Premium Member of the Week: Donna Jones

Hi Donna! Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today. Can you tell us how long you’ve been doing German genealogy and what got you started?

I’ve been doing German genealogy for at least 25 years. My dad had given me a handwritten pedigree chart that his aunt had created. His mother and her family had emigrated from Canada to Cleveland, Ohio. This was before the internet and I went to the state archive to see if I could find any information.

I was shocked to learn my ancestors were Loyalists in the Revolutionary War. They were mostly German from the Palatinate area and I had nine 6th great grandfathers that were in the war. They were from the Mohawk Valley, New York.

On my dad’s paternal side, all I knew was they said they were from Bavaria in the 1880 census. Thanks to some kind, generous people in the Genealogy Bavaria Facebook group, I learned my 2nd great grandfather was from Marktheidenfeld, Germany. Oh, but his wife was more elusive. I eventually found her in Rostock, Mecklenbur-Vorpommern, Germany.

Wow, Loyalists in the Revolutionary War! That’s definitely an interesting family story. Any other favorite family stories that you have?
 
Yes! One day I received an email through Ancestry from someone asking how I was related to my 2nd great uncle, Albert Brod. I had never received any inquiries on the Brod’s and was quite excited. As it turned out, this person’s 2nd great aunt Viola Stoll had married Albert. It was through this couple that we connected and have collaborated on helping each with our research. I like to think that they would be happy that we have connected.
 
I bet they would be. That’s great that you’ve been able to help each other with your research. Speaking of research, what’s your favorite genealogy website that you like to use?
 
I have found that you have to use multiple sites since there is different indexing, search engines, and collections.  I mainly use Ancestry.com but also Familysearch.org.
  

You can’t go wrong there! Speaking of tips, what would be your #1 genealogy tip you’d share with others?

At first my goal was to go back as far as I could. Now I am slowly going back and looking at my tree and finding mistakes. There are people I had added without sources. My research tip is to periodically review your tree since more collections may have been added. When researching a person, using a timeline and research log will greatly help improve the quality of your work.

That’s a great tip – and definitely very important. Finally, what is one way in which the Premium membership has helped your research?

The premium articles have been extremely helpful. The June 2020 article on occupations included the website Genwiki Berufsbezeichnung. I knew my Brod ancestors were Schiffers on the Main River back to the early 1600’s. This website said that a Schiffer was boatmen.  What was so exciting was there was a picture from a book from 1567 of a Schiffer:

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Donna!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

Hof- und Häusergeschichten: How Farm and Building Histories Can Help Your German Research (Guest Post by Scott Holl)

When it comes to searching for genealogical information, researchers with German ancestry have the advantage of access to many high-quality published secondary sources. Prime among these are Ortssippenbücher (OSBs), which I described in the June 2019 issue of the SK Translations newsletter. Hofgeschichten and Häuschergeschichten are additional sources that can provide valuable information about your ancestor.

Hofgeschichten are farm histories (Hof means farm). Häuschergeschichten are building histories (Haus means house but can refer generally to a building). Both types of publications pertain to a specific village or town and include chronologies of each property in the community listing a succession of occupants. Häusergeschichten, as the name suggests, usually include a construction history of the property, although Hofgeschichten can also include this type of information.

For the most part, the succession lists (Höfefolgen or Bestizerfolgen) pertain to tenants, as property ownership was usually impossible for common people until the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. Leases were heritable depending on the area of Germany, making it feasible for a family to occupy a property over many generations. This feature can make the lists useful for connecting generations.

Data is commonly extracted from tithe and tax records and may be supplemented by genealogical information from church records. Non-German speakers should be able to decipher the information in the lists if they can identify common words and abbreviations.

The chronological lists usually appear in the context of a broader local history that can help researchers ground their ancestral research in the larger historical and social context. Information can include historical development of the community, descriptions of churches and other important institutions, lists of war casualties, information about emigrants from the village, and maps and photographs. Researchers who do not read German may want to consult a translator in order to glean this information.

Example: Oberpreuschwitz

A farm history for the village of Oberpreuschwitz near Bayreuth, Bavaria was written by Ernst Wiedemann and published in Archiv für Geschichte von Oberfranken, Band 47 (1967) (Bayreuth: Historischer Verein für Oberfranken), pp. 7–110 under the title, “Hofgeschichte der Gemeinde Oberpreuschwitz, Kreis Bayreuth”.

