Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hursts from Co. Mayo?

I'm using this blog as a "scribble pad" tonight for some note-taking and to organize my thoughts. I've been focused lately on my brick walls. Lately, I have been doing some digging into some records on rootsireland.ie which is a site that has some, but not all records, for Ireland. I wanted to put what I've found together here, and hopefully it'll lead to further info down the road. The person of emphasis for this post is James Hurst.

Quick recap of known facts about James Hurst:
B. 1 Sept 1832 in County Mayo (census gives a range of years between 1832-1840, but this is the birth date given on his death record).
Immigrated: ca. 1862 according to census (haven't found a manifest to support, yet)
Parents: Michael Hurst & Catherine O'Neill
Possible other relatives? I've found no evidence of siblings of his having come with him to the U.S., or at least not to Dane Co., Wisconsin. I've been told also that his parents lived and died in Ireland. However, the 1880 census lists two nieces living with him, both having been born in Ireland. Mary, born ca. 1859 and Bridget born ca. 1864.

Something interesting I've noticed naming patterns. There are many versions of this but the most common convention I've found is:

1st son was named after the father's father 
2nd son was named after the mother's father 
3rd son was named after the father 
4th son was named after the father's eldest brother 
5th son was named after the mother's eldest brother

1st daughter was named after the mother's mother 
2nd daughter was named after the father's mother 
3rd daughter was named after the mother 
4th daughter was named after the mother's eldest sister
5th daughter was named after the father's eldest sister

(source: http://www.igp-web.com/cork/Naming.html)

If I compare this to the kids of James Hurst and his wife, Mary Ann Walsh, I see some sort of pattern:
Children, in order of birth:
1) Catherine Ann Hurst (presumably named after James' mom, Catherine O'Neill)
2) Bridget Ann Hurst (named after Mary Ann's mom, Bridget Welsch)
3) Ellen Maria Hurst (??? see below...; Maria possibly naming her after mother Mary Ann Walsh)
4) Adeline Mary Hurst (?? Ellen died as a baby before Adeline was born; perhaps Mary again for her mother?)
5) Ella Monica Hurst (??)
6) Michael John Hurst (presumably named after both of their fathers, Michael Hurst and John Walsh)
7) Henry Leo Patrick Hurst (??)
8) James Sylvester Hurst (named for his father, James)
9) Thomas Vincent Hurst (??)
10) Joseph Parker Hurst (??)

The downfall of this formula is I do not have a confirmed list of all siblings of Mary Ann Walsh nor of James Hurst. I do, however, know that James likely had a sister who married a man by the name of Rice. Looking at the "pattern" compared to the actual known names, there seems to be somewhat of a pattern but backwards in a way as far as which parent's father's name was given to a child first. The third of each gender does appear to be named after the parent of the corresponding gender.  Beyond that there are a bunch of names that look unfamiliar- likely because of lack of info on siblings.

So, I took to the records. As I mentioned, the records are incomplete.. it seems that for most areas of Co. Mayo, the earliest records either start in 1840 or 1864 (of those that are online- I am not sure, but hoping that older records still exist somewhere). I thought, though, that maybe by that time period, there might be a record of deaths for either of Jameses parents, considering they both supposedly stayed in Ireland and died there.

I found an interesting death rec for a Catherine Hurst d. 17 Feb 1881 in Druminahaha, Islandeady district, Co. Mayo. She is listed as a widow, aged 68, and the informant is the "householder" named Ellen Rice, of Druminahaha. Hmm.. Hurst and Rice on the same record, in Co. Mayo. Could Ellen be Catherine's daughter? Maybe.. but wouldn't the "Relationship" field state daughter instead of householder? Perhaps being the householder was a more important notation. But the name Ellen.. that's the name of the third daughter of James and Mary Ann (Walsh) Hurst.. and the pattern was somewhat backward, so could Ellen by James' older sister? I can't get caught up in the "naming pattern" since that is not 100% reliable.

Is this record definitely James' mother and sister? It could be, but it could also NOT be. I don't have enough evidence.

So, I looked further to see if I could find any "Ellen Hurst" in this area, marrying a man by the name of Rice. I didn't find a marriage record. But, I found a lot of birth and baptismal records for children of a John Rice/Ryce and his wife Elen/Ellen HURST, in Islandeady. Importantly, they have two kids specifically who might be matches for the nieces listed as living with James Hurst in 1880 in Wisconsin. Here are, in order, the births/baptisms I found, for kids born to John Rice and Ellen Hurst (all the same unless otherwise noted):

1) James Ryce bap 8 Aug 1858 Islandeady RC parish, Co. Mayo, sponsors Peter Gavin and Mary O'Neal

2) **Mary Ryce bap. 4 Sep 1859 Islandeady RC Parish, Co. Mayo, sponsors Owen Lawless & Barbara Flyn [sic]

3) Bridget Rice bap. 23 Nov 1861 Islandeady RC parish, Co. Mayo, sponsors James Hurst and Mary McNealy

3) **Bridget Rice bap. 28 Nov 1862 Islandeady RC parish, Co. Mayo, sponsors Patrick Hurst and Cecelia Stephens

4) Catherine Rice b. 12 Feb 1865 Derrycooraun, Islandeady District, Co. Mayo

5) Ellen Rice b. 27 May 1867 Driminaha, Islandeady District, Co. Mayo

6) Honor Rice (female) b. 4 Sept 1869 Driminaha, Islandeady District, Co. Mayo
-(same person) Honor Rice b. 5 Sept 1869 Islandeady RC parish, Co. Mayo (address Derecourane); sponsors Edward Gillen & Bridget Mulloy

7) Michael Rice b. 2 Nov 1871 Driminaha, Islandeady District, Co. Mayo
-(same person) Michael Rice bap. 24 Oct 1871 Islandeady RC parish, Co. Mayo (address Derecoraun); sponsors Michael Gibbons & Catherine O'Neal

8) Anne Rice b. 9 Dec 1873 Driminaha, Islandeady District, Co. Mayo

9) John Rice b. 31 Dec 1875 Driminahaha, Islandeady district, Co. Mayo parents John Rice and Ellen Hart [possibly a transcription error- address & other info match).
-(same person, presumably dates mixed up?) John Rice bap. 17 Dec 1875 Islandeady RC parish, Co.
Mayo; parents John Ryce & Ellen Hurst; sponsors Thomas Ryce & Bridget Mylott
-(a record for this same birth, found on familysearch.org lists John Rice's birthplace as Drimenahaha)

10) Patrick Rice b. 10 Jun 1878 Derrycowran, Islandeady district, Co. Mayo. (only found this one on familysearch.org)

11) Margaret Rice b. 26 Aug 1880 Driminahaha, Islandeady district, Co. Mayo. (only found this one on Familysearch.org)

Specific point: Common places mentioned: Derrycooraun, Derrycourane, and Drumminahaha are all within (according to a map) a quarter mile or less of one another. They are slightly north of the town of Islandeady.

Important highlights:

1) A sponsor named James Hurst in 1861 and no other year. My James Hurst supposedly immigrated around 1862.

2) The two girls of the same age (Mary, b. 1859) and similar age (Bridget, b. 1862) as the girls listed as nieces of James Hurst in 1880 in Wisconsin

3) The family names of the sponsors- quite a few Rices, several O'Neals and a couple of Hursts (Patrick and James).

4) The name Peter Gavin. My grandmother (whose great-grandfather is James Hurst) matched, on DNA testing, within ~4th cousin range of a woman whose great-great-grandfather's name was Richard Gavin of the Castlebar, Co. Mayo area. Richard's wife's name is Eleanor Rice. Richard was baptised in 1861 in... Islandeady RC parish, Co. Mayo, and his parents were Thomas Gavin and Cecily Cauly; sponsors James Ryce and Mary Gavin. Thomas and Cecily were married 31 Jan 1857 in Islandeady RC parish, Co. Mayo, sponsors James Ryce and Barbara Scoot.

