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January 30, 2011

Finding an Ancestor in Belgium (Part 5): The Latin Records

In Part 1 of my series on Belgium Research I talked about the challenge of finding an ancestor in Belgium Records. In this last post on the series, I will show you the next hurdle we faced - records written in Latin.

A search of the Roman Catholic Church Records of Kuurne in 1749 was successful and we found the marriage of Archie De Meuleunaere's 3rd great grandfather Joannes Franciscus Vereoestraete and Maria Catharina Callewier. But to our surprise the records were in Latin.

Marriage Record 1749
in Kerkelijke registers 1694-1813
 We had gone to attempting to read Flemish to French to Latin in the space of a half-day. But we were  in luck. I took Latin for five years (don't ask why, it's a long story) and even though that was more years ago than I care to say, I remembered a few words. It was enough to spot some words. I'm quite sure that even if a person knew no Latin they could still recognize the words for Marriage, Birth or Death.

And of course most of us will recognize the words "filia" (daughter of) and "filius" (son of) In this record I spotted the name Maria Catharina Callalwiere "filia Petrus Callewiere et Margaritae de groot" (4th line above the signature) So now we knew Maria Catharina's parents' names.

Johannes Franciscus Veroughstraete's parents' names were recorded as Joannes [Veroughstraete] and Anne van Brabant. Johannes Fanciscus was said to be from Pitthem which was another very nice clue.

By taking our time and going very slowly, we were able to find and understand many of the records we needed to find Archie's ancestry in Belgium back several generations. The records are wonderful - very complete and we could have gone further back but I developed a severe headache after a day of struggling to find, read and translate three different languages.

There is much I  could not understand even with the help of a French-English dictionary and a Dutch-English one. But I understood enough to allow us to find names; birth, death and marriage dates and birth, death and marriage locations. We will continue to add details to what we found, and one day we'll continue tracing the Belgium roots even further back in time.

So don't be dismayed by  the challenges. It can be done with perseverance and determination (and some dictionaries!)

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