Once upon a time, three brothers… Scratch that… it was two brothers (and a cousin) journeyed from the Netherlands.
I have already posted a family group sheet for Jan Burggraaf (1779-1844) to show all the siblings of Willem Burggraaf. 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.