Family Photo

Half-cousin? Still related, just as important as a full cousin!

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Some photos have had a rough life. The picture above is the only one I have of my mom’s half first cousin, Rose Ahrens Runge, and her family. I’m not sure why/how the photo acquired so many cracks and creases–enough that her son on the right is “missing” an eye.

Fortunately, armed with a scanner, editing software, time, and an abundance of patience, huge improvements can be made with damaged photos. The original was only about the size of a note card–3.5″ x 5″ or so. I decided to scan it at 1200 DPI (Dots Per Inch) for ease of editing, as well as allowing it to be blown up to a larger reprint. I wanted as many data points as possible! I started repairing the easier sections, and moved on to more difficult/complicated areas later on. That allowed me to “warm up” a bit, and get used to the process of filling in those missing pixels. “Clone” and “blur” tools became my friends. The results are much better!

back row: Harry Runge, Rosalie Runge, Ruth Robrahn Runge, Charles E. Runge, Catherine Stolle Runge, Walter Runge.
middle: Charles August Runge, Rose Ahrens Runge, Ralph Runge (son of Charles E.)
front: Ruth Runge (daughter of Harry), Ray Runge (youngest son of Charles & Rose)
Photo possibly taken late 1934.

When I finished editing, I sent an 8″ x 10″ print to one of the children in the photo, who was in his 70s at the time. My mom sort of knew who was who, but I thought it would be better to have someone more closely related confirming identities. They are captioned above. I’m narrowing the date based on a couple facts:

  • Ralph (on lap) was born 30 August 1933. He looks to be about a year old, but not over the age of 2.
  • Rosalie died in September 1936 of tuberculosis–she doesn’t look sickly, here.
  • Harry and Ruth had another daughter, Jean, in February, 1935, but she’s not in the photo. She could be napping, or Ruth could be pregnant. We can’t tell, because Ruth is standing in the back.
  • I’m stymied about month and day. Christmas and Thanksgiving are traditional times to get everyone together, but three of the women are wearing short sleeves — less likely in Chicago in November or December! Bottom line: the date is a guess, at best.

This is only a snapshot of time, though. Who were these people? You briefly met Charlie and Rose last week (Love), over a decade later than this, at my aunt and uncle’s wedding. Rose and my mom had the same grandfather, but different grandmothers. Rose was born 13 October 1885¹, making her three years older than my mom’s father (Rose’s uncle!). She was the oldest of seven. Unlike most of the rest of the Meintzer clan, Rose’s grew up in Chicago, not “out in the country” (what’s now the north and northwest suburbs), and remained there as an adult. Getting together with her Meintzer relatives took more effort.

Her husband, Charles August Runge, was born in Chicago, 21 January 1883. He and Rose married 21 May 1906², running off to Hammond, Indiana. Illinois has its 3-day waiting period after acquiring a marriage license, so Indiana and Michigan were (and are!) popular “marriage mills.” No waiting. When I located their marriage register entry, I discovered Rose was actually “Rosalie” — like her daughter. I had only ever heard Rose, so that was an interesting tidbit.

Charles and Rose had five children — that I know about, at least:

  • Harry L.: 13 December 1906 — 9 August 1997. He married Ruth Robrahn in 1929, and had two girls: Ruth Harriet and Jean C.
  • Charles E.: 12 April 1908³ — 5 November 1990. He married Catherine Stolle, and had Ralph G. and two daughters. In my file I had his wife spelled “Kathryn,” but locating her on Find-A-Grave (memorial 100882747), she shows up as “Catherine.” I presume her marker was carved with the name she preferred!
  • Rosalie Catherine: 11 July 19134 — 8 September 1936. She died young, from tuberculosis, never married.
  • Walter Clarence: 28 June 19175 — 11 February 2001. He married Lucille Goodrode, and then Mildred Jean Haggerty after Lucille’s death.
  • Raymond William: 16 October 1926 — 16 August 2015. He married Margaret Sorenson (had 3 daughters), and later, Phyllis Clark.

I had always heard that Charles was a musician. In doing my “due diligence,” for this post, I came across occupations I didn’t expect:

  • 1910 census — bookkeeper for a brewery
  • WWI draft6 — bookkeeper, Indiana quarries
  • 1920 census — bookkeeper, ???? (the writing doesn’t make sense)
  • 1930 & 19407 census,WWII draft in 1942— bookkeeper (or financial serv.) for the Chicago Federation of Musicians.

