Showing posts from January, 2015

Doing the Genealogy Do-Over

Slapdash genealogist that I am, I've been picking and choosing what I do in Thomas MacEntee's current Genealogy Do-Over project.  Still, it keeps drawing me in with all the wonderful ideas and resources, and I've gotten quite a bit out of it so far:

1.  Limiting the "ooh, shiny" factor:  It's so hard not to be distracted by interesting possibilities, isn't it?  I sit down to look at Joseph Ortmann in the 1900 census and suddenly I'm e-mail corresponding with a hotel manager in Texas, searching St. Louis newspapers for Mabel Manson, and following the trail of Frederick L. Manson, which leads to reading about the Ute campaign in the Indian Wars -- even though this all winds up being related to Joseph Ortmann in the end, I'm scattering my energies all over the place and if I'm not at least keeping track of where I've been, I risk doing it all over again at some point.

So Thomas suggests using a "search attempts" log, and for me, thi…

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #5: Joseph and Clara and Mabel (Part 1)

When I was an academic, I loved the research part of my job.  When winter break or summer would roll around, I was always so happy to turn to "my" work, that of researching literature related to my subject, or topics related to the classes I would be teaching.

Now that I'm retired, this is one of the things that draws me most to genealogy -- the thrill of the chase, the forming of theories that open up new avenues to travel, the very deep satisfaction when something -- anything -- clicks into place, no matter how small.

It's never easy, though, and sometimes you only achieve success by dogged persistence, by plowing through the years and millions of documents, in order to put a coherent story together.

So, today I have a story that, while not yet finished, I'd like to begin to tell, although it's so long that I'll break it into two parts.  I've mentioned before that my paternal grandfather was one of nine siblings who lived to adulthood, and that his…

Happy Belated Blogiversary

Happy 2nd Blogiversary !

I admit I lose track of things sometimes, but missing my own blogiversary, well, that's a bit much.  As of yesterday, my blog is two years old:  my inaugural post was on January 22, 2013.  I'll celebrate by recapping a bit.

Including this one, I've written 138 posts, with the pace picking up since I retired.Over the two years, I've had 16,242 views!  That feels like a lot. Some of my more popular posts have been about the history of my mt-DNA group, U4, here and here; my celebration of a brick wall coming down; my discovery of three generations of women having been born illegitimately; and my account of having solved the mystery of my great grandfather's death.Readers have also responded to some of my genealogy-centered posts, on its frustrations,  the darker side of genealogy, and the genealogical treasure I recently received.
I'm glad that readers have enjoyed the blog, and I'm especially happy that my family has learned things tha…

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #4: She's a Mystery to Me

Well, I was positive that I wouldn't find anyone closer to my birthday (Sept. 9) than my mother (Sept. 12), but I dutifully went through the list anyway.  And guess what?  I found someone a day closer than my mother, Anne Margrete Otten, born September 7, 1777.  That was a surprise.  But guess what?  I know next to nothing about this woman, other than that she was my great-great-great-great aunt.

What do I know?

1.  She was born on September 7, 1777, and lived to November 23, 1858.  That's a good long life -- 81 years.

2.  We can assume she was a strong and healthy woman, to live that long!

3.  Her parents were Peter Otten (1737-1792) and Anna Jachens (1737-1786).  Not so long-lived, either one of them.

4.  She must have been close to her brother, Johann Harm Otten, because he and his wife named their daughter -- Anna Margrete Otten -- after her.

Where did this information come from?  From a treasure trove of info I found in an Ortsfamilienbuch (OFB) for the Lesum area of Brem…

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #3: "Tough Woman"

In thinking about choosing a "tough woman" in my ancestry, I didn't have to look far.  Hands down, it was my maternal grandmother, Sophie Bertha Marie Langer.

Sophie Langer was born on April 11, 1886 in Geestendorf, Bremerhaven, Germany.  Her parents were Maximilian Langer, a chimney sweep, and Christiane Wilhelmine Luise Bellmer Schulze.  At the time of her birth, the first-born of three girls, her mother was 27 and her father, 46.  Her sisters were Martha Johanna (known as Hanni, b. 1890) and Rosa Frieda Lina (known as Lina, b. 1893).  During her life, they lived in various places around the Bremerhaven area.

Historical Map of Bremerhaven

In 1896, Maximilian Langer died; Wilhelmine (as my great-grandmother was known), was left a widow at 37 with three young daughters.  My grandma Sophie was 10 at that time; Hanni and Lina were six and three.  At some point later, she married a locksmith named Wilhelm Boesel, though I know little about that union.  Still, in the interven…

Genealogically Dazed and Confused

With the new year, all kinds of new possibilities have arisen related to my genealogy research.  I'm kind of befuddled as to where I should be focusing my attention:

1.  Most important, I guess, is getting ready to spend time in the Library in Salt Lake, prior to RootsTech.   I have been working on it but would like to spend more focused time on it.

