1998 was a good year, and a bad year, to start
investigating our roots. Most of our ancestors and their siblings were dead,
and we had done little to collect their memories. But technology made it an easy time to start. Excellent software (Family Tree Maker in this case) designed to handle the complications of genealogy had been developed, and the Internet had become established as a means of communication and sharing data. Most importantly, we started after many others had already done much research.
The Internet enabled us to contact Mrs. DQ Johnson-Atherton, a 6th cousin. She had already gathered much information.
DQ in her turn had incorporated branches already developed by Ms Geartsje Straatsma (wife of a 6th cousin) and 11th cousin Mr Roelof van Otten. And much of the Aijzo Haijes Hemminga line had been done by 11th cousin Mr J J A Blekkingh (who passed away in 2000).
Geartsje kept us in mind during her many visits to the Friesland archives in Leeuwarden, where she found numerous interesting bits of information. Then when it developed that those archives would be closed due to construction the day we arrived, Geartsje successfully pleaded with them to permit our entrance. While we were at the Leeuwarden archives, we were blessed by Ms. Sitske Bloemhof-Dijkstra, who took an intense personal interest in our quest. She found and copied many relevant Hemminga documents.
In Beetsterzwaag, our inquiries led us to Mr. J. H. Duursma, retired town clerk. He welcomed us into his home and then invited us to accompany him to the archives the next day for a full day's worth of research. By luck, at the archives that day was Mr. Sjoerd C. Hemminga, who teamed with Mr. Duursma to provide invaluable assistance. Many of the sources were in fact those which Mr. Hemminga had transcribed. On a later visit, Mr Hemminga (who passed away in 2001) provided Dan with substantial additional data - including a paper on one Hemminga line prepared by Mr Bocke Zwaga. He is the husband of an 11th cousin.
Posting our findings on the Internet has led to several valuable contacts. First cousin once removed Mr Bernard Jan Hemminga helped fill some blanks, and 11th cousin Mr Piet Hemminga provided the first outline of the Bocke line. Mr Lieko Helmus provided much detail on his branch of the Foppe line, as did another cousin Mr Henk Hemminga on his. Mr Albert Veldhius has provided assistance on the Haverkamp line.
The Internet also led to contact with 7th cousin Dr Michel Dalstra, and through him 5th cousin Mr Klaas J. Bekkema. Mr Bekkema has done a prodigious amount of research. He provided data on the father of Jasper Hilles Hemminga, and provided additional generations of ancestry and the links between three of the major Hemminga lines we had been researching. He is probably the most important single source of our data, and has been very helpful in checking data from other sources.
Finally, there is a dedicated group of transcribers in the Netherlands, people who voluntarily copy the contents of ancient town and church registers into a typed and indexed format that makes research enormously easier. In fact, without the work of these people much of what Deena and I managed to accomplish in the Netherlands would never have been been done. Most of those voluntary indexers' names are unknown to us, but two who have been of definite assistance are Mr Sjoerd C. Hemminga and Ms. Bouwe Bloemhof. Their transcription of Births in Opsterland, 1811 - 1892, has been invaluable. (These transcriptions are increasingly available on line.)
On a more institutional level, numerous publications of the Freonen fan de Argiven yn Fryslân and the Nederlandse Genealogische Vereniging have been of great use. On the Internet, the rapidly increasing materials posted by volunteers and archives are making armchair research ever easier - if not nearly as much fun as visiting the actual archives and meeting people.
On the generalities of genealogy and suggestions on where to look, Deena's friend Mrs. Pennie Johnson has been invaluable. Actually, Pennie was the person who teased Deena into the whole realm of genealogy. Bless you Pennie!
last update 9 January 2005
Gamber Net | Families | Hemminga genealogy | contact Dan