Showing posts from August, 2014

The Sophomore Slump -- Is Family History Getting You Down?

I've been doing genealogy for about two years now, pretty seriously, and I guess I'm moving from being a brand-new beginner to a category like "experienced beginner" or "thinks she knows her way around but still has a lot to learn."  Along with the elation I've felt when something clicks into place -- I find my great-grandmother's actual birth surname -- I've experienced many other emotions along the way.  Do any seem familiar to you other semi-new researchers?

1)  Frustration:  You know there's got to be a record of your grandfather's mother somewhere.  She existed, why can't you find any kind of record?  Your great-grandfather lived in one city, but died about 130 miles away -- what was he doing there?  Why did he die there, not at home?  Unlike a brand new researcher, you know where to look, you have multiple places to look, and you come up with nothing.  Just one example of the many, many ways you'll feel frustrated.

My mother…

I'm going to RootsTech! Woo-hoo!

A while ago, I wrote about wanting to plan a trip to Salt Lake City to go through the massive collection of records at the Family History Library (what Ed calls the Mother Ship for genealogists).  Well, next February there's a RootsTech conference, and I think the stars are aligned for me to go early, spend a couple of days in the library, and then attend a great conference.  I'm excited!!

by Scott Law on Flickr
It sure looks like a lovely place to spend a little time, and in February it should be nice and cool (with snow?).  The trick in going to the library is to know what you're looking for before you get there, to have a list of things you want to look at and head straight for those without being distracted.  Because you can browse what I think is pretty much their whole catalog on Family Search, you can have all your ducks in a row before you get there.
And, I will hope to meet some of my online genealogical friends there -- yay!

Brick Wall After Brick Wall --

I've done a lot of work in the past couple of weeks, especially on the Langer line from Silesia.  Still, I have so much to do, I thought I'd take stock in terms of the places I'm stuck and think about what to do.  So here goes --

 byPeter Kirkeskov Rasmussen

1)  I'm pretty confident that I've identified the Anton who is father to Maximilian Langer; he was born on 19 May 1804, to George Langer and Theresia Schyszpin in Oberglogau, Silesia.  But I'm not completely positive, so I'm ordering the death records on microfilm.  I'm not sure they'll help, but they might.  Otherwise, I'm kind of stuck for now on definitely identifying Anton's parents.

2)  I'm stuck on Sophia Hug, Grandma Mae Ortman's grandmother.  I find only one record of her at all, as the mother of Lina Hug (Grandma's great aunt), on a birth certificate; on that record it says "Sophia Huskemeyer Hug." I can find almost no references to anyone named Huskemeyer an…

The search for Anton: a microfilm orgy

In a little more than a week, I've spent 11 hours at the Family History Center looking at microfilms from the Catholic church in Oberglogau (Glogowek), Silesia.  I've come up with about 12 different Langer families, and while I don't yet have them connected so that I know who is who's brother and which kids are cousins, I think I have definitely identified the family of my great-grandfather, Maximilian Langer.

As I mentioned in another post, I went through the birth records -- at this point, from 1774 to 1839 -- looking for Langer births.  Then I went through the marriage records, and while I didn't find all the wedding records, I did find a couple.  But the matched-up families are the most helpful.

Here are my notes:

Many notes on many people!  In the middle of the third page is Maximilian's family:

I'm positive that this is the correct family unit, because on Maximilian's death certificate, his father is listed as "Anton, Master Weaver," and…

Not Charlemagne, But the Village Idiot . . .

The last few days have been somewhat disheartening but also fairly amusing, if you want to look at it that way.  What I've done is  1) make a record of all the Langer births in Oberglogau from 1774 to 1819 (I still want to go from 1818 to 1840, when Max Langer was born); 2) looked through all the marriage records for Oberglogau from 1774 to 1832.  My goal in this was to match the children up with parents from the birth records, and then, because the marriage records would typically include parents' names, be able to take a stab at sibling relationships (e.g., if the records for Anton Langer's and Joseph Langer's weddings both showed Jacob Langer as a parent, they would likely be brothers).  Ultimately, I'd like to figure out which Anton was Max's father.

Well, it was a plan.

As I related in my last post, I was pretty successful in putting the children together with the parents.  So the other day, I went back to the Family History Center to look at the marriage …

Hours in the Dark: 50 Years of Langers

So, I've spent six hours over two days looking at microfilm at the local Family History Center here in Santa Cruz.  I ordered some microfilms from Salt Lake City, and the bad thing is that once they arrive, you have to go through them . . . Here's where all the excitement takes place:

It's a little cave-like room, no windows, no ventilation.  And once you get everything set up for the microfilm,  you turn off the lights and it looks like this:

You sit in front of this machine in the dark for hours and hours, turning the crank and watching the microfilm go by on the white shelf.  You're looking at pages like this:

Sound fun?

