Genealogy: Giving Back

Almost everyone doing family history research is helped by genealogists who have contributed their family trees or transcribed and posted family information online. Or volunteered to do look ups or answer questions on discussion groups. 

One of the first helpful transcriptions that I found was the obituary of my third great-grandfather Nicholas Boie who came to Wisconsin in 1854 from Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, with wife Cecilia and young daughter Elise. With one obituary, a wealth of family detail was discovered.

In turn, it is important to give back and contribute resources in ways that work  for you. Here are some materials I have donated to the Calumet County, Wisconsin, genealogy site, the same site that has the Boie obituary:

Obituaries - New Holstein, Wisconsin

Ferdinand Hachez, son of Ferdinand and Louise Hachez, husband of Elise Boie, father of many children including Clara

Clara Hachez Luehr, daughter of Ferdinand Hachez and Elise Boie Hachez, wife of William Henry Luehr, mother of Lucille Marguerite and Robert William Luehr

Mathilde Agnes “Tillie” Boie Sebelein, younger sister of Elise Boie Hachez and wife of Charles Sebelein

John August Hansen, husband of Lena Boie, sister to Elise Boie Hachez and Tillie Boie Sebelein

Anna Margretha Groth Luehr, wife of John Nicholas Luehr, mother of four sons: John, William Henry, Edward and Arthur

John Claudius Luehr, son of John Nicholas Luehr and Anna Groth Luehr, husband of Wilhelmina Kroehnke, father of three

William Henry Luehr, son of John Nicholas Luehr and Anna Groth Luehr, husband of Clara Hachez Luehr, father of Lucille Marguerite and Robert William Luehr.

Dr. Edward Luehr, son of John Nicholas Luehr and Anna Groth Luehr, husband of Louisa Holdenreid, father of two

Lydia Luehr, daugher of John Claudius and Wilhelmina Kroehnke Luehr

These are posted in the Obituaries section of the Calumet County, Wisconsin, Genealogy and History site.

Biographies - New Holstein, Wisconsin

William Henry Luehr, Wisconsin journalist, publisher, educator, principal and state government official.

This biography is posted on the Calumet County, Wisconsin, Genealogy and History site.

I also created a New Holstein genealogy and history guide on the Web that is filled with names of early pioneers and links to family and history resources.

Obituaries - Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin

Here are three obituaries I have donated to the genealogy site for Sheboygan County, which is east of Calumet County:

Lucille Marguerite Luehr Conger, daughter of William Henry Luehr and Clara Hachez Luehr, wife of Howard Dale Conger, mother of a son and a daughter

Howard Dale Conger, son of Robert Owen Conger and Eda Dell Morey Conger, husband of Lucille Marguerite Luehr Conger, father of a son and a daughter

Mary Schneider Bradley, daughter of Fred and Elisabeth Schneider of Plymouth, and second wife of Sherman A. Bradley of Milwaukee

Become a genealogy volunteer and help others find their families!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles with ideas to help you find your family and ancestors. Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

My Genealogical Threes

Randy Seaver at GeneaMusing posed a My Genealogical Threes topic for SNGF or weekend genealogical fun. So here we go:

Three genealogical libraries I frequent:
Since I live in Pullman and work full time, my library visits are virtual… but very successful nonetheless:
> Family History Library with resources via my local Family History Center
> America’s libraries via Interlibrary loan at WSU Libraries,  a helpful, low-cost service for which I am grateful
> GoogleBooks, an extraordinary genealogy “library” [also books at Heritage Quest and Ancestry.com]

Three places I’ve visited on genealogy trips:
> Benjamin Church House, now in Shorewood, built by my third great-grandfather and Milwaukee pioneer in the 1840s.
> Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my hometown but unappreciated from a genealogy standpoint until recently
> New Holstein, Wisconsin, where my ancestors from Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein settled in the 1850s.