Now I understand how he got linked with musicians! It doesn’t necessarily mean the story is wrong, though. Yes, it’s possible that someone misunderstood his “working for the Federation of Musicians” to mean that he was a musician. But maybe he had always been working as a musician on the side, and finally had an opportunity to work for them as a bookkeeper. It’s something I need to explore. His obituary8 mentions he was a “member of local No. 10, Chicago Federation of Musicians.” That sounds like he had joined the union. Would he need to do that if he were merely a bookkeeper? Or was that reserved only for actual musicians? More questions, more research.

I also knew Charles painted, because we had two of his oil paintings in the room with our TV. For some reason, they had been framed behind glass — something you shouldn’t do with oil! When my parents unframed them, to remove the glass, one was damaged (some paint peeled off). I’ve also acquired a water color of his. It must have been up on a shelf when I was growing up, as I don’t recall seeing it hung up. Quite likely, the two paintings you see in the background of the photo are works of his.

So, do half-cousins matter at all? Why do I need to keep track of them? Of course they matter! And yes, I do want to know who the current descendants are. Maybe they have photos or information I don’t have. Maybe I have information they need. If we are DNA matches, they are extremely helpful for pinpointing which ancestor we match from. This past week has shown me I need to do a little better by my half-relatives, and fill in the gaps of their trees. The fact that distance and time limitations have left us less in touch with each other is a poor excuse.

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Chicago, Ward 27, e.d. 827; Page 18A; dwelling number 309; family number 325; line 37; John AHRENS household; accessed 19 February 2019. Rosa AHRENS, age 14, October 1885; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 278; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²”Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 19 February 2019, citing Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001, Record number 12869. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis. Charles RUNGE and Rosalie AHRENS.

³”Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1971-1922″, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 19 February 2019, entry for Charles E. RUNGE, 12 April 1908, citing “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922″ or Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915” FHL Film1288154. Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield.

4“Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1971-1922”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 19 February 2019, entry for Rosalie RUNGE, 11 July 1913, citing “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922″ or Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915” FHL Film1288289. Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield.

5“Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1971-1922”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), accessed 19 February 2019, entry for Walter RUNGE, 28 June 1917, citing “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922″ or Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915” FHL Film1276320. Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield.

6“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Charles August RUNGE, serial no. 780, order no. 1883, Draft Board 58, Cook County, Illinois, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1613683. accessed 21 February 2019.

71940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Chicago Ward 50, e.d. 103-3225; Page 10B; household number 203; line 62; Charles RUNGE household; accessed 24 February 2019. Charles RUNGE, age 57; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1022; digital image, Ancestry.com.

8Chicago Tribune, Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois), 7 May 1956, record number 19560507dn089. Charles A. RUNGE–“Member of local No. 10, Chicago Federation of Musicians”.

Love

“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” —Robert Browning

Valentine’s week (it upgraded from a “day” years ago!) just ended. For the last several weeks we’ve being told by advertisers we needed to ply our loved one with:

  • flowers (preferably long-stemmed roses, right?)
  • candy (chocolate, in a heart-shaped box!)
  • jewelry
  • dinner out
  • everything else under the sun (I’m pretty sure I saw car ads . . .)
  • All of the above (how can we put a price limit on our love??)

Add to that, the Hallmark Channel aired two weeks’ worth of movies guaranteed to put us into a diabetic coma. How can we mere mortals possibly live up to those romantic expectations? Odds are we never will. And it leaves us frustrated when we don’t seem to receive what we are “supposed” to.

If we are lucky, though, we have people in our lives who put everything in the proper perspective. For me, one of those couples is my Aunt Neva and Uncle Gail. Sadly, Aunt Neva passed away last month, just shy of 94 years. So she (they) have been on my mind a lot, recently. While this timing isn’t the best, I checked with my uncle and cousins first. I got their blessings, so will try to tread lightly.

Uncle Gail is my mom’s younger brother. Now in their mid-90s, they still talk daily, despite the four hundred miles separating them. Aunt Neva grew up in Elgin, Illinois. We find her with her parents in the 1940 census, in high school.¹ That may not seem far from my uncle in Deerfield, but it was still 30-35 miles—in pre-Tollway/Interstate days! Neva’s father worked as an engineer for the railroad, and after high school, she went to work for the Milwaukee Road, in Union Station. That was where she and Gail first met. They didn’t date then, due to the distance and gas rationing during WWII² (p. 46).

