Amazon the (Almost) Omnipotent; also, a Bit of Family History

Anytime someone complains that they can’t find a certain book, the first thing I ask is “Have you checked Amazon?”  If they complain that a certain book is too expensive, I ask “Have you checked Amazon for used copies?”

Now, there are, indeed, times when Amazon does not actually have the book you’re looking for, but you’re probably going for old and/or obscure.

However, I’m beginning to think Amazon may list every book in existence with a U.S. registered copyright, even if they will never, ever have a copy of it for sale.  Thus, this:


Harold Sedrel is my grandfather.  He’s the one from whom I’ve gotten the stamp collection, including the envelope full of “Benjamins,”and the Nazi-censored envelope.  I googled his name and the above popped up.

Van Heukelom is his mother’s maiden name.  I’m presuming it’s a genealogy something, as the family is big into that.  I’m not familiar with this specific document.  However, the second one greatly amuses me in its irony, as Grandpa registered that copyright for the sole reason of keeping people from selling the document.  It was created entirely as helpful information, not a source of income.

I know Grandpa had two registered copyrights, so I am presuming these are the two.  I wonder if Amazon just grabs the title of every registered copyright, which seems terribly inefficient.

Genealogy, Name Changes, and Being Dutch is Apparently Awesome

The Sedrel ancestors came from the Netherlands in 1856.  There are still branches of the family there: we’ve even been in contact with them.    However, in the Netherlands, the family name is Sederel.

The change in spelling was not imposed at Ellis Island, where many, many people came out with different names than what they went in with due to language barriers, sloppy paperwork, and indifferent and lazy employees. My late high school history teacher, John Gmitter, related how his grandfather arrived in America as George Mitter and come out Gmitter.  Would you argue the name on the paperwork that allows you into the country isn’t yours?

Instead, the American Sederels eventually decided to drop one of the Es because it sounded too…Dutch.  Even though they lived in a town full of Dutch people.

As an aside: Specifically, in Pella, Iowa.  I have been told the family lived next door to the Earp family, so maybe little Sederels/Sedrels played with little Wyatt Earp.  I hope it wasn’t cops and robbers.

And when I say “full of Dutch people” I mean my grandfather was 100% Dutch even though he’s a great-grandson of the original Sederel in America.  The Sederels/Sedrels just kept marrying other Dutch people.  I’m 5 generations in, and I’m still a quarter Dutch.  I’m also Swedish, English, Welsh, Scottish and probably some other bits I’ve forgotten. Know what that makes me?

The palest person on the planet.

So every Sedrel in the world is related to us, all of us diverging from a common Dutch-American ancestor who changed his name about 100 years ago in order to sound less Dutch. The irony does not escape me considering I know all this because my family is very proud of its Dutch history.

Stamp Celebrating Treaty between America and the Netherlands
In 1782, the Netherlands and the United States signed a trade treaty which is still in effect and is the longest trade relationship of the U.S. with any nation. 
In 1982, both countries decided to issue incredibly boring, matching stamps commemorating this. And, of course, I have a file folder full of them.  Because they’re stamps.  And Dutch.

The uniqueness of the name also means that when you google “Harold Sedrel,” you will find exactly one person with that name.  Some records will tell you he passed in 1992, while others will say he’s 98 years old…because they haven’t figured out he passed in 1992.  But they are all him.

As an Aside:  See?  I did get back to my original topic of internet searches… eventually.  It wasn’t a tangent.  Just a very large orbit.


  1. Are you paler than Faith?

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