Methodology Spotlight

Berend Kronenberg’s American descendants

There are quite a few websites that give us insight into what happened on a specific day 100 years ago, for example. On Twitter, the hashtag #OTD (short for On This Day) shows dozens of tweets with news from the past. One event is certainly not listed: the death of Berend Kronenberg in Streukel, in the municipality of Zwollerkerspel.

Civil registration (Zwollerkerspel, Overijssel, Netherlands), death records 1921, no. 14, Berend Kronenberg (10 February 1921); “Netherlands, Overijssel Province, Civil Registration, 1811-1960,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 February 2021), digital film 004739266, image 3024 of 3248.


On 10 February 1921 appeared before the civil registrar of the municipality of Zwollerkerspel:
– Hendrik Zieleman, 27 years, farmer, living in Zwollerkerspel, and
– Hendrik van der Stege, 24 years, farmer, living in Zwollerkerspel.

They declared that on the 10th of February at 10.00 am in the hamlet of Streukel died: Berend Kronenberg, 90 years, no occupation, born in Zwollerkerspel, living in the same municipality, widower of Grietjen van Regteren, son of Jan Kronenberg and Maria Nijmeijer, both deceased.

The death record is signed by both informants and the civil registrar.

Civil records

What if we want to know more about Berend Kronenberg? For example, when and where was he born? When and where did he marry Grietjen van Regteren? Did they have children?

There are several databases that help us find the answers to these questions.

Fragment of a map, showing Zwollerkerspel including Streukel, 1850 (photo credits: Historisch Centrum Overijssel, document no. 19224-62.1)

The death took place in Zwollerkerspel, in the province of Overijssel. Historisch Centrum Overijssel (Historical Center Overijssel) offers a genealogical database on their website. This database shows the name of Berend Kronenberg several times. Of course we do not know if every entry for this name belongs to ‘our’ Berend. That is part of the research process: we need to look at the details of the database records AND we need to study the original civil records.

We find the following entries:

  • registration of the birth of Berend Kronenberg, son of Jan Kronenberg and Maria Nijmeijer, in the municipality of Zwollerkerspel (hamlet of Streukel) on 26 November 1830
  • marriage of Berend Kronenberg, son of Jan Kronenberg and Maria Nijmeijer, and Grietjen van Regteren, daughter of Roelof van Regteren and Geertje van Bruggen, in the municipality of Zwartsluis on 1 July 1875
  • Berend Kronenberg and Grietjen van Regteren had the following children, births registrered in the municipality of Zwollerkerspel: Jan (1876), Geertje (1878), Maria (1881), Roelofje (1883, who died in 1886), Roelofje (1886)

The database also mentions the death records for Grietjen van Regteren (1919) and Berend Kronenberg (1921). The latter is of course the record that triggered this search.

We could have used other databases to find the same (or similar) results, for example WieWasWie and OpenArchieven.


There is another option to find out more about Berend Kronenberg’s family. His children placed a death announcement in the Provinciale Overijsselsche en Zwolsche Courant. Here it gets more interesting. The death announcement mentions his children, albeit with only their initials: J. (Jan), G. (Geertje), M. (Maria) and R. (Roelofje). The names of their spouses and the name of Berend’s brother are included as well.

The majority of Berend’s family lived in Zwollerkerspel, at least at the time of his death in 1921. One thing that stands out is that apparently the daughter Maria and her husband and children emigrated to the United States. According to the announcement she lived in “Rijzon (Calif.)”.

United States

Have you ever heard of Rijzon, California? Neither have we. A look at the Ancestry database learned us that Albert Meulink (1878-1934) and Marie Meulink (1881-1962) were buried in Ripon, San Joaquin, California.

The Meulinks were not the only Dutch family in Ripon. The 1940 US Census shows many other Dutch names: Marsman, Hoekstra, Krol, Buddingh, Woudstra, Visser, Schaapman, Meninga, Woudstra. That is a story for another time.