After being drafted and discharged, Gail went back to work with the Milwaukee Road, and ran into Neva, again. She remembered him after 2 years! They started dating² (pp. 71-73), eventually leading up to
a Valentine’s Day proposal and then the photo above, 21 June 1947. The two lovebirds are easy enough to pick out, but the remaining cast is:

  • a friend of my uncle’s (holding the marriage license??)
  • “Uncle” Charlie and “Aunt” Rose Ahrens Runge. Rose is actually my mom’s and uncle’s half first cousin, daughter of my grandfather’s oldest half-sister. But Rose was 3 years older than my grandfather (her uncle!), so my mom always called her “aunt.” It was very confusing for me starting in genealogy, and she was not the only “faux aunt” in the tree!
  • Aunt Lena (Caroline) Moeller Mueller — my grandmother’s (Minnie) older sister — is partly behind Neva.
  • Great-grandma Elfrieda Jonas Moeller (Challenge) next to Gail
  • Aunt Lillie Moeller Tronjo — my grandmother’s younger sister
  • my grandmother, Minnie, holding my sister, Carole (who really seems to be making the wedding circuit (Surprise) early in life!)
  • Who belongs to the eyes and hat peeking over my uncle’s shoulder? With a little bit of calf thrown in for good measure? None other than my mother. I showed her the photo and asked why she was hiding behind her brother—she had no idea! Either the photo was taken before she moved into place, or she was feeling self-conscious at being VERY pregnant (my brother, Bob, was born 5½ weeks later!).

Of course, getting to the wedding day is one thing—getting through the next 70 years is another story! As a kid, I never thought about their “relationship” or how they got along. With his railroad work, they often weren’t living nearby, so the opportunities to visit were few. When we did, I was busy enjoying having cousins at least close to my age to hang with—I wasn’t keeping tabs on the adults! While I’m sure life was not perfect, I never had the sense of strain or tenseness when they were around. I think I would have picked up on that.

I think I first looked at their relationship at their 65th anniversary party in 2012. It wasn’t a family reunion, so I wasn’t running around, making sure everything ran smoothly. I didn’t have children to keep an eye on and out of trouble. I got to just be a guest—a rare treat! It was an opportunity to simply observe.

Gail & Neva had weathered good times, bad times, and everything in between, yet it was obvious they still adored each other. No, they didn’t always agree, but they did always care for and respect each other. The love they had for their children, grand children, and great grand children—and enjoyment of them—was clear. Those sentiments were equally reciprocated by their descendants, with a huge dollop of respect on top. It was lovely to watch.

As health issues cropped up these last few years, we witnessed a continuation of that care and concern for each other — not out of duty, obligation, guilt, or anything other than genuine love and wanting to do whatever was possible for the other. It was an important life-lesson.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, New American Bible


So thank you, Uncle Gail & Aunt Neva, for showing us for the last 71+ years what love really looks like! It’s not always moonlight and roses, it’s being there, when it matters the most.

#52Ancestors


¹1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinios, Kane, Elgin, e.d. 45-92; Page 8A; household number 151; line 12; Chas. JEWELL household; accessed 16 February 2019. Neva JEWELL, age 15; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 821; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²Gail F. Meintzer, Detours: A Memoir of a Railroad Man (Green Bay, WI: Written Dreams Publishing, 2016).

 

Surprise

Genealogy provides a never-ending stream of surprises!

Give a vigorous shake to any family tree, and in addition to a few nuts, other surprises invariably fall out! Mine is no exception, and you’ve already read about a variety of “surprises” I’ve found through the years. But if you are hoping for a juicy, scandal-laced, DNA-based reveal in this blog post, your time is better spent elsewhere. This one is pretty mundane.

It’s September, 1946, and my mom’s cousin, Jeanne, is getting married. She is second youngest daughter of George Edward (Edward George) Meintzer (Next to Last), my grandfather’s older brother. The two girls (both still living!) are two years apart in age (Mom is older).

