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Friday, July 1, 2011

Featured Article

A Farm Name As Surname

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Inspired by a family tree I recently completed for a client, I'd like to share with you a special kind of surname you may come across and that is both a blessing and a curse: surnames based on farm names. If you have been researching your roots for some time, then you may be familiar with the shift from "fixed surnames" to "patronymics", usually as you step back from the 1800s into the 1700s. All of a sudden —it seems— your ancestors shift surnames with each generation.

In the Netherlands, after 1811, all Dutch adopted a fixed surname, as imposed by Napoleon in that year. Before that, many people were named after their father. And so Pieter, son of Willem was called Pieter Willems and Jan, son of Pieter Jan Pieters, etcetera. A bit confusing when first researching such patronymics, once you get the hang of it they are pretty straightforward and often a great tool when doing research in a time when records are less informative.

However, in certain parts of the Netherlands, especially in what is now called Twente and the Achterhoek (the easternmost parts of the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland), people preferred farm names over patronymics.

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Source Tip

Holland America Line passenger list online!

The Holland America Line was the main transporter of emigrants from Holland to America between 1900 and 1974. The original passenger lists are kept by the Rotterdam archives. After being inaccessible for over a year now we can enjoy the reward for our waiting: over 113,000 images of these passenger lists have recently been made available online through the website of the LDS Church:

www.familysearch.org

Ask Kirsten

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All questions are answered privately.

Dutch Wisdom

"Men hoeft niet te hopen om iets te ondernemen, noch te slagen om te volharden."

(One needs no hope to undertake action, nor success to persevere.)

William I of Orange

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