Three ancestral places I want to visit:
> Litchfield & Guilford, Connecticut – Bradley
> Hodnet & Prees, Shropshire, England – Booth, Ebrey
> Wewelsfleth, Holstein, Germany – Tonner, von Thun, Suhr, Witt, Rossman, Stindt, Sommer, other ancestors

Three genealogy societies I belong to (or want to):
I list one historical society because they often offer invaluable assistance to genealogists as well:
> New Holstein Historical Society - Wisconsin
> Ulster County Genealogical Society - New York
> New England Historic Genealogical Society

Three websites that help my research:
> Ancestry.com
> Links to the Past - for Milwaukee County
> Calumet County Genealogy & History - for New Holstein

Three ancestral graves that I’ve visited (or want to)
> Boie Monument
- New Holstein, Wisconsin
> Hachez Monument - New Holstein, Wisconsin
> Church Monument , Forest Home – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Three brickwall ancestors I want to research more
> Jane Ebrey - my gg-grandmother, b. abt 1839 in Shropshire, need to confirm her parents, said to be Thomas and Anne Ebrey
> Hannah Baker Church, b. 4 March 1773, Ulster County, NY, my fourth great-grandmother who became a Quaker minister, wife of Caleb and mother of 10. Parents unknown.
> Caleb Church, b. abt. 1772, possibly in Dutchess County, NY, my fourth great-grandfather, said to be descended from Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass., but unproven.

Other answers to this fun challenge have been posted by:
> Thomas MacEntee
> Randy Seaver
> and many more here!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost. Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Google for Genealogy

Whether you are just starting your family history research or are an experienced genealogist, free online resources are always a plus. And “Finding Family for Free” is a key emphasis of this blog, Relative Musings.

In that spirit, here is a helpful article by TJD with one proposed list of the “Top Five Free Genealogy Websites.” Click here to read the details of each one. The 5 that TJD recommended are:
>> FreeBMD for ancestors in England,
>> RootsWeb with user-contributed family info,
>> Google News Archive,
>> Newspaper Archive, and
>> USGenWeb project.

While some of these are not totally free, all have some free resources are are worth using. For example, the Newspaper Archive offers free searches of the the front pages of newspapers in its database. But most of the others are totally free.

Of the five, new to me was the Google News Archive. I tried it out and immediately found a weath of information about my extended Bruce family in Milwaukee. It helps that William George Bruce, older brother of my great-grandfather, was a prominent figure in publishing and civic service in Milwaukee.

Given that success, I offer for your consideration a trio of Google resources for your genealogy research, each useful in its own way.

Google Books:  Many older family genealogy books and histories of US towns, cities and counties have been scanned through the Google Books project. Some are there in full text, others in limited preview and others just indexed with brief snippets of text excerpted in the search results. But you have a good chance of finding ancestors in some of these books, especially earlier generations in New England.

Google Search:  A basic Google search — if well crafted to be specific enough – can lead you to relevant family history Web sites created by other genealogists or other helpful information. Maybe your ancestor was an early settler in an American town and is mentioned in the town’s history online.

Google News Archive: The news archive is a way to find articles about ancestors, as well as obituaries that fill in a gap in your family history.

Make it a habit to use all three Google strategies as you work to break down genealogy brickwalls or fill out the story of an ancestor’s life.  Your family history will benefit!

Other resources on using Google:

> Using Google for Genealogy, by Kathi Reid
> Easy Google Genealogy Searcher, a handy tool
> Using Google Books in Genealogy, a helpful video

There are entire handbooks in PDF format on using Google for genealogy. Just do a Google search on that phrase and you’ll find a treasure trove of helpful resources!

Best wishes in your family history research!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Misspelled Names in Genealogy

Records used for genealogy research are, unfortunately, riddled with errors, especially the spelling of names. These incorrect names create major challenges for family historians as they search for earlier generations.

Name errors occur for varied reasons. Sometimes names have variations and individuals were not concerned which version was used. Sometimes names were written down incorrectly in the original record. Also, handwriting on old records is often hard to read or in old-fashioned script, leading to errors when the names are transcribed for a census or name index, for example.

Genealogists learn to spot names in the records that might be the ancestors they are seeking — even when outrageously misspelled –and then work to prove or disprove their theory.

My search for my paternal third great-grandparents – parents of Sherman A. Bradley — is an instructive example. To celebrate Father’s Day 2009,  here is a look at my quest for my Bradley forefathers, focusing on the challenges of misspelled names!