The Hofgeschichte for Oberpreuschwitz begins with narrative sections outlining the historic development of the community through its land divisions among various landholders, and descriptions of the boundaries, characteristics, and ownership of the fields related to each house number.

This Flurkarte (field map) from the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte shows the village in the center surrounded by fields associated with the community in 1682. The different shadings refer to the key below the map that indicates ownership. Text in the article give physical descriptions of the fields, which are referred to by the number on the map, and notes which farms are associated with them.

The main section features the Besitzerfolge, a farm-by-farm chronological listing of successive occupants. The article also includes a Hofgeschichte of the neighboring hamlet of Unterpreuschwitz. The chronologies are followed by lists of sources used, a table summarizing tax-list data, and a name index.

The following chronology appears on pp. 55–56.

 

 

TRANSLATION:

House No. 17, a manor, together with House No. 20.

1596 Peter Jeger and his son-in-law, Hans Neukam, a forest worker.
1620 Cunz Graßinger, subsequently Forkenhof
1620 Hans Hacker, mentioned since 1618 (still unmarried), died 1646.
1646 Hans Hacker’s widow, buried 16 Nov. 1678, 80 years old.
(1662) Hans Hacker, the son, buried 24 Oct. 1700, 73 years old; married on 26 Oct. 1660 to Margaret, widow of Hans Walther in Donndorf and daughter of Hans Ritter in Simmelbuch, buried on 19 May, 1699, 62 years old.
1700 Hans Hacker, birth name Seeser, baptized on 24 Oct 1670, buried on 1 Aug. 1704, married on 23 Nov. 1696 to Barbara Popp from Eckersdorf, buried on 18 Feb 1731, 60 years old. Second marriage on 26 Jan. 1706 to:
1706 Hans Roder from Vorlahm, born 6 Dec. 1677, buried 11 July 1713.
1714 Third marriage (of Barbara Popp) on 13 Nov. 1714 to Nicolaus Tressendörfer from Eckersdorf, born 21 Feb. 1683, buried 10. Feb. 1731.
First half
1731 Johann Hacker, the son [of Hans Hacker and Barbara Popp], see House Nr. 20

The other half
1731 Hans Roder, the son [of Hans Roder and Barbara Popp], born on 17 April 1707, died on 4 May 1761, married on 12 Nov. 1731 to Anna, daughter of Hans Rieß in Dörnhof, born on 23 April 1716, died on 11 April 1778.
1772 Lorenz Roder, the son, born 1 July 1745, died 20 July 1811, married on 2 June 1776 to Anna Neukam from Dörnhof, died 12 July 1825, 74 years and five months old.
1811 Margareth Roder, the daughter, born on 20 May 1784, died on 20 Jan. 1829, married on 13 May 1802 to Leonhard Holl from Oberwaiz, born on 10 June 1782, died on 25 Feb. 1862.
1844 Johann Holl, the son, born 6 July 1818, died 1 Feb. 1886, married on 13 May 1845 to Anna Barbara, daughter of Adam Hacker, born 19 July 1821, died on 24 June 1893.
1889 Konrad Holl, the son, born 13 July 1864, died 17 June 1921, married 1 July 1890 to Kunigund Margaret, daughter of Konrad Kirschner in Melkendorf, born 10 July 1871, died 9 Feb. 1953.
1928 Adam Holl, the son, married on 5 Jan. 1938 to Margaret Körber from Unterpreuschwitz.

 

ANALYSIS:

This example shows that the farm at House No. 17 had been occupied by the Hacker family beginning in 1620. In 1700, Hans Hacker became the occupant. When he died in 1704, his widow, Barbara, married two more times, first to Hans Roder in 1706 and, after his death, to Nicolaus Tressendörfer. Both Barbara and her third husband died in 1731. The property was then divided between Johann Hacker, a son from her first marriage, and Hans Roder, a son from her second marriage. The property was split so that both sons could inherit tenancy. Johann Hacker occupied one section of the property, which was designated as House No. 20, and whose chronology continues in a separate list. In 1811, Margaret Roder inherited the property. She married Leonhard Holl in 1802, and the property continued in the possession of the Holl family until the end of at least 1928, when the list ends. A footnote next to Leonard Holl’s name on the bottom of page 55 in this example lists his direct ancestors back to Hans Holl, Sr., who was born about 1588.

Tables in the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte list farms with their obligations at different periods. In 1499, house nos. 17 and 20 had the status of half of a manor and that occupants owed 26-1/2 days of labor to the margravial landlord per year. By 1682, that increased to 70-1/2 days per year. In 1812, land reforms gave financial support to farmers to buy their properties outright. In 1854, the Holl family in house no. 17 owed 35 days of labor in the community fields and 13 days in the communal forests. Communal rights equaled ½, and they were to harvest four cords of wood from the communal forest.
 

 

This map from the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte shows the property associated with house nos. 17 and 20 (pink highlight added by author). The key below the map shows that the farm was a margravial property.

 

FINDING HOF– AND HÄUSERGESCHICHTEN

Some Hof- and Häusergeschichten are stand-alone publications, but many are included in histories of the local community. Look for books in which the village name is the title and words such as Geschichte, Chronik, Hofgeschichte, Hausgeschichte, Höfe, Häuser, and Heimatkunde (local history). The following are examples of titles:

  • Häuserchronik Braschstadt
  • Häusergeschichte Kirchberg bei Simbach am Inn
  • Häuser und Höfe von Paitzdorf und Mennsdorf
  • 500 Jahre Haus- und Hofgeschichte von Bobing
  • Holzgünz: Heimatkundliche Beiträge zur Geschichte der Ortsteile Ober- und Unterholzgünz

 

The Haus- und Hofchronik for Holzgünz, a village in the Swabian region of Bavaria, is very different in format and content from the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte.  It offers historical information about building construction and alterations, including photographs, and floor plans, as in this example. Narrative sections within the building histories describe the circumstances of occupant succession. Occupants are listed with birth and marriage dates. The Haus- und Hofchronik was published as part of a more extensive local history. (Hermann Immerz, Holzgünz: Heimakundliche Beiträge zur Geschichte der Ortsteile Ober- und Unterholzgünz, Kempten: Heimatbund Allgäu e. V. Kempten, 1998).

Hof- and Häusergeschichten also appear as articles in journals published by genealogical and historical societies in Germany.

The St. Louis County Library History & Genealogy Department actively collects these and other sources for German research. Search the library’s catalog at https://webpac.slcl.org/ or contact the History & Genealogy Department at genealogy@slcl.org. Other libraries with sizable German research collections may also have them, and they are usually listed in WorldCat. Many are available for sale at abebooks.com and other online book sellers, as well.

Locating Hof- and Häusergeschichten for a village or town and interpreting the information in them can be a challenge, but the results can yield and substantial amount of genealogical data pertaining to your ancestor and valuable historical and cultural information to add to your family’s history.

 

Scott Holl is manager of History & Genealogy at St. Louis County Library in St. Louis, Missouri. He holds a BA in German from Fort Hays State University, an MA in Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and an MLIS from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.

Premium Member of the Week: Sandy Johnson

Hi Sandy. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today! Can you tell us how long you’ve been doing German genealogy and what got you started?

 I have been doing genealogy for over 30 years, and pretty quickly got into the German part of it because my maternal side knew where in Germany we came from. Of course the location name had been “Americanized” so it was a bit of a challenge.

 

I started genealogy for a few reasons – my Grandmother showed me her old family pictures and I was very curious about those ancestors of mine. Plus my Dad was a great story-teller.

The story-telling makes it so fun! What’s your favorite genealogy story related to your family?
 
The most current one is when my cousins and I found our Great-Great-Grandmother’s birth location in Germany. We had spent ten years trying to locate where she came from. It was like she just appeared here in Minnesota when she married our Great-Great-Grandfather! We could not locate anything about her or her family. With the help and advice of Baerbel Johnson, FHL’s German Specialist, we were able to find it. It really helps to know German Kurrentschrift when going through all that microfilm!
 
That’s great that you were able to find her after ten years – congratulations! For people still on that elusive search, do you have any favorite websites you would share?

When needing help with words,  I use WordMine.Info (I learned about “Hangman” from one of Katherine’s webinars). 

I also use www.abkuerzungen.de for those pesky abbreviation issues. I also like to use https://www.font-generator.com/fonts/18thCenturyKurrent/ to see if I’m actually reading the letters correctly on the word I’m trying to translate. 

For research I frequently use ancestry.com and familysearch.org, among many others.