Though they lived in the same town, Mom says she and Jeanne didn’t really see too much of each other, growing up. Their fathers had a good relationship, so there wasn’t a family rift. The families lived only a few blocks apart, and Mom remembers Jeanne’s older sister, Helen, babysitting for her a couple times. But Jeanne’s mom was Catholic, with the children raised Catholic, so the families attended different churches, possibly different schools. And you know how it is with kids — they don’t really want to hang out with younger kids — even cousins!

But, by 1946, everyone is grown up, with my mom married for almost two years! She and Dad arrive at Jeanne’s wedding, most likely with her parents. Also in tow is my sister, Carole, seven months old, cute as a button, undoubtedly enjoying her brief stint as “only child.”

Imagine my mom’s surprise to see Aunt Rose (The Maiden Aunt) and Uncle Joe Rau also attending! They are from my dad’s side: Aunt Rose is the sister of my other grandmother, Victoria. Why are they here at my mom’s cousin’s wedding? What was going on?

It turned out that the bridegroom was Uncle Joe’s nephew! Uncle Joe’s sister, Mary, was the mother of the groom. Who would ever anticipate that? Of course, it didn’t change anything — my dad wasn’t related to Jeanne’s new husband. The two of them were just related — one by DNA, one by marriage — to the same person (Uncle Joe). It was simply one of those random occurrences that pop up in families.

As so often happens, quirky little things like that are easily forgotten. When I began my research in my teens, Mom and I paid a visit to her cousin, seeing what she might know about the Meintzers. Jeanne brought out a thick binder with the genealogy of her husband to show me. Someone in his family had researched and put it together, and he obtained a copy. It was interesting, but it really had nothing pertinent for us. Of course, it showed Uncle Joe’s connection to Jeanne’s husband, which Mom had forgotten about. It also made my fledgling genealogy look puny by comparison . . .

Fast forward 35+ years . . . The “Great Photo Identification Project” was still underway. Mom and I were on a road trip to the Chicago area and stopped by to see Jeanne. It was just a “sit and catch up” visit, but the conversation turned to photographs and the difficulty in identifying some of them.

Carole Ann Haws, Rose Schweiger Rau, and Mary Rau White (previously unidentified) on 14 September 1946.

This photo of Aunt Rose holding my sister was one of the problem photos we owned. Aunt Rose was easily identifiable, as was Carole. The woman on the right proved to be a puzzle, though. From the corsages, we knew is was some “event” — we just couldn’t place it. So while they chatted, Mom mentioned it. Conveniently, I had an image on my laptop, and pulled it up to show Jeanne. She took one look and said, “That’s my mother-in-law!”

SURPRISE!

Say what?? How did Mom not remember it being from Jeanne’s wedding? I guess she was busy taking care of a baby, and didn’t pay attention to Jeanne’s new in-laws. At least the mystery was finally solved! And yes, the photo has been properly labeled.

What’s the take-away from this? First, it’s a good idea to be careful with what you say about whom. You never know who might be distantly connected to you — or to someone you know. And when DNA testing enters the mix, all bets are off!

Second, label the pictures! Now. ALL of them. Not just one copy, Every. Single. Print. If you label only one (that you have multiples of) and give it away, where does that leave you? Unlabeled again, that’s what! Just do it.

Lastly, write the stories down. It is too easy to forget about them, or forget to repeat them to others, so they know about them. We’ve all played “telephone” enough to know how that game turns out, and we know the effect it can have on our family stories (Colorful and Close Up)! Having the stories committed to paper at least locks them into a particular version. It may still be wrong (or not completely right — not quite the same thing as wrong), but at least there’s a more fixed starting point, and something concrete to either prove or disprove.

Most importantly, enjoy the surprises (good or bad) when they show up. They make our family history more interesting! That’s what keeps most genealogists coming back for more.

#52Ancestors

At the Library

“When in doubt, go to the library.” —J. K. Rowling

Like any genealogist, I have put in time at many libraries. As a fledgling genealogist in the mid-1970s, my first guide book (Searching for Your Ancestors by Gilbert H. Doane, if I remember correctly) would have come from our local library. I think it was the lone geneology title on the shelf! Everything I knew about researching came from that book, until I received a paperback copy of Finding Your Roots by Jeane Eddy Westin for Christmas in 1978 or later. That book still sits on my shelf, non-acid-free pages yellowed with age.

