Favorite Discovery

Really? Pick just one?

My “favorite” discovery always seems to be the elusive record I have finally managed to track down. It might be a census record where the enumerator mangled the name on the page, or the indexer misread what was written. Or it could be a marriage record or obituary providing the missing information linking several generations together. Sometimes it’s just the random newspaper blurb about my mom’s second birthday party, or her cousins being vaccinated.

A lot of the cool discoveries have already been written about. If I has to pick one, though, it might be the microfilm records in Kreuzebra, Thurigen, Germany (Kreuzeber, in the 1800s). That’s the ancestral town for my dad’s great grandfather, John Haase. I’ve mentioned that microfilm, but never went into much detail. Let’s take a closer look.

When Katherine Rueby provided me the Family History Library (FHL) microfilm numbers with my 2nd great grandparents’ marriage record, I was excited. Finding the opportunity to access them proved to be difficult. The microfilm reels needed to be ordered from Salt Lake City, at $3.25 each, for a 3-week period. The local FHL wasn’t far away, but its hours were limited—as was my time! I still homeschooled my two youngest, so the library’s daytime hours didn’t work. Research would have to wait a while.

A couple years later, I finally committed to ordering the film. The scheduling was tricky, but worked. Three “renewals” allowed the film to stay at the local center perpetually.

I knew the marriage date for John Haase and Elisabeth Nachtwey, so it was easy to find and confirm. Working backwards from their ages at marriage, I also located the birth records for both John (1825) and Elisabeth (1827), and I was able to obtain their parents’ names. I also confirmed the birth date for their oldest child, Elisabeth. It was great finding documentation for dates I’d received second hand, plus acquiring new information.

Looking back at that research, I now realize that was first time I’d looked at actual record images that weren’t census pages. It was also my first experience with German records in German script. That was quite a learning curve!

As I searched for the dates I already knew, I noticed lots of other records for the same surnames. Were they related? Maybe. I knew Elisabeth Nachtwey had a brother, Anton, but that was it. I was able to identify John Haase’s older brother, Joseph, from the birth records (same parents’ names), and a younger brother, Nikolaus. I’d never heard of them. But who was Kasper Haase? Ferdinand Nachtwey? More siblings? Cousins? Uncles? I didn’t know.

Kreuzebra was a fairly small town. It still is. The population recently hovered around 700 people. While it’s possible the population has been higher, it’s unlikely to have been markedly more. It certainly seemed likely that same surnames equated to relatives, but how did they connect? It became clear that I needed to gather all the records and piece people together. There were just a couple problems . . .

It was the early 2000s. The microfilm readers performed one task: displaying film images. The center had one reader with a printer, but patrons couldn’t hog it. You needed to find the frame you wanted on a regular reader, slide the film out of that reader, and slide it onto the spindles of the reader with the printer. After you printed your page, you needed to return the reels to your original reader. Use a digital camera, you suggest? If they existed then, I did not have one. It was not an option.

I decided the better plan was to make notes on a legal pad, recording the record type (birth, marriage, death), year, record number and name. By doing all the research on the non-printer microfilm readers, I could take my time with trying to read the script. After I’d viewed all the records, the next visit found me on the microfilm printer. Using my list, I could move directly to the pages I needed to print.

The stack of printed pages from the microfilmed Kreuzeber Church records. This reel contained birth, marriage, and death records from 1851-1866. The church was dedicated to Sts. Sergio and Bachus. Current labeling at Google Maps indicates the building is the Gemeindeverwaltung (municipal administration). It’s possible the parish had to merge with other towns, and the building has been repurposed.

The plan worked well, and I took home a stack of 139 pages. I started to process through them, connecting names together. I’d made the decision, though, to do it on paper, rather than in my software. Why? I sometimes wonder that, myself! We had three desktops (with three different operating systems!)—but four children, needing computers for assorted reasons—sometimes, even homework! “Mom time” on the computer had to be scheduled. Filling out paper forms allowed me to multi-task and work on this project while watching TV.

I started creating family group sheets. A birth record placed a child in the kids’ section, with a father and a mother identified. Marriage records created two family group sheets (bride and groom each as a child on their parents’ sheet)—three if I decided to start one for the couple, too. Deaths were a little trickier, because the deceased person wasn’t necessarily identifed too well. A child might have a father identified. But if it was the child of a Johann Haase—which one? There were half a dozen! Without a wife/mother identified, I couldn’t attach a child to a particular couple, unless their age at death could point me back to a specific birth record. It was slow, tedious work.

Then life happened. House painting. Twice. Renovations. Weddings. Grandkids who needed Christmas stockings. Working on my Kreuzeber records was tabled indefinitely. All the paperwork was packed into a canvas tote bag, where it has sat for at least 15 years. Doing nothing. Not forgotten, but left to languish.

I created 84 family group sheets before stalling out. Some are undoubtedly people needing to merge, but I don’t have enough information to do that, yet. This is clearly a project I need to resume. The information tucked away in those records is invaluable, and will answer questions I didn’t even know I had. This time, though, I will build the tree on the computer, in its own file, while I sort these people out. That will be more managable than shuffling sheets of paper around.

In the meantime, the Family History Library has digitized that microfilm reel, though it’s not accessible from home. I’m not sure if I would be able to access the images from my local FHL, or if it would require a trip to Salt Lake City. That is something I need to check on. Digital images from the original film would be far superior to scans of the printouts I have.

Once I finish with the pages I have, there are two more films covering 1815-1842 and 1843-1850, and a third reel covering 1867-1874. Those should fill in additional ancestors, as well as following up on the descendants of Joseph and Nikolaus, and the other, collateral relatives. I need a solid handle on the people surrounding my 2nd great grandfather, though, before I start looking earlier or later.

Looks like my work is cut out for me!

#52Ancestors

Same Name

I don’t have to look very far in my tree to find people with the same name. Undoubtedly there’s at least one instance—frequently more—on each major family line. Depending on the situation, they may cause more or fewer difficulties for me.

I quickly zeroed in on the same name I wanted to write about this week, but this blog has proven more difficult than anticipated. I’ve restarted it at least twice. Then yesterday I discovered a mistake requiring me to publish a correction blog . It’s been quite a week!

So if you read yesterday’s blog, you’ve been reminded about the Andrew Carmodys in Mike’s tree. When I started putting that tree together almost 40 years ago, we knew very little. Mike had some papers his father (Jerry) had left, leaving us a few Carmody breadcrumbs, locating them in Port Huron, Michigan. Other than that, we knew nothing. Mike’s mom had never met any of Jerry’s family, and we had no contact with anyone living.

One item we had was a note Anna Carmody Bauman (Jerry’s adoptive mom, and cousin) had received from Ennis, Ireland, with the obituary for her father, Michael, inside. The note read:

My Dear Nano,

Just a line to let you know I got your letter alright & I am sorry for not writing sooner but I was waiting to get the certificate for you. well Nano it was terrible about your poor Father we got a great shock when he died so quickly we haven’t got over it yet. well Nano your Father left (600) pounds but it is all in the Bank of Ireland & cannot be touched untill all of you come to some arrangements & you will have to write to Mr. Cullinan 6 Bindon Street for any information you want. Andy Carmody (Paddy’s son) wrote to Jack Carmody explaining every thing & telling him what to do & Nano he never heard from him since & he never wrote to us so we can’t do nothing more about it.

[remainder snipped]

letter from “your old Joe” (no last name) at the Ennis Club, Ennis, County Clare, Ireland; dated 5 May 1925. Typed as written. On the note, his periods look like commas, and he doesn’t capitalize the next word—though he does capitalize “Father” each time! So we have an Andrew still in Ireland in 1925, the son of a Patrick!

It wasn’t much to start with. In 1980, the most recent census records available were from 1900, so we spent a Saturday at the Indiana State Library, cranking through microfilm reels, looking for John Joseph Carmody, the name we had for Mike’s grandfather. We found him, his wife, Elizabeth, and their 7 children—including an Andrew, born September 1887!

A subsequent road trip to Port Huron with Mike’s mom found us in the Mount Hope Cemetery, where John Joseph was buried. Nearby were the headstones of Andrew J. Carmody, b. 1887, and another Andrew J., born 1918, presumably his son. Alas, genealogy is seldom as simple as it seems!

As more records became available (specifically, census records) I could fill in branches more completely. The other Andrew popped up, muddying the Port Huron waters. Sorting the two out correctly wasn’t always easy (as is already evident!). A simplified tree below may help:

Simplified descendant chart for Andrew Carmody and Mary Culleeny. I left the girls off, because if they had Andrews, they wouldn’t be Carmodys. Andrew and Mary had 3 sons (none named Andrew!), each one naming a son Andrew. Michael’s son also named a son Andrew.

Sorting these boys out will be easier if done one-by-one, rather than trying to go year-by-year. We’ll start with John Joseph’s Andrew. Originally, I thought the Andrew at Mount Hope was John J.’s son. That is, until I found the family on the 1910 census, where he was listed as Andrew M. He used the middle initial M. inconstently through his life. It was there for the WW I and WW II draft registrations, the 1930 census, and his father’s death certificate. It was missing from 1920 and 1940 census records, as well as Find-A-Grave. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize he was in Lakeside cemetery, so don’t have that headstone photo.

One issue with him was his birthplace. Early census records said he was born in Ontario, Canada, but later ones said it was Michigan. Which was it? This weekend I found his Canadian birth record at FamilySearch. The date was 2 days off from his other records, but his father didn’t register it until 3 or 4 weeks afterwards, so he may have mis-remembered. The parents’ names were correct, but what was most interesting was his name was given only as “Michael.” Apparently “Andrew” was added on, later.

When I re-examined the records I’d found for him, I realized that Canada was given as his birthplace when he was younger—when his parents would have provided the information. His draft registrations and later census records (when he would have provided it) all said Michigan. I also noticed in the 1900 & 1910 censuses, he, his parents, and two older siblings all emigrated in 1887. Andrew M. was born in September, 1887, so it seems they moved to Michigan in the 3½ months after he was born! By 1910, his father was naturalized, probably naturalizing his wife and children at the same time. Maybe Andrew didn’t really know he’d been born in Canada? His only memories growing up would have been of Michigan. Or maybe it was simpler to say he was natural born, rather than naturalized. I don’t know.

So the Andrew J. buried near John Joseeph wasn’t his son. Who was he? Andrew J. didn’t appear in Port Huron until the 1930 census. He was married with 3 children . . . who were all born in Massachusetts? That seemed a little odd. But he was buried close to the other Carmodys at Mount Hope, so that suggested a relationship.

When I found Michael’s family (John Joseph’s brother) in the 1901 Ireland census, there was an Andrew who was only 10 years old—a little younger than expected. But Andrew J.’s death certificate at Michiganology.org clearly identifies him as one of Michael’s children—brother to Anna Carmody Bauman, Patrick, and Lena, and older sister Margaret Carmody Alloway, all of them emigrating to Michigan. So what was up with Massachusetts? I decided I need to to track that down.

Andrew’s oldest child should have been alive before the 1920 census, so I searched FamilySearch for the family. I found a likely match in the Boston area. The record indicated he’d emigrated in 1908, so I looked for him in 1910. His wife, Mary, emigrated in 1910, so they did not arrive together, and it’s unlikely they got married before enumeration day. Again, I found a likely Andrew living with a brother, John F. Carmody, and his wife, Catherine F.

But was this my Andrew? Boston had a lot of Irish, and Carmody isn’t that unusual a name. While the 1901 Ireland census had listed an older brother, John, that’s not an unusual name, either! I was able to find a 26 January 1910 marriage record for John Francis Carmody and Katherine Frances Gallagher. Fortunately, parents’ names were listed, and the groom’s parents were Michael Carmody and Mary Whelan. BINGO!

I would feel a little better if I found Andrew’s marriage certificate, but the databases at FamilySearch don’t quite go far enough. My Ancestry subscription has expired, but Ancestry is giving me a teaser that Andrew and Mary got married in 1916. I will have to follow up with that at the library. It seems that Michael’s son John, moved to Boston and settled there. John’s brother Andrew J., followed him there, but eventually moved to Michigan, where he was closer to his other siblings.

What about “Paddy’s son,” back in Ireland? I know the least about him. The 1901 Irish census listed a Patrick Carmody, age 38, living in house 7 in the Borheen, with his wife, Anne. Ten children are listed, including an Andrew, age 5. The only other Andrew Carmody listed in Ennis for that census was Andrew J., Michael’s son. This 2nd Andrew was still alive for the 1911 census. Were these the right Patrick and Andrew? A March 1859 birth record exists for a Patrick, son of Andrew and Mary Culliney. That fits with this Andrew’s father’s age in 1901. He is the only adult Patrick in The Borheen. There were, however, other Patrick Carmodys in Ennis—aged 44, 58, 19, 30, 47—though none of them had an Andrew.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a marriage record around 1884 for Patrick and Annie, nor do I have a death record that might confirm this Patrick had the right parents. 1881 and 1891 census records (which might place his parents with him) were pulped during WW I. The information I have is circumstantial at best. If I could connect with descendants of Patrick’s children, I might get the verification I need. For now, though, it’s a big question mark.

