New Netherland Family History

Using New Netherland documents to explore your ancestry

Using Timelines

Assembling a timeline of records relating to your ancestor can be a useful tool for gathering evidence, resolving conflicts in evidence as well as an interesting way to look at the larger picture of person's life. There are any number of ways to approach a timeline and some genealogy software will do it for you, though pen and paper will certainly work.

One of the simplest ways to make a timeline is to create a list of extracts or brief summaries of information from records arranged in chronological order. If using multiple sources, it is important to note the name of the original record being summarized as the timeline is not intended to replace an entire record but to gain an overview.

For example, using information from just one exceptional record, we can construct a brief timeline of events in the life of Evert Jansen Wendel.

... in the year sixteen hundred sixty-three, on the xxxth of June, appeared before me Johannes La Montagne, in the service of the general chartered West India Company, admitted by the lord director general and councilors of New Netherland vice director and commissary at Fort Orange and the village of Beverwijck, the honorable Evert Janssen Wendel, former magistrate of this place, widower of the late Susanna de Truwe, who, in the presence of the afternamed witnesses and the honorable Jan Verbeeck, magistrate and orphan master, declares that, for the honor of God, he has resolved upon a future marriage with Maria Abrahams, widow of the late Tomas Janssen Mingael, and before the bands of the same, he, appearer, has consented to the following conditions: First, that the aforesaid spouses, for the support of this marriage, mutually shall collect and bring together all present and such estates and effects, of whatever nature, at whatever place, and with whatever persons the same may lie outstanding and remaining; none of those effects excepted, which they each possess, or to which they are each entitled, and which is equitable to be possessed by them in common, according to the law of our fatherland. With the exception that from the appearer's estate, to wit, from the estate left by Susanna de Truwe, deceased, the sum of a thousand guilders at beaver's price shall be reserved for the six children left by her, namely: Elsien Wendels 16 years old, Johannes Wendel 14 years old, Diewer Wendel 10 years old, Jeronimus Wendel 8 years old, Philip Wendel five years old, and Evert Wendel 3 years old, being their matrimonial inheritance... (Fort Orange Records, 1654-1679, [411-412] p. 290-291)

Evert Jansen Wendel timeline - from Fort Orange Records

Before 1647 - Evert Jansen married Susanna de Truwe

Circa 1647 - child Elsien born

Circa 1649 - child Johannes born

Circa 1653 - child Diewer born

Circa 1655 - child Jeronimus born

Circa 1658 - child Philip born

Circa 1660 - child Evert born

Before June 1663 - Susanna, wife of Evert, died

Circa June 1663 - Evert intended to Maria Abrahams, widow of Tomas Janssen Mingael

This timeline is a starting point, and as other records are located it can be expanded. For example, there were likely other children born to Evert and Susanna; this record lists only those children that were alive in 1663. Also, it lacks specific dates for the marriage of Evert and Susanna as well as Susanna's date of death. Constructing the timeline highlights these issues and can focus research on finding evidence to answer the remaining questions.

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. More


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