So, is there some sort of tie between this James Ryce and John Ryce/Rice? Is there a tie between these Gavins, Peter and Thomas, and my Hursts? Is Ellen Hurst above the sister of my James Hurst? I don't have enough info to prove this yet but it's looking pretty promising.

An addendum:

Griffiths Valuation for Derrycooraun, Islandeady Parish, shows many of these names of those on the baptismal records, living close together:

Thomas, John, and Austin Gavin; Mylott, Lawless, Gibbons, Malley (Mulloy), James Rice, John Rice

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Family History Surveys

Whew...well, another year escapes me. Sometimes I get so busy chasing research (and with real life, too) that I don't give as much attention to this blog as I should.. I'm hoping to change that, with a couple upcoming posts.

I had a project in mind for several years and I decided to make this the year that I get around to implementing it. I have often thought about how many questions I have for my living relatives and how to get this in a simple format, and most importantly, all in one place. Too often, phone calls or other conversations are placed on note paper and scattered all over throughout my boxes of documentation. What I have had in mind is the development of a Family History Survey which allowed me to combine all of my important questions for my relatives, into one place.

I had already thought of quite a few questions I wanted to include, it just took some mental prep to sit down and type it all out. After I typed my questions, I searched on Google for any other such family history surveys, to compare my questions and see if there was anything major I was missing from the questions I had prepared myself. I was surprised to find very few of them out there. I found the following to be useful:




The problem I found with some is that they were getting to be too long. I want all of my relatives- from my older relatives who have difficulty writing much at a time; to my busy younger relatives who are always on the go- to see the survey and think it is something they have the time and ability to do.

The other problem was that I had SO many questions I wanted to ask. It is a challenge to keep the survey short but also keep it to a length that gives you the information you most want to document about your relatives' lives.

Once I had settled on the questions I wanted to ask, I then began to organize them into categories: Questions about the individual; Questions about their memories and knowledge of their immediate family; and questions about their knowledge and memories about their extended family. The "Individual" category has a sub-category regarding marriage and children, for those whom it applied to.

After checking and rechecking to make sure the questions were worded correctly and there were no spelling errors, I then set about placing enough space after each question to that it could be answered adequately. Finally, my survey was nearing completion.

I then put together a letter to precede the survey. This would explain to my relatives what I had sent them and why. Below is an excerpt of my letter:

"I am sending, in this packet, a series of questions meant to help me understand more about you, and about our family in general. Many of the questions are open-ended, to encourage you to provide as much detail as you would like in answering them. If you run out of space, feel free to use the back of each page. I have included extra paper should you wish to expand further. Please provide as much information and detail as you can. The more information you provide, the more you help to preserve our shared family history.

I am also including packets for aunts and uncles married into the family, because in addition to having an impact on my life, your story is also important to the overall story of our shared family, your descendants.

It is very important to me that you complete this questionnaire, as it will help us all understand more about our family. I may already know the answers to some of these questions, but please answer them anyway. This survey provides a way for me to formally document these aspects of your life. While it may look long, I have chosen each of these questions carefully to create a complete picture of who you are, and to document your memories of the past.

Please write as clearly as you can, and use a pen if possible. I have included an envelope to make it easier for you to send your responses back to me. If you are inclined to do so, you may answer digitally as well via email. Please know that I do not intend to publish this information publicly but that it will instead be available within our family. If there is anything you wish to remain completely private (i.e., only I would see it), please specify.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out!"

After this was done, I began printing and assembling my packet. In addition to the letter and the survey, I also included an extra manila envelope to help encourage responses and cut down on costs to my interviewees. Everything was packaged up and taken to the post office. 

Below is the final version of my questions (I removed my spacing so as to not stretch out this post):

Part I: You

Your full name:

Date and place of birth:

Were you named after someone else? Who?

Where/when you were baptized?

What is your earliest memory?

What schools did you attend when you were younger, and where were they? Elementary, High School, College, etc.

If you attended college, what did you major in?

Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities/sports/clubs when you were in school? What were they?

What is your profession, and what motivated you to join that line of work?

Where do you work/ where have you worked in the past? When?

Do you- or did you when you were younger- have any hobbies or special interests? Please describe them.

What is your favorite book?

What is your favorite color?

What music did you enjoy when you were younger? Now?

What is your favorite memory from when you were growing up?

Who were your playmates or friends when you were growing up?

Did you travel when you were young? On summer breaks from school? If so, where?

Did you serve in the military? Please describe your service. What unit did you serve in? Where did you serve?

Where/when did you learn to drive a car? Who taught you?

Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?

Who did you most admire when you were young? Why?

Who do you think had the greatest impact on shaping you into the person you are today and why?

What did you aspire to do or be when you were growing up?

Have you ever belonged to any organizations or groups? Which ones?

Do you have a philosophy of life you live by? Please describe.

Do you have religious leanings or beliefs? Please describe them.

Have you ever received any awards or honors? Please describe.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in your life thus far?

What do you most want to be remembered for by your descendants/other relatives?

What memories do you have of current events you have lived through (Great Depression, wars, assassinations, presidential elections, civil rights, other important national or international events)?

In your opinion, what are the greatest inventions or advances made by humanity during your lifetime? The worst?

How would you say the world has changed since you were young?

Do you remember your first contact with newer technologies (radio, tv, COLOR tv, computers)? Describe. When did your family first obtain these items?

Marrriage (if applicable):
Where and how did you meet your eventual spouse(s)?

Describe your first date(s):

Who proposed? How?

Who were the members of your wedding party?

Where was your first apartment/home together? Did you move during your married life? If so where and why?

How/why did you choose the names you did for your child(ren)?

What values did you try to establish when raising your child(ren)?

What do you think is the key to a successful marriage?

Part II: Your Family

Describe the house(s) you lived in while growing up.

Did your family move around when you were young? If so, where and when?

Growing up, did your family live near other family members? Who?

When you were growing up, did your family have any special traditions (on holidays, birthdays, other special times of the year, etc.)? What were they?

Describe a typical family dinner from when you were growing up. Who cooked? What kinds of food did you usually eat?

When you were growing up, did you mother/family have any traditional foods/recipes? What were they? Do you mind sharing them with me?

Did your family attend family reunions? Picnics? Other special gatherings with family?

What activities did your family do together?

What did your father do for a living?

What did your mother do for a living?

What is your favorite memory of your mother? What was she like?

What is your favorite memory of your father? What was he like?

Please describe any other memories of your parents that you wish to share:

What hobbies or interests did your father have?

What hobbies or interests did your mother have?

What were your parents' political beliefs?

Of all of the things you learned from your parents (or other family members) what do you feel was most important?

Part III: Extended Family

Have you noticed that any particular traits or characteristics run in the family? Describe them.

Growing up, did you know and/or spend time with your cousins? Which ones? What would you do together?

Who was the oldest relative you remember knowing or knowing about? Please describe.

Did you know your maternal grandparents? If so, what memories do you have of your maternal grandparents? What were they like?

Did you know your paternal grandparents? If so, what memories do you have of your paternal grandparents? What were they like?

Did you know your great-grandparents on either side? If so, who?

If you didn't know your great-grandparents, did you ever hear stories about them? What did you hear?

Did your grandparents or great-grandparents ever tell you any stories? What were they?

Did your grandparents ever tell you stories about their parents? What were they?

Did you ever hear any stories about the origins of certain family names or ancestors in your family? Explain.

Did you ever hear any stories about famous/infamous ancestors in your family tree? Explain.

Are there any special heirlooms that have been passed down in your family such as photos, bibles, or other objects? Please describe.

Did your family keep in touch with any distant relatives? Do you still? Who are/were they? Do you still have any old correspondence saved?  

