In 2016 Peter and Patti from Minnesota (USA) asked me to help them plan a heritage trip in the Netherlands. Patti’s paternal ancestors all came from places like Andijk, Weesp, and Vianen. We then spent a full day to visit a couple of places, to get an idea where the previous generations lived and worked. The trip was a big success.
A second trip
To my surprise, I received an email from Peter in March 2022. He was wondering whether I was still working as a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. And if so, could I help them with a second heritage trip? Given the previous experience, I was looking forward to working with Peter and Patti again. They made plans for three weeks in the Netherlands, in September and October.
Next, I proposed Peter and Patti to spend one day in the eastern part of Groningen and one day in the Emden area, in Germany. They happily agreed to this plan. On 28 September we met in the city of Groningen and had drinks. The next day we started with research in the Groningen Archives. The purpose of this visit was to find out where the Lamfers family lived before the widow and her children left for the United States of America. Registers and maps of the federal land registration agency (Kadaster) were very helpful: although the house no longer exists, we were able to find the exact location.
We then drove to Bellingwolde, where we visited the local museum and the church. The next hours we spent on driving to (and through) the villages of Nieuw-Beerta, Finsterwolde and Ganzedijk. We visited cemeteries and saw the graves of several (distant) family members. Just outside of Ganzedijk – near the hamlet called Hongerige Wolf (or Hungry Wolf) – we saw the dike where once the family residence stood. Although there is nothing left but grass now, it was a memorable moment.
The next day we drove to Campen, a small village to the east of Emden. Here we met with the president of the church council, who showed us the church and gave us access to many old parish registers. Going through these old books was a great experience, but one other moment stood out. The highlight of the day – and maybe of the whole trip – was the discovery of the name of one of Patti’s ancestors on the pulpit in the church: W. Boomgaarden. It came as a total surprise, not only to Peter and Patti but also to me.
At the end of the second day, we all were happy with what we had done. We had a great time together, with talks about Patti’s family history, visits to interesting locations and conversations about life in the Netherlands and in the United States. This trip once more made clear that going back in time, to actually see where ancestors lived, is an important addition to ‘paper’ research.