Before I began any genealogical research I knew only about the ¼ of my family that is Dutch, specifically, the Boven family, largely found in the West Michigan area. I remember my Great Uncle taking me to visit the many museums in the City of Holland, Michigan. One little diorama, in particular, showed a little log church on the west Michigan beach at Lake Michigan; in front of it was a black-robed minister marrying a couple. The minister was Rev. Albertus Christian van Raalte, explorer and missionary, who recognized that the untouched Michigan wilderness was the answer to many Dutch farmers' prayers. With no more farmland to be divided up among their sons, the society was suffering. So van Raalte sent home a handbill extolling the benefits of this New World paradise. And so it was my great-great-grandparents, Pieter Thomas Boven and his bride, Zwaantje "Susan" Ensing, who were the first couple he married in the New World, being depicted in that diarama. Parenthetically, Zwaantje had come alone from the Netherlands; it was she who had purchased the 80 acres of farmland on which they settled and raised their family. Their oldest, my Great-Grandfather Thomas Pieter Boven, recalled his mother telling him how kind the native people were; she even stayed in a wigwam for about 10 days! Since the only photo I have of my Great x 2 Grandparents shows her in the obligatory black dress with the huge skirts,* it is hard to imagine this white woman and her hosts managing to get by for 10 days around that dress!
*I came across a book describing the lives of a group of these strong young Dutch farmers who settled in the north-central portion of Michigan's "mitten," the Lower Peninsula. I was charmed to read of the community's worship practices. One man's role was to stand watch at the back of the assembly on Sunday mornings. He held a very long cane which he used to jostle awake any parishioner who dozed off, which I would expect to be a common occurrence after laboring six days a week at clearing that virgin forest, including building their homes and removing all those stumps, just to prepare the land for farming. And those huge black skirts had their purposes; like mother hens, the ladies kept their toddlers from toddling by tucking them under their skirts. And everyone stayed warm by sliding shallow pans of hot coals under those skirts!
My mother's maternal parent was Edith Jane Aldrich, after whom my mother, Edith, her first cousin and best friend, Edith Jane, and I, Jane, were all named. As I worked back through her Aldrich line I was shocked to see a familiar name pop up—familiar from 5th-grade and 8th-grade American history classes—Deacon, Rev., then Gov. Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and of the First Baptist Church—THE First Baptist Church—in America! And another surprise was in store, which I won't spoil here. Search for the burial and final interment of Roger Williams to uncover the surprise.
I knew nothing about my father's family, the first level surnames being Harmon and Tibble, and except for my grandparents I still only know names and dates.
Back to the Bovens, as soon as I got Internet access I searched for my dear uncle, an artist and photographer, and found a website, the Boven Family Reunion, which I missed by 6 years. I contacted the owner, a Boven cousin who had created the Boven tree, including every member in America and back into history to the original person who had adopted Boven as a surname after Napoleon required the people of the lowland countries to adopt the naming conventions we know today. Cousin John had self-published the Boven genealogy as "Boven Dutch Apple Pie," boven meaning "above" in Dutch. He was kind enough to send me his last copy; he also sent my the Boven GEDcom! Not long afterward, John died unexpectedly, which is how I've become the keeper of the family tree.
A Problem; Any Solutions?
I have both my nuclear family tree and the Boven tree on Ancestry.com. Each contains 6,000 to 7,000 members, so, in order to bring my nuclear family tree to WikiTree, I have downloaded it, then uploaded it back to Ancestry as Bailey-Boven and as Harmon-Tibble, where I deleted my mother from my paternal tree and my father from my maternal tree, all in preparation for bringing the split tree here to WikiTree.
The problem is that after deleting half of my family from each side, both trees report the same number of members as the original complete tree.