at every Jan that had a place name of Leerdam, Lexmond, and Schoonrewoerd. I have to admit that the first time I went in I looked at just about every Jan until I figured out how to pull up a Google map in a second window and narrow my search by location.

Some important things to know:
1. Records are oldest to newest and you should start with the known and work your way back.
2. Dates are given numerically by day, month, and year.
3. Dutch women use their birth or maiden names throughout their lives on all their registration forms. On page 7 of the entries for Jan Burggraaf you will see an entry for “civil marriage” and the role is “father groom.” The record is actually for the marriage of Pieter (Willem’s older brother) to Cornelia Verschoor and the registration date is 2 May 1840. Notice that there is an age and birth location for the bride and groom and also the full names of the parents for both.
4. Death and marriage records will sometimes name former spouses who have died. So if this is a second or third marriage the other wives/husbands may be listed.
5. Not all the records are indexed and up. Some areas are better than others, but I’ve had good luck. Not every person was indexed – as is always the case, some records just can’t be read due to a variety of reasons. Just because your person isn’t here does not mean that he did not exist. Go look at the original record films.
6. Don’t let the ages throw you. It is not un-common in the Netherlands for young men to marry older women.
7. The Dutch recycled the names of children. If Albert died young, then the next male child would be given the name. I’ll have more on Dutch naming practices later.

Most of the records are on film and available through the Family History Library if you would like to see the original parish entries. I have looked at several films and still have a few to look at, but for the most part I am happy to reference this database.