Of course, all this started with Mike’s great grandfather, Andrew Carmody. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of information on him. He lived in/near Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, and married Mary Culleeny. Other than his appearance in his children’s birth registers, I haven’t found more about him. I’ve not located a death certificate. No marriage certificate. No birth certificate of his own, or anything to tell me who his parents were. He has left me with more questions than answers.

Nevertheless, I’m grateful he was an Andrew, and not a John or Patrick. I would be having a much harder time of it!

#52Ancestors

Sometimes, You’re Wrong

Rule 51, Gibbs’ rules–NCIS, “Rule Fifty-One” (Episode 24, Season 7)

As I was working on this week’s 52 Ancestors prompt, the research I found or reviewed made me realize I had made a mistake in a prior post. That wasn’t exactly the discovery I wanted to make!

The irony of it all is that the post in question, Close Up, talked about a mistake in my tree. I made the correction to my tree as soon as I discovered it. The blog post discussed how/why the mistake was made in the first place. That’s all well and good, except I now realize the explanation was wrong.

How embarrassing!

Rather than try to incorporate the additional correction into this week’s regular blog, I decided it should be dealt with on its own, beforehand. Otherwise I think it might have become lost in this week’s post, and would also make it more confusing.

I won’t rehash Close Up in depth—you have the link to go back and re-read it, if you like. The original problem stemmed from John Joseph Carmody’s death certificate having the wrong names for his parents. I discovered that fact later on, from his newspaper obituary. Make no mistake—his death certificate is still wrong! But it’s not wrong for the reasons I listed in the previous blog. I had said Andrew J. Carmody (John Joseph’s nephew) had been the informant and gave incorrect information. Nope.

The current mistake happened because I relied on 10+ year old memory, instead of re-examining the document when I wrote the post. So, how did I figure it out, today? I looked at my photo of the headstone for Andrew J., the nephew. His death year of 1939 was carved in it. John Joseph died in 1940. It’s really hard to be an informant if you are already dead. I clearly had a new problem.

After checking Andrew J.’s death certificate to confirm the headstone was correct (hey, mistakes happen, and might not get corrected!), I looked at John Joseph’s death certificate. It clearly said the informant was Andrew M.—John’s son, not his deceased nephew. The decedant’s father was “John J. Carmody” and the mother was “Mary Whelan.”

Originally, I was operating under the assumption that John Joseph’s parents were Mary Whelan and Michael Carmody. So I had assumed Andrew M. got the mother’s name correct, but had been distracted or grieving when stating the father’s name and gave his own father‘s name (John Joseph) instead of John Joseph’s father’s name. When I found the obituary, I discovered my faulty reasoning.

Unfortunately, once I corrected my file based on the new information from the obituary, I didn’t really think about it further. When I decided to write about that incident for a blog post, I should have pulled up the death certificate to double-check facts. I didn’t, so I misremembered some of the details. About the only defense I can make is that we were traveling in France at the time, and my time and internet access were somewhat limited. It’s a poor excuse, but the best I can muster!

Hopefully, I don’t have to correct that blog ever again! Of course, it still doesn’t explain why Andrew M. got those two pieces of information so abysmally wrong in the first place. I guess none of us is perfect . . .

So Far Away

“But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more . . . “–The Proclaimers

Last week I talked about four of my grandfather’s siblings, who married either a neighbor, or someone pretty close to their home. In that time period (the early 20th century), in rural Wisconsin, it probably wasn’t terribly surprising. The other two siblings deviated from that pattern.

My grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws, was one of them. He was born 12 February 1887, and first appeared in the 1900 census.¹ He was 13 years old and still in school. By 1905, at 18 years old, he is no longer living at home. The Wisconsin state census had him in nearby Two Rivers, living with the Kasten family² as a “hired man.”

Family lore said he worked in the shipyards in Manitowoc. I know he worked there between 1918 and 1922, but I don’t know if he also worked there before he left Wisconsin. I’m not sure where/how he learned his carpenter trade, but he moved 160 miles from home for better job opportunities. I’m sure the Chicago north shore paid better wages than Manitowoc!

Family lore also said he moved down to Glencoe, Illinois, when he was 21. If so, he should have been in that area before the 1910 census, but he is AWOL so far. Nor can I place him still in Wisconsin. He might have spent time in other cities on his way to Glencoe. Bruders lived in Sheboygan, or he could have looked for work in Milwaukee. His last name got mangled enough different ways, that without a solid location, searching for him is very tedious.

Nevertheless, he met Victoria Barbara Schweiger in Glencoe and they married at Sacred Heart Church in 1914. Had he not ventured to Chicago’s northern suburbs, well over 100 of their descendants wouldn’t exist. I think he made a wise choice . . .

