Sunday, May 31, 2009

It occurred to me that

I have not really taken the time to talk much about how to use our website on Rootsweb. It has really grown since we started it a few years ago.
There you will find
- the complete index to ALL the Belgian Laces issues
- a volume by volume listing of the back issues
- a history of The Belgian Researchers
- the purpose of our organization and how to join
- The Latest News will list the new items posted to the site as well as links to the previous ones posted
- a listing of events happening in Belgium in case you are traveling there or just want to know
- a link to this page, our blog "What's New in Belgian Genealogy?"
and last but by far NOT LEAST...
- free access to a growing number of indexed names thank to the hard work of good will of several of our members, such as:
1. the Belgians in both WW US draft cards
2. the Belgians in a variety of census (we could sure use more help with this)
3. the Belgians in ship lists from 1820 all the way to 1920 (incomplete)
4. the Belgians found in obituaries in several states and Canada
5. the Belgians found in the different Canadian census
6. the Belgians found in other countries (we could sure use your help)
7. Belgian records, either extracted by our members or linked to other sites
The Links also contain access to a variety of websites where to further your research.

We are striving to create a place where you can come and find answers, but we are well aware that the site is only as good as the material sent by those who are willing to share.
If you are aware of new places that we have not listed, please contact me or Guy Gallez so the site can better serve its purpose.

Thanks go to ALL those who are making this website a reality.
Keep up the good work!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Mercator Reveals its Secret

When Yves Heraly sent word that records had been found on the Mercator, I immediately tried to find out more. I will always remember the excursion to Ostend to see the Mercator with my father, back in 1969. We later took our own kids to see that beautiful ship when we returned to Belgium some 20 years later.
The old training ship of the Belgian merchant marine sailed from 1932 to 1960 before being turned into a museum docked in Ostend. His name is, among other things, linked with the return of Father Damiens' remains on May 3, 1936.
During recent restoration work, a cache of archives (4 linear meters) was uncovered from behind the side pocket. The documents will be housed at the Rijksarchief te Bruge (Kingdom Archives at Bruges) along with more uncatalogued records (8 linear meters) on the Mercator - previously held at the Rijksarchief te Beveren (Kingdom Archives at Beveren).
Maurice Vandermaessen hopes to have a first cataloguing of the records done before the end of 2009 but much will depend on the nature of the Beveren Archives and unexpected discoveries.

On May 13, 2009 Maurice Vandermaesen, head of the Flemish Flanders Department followed the transfer in the company of Kris Peeters, Minister-President of Flanders and of Karel Velle, General Archivist of Belgium.

The archives cover the 1928-1960 period:
- books on its building
- technical reports on its 41 cruises
- documents on supplies
- the crew
- the formation of cadets
- weather reports
- medical information

As a side note, the Catholic church announced in February 2009 that Damien de Veuster, (January 3, 1840, Tremelo, Belgium – April 15, 1889, Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii), born Jozef de Veuster and also known as Blessed Damien of Molokai, Apostle to the Lepers would be canonized a saint on October 11, 2009.

The fact that his remains were returned to Belgium on the Mercator and that he was first brought to Doel had a great impact on things.
You might also take a look at this site on the Waasland available for free at

Watch the video below for more details on the discovery - in Dutch
found at
Just click on the "Video" tab

Monday, May 25, 2009

Finding Your Ancestors Using Netradyle

Netradyle began in 1993. Its name comes from the combination of the names of three local streams: Nethen, Train and Dyle.

Some similar sites (like GeneaDinant - require that you become a member of their organization and that you index 20 to 30 pages before giving access to the records but this is NOT the case with NetraDyle.

If you speak French you should have no trouble finding your way using the site. If you don't speak French, you can download basic word lists from
At the top of the page, last line under Document Types, you will see Word List. Some of these are dowloadable in pdf format but it's not the case for French. Just click on the link and you will be redirected to the online version. You can either scroll down the page to the word you want to translate or just click on the alphabet on the top to be taken directly to the first letter of that word.

Once you are familiar with basic words, it will be a piece of cake. If you wish to access the records, you should send an email to, keeping in mind to limit your request to no more than 5 per person, per week.
At, you will be able to search through

  • 598,513 birth/christening records
  • 148, 167 marriage records
  • 303,485 death/burial records

from Liege, Namur, Hainaut, Walloon Brabant and Vlaams Brabant.

You can also narrow your search to a specific locality in the alphabetical listing.

this is not a complete listing)
Once you have clicked on the town of your choice, you will be able to narrow your choice incrementally in the surnames' alphabetical listing until you find the last name you are looking for and choose the person you want to look at.

This is the birth / christening record of Francois Joseph GENICOT, born in Acosse, province of Liege, on 11 October 1698, son of Dieudonne GENICOT and Catherine FRIZON. Note that the date is not laid out the way it is in the US. The first number represents the day, then the month and the year.
Of course if you have no idea where about the person you are seeking was born, got married or died, Why not try a basic search or even an advanced one:

You can choose whether you are looking for the person or anyone else listed on the record AND you should pick a document type:

Naissances = Births

Mariages = Marriages

Deces= Deaths

Type in a name and see the results.

The Advanced research feature helps you filter out many things more.

The top part notes that you are looking for a first person concerned by this record

The second row asks the same question about a second person interested in this record.