When my paternal second great-grandfather Sherman A. Bradley married in Milwaukee on 6 Jan 1859, he was recorded as born in Connecticut “near New Haven” with parents Leman H. Bradley and Mary C. Bradley. When he married for a second time on 11 Jan 1882, the official asked for a maiden name for his mother, so Sherman’s parents were listed as L. H. Bradley and Mary Simons.

An exhaustive review of all Leman, Lemon, Leming and Lyman Bradley men of the right period to have a son born in or about 1835 in Connecticut turned up no relevant results. Nor could an 1850 Census record with Leman, Mary and Sherman be found — anywhere.

Two intriguing records turned up, however, in Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, a place about 40 miles from New Haven:

> Leaming Hawkins Bradley b. 10 Oct 1808 in Litchfield to Horace Bradley and Hannah Hawkins
> Seyming Bradley m. 18 Sep 1830 in Litchfield to Mary Simons.

The name Leaming could be mistakenly recorded as Leman — and there was a middle name starting with H. And if those who created the Barbour Collection of Vital Records for Connecticut towns misread the capital L as a capital S, then the marriage record could be Leyming Bradley m. Mary Simons.  Leyming is yet another way a clerk might think to write down Leaming, and marriage at age 22 was typical in those days.

This was the closest I had come to a match for the names Sherman gave as his parents. But could I prove this was right? Several records and books kept me focused on this family.

First, Leaming H. Bradley turned up in the 1840 Census in Washington Township, Litchfield County, Connecticut, with two sons in the 5-9 age range. Sherman would fit in that family.

Second, a Pedigree Resource File at FamilySearch.org for Leaming’s younger brother John showed that he, another brother Clark and father Horace were in Dodge County, Wisconsin, not far from Milwaukee, in the 1850 Census. Here was an exciting Wisconsin connection with a date not long before Sherman arrived in 1857-58.

Third, among the books on Ancestry.com I found one with the genealogy of this Bradley family line going back to New Haven in the 1640s. It showed that Leaming Bradley, the first child of Horace Bradley and Hannah Twitchell [her correct surname], had married Mary Simonds and they “had several sons.” Here was good confirmation of the Litchfield marriage record and a match to the two young males in Leaming’s household in the 1840 Census.

[The book is Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, Vol. III, by William Richard Cutter. See page 1224.]

Attempts to find a birth record for Sherman A. Bradley were not successful, even with efforts by the Litchfield Historical Society and the Town Clerk for Washington, Connecticut. Such a record is always the best proof. I was pretty sure I had the right family, but felt I need some added records for confirmation.

I turned to the Milwaukee City Directories for the 1860s and 1870s to see if Sherman’s father or parents might have come to Milwaukee as well. In the microfilms of those directories, on a day not long ago, I found the proof I was looking for: Leaming H. Bradley had come to Milwaukee where his son Sherman was married and working. You can imagine my excitement!

His name was recorded in various ways in the directories, and I share them all to show again the challenge of misspelled names:
> 1862: L. H. Bradley
> 1863: Leming H. Bradley, proprietor of L. H. Bradley & Co.
> 1865: Seamey H. Bradley, same address as Leming H. in 1863.
> 1866: Leaming H. Bradley, his name spelled correctly! 
> 1867: L. H. Bradley
> 1871-1872: Lyman H. Bradley

Leaming’s consistent use of his middle initial H. helped identify him, no matter how his first name was mangled.

The home address for all but one of these entries was on 8th Street, helping show that these are  listings for the same man, just various spellings of of his name.  And the location was about four blocks from the home of Benjamin Church where his daughter Hannah lived with her husband Sherman A. Bradley.

Also, in many of these years his occupation listed was pumpmaker, including the final listing when his name was spelled Lyman. Sherman A. Bradley had the same occupation. [Note: In that era, water pumps were made out of wood, so Sherman's career move to pumpmaker from carpenter makes sense.]

Two more clues helped confirm that Leaming Hawkins Bradley and Mary Simons were Sherman’s parents. Written on a Bradley family tree were two notes: one, that Sherman had an ancestor in the Revolutionary War and, two, the ancestral name Abernathy, connection unclear. Books showed the parents of Horace Bradley as Aaron Bradley — who served in the Revolution as a youthful blacksmith and guard — and Lorrin Abernethy, daughter of Dr. William Abernethy.

All the pieces of the genealogical puzzle fell into place, at last.

But why was a Bradley male child born in 1808 given the first name Leaming? That name honors his great-grandfather Leaming Bradley who first brought the family to Litchfield from Middletown, Connecticut, and also his third great-grandmother Jane Leaming, daughter of Christopher Leaming and Hester Burnet, who married the first in the line of men named Abraham Bradley. But those are stories for another day.

Using the surname Leaming was a given name did indeed honor our Leaming ancestors, but also created a genealogy brickwall that was very strong, but has finally tumbled down!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

City Directories

Most family history researchers focus their early work on census records. Census records do contain a wealth of information and cover rural areas, small towns and cities.

However, if your ancestors lived in one of America’s cities, there is another resource that deserves your equal attention, namely city directories. Here is a lively example of how they can help you fill in your family’s story and answer puzzling questions.

I recently sent a cousin the family history that I had discovered — building on the great work my sister did when she and and her husband lived in Madison, Wisconsin, and their son was a baby. The cousin emailed a question I too had wondered about:
 
“Why was Beatrice Jane Bruce born in Cambridge, Massachusetts?’
 
I never thought I could find the answer — until Ancestry.com put hundreds and hundreds of city directories from the 1880s and 1890s onto its Web site.  The directories help fill the gap caused by the loss of the 1890 census records in a major fire.

In those days, before people had telephone numbers, city directories included name, address — and occupation. So I wondered, would there be one for Cambridge, Mass., for 1896 and would Bea’s father Martin P. Bruce be in it? Voila! Yes! The entry reads as follows:
 
Bruce, Martin P., Salesman, Fish Bros. Wagon Co., h. 56 Baldwin.
 
Fish Bros. Wagon Company was a very large Racine, Wisconsin, firm that sold their wooden wagons nationwide and overseas. It was controlled by J.I Case of Racine. Fish Bros.  made both work wagons and fancy wagons such as phaetons and trotting buggies. You can read more about the firm and see a sketch of the Racine plant  online.
 
So it seems that Martin, newly married in 1895, took a position that promised better opportunities than his occupation as a clerk or accountant — which he had pursued since 1887 when he was 17 years old. Even if that meant Martin Bruce and his wife Grace Booth Bruce having to move east across the country to a new city.

They were there just one year, with daughter Beatrice Jane Bruce born 22 May 1896. Perhaps Martin did not like the life of a salesman. [He likely was a sales agent for Fish Bros., calling on businesses that sold the wagons to customers]. Or, with a new baby, Martin and Grace wanted to be back in Milwaukee among their families.

In any case, by the time the 1897 Milwaukee Directory was published, Martin, Grace and Bea were back in Milwaukee. Martin was listed that year as:

Bruce Martin P., bkpr. 205 Wells, h 465 Hanover

What company did he work for as a bookkeeper? Based on the address at 205 Wells, it was J. Dorsch & Sons, a company that sold agricultural implements and carriages. Its directory listing says:

J. DORSCH & SONS, agric. Implts and carriages, 195 2d and 205-211 Wells.

Martin had worked there as early as 1892, according to city directories. We surmise that he got to know the sales representatives of Fish Bros. Wagon Company. And there is the likely link to the sales job in Cambridge.

So there is why Bea was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, courtesy of city directories for Cambridge and Milwaukee.

You can find city directories in your local libraries or on microfilm through LDS Family History Centers or via Interlibrary Loan, all at a very low cost. Check them out soon!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brickwall Overcome

Every one doing genealogy research eventually comes to a brickwall, that spot in the family tree when you can go no further.  This is the story of overcoming a family history brickwall using many and varied resources to succeed, including the help of two generous genealogists. The result was, for me, a remarkable new insight into my heritage.