So the microfilm I've spent six hours on is records of baptisms from 1777-1839 for the Catholic church from Oberglogau, Silesia (now Glogowek, Poland). These records are in Latin, not German.  I have the birth record of our great-grandfather, Maximilian Langer, and the names of his parents, Anton Langer and Barbara nee Kura.  I believe the top e…

So many memories --

I created a bit of a monster on a German genealogy page the other day; I asked if anyone knew the origin of the word "schnabels," and it turned into a memory-fest of all the things people recalled from having grown up in a German household.  At this point, the post has 185 responses, and everyone agreed that it was great fun to remember all those little things that were part of our German-American childhoods.  A number of them were relevant to me, so here they are, in no particular order:

1.  "Schnabels."  Most everyone had a word like this, though there were variations -- "schnivling" and "schnippel," for example.  In our house, "schnabels" were the little broken pieces at the bottom of the bag, as in "are there any chips left in that bag, or is it all schnabels?"

2.   Being called a "Weisenheimer" or a "Schnickelfritz."  I remember "Don't be a Weisenheimer" well.

3.    "Putzing" a…

The Dream Genealogy Trip

Last night's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun got me started thinking about my dream genealogical trip to Germany.  I figured out the route:

It's not that long -- 10.5 hour drive overall.  But of course I wouldn't be driving it in one day but rather stopping along the way to visit relatives, archives, and so on.  I think the flight to Bremerhaven would go through Charles De Gaulle in Paris because at this moment in life, I need to fly premium economy.  Then I'd rent a car and go the rest of the trip, then I guess go back to Bremerhaven if leaving the car at Frankfurt would be too expensive.  I'm thinking $6000 or so should about cover it (the premium economy is expensive!).

When could I do this?  In 2015, we're going to a family reunion kind of thing in Minnesota, and if it's at all possible, I'd like to take my sister on a genealogy cruise to Alaska (serious fantasy -- don't know if it's workable).  Maybe in 2016 it would work, in the spring?  We&#…

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Bucket List

Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings has posed the following question for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

What is on your Genealogy Bucket List?  What research locations do you want to visit?  Are there genea-people that you want to meet and share with?  What do you want to accomplish with your genealogy research?  List a minimum of three items - more if you want!

1. I want to nail down all 32 of my great-great grandparents.  At this point, I have 14 of 16 great-grandparents, and 12 of 32 of the great-great grandparents.  This will give us a pretty good picture of where we come from!  I would also like to be able to tell the story of these people, not just the names and dates.

2.    I would like to make a genea-trip to Germany.  Unfortunately, that would have to include quite a few places:  Erkeln (Ortmann relatives), Muenster (cousin Michael), Hamburg (cousin Karl-Heinz), Bremerhaven (Langer/Berneburgs), Bremen (Bollmer/Schulzes), Hannover (Berneburgs/Hugs), Eltmannishausen (Berneburgs)…

"Speak, Memory": Or Not?

This morning I inadvertently sparked an amazing discussion in my German Genealogy group by posting a question about the word "Schnabel," which in my house was the word for the broken little pieces at the bottom of the bag, as in "Are there any potato chips left, or is it all schnabels?"  I've never been able to track down the source of that word.  This simple question led to a large number of people sharing childhood words and customs, and many delighted exclamations of "Oh yes!  I remember that too!"  And this got me thinking about memory and its role in family history.

Ideally, we would have all sat down at some point with our elders and noted down all the things they remembered about their childhoods.  Did we?  Probably not.  But did we ever note all the little things we remember about our own childhoods, since that will be family history sooner or later? (Later, please, if I get a vote.)  If you're like me, by the time you're in your sixti…

Documents, documents!

Since I last posted, I've gotten a number of documents:  from the City Archive in Hannover, Grandpa Berneburg's birth certificate and his father, Andreas' death certificate.  Grandpa's is interesting but doesn't clear up any issues, but from great-grandfather Andreas we get a few bits of information -- his birthplace and his parents' names, which is exciting.  So now we have great-great grandfather, Johann Claus Berneburg, and great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Denhard, both of Eltmannishausen, a tiny town near Eschwege, in Hessen.  Today, I ordered death certificates for Matilda Hug Siegler and Sophia M. Siegler, her mother.

So at this point, I'm happy (and proud!) to say that we now have information on 14 of our 16 great-grandparents (I realized after I posted the pic that I knew who Matilda Hug's mother was).  It's taken quite a while, but here they are:

Ta da!  Hermine Kleeman might remain a mystery for a while; she's proving to be elusive. …

What's in a name? First Name Saturday

I want to talk about a subject I've thought about for a long time:  Names.

