Monthly Archives: September 2014

New Free State Dutch Reformed Church records available on FamilySearch

A ton of new records on FamilySearch is helping to build the van Pletzen family tree!

The van Pletzen Saga

On September 8, FamilySearch added a load of new digital images to its “South Africa, Free State Dutch Reformed Church Records, 1848-1956” collection. Many are older christening records from the mid-19th to early-20th century. I have spent much of my free time since Friday afternoon trolling though these records looking for van Pletzens.

Since my family line was most recently in Zastron, I started there in hopes of finding my grandfather-in-law’s (a.k.a. “Grandpa Van) christening. I found Carel Jacobus le Roux (b. 4 Feb 1899), Susanna Maria Johanna le Roux (b. 12 Dec 1903), Nicolaas Everhardus Sauer van der Merwe (b. 12 Feb 1894), and Carel Goodchild (b. 20 Sep 1905). I also found Carel Nicolaas Sauer van Pletzen (b. 19 Feb 1905), known in my family as “Uncle Charlie”, Grandpa Van’s younger brother.

After looking though all of Zastron’s christening records, I moved on to Rouxville. I knew there…

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FGS2014 Redux

It’s been a week since returning home from the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2014 Conference. It was the first genealogical conference I’ve ever attended, and it really changed my outlook about what I’d always considered a passionate hobby.

For one, the conference was filled with people just like me–people passionate about genealogy. Some were a little unsure of themselves, like me, wondering if I had jumped into the deep end without really knowing how to swim. Soon, though, I realized that I was in exactly the right place. These are my people!

In the end, here’s my takeaway from FGS2014.

1. Research, research, research! No matter how sure you think you are about your conclusions, keep researching until you’ve exhausted all options. This is part of the genealogical proof standard: a reasonably exhaustive research. I’m realizing that I’ve done good research, but far from “reasonably exhaustive.” So I’m taking a harder look at what I’ve done, and thinking about what other records may support (or negate) my conclusions.

2. German research is not as intimidating as it seemed (I hope). Dr. Michael Lacopo is my hero! His seminars on breaking through German brick walls made me want to start really digging into my German ancestors again. I’ve researched them up to their arrival in America, but no farther. Crossing the pond, especially to Germany, was just scary. I have a bit more confidence that I can do this now, plenty of ideas about where to look, and a new friend to advise me when I’m stuck. (Did I mention that Michael Lacopo is my hero?)

3. A renewed love of my iPad Mini. Lisa Louise Cooke gave an excellent seminar about turning your iPad into a genealogical powerhouse. So many great tips and tricks! I’ve always felt tied to my laptop simply because that’s where EVERYTHING is stored related to my genealogy. Now I can forget about dragging it with me everywhere I go because of her best tip ever: Splashtop! Put it on your iPad, and remotely access your desktop or laptop from anywhere. Essentially, I can have my laptop with me anywhere I have my iPad. Love it! Lisa is full of information about how to put technology to work for you in genealogy. Check her out at

4. You never know who you’re going to run into, so you better be there and ready when you do. I blogged last week about discovering a fourth-cousin while she was teaching a seminar at FGS2014. So glad I happened to be in that place at that time!

5. Most of all, I can do this! I have always dreamed of doing genealogy professionally, or becoming a certified genealogist. Going to FGS2014 showed me that it doesn’t have to be just a dream. As intimidating as it seemed at first, I discovered a huge support network eager for me to join them. It was a very validating experience, and one that has changed my entire outlook on how I do genealogy. It’s not just a hobby anymore; it’s serious business.

So, it should come as no surprise that I’m already registered for FGS2015, which happens to coincide with RootsTech 2015. I’ve never been to RootsTech before, so it ought to be very exciting! Plus, as D. Joshua Taylor said in his opening remarks, “What good genealogist wouldn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day in Salt Lake City?”