Geertruida Sara Theresia de Zwaan was a city girl, born in The Hague in 1884. She married a farmer from Lisse, Johannes van Aalst. He from a long line of bulb growers in the Tulip Capital of Holland. Soon after marrying, they looked for new business opportunities, eventually settling in Kirkland Washington. Half-way around the world, they kept the family tradition of bulb farming, selling flowers to merchants and florists in downtown Seattle. … She was a sweet, quiet, kind woman, who made a wicked split pea soup. She’s in the picture, toward the right, with the two small boys. He’s next to her, with the handsome mustache. The baby on her lap is Rudolf, my father. The Dutch wooden shoes I’ll be wearing to “Dress Up Day” at the Conference won’t be the ones that belonged to Johannes, but they’ll be similar.
De Zwaan Family, The Hague, 1909
Have you ever needed a break from vacation after a vacation? Two-time conference attendee and 2016 conference volunteer, Phil Bartlow was glad he seized the opportunity to go to the 2014 Northwest Genealogy Conference…
Returning home on Wednesday from a two week genealogy road-trip through Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, it felt good to be out of the car and off the airplane. The last thing I wanted to do was spend 3 days, sitting at a conference. But since my wife was going to a class reunion for the weekend, I got up Thursday morning and headed to Arlington for the 2014 Northwest Genealogy Conference, to see what I could learn. I’m really glad that I did.
The speakers were entertaining, knowledgeable, and very informative; the vendors had great tools and resources available; and the cost was a bargain. And it was all close to home.
I was also the lucky winner of one of the great door prizes that were given away. I received a free, year-long subscription to FindMyPast.com. Researching their site lead to a goldmine of newspaper articles about my “missing” great-grandfather Frank and previously unknown family members. These articles helped corroborate the family story about Frank and now I know when, where and how he died. But that’s a whole other story.
The 2015 conference was just as good as 2014 and the 2016 conference looks to be as good or even better.
For the beginner genealogist to the expert, the place to be in August is the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington, Washington.
I am fortunate enough to have copies of my husband’s parents and grandparents wedding photos. You can learn much from wedding photos. You can learn both the dress of the time and some about the traditions. In my husband’s family, both sides were of the Lutheran religion and church weddings were the norm. Both of his grandmothers had formal wedding gowns and were married in the 1920s. I once asked one of my husband’s grandmothers what happened to her wedding dress and she replied “I cut it up to make a christening gown for one of the children”. His mother, on the other hand, was married in a lovely white suit in the 1950s. All three of the couples were active members in their respective churches.
On my side of the family, there were no church weddings and no wedding gowns. I do have a photo of my parents wedding, 1950s era and my mother is wearing a brown suit. My parents were married in the preacher’s home. My mother’s parents were married in one of the church elder’s homes and my father’s parents were married in my grandmother’s home. In this case, my grandfather showed up with the marriage license and his friend went and got the preacher and they were married right then. As far as I know, none of the three couples were active members in church.
I am fortunate enough to have known my father’s parents very well and was able to ask many questions about their lives, thus I learned the story of how they met and the circumstances around their marriage. I also sat down with my grandmother and we labeled all of her photographs. Unfortunately, my maternal grandmother died when I was 19 and did not like to answer questions about the past – especially if it involved unhappy memories. I do know that she was married twice, her first husband died at a very young age. She later married my grandfather and unfortunately they had an unhappy marriage that ended in divorce. I do wish I had been more inquisitive, especially since I inherited her photos, most of which are not labeled. I know that there are photos of her first husband among them, but which, I do not know.
Interviewing family members is truly important. Things I wish I had asked my grandmother and my husband’s grandmothers are: How did you meet your spouse? How long after did you marry? Did you have a honeymoon? Where did you live when you were first married? Now the grandparents are all gone and I will not be able to ask. Do not put off interviewing your loved ones, you never know what you might learn. If you are able, go through old photos with them and identify the people and places in them. It is also a good idea to label your photos and write down a bit of your story for your descendants to have.
Attendee of last year’s Northwest Genealogy Conference and volunteer for this year’s conference, Anne Grimm, tells about her start in genealogy and some things she found helpful in her research.
I have been doing family history research since early 1972 when one day my mother-in-law got out her books and paperwork. I was sitting there going through her pictures, papers and books. Something just clicked! I knew nothing about my paternal grandparents or great-grandparents or my maternal great-grandparents. We lived close to my mother’s family so I knew my maternal grandmother well. My grandfather died when I was only 5 years old so I don’t remember much at all about him, only what others told me. After getting the ‘bug’, I started written correspondence with my paternal grandmother to get information from her about the family. We developed a great relationship via mail.
I have taken my maternal greats back 10 and 5 generations. I was stuck (hit a brick wall) on my paternal side. I had taken it back only to my great-great-grandfather UNTIL I attended the Northwest Genealogical Conference in 2015 and a vendor with ArkivDigital, a Swedish research program, helped me tear down that wall. Since then, with the help of DNA, I have been able to go back 4 generations on that set of greats and 5 on the other set of paternal greats.
I have also taken on two cemeteries in my area to document the headstones so others can find their ancestors. Find A Grave is a great place to find information but make sure of the sources. As many years as I have been researching I find close family members have different dates, etc. on the same person. And Rootweb has a website where you can find obituaries, and in my spare time I file obituaries for them. At last year’s conference I found there are many places out there that can help you further your search.
It is amazing how you can sit down to do a little research and look at the clock and it is 5-6 hours later. It is a great hobby!!
This year I will be attending the conference and volunteering to help out with different needs.