And the third category offers to look for text.

You can truncate the surname you are looking for simply by picking between:

  • Exact spelling
  • Letters found at the beginning
  • Letters found at the end
  • Letters contained within the surname
  • Or Soundex.
  • The fourth category

And you can even narrow the time frame by time in from when to when the program should look.

You can also pick a locality or leave it "Toutes" (ALL) – same with the record type "Tous"

There are many other sites that offer free indexes. I will try and let you know where to find them next time.

Thank You Netradyle for making these records available to all, without asking for anything in return.





Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Virtual Tour of Waterloo

When I was a little girl, my father decided to take us to Waterloo. It was a dreary day and the only memory I have of the place is that it was raining and I didn't want to be there.
How I wish I had better understood where I was!
Now that I no longer live in Belgium, I can't just decide to go to Waterloo like my father had done. BUT... modern technology is making miracles happen.
If you have had the same wish to visit Waterloo but just can't make the trip right now... Here is the next best thing.
The site gives you a choice between Dutch, English and French. Just click on the little flag in the upper right corner.

The only glitch I have found is in the Videos section. I could not get any to pull up in the English version of the site. So if that happens to you to, just click on the French or Dutch flag and the choice between a tour of the Battle Field or a video of the 2008 reenactement show up.
The pictures are wonderful. I was impressed with the number of actors participating in this event.

I didn't realize there was a wax museum there as well.
It seems that things have really grown since I was there with my father.

If you had ancestors who lived through that period, I have no doubt you will want to take a look.

You might also want to check out this site:

There is also a blog dedicated to the Battle of Waterloo reenactment:

Watch another video at

By the way... did you know there were Belgians in both armies?

Here is the monument dedicated to the Belgians who fell.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Are you Looking for Belgian Funeral Notices Online?

So far this year The Belgian Researchers have lost 2 good friends in Belgium:
- Jean-Jacques Hallaux, in January 2009, founder of Netradyle,, who made so much information available to researchers online and whose kindness and generosity with his time was well known.

- Willem Bevernage, who passed away just days ago, at the age of 71. He too made abundant records available online with great deal of kindness to everyone.
UPDATE: The Belgian Archives now host these indexes - To do a search visit their page at:
A tutorial was written by Damien DESQUEPER and made available at for the Association Généalogique du Hainaut Belge

They both were of the rare breed of those who believed records should be available to all without cost.

Researchers have lost two great allies with their departure. Our hearts go out to their families who feel their loss in a more personal way.

As I was looking for more information on them I tracked down the site I had referred to several months ago. We have since changed our web page and I failed to archive all postings so… it took me a while to find it again.
As I ventured on the different sites, I came across several well worth mentioning here.
The only one I had kept in my links was the international one:

This site is in English and simple to use and does have an “Advanced Search” option.
You have the option to set a Default search location by entering your country of residence. This can be changed any time you want. Just be aware that not all families post obituaries for their loved ones.
You should also check out

It seems less encompassing as it was when I first found it as you can only narrow your search to locations in Wallonia and the site is in French only. There is an option to choose a Province, but I can’t see how to use the function properly. Maybe I’m not doing something right…
Of course newspapers will also contain obituaries. You can download editions in their pdf format from different sites. will give you links to Belgian newspaper sites. Some give you access to their online version but the obituaries are usually not accessible without a subscription to their pdf version. These papers can also be purchased by the day.
In “La Libre Belgique” the obituaries (necrologies) are found under “Carnet” in “La Meuse” under “Services” or “Necrologies”.

The newspaper "La Meuse" gives a special access:

Also try

Another place you can look is at
The Association Genealogique du Hainaut Belge has a database with 15,310 deaths. You have to do a search or you can contact one of their members to place a query.
Other Belgian genealogical societies have similar databases too. boasts 303,485 deaths/burials (along with Births and marriages – 1,050,165 records in all). This was Jean-Jacques Hallaux’ baby.

I found the old link I was missing by checking the archived "Latest News" on this site and found yet another treasure I had forgotten about:
Belgian Funeral Cards:

The link will direct you to a place where many people who help gather obituaries/funeral cards have made their work accessible to all.

For example:

found on Andre Verlinden's site Documents mortuaires en Flandres et en Ardennes at

or even Freddy De Ghouy's work at

Other sites are found many places, like the following for Burials in Courcelles between 1779 and 1793.

I will continue to add them to this post as I find them.
For more, try checking out our Links page. Contacting someone in Belgium who knows the historical background as well as the geographical landscape can give you invaluable help. Just remember to acknowledge the service they are willing to give you, even if it’s not exactly what you had hoped and make sure to make yourself available for others. You may not help someone with Belgian research right away but you have access to records only people living in your area do. So check and see what you can do to help with different projects.
The USGenweb has several obituaries and cemeteries projects.
Go to
Choose a state, then look for either an alphabetical listing of all the counties found in that state or a map – this is valuable in as much as the county boundaries often changed and it pays off to look into neighboring counties –
Browse through the site for more records. If you live in one of those areas where Belgians have settled, or even if it’s not the case, contact the site’s webmaster and ask how you can help.

There is plenty to do out there. You may not be able to help the person who helped you but you can pass it on. Return the favor by helping someone else.
Hope these links can be of help to you.