When I was pregnant with my son, I went into a kind of naming paralysis, because it felt as if naming someone was a huge responsibility with potentially huge consequences.  We've all heard that a girl named "Bunny" will never become CEO of a large corporation; I've always liked the name George, but could somehow in my mind hear a shrewish wife going "Geoooorrrge . . . " and that made me shudder.

I also have a deeply personal reason for anguishing over names:  I have always hated my name, because it was the cause of a great deal of misery in my childhood.  No one in Minnesota in the 1950's had ever heard of the name "Elise" -- my parents had actually never heard of it either.  But my mother saw an advertisement in a magazine that included a beautiful red-haired woman named Elise Gammon, so . . . I was named after Miss Rheingold Beer of 1951.  

My mother ha…

I Remember Mama: 10 Things About My Mother

[Note:  I wrote this for "Matrilineal Monday," but accidentally posted it yesterday.  I took it down, but it's showing up on Feedly, so . . . Monday comes early this week.]

My mother has been gone for 25 years now; she passed away at Easter time in 1989 after a long illness.  I miss her and think about her every day of my life.  Here are a few semi-random remembrances of my mom:

1. My mother was 16 years younger than her only sibling; I guess that means she was something of a "surprise."  It was hard for her when she was a kid, because her parents were not only older than all her friends' parents (kids at school would say, "Your grandfather's here to pick you up . . . "), but they were from another country as well, and the two combined to make her life difficult at times.  For example, if she wanted to sleep over at a friend's house, they would say, "You have your own house, you don't need to sleep at anybody else's," sh…

Matrilineal Monday: Annie Ortmann

Today I got another death certificate from New York City -- this one was for Annie Schwietering Ortmann, the wife of Joseph Ortmann, EDC's great-grandmother.

While there's nothing terribly surprising in this document, it does confirm several things -- her dates of birth and death, and her parents, Bernard Schwietering and Anna Kokamp.  I notice that she died at the age of 80, and that she died of pneumonia, but also had "general arteriosclerosis."

The information was given by her daughter, Anna, who lived with her at the time of her death -- I don't know if she ever married.  She (Anna) says her mother arrived in the US 69 years ago -- that would make her 11 rather than 13 or 14, which is what the censuses have said over the years.  Anna could be wrong on this -- I'll have to check into it more.

I'm surprised and kind of sad to see that she lived in a "tenement."  I would wonder why she wasn't living with my grandpa and grandma, as George Si…

Home for a minute, and then --

I enjoyed a great two days at the Mobile Digital Art and Creativity Summit in Palo Alto ( = making art on your iPad).  The presenters were excellent, and there was so much information and so many fun apps and toys showed to us -- it will take me months to sort through it all.  I did a few things while I was there:

My grand-nephew, fiercely playing his video game

A Japanese lady
My little dog, Hugo.  Good boy, Hugo.
In the two days, I learned about Sketchbook Pro, Procreate, ArtRage, Skribl, iColorama, and more.  It was a huge smorgasbord of fun.  And some of the things people do digitally are amazingly beautiful -- here's a link to some of the art they had on display in the gallery:   Have a look -- it will blow you away.
Tomorrow we are off to Mendocino for just a couple of days.  Hoping to get some sketching, etc., done up there and maybe a bit of blogging too --

Surname Saturday: Ortmann

"Ortman/Ortmann" was my father's name, and his father's, and his father's before him.  The name goes back to the Middle Ages.  Translated literally, it means "ort" = place, village, "mann" = man.  But in practice, it referred to someone who acted as an arbitrator or judge casting the decisive vote in the event of a tie, so "referee" or something along those lines.

Ortmann is most commonly found in Germany, including Prussia, Austria, and Russia.  The distribution in Germany follows this pattern:

Source:  Geogen
The earliest Ortmanns arrived in the US in the 1700's.  Our ancestor Joseph Ortmann arrived in the early 1860's and served in the U.S. Navy in the Civil War. 
Here's an interesting fact:  One of the variations of Ortmann is "Erdmann," which in English translates to "Earthman."  My maiden name was Ortmann.  My (first) married name was Earthman.  Go figure.

Off to learn about digital art --

I hope to publish something this weekend, but mostly I'll be at a conference on "mobile digital art," that is, painting with your iPad.  Here's something I recently did:

Not great, but I'm working on it.
It will be two days of workshops on different programs like "Procreate" and "Art Rage," so I hope to come home knowing a lot more than I did when I got there.
My usual occupation, in case I haven't mentioned that, is fine art photographer, something I've been doing for about 8 years.  Here are a couple of my photographs:

So, I'm off in a few minutes for sunny but I hope not too hot Palo Alto.  I'm looking forward to having a good time!