Flipping the pages was a stroll back in time. I saw the parts I underlined (who used highlighters back then?) and paused at the section talking about Chicago’s Newberry Library. I knew the “LDS Salt Lake City Library” (as Ms. Westin referred to what we now know as the Family History Library) was not in my future. I did not live where my ancestors had, so “local records” were not nearby. Manitowoc, Wisconsin, was far enough away (3 hours) that a trip wasn’t really feasible. But the Newberry Library was only a half hour away, and would have more resources than a local library or historical society.

So somehow I managed to con persuade my dad to make a trip to the Newberry with me one Saturday. I knew my parents wouldn’t let me venture into the near north side of Chicago on my own! When we walked into the library, it was obvious that I was the youngest person in the building. My dad, in his early 50s, may have been the next youngest! I knew I had only a few hours there, so needed to make the most of it!

I do not have a research log from that visit. I was a teenager — I didn’t know any better. But I remember looking through the card catalog for anything about Manitowoc County. I’m pretty sure the stacks were closed, so I had to fill out a request slip and wait for them to retrieve the books for me.

While waiting, Dad and I went into the microfilm room to look for census records from Manitowoc County. With two of us there, we could cover twice the films, right? Of course, neither of us knew what we were doing! I found a couple reels for 1880 and we set to work looking for John Bruder¹ and family, and John Haase and family. You met some of them in The Old Homestead.

We knew they were in Manitowoc county, and knew some town names to start with, but it was still a page-by-page project. We learned the joys of cranking the microfilm handle, pausing to scan the page, then repeat. Luckily, neither of us experienced motion sickness, as some do!

I probably don’t still have the notes from that day, having transferred them to Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Charts. But the lessons learned that day have stuck with me. Things I had only read about, became glaringly obvious:

  • Spelling is flexible. For Haase, I found:
    • Hoss4
    • House
    • Hasse
  • For Bruder, I found
    • “Brother” (yes, “Bruder” translated to English!)
    • “Rinder” in the 1870 Ancestry index (name misread by the indexer)
  • First names were not exempt!
    • Johann Mathias: Mathias, John, Johann, or John M.
    • Elizabeth: Elisabeth, Elisbeth, or Lisabeth,
    • Nicholas: Nicklas, Niclaus
    • Catherine can be “C” or “K”, with or without the “e” in the middle, and even “Katy”
  • Age is relative! As long as the gaps between children were consistent with what I expected, I learned to roll with it. And adults were given wide latitude with their ages, too.

I quickly realized I could not rely on reading last names, and needed to look at the entire family — parents and kids together! The kids’ names weren’t particularly unusual, but the odds were low that, even if the last name was wrong, there probably weren’t two families with Elizabeth, Dorothy, Frank, Bertha, John, and Henry (or whoever) in the right order, with the right age gaps. That probably was the beginning of my learning to “trust my gut” about whether the person or family is “right.” Sometimes the leeway or accommodations I allow are greater than others, and people whose names might seem very wrong, are very right, and people with the “right” name are so very, very wrong! It’s an art, not a science, and not infallible.

So after cranking through the 1880, 1870, and 1860 censuses, we returned to the reading room to see if the books I’d requested were waiting. That was when I learned my next lesson: Farmers are not written about in the county histories! To me, the mid-1800s seemed “early,” but when History of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Volume I talked about the pioneers, it meant the early 1800s. I headed to the chapters for the towns the Haase, Bruder, Jost, and Nachtwey families lived in — no mention of any of them.

Another memory from that trip, was seeing my first plat maps. I’m not sure how I found them, but I remember seeing names I recognized. Those may have been in another book. One thing I did not come home with, was photocopies — of anything — not even the census pages. All that information was written down in old school notebooks! At the time, copies cost fifty cents a piece! College expenses were looming, and I did not have a “genealogy budget.”

As so often happens while writing a blog post, I learn something new. This time I discovered it can be harder to find census records online, than cranking through the physical microfilm! Looking for Bruders in 1870, I couldn’t find them. I knew they were there, and I could find the FamilySearch image, but not the Ancestry one. The two databases have different indexes, and Ancestry misread “Bruder” as “Rinder.”³ It took some creative searching to locate it, and then a helpful cousin with an Ancestry subscription (thanks, Barb!) to confirm it was the right page. Searching online databases is faster only when the names are indexed correctly!

