To recap, my main goal was to find my great great grandmother’s parents. Have I done that? Maybe. Have I found every other Heerdink that ever lived in Indiana? Probably.
If you recall, in Part 1 I made a wish that someone researching the Heerdink surname would contact me and tell me everything they knew about the Heerdinks. My wish came true … sort of.
I received an email from a lady named Jane. She is a Heerdink descendant. Her 3rd great grandmother (Eva Bernadina Heerdink) is the sister of my potential 3rd great grandfather (Anthony/Anton Heerdink)!!
She also mentioned that the Heerdinks were from Holland, not Germany as I originally thought. Well, that was definitely exciting! A whole new country to research. Okay, granted, I haven’t made that leap across the pond yet, but still … wooden shoes, windmills, and tulips? Who wouldn’t love THAT in their tree??
Jane and I spoke on the phone for about an hour, and she provided some information about the family, but not much detail because she and her husband were in the car, traveling to her niece’s wedding and she didn’t have access to her database. (Me? I would have been adding the groom to my tree while we were in the car). She said that she hasn’t found a Heerdink in Vanderburgh County, Indiana, who wasn’t related to our family … well, heck yeah! (you can’t see it, but I did a little fist pump there)
My pen was going 90 miles a minute, trying to get everything Jane told me down on paper. Then I attempted to untangle the mess of notes and typed everything up. Using that information, I tried to find a link between this new Dutch ancestor and my known Heerdinks.
When searcing for “Heerdink” in the census records didn’t pan out, I figured I would start with a page-by-page search of every township in Vanderburgh County, Indiana. I started with the most recent available census that my great great grandmother SHOULD be listed with her parents … which was 1880 (and ironically enough, is also the last available census in which she would be listed with her parents). I got through about 10 batches of enumerations and – after finding nothing of real value – decided to take a different approach before I started getting all stabby. I rolled up my sleeves, opened my browser on one screen and an Excel spreadsheet on the other.
I basically searched everywhere I could think of. I took all the information I found – I would worry about relationships later – and put it in a spreadsheet like this:
When I was able to link parents, children, siblings, or spouses, I simply dragged the entire family group wherever they belonged (and indented them appropriately according to generation). With information that Judy gave me, and the information I found in census records, WWI and WWII draft cards, BMD records, city directories, etc., the family makeup started taking shape. Soon, I was looking at the person who might actually be my 4th great grandfather!
So even though my quest to find my 3rd great grandparents essentially turned into a mini one-name study, I think it will actually help me while I’m researching at the Willard Library in Evansville and at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne in a couple of weeks. And using the spreadsheet was way more effective than the “beautiful mind” approach I was considering.
At least I feel more confident I’m making forward progress on this branch. Given some of the very interesting information I uncovered in my broad search, I’m sure there will be future blog posts about this family.
Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com
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