Within a few days, I received an email response to my inquiry. I was informed that there was a Family History and Genealogical Society in Bremen known as Die Maus or The Mouse, of which the writer, Wes Karlson*, was a member. Their archive contains indexes of birth, church and tax records, which were transcribed from the original manuscripts. Furthermore, the archive provides access to Gray Maps, which are loose collections of letters, maps, photographs and partial family trees. To better understand the purpose of The Maus, some background information is necessary.
The Bremen Family History Society was founded in 1924 when some researchers got together and met in the Mausefalle Restaurant, which was directly located beneath the Bremen Town Hall. They chose the name Die Maus for their organization, and today, their archive is located inside of the Bremen State Archive.
On Thursdays, Die Maus' archives are open to everyone and contact can be made with other researchers and/or to conduct your own research. Generally, Die Maus members are busy working on different family histories and other projects. Written inquires for family research are processed and considered. And if one asks for genealogical help of Die Maus, members might be able to help. However, they are volunteers and should be given time to carry out the research. If one desires documentation, they charge nominal fees for copies and postage. Or, if you just need some answers, sometimes a "thank you" is all that is asked as payment. Members of Die Maus are dedicated professionals, who want to help others researching their family history. And as mentioned earlier, their archive has access to the historical documents of Bremen as well as to those of the surrounding localities.
The Heinekens are synonymous with Bremen, and thus, the archive is well supplied with their family history1. There are two main branches although there are several Heineken lines. One of the main branches produced the world-famous Amsterdam beer brewer family, who are sometimes referred to as the Brewer's Branch. The second main line produced Dr. Christian Abraham Heineken, who became the mayor of Bremen in 1792. He is the reason why this family line is known as the Mayor's Branch. Christian Abraham wrote a book of Bremen history entitled "Geschichte der Freien Hansestadt Bremen von der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zur Franzosenzeit" or "History of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen from Mid Eighteenth Century to the French Occupation," which was re-edited in 1983. The Heinekens are so well-known in Bremen that they have their coat-of-arms displayed on one of the outside pillars of the Town Hall and also have some of their portraits displayed on the inside of the building.
Wes would eventually take on my search for Laurens Heijneken. On April 22, 1999, he sent me an email in which he had written, "I got him!" He had found a Laurentz Heineken born to Johan Heineken and Magdalena ter Stegen in 1719. Although the names were very similar, and the year was a genealogical match, I knew that if I were to continue on with my research, I had to be certain that Laurentz Heineken was, indeed, Laurens Heijneken. Therefore, I raised the issue of whether there could have been more than one Laurentz Heineken. However, after examining the sources, Wes explained that according to Bremen records, there was only one Laurentz in that time period. With Wes' email of April 30, 1999, he wrote that, in regards the "Heineken-beer" line, "we know the family tree exactly...there is no son, Laurentz." His email of May 22 explained that he began researching the Gray Maps with my email of March 28, and although he had found a number of Heinekens, Laurentz was not numbered among them. Later, on June 2, Wes further explained that the Gray Maps consisted of previously researched data obtained by various MAUS research members over the years, and that some of this information were more than fifty years old. They include handwritten notes, newspaper articles, obituaries, partial family trees, copies of book pages, guides to publications, etc. He further stated that there are four maps for the Heineken surname, and that all together, the information within them is about five inches thick. He concludes, "All of these I looked up, and I didn't find a Laurentz, therefore, I looked to other sources like the tax-book. There is no other Laurentz."
Laurentz's birth record was located in an index of recorded births from a church in Bremen, which was known as Unser Lieben Frauen (ULF2) Church. Baptized on January 2, 1719, this date came within one year of my estimate and was very close to another researcher's estimate. (Sometime prior to my research, *Verne Hendrikson2 had independently completed his own genealogical study, which concluded that the family had originated with a Laurens Hennekes from Bremen, whom he estimated was born in 1721.)
With the resources of Die Maus at his disposal, Wes began looking at the church register of the ULF and reported on May 20, 1999 that he had found the birth records of Laurentz's siblings. He had been researching the church records for the time period in-between 1695 and 1734. In the copies of the original records, he found three other children born to Johan Heineken and Magdalena ter Stegen. They were Anna Catharina, baptized March 3, 1710, Simon Johan, baptized October 12, 1712, and Gottfriedt, baptized August 16, 1715. (Some of the godparents present at Anna's and Simon Johann's christenings would later become the backbone of my genealogical research. One of the godparents at Anna Catharina's baptism was simply listed as the wife of Johan Timmerman. Three of the godparents present for Simon Johan's baptizing were Brüning Timmermann, Johan Lohman and the wife of Dirich Heineken.)
Since my family was new to Bremen's Heineken family, I wanted to know how we fit in. So over the ensuing months, Wes combed through Bremen records, and as a result, he was able to supply me with his working copy of the family tree of the Mayor's Branch. On his email of June 4, 1999, Wes wrote he had discovered that Johan Timmerman's wife was actually Anna Heineken, who was a daughter of Heinrich Heineken. Heinrich was the son of Berent Heineken, who was listed as a tailor in the 1644 Tax Register of St. Ansgari in Bremen.
Berent is known to have come from Lesum, a village just north of Bremen. He had taken the Citizen's Oath for the Old Town part of Bremen on May 31, 1624 and had sworn to defend Bremen "with a gun and bayonet." It is generally believed that he is the oldest-known ancestor in the Bremen Mayor's Branch.
Wes also learned that two of Anna's sisters, Catharina and Helena, were married, respectively, to Brüning Timmermann and Johan Lohman; and furthermore, that Dirich Heineken was a younger brother of the three sisters. Therefore, it became clearly evident that there existed an association between my ancestors and the Mayor's Branch, but the exact relationship was not known.
For the remainder of 1999, Wes tried to find out more of Johan Heineken and Magdalena ter Stegen, but it appeared that they must have gotten married outside of Bremen.
1 Many have researched the Heineken family. Two of these researchers were Anna Marie Biedermann and her son, Wilhelm, who shared their research information freely with the Maus.
2 The University of Bremen sent the following extract from the book "Bremen," written by Karin Mader, (order-number: ISBN 3-921957-29-X): "Everything started with the cathedral (Dom.) in Bremen. Not with the building itself - which was built beginning in 1040, later modified, destroyed, rebuilt and finally restored with its two-tower front from 1887 - 1904 - but with the appointment of a bishop over 1200 years ago." Also, Unser Lieben Frauen church most closely translates to Our Holy Lady.
3 I have the original copy of Laurens marriage record, and his name was clearly recorded as Laurens Heijneken. Our family name did not become Hennekes until 1813. Verne Hendrikson, the fellow researcher mentioned above, is directly related to my family line, however, I did not know of his genealogy work until after I had completed my research in Holland. I discovered his research only after visiting the trial web site of FamilySearch, which is run by the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Verne is a 5th great grandson of Laurens Heijneken, and he descended from Suzanna Hennekes, (18301905), who was Laurens' great granddaughter. Perhaps, he possesses other documents that shows my 4th great grandfathers name written as Laurens Hennekes. However, I can only stand behind my copy of Laurens' original marriage record.