2.  Thomas MacEntee is running a wonderful "Genealogy Do-Over" series on his Geneabloggers site.  Between the postings on his website and the lively conversation on the related Facebook page, it's a treasure trove of resources and ideas.  People are using this opportunity in various ways -- while I don't think I'm ready for the complete "do-over" (throw out all your research and start again!), I'd love to join others in the "go-over" -- take various actions to review, document, clean up, and so on.  I just haven't found a block of time to really get into this.  Fortunately, I think the …

Are you ready for the FHL and RootsTech?

With reference to my previous post, I'm feeling pretty scatter-shot these days.  I'm leaving for Salt Lake in 23 days, and I'm scrambling to be ready to walk into that Library.  But I guess this is the way my questions are shaping up.

1.  Who was grandfather Gustav Berneburg's mother?  Family says Hermine Kleemann, documents say Johanna Schmidt.  We have an emotional stake in this, because he was a hard, abusive man, and uncovering some of his origins might shed some light on the challenges in his life.

2.  Who was great-grandmother Christiane Bellmer's father?  She was born illegitimately, but her mother appears to have married someone named Christian Schulze later.  Christian/Christiane?  I'd like to find evidence of that marriage and I hope it might contain some tidbit acknowledging that she was his biological daughter; that would open up the Schulzes as a bloodline to pursue.

3.  Did great-great-grandfather Anton Langer leave Silesia for the U.S., following…

I Have a Treasure --

A week or two ago, my (only first) cousin told me she had a little old book that she couldn't make heads or tails of, but she could see the word "Geestemuende," where our family lived, and 1910 and 1926, the dates of her father's and my mother's births.

Did I want it?

Oh yes I did.  I had no idea of what it was, but told her to send it right along.  The envelope appeared yesterday, and as I opened it and saw what it contained, my hands started to tremble.  Here it is:

For those who don't know, a "Familien-Stammbuch" is a civil family register.  What I received was an original document containing my grandparents' marriage certificate and the record of each of their children's births.

These were original copies of documents I'd been trying to get for years -- long ago, a member of an email list in Bremerhaven volunteered to go to the archive for me and look these exact things up.  He did in fact go and sent me scans of the documents, but t…

A Family Photo: An Unexpected Delight!

Just a quick post --

I haven't followed my son's father's genealogy too much at this point; fortunately, there are people who have clearly done a lot of documented work that will get me going when I get serious about it.

Still, I swing over to that side of the tree every now and then, and discovered a wonderful photograph and a distant cousin of my son's to go with the photo.  She has done a huge amount of work (since 1957!) and appears to be a terrific source of information.

So here's the picture:

Credit to Nancy Kay Crook Thomas for this photograph
The father in the picture is Louis F. Earthman, my son's 3X great-grandfather, and the oldest boy at the top is his great-great grandfather, William George Napoleon Earthman.
I know you know how exciting this is -- a picture!  And a cousin!  And coincidentally, I just ordered Louis F's military record from the National Archives, along with my great-grandfather's (Joseph Ortmann).  Can't wait to get those.

Saturday Night Fun on Sunday

I didn't get to Genea-Musings' "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" until Sunday, but I think it's a worthwhile exercise to do on any day.  The idea is to make a table that lays out 10 direct-line generations and potentially how many people could be in that group.  Then you look at your tree to see how many people you have out of the possible ones at each level.

So here's my table, with credit to Chris Cowan's "What's Your Number" post for the table itself:

The Scattershot Genealogist: "Ooh, shiny!"

Yesterday, I was trying to get caught up with a bunch of tasks, getting caught up in my research, getting ready to go to Salt Lake City for RootsTech in a couple of weeks.  Here's what I've pulled from my history, to show what I was up to yesterday:

Geneabloggers website (multiple times)
Geneabloggers facebook page (multiple times)
Genealogy Bloggers at RootsTech 2015 facebook page
Genealogy Do-Over facebook page (multiple times)
Genealogical Speakers Guild
DearMYRTLE's Genealogy blog
Book of Me
Bag the Web
Scrivener Mini-Bootcamp
Literature and Latte
Ancestry (multiple times)
Tripped by My Roots
Heather Wilkinso Rojo's site
Living in the Past (my blog)

Read an article on:
Ancestral Findings' site

Essential family tree forms
Filemarker free edition
Windows Magnifier
ACOM German Civil Registration .pdf