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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Finding an Early Ancestor to the New World

Carol asked about an early ancestor to the New World:


I have trouble in spelling surname on ships. my name now is GARRISON, Garret Jansen von Oldenburg was my ancestor. He came to New York in the 1600s. what spelling should I use in tracing him on the ships.
Ask Olive Tree Response: Carol that's a great question. It can be very confusing for researchers trying to find an early Dutch ancestor.

It depends whether or not your Garret used his patronymic of Jansen (with variant spellings), or an established surname, or some other identifying name.

You will have to search all variations or possible names, or
start browsing through each ships passenger list in the years you think he came over. Remember too that passenger lists as we know them did not exist for those early Dutch ships. All we have are the lists of who owed for their voyage, not the list of those who paid before sailing.

Also, remember that if he was Dutch he didn't use "von", he was a "van". "von" is German. Even if he was German, the Dutch may have applied "van" to indicate where he came from. Van Oldenburg might be his 'surname' or it might be a location name.

Using search engines when looking for these early Dutch lines is challenging as the names can vary so much in spelling and even in what name was used by the individual.

For example you write his name as Garret but you must try Gerret and Gerrit and Gerritt. For his patronymic of Jansen, try Jansz, Janse and even Janszen.

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