As I verify information, I sometimes find gaps in it. I realized I’d never located the Haase family in 1880. I finally found great-great-grandma Elisabeth, misspelled Hasse, with the three youngest kids.² My great-grandfather, Frank (b. 1858) is not with them, however. I can’t find him anywhere. He doesn’t marry Anna Bruder until 1885. Presumably he’s nearby, working for someone else — though he could be in another county, too! It looks like I need to do a page-by-page search online for him.

So many dead people, so little time, and always more questions than answers . . .

#52Ancestors


¹1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth, e.d. 66; Page 12; dwelling number 104; family number 108; line 3; Mathias BRUDER household; accessed 3 February 2019. Mathias BRUDER, age 45; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers, e.d. 78; Page 13; dwelling number 112; family number 112; line 25; Lisabeth HASSE [HAWS} household; accessed 3 February 2019. Lisabeth HASSE [HAWS], age 55, widowed; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers Town; Page 19; dwelling number 134; family number 139; line 10; John RINDER [BRUDER] household; accessed 2 February 2019. John RINDER [BRUDER], age 33; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).4

4 1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers Town; Page 15; dwelling number 108; family number 113; line 6; John HORS [HOSS] household; accessed 2 February 2019; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

The Importance of Being Ernest–I mean, Aloysius

“Nostalgia has a way of blocking the reality of the past.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Nine days ago, I wrote a post about the name Alois/Aloysius (Unusual Name), and its appearance in our family. At the end I related a story about my oldest brother choosing it for his Confirmation name. Almost immediately I received an email from my sister-in-law (wife of middle brother) saying that he had Aloysius as a Confirmation name.

Had I mis-remembered the story? Entirely possible. It was not written down, just tucked away in memory. Could they have both chosen the same name? Maybe. Unfortunately, oldest brother, Bob, died in 2008, so he isn’t around to ask. How could I resolve this conflicting information?

When it got to a more decent hour, I called our mother (age 96!) on the off chance that she remembered. Now, she’s 96, wasn’t Catholic until she turned 70, and we’re talking about something that happened sixty years ago. I didn’t hold out much hope.

I was not mistaken. She did not remember who had which Confirmation name, though she remembered one of them had chosen Aloysius. She also confirmed that she didn’t care for the name, but didn’t remember telling anyone that. So perhaps I’ve mis-remembered that aspect of the story, and she was simply perturbed that the name was selected.

But that still didn’t resolve the issue. I messaged youngest brother, Bill, to see if he remembered anything. He thought he had chosen Paul, and that Bob had Aloysius, but reminded me it was a long time ago! If he’d read the blog entry, that also might have influenced his answer, so I took it with a grain of salt.

I decided I needed to follow my mother’s advice and call the parish. Hopefully they had a record of the names. The woman I spoke with two days later was very nice, and I gave her as much information as I could: our names, my Confirmation date, and all our graduation dates. I figured she might need to search through registers, so waited patiently for an email reply. It arrived today!

The email¹ from the parish secretary included all our Confirmation names, as well as the dates. Bob (Aloysius) and Carole (Lucy) were confirmed on the same day (our parish held Confirmation every other year, doing two grades at a time). Middle brother (Warren) was Thomas! Bill had correctly remembered Paul, and I already knew Elizabeth for me.

While I feel slightly vindicated (sorry, Warren!), truthfully I wouldn’t have cared if the answer had been different. I could have just as easily been wrong. This isn’t a fact I track in the genealogy, much less being a “vital” data point. But since the question had been raised, I needed to follow up on it, verifying it one way or another.

But now that this mystery has been solved, I can move on to others!


¹Lara Krupicka, Hinsdale, Illinois [(e-address for private use),] to Christine Bauman, e-mail, 29 January 2019, “Confirmation Names”; privately held by Bauman [(e-address & street address for private use),] Greenwood, Indiana.

I’d Like to Meet

So many questions . . .

Are you kidding? Everybody! I’ve got questions for them all. Well, that was a quick blog to write . . .

