Family History — Boekestijn

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

Ancestor tree

We already knew that my grandmother’s maiden family name goes back through a line of male ancestors to a certain Hans Thönen, who in 1711 came from Frutigen, Switzerland, to The Netherlands with his wife and children. They settled in Kampen, near Zwolle, and the family name was changed to the Dutch spelling of Teune (which has the same pronunciation). The grandchildren of Hans then married local people from in and around Kampen, and almost two centuries later my grandmother (Hennie Teune) was born from one of those family lines.

However, Hans Thönen 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 mother (Hermien Boekestijn, born in 1940) 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 mother with any of her brothers or sisters!

The ancestor tree starting from my mother (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 two main 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.

Second, 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.

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 that are 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 mother displayed as a fan chart.

Birth places

As already mentioned, some of my grandmother’s ancestors came from Switzerland more than three centuries ago. However, it turns out that the far majority of the family history played out in much more constrained local areas in The Netherlands. In fact, there are two distinct local areas, one for my grandfather’s family and one for my grandmother’s family.

The next two images show histograms of how many people were born in different places, for all people included in the above ancestor tree. The top histogram is specifically for my grandfather’s ancestors, while the bottom one is for my grandmother’s ancestors.

A histogram of the number of births in different places for my grandfather’s ancestors.
A histogram of the number of births in different places for my grandmother’s ancestors.

Below is a map showing the different places where my grandfather’s ancestors (including himself) were all born. These places are mostly concentrated in and around the so-called “Westland”, an area to the west of Rotterdam and the south of Den Haag. The only places in the (top) histogram above that are not visible on this map are Goudswaard (in the Hoeksche Waard, a little further to the south) and Waardenburg, just north of Zaltbommel.

A map of the “Westland” and surroundings, with my grandfather’s ancestor birth places indicated by blue markers. White markers are for geographical reference. Click the image for a larger version.

Next is a map showing the different places where my grandmother’s ancestors (including herself) were all born. These places are mostly concentrated in and around Kampen, near Zwolle. The only places in the (bottom) histogram above that are not visible on this map are Enkhuizen (on the other side of the IJsselmeer) and of course Frutingen and Reutigen in Switzerland, where Hans Thönen and his family came from.

A map of the area around Kampen, with my grandmother’s ancestor birth places indicated by blue markers. White markers are for geographical reference. Click the image for a larger version.

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).

The Boekestijn family name goes back a further three generations (all born in De Lier) from what is shown in the ancestor tree above, but with the name spelled as Boekesteijn. The earliest known ancestor of this family name line is a certain Pieter Boekesteijn, who was born shortly before 1600 (the exact year of his birth is apparently not know).

However, as it turns out, there is one family line for which records lead all the way back to the middle of the 15th century. In this family line, the earliest known ancestor is a man by the name of Claes Veldhuis, who was born in 1450 on the Kampereiland (a small island next to Kampen). The image below shows this family line leading from Claes Veldhuis (at the top) all the way down through 15 generations to my mother (at the bottom). Click the image again to view a zoomable PDF version.

The family line leading from Claes Veldhuis (at the top) to my mother (at the bottom).

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 goes back to Switzerland.

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 maps with ancestor birth places marked on it were produced with Google Earth.