Showing posts from January, 2014

The mystery deepens --

Well, how things can change in one little day -- first I woke up this morning thrilled to discover the birthplace of my great-grandfather, and very shortly thereafter, I learned something disturbing about the circumstances of his death.

I belong to a group on facebook that is made up of people interested in family history in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen).  I joined because Grandpa Gustav Berneburg was born in that region, in Hannover, and I mentioned the other day that someone is helping me look for records there.  But since Goettingen, where Max Langer's death notice came from, is also in Lower Saxony, I was so excited with that news that I posted something about it to the group and included a link to the story on this blog.

I was startled, to say the least, when a very short while later a group member (a very, very nice and knowledgeable man) came back with a full translation of that very-difficult-to-read document.  Brace yourself, because the news is a little shocking.  Here i…

Success? Yes!!

In a previous post, I mentioned I was communicating with an official in the Stadtarchive in Goettingen, Germany, where EDC's great-grandfather, Maximilian Langer, appears to have died.  This is mysterious, because Goettingen is some distance from Bremerhaven, where as far as I know, all Langer/Berneburg family life occurred in the 1890's and early 20th Century.  His wife, Wilhelmine, died in Bremerhaven, so the mystery is, what was he doing in Goettingen?

The official has been extremely helpful in giving me information to decide whether to order the death certificate, which is unusual to say the least, because it's a "marginal note" instead of a normal certificate.  When I asked whether it contained his place of birth and/or his parents' names, she decided to go ahead and make a scan of it and send it to me.  Wow!  (Note:  German officials are known for being, well, official and going by the book, so I was very surprised that she took the time to make the sca…

Cross your fingers!

We may have a breakthrough on the Berneburg side -- cross your fingers!  I recently discovered that there's a facebook group for "Genealogy for Lower Saxony," which includes Hannover, where Grandpa Berneburg was from.  It's a group of nice, helpful people, some in Germany, others elsewhere.

One very nice woman will actually go to archives for you!  So she has all the information we have on the Berneburg family and will be getting back to us at some point.  Again, keep those fingers crossed!

Map of Lower Saxony
When I look at this map, I see that Bremen and Bremerhaven are included -- I'll have to ask whether anyone in the group is able to do a search up there.  More to come, I hope!

Update on Maximilian Langer:  I heard back from the lady at the Stadtarchiv in Goettingen, and she has the death certificate from 1896!  She says, though, that it's not a regular certificate but some kind of "marginal notation," so I'm trying to get more information o…

Oh the Frustration -- Part 3

So on we go with the Berneburg/Langer frustrations.  Next up is Great-Grandpa Maximilian Langer, Grandma Sophie's father.  My aunt's notes say that he was born in "Schliesen," or Silesia, which once was part of Prussia but now is in Poland, down by Czechoslovakia.  Silesia is a province, however, not a town, so that information is missing.  Looking at both German and Polish record sites (and puzzling out Polish is difficult, believe me!), I find nothing.  The nice elderly man from Bremerhaven who helped me a little gave me the information that Maximilian was born "about 1855," and died "before September 11, 1909," but I can't read the scanned documents he sent me, so I can't confirm that (and he's not responding to my emails).  Now, September 11, 1909, I happen to know, is Grandma and Grandpa Berneburg's wedding date, so I'm guessing he looked at some kind of a wedding record and saw that Grandma's father was "deceased…

Oh the frustration -- Part 2

So on to more frustration with the Berneburg/Langers.  Let's think about EDCM's great-grandmother, Christiane Wilhelmine Luise Schulze (Grandma Sophie's mother).  I've had no success in searching for her name, no birth records, death records, and so on.  From the history my aunt wrote, Wilhelmine (as she was known), was born in Bremen, Germany, on December 25, 1859.  She was one of five children, two of whom died as infants, leaving three sisters:  Marie, Sophie, and Wilhelmine.

Even though there seem to be records from Bremen in the database -- it comes up with quite a few possibilities -- I can't see that any of them could be her (though I rejected a possibility for Joseph Ortmann that then turned out to be true).  None of them has a birthdate of Dec. 25, which would kind of jump out at you.

One of the problems is the name:  Schulze.  It's a common name, as you can see in this map of where the name comes up:

And if you add in the spelling variants -- Schulz, …

Oh, the frustration -- Part 1

Every genealogist feels frustrated now and then (or maybe all the time!), which is why it's so exciting when a breakthrough happens, as it did with EDC's great-grandfather, Joseph Ortmann.  While solving that puzzle (where he came from in Germany) is wonderful, I still experience big frustration on the other side of the family -- the Berneburg/Langers.

My (one and only) cousin, Marianne, sent me some wonderful pages that her mother, Hilda Berneburg, had put together on that side of the family.  It gives some great names and dates -- Grandpa Berneburg's family names, birth and death dates, locations, and so on.  I've copied all the information I can into the family tree on

But, while it's wonderful on more recent history, it hasn't helped me get farther back.  After getting  this information on the Berneburgs in Hannover, I hit a dead end.  I don't think I ever wrote about the charitable foundation I discovered in Hannover -- the Berneburg Foun…

An interesting find --

I read an interesting article today in the Huffington Post about an archaeological find -- about 600 graves, many of which contain two skeletons, embracing (another article is here).  What interests me is that the find is near Novosibirsk, Siberia, just north of Altai Krai, where our U4 group turned northward (see this post on Siberia for a refresher).  While they can distinguish male from female, and adult from child, they are going to use paleogenetics to do DNA testing on the skeletons, to see what their kinship is -- are they parent and child, husband and wife, brother and sister, or . . . ?  I will keep an eye on this story as it develops, because I am very interested in the results of the DNA analysis -- most of all, are they U4's?

My friend, Dawn Terrell, also writes an ancestry blog, Answering the Ancestors' Call, and her most recent post considers the connections between DNA and ancestral affinities -- that is, are we drawn to a particular culture or nation because of…