  

Those are all great sites – thanks for sharing! Speaking of tips, what would be your #1 genealogy tip you’d share with others?

Keep digging (researching)! New items and resources keep popping up. 

So true! Finally, what is one way in which the Premium membership has helped your research?


I have so many!

A big help was the Premium article on abbreviations because i had come across some abbreviation problems in one of my document. I was really delighted when our Premium Facebook Group discussed some abbreviation issues awhile back and I could add those to my abbreviation collection.

I print many of the SK Translations articles and include those in my translation help binder. I also copy many of the words and translations of those words from our Premium Facebook group for that same binder.

 

I’m so glad to hear that everything has been helpful for you. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Sandy!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

From Germany to America: An 1853 Journey

During the course of the nineteenth century, millions of our ancestors left Germany and embarked on a new life in America. Whether the reason was the failed 1848 uprisings, the effects of the Industrial Revolution, or simply seeking an opportunity for a better life, the end result was the same – our ancestors bravely left behind everything they knew and moved to a foreign land halfway around the world.

Photo: https://gcaptain.com/maritime-monday-august-29-2016/immigrant-ship/

Fast forward two hundred years. If we genealogists want to discover the stories of these emigrant ancestors who so bravely left their homeland, passenger lists, emigration documents, and other records may provide the only clues available. But for some lucky genealogists, there is more: personal letters, letters written in the very hands of their ancestors, letters that detail their journey across the ocean and the beginnings of their new life in America.

Susan Hennefield is one such person who was lucky enough to find such a letter among her father’s belongings. I recently had the pleasure of translating this 1853 letter, and she has kindly agreed to let me share it with you here to showcase what an emigration experience was like in the mid-nineteenth century. My own ancestor, Gerhard Wolken, sailed from Bremen in 1854, so I like to think that he might have had a similar journey to Susan’s ancestor Wilhelm below! Perhaps your ancestors did too?

1854 Passenger List of the Ship “Jeverland”. My ancestor Gerhard Wolken emigrated to America at the age of 23, much like Susan’s ancestor Wilhelm Riecker below.

Background Info:

Wilhelm Friedrich Riecker was twenty-two years old when he left Germany for a new life in America. He was the second son of at least twelve children, and his father was a soapmaker in Kürnbach, Karlsruhe. Read on below to see his first letter to his parents after arriving in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York after a 57-day sea journey…

Williamsburg, Sept. 10, 1853

            Dear parents and siblings,

After arriving in my new homeland on August 13 after a 57-day sea journey, I am now picking up the pen to write. I hope that this letter finds you all still happy and healthy, as you were at the time of my departure. We left Mannheim on June 12 at 5:00 in the morning, arrived in Cologne at 7:30 in the evening, and, since there were no more tickets being issued then, had to spend the night in Cologne. We then left for Bremen the following day. They checked all our passports in Preußisch-Minden, on the Hanoverian border. Those who didn’t have the proper documents (which the authorities were not happy about) had to go back.

We stayed in Bremen the 14th and 15th. On the afternoon of the 16th, we left Bremen on a small barge and headed towards Bremerhaven. We didn’t arrive there until the 18th. In Bremen I had to pay half of a Prussian thaler for board, and then had to buy tinware for 1 thaler and a mattress for ½ a thaler. I didn’t buy a pillow or woolen carpet so that I could save my money.

In the passenger building in Bremerhaven, there were people who had already been there fourteen days or even four weeks because they were dealing with cases against the Bremen shipping clerks. It could have easily been the case that I would also have had to wait 14 days at the port because when I was in Bremen, I received a ticket without the name of the captain or the ship that I was supposed to go on. But I went straight to the office and said, “Please be so good and fill in these two spots for me.” They replied, “You won’t receive that information until you are in Bremerhaven.”  But I went back in the afternoon and asked him again, and then he did as I asked. As we were arriving in Bremerhaven, they took us straight to the ocean-bound ship and said, “Whoever has a ticket for the ship Orion led by Captain Schwartz, bring your things on board.” It was only me and a locksmith from Saxony who did so. The barge then made its way to land and everyone went into the passenger building. There they received food like on the ship, just a little bit better. Everyone had to sleep on their own mattress.