Aunt May, my grandfather’s next youngest sibling, definitely upped the ante! She was born 18 July 1889 and appeared as a 10-year old³ in the 1900 census, also attending school. It wasn’t until I received her letter in 1975, replying to my request for family tree information, that I learned she had actually been named “Mary Elizabeth.” Suddenly the records I had found listing her as “Mary” or “Elizabeth” made sense! Later in life, she swapped the name order and became “Elizabeth Mary,” but in everyday life, she was just “May.”

Like her brother, Ed, May is not enumerated with her parents in 1910, but I found a 20-year-old “Mamie Haws” living on Huron Street, in Manitowoc, working in the Schneider home as a servant. Some time between then and April 1914, she moved to the Glencoe area and met John J. Carroll. The marriage register at Sacred Heart Church recorded both May (Latinized to “Maria”) and John as two of the four witnesses for Ed and Victoria’s marriage.

Now, having someone stand up as one of your witnesses indicates a bump up in status. It’s probably safe to say May and John were pretty serious at that point, or he wouldn’t have been asked to be a witness for her family. A little more than a year later (14 June 1915) the two of them also tied the knot in Chicago. The following March, their son, Gerard Paul was born. A little more than a year later, the WW I draft registration places John back in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born, taking May even further from her childhood home.

So how did this Wisconsin girl come across a Brooklyn boy in Chicago? Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of hard facts. I have not had a chance to comb through Chicago city directories to see if she shows up. If found, those might indicate her occupation. Her brother was already in the area, so perhaps he let her know of a position with a family in the north suburbs? May’s great-granddaughter, Maria, also heard that May worked as a telephone operator. That was one of the few other job choices available to young women, and might have paid more than being household help. Perhaps she hired out to a private home and changed jobs later on?

That still leaves John, a long way from Brooklyn! I think I have a workable theory. His WW I draft registration listed him as a locomotive fireman, NY Central Railroad. Train firemen end up in places they don’t start out. His later records:

  • 1920 census—mechanical, E. Railway;
  • 1930—electrician;
  • 1940—shop repairman, electrical;
  • 1942 —NY City Transit system, repair shop.

The railroad and transit systems seemed to be a common thread through the years. Where was he and what was he doing in 1910, though? He was still at home with his father, who had remarried three years earlier. John was working as an office boy in a dry goods house. Most surprising was that the family was living in New Jersey! Now the entry on his draft registration stating he’d been in the New Jersey National Guard for three years suddenly made sense!

I was still a little baffled by his presence in Chicago. I was all set, 2 paragraphs ago, to jump on the railroad theory. The job at the dry goods store made that a little shakier. Something caused him to either relocate to the Chicago area for at least 2-3 years, or to be traveling there regularly enough to court a young woman, I just don’t have a handle on what it was. Yet.

But what of May, who found herself raising her family so far from her own siblings and parents? As you can see from the photo below, she came back with her children to visit. With the distances involved, I would guess they might have come for weeks at a time—perhaps by train?—so Paul and Virginia could spend time with their grandparents, play with cousins, and experience life not in the big city.

A picnic at the Frank Haws farmhouse. Frank and Anna are the couple in the center back. I have the file labeled “Haws-Bruder picnic,” so I believe the couple to the right are Anna’s younger brother, John (wife Emma), who lived nearby; or her older brother, Nicholas (wife Augusta Bruenning), who moved to Sheboygan. The youngsters are (Gerard) Paul and Virginia, May’s children. She is sitting to their right, hands around her knees. Teresa is behind her and to her left, with Clara behind and to the right. Someone is almost hidden behind May’s head. Their brother Lawrence? Or maybe he’s the young man sitting to Frank’s right? One of them may also be May’s husband, John J. Carroll. I don’t have a date for the photo, but is probably the mid-1920s. Virginia was born in 1918; she looks age 5 or 6? Paul is 2 years older, so 7 or 8? I don’t have a physical copy of this photo and the scan wasn’t done at a high enough resolution to zoom in well. And obviously I don’t have the back labeled . . .

I suspect the visit in this photo wasn’t unique, and that May would have made this trip home, regularly. Frank and Anna’s farm responsibilities woudn’t have allowed them the luxury to travel to New York, so this would have been the only opportunity for her children to build relationships with extended family. As Paul and Virginia grew up and out of the house, Aunt May clearly made an effort to come back for family marriages, funerals, and ordinations. She didn’t let being so far away become an excuse.

