[23 Jun 2013 Note: See today’s post for the steps taken to revise the code.]
[15 Apr 2013 Note: The De Villiers/Pama System code for Hendrik Nicolaas MINNAAR has been amended to g?, both in the title and in the body of this post. A sharp-eyed reader noted that he was at least the fifth child born to his parents, not the fourth; my research has shown that, in addition, there was at least one child born to his father’s first wife, which would make him the sixth child of his father. Until I resolve the number and birth dates of Hendrik’s siblings and half-siblings, this is the method I will use to show that the birth order is not yet known.]
As detailed in a previous post, genealogists halfway around the world helped me to break through the brick wall of my husband’s MINNAAR line, filling in the generations from his great-grandfather Hendrik Nicolaas all the way back to Jean MESNARD, a French Huguenot who landed at the Cape of Good Hope in 1688, and whose descendants are known by the Dutch spelling of their surname.
The pairs of letters and numbers that precede Hendrik’s name in the title at the top of this post show his lineage. The De Villiers/Pama System, as it is known, gives each generation a letter and assigns each child in that generation a number in order of birth. (The first, or a, generation is not usually listed unless two or more siblings emigrated to the Cape and became stamouers, or progenitors, of more than one family line.) The last pair, g?, indicates that Hendrik was a member of the seventh generation in South Africa, although his birth order is yet to be ascertained.
The following is an outline of the MINNAAR tree, as I now understand it, showing each male’s De Villiers/Pama code in red, their birth years in parentheses and the names of their wives.
(a) Jean MESNARD (b. ca. 1659 in France) = Louise CORBONNE
(b5) Philippe MINNAAR (b. ca. 1681 in France) = Jeanne MOUY
(c2) Jean (Jan) MINNAAR (b. 1715) = Anna Catharina NIEUWOUDT
(d3) Philippus MINNAAR (b. 1757) = Elizabeth Susanna DU TOIT
(e3) Philippus Petrus MINNAAR (b. 1789) = Susanna Sophia MARÉ
(f1) Philippus Andreas MINNAAR (b. 1813) = Helena Dorothea STEYN
(g?) Hendrik Nicolaas MINNAAR (b. 1855) = Engela Aletta Jacomina STEINHOBEL
Several respected South African reseachers have documented the above tree through Philippus Andreas MINNAAR and Helena Dorothea STEYN and published their findings. Does that mean my work on the MINNAAR family is finished? Not at all.
If you look again at the wall pictured above, you can see a lot of rubble to be cleared away and some shoring up to be done before one can walk confidently through the opening. So it is with family trees that have been researched by others.
Experienced genealogists know that finding the “correct” family line is just the beginning of their task. If a tree has come down through the family, it’s necessary to stack the “rubble” of received stories to one side until their details can be proven. For all trees, even those that seem to make sense and come down from expert researchers, the vital information (birth, marriages, deaths) must be “shored up” by source citations, which entails finding and analyzing the original documents (or trustworthy copies).
The work to be done only adds to my excitement about finally discovering the MINNAAR tree. All those new names to be researched and documented and, more importantly, all the new stories to be discovered about each person!
According to Wikipedia: “The de Villiers/Pama system is the standard for genealogical works in South Africa. It was developed in the 19th century by Christoffel Coetzee de Villiers and used in his three volume Geslachtregister der Oude Kaapsche Familien (Genealogies of Old Cape Families). The system was refined by Dr. Cornelis (Cor) Pama, one of the founding members of the Genealogical Society of South Africa.” [Note that the title of the publication as given in Wikipedia is in Dutch. The Afrikaans title as it appears in the volumes published in South Africa is Geslagsregisters van die ou Kaapse Families.]
Out of the six children who arrived with Jean MESNARD, only four were still living in 1690. Philippe, the fifth child, was the only one to marry and have children.