Family History — Hordijk

This post is primarily written for family on my father’s side: anyone who is (related to) a Hordijk. In a previous post I wrote in detail about the history of the Hordijk family name. However, that is only one line of ancestors out of many, although an interesting one given the origin of the name. In the current post I dig deeper into the full family history.

Ancestor tree

We already knew that the Hordijk family name goes back through a line of male ancestors to a certain Jacob Janse Hordijk who was born around 1630 in Nieuw-Beijerland, a small village in the Hoeksche Waard, an island in the big river delta south of Rotterdam. Although there are no records further back in time, it is assumed that this Jacob Janse Hordijk descended from one of several families that lived along the Hordijk, a dike in IJsselmonde, another river delta island in between Rotterdam and the Hoeksche Waard.

However, Jacob Janse Hordijk is just one of many ancestors. We all have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. In other words, with each generation further back in time the number of ancestors doubles, like splitting branches on a tree. In fact, going only seven generations back in time you will have well over one hundred ancestors, and in just three more generations (i.e., ten generations back in time) this becomes around one thousand!

The image below shows the actual ancestor tree starting from my father (Willem Hordijk, born in 1938) on the left and then seven generations back in time towards the right. It is unfortunately impossible to read in detail, but if you click on the image a PDF version will open which you can zoom and scroll for (slightly) better readability. And of course you can replace my father with any of his brothers or sisters!

The ancestor tree starting from my father (left) and going back seven generations (towards the right). Blue boxes are males, pink boxes are females, and yellow ovals are “family events”, i.e., two people becoming parents (connected by lines going to the right) and having children (connected by lines going to the left).

This tree actually contains fewer ancestors than the “theoretical” (doubling) calculation given above. There are several reasons for this. First, there is missing data. Historical records are often incomplete, get lost over time, or did not exist in the first place. There are several blue or pink boxes before the earliest (rightmost) generation that do not have any lines extending to the right, indicating that no ancestor information was available for those people.

Next, sometimes families mix internally. For example, occasionally (distant) cousins marry each other. This results in lines crossing each other in the ancestor tree. Since (distant) cousins have the same ancestors several generations back, this reduces the total number of (unique) ancestors from the theoretically expected number.

And finally, generations are not always “in sync”. Parents tend to have children anywhere between their early twenties to late forties, or sometimes even later (especially men). Therefore, during any given time span, different family lines may contain a different number of generations. There is one example of someone “skipping” a generation near the lower center of the ancestor tree shown above, where a pink box is aligned with a column of yellow ovals. This, again, reduces the theoretically expected number of ancestors.

Another way of visualizing this ancestor tree is with a so-called fan chart, which is shown in the next image (click the image for a zoomable PDF version). This image shows more clearly where there is missing data, but it does not show the crossing lines or skipping generations visible in the ancestor tree. If two or more persons in the chart have the same parents (i.e., they are siblings), the parent names are simply repeated for each sibling in the chart, whereas in the ancestor tree these parents are included only once (but connected to each sibling via a yellow oval).

The ancestor tree of my father displayed as a fan chart.

Birth places

As we already knew, in the family line leading from my grandfather Leendert Hordijk back to Jacob Janse Hordijk, everyone was born in the Hoeksche Waard. However, it turns out that the far majority of our family history also played out on that small island. The next image shows a histogram of how many people were born in different places, for all people included in the above ancestor tree. Places that are in the Hoeksche Waard are indicated as such.

A histogram of the number of ancestor births in different places.

Adding up the numbers between parentheses, but ignoring the 12 missing places, gives a total of 202 people from the ancestor tree for whom the place of birth is known. Out of those, a total of 168 people, or 83%, were born in the Hoeksche Waard! And even from the remaining 17%, most people were born very close to the Hoeksche Waard, as the map below shows.

A map of the Hoeksche Waard and surroundings, with ancestor birth places indicated by blue markers. White markers are for geographical reference. Click the image for a larger version.

Only two places listed in the histogram are not shown on this map. The first is Voorburg (near Den Haag), where my father was born. The second place is Wolfshagen in Germany. It turns out that a woman by the name of Elizabeth Christina Willemsd. Volkman (born in 1730 in Wolfshagen) came to the Netherlands and became one of our ancestors. However, from the genealogical records it is not clear if she was indeed German, or actually born from Dutch parents in Germany. The name is certainly very Dutch…

However, there seems to be a little bit of foreign influx into the family anyway. Although not included in the ancestor tree above, going back one more generation there is a Francois Franciscus Beversluis who was born in 1664 in Brugge, Belgium, and settled in Breda. According to the records, his ancestors were all from Brugge. And there is a Peter Pichel, born in 1648 in Lázně Kynžvart, Czech Republic. This place was also known as Bad Königswart (in German), and is just across the border from Germany in the westernmost corner of the Czech Republic. Again, it is not clear from the records if his ancestors were originally from there, or whether he was born from Dutch parents.

Earliest ancestors

The genealogical records go back even further than what is shown here. However, as already indicated above, the number of ancestors with each next generation back in time quickly becomes overwhelming. So, instead of completing the whole tree, I tried to find our earliest known ancestors and their family line(s). As it turns out, there are two different family lines for which records lead all the way back to the first half of the 13th century!

In one of these two family lines, the earliest known ancestor is a man simply referred to as Ruthger, who was born in 1228. It is not know where he was born, but the family line then goes through several generations of people born in Pernis or Portugaal, and eventually connects (in various places) to the ancestor tree that is shown above. The image below shows the family lines leading from Ruthger (at the top) all the way down through 23 generations to my father (at the bottom). Click the image again to view a zoomable PDF version.

The family lines leading from Ruthger (at the top) to my father (at the bottom).

Note that there is not just one single family line, but several connected diverging and then converging lines. This is again caused by several instances of (distant) cousins marrying each other, forming closed loops. There is a similar connected cluster of family lines leading all the way back to a person with the family name Van Emmichoven born in 1230, seemingly from the Ridderkerk area.

Resources used

It was quite a lot of work to collect and analyze all this data, but also a lot of fun to do! It provides some interesting insights into the family history, more than just the single line that carries the family name.

To gather the data, I used genealogieonline.nl to (painstakingly) trace back our ancestors. I then (again painstakingly) entered, analyzed, and visualized the data in the (free) genealogy software Gramps. The map with ancestor birth places marked on it was produced with Google Earth.