Linden Tree Leaves

Genealogy and Ancestry Explorations


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Klaas Van Der Linden

Klaas Van Der Linden

Portrait of Klaas Van Der Linden, Pella, Iowa

This is my husband’s third great grandfather, Klaas van der Linden. He was born in the Netherlands in 1809 and died in Pella, Iowa in 1891 at the age of 81. He is the reason my interest in genealogy really sparked. I had been listening to my husband and his father talk about various other family members and my father-in-law mentioned that Klaas had been arrested in the Netherlands for unlawful assembly because he was part of a revolt against the church. He supposedly sent his family ahead to follow Reverend Scholte to Iowa, while he was in hiding in Europe and then followed later.

For a history geek like me, this was like putting a match to tinder. I had a ton of questions but all the family really had at hand were oral traditions and unsubstantiated (and often disagreeing) memories of hearing or reading something.

I’m not Dutch and really didn’t have a lot of information at the time but I started to dig back and sort of find my way around in the hunt for answers. This quickly went from looking into this one item to a having a huge family tree chart and trolling through every resource I can find.  I’ve learned a lot along the way which I plan to share, in case the crickets are listening. I also am a writer by trade and words are my drug of choice.

There was a lot of turbulence in the Netherlands over religion in the 19th century. Catholicism was very much out of favor in most of the country and the liberal Calvinist protestants of the Dutch Reformed Church basically dominated the country and the government. In 1834 there was a split called the Afscheiding where a group led by Rev. de Cock split off from the Dutch Reformed Church to form a more orthodox church. Then another split happened in 1886, led by Abraham Kuyper. These two splintered off orthodox groups formed a new church in 1892 called the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. Eventually there were two large waves of immigration of these neo-Calvinists to the United States to seek religious freedom.

When I was learning about the religious history of the Netherlands, it struck me how many times this situation has played out in the history of the world. Religious tension has lead to a lot of waves of migration and power struggles.

Oh – and, yes, Klaas was indeed arrested for unlawful assembly and jailed for a short time. Almost the entire family immigrated to the United States to join Rev. Scholte in Pella, Iowa in the late 1860’s. Klaas followed the rest of the family about 4 months later to join them. He is buried with his wife, Evertje, in the Oakwood Cemetery in Pella, Iowa.


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Review: Genealogy Roadshow on PBS

I heard about this show via an email from my PBS station and, since I love history and genealogy and have even seen just about every episode of Antiques Roadshow there is, I tuned in to see whether it was as promising as it sounded.

The format of the show is a lot like a mix (sort of) of History Detectives and Antiques Roadshow. It moves location each week and people bring in questions about their family heritage for the two staff genealogists to research. The questions have, so far, ranged from a man wondering why he had a rare blood component to a lot of people who had always been told they were related to some famous person and wanted to know if it was true.

They actual research results are usually interspersed with “learning segments” about some person, place or event that featured in the research.

I generally like the show but have mixed feelings about some aspects of it.

I like that it encourages people to be curious about their heritage and where their families came from. I love history so I like it when the show delves into the causes and reasons why things happen or a person is in a particular place at a particular time.

What I don’t like partly due to the show format and partly due to, well, it’s a tv show.

When presenting their results, the genealogists gloss over a lot in order to quickly present the answer to “the question”. They don’t really say much about what they looked at or why they chose the resources they did. I think the show goes through six or eight stories in 60 minutes and that includes introducing the guest, asking the question and some background to it, then the genealogist rehashing that again as they sit them at a table with a standing audience to answer the question, then a post-answer interview. Also add in about three to four educational segments that are about 3 minutes long.

For my tastes, i want more details than just the “yes, here’s a pedigree chart we researched that shows you are related to Celebrity Figure.” One of the things I love about genealogy is looking at the whole picture – how does the person, the place, the time, the circumstances all go together? What is this person’s life like? I would love to see way more of this insight in Genealogy Roadshow.

While the DNA results are interesting, mostly in a “everyone is a shade of brown” way, they just don’t mean much to me. Maybe that’s my generation but just knowing I have some Sub-Saharan African blood doesn’t make any difference to me or who I think I am. Now if you can tell me how that entered my bloodline in times when, certainly, mixed race relationships were at least frowned upon if not illegal – then you have my attention. I’d be interested in that but otherwise it’s really nothing much to me.

The after-reveal interviews are pretty much a waste of time in my eyes. I’d really rather than time be spent on the story.

The show does suffer from the “famous relative” issue as well. No one dreams of being related to the scullery maid or a hard-dirt farmer. So all the stories tend to be about more famous people as relatives. I did enjoy the third episode and the research into the Texas War of Independence and the role of Tejanos in it. Nice history there and I enjoyed learning more about it.

All that said, it’s certainly a show I’ll continue watching and I can hope it will spark more interest in genealogy among its viewers.