Genealogy of a European Family
Writing about web page http://home.planet.nl/~boky0001/Genea/Noord/index.html
My uncle started a project last year that seems to be growing by the day.
When exactly it was that he started digging into our family history, I am not sure. But I was somewhat drawn into it because of the fact that I study history and furthermore because of my natural taste for interesting stories, even more so, of course, when it involves me and those related to me by ties of blood.
My uncle, whose name I carry too, wanted to figure out how far he could trace back our family´s surname, the enigmatic Hillebrandt line. At first sight it appears a German surname, even though any look at our near past shows no evidence of us coming from Germany.
Soon my uncle came to us with some stories talking about an Austrian branch of Hillebrandts, which is said to be a relatively common name there, as opposed to the Netherlands, where Hildebrands, and Hilderbrands are more common. There even exists a quite famous (German) opera singer going through life by the name of Oskar Hillebrandt.
But these leads appeared to be false alarm. My uncle kept on sending me emails on an irregular basis with strings of information handed to him from various sources, institutes, mysterious individuals with similar interests addressing him by his first name, and from towns scattered all over the country. Rumours had it that the Hillebrandts might have a northern and southern branch, with empoverished nobility residing in France. Other versions spoke of a mercenary soldier from England coming to the east of the Netherlands in the late middle ages in aid of German protestant princes.
Other, already confirmed, but left aside branches of the family from grandmother´s side have shown us a greatgrandfather who acted as the Netherlands´ governor in Surinam, while his father was a relatively renowned anabaptist preacher in the south of the country.
Months passed, and the emails became increasingly difficult to follow. Arguments seemed obviously flawed, but upon questions of their content, my doubts were refuted with yet less comprehensible strings of names, dates, places. The project was growing out of proportions that I would be able to follow from a distance.
And then today, I received the webpage that I am adding with this entry. I am there in the list, born 1984. Among a list of familiars, many of whom I have never heard, many of whom I feel I have nothing in common. They came from all over the country, and from other countries. And yet, they were all my family, and my only real origin of descent.