Finding Family for Free, Part XII

Gathering multiple sources and documents for a single person or family is crucial if you intend to create a highly accurate family tree or family history. 

To acquire them, you likely will need to move from free resources available via the Internet to materials held by genealogical societies, state historical societies and libraries. And you will have to pay a fee for each copy and possibly for research time if you live too far away to visit in person. The fees typically are reasonable, and you will be rewarded with invaluable details that will confirm or clarify what you have found in free sources.

As noted at the end of the last post, obituaries would seem to be the very best source of details on an ancestor’s life. After all, it is the person’s life story summed up and published in one place. However, many obituaries were written by a surviving relative who knew many facts about the deceased but may not have recalled correctly specific dates and places, especially from early in the person’s life.

In Part II of Finding Family for Free, I discussed the many sources on the Web for educator William Henry Luehr, my great-grandfather.  I discovered enough online sources to be able to create a detailed Web page about him and about his family.  I have also written a 15+ page biography about him for the family.

To make sure I had as much accurate information as possible, I searched the Wisconsin Historical Society Name Index online and found that a biographical sketch and obituaries were available. I wrote for copies of them.

His university education was important to his career, so I wanted to be sure I had the correct details. Interestingly, his obituaries give his graduation from the University of Wisconsin Madison as 1887 while other sources gave 1889.  Fortunately, the biographical sketch published in 1912 in a Wisconsin educational history volume contained a precise outline of his education.  

It states:  “His early education was received in the county schools of New Holstein and the high school at Chilton. Later he spent two years at the Oshkosh State Normal and two and one-half years at the University of Wisconsin where he graduated in 1889 with the degree of Ph. B. In 1896 he took a graduate course in American history under Prof. F. J. Turner, and in economics and finance under Prof. R. T. Ely.”

The biographical sketch clarified his graduation date — and added insights on his love of learning and other aspects of his career.

Multiple sources are the key to creating accurate family trees and histories. They are also crucial for getting past brick walls in your research, a topic for a future post here at Relative Musings: Finding Family for Free.

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 December 31, 2006 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Finding Family for Free, Part XI

Obituaries can help you discover more about the life of an ancestor and can also fill in key family details such as a mother’s maiden name or a birthplace in Europe that you’ve been seeking. Once you have your basic research done and key family members charted, it’s time to hunt for obituaries.

If some of your ancestors lived in a small-to-medium-sized community served by a long-running newspaper, your search will likely be easier than in other situations. My greatest success so far has been in obtaining obituaries for ancestors who lived in New Holstein, Wisconsin.  The town was founded in 1848 by people from Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, and the community has a strong sense of pride in its history and people.

In fact, it was an obituary for Nicholas Boie, posted on a New Holstein genealogy Web site, that revealed my ggg-grandparents Nicholas and Cecilia Tonner Boie. Their oldest daughter Elise married the younger Ferdinand Hachez. I had known the Hachez name since childhood, but not the Boie name.

The New Holstein Public Library has a genealogy section on its Web page, and lists an “obituary index” among its holdings. Thanks to the helpful people at the library, I was able to obtain a list of obituaries of known family members — and also several in the “cluster” of in-laws worth reviewing.

Using Interlibrary Loan at my local library, I obtained the microfilms covering the relevant issues of the newspaper, the New Holstein Reporter.  When you find the obituary, print it out and, as soon as you can, transcribe it so it is easy to share.

Transcriptions that I have done have recently been added to the New Holstein genealogy Web site’s obituary section, where I’d found Nicholas Boie. 

Direct ancestors include:

Anna Margretha Groth Luehr, gg-grandmother

Clara Hachez Luehr, great-grandmother

William Henry Luehr, great-grandfather

Ferdinand E. Hachez, gg-grandfather

“Cluster” relatives include:

John August Hansen, who married Lena Boie, one of the younger sisters of Elise Boie Hachez.  This obituary provided details on Ferdinand Hachez’s business in New Holstein.

Mathilde Agnes “Tillie” Boie Sebelein, the youngest sister of Elise Boie Hachez.  While Elise (Mrs. Ferd. Hachez) is mentioned just once, the brief text provides a picture of the Boie siblings growing up on a farm south of town.

Just as with all documents, you must use care with the information in obituaries and seek corroboration from other records. See the note I provided at the end of the obituary for Ferdinand E. Hachez as a good example. If I had not viewed many census records and other documents, I would not have known that it was his ancestors who were born in Alsace Lorraine, not Ferdinand himself.

We’ll discuss obituaries again in the future. Good searching!

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 December 24, 2006 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment