I found this tragic story in the Van Bunschoten book, which starts out sounding like an episode of Law and Order, but then goes medieval.
On April 20, 1682, Arendt Isaacs' wife died suddenly and not without suspicions of foul play. Her body was examined by the magistrates, constable and two doctors, and in conclusion — "Arendt Isaax, her husband, was ordered to place his hand upon his breast and call upon God Almighty to give a sign if he were guilty of his wife's death; which he did. But no change was visible."
I’m glad investigation techniques have improved since then.
The reason this was in the book was that Arendt and my 7th great grandfather later signed the following agreement:
Appeared before me Wm. Montagne, secretary at Kingston, Arendt Isaax who declares to have hired out his daughter named Gerritjie for the period of two current years from April next. During said time the aforesaid daughter is to properly and faithfully serve her master and mistress. Theunis Elesen is to provide her with proper board and clothing and at the expiration of the period furnish her with a presentable Sunday gown, four chimeses, two blue aprons, two white aprons, and one silver head-ornament, and is to send her to evening school during one winter. In testimony of the truth we have subscribed hereto this September 1, 1682, at Kingston.
These fragments do make one wonder what really happened and what the effect was on this small isolated town. I’m sure an author of historical fiction could turn this into an interesting story, but don’t forget about me when it becomes a bestseller!
When I was about 12 years old my mother got a little booklet from a distant cousin which listed the family tree of the Way family (my maternal grandfather’s family) going back to the late 1600’s. For a social studies project that year, I copied the information onto the given charts and was quite proud that I had three pages. But, I had no understanding of the value of this information, how hard it was to get and what was missing. With that, I dropped it and didn’t think about it for a very long time.
In the late 1990’s my mother and step-father became Mormon and began digging through the entire family tree. In addition to the booklet mentioned above, my mother had another one tracing back her mother’s ancestry, again, back to the late 1600’s. She entered all this into her computer (with some help from me), and I got a copy of the GEDCOM file, which I messed with occasionally, and even converted it to HTML and put it on my web pages.
I remember thinking, at the time, that there must be countless GEDCOM files, like mine, floating around out there, and if you could put them all together you would have one huge family tree, which would be infinitely more valuable than all those individual GEDCOMs. But this was before Wikis existed and so I couldn’t see a way to get from here to there, and promptly forgot about the idea.
A few years ago, I started thinking again about this idea and realized that a Wiki was just what was needed for this. A few searches later I found myself at WeRelate.org. This was exactly what I was looking for! I promptly dug out that old GEDCOM file, and submitted it. To my shock, it was rejected! I figured a few quick additions was all that was needed and started reading. But it would not be so easy, and I put the project aside. Almost. In the process, I discovered the book Concerning the Van Bunschoten or Van Benschoten family in America, a genealogy and brief history and was shocked. This 921 page book details 4395 descendants (and many others who married into the family) spanning two and a half centuries. I started reading this book and realized what genealogy really was, how difficult it could be and what things can be learned.
So, when my mother was visiting for Thanksgiving, we sat down and I showed her how to use WeRelate and got started down what is obviously going to be a long road. Thus far, I have 277 entries in my family tree over there and have only scratched the surface.
All this is to say that you can expect more posts about this in the future, whether you like it or not.