Okay, that really doesn’t cut it, so I’m choosing two: Hans Meyer der Ëinsminger (1575-1621) from Bockenheim (now Sarre-Union), and Hans Adam Gerber Einsminger (1577-1630) from Diemeringen. Despite the similar last names, the consensus is that the two men are not related — at least, not close enough for anyone to figure out how. Both lived in closely spaced villages in Alsace. But record keeping in the 1500s and 1600s allows for potential errors in connections. Meeting with them both (preferably together!) would provide an opportunity to clarify some information.

When I travel up my Meintzer line, as I hit the 1700s and 1600s, I start running into Ensmingers. Or Einsmingers. Or Ëinsmingers. You have to keep an open mind with the spelling, because they certainly did! My great grandfather (Christian–Colorful) is where both lines meet up. Every one of his descendants descends from both Hans Meyer and Hans Gerber.

The similarity of names, and nearness of towns (8-9 km apart, not that far, even by 1600s standards) created the confusion. For a long time, many thought the two men were one. Further research revealed the two separate family groups, resolving some of the issues. In the Bockenheim church books there was a Hans Einssminger, along with another Hans Ensminger found in the Diemeringen records. Some records simply had the Ensminger surname, while others included additional surnames in front—”Meyer der Einsminger” (literally “of” or “from” Insming) or “Gerber Einsminger.” It’s the type of name treatment given to someone moving in from another town. It would distinguish the “new guy” from the “Hans _______” already living in town. It suggests both men were originally from Insming, in Lorraine, though there’s not definitive proof.

My Great-grandfather, Christian Meintzer, is the earliest descendant of both men. This is his line to Hans Gerber, from his mother’s side.

Hans Gerber Einsminger was born in Diemeringen around 1577. While he was born there, it’s believed his father was Peter Gerber, of Insming. The “Einsminger” addition applied to his father apparently stayed with Hans, too. He married Christina Gut, and had at least 6 children. One of those was my 9th great-grandfather, Carl (b. 1605). His wife, Ottilia Bach would eventually be found guilty of witchcraft, and be executed in 1673 (Misfortune). Carl’s great-granddaughter, Anna Ottilia (b. 1696) marries out into the Koeppel family in Dehlingen, ending our Ensminger surname on that side. A couple generations of Bauer and then Isel, and we end up at great-grandpa Christian!

This shows his line through his father to Hans Meyer. The ancestors above the red boxes in both trees have come from assorted Ensminger web pages.

Hans Meyer der Einsminger was born about 1575, presumably in Insming. He had two wives (both Margareth or Margaretha — smart man!), and twelve children between the two of them. All his children were born in Bockenheim, beginning in 1601. While Hans Meyer died in Bockenheim (1621), his sons (or at least my 8th great-grandfather, Hans Georg) moved to nearby Hambach/Waldhambach. Georg’s daughter, Catharina, married Johann Matthias Schmidt, producing two of my 6th great-grandmothers — Anna Catharina and Anna Barbara. The latter married a Roth from Volksberg, leading down to the Philippi and Meintzer families. It finally ended up with my 2nd great-grandfather marrying an Isel from the other Ensminger line.

You can see why a face-to-face with these men would be useful. The scarcity and conditions of the records so far back make it difficult. Obviously they would not be able to supply information on later generations, but they SHOULD know who their parents were, their children, and possibly some — if not all — of their grandchildren. It would be a huge help!

Full disclaimer: I have not personally verified all the parent-child connections between my great-grandfather and either man. My primary source for many of those connections is Alsatian Connections, Volume I¹. In compiling the genealogies of the emigrants from the towns of Butten, Dehlingen, Diemeringen, Ratzwiller, and Waldhambach, Ms. Wesner used church and civil records, C. Schrader-Muggenthaler’s The Alsace Emigration Book, and A. Kunselman Burgert’s Eighteenth Century Emigrants from Northern Alsace to America. While information “coming from a book” doesn’t make it accurate, all those volumes are held in high regard.

Similarly, the connections beyond the red boxes above have been taken from various web pages or other reference books: in particular, Ensminger of Alsace and Pennnsylvania. Again, that’s a somewhat risky proposition, but the reality is the Ensminger descendants who wrote that book have continued to research, collaborate, and update the information. Its current iteration (2018) is a downloadable PDF file, available from numerous libraries, free of charge. The original author, Dr. Bell, has passed away, but while he was still alive, other researchers found the book, and contacted him with questions, additions, and corrections. Reading through the preface, it explains:

  • how Dr. Bell researched
  • how and when the collaborators joined with him
  • incorrect information in the original publication–and the corrections made in this new revision
  • other genealogical compilations for different Ensminger branches
  • mistaken connections in those books, as well as what parts are correct

So while no printed genealogy will ever be “perfect,” I will, for the time being, utilize the information from this book. As I get time, I will personally re-check the Alsatian church and civil records for my direct ancestors’ information to confirm those details. But yes, I’d like to meet Hans Adam Gerber Ensminger and Hans Meyer der Ensminger

#52Ancestors

¹Wesner, Doris. Alsatian Connections, Volume I. Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1995.

²Raymond Martin Bell, Brendon R. Wehrung, John Kurt Entsminger, Dale Edward Ensminger, Ensminger of Alsace and Pennnsylvania, 2018 Edition (online) (Middle River, MD, 2018, originally published 1995), Part 2, p. 1. http://www.genealogycenter.info/search_ensminger.php. Alan County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Unusual Name

Some names are in a class by themselves.

I’ve already used up my most unusual name: Venemi/Vensom/Vaclav (Same Name). But if I have to choose another one, I’m going with Alois. It’s a name we don’t see much of nowadays, and shows up in just one of my ancestral branches. It is related to the names Aloysius (AL-oh-ISH-əs), Louis, and Ludwig (as well as others) and means “famous warrior.” St. Aloysius is the patron saint of Catholic youth.

Alois Schweiger was my great-great-grandfather (father of Ignatz (Closest to Your Birthday), who emigrated from Bavaria in 1882). Alois was born in Niederhoëfen, Bavaria, 5 October 1821. He died there 13 February 1871, just shy of fifty years old. To the best of my knowledge, there were no others before him named Alois — though I don’t know names for his cousins, uncles, granduncles, etc. Some others could be lurking there.

Alois or Aloysius in the Schweiger line. Other siblings removed for simplicity.

Alois and his wife Marianne Hartmann had seven children. Their youngest son was Alois, Jr. Older brother, Ignatz, named one of his sons (Uncle Al) “Aloysius,” in honor of his father and brother, I suppose. Uncle Al in turn named his youngest son after himself and his grandfather. However, that son (Buddy) used a nickname for most of his relatively short (1917-1947) life, so I guess he wasn’t overly fond of Aloysius!

Uncle Al standing next to his brother, Leo (Black Sheep) before October, 1932.

When I started doing genealogy, and began looking for this name in records, I realized that MANY people were not familiar with either variation, so they became very creative with spelling. Sometimes the problem was with the more recent transcriber having trouble reading the handwriting and not knowing what the name was. Other times the issue was with the person writing it down in the first place. I’ve seen it written or indexed as:

  • Alice (for a man!)
  • Alvis
  • Aulis
  • Allwishes (SO wrong, yet works phonetically!)

I soon learned to look at names and think how they would sound and not worry about how they were spelled!

As I gathered information for this post (meaning of the name, patron saint, etc.), I decided to run a search at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch just to see what other Alois Schweigers popped up. There were way more than I anticipated! Most of them didn’t belong to me, of course, but it was interesting to see they mostly came from Bavaria (where mine came from), or very nearby — Baden, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland. Northern Germany did not show up very often as I scrolled through. Of course, the name is used with many other surnames, but checking with “Schmidt,” the results seemed similar.

So I wonder how much geography plays a role in naming patterns? Is it a coincidence that Beethoven (a Ludwig) was born in Bonn, considerably farther north? It would be an interesting topic to study. Or is it merely a function of what name is popular at a particular time? That’s how we acquired a generation of children named Brittany, Justin, and Jessica! While I have 24 Louis and 10 Ludwig people in my file, there are only 7 Alois or Aloysius entered (some of them distantly connected). Both are clearly outnumbered by more the traditional Louis and Ludwig!

Of course, the best story about the name comes from my mom. When my oldest brother was getting ready for his confirmation, Mom told him he could choose whatever saint name he wanted, but she really didn’t care for Aloysius. So what name did Bob pick? Aloysius, of course! Unfortunately, that detail doesn’t get stored in my database, so he doesn’t figure into the above stats. But that may well be our family’s most recent — and last? — use of this unusual name!

#52Ancestors