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 131; line 34; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 13; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1905 Wisconsin state census, population schedule, Manitowoc, Two Rivers town, p. 928, family no. 188, line 98, entry for Edward HAAS [HAWS], age 18 in Charles KASTEN household; accessed 7 September 2018, index and images; FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1020454.

³1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 130; line 26; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Mary HAWS, age 10; July1889; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

1910 U.S. census, population schedule, New Jersey, Bergen, Hasbrouck Heights, e.d. 25; Page 14A; dwelling number 285; family number 321; line 5; John J. CARROLL household; accessed 2 February 2020. John J. CARROLL, age 19; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 869; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Close to Home

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.”–Judy Garland (Dorothy), The Wizard of Oz

Surely a spouse counts as a “heart’s desire,” right? Okay, we should go at least next door for that, but it’s still pretty close to home. That’s exactly what two of the Haws siblings did to find spouses, with two more going not much further.

Frank and Anna (Bruder) Haws married 15 January 1885 in Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. They had 6 children:

  • John J., 1885-1962, married Elizabeth Birringer
  • Edward Mathias, 1887-1966, married Victoria Barbara Schweiger
  • Mary Elizabeth, 1889-1986, married John J. Carroll
  • Teresa, 1894-1985, married William H. Klackner
  • Clara Bertha, 1897-1994, married Edward Mathias Koch
  • Lawrence Charles, 1900-1960, married Mary Margaret Heiser

Two siblings plucked their spouse from a neighboring farm, like their parents did. How would I ever figure that out? Birth and marriage records only indicate a city name or township name. They don’t tell you who lived next door. But it can be easier than you’d think.

The county plat maps show who owned land, where. It doesn’t take too much effort to understand why some couples became couples. Let’s start with Frank and Anna’s property, outlined in blue (F. Haws). I wrote about that house in The Old Homestead. This is the 1893 plat map. Frank’s younger brother, John lived northeast of him, also outlined in blue, farming the land their father, John, had farmed.

1893 Kossuth Township Plat Map, Township 20 North, Ranges 23-24.² Image cropped and annotated for clarity. http://images.library.wisc.edu/WI/EFacs/MTWCImages/manPlat1893/reference/wi.manplat1893.i0023.pdf

In 1893, Frank and Anna’s children were more than a decade away from getting married, but seeds were already being sown. The green box north of Frank’s property (and bordering on John’s) belonged to Nicholas Birringer. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth, would eventually (1910) marry Frank’s oldest son, John J.

Clara’s Edward Mathias Koch is a little trickier. The red box touching the NE corner of Frank’s property? That’s not Ed’s parents. Those are his grandparents. Edward was born in Mattoon, Shawano, Wisconsin. His parents, Peter and Bertha, moved around, farming in Shewano County in 1900 (Hutchins & Mattoon area—100 miles from Kossuth), and Marathon County (Harrison—30 miles) in 1910. Ed and his parents were AWOL (so far) in 1920, but his 1925 marriage announcement mentioned he was from Mosinee (130 miles).

None of that sounds very next door, does it? My theory is that Edward spent quite a bit of time at his grandparents’ farm and met (and courted) Clara that way. It seems unlikely either Clara or Edward would have traveled the distances necessary when he was living in other counties.

Teresa’s beau, William Klackner, grew in Manitowoc. The town lies on the western shore of Lake Michigan, rather than inland, like Kossuth Township does. Frank’s farmhouse was seven miles from town. By today’s standards, that’s not terribly far, but a young person in the early 20th Century would not have had a car at his or her disposal. So how did those two get together?

The 1910 census places each of them at home, with their parents. Teresa was 16 at that time. The couple married in 1915. Unfortunately, the snapshot from the federal census didn’t provide a hint for those next five years. Wisconsin’s last state census was in 1905, so no help from that, either.

My best guess is that Teresa may have hired out “in town” as household or child care help. Farm neighbors weren’t likely to be need a teenaged girl to help, but folks in town, might. It wasn’t unusual for rural girls to seek that type of employment down in Chicago (my great grandmother, Dorothea Harry, did just that!), so looking for a position closer to home wouldn’t be surprising, either. Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to prove that, unless one of Teresa’s and Bill’s descendants step up at some point with a family story to corroborate my speculation. It seems a likely scenario, though.

Lawrence, the youngest, married a girl from Gibson, the township north of Kossuth. Mary Margaret Heiser’s family lived towards the north side of Gibson Township. Again, it’s about seven miles from Frