Kinsearching August 5, 2007




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Dottie Adcock, 2736 Topley Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88005 (phone 505-524-0915; e-mail would appreciate any information about the parents and siblings of Eli Martin SMITH, who married Mary LUNDY. Their daughter, Julia Ann SMITH (Adcock's grandmother), married Thomas Russell DAY in Shelby Co., TX.

     A one-of-a-kind guidebook now on the market is SEARCHING FOR FLEMISH (BELGIAN) ANCESTORS by Jozef J. Goethals in collaboration with Karel Denys. This is the first English language manual for tracing this ethnic group.

     The enticing volume begins with an informative introduction to the complicated history of Belgium, which did not become an independent nation until 1830. Among the facts that genealogists learn are (1) the region that eventually became Belgium was a focal point for international power politics for hundreds of years; (2) the Flemish-speaking inhabitants of Flanders (the northern section of the country) compose sixty percent of the population while the less numerous Walloons in the southern part of Belgium speak French; (3) the written Flemish and Dutch languages are the same but pronunciation may vary; and (4) although some Belgians came to what is now New York in the 1600s, Flemish immigration to the U. S. did not begin in earnest until the nineteenth century. Today, approximately 350,000 Americans of Flemish descent live primarily in Michigan and Wisconsin.

     Delving into methodology and records useful to family researchers, chapters deal with such topics as Belgian sources in the U. S. (Flemish-American genealogical organizations, internet sites, and microfilmed LDS material), civil records for the years 1796-1900, parish registers from about 1611 to 1795, and miscellaneous resources including tax lists and municipal records. Scattered throughout the text are English translations of Flemish, French, and Latin words and demonstrations on how to use many of the documents.

     Helpful appendices discuss Flemish surnames (examples are ACKERMAN, OPDEBEEK, VAN DYCKE, VAN HECKE, and VERHOEVEN), provide a list of the Latin and French equivalent of Flemish given names, and give the addresses and contact information for state archives in Belgium's Flemish provinces and for Flemish associations for family history. In addition, the appendices furnish information about Flemish websites, currency and land measurements, a bibliography, and a glossary of common Flemish, French, and Latin terms.

     Although the text is interesting to read, it is questionable if the final manuscript was proof-read. Misspelling of common words is noticeable as are some punctuation errors. Perhaps these mistakes will be corrected in the next edition. Despite these drawbacks, SEARCHING FOR FLEMISH (BELGIAN) ANCESTORS is unique, contains much useful data, and, therefore, will be a worthwhile addition to genealogical library collections.

     The 81-page paperback has an attractive cover, a map of Belgium, and several illustrations. To the book's price of $19.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4 for one book and $2.00 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $6 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #9313) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

     Many people are probably unaware that they may have Flemish connections because they are very distant. A number of surnames in the British Isles, for instance, have ancient ties to Flanders. According to page 268 of the classic reference SURNAMES OF SCOTLAND: THEIR ORIGIN, MEANING, AND HISTORY by George F. Black, the surname FLEMING and its variant spellings, for example, indicates the nationality of its "original bearers," meaning they were natives of Flanders. A short discussion of the FLEMING surname in Northern Ireland appears on pages 68-69 in THE BOOK OF ULSTER SURNAMES by Robert Bell. In addition, the surname and its various spellings is found in many early records in England and Wales. A brief but informative history of the Flemish in Great Britain can be found on pages 136-140 in A HISTORY OF SURNAMES OF THE BRITISH ISLES: A CONCISE ACCOUNT OF THEIR ORIGIN, EVOLUTION, ETYMOLOGY, AND LEGAL STATES by C. L'Estrange Ewen. Copies of these books are available in many genealogical library collections.

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