So on June 18, we departed from the port. It was a Saturday afternoon with nice, warm weather, and the ship steadily made its way out of the port. The next day we had a good strong wind, we flew like an arrow. If that wind had stayed, we would have made it to New York in 24 days. We sailed on the North Sea for 10 days. It was shortly after 3:00 in the afternoon when we would have gone through the Channel, but we had bad wind and could have been stuck there for 14 days. So we therefore sailed between England and Scotland, which was dangerous – when we woke up in the morning we were heading towards both of the islands, but then the ship was turned about again so that we were being pushed away from the islands instead of going towards them. That same day looked stormy. At the beginning of our trip it was so cold that you almost couldn’t stand being out on the deck. Later it was warm. We didn’t have very favorable winds, so we always had to veer quickly off course, to the right or to the left, which caused it to be a long journey. There were often storms. One time there was a thunderstorm at 3:00 in the morning. The storm appeared within ten minutes, and all the sailors, except for those who were on watch, were still sleeping. Then there was a scream, and all the boxes slid down. The sailors couldn’t reach the ropes to shorten sail, and then they were completely blinded by fire and lightning and then the darkness. But after the sailors had shortened sail, the storm was over.

Births that took place: 2 Deaths: 2  

Things went well on my trip to Bremen, but I can’t say anything good about the sea: in the morning, we received black coffee, or if someone wanted to have hot water and had their own coffee or wanted to make soup, then they could. Throughout the week, lunch consisted of: peas, beans, rice, barley, sauerkraut, and salted bacon, beef, potatoes. In the evenings, tea or water, ¼ butter for the entire week, zwieback, almost so small that you all would have thrown it to the chickens, 4 small little cakes of white zwieback per week, and 3 half liters of sweet water a day for four people.

Aug. 12. On Friday afternoon at 2:00, we saw land, but we couldn’t tell at first if it actually was land or just a cloud. We anchored at 8:00 and stayed there for two hours. At 10:00 we continued on again, and in the morning we were in front of the fort. Then a doctor came and asked if there were any sick people on board. Then we were taken, with the boxes, into the harbor on a tugboat. That was 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, and I was then in New York until Sunday morning. Then I went over to Brooklyn. I found Joseph after about forty minutes, without wandering aimlessly around Brooklyn too much before. The first week, I boarded at a German innkeeper’s, then I stayed with Joseph at H. Vollmer’s at the bakery until we found work for me. I am now working in Williamsburg at a comb and whalebone factory for an American. I earn six thalers a week for every dozen, and from that I need 2 ½ thalers for room and board. I am actually boarding at Christiana Billett’s place. She says to tell you all hello, and hello to her relatives as well. They are all healthy, as are Gottlieb Veit and his wife and Sophie Schaaf. They live an entire hour away from Joseph. G. Veit came to the bakery a few days after my arrival without even knowing that I was here. We then drove out to his home. When we got there, Sophie Schaaf was sitting in front of the house with G. Veit’s girl. I didn’t recognize her then. Elisabetha was not feeling well that evening of my first visit. They were all excited about my arrival and our reunion. Gottlieb Pfeifer, Wilh. Müller, we all get together every Sunday. Weißert will have told you that Joh. Pfeiffer has gone to California.

 Furthermore: Joseph didn’t receive the letter that I myself took to the post office in Kalrsruhe right before my departure. Write again soon about what Gottfried is up to in Karlsruhe. Joseph didn’t even know that Gottfried had left Kürnbach.

 I would very much like to know how things turned out this year with the recruits. I would also advise everyone that they should not travel via Bremen, but via Haven instead. I think that is the shortest way. Going through Bremen always takes longer and the highly-praised food on the ship that people talk about is not how it actually is. 

Joseph and I send you all our affectionate regards, as well as regards to all of our cousins Karl Pfeifer, Ch. Scharpf, J. Riecker, our cousins Susanna and both Johanna’s, and especially to our esteemed uncle in Ellwangen, our Gother Kärcher, J. Hamman, W. Brand, and their children, cousin Baumwirth, Mayor Drechsel, and our neighbor Joh. Pfeifer, and my friends whom I visited the last few days I was there, as well as to Georg Schaaf and Engelhard Müller.

            Don’t worry about either of us.

                        Your

                                    loyal son,

                                    W.F. Riecker

Also say hello to the recruiting leader and his wife. If both of her brothers want to come to America, cobblers can make good money here.

Did your ancestor come over from Germany in the 19th century? How have you found information about their journey? Let us know in the comments!

More Info: German Immigrants: List of Passengers Bound from Germany to New York, 1847-1854


Premium Member of the Week: Michele Dambach

Hi Michele. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today. Can you tell us how long you’ve been doing German genealogy and what got you started?

I was dabbling in genealogy for a few years, but really began in earnest in 2019. My Dad and I were planning a trip to Danzig/Gdansk, where he was born during WWII. He got in touch with some of the local officials, who welcomed us with open arms.

 In addition, they discovered marriage certificates and other documents from my great grandparents. This caused me to want to learn even more prior to our trip, and I’ve been hooked ever since. 

That makes sense. A trip to Germany always makes things more fun and exciting. What about websites? Do you have a favorite?
 
Aside from being a Premium member of SK Translations, I use Ancestry, Family Search, and Meyers. Google is also a great friend – with information from around the world sourced with even just a broad search term. 
 
I love those websites too. As you’ve continued your German genealogy journey, have you learned a top tip that you would like to share with our readers?
 

I highly recommend taking a course on reading/translating the German handwriting. With so many letters looking similar or resembling one another, it has become invaluable for me. And as  you begin to become more familiar with the script, it truly does get a bit easier. 

Thanks for the course shout-out! I’m so happy to hear that it has helped you so much. What about any stories? Do you have a favorite story related to your ancestors?

My father and I were able to take a trip to Gdansk in December 2019. Through research and documents, I was able to take photos in front of the house where my father, my grandparents and great-grandparents lived. I also found the building where my great-grandfather ran his freight and moving business, close to the Motlawa River. But the best part was seeing the baptismal font where my father was baptized. The font had just been returned to the sanctuary in St. Mary’s Basilica after years of being in storage. My father and I met with the Monsignor and were able to pray together in front of the font – it was a very moving experience!

 

Wow, that does sound incredible. How special for you to both be able to be there together. 
 
Finally, how has the Premium membership helped your German genealogy research? 
 
The Premium membership provides monthly articles that explore topics in depth that assist in my research. In addition, the Premium Facebook group has become invaluable to me. I anticipate our weekly “meetings” to get assistance with those one or two words on a document that are leaving me stumped. These words, once deciphered, often lead to new clues about where to search next for family records. 
 

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Michele!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

Premium Member of the Week: Janis Allison Keough

Hi Janis, thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today. hOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING GERMAN GENEALOGY and what got you started?

I’ve been “doing” genealogy in general for 50+ years, ever since I found a bunch of family documents, including German letters (in the Old Script!), in my grandmother’s attic. I’ve been too intimidated to really get into my German genealogy until recently, when I took Katie’s online handwriting class. So, really, I’m a German Genealogy newbie!
 

What’s your favorite genealogy website you use nowadays?

I use Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org the most, because they have so much and are so easy, but I’m hoping to learn about some of the websites specifically for German research.
 

I love those websites too. As you’ve continued in your german genealogy journey, have you learned a top tip that you would want to share with our readers?

Just keep trying. You never know when that document you know must be there will finally appear. Once, I accidentally found an important record simply by googling a name out of desperation.

that’s so nice when that happens! what about any stories? Do you have a favorite story related to your ancestors?

My favorite story is about my great grand aunt, Caroline Dedrick/Dietrich. The family myth was that she married a German count who was touring America, had a son with him, and went back to Germany with him. He then tricked her into returning to America without her son, and she never saw the count or her son again.

After much research, I found that she did marry a German man named Ernst von Ferber, but he wasn’t a count. They moved to Olewein, Iowa, where their son, Julius, was born. Ernst opened a store there, but the business failed, and I believe they did go back to Germany. 

Caroline came back alone and lived with her family in Illinois. She was listed as a widow named Ferber in the census, but she went back to using her maiden name soon after that. She never married again and died in Kansas. Ernst immigrated to Canada, married again, and had a large family. I’m still looking for evidence of their divorce and of Caroline being in Germany. I have DNA matches to descendants of their son, Julius von Ferber, so I’ve managed to confirm some of the story!

that’s great! And finally, How has the premium membership helped your research in german genealogy?

Premium membership has helped me find new places to search, helped with my transcription of those old letters,  and introduced me to other researchers. The community is very friendly and helpful.
 

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Janis!

 Voices of the Ancestors - remember those that came before you ...

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