Enjoy! I hope to be posting again soon!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014: Year of the Crumbling Family Mysteries? + My Brick Walls (v. long post ahead)

It's been a while since I've written but I'm just now getting some time to write about my recent discoveries. I have had some luck lately when it comes to some of the mysteries that exist in my family.

Georg Brandmueller
The first was that of Georg Brandmueller. Born in Steudach, Bavaria, Georg emigrated to Baltimore in 1847 and a year later married Johanna Hoeninger. They raised a family in Baltimore, amid some issues due to apparent mental instability of Johanna. She died in 1865 and in 1870, Georg shows up in Springfield, Dane Co., Wisconsin living near his half sister, Anna Margaretha Brandmueller Weller. Living with him is his son John, but it is uncertain where his daughter Margaretha is at this time.

After 1870 I had been unable to find Georg in any records. Shortly after this, the Wellers moved to Waseca, MN, and he is not living with his daughter Margaretha in 1880. He is also not living with his son John Martin. The church in Springfield had no record of Georg dying or otherwise being present. I had thought that perhaps Georg moved to Milwaukee, where his son ended up, but could find no evidence of this.

This past December, I discovered the bounty that is Probate records. I had never had the chance to delve into Dane County probate records before, but on this trip I looked in the index and found a few interesting names. On a whim, I decided to look at the index to see if there was a listing for Georg, even though I had found no evidence that he died in Dane County... to my amazement, there he was. The Archives room was silent and I had to try pretty hard to contain my excitement. I ordered the file and waited patiently.. Inside I found some interesting documents.

The very first page included a handwritten notice, stating that Georg Brandmueller had died 26 June 1874 (AHA!), leaving no will. It further states that he died "without leaving a widow or children of legal age to administer his Estate." (This is curious because his daughter Margaret was 24 at this time, so I'm not sure what the legal age was back then) A man named John Schurz was submitting this document to appeal for role of administrator of the estate, as he was already Georg Brandmueller's creditor.

John Schurz was approved as the administrator, and interestingly, the men who helped him appraise the estate included George Weller, Georg's brother-in-law. Georg left very few possessions, most of them relating to his business of shoemaking and repair.

My next step was- well, where was he buried? I still haven't answered that. I thought that perhaps there might be an obituary in a local paper, although I wasn't sure because obits were not very common in the 1870s. I checked the German language paper for Madison (the Wisconsin Botschafter- which is indexed under Monroe, WI, instead of Madison for some reason). I did find a very short notice, and what it said in the 2-3 sentences was very shocking. It mentioned that a shoemaker by the name Brandmueller had killed himself by cutting his wrists, and that there had been similar previous issues with his wife. It also stated that he left behind two children.

In that time period, the Catholic church very strongly frowned upon those who killed themselves, so much so that they were not permitted to be buried on consecrated ground. No wonder there was no record of his burial at the church, because there was no way he would have been buried there. Because of how little money he had, I doubt that where ever he was buried, was marked. So it seems that I may never find his final resting place. There are many small cemeteries in the area of Springfield/Corners and Martinsville, and  I tried looking through most of them at one point several years ago, not having any success. This may just be the final mystery of Georg, figuring out where he was buried, and unfortunately no one living may have the answer to that.

Everett Elisha Reynolds
The next mystery was that of my ancestor Everett Elisha Reynolds, another shoemaker, who appears to have been quite a colorful character. Everett was born in 1847 in North Bridgewater, MA, and moved with his family at a young age to Caribou, Aroostook Co., ME. He married in 1869, had several children. His wife died 7 years later, and most of the children died young (only one lived to adulthood). A few years after the death of his wife, Everett appears in Wisconsin, marries Catherine McConnell, and has three children (including my ancestor Alex Reynolds).

Around the time of the birth of the third child, Everett disappears from Wisconsin, leaving behind his family. There is an article written about 25 years later stating that he traveled to California, Scotland and several other places, and then appears in Massachusetts where he finds an old plow and tows it all the way home to his folks' place in Caribou, ME. The article mentions that much of the information they have is from a diary which belonged to Everett. Everett next appears in census records in Hartford and Canton, Maine, but is not present on the 1930 census.

After this time I was unable to determine where or when Everett lived and died. He had a gravestone next to his first wife in Green Ridge Cemetery, but there was no death date on the stone, indicating he may not be buried there. The gravestone did have an I.O.O.F symbol on it, so I decided to contact the Maine organization to see if they had any records of former members. I had tried this several years ago and gotten no response, but this year I received a response almost immediately, that they would look into it and let me know. They determined that there was an Everett Reynolds who died in Canton around that time, but the information from their records didn't list an exact death date.

I contacted the Town of Canton office to see if they could help. A couple of weeks later, I received a certified copy in the mail: They found that Everett had actually died 7 April 1937 (in Canton), making him almost 90 years old! The death record did list his parents so I could make sure it was actually him, and lucky for me it listed his burial location. I couldn't be more happy to have solved yet another mystery!

Remaining Mystery
Despite having finally determined where and when Everett Elisha Reynolds died, there are still a lot of questions- why did he leave Wisconsin? Why didn't he come back to his family? Or did he? I haven't found him in the 1900 census yet. The biggest question I have, and which I think could answer a lot more questions, is where on earth is that diary of his? Does it still exist, and does it include information on why he left his Wisconsin family behind?

I have sent many queries over the years to various historical societies, hoping to locate the diary (or at least, if it doesn't exist anymore, to gain that knowledge). The new death information caused me to revisit everything I knew about Everett. As such an elusive and colorful ancestor, I have spent a lot of time tracking as much information down about him as I can. I had found a newspaper article from 1926 which was written by O.B. Griffin, which details Everett's biography and the story of bringing the plow back to Caribou. It [in]conveniently mentions nothing about his connections to Wisconsin.

The plow had been donated to the Caribou Historical Society eventually. I had contacted them and they had sent me photocopies of various articles and other things which related to the plow or the Reynolds family, and one of them was a typescript copy from the 1980s which was written by a Stacy Griffin and mentioned that he was transcribing directly from the diary. So, it seems that the diary was still around in the mid-1980s... but what about now? I kept looking at this photocopies and then tried to determine what the relationship is between O.B. Griffin, author of the original story, and Stacy Griffin, author of a later typescript. It turns out they were father and son.

All of a sudden wheels started turning-- if O.B. was writing a detailed account of information from this diary in 1926 and 60 years later, his son was transcribing information from the same diary... could it be possible that the Griffin family has this diary, or knows where it may be? I rushed to contact my acquaintance, Jim, who lives in the Caribou area, as it is a lowly populated area and I figured he might know of Stacy Griffin or other Griffin relatives. He did know of a nephew of Stacy, who I called about two weeks ago. He did not personally know anything about the diary, but he stated that he knew of two people who may have some idea of it. I am waiting now to hear back from him, but am very excited to perhaps being close to solving yet another mystery. Even if it turns out that the diary was destroyed and no longer exists, at least I will have that peace of mind. I do hope that the diary, or perhaps a full transcription, may reside within the Griffin family, and am looking forward to trying to find out for sure.

My Other Brick Walls & Mysteries
(In alphabetical order)

Johann Diebold:
Where was Johann/John Diebold born, and who were his parents? His death record states that the names of his parents were Joseph and Margaret Diebold, with no maiden name listed for his mother. There is no town of birth listed. Various census records indicate he was born in the Alsace region of France/Germany. His death notice written by his wife Adelheid, states only that he was born in "Elsass-Zabern," or Alsace-Saverne, on the 18th of July, 1828. A recently discovered 1860 census for him in New York states that he was born in "Strasburg" or Strasbourg as it is written today.

