The Universe and Me

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Why is it always my family missing?

I actually yell that a lot when I’m in a research mode. It seems that my family is always the one missing from whatever record I am looking for. This creates tons of those “brick walls”. The point when you are stuck trying to verify or find information to go back another generation. I have been obsessively stuck on my Great Great Grandparents on my mother’s side.

I’m having the normal problems with names, that is abundant in my family, what the name really is. My Great Great Grandfather was Augustus Gottlieb Schmidt. (How do you spell that again? August, Schmitte, Schmit, Schmit, Smith. What is Gottlieb? Gottfried? Gottleib, Godfrey? you get the picture). My Great Great Grandmother was Dorothea Kline (Klein, Kleiner, Dora, Dorothy). Following this family has been one brick wall after another. See my Murder Mystery post 

To tackle this family I have had to split it up to one section at a time in the hope of finding something to help find out what happened to Dorothea. That is the major stumbling block. I have a beautiful portrait of her in a wonderful black gown, with a gorgeous Ostrich feather hat, not just one feather, but the whole hat. The look and style of the picture says to me 1900, but Dorothea seems to have died around 1885.

I can remember a day when all I knew about my Great Grandmother’s history was there was a picture of her and some relatives from Wisconsin. That’s all the picture said was some relatives from Wisconsin. Other information told me she was born in Black Creek, Wisconsin, but as yet I have not found a record of her birth. But I do know the date and I used all her information (marriage, death, family memories) to find her parents. I used her parents marriage record to find their parents. Finding a marriage record for Wisconsin somewhere before 1874 was a trial and error method until I had a father, a mother and a verified marriage recording.

I then used census records to verify where they lived in what years.  I took a big spreadsheet (honestly an old fashion accounting 15 column green notebook) I wrote Augustus and Dorothea at the top. I penciled in 1855 the year they were married. I then searched 1850 census and found Augustus, his brother and his wife, and an older man. I then went forward 1855 found 3 Males  no female, hmm. 1860 found Augustus, Dorothea, Herman, Edward, and Auguste, my first thought was 3 children in 6 years. I followed all the census’s I could and found myself with a confusion on the children. Herman and Edward’s birth years switched constantly as well as where they were born. I followed each of the boys as far as I could and kept wondering about the birth dates. I fixated on the discrepancies so much I discovered that Dorothea was not their mother. Had I just chalked it up to census errors. I would not have found that Augustus married another woman in 1850 and that she died between 1853 and Nov 1855 (Augustus & Dorothea’s wedding date).

There are 7 children in this family. My original Family Tree lists Dorothea as the mother of all of them. I need to correct that to list Herman and Edward’s mother Sophia. I have found husbands for all 5 girls and realized that my 6th daughter is really not there. She is one of those wonderful “call them a different name in the next census” person’s. She is listed as Clara and Mathilda and I allowed an online family tree to convince me it was two people. It’s just one woman Mathilda Clara and I need to correct that error too. I am now following each child and their descendant line to hopefully discover what happened to Dorothea. I have one line done, Auguste’s line had no living descendants. Edward seems to have been single through 1940 at 87 I think he probably has no descendants.

To tackle a brick wall, you do it one brick at a time. 


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Genealogy 102B Game of Names

I couldn’t decide between something bland, like how names keep changing, or Changing Names, or you get it, but do you have the right name?

Unlike my Grandmother who we didn’t know if she was Emma or Erma there are a lot of unique names in my family. Unique because they constantly change. On my mother’s side I call it the flipped name. It seems that a majority of her ancestors went by their middle name, not their given name. Her grandfathers name was William Edgar but most of the time he is listed in records as Edgar or Ed and he actually went by the name Banty. That is a story I would like to know, how he got his nickname.

There were a lot of arguments disagreements about his name. His brother was known as Arthur but his given name was George Arthur. All his sisters had names of flowers and didn’t seem to use their middle names except for one. Her name was Zena Alma (I always thought it was just a bad spelling of Zinnia. The name was found once in a record in it’s full form, the majority of the time she went by Alma. I have confirmed that the baptism records list William and George. Zena, as yet, has not been found on a birth or baptism record.

Their father was named Josephus and while on my fathers side, which is Catholic, all names tend to be in Latin his name was Josephus. I continue to run across it in some family tree as Joseph. It is not. He himself listed his name as Josephus and was called Josephus. My fathers father was Leonardus Julius and was called Jules, his name was normally stated Leonard Julius. I could jump ahead and tell you that I found his baptism record recently and he was listed as Julius Leonardus and I just groaned and decided I didn’t want to debate what his name was because everyone and every document says Leonard Julius.

The one thing that it did show is people weren’t so concerned with the birth name as we seem to be now. The other thing it teaches is that when looking for a person in your research try flipping first names and middle names and try variant spellings as in Zena and Zinnia or Edgar/Edward and Ed.

That brings us to last names. It seems everyone has a story about what their last name use to be. Those stories are important as you want to move backwards in your family research. On my mothers side one of the names was Schmidt, eventually changed to Smith (oh that is a fun one to research). While the name was Schmidt, it is also found as Schmitt, so when working on this line I try them all. I also use the first and middle name switch along with the Americanization of names. One child was named Cristele in their original Prussian I’m still not sure which of the children she is as all their birth dates change in various records.

Name variation did not all come about because some ancestor came through Ellis Island and they changed their name. Even in Ellis Island they didn’t always change their name, they simple could not understand the language and the accented style of English when they were being told a name. If the immigrant was illiterate it sometimes resulted in a different name on the immigration papers, and sometimes Emma just called herself Erma.

A number of name variations come about because as the centuries go by we spell this differently and first names, middle names and last names became more of the norm. Not everyone had a last name as we know it today. In the Dutch/Flemish/French languages a lot of surnames where proceeded by de or De or Van. They originally stood for Leonardus of Ghent written Leonardus de Ghent (English translation) Leonardus de Gant (Dutch translation) becoming over time Leonardus DeGant, Leonardus Gant and possibly Leonardus Ghant. You need to follow every variation when trying to research your family tree. In my research in Flanders (present day Belgium) I find that i’s and y’s are interchanged and that ÿ is sometimes written ij.

When researching a name always think of various spelling, pronunciations and sounds that your name can make.

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