My paternal uncle had gathered considerable family information and sketches of family trees for various lines of our family.  It was in these notes that I first encountered the name Frederick Bruce, an ancestor who came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from New York with his family in 1842. Those key facts came from the book I Was Born in America: The Memoirs of William George Bruce.

Frederick was the father of Augustus F. Bruce, who in turn was the father of Martin P. Bruce, my great-grandfather. William George Bruce  (1856-1949) — Martin’s oldest brother — wrote and published many books on Milwaukee history and other topics.

Thus I set off with high hopes of finding more about Frederick Bruce in census and other records in Wisconsin and New York. Instead, I immediately hit a brickwall. There was no Frederick Bruce in census records in Wisconsin or New York, nor in the 1848-1849 Milwaukee City Directory. In contrast, I could find many records starting about 1857 for Frederick’s three sons: Augustus Bruce in Milwaukee, Martin F. Bruce near Pensacola, Florida, and John Bruce in San Francisco, California.

So I began collecting all the information I could about the three sons, and garnered additional insights from W. G. Bruce’s Memoirs.  I was delighted to be able to purchase a copy of the book that included portraits of Augustus F. Bruce, his wife Apollonia Becker Bruce and their son William George Bruce.

Pieces of the puzzle emerged. Frederick Bruce, his wife and son August came to America from Prussia in the 1830s. Sons Martin and John appeared to have been born in New York. The traditional male occupations for the family were sailor, ship’s carpenter and ship’s caulker.  And they were Protestants.  Clearly the family came from a port city with shipyards along the northern coast of Prussia, in other words near the Baltic Sea coast. But where?

A vital clue was provided on a copy of the abstract of the will of August Bruce, also called August F. Bruce, alias Bruss. Here was the original spelling of the family name, used until the late 1850s when all three sons began using the anglicized Bruce.

So when I found Frederick Bruss, a ship’s carpenter, in the 1847-1848 Milwaukee City Directory, I was elated — until I realized that he lived in the Second Ward on the west side of Milwaukee River, while our family had lived in the First Ward on the east side of the river, according to W. G. Bruce’s Memoirs.

I continued doing research. I discovered a Bruss family than had arrived from Pomerania in 1839, came to Milwaukee and then moved just north of the city to a new village called Freidstadt or “free city.” They were among the Old Lutherans who emigrated from Prussia to continue practicing their Lutheran faith, when the Prussian Emperor Wilhelm III forced a merger of Lutheran and Calvinist churches into one union church.

That Bruss family came from Cammin, north of Stettin and very near the Baltic Sea. When I read that Cammin was an historic Hanseatic shipbuilding city, I had a “eureka” moment. Could this be where my Bruss family was from? I decided to post a query summarizing all the salient details that I had collected about the family. I noted that the Prussia/Germany Genealogy Forum had an expert shown as Robert T. who helped many family seekers.

In a very short time, he replied and asked if this family from Cammin, Pomerania, Prussia was the one I was seeking: Martin Friedrich Bruss, age 40, journeyman ship’s carpenter; Sophie Bruss, née Stiemke, age 37, w; August Bruss, age 9, s; Martin Bruss, age 6, s; Johann Bruss, age 4, s. [W is wife, S is son]. 

The family sailed,  he wrote, on the ship Echo from Liverpool to New York City, arriving 19 September 1839. The Echo was one of five or six ships that brought about 1,000 Old Lutherans to America, where they settled in and around Buffalo, New York, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Note: the Echo’s passenger list has the surname misspelled as Buss, and both ages and occupation wrong, but Martin, Sophia, August, Martin and Johan are clearly shown.]

This certainly looked like my ancestors, except that sons Martin and Johann or John were also born in Cammin, not in New York.

How could I confirm this apparent match? I knew that John Bartelt, the genealogist with the Bruss ancestors in Freistadt, had obtained birth records for his own Bruss ancestors via microfilm. I wrote to him on the chance that he had the Martin Friedrich Bruss family details, and he did. He kindly sent the birth and baptism dates for sons August, Martin and Johann and they matched dates I had collected from other sources.  He also sent the birth and baptism dates for the oldest son, Wilhelm, who died young according to family history. This certainly was my family! And how wonderful to have Sophie’s name!

Now I could find them recorded in the 1943 book about the Old Lutherans, written in German by Wilhelm Iwan and translated into English. Martin Friedrich Bruss, journeyman ship carpenter, and his family from Kammin at shown at the very bottom of this listing of emigrants.

I wrote thank you messages to Robert and John, for their kindness was essential to helping me overcome this brickwall.

And then I remembered that there was a Martin Bruss in the First Ward on the east side of the Milwaukee River listed in the 1847-1848 Milwaukee City Directory – right where William George Bruce said his grandfather settled when he came to Milwaukee.

I was now able to find him in the 1850 Census in Milwaukee’s First Ward, age 51, a ship’s carpenter with $1,500 in real estate, surname recorded as Brass. He had remarried since Sophie had died — apparently in the cholera epidemic, W. G. Bruce had written. Recorded with Martin in the 1850 Census were his sons Martin, a sail maker, and John. All three were recorded as born in Germany. August, the oldest son, likely was away sailing on the Great Lakes.

Overcoming this brickwall took three years of researching on and off, looking again at what I had discovered, trying new approaches, and then taking a chance on a possible solution based on the clues I had accumulated. I am grateful to everyone who helped me find this part of my family who were among the first Germans to settle in Milwaukee when it was still three villages — Juneautown on the eastside, Kilbourntown on the westside and Walker’s Point on the southside — not to be incorporated until 1846.

Benjamin Church House – Milwaukee

benjamin-church-house-front.jpg Photograph by Barbara Bradley Petura

An exceptional way to be in touch with your family history is to visit locations important to your ancestors’ lives.  July 2007 gave me an opportunity to do just that. 

The place was the Benjamin Church House, located since 1938 in Estabrook Park, Shorewood. The house was built about 1844 in an area then known as Kilbourntown. That name came from Bryon Kilbourn, land owner and founder about 1835 of the pioneer town just west of the Milwaukee River.

Kilbourntown was one of three towns that merged in 1846 to create the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The others were Juneautown east of the river and Walker’s Point to the south.

In those days, the Church house was on Fourth Street at the intersection with Court Street, between Cherry and Galena streets. The site in the pioneer era is described as up a hill overlooking a tamarack swamp near the river.

Benjamin Church, my ggg-grandfather, was one of the earliest settlers in Milwaukee. He arrived in November 1835 via Chicago from his birthplace in Ulster County, New York.

A pioneer carpenter and master builder, he brought the Greek Revival style from the East Coast to the young city of Milwaukee — and applied it to construction of his own family home. With its four graceful columns on the front and other distinctive features, the house gives the feeling of a small Greek temple.

That Greek Revival style, combined with the use of hand-hewn lumber and Cream City bricks stamped with the date 1844 and initials of the brick maker, made the house worth saving, restoring and moving to a new location. The house today is an intimate museum of life in Milwaukee in the 1850s, with the furnishings giving a sense of what life was like in those days.

Standing in the cozy house, I imagined Benjamin Church returning home, up the hill to the house, climbing the steps to the porch and enjoying the modest elegance of the Doric columns, then entering the house right into the small living room.  A fire crackling in the fireplace and the sounds of his children would have greeted him at the end of a day’s work.

His wife Permilia would likely have been in the kitchen cooking dinner, helped by oldest daughters Ann Maria and Ann Augusta. I imagine the younger children doing their chores, or their studies, or perhaps playing.

Known to her family as Hannah, Ann Maria married Sherman A. Bradley on January 6, 1859. They too lived in the Church House and their son Jesse Charles Bradley was born there June 22, 1866.

A special treasure awaited me in the back room of the house, where a display board told the history of house and of Benjamin Church himself. There on display was his photograph! See it on the page with his biography.

The Benjamin Church House, also called the Kilbourntown House, is open to the public free during the summer. A docent or guide is on hand to talk about the house, its history and its significance in conveying a vivid snapshot of early Milwaukee history.

Check with the Milwaukee County Historical Society for the hours the house is open. It is worth a visit!

Essay and photograph by Barbara Ann Bradley Petura, July/August 2007.

