As I sat down to process all the new information I’ve received from multiple sources (the Dutch Genealogy Group, a couple of 5th cousins who have been generous enough to share, etc.) about my Heerdink family, I wanted to make sure I was on the right track. So while I was reviewing certain relationships to make sure they were accurate, I kept asking myself “how do I know that?” This wasn’t about sources – I mean, it was, but it was more about how I know THAT child belongs with THAT parent, or how THAT husband belongs with THAT wife.
Many of them were pretty easy. I had a marriage certificate, or a birth or baptism record that was pretty explicit about who the parents and/or spouse were.
My mom was quite clearly my grandmother’s daughter. I knew that much (plus, I have a copy of her birth certificate). My grandmother was the daughter of my great grandmother, Lucile Stiker. I knew this because I have a copy of her birth certificate as well. Lucile’s parentage is shown by her baptism record and the state birth register – Eugene Stiker and Jeannette Heerdink. Then I got to the link between Jeannette and my alleged 3rd great grandfather, Anton (Anthony) Heerdink.
Uh oh … the only documentation I have for Jeannette’s parentage is a WPA marriage index for Vanderburgh County, Indiana (father Anthony, mother Mary Diefenbach) and a brief reference in an (unsourced) family history book written by someone on a collateral line. No census record exists that shows Jeannette with her parents because she was born in 1871 and by 1880 was in an orphanage (her mother died in 1878). She wouldn’t appear in any city directories during that time because she was a child.
[insert tiny heart attack here] Well, occurred to me that all this Heerdink research may be moot if I can’t even show how Anton is my 3rd great grandfather! Take it on blind faith? I don’t think so. For my peace of mind (and my sanity), I decided to convince myself with the records that were currently in my possession that I was researching the right family. (If I couldn’t do that, I would have to stop everything and get more documentation).
The first thing I did was take a look at the information I did have for Jeannette. I had a copy of a cemetery card that listed all of her surviving relatives. Two of her siblings were listed: Louis Heerdink of Oak Heights, Kentucky and Mrs. Fannie Mackedon of Evansville [Indiana].1
Okay … now do I have anything showing the parentage of Louis or Fannie? A marriage return for Fannie shows that she married John Mackadon in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, on 6 November 1889.2
A search of Memphis city directories yielded only a mention that John Mackadon removed to Evansville in 1894. However, a search of Evansville citydirectories shows an entry for John Mackadon in 1896 … and Mrs. Frances.3 Well, if I didn’t know her given name wasn’t “Fannie” before, I did now.
The 1870 census for Evansville, Indiana, shows Anton Heerding and his family: wife Mary, son Alexander, daughter Frances, and son John.4
Is this the right family? I know that Anton/Anthony had a wife named Mary [Diefenbach]. Check. And there’s Frances at age 3. Check. But no Jeannette and no Louis. Well, I know that Jeannette and Louis were both born after 1870, so they wouldn’t be on this census record. Hmm.
I have not been able to find an entry for Anton/Anthony on the 1880 census. However, I did find a listing for Louis. He is in the St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Vincennes, Knox County, Indiana. And there are his brothers, John , Henry, and Clarence.5
First of all, until I found this entry, I never knew the names of the two youngest children. I heard rumors of them, but this is the first time I’ve been able to confirm their existence. But there they are, all together (except Alexander, who would have been 16 years old and “too old” for the orphanage – still looking for him in 1880). Jeannette and Fannie are also not listed because St. Vincent’s was an all-male orphanage. Jeannette is found at St. Ann’s in Terre Haute and Fannie is working as a servant with another family.
So now I have linked John and Louis as siblings, John and Frances as siblings, Frances and Louis as siblings, and Louis and Jeannette as siblings, which links them all to Anton/Anthony. I feel a lot more confident about saying that Anton Heerdink is my 3rd great grandfather.
Now I just have to prove HIS parentage … another story for another day.
1 Browning Funeral Home (Evansville, Indiana), “Browning Funeral Home Records,” ID 47614, Mrs. Jennie C. Stiker; Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Evansville, Indiana.
2Shelby County, Tennessee, Shelby County Marriages, Book N, page 350, John Mackadon and Fannie Heerdink, 6 November 1889; digital images, Shelby County Register of Deeds (http://register.shelby.tn.us/marriageSearchResults.php : downloaded 1 February 2014).
3Bennett & Co.’s Evansville City Directory (Evansville, Indiana: The Courier Company, 1894), p. 430, John Mackedon and Mrs. Frances; digital images, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Digital Archive (digital.evpl.org : downloaded 7 February 2014).
41870 U.S. Census, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, Ward 7, Evansville, p 17 (penned), dwelling 142, family 141, Anton Heerding; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded 20 August 2013); National Archives and Records Administration.
51880 Census, Knox County, Indiana, Vincennes, enumeration district (ED) 123, p. 19, St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum, John Heerding Louis Heerding, Henry Heerding, Clarence Heerding; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded 2 February 2014); National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC.
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