This page is provided as an example of using an OSB or OFB to support your research.
The OSB/OFB community family books are published in German but the information on people is genealogy-related and the use of symbols makes it easy to understand the records. Information on the OSB Terms page provides generalized information and information in the overview section of each book provides details on abbreviations used in the book. This specific information often includes abbreviations for communities or neighborhoods and possibly additional sources used in the compilation. Translation of additional terms can be obtained through translation websites such as translate.Google.com, dictionaries or fellow researchers.
It is also helpful to understand naming patterns and use of surnames in the region that you are researching. Names generally stayed in families for generations and children were named to honor their parents and ancestors. Marriages brought new names into families and sometimes it is possible to spot relationships generations apart if an unusual name was used.
Children's names were often given in a sequence honoring the parents' that can provide clues to the parents when their names are not known. All customs have exceptions but often the names of the paternal grandparents were given to children, followed by the maternal grandparents, then great-grandparents in the same sequence.
Patronymic naming, the use of a possessive form of the father's name as a second name was commonly used prior to Napoleon's surname edict in 1811. Ostfriesland was under French rule and Napoleon needed soldiers and tax revenues to support his war efforts. Prior to that point, usually only the educated or wealthy used fixed surnames.
The following example shows an example of patronymic naming over three generations with three commonly used first names.
The following record is contained in "Die Familien der Kirchengeinde Steenfelde 1719-1900" (The families of the Steenfelde Church community), "Steenfelde OSB". A summary of the record content and research clues follows.
Information about the parents:
Entry # 511: Harm Harms Dreyer (also known as Weeldreyer) is shown with his parents in record # 2768 which confirms his father was Harm, complying with patronymic naming customs. It shows there is more information about him in entry # 408 in the Großwolde (Grosswolde) OSB. He was a colonist in Flachsmeer, an area of Steenfelde. He was born (*) on April 20, 1769 in Flachsmeer and died (+) there March 3, 1857. He married (ꝏ) his first wife, Jantjen Hinrichs Huismann, on June 6, 1794 in Steenfelde. She was born about 1767 in an unknown location and died in Flachsmeer on October 10, 1808. Her age may have been calculated based on an age in the death record and may not be accurate. No additional information is provided on her but her second name suggests her father was Hinrich based on the naming patronymic custom.
Clues from the children's records:
Harm and Jantjen had seven children together. Birth and death symbols are the same as used above and the second child was a daughter who was stillborn or died the same day as she was born. Harm was the name of the first child's paternal grandfather as well as his father so the name may have been in the family for generations.
Harm, the third child, was given the name of his older brother who died before this Harm was born and his record provides some additional information to review. Information about Harm's marriage is located in record 512, as noted behind his name. The name in parenthesis behind his name is a witness or sponsor recorded in his baptism record - "Trientje H. Huismann", the sister of his mother, which provides a clue about Jantjen's family. The "H" in Trientje's name likely refers to Hinrich, the mother's patronymic name.
The fourth child, Hinrich, was sponsored by Wemke H. Huismann, possibly another of Jantjen's sisters or a cousin. This appears to be the name of his paternal grandfather based on naming customs.
The fifth child, Hilke, shared the name of her paternal grandmother, Hilcke Berents. Spellings were phonetic so these would have been equivalent names. Hilke was sponsored by Greetje H. Weeldreyer, possibly a sister or cousin of Harm, the father. There is an index of women's names who married before 1830 in the back of the OSB that shows names, marriage dates and spouses. Spelling is phonetic and it is possible Greetje was also listed as Gretie Harms Weeldreyer who married Barteld Harms Ringwald in 1808. They are listed in record # 2207 which shows she was born about 1781 at an unknown location and died in Flachtsmeer on February 13, 1817.
The sixth child, Berend, was probably named after his paternal great-grandfather as noted in Hilcke Brents name above. Both Berend and his younger sister, Hilke, were also sponsored by Greetje H. Weeldreyer as noted by the "dieselbe" notation.
The seventh child, Hilke, was given the same name as her older sister who died before this child was born.
The record shows that Harm married Engel Eilderts Hauen in Ihrhove on April 24, 1809 and a reference to record # 873 in the Ihrhove OSB is indicated. Engel was listed as being born in Ihrhove on January 7, 1758 and she died January 17, 1839. The record also refers researchers to the Ihrhove record # 1940.
Additional Research Opportunities:
Researchers looking for more information should check maps for nearby communities and check OSBs or original records, if possible, to find related families. Many of the OSBs include maps of the area and high resolution maps help. Maps.Google.com can also help to identify nearby communities and the list of community records on this site can help to identify OSB availability.
Understanding naming patterns and learning to identify names that were commonly used in an area helps researchers identify the more unique names that could provide clues across multiple generations. Names in this example were common in the area, however a Wupke, Teube, Heero or Daniel would have stood out and provided clues to related families. Tracking related family members can add depth to your research and also increase your chances of locating additional cousins.
Checking the Steenfelde OSB for the Huismann surname did not identify Jantjen Hinrichs Huismann's parents but there are several Huismann entries that reference the Ihrhove OSB, including record # 1276, Hinderk Harms Huismann and Swaantje Jochums who had a daughter named Wemke who was married to a man living in Flachsmeer. Record # 2015 in the Ihrhove OSB shows Hinderk and Swaantje had Wemke in 1763 and Tryntie, in 1767, the right approximate ages for Jantjen's sisters.
Hinderk and Swaantje's family record does not show a Jantjen which raises questions about the relationship but does not rule it out. Communities are close together and another there could be other possible families in the area, names like Wemke and Jochum are not common in the area and seeing the names in descendent families could provide circumstantial evidence of a connection. There are also some gaps between births in the family that could indicate that a child may have been missed. Some families moved for work and had a child in another community and returned to their original location later so a child's name would not occur in records with other siblings. Some of the original records can also be missing due to loss or damage. Sometimes ink was watered to make it go farther and some records are very light, while others may have gotten wet and had the ink run or had ink spilled on them. Checking original records can help to solve some of these mysteries since OSBs are secondary sources and sometimes will contain errors. OSBs can be great hints but the original records are the best evidence.