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Origin unclear but nickname stuck to family

Family tree republished in English

Tags: Genealogy

BARRHEAD, Alberta - The Doorne(n)bal clan members are still not sure why they and their ancestors were called by a nickname. After all, their earliest known ancestor was known as Pieter Van Schoonhoven who lived near the Dutch town of Rhenen in 1648. The connection between Van Schoonhoven and the Doorne(n)bals is not obvious but originates from church records that ascribe ownership of grave plot 183 inside Rhenen's Reformed church to the former.

The Doornenbal Family Tree suggests two possibilities which may have led to the use of a nickname. A character among the forebears may have rolled thorns in balls of clay before throwing them at innocent passersby. A rather innocent version is the one in which the name of a donkey called 'doornenbal' stuck to its owner instead.


Genealogists may be called today's explorers who travel back in time. Just like the explorers who had to know what lay beyond the horizon, genealogists or anyone bitten by 'the bug' must push back in time. The Doornenbal tree came about through the urge to link all the Doorne(n)bal branches together. In the end the connections were laid, all leading to the same ancestor.

The Doornenbal tree stands out for its simplicity. It provides the essential information such as name, date and place of birth, wedding date, name of partner, and often his profession or the trade. Future generations Doornenbal will know their origin and lineage which places them in the envious position of being well ahead of their family-treeless Dutch-Canadian contemporaries (the Doornenbal tree lists a few emigrants who settled in Alberta, and one in Ontario but surprisingly none in the USA where a far greater number of them resides in, for example, Iowa).

An alphabetical family register of 10 columns with names ranging from Aalbertse through Davelaar and Korver to Zylstra makes it accessible to researchers. A copy has been donated to the Windmill Archives. Anyone interested in this English version of a Dutch production, may write to Dr E. Doornenbal, RR#1, Site 10, Box 5, Barrhead, Alberta T7N 1N2.