I've been a low-key genealogy buff since I was in my early teens. One of my sisters was the person to assemble all the old photos, scan them and distribute CDs. And I haven't engaged in the quiz-the-older-people game in about a decade. I had been disillusioned with the quiz-the-older-people game since I realized the paper genealogies the most dedicated of them produced were laden with really obvious errors. When I was young, the first errors I noticed were people I knew personally -- and I saw the information about them was wrong. But as I got older, I noticed a lot of other things that just didn't really make sense.
When I was living in Mayberry, NH [<-- not its real name] before my son was born, I volunteered at the local library and used to read the shelves. At one point, I was involved in the culling process, based in part on non-circulating items that did not form part of our core mission. I stumbled across a history of anabaptists and checked it out. It was an eye-opener. All the family mythology about our Mennonite heritage suddenly fit into a much bigger picture -- that someone else had documented. I've blogged before about discovering online copies of records (the ship Johan T. came over on as a baby) and GAMEO. I found a book and some family trees that let me pin down the village some of my ancestors lived in in Russia (and pictures from someone else's roots tour to that area). And GAMEO finally answered a longstanding question about the family name T.
Prior to all that, I went to the Netherlands and re-contacted my dad's cousins who his sister had found years before.
That left two grandparents: my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandmother. My maternal grandmother is going to be a tough one to make it even out of the 20th century on, but I had a paper genealogy for my paternal grandmother. I had just barely started the process via ancestry.com of tracking my dad's parents' activities in the US, much less his mother's family back to the Netherlands. Ancestry.com (which is where I was assembling the paternal tree) sent me a "you have hints" message and I figured I'd take another whack at it last night.
I knew my paternal grandfather was from the Netherlands: I'd seen the village he was born in. Family history said my paternal grandmother's parents were from the Netherlands, but I was a little suspicious of her father's last name (her maiden name; her mother's maiden name was a gimme: Poldervaart is Dutch), and, for that matter, his first name. Sure enough, it _wasn't_ originally Henry (but rather Hendrik -- you'd be amazed how many records in Ancestry.com's databases get this wrong in uncreative ways) and it wasn't Abbenhouse (Abbenhuis -- that was kind of easy, actually. I was expecting Abbenhuys, more about that later. Possibly).
With the paper genealogy, I blogged about googling someone else's stamboom with shared family heritage. But here's the real mother lode and probably what that man used to create his stamboom:
Have ancestry in the Netherlands? You might be able to find their birth, marriage, childbirth, kid's marriage and death records in here. It is fantastic. I wish ancestry.com had imported these records; in the meantime, it feels worth it to make a project of tracking down everyone on my dad's side (because now I _can_), up down and sideways. *evil grin*
[genlias was deprecated then taken off line. Try wiewaswie.nl instead.]