The nice thing about this region of the cities of Strasbourg and Saverne is that the records appear to all be online (http://www.archivosgenbriand.com/index_english.html). The bad thing is, Johann does not appear to have been born in either of those cities directly, but perhaps in a local village or neighboring town. I have spent a long time looking through towns from the Bas-Rhin region on that site, finding various scatterings of Diebolds in the records- but no Johann so far. What to do? Look through records for every village, town and city in the Bas-Rhin region and hope I find him??

Wilhelmine Hammel:
According to her death record, Wilhelmine Hammel Liebenow was born 30 January 1830 in Germany. There was no place name listed. Her parents were listed as Gottfried and Louisa Hammel. What seems apparent is that she and Christian Liebenow were married in Germany, as their son Ferdinand Liebenow was born in Blumberg, Brandenburg, Germany. Christian was born in Passow, which is relatively close to Blumberg, and my guess would therefore be that Wilhelmine was born in Blumberg and that they were married in Blumberg as well. This is based on the tradition of the man marrying the woman at her home church, and then staying in her home town to raise their children. Because this is just speculation, I will need to prove this. I have not been sure where to begin looking and will need to research specific Archives in the area which may hold the answer I'm looking for.

Louis Hess:
Louis Hess was born October 8th, 1851- but where? And who are his parents? All records indicate that he was born in Alsace-Lorraine. His death record lists a father, Killian Hess, born in France. Other than that, neither his naturalization record nor immigration record list a town of birth, making it pretty near impossible to determine where to look for a birth record and further search on his ancestry. Unless I look through every town in the Alsace region (http://www.archivosgenbriand.com/index_english.html) for a birth record for Louis. That would take a very long time to do.

James Hurst:
Where was he born? And, really, when? His death record states he was born 1 Sept 1832 in County Mayo, Ireland, but no town name is given. Every single census record has a different approximate birth year, including- 1833, 1834, 1836, and 1840. The 1900 census even states he was born in May of 1837- so which is it? I haven't begun to look in Ireland for records, as I haven't determined where to even start. The nice thing is, his death record lists his parents as Michael Hurst and Catherine O'Neill, if we can trust that in the light of all of the mixed up potential years and dates of birth.

John Mayville:
We have DNA evidence which links me and my Mayville line to the immigrant ancestor, Pierre Miville, who was born in Switzerland in the early 17th century. Based on various DNA evidence, we have been linked to Pierre's son Jacques and his wife, Marie Catharine De Baillon (a Filles du Roi). The problem is we have never found definitive evidence of who the parents of John Mayville (b. ca. 1790-1792 according to census records) are. My fellow Miville descendant, Carroll, has spent a long time researching the French Canadians and concluded that based his information, our John Mayville is likely the son of Jean Minville and Marie-Veronique Richard.

Since that original DNA test several years ago, DNA testing has gotten more advanced. Through Ancestry DNA, my grandfather Mayville has taken the test and his DNA has matched closely with others who appear to be descended from Marie-Veronique's parents and grandparents, as well as several who are descended from Jean Minville's mother (Marie-Jeanne Fache)'s parents. Is this definitive proof? Not for me. Anyone can have anything in their family tree, and with how much intermarrying occurred in French Canada, it is sure possible that regardless of my actual lineage, we would match closely with some of these same individuals based on that fact alone. The DNA testing has given me good hope that our belief in John Mayville's parentage is correct, however, I still need hard evidence.

The issue here is I still have not been able to determine when or where John Mayville died. It is believed he died in the DePere or Wrightstown area where he had a farm, but I've found no death record, no death date, and nothing to go off of. The last record I have of him is on 23 Dec 1867 when he and his wife Susan deed land to their daughter Rebecca and her husband George Bowers. John Mayville does not appear on the 1870 census, as far as I have been able to find, making it likely that he died shortly after ridding himself of the land in December of 1867.

Going back further, we have not yet found records (church or otherwise) for the marriage of John Mayville and Susan Reynolds, nor for the births of their children, in Vermont. John was certainly born in Canada, and he first appears on tax rolls in Swanton, Vermont, from 1819 to 1823. Susan's father, Silas, also appears in tax rolls around the same time period, making it likely that they were married in Swanton. However, I still need to find record of that. In 1836 John is given land in Highgate, Vermont. Both of these towns are relatively close to the border with Canada, and the family appears to have moved back and forth between the two towns rather fluidly.

So, I still need to find record of both John Mayville's marriage and death, and I would like to find birth records for their children, if possible.

Alex McConnell:
According to his death record, Alexander McConnell, a prominent businessman in the Jefferson (WI) area, was born on June 8th in 1824, in Perry County, Pennsylvania. There are no parents' names listed. The problem is I cannot find a birth record, and the only Historical Society in the area of Perry County requires $50 for a short search of their records. So far I haven't determined that to be an amount of money I can afford for what would be a search with possibly no results. I would like to track down local churches in the area and see if there is more information there, but have so far been unsuccessful as I do not know where to look for that information.

In Jefferson, it seems that Alex was a member of the Evangelical church, and I would like to look for records there which might hold more clues to Alex's ancestry, but I don't know if this church still exists, and where any possible records may be from this time period.

Mary Ann McGee:
According to her death record from Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin, Mary Ann McGee was born February 27, 1827 in Pompton Township, Passaic County, New Jersey. Her parents' names are not listed, but census records state that both her mother and father were born in New York. As has been so often the case on this list, I have not been able to find a birth record for Mary Ann in New Jersey, as I have not known what church to target to look for, and I am unfamiliar with research in New Jersey.

Ernestine Schassow? Or Ulrith?:
This seems to be the woman of a thousand names. The death record of her daughter, Augusta Koch Liebenow, states her name as Ernestine Schassow. On census records in Pennsylvania, however, her name appears to actually be Christina, and this is confirmed by her death record in Carrick, Allegheny Co., PA. This death record states she was born 25 August 1832.

A man who is related to me through her husband's family (the Koch family) was able to look at the records in Germany for the Koch family, and also sent me information on their marriage, which took place in Bagemuehl, a small town pretty close to Penkun, which is where her husband, Ernest Koch was born. This marriage record indicated that she was born in Bagemuehl.

From other information, I knew that the family belonged to Smithfield E.E. Lutheran church in the Pittsburgh area, and a man there sent me his transcription of her death record, which stated that in fact her maiden name was actually Ulrith, and that she was born in "Strsethof," Pomerania as he wrote it, although he noted that it was quite difficult to read. There is a town in West Pomerania that today is in Poland and is Strzesz├│w (Stresow in German), but this place is relatively far from Bagemuehl where she was supposedly married to Ernest Koch. Because I couldn't see the record with my own eyes, I have to doubt this church record, or at least hold it to a different light, than the other evidence available.

The next step is to try to locate a birth/baptismal record for her in Germany (or Poland, as the case may be), but it is complicated by the fact that there are two possible maiden names for her (or perhaps one of them was another married name?). I have sent for the death records of her two sons to see if they may shed light on what her name really was.

Peter Tice:
Peter Tice has also been elusive. I have yet to prove who his parents were, as well as when and where he and his wife Elizabeth Romaine died. There is no definitive proof of his parentage. The only true record I have of him is of his marriage to Elizabeth Romaine on 28 Jan 1819. This marriage record does not list his parents. I have also not been able to determine when he died. There are several dates speculated, including that he died in Michigan in 1855, but the obituary for that person does not clearly match what is known about our Peter Tice. That, and he seems to be in Pompton, Passaic Co., NJ, still on the 1860 census. I have not found evidence that he followed his son Ralph to Wisconsin, so it seems likely that he may have died in New Jersey.

Another source has speculated that he died in 1863, however this will does not mention either of his first three known children, John, Letitia and Ralph Tice, only those who appear on later census records. This in itself raises suspicion of whether we have the right Peter Tice on those later census records, but again, it has been difficult to find records which support either an earlier or later death date.

An interesting factor is the recent DNA testing my grandmother underwent (her mother was Blanche Tice). She matched closely (supposedly in the range of 4th cousins), with a woman who descends from Anna Tice b. ca. 1763 and married a Ferris Doty. In the Tice Families in America book, the authors speculated, but could not prove, that Anna's parents were Hendrick Tysse and Fytje Vreeland. Also speculated was that she had a brother named Peter Tice, by the same parents. There is a record of a Peter Tice being born on 30 Jul 1796. There is no record of Anna Tice being born to Hendrick and Fytje, in fact, if she was born in 1763, that would be a whole 12 years before record of their first known child being born, in 1775. However, in that same church, there is a record for an Antje (Anna) Tysse being born 31 Jul 1766 to a Johannes and Maria Tysse. In speculation, this Johannes Tysse may have been a brother to Hendrick Tysse, making Anna b. 1766 the first cousin of Peter b. 1796- and if this indeed was able to be proven as my Peter Tice, then it would indeed fit with how closely my grandmother and this other woman have matched on the DNA site (4th cousin with 96% confidence).

Is there a record somewhere of Peter's death (and Elizabeth Romaine Tice's, too, for that matter)? Can that lead us to the names of his parents? At this point I'm running out of places to look, but also am unfamiliar with most resources in the New Jersey area.

John & Bridget Walsh:
I know virtually nothing about these two. They are the parents of my ancestor, Mary Ann Walsh Hurst. She was supposedly born in Galway, Ireland, but it is unclear if this was County Galway or the city of Galway. Making it more difficult is how ridiculously common her name is, coupled with the ridiculously commonplace names of her parents. The obvious starting point is locating her birth record in Ireland, but I do not know where or how to begin, so there isn't much to go from as far as determining more about John and Bridget Walsh. I have obtained death records for both of their other daughters who lived to adulthood, Anna Walsh Ryan and Bridget Walsh Busby, and they list their parents as unknown or as how I have written them- nobody seems to have known mother Bridget's maiden name.

Amazingly, there is a picture of Bridget from the early 1890s shortly before she died. But we know almost nothing about her. She died 12 April 1895 in Waunakee, and the death record indicates she was born in February of 1809 in Ireland, but no further information about where she was born nor who her parents were.

John is even less well known. The only information on him comes from his gravestone in St. Mary of the Lake cemetery, which stated that he was born in 1811 and died in 1878 (not lucky enough that the stone listed exact dates). I have tried contacting the church for information, as they should certainly have at least a burial date for him if not a more complete record, but so far they have been unwilling or unable to provide information on him. So, John Walsh, one of thousands with that same name, remains a complete mystery.

Simon Walter / Walther:
Where was Simon Walter born, and who were his parents? For a long time I knew virtually nothing about Simon other than his name (which seems to vary sometimes as Simeon (death record @ his German Ev. Lutheran church), Seaman (1860 census), and Samuel (1880 census)). I accidentally came across a findagrave record for him, stating he was buried in St. John's Lutheran Church's cemetery in Oak Creek, and soon contacted the church inquiring about records. I'm sure I've written about this in the past, but they allowed me to come in person to take a look at the church registers, and view Simon's death/burial record. This record provided a birth date of April 10, 1810, and stated that he was born in "Neubeuren bf. Wiesenfeld."

So what's the problem? Well... from every single person I've ever asked, German native or not, there doesn't seem to be a place called Neubeuren that exists near a place called Wiesenfeld. Scattered throughout Germany are a variety of towns called either Neubeuren, Wiesenfeld, or some variation of either name, but never are they near one another.

Further complicating this: I don't know what German state to even start looking in. Each census listed a different birth location for Simon. The 1860 census stated he was from Hanover, the 1870 census stated he was from Prussia, and the 1880 census stated he was from Bayern (Bavaria). I tried looking at old maps to see if any point any of these places really overlapped and I could find nothing (although I am certainly not an expert on mid-19th century Germany localities.

I could start asking Archives located near ever possible town named Neubeuren or Wiesenfeld, but most of them charge a fortune (thanks, dollar, for being worth so much less than the euro), so it isn't financially plausible to do that and hope I hit the right place. So if anyone has any suggestions on where this place could be, that would be very helpful.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Families of Orenhofen, Trier ; Other Updates

Wow I do get too carried away with real life sometimes. I was just noticing that my tree is about to hit 17,000 individuals, and that I had not updated this blog for some time. Of course I am still here and still working on my genealogy.

So far this year I have done quite a lot of research within two distinct areas. First, I worked on some Dane County families. It turns out my Diebold and Annen lines, combined with the Starck line which moved to Madison from the Milwaukee area, all have an extremely interesting interrelationship within Dane County. Once I got started on some of my Grass family line, who were then related to Essers, Fischenicks, Statz, and Wermuths and all sorts of others throughout Dane County. It was pretty amazing to realize just how close some of these people are related, even if they may not have known it at the time.

I also learned more about the Carpenter line which comes from the Grass family. Maria Katharina Grass married Johannes Carpenter and one of their sons, Lawrence, had owned much of the land which is now occupied by Madison West High School. Through newspaper articles I found that they sold most of the land for the school in the mid-1920s. Pretty neat little history lesson, and some of the articles I found contained photos. Lawrence is buried on the point of Resurrection cemetery which is nearest to Madison West. I wonder if they planned it that way.

My second big project lately is the main topic of this post, that of Orenhofen records. Towards the beginning of this year I decided to start filling in my Starck/Stark family tree more. I got the idea in my head that perhaps I might write a genealogy book on the family some day, so I wanted to work on finding as much information as I could on the Starck family.

One gap that I quickly identified was the family of Johann Stark (and his wife Mary Barbara Oppmann), who was the son of Matthias Stark and Margaretha Schmitz. I did not have much on his family, children or other descendants. I began working on the line and found they had moved to Rozellville/ Day township, Marathon county, Wisconsin. Online, I found the husband of one of Johann's descendants through his son Mathias Leon Stark. This cousin was able to provide me with a spreadsheet containing data from the Sister Barbara Stark genealogy. This was AMAZING! Ever since I had begun researching the Starck family, I had seen many references to the Sister Barbara Stark genealogy, but no one ever had the full genealogy online or otherwise if I contacted them. Sister Barbara completed this genealogy back in the early 1960s. It was really awesome to finally get ahold of some of this data, and the other great information he was willing to share.

The one amazing detail that gave a completely new perspective to my work was the information Sister Barbara had included on siblings of Margaret Schmitz, wife of Mathias Stark. She had included names and married names for the siblings, although not much more detail was included. This set me to work. One of the names was a Katharina Schmitz who had married a John Massino and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. It was easy for me to quickly locate her death record and information on her children, some of whom has lived their lives in Madison and others who had moved to Minnesota.

Another sister was Magdalena Schmitz, who had married a Theodor Heid and lived in Appleton. Here was the first inkling that this thing was much bigger than I had imagined, and that if I kept going it would really never stop. Theodor came from a town named Preist which is right near where Magdalena was born, in Orenhofen. One of their daughters married an Anthony Oppmann who was the brother to Mary Barbara Oppman (married to Johann Stark above).

Christian Schmitz was the brother to these sisters mentioned above. It turns out he ended up in Marathon Co. as had Johann Stark and the Oppmanns, and as it will be seen, another family (Kiefers).

At almost the same time I met, online, a descendant of Nicholas Stark and his second wife, Katherine Kiefer. Nicholas was the son of Johann Starck and Helena Mick. Before I met this cousin, I hadn't had much of anything for this second marriage. I had most of the information filled in for Nick's first marriage to Agnes Hagemann (whose father is my ancestor on another line)  and had even found where Agnes was buried, in a parish in the Black Creek area of Outagamie County. Nick's descendant helped me fill in more gaps and also was able to send me some wonderful photos of his family and of his ancestors the Starks. Every time I find a new Stark picture it makes me really happy to see another face to put to a name I've spent so much time studying.

Anyway, the more of these branches I saw the closer the floodgates came to bursting. Across three main families I saw a big pattern emerging. I was working to prove that the siblings mentioned for Margaretha Schmitz were actually related. I was looking into the married-in families of Oppmann and Kiefer because it seemed the more I looked the more they seemed to keep marrying each other, and kept living near one another on various census records. The main pattern I was finding was: Orenhofen -->> Milwaukee/Oak Creek, Wisconsin -->> Appleton/Fox River Valley, Wisconsin -->> Marathon County, Wisconsin

Some offshoots moved to Marshfield and Madison, and a few of the younger generations ended up in Milwaukee or Chicago. But overall, those families were tightly associated with moves from one locale to the next.

I found that the Heids are buried next to the Starks in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Appleton. Also there is an Anton Schoenhofen who is apparently the son of one of the Micks.

This fascinated me, and I wondered- so, are there others? I sought to prove more relationships of people seen in the census, as well as close some holes in my genealogy. Such as, were my two women Mick ancestors related? I had always imagined that they were but had not been able to prove it. I also wanted to know if others from Orenhofen had immigrated and followed along with my ancestors' path through Wisconsin.

As part of this search I looked into the records for St. Edwards in Black Creek/Mackville/Center Township (where Agnes Hagemann Starck was buried) as I assumed the family [ies??] at some point had belonged. First I stumbled upon the cemetery itself, quite by accident, and found her grave as well as some possible relatives (that I have not proven yet, but including such names as Heid, Schmitz, etc.). I then visited the Green Bay Diocese and searched their microfilms of the church records themselves, for both St. Edward and for St. Joseph's in Appleton. I found many references to the different clans themselves, including, surprisingly, the Waldvogel family which would have been Agnes Hagemann Starck's step mother's parents (Konrad Waldvogel and Anna Maria Keller), who apparently were also part of the Milwaukee/Oak Creek, Wisconsin -->> Appleton/Fox River Valley, Wisconsin -->> Marathon County, Wisconsin  migration (the Waldvogels and Hagemans were NOT from Trier, however)

The church records were useful in highlighting key parts of my research but I was still missing data that I was interested in.

Next was to look back in Germany. I knew the families were Catholic so I did some searching and found the Trier Bistumsarchiv which contains  Catholic records for the Trier region of Germany, which is where Orenhofen and nearby towns are located. I found that the price was quite reasonable, about €15 or $20 for five records. They were able to confirm the siblings' names and birth dates which I had for Margaretha Schmitz, and they also helped me prove that my ancestors Catharina Mick (married Matthias Schmitz) and Helena Mick (Johann Stark) were in fact sisters. This was really amazing to finally find proof for!

Around this same time I had a great stroke of luck and was contacted by a distant relation who had found some of my work on find-a-grave. He is related through the Junk family on my mother's side, and lives in Germany. We discussed our related family and he also offered to help if there was anything I was curious about in Trier, as he has several resources available to him for that region. This was an extremely generous and kind offer on his part. Through the resources and Familienbuchs he has which are based on parish registers and other local data, he has helped me flesh out my Starck, Schmitz and Mick lines, and so much more! From the information he has sent me I have found more branches that emigrated to the United States (particularly to Wisconsin). Thanks to his gracious efforts, I now have solid lines back to the 18th and in some cases, 17th century Germany! It helped to show me that the Starcks and even some of the Schmitzes were involved in pipe baking/making since far before they came to the Milwaukee area and established their clay pipe making business there.

An interesting note on some information I found through this research: It turns out I have two Schmitz lines originating in the Orenhofen area. My main Schmitzes discussed above, and then also a Schmitz line through the Mick line. Father of my ancestors Catharina and Helena Mick was Johann Peter Mick, who was married to a Susanne Schmitz. Susanne's line is not as well drawn out in the records as most of the other Schmitzes from the area, so I do not know as much about her. However, her mother was Maria Magdalene Mischo, who was born 6 Nov 1740 in Schleidweiler (near Orenhofen). Her parents appear to have married in a very small village nearby called Muelchen or Multgen.

There was not much information in the Schleidweiler records regarding the Mischos so I turned to another resource I have for this area, Thomas Pick's work which is online (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pick). There I found a town of Multgen referenced and some records with the last name of Michau. I wondered if this might be the same general name as Mischo, and realized it did indeed sound a bit French. My German cousin was able to find reference to this town. It was founded by a group of ironworkers who around 1635 had been forced to leave their hometown of Mulgen in the Wallonia region of Belgium. They were mostly French-ancestried and were forced to leave because of a falling-out with their king (I have yet to find more on what or why this would be). I just found out this last bit of information so am still in the process of looking into the whole story, but it is very interesting, and the first hint of any Belgian ancestry for me. I do have French ancestors, but these are the first that I know of who lived in Belgium.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tips for the Beginner Genealogist

I've recently spoken with several "newbies" to genealogy who have expressed in one way or another, that they just don't know how or where to start. I've also seen on sites such as Ancestry.com the explosion of new trees that can pop up almost over night from new genealogists eager to create a genealogy from the millions of records available to them on the internet, and in their haste, create mucked up genealogies that, when examined closely, don't seem to make too much sense. This is caused not by any ill will on their part, but rather lack of experience and an overwhelming amount of options available to them.

I am not an expert, but I have been doing this for about half of my short 24 years. But twelve years in genealogy has been long enough for me to pick up a few tricks and learn from my mistakes. Here is a synopsis of what I think is most important for a new genealogist to know. This is geared mostly towards online research but also includes some helpful "in person" research tips.

I. Start with what you know

  • Start with you, your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandparents. 

  • Interview other family members such as aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc. 
    • Grandma may not always have the name or date exactly right, but she definitely has the right idea and can provide insight into a time period you didn't live through.

  • Record as many names, dates, and places as you can find out.
    • Let this info guide your research 

  • Start out by confirming these names and dates in the places known. 
    • Seek out vital records offices or other repositories for birth, marriage and death records, in the area you are researching (i.e. Stuttgart, Germany or Dane County, Wisconsin)
    • Finding a birth or death record for great-grandpa can give you his wife's maiden name, his parents, his birth place, or much more information depending on the location and year of the event. Vital records can be the key to proving a specific relationship that you only suspected from viewing a census record online.

II. Be very cautious about what you find

  • Use sources you can trust
    • That genealogy you just found online has a GGG(great-great-great) grandfather listed that you didn't know anything about! Before you rush off to add the information to your genealogy, SLOW DOWN. Ask yourself if it makes sense - your GG grandfather was born in 1854, but the supposed GGG grandfather wasn't born until 1845? Was he really 9 years old when he had a child? Use what you know about this person to decide if the new information you have found is legitimate and belongs in your family tree.

  • How do I find trustworthy sources?
    • Look to any local repositories of vital records. In Madison, WI, we have the Vital Records office, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Dane County Court House 
    • Find out what historical societies exist for the area you are researching. Most counties in the U.S. will have a genealogical/historical society dedicated to maintaining records and information for that particular area, and sometimes even surrounding areas. These can be invaluable to your search.
    • Searching online? Use established websites that have primary sources (records such as birth, marriage, death, census, etc.) that you know weren't invented or mis-typed by someone. Sites that have scanned millions of newspapers, such as newspaperarchive.com

  • Don't be fooled by that top 1860 census search result for "John Smith" in Boston 
    • All too often, new researchers will plug a name into the ancestry.com or familysearch.org search feature and click on the first link the comes up for the name "John Smith." Sometimes it is the right person, but sometimes it ISN'T. Again, use what you know. If John Smith's wife's name was Helen, but the census says it is Kate - is that right? Do the names of children match up with any children you know of? Double check everything with other sources before assuming it is correct and adding it to your tree. 
    • This is particularly true when you're looking for someone with a common name like "John Smith." A less common name, take "Liebenow" for instance, won't score as many search results, and also is far more likely to be the person you are looking for. 

III. Write everything down (and date it!)

  • Sometimes Grandma says something that doesn't quite fit with what you know about your great-aunt Sarah. Write it down. Sometimes you come across a short notation in an online forum that references someone you think may be related to you, but can't quite prove it right now. You never know when that little tidbit will become relevant and help to unlock a mystery months or years down the road.
    • Really. You'll thank me later when you can't remember that random date Grandma mentioned ten years ago, and she's passed away.

  • Dating your notes helps you track when you made certain progress in your research, or the last time you visited your local archive. It helps you keep track of where you've been and where you're going with your research.

  • Keeping track of resources you have checked for a particular record can help you avoid running in circles. Say you have an elusive ancestor, "Simon Walter." You've checked the vital records index of Wisconsin, you've checked the newspapers for the area, you've checked the court house, you've checked a certain online resource, etc.: Document this so that two years later when you try again to search for Simon Walter, you know what you've tried already. It saves time and effort. 

IV. Save everything.

  • Ok. Not EVERYTHING. But this goes along with item III above. Save the notes you take and the random bits you write down on napkins, scraps of paper, post-it notes. Save the documents you make copies of at the library. Save that copy of a birth record for someone you thought was related, but never found that connection.
    • It often helps to combine those scraps of paper or random notes into one place. Re-write them all in a notebook or other trusted location. 
      • For example, Google Drive allows account users to create and store a variety of documents, such as word files and spreadsheets. This is currently a free service, and requires no downloads, etc. Just create a file and type in the information you'd like to save. 
    • Even if it doesn't seem relevant now, save that document or note you made. Many times have I come back to old notes and realized I now know where that person fits in! The more research you do, the more opportunity to make connections where you did not realize they could be made before. 

V. Organize everything.

  • Find an effective method for saving and storing your notes, documents, and other things you acquire during your research. 
    • Some people find it helpful to have file folders in boxes, and label a folder for each topic, surname, or person - depending on the amount of information you have. Sometimes this isn't feasible, as there is an overlap between two families, a second cousin married his second cousin, etc. 
    • There really is no perfect system, (or space conserving one!) but make sure to find a system that works for you and helps keep you (at least somewhat) organized. Organized notes and papers help you more easily find specific documents you may need to look back on later. 

VI. Save & cite references for specific information.

  • Saving and citing your references is important for many reasons:
    • Avoids COPYRIGHT ISSUES. Books, newspapers, reference books, online webpages, personal genealogies you find online/elsewhere are all copyrighted or protected in some way.
      • Taking information from one place and putting it in your tree without any reference to who or where you got it from is a form of copyright infringement. You are taking someone else's research or published work and claiming it as your own, which is illegal.

    • Provides proof or evidence of where you received information in your tree/research, thus legitimizing your research and your information
      • You don't want someone thinking you made all that up about great-great uncle Joe who was in the first modern Olympics, right? Save that source. Show it off. You know you have the right info, prove it!

    • Helps YOU later down the road. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at some of my early research and wondered, "where DID I get that birth date from?"
      • This wastes your time as you search again through everything you already dug through to find out where exactly you found it
      • Yes, it is a pain to constantly stop and note where you're finding each bit of information. You're rushing through a family line, finding more and more information online and you're EXCITED! But trust me, you will want to know later where you found that obscure marriage date.

How do I reference what I find?
  • References are most commonly classified as follows:
    • Primary Sources: Original, firsthand record of an event, created at the time of the event
      • Examples: Birth, Marriage, Death records. Other governmental records. A firsthand account written by your ancestor about his life.
        • e.g. "My name is Jade Schmitt. Today I am departing my home town of Madison to move to Germany."
      • Scientifically the most trustworthy documentation for your research.

    • Secondary Sources: Secondary evidence, such as a story passed down, an overview of an event, etc. Created after the time of the event in question.
      • Examples: History books, reference books, articles that summarize a person's life, often written after the person is deceased.
        • e.g. "Joe McDonald was born in 1826 in Ireland. He was married to a woman by the name of Lynch, and together they left the Emerald Isle for America in 1852. They settled on a farm near Blanchardville, Wisconsin, and raised a family. 
      • Typically less trustworthy than primary sources because of the lack of first-hand knowledge.
      • However: Many (in my experience) old books or newspaper articles were based on information provided by the family
        • Example, the "History of Dane County, Wisconsin" will often contain biographical sketches of people that the author for some reason deemed prolific or important to the history of that area. The author often sought out the individual themself, or relative (if subject was deceased) and retrieved their information directly from them. This can change the validity of the information, especially if your ancestor's son had some faulty memory on dad's birth date.

    • Tertiary Sources: a condensed format such as an index or almanac, combining Primary and Secondary sources.

VII. Realize that you will NOT find everything online

  • There will come a time where you will realize that a lot of research can be done online now-a-days - but not everything.
    • To make progress on your research you will have to tap into local, regional, or national resources. You'll have to visit the local court house, historical society, cemetery, etc., in order to find that piece of information that you need.

VIII. Vital records were NOT required in most U.S. states until the 20th century!

  • This means the court house or vital records office in your locality might not have a governmentally recognized document proving a birth, marriage, death, divorce, etc. has taken place. They were not always recorded at the civil level before they were legally mandated state-by-state.
    •  For Wisconsin, for example, it was not required to report and record vital records until the fall of 1907. Prior to that, you just may not find a record for someone you KNOW, from every other source you can find, was born in Wisconsin

  • What can you do? Seek out churches. Churches are often FANTASTIC sources for vital records.
    • The downside is that it is often difficult to determine denomination of your ancestors, and from there, what church they may have belonged to. The best you can do is go based on what you or grandma- or whatever family member- may know about the religion of a certain family. From there you can do research or ask historical societies in the area for information regarding churches in the area, if they still exist, if the records themselves still exist for the period you are interested in, and where the records are if the church no longer exists.
    • Different denominations have different policies, and often the policies are different between different churches. For instance, the Diocese of Green Bay allows you to search sacremental records in person and the Diocese of Milwaukee are willing to perform record searches for you; but the Diocese of Madison is completely opposed to in-person searches or genealogical requests submitted to the Diocese.
    •  Church and civil records in certain regions of France are all online and available for perusal (http://www.archivosgenbriand.com/index_english.html), but other countries such as Germany are not as far along in digitization projects.

  • Newspapers are also valuable sources
    • They often can provide names, dates, and other details that may not be readily available in birth, marriage or death records.
    • Finding an obituary can be extremely useful when you cannot find a death record for an ancestor. 
    • http://www.newspaperarchive.com is a great searchable database of newspapers, but does have a fee unless your local library has an agreement set up. For example, I have a library card in Madison. Through the South Central Library System, which Madison Public Libraries are a part of, there are a variety of genealogical resources available for no fee, including Heritage Quest and NewspaperArchive (See http://psw.scls.lib.wi.us/resources/ if you live in the area)

IX. Genealogy can be Expensive, but it doesn't have to break your budget!

  • Doing genealogical research, or at least doing it "right," can lead to many expenses. Paying for copies at the Historical Society, for 25 cents? Driving to an old cemetery two hours from your home in the middle of nowhere? Requesting research from a personal researcher in Germany? Paying for an "Ancestry.com" subscription to do more research?
    • These are some examples of expenses incurred during research, and they can really add up. In many cases there are cheaper alternatives. Some ideas:
               1. Instead of paying for copies, hand write everything, including notations if you aren't sure what a particular segment of the record says. Hand write source information, etc. 
               2. Instead of driving far from home when you don't have the resources, use sites such as http://www.findagrave.com to locate volunteers who live closer and are able to visit a cemetery and take photos/find information for you.
               3. Make connections online in forums and on other websites with researchers who share common families with you. This can help when you decided that research in the "old country" is necessary to progress your research. These other researchers may be willing to split costs with you.
               4. Don't feel like you ever NEED to purchase a subscription to some fancy website that claims to have every record you'll ever need to find your ancestors. There are many free and valuable resources out there, whether online or otherwise. An example is http://www.familysearch.org which provides millions of records at no charge. Simply perform a "Google" search for free resources and you will find many available.

I may not have included everything that I know (in fact, I know I haven't). I will continue to update and edit this as need arises. Please let me know if there is a topic you'd like addressed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Useful Resource - North Dakota Records

I thought I'd write quick about a resource I just discovered, one that could be useful for any others doing any research in North Dakota.

I've been searching for more information on my Irish families, because so far they've been a pretty solid brick wall. I've been tracking down the siblings of my ancestor, Mary Ann Walsh Hurst, in hopes of finding more back from them all as far as parents' names, etc. Mary Ann's sister Anna married Thomas F. Ryan. They lived in the Arlington/Lodi area of Wisconsin but their son Vincent Ryan became a Bishop out in North Dakota. I had located the burial location of Anna and Thomas as well as there daughters, but did not have an exact birth or death date for Anna. This could help me confirm her parents' names, particularly the maiden name of her (and Mary Ann's) mother.

Recently I made a trip to St. Patrick's Cemetery where the Ryans are buried. Sadly their gravestones provided no more insight into Anna's dates. I called the church today and the secretary I reached was extremely helpful and willing to look through the old books. She found Anna's funeral information from the church. This gave me an exact death date, and helped me understand why I couldn't find Anna's death record in Wisconsin: She had died in Fargo, North Dakota.

I set to google searching for ways to find a death record from North Dakota, as I'd never really tried to in that state before. This is the resource I found and would like to share with you.

The North Dakota State University Libraries Archives:

They appear to have, or link to, a variety of useful online databases for anyone you might be looking for in North Dakota. Most valuable to me, they link to an online searchable Public Death Index. The search function is relatively user-friendly, and it also goes back pretty far. Most exciting for me was that it provided me an exact date of birth for Anna. I plugged her death information in and she came up right away, with an exact birth date and everything.

From there, like most Dept Vital Rec indexes, it provided a link to order your own copy of the death record.  Figuring it would be expensive, I clicked the link just for kicks, to see how expensive it would be. Wisconsin is $25 and most states are around that if not more expensive. To my shock the price to order a copy of a death record from North Dakota was only $5! I thought it might be a trick. No. This is extremely valuable and affordable if you're looking for records in North Dakota.

Just thought I would share. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Brandmueller / Brandmiller Update

I've been doing a great deal of work on the Brandmueller / Brandmiller family the past few weeks. Towards the end of October I received the research I had paid for in Germany regarding the Brandmueller, Hoenninger, Neidhardt Petsch/Rudelts, and others. You can see this data here: http://jadina.tribalpages.com/family-tree/jadina/5932/2484/Georg-Brandmueller-Family

 This provided me with a great deal of useful information, extending my Brandmueller line back through the 1700s. I received slightly more expanded information about the Neidhardt family, and the other related families back through the 1700s as well. It is apparent that there is much more work that can be done with these families. Hopefully I can afford that someday!

Closer to home I decided to start digging more into the Brandmueller / Brandmiller relatives I knew had immigrated from Germany. I knew the names and birth years of the children of my ancestor's (Georg Brandmueller) brother Michael, but had not really gone into much detail to find anything out about their lives, much less what Michael's wife's maiden name even was.

To begin this process, I went back to basics. I started exploring the Maryland State Archives website and re-found out that there are various parish records scanned and placed online. I believe I had found this site before but hadn't been able to figure out the username and password to access the data. WELL. This was extremely good for me (although time-consuming).

This is possibly the best resource available for the Baltimore area, since vital records weren't required by the city or state itself until much later than the time period I am interested in. Parish records, however, recorded nearly everyone. I had previously paid for death record information on the Brandmueller family from St. Mary's Seminary who holds parish records for St. Alphonsus, the church the family belonged to.

Well, the State Archives have the marriage books scanned in for St. Alphonsus. The lady who had done the research for me at the Seminary Archives had told me she had not found a marriage record for my ancestors, Georg Brandmueller and Johanna Hoenninger. This hadn't made too much sense, as they had arrived on the same ship but under their own last names (not married yet) but by a year and a half later they had had their first child. But I figured, eh, Baltimore was a big city, lots of different churches, maybe they got married at a different church I wasn't able to track down yet.

Looking through the St. Alphonsus marriages I discovered that the Archivist hadn't looked very carefully. I found their marriage, and that of Georg's brother Michael to his wife Katherine MARTIN. I spent a great deal of time scouring these records for any mention of any other Brandmueller or Hoenninger families. Through this, I was able to find a sister of Georg and Michael's. Her name was Margaretha and she married Martin Meckel. This was exciting. How many Brandmueller descendants were there??

The marriage records were extensive so I was able to look through for the marriages of some of the children of those mentioned above. I mostly only found information on Michael and Katherine's children, since obviously Georg's line moved to Wisconsin before getting married.

Anyway, from other information I started looking into other churches in the vicinity that may provide more information for me. Various other churches have had their Baptismal, Confirmation, Marriage, Death, and Interment records scanned and placed online. Not as many as I would like, but enough to fill in Some of the gaps in my information.

One of the most exciting gaps was that I found one more child who was born to Georg and Johanna Brandmueller, who I had not known about, because she was NOT in the records from St. Alphonsus, and thus hadn't been found when I paid the Seminary Archives. I stumbled across the Baptismal records for Holy Cross church in Baltimore. In it I found reference of a baptism for a Justine Brandmueller, born to Georg Brandmueller and Johanna Hoenninger, in September of 1864.

This led to some questions, as I had received death records from St. Alphonsus for Georg's mother, and his wife, Johanna. Johanna was supposed to have died 3 Feb 1864, several months before Justine was born.

 But everything on this document that I was seeing with my own eyes matched up. The parents names, the birthplaces, everything. So, I went back to Johanna's death record. I realized that they had cropped down to just the line which contained information on my ancestor, and that virtually all information on the actual date of death was handwritten by the archivist. Thus, I figured the error must have been a case of the lady writing down the wrong year. I wrote them a letter and she confirmed that yes, actually, she had died 3 Feb  1865, it was an error because the page was split between two years, the end of 1864 and the beginning of 1865. I was glad to find an easy solution to what could have been a complicated problem, but I was also reminded of why it is so important to me to do my own research in person whenever possible...

In any event I spent hours and hours scouring records. I'm sure I missed some things but I came across a great deal of other things allowing me to flesh out the families of Michael Brandmueller and Margaretha Meckel. I found that the Brandmuellers that remained in Baltimore strictly used Brandmiller in records. I also began digging to find obituaries so that I might determine where these families were buried. By finding that the Brandmiller family was buried in New Cathedral cemetery, I was able to contact the cemetery directly to find out information on the plots they are buried in.

Interestingly, it appears that they transferred Michael's remains to this cemetery from their original location. He died in 1879 and was buried in what was then St. Alphonsus cemetery. However, at some point that cemetery needed to be removed so they transferred most remains to Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery. I had figured that his remains were transferred along with Anne Neidhardt Brandmueller (his mother) and his sister-in-law Johanna Brandmueller. Now I wonder - were they transferred to Most Holy Redeemer? To another cemetery? Did they remain and get bulldozed? I tend to think they were namelessly transferred or left to be bulldozed, because direct family wasn't necessarily there to take care of them.

So, overall, I've found out all death dates for the children of Katherine and Michael Brandmiller. I was hoping by expanding this information I would find more on my direct ancestors, but that search continues. I hope someday I can figure out where Georg Brandmueller disappeared between 1870 and 1880.