Construction Reveals Vintage Sign of Jacob Baker – Grand Rapids Carriage Maker

Photo by Jay Kruizenga, 2018 Westside Grand Rapids construction off Leonard Street near the Alpine intersection has uncovered the vintage late 1800s sign of Jacob Baker, horseshoer (type of blacksmith) and wagon/sleigh maker.  As a lover of all things historical this...

Using DNA CentiMorgans to Define Relationship

You've received your DNA test results.  You're looking over the numerous calculated results and estimated relationships but are a bit confused by the numbers.  How do they know this information?  How are these relationships calculated and can they be trusted? While...
Downtown Grand Rapids Michigan

Dating An Early Grand Rapids Photo

I love the following glimpse into Grand Rapids' past.  Taken at 9:30 according to the tower clock in the background it is a northwestern look down Monroe Center toward the Pantlind Hotel. The photo is now in the public domain.  It was taken by the Detroit Publishing...

Finding the Father of Betty DeYoung Part 1

Betty Jane DeYoung 1921-2009 Mystery Photo that Pauline carried with her for many years.  Why? 9 September 1921 On the 9th day of September 1921, my paternal grandmother Betty Jane was born to Pauline Mastbergen.  Betty took the surname of her mother due to her being...

Michigan’s 1894 Census Substitute

The 1890 Federal Census was destroyed by a 1921 fire at the United States Commerce Department in Washington D.C.   What was not incinerated was flooded with the water used to extinguish the fire.  A plethora of irreplaceable genealogical information was lost that day....

Early Grand Rapids News – Morning Telegram 1884-1886

The short-lived Grand Rapids Morning Telegram was founded 30 September 1884 as a Republican Daily (liberal).  No Sundays.  The paper was sold April 1886 and merged with Brezee’s Grand Rapids Herald to form the Telegram-Herald.  It was one of the first papers to...
Ellis Island

How to Find Your Michigan Ancestor’s Naturalization Record

When searching for your ancestor’s immigration record the key year to remember is 1906. Prior to 1906 the information contained on a naturalization document was limited to the country of origin and perhaps the date of arrival.  Not much else. Post 1906 you will find...
Tools of Trade

How to Find Buried Headstones

I love cemeteries. I’ll occasionally drive to a cemetery, park my car and walk along the paved or dirt roads. There is something very peaceful about the setting. Perhaps its my way of escaping the busyness of life… or perhaps it is because I enjoy the resident...
Mental Asylum

Requesting Michigan Records of Insanity – My Proposal

At the time of this writing in the State of Michigan many patient records from the various mental institutions across the State are housed at the Michigan Archives in Lansing, Michigan. Unfortunately… you can’t view them.  Patient records are closed to the public. In...
Michigan Death Record

How to Find “Missing” Michigan Birth and Death Records

Birth and Death records in the State of Michigan began around January of 1867; however, these were in no manner enforced. It may very well be that you have a Michigan Ancestor that you know was born or died in Michigan around 1870 but can’t locate a death record. This...

I found Jay to always be helpful, professional and very timely in his responses.  When looking for someone to help you with your search, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed in your choice to seek Jay’s help.

Jodi Nester of Michigan

Independent Genealogist – J Sanford Kruizenga, MFA was born 9 November 1968 in East Grand Rapids, Michigan to a Scot-Irish mother and a Scandinavian-Dutch father.  Having lived the majority of his life in his home State, he now devotes his time to helping clients from around the world to discover their Michigan Ancestors.

J is a decorated Gulf War Marine having served with the VMFA-(AW)-121 Green Knights as an Avionics Tech. His first deployment was aboard the USS Ranger on a WestPac where he enjoyed such exotic locations as the Philippine Islands; Hong Kong; Singapore; Diego Garcia; and Perth, Australia.  His second deployment was into Desert Storm where he was stationed on the island nation of Bahrain and in Kuwait.  His final deployment was to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.  When State-side he was stationed at the now-closed MCAS El Toro in sunny beautiful Irvine, California.  J was honorably discharged.

J graduated with highest honors from Davenport University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and from Full Sail University with a Master’s in Creative Writing.  He has worked as a life/fire insurance salesman and then in the graphic design industry for multiple years both as a business owner and art director.

I love doing my own research on my family tree.  I’m pretty good, and enjoy it immensely.  I look at it like an investigation, or detective work.  So, why hire Jay?  He brings fresh eyes to the case, and found things I couldn’t.  I was thoroughly happy with the results, and will be using him in the future, for other projects on my tree.  Thank you Jay! Fred Geurkink of Michigan

Genealogy is a lifetime of learning.  There is no end to the learning experience.  Because of this J is always learning new and exciting skill sets that he uses to your benefit.  And he reads…and reads…and reads.  He has a massive genealogical and historical book collection that he prizes dearly.  He also has ready access to some of Michigan’s best archives and libraries.


Our Resident Genealogist – J (Jay) Sanford Kruizenga

  • Member Association of Professional Genealogists
  • Member West Michigan Genealogical Society
  • Member National Genealogical Society
  • Seeking Certification with Board of Certified Genealogists
  • Proficient in Dutch Research – here and abroad
  • Proficient in Scot/Irish and English Research
  • BBA in Marketing
  • MFA in Creative Writing / English

Genealogical Courses of Study and Conferences

  • National Genealogical Society American Genealogy Course
  • Dutch Genealogy Course
  • “Drafted, Deserted, and Volunteered” – a Comprehensive Study of Your Civil War Ancestors
  • Writing Logical Proof Arguments
  • Professional Genealogy 1
  • We’re Here! – Now What? – D. Joshua Taylor
  • Reverse Genealogy – Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
  • National Genealogical Society Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan 2018
  • and many many more…

Mr. Kruizenga handled the entire project with honesty, competence, patience, and professionalism.  It is clear that he loves what he does and is very good at it.  As for the results of our collaboration, he solved a century-old discrepancy and gave me considerable additional information that I had not expected.  I cannot say enough in my praise of Mr. Kruizenga.

Diana Walstad of North Carolina