Published in: on August 13, 2007 at 4:42 am  Comments (1)  
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Finding Family for Free, Part IX

Genealogy and family history research are aided greatly by the generosity of volunteers. They know the importance to people of finding their ancestors.

These volunteers transcribe old documents such as census records, city directories and genealogy books. They develop and maintain Web sites, and find still more volunteers to contribute information. They own valuable books and documents and offer free look-ups.  They are the heroes and heroines of genealogy.

A remarkable network of volunteer genealogy Web sites is the USGenWeb Project which aims to have a useful — and free — genealogy site for every county in every state in the USA. From the home page, you can find the state sites, and at state sites you’ll find links to county sites and other helpful resources.

Let’s use Wisconsin as an example.  At the WIGenWeb Project site, you’ll find a brief description of Wisconsin history, a history timeline, a state map showing the counties and a link to the County List of county sites.  There is also a Wisconsin Archive of historic documents and a search engine for them.  In addition, there is a big page of Wisconsin resources.

But if you know your ancestors’ county, you’ll likely find the most useful information on the county site.  For example, I visited Calumet County where New Holstein is located. One-quarter of my ancestry has its roots in New Holstein and back to Holstein, Germany.  The Calumet County page is helpful, but the treasure trove for me was the Calumet County Genealogy Page.

For example, in searching for my Hachez ancestors, I found the obituary of Nicholas Boie that listed his many daughters and sons. Among them was Mrs. Ferd. Hachez. I now had the maiden name for my great-great-grandmother, unknown until then.

Then, in searching for Boie, Hachez and Luhr/Luehr ancestors, I found them all in the 1860 census transcription. There were Nicolaus Boie, Ferdinand Hachez [the elder], and John, Margaretha and Peter Lühr, later spelled Luehr.

Transcriptions from the New Holstein Cemetery provided more family details including for many of the Boie family members, including Nicholas Boie and his wife Cecilie Tonner Boie. The online cemetery plot owners listing  shows listings for Nic Boie, Ferdinand Hachey [Hachez] and John Luehr.

The 1893 New Holstein Patrons Directory had a business listing for Ferd. Hachez [the younger], and the transcribed newspaper clippings revealed that William Henry Luehr, son of John and Anna, was at the University of Wisconsin during 1888-1889.

Thanks to this excellent site, I found details that helped fill in the family story. In return, I have transcribed and donated the obituary for Anna Margretha Groth Luehr, another of my great-great-grandmothers, and will donate others soon.

Check out USGenWeb and consider the parallel WorldGenWeb for your own research.

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research ideas to help you find your family and ancestors for modest or no cost.

Published in: on November 19, 2006 at 12:35 am  Comments (1)  
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Surnames of My Ancestors

My own ancestors will turn up in Relative Musings occasionally as I illustrate points or seek to explore their lives and influence.  This listing will track of those references, which can also be found via the search engine. Surnames I am researching include:

  • Father’s paternal side: Abernethy, Baker, Bradley, Church, Leaming, Simons, Speich, Stocker, Twitchell
  • Father’s maternal side: Becker, Booth, Bruce (Bruss), Ebrey, and Stiemke
  • Mother’s paternal side: Conger, Cram, Morey, Palmerton, Sharp and Woolverton
  • Mother’s maternal side: Boie (Boje), Carstens, Groth, Hachez, Luehr (Luhr), Suhr, and Tonner

Mentions of family discoveries in my Finding Family for Free postings or other entries and the date they appeared include:

Abernethy/Abernathy, paternal lineage

Baker, paternal lineage

Boie, maternal lineage

Booth, paternal lineage

Bradley, paternal lineage

Bruss / Bruce, paternal lineage

Church, paternal lineage

 Groth, maternal lineage

Hachez, maternal lineage

Leaming, paternal lineage

Luehr (Luhr), maternal lineage

 Sharp, maternal lineage

Stiemke, paternal lineage

Tonner, maternal lineage

 Woolverton, maternal lineage

Women are recorded with their maiden and married names, where available, but are indexed primarily under their maiden name. Click on the date to go to and read the entry.

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