Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spurious Data and the Interconnected Web of Relationships

I spent some time researching the Matser family of Rheden, Gelderland. Since these were in-laws, and not blood relatives, I spent more time than I really wanted to. However, I did want to determine if two lines of Matser's were related. The research was proceeding fine, until I reached a bump in the road. According to a couple of published genealogies, Wouter Matser (1791-1861) was a child of Gerrit Matser (1760-1810) and Johanna Arends (1764-1842). I found baptism, marriage, and death records for Wouter Matser, however, for the baptism and marriage records, his father was listed as Hendrik Matser, not Gerrit.

I found records for Wouter's siblings, and he did seem to belong to the family of Gerrit Matser and Johanna Arends, and I could find no other mention of a Hendrik Matser. In addition, clearly, a least one other genealogist concluded that Wouter belonged to that family. So the name Hendrik must have been spurious. Or was it? If spurious, how could it be so in both baptism and marriage records?

I puzzled over this conundrum for a while. Finally, while loading the trunk of my car with groceries in the No Frills parking lot, the answer came to me. In the 19th Century, marriage applications in the Netherlands required a fair bit of paperwork. Normally, the marriage application included various documents, such as birth record extracts for the bride and groom, as well as possibly death record extracts for the parents. When Wouter Matser and Jantje Rong wanted to get married, the birth record extract for Wouter included the spurious name Hendrik Matser as the name of his father. This error was repeated verbatim on the marriage documents.

The additional paperwork for a marriage application can be found in the Huwelijksbijlagen. The information can usually be found elsewhere, with more detail. But if you're having trouble finding a date of birth or death for someone, you might be able to get the information from this set of documents. Unfortunately, it can often be difficult searching the on-line images at for the records you need since each marriage typically has up to half a dozen documents and extracts.

To get back to the interconnected web relationships, I was interested in tracing the Matser's since two distant Moll cousins married Matser's. Barend Moll (1850-1929) and Jan Willem Moll (1850-1937) were third cousins to each other. Barend married Hendrika Mariana Matser (1855-1931) and Jan Willem married Johanna Matser (1854-1918). We've met Johanna Matser once before, in A Tangled Web - More Interrelationships.

Seeing the name Matser crop up twice, I wondered if Hendrika Mariana and Johanna Matser were related. It took some effort, but I determined that they too were third cousins, descendants of Jakob Matser (1717-):
No doubt there are even more interrelationships between the people in my database. In this case, the clue was the common surname. But when tracing through maternal lines, the interrelationships are of course not as obvious.