Genealogy researchers today are so blessed with a wealth of family data online that it is easy to forget the old-fashioned tool — queries published in genealogy magazines in print format. But I’ve just had evidence of the power of published queries.
As a member of the New England Historical Genealogical Society, I enjoy both the American Ancestors magazine and The Weekly Genealogist e-newsletter. I was fortunate recently to have a query published in American Ancestors, Volume 17, Number 3, Fall 2016, column titled Brick Walls, page 21.
It begins: “My persistent brick wall is my ancestor Permelia Church. Permelia married Benjamin F. Church, a carpenter, who came from Ulster County, New York, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1835.” I’ve written about my search for the ancestry of Permelia, who, sources say was, born about 1815 in New Hampshire (1850 Census) and whose maiden name might have been Clemens (oldest daughter’s death record).
Remarkably, a long-time genealogy researcher from Milwaukee read the query and decided to look in records he had from his own family searches. What what he found and sent me was a treasure, if not a brick-wall break through. He found Permelia was admitted on 11 Sep 1842 to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Milwaukee (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church records for communicants). The first Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, St. Paul’s was founded May 23, 1838. The congregation met in judicial chambers until January 1845 when the first church was opened.
Even more precious, he sent the page with the dates of birth and shared date of baptism for Benjamin and Permelia’s first two children:
> Hannah Maria Church born 21 September 1840 in Milwaukee
> Ann Augusta Church born 3 July1843 in Milwaukee
Sponsors for both girls were Royal P. Locke and Mary Jane Butler, likely the wife of T. D. Butler.
Hannah and Ann were baptized on 3 May 1846 in Trinity Chapel, an outreach from St. Paul’s on the east side of the Milwaukee River to serve those on the west side. Officiating was the now famous Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper, missionary bishop to the Northwest Territory. He became provisional bishop of the new Diocese of Wisconsin, then its diocesan bishop until 1870. For context, Wisconsin gained statehood in 1848.
The St. Paul records also show that Permelia Church – with many others – was removed on 7 Jan’y 1847 from St. Paul’s and transferred to the new Trinity Church on the west side of the river. Trinity did not survive and by 1850 St. James Episcopal Church had been founded – also as an outreach of St. Paul’s – to serve the west side.
So a next step in research is to see if Permelia was transferred to St. James Episcopal Church, if her other children were baptized there, and if there is a record of her funeral.And then there is the possibility that the baptismal sponsors might be researched for clues. The ability to take more steps is due to NEHGS publishing my quest and the kind genealogist sending me the St. Paul’s records. To both I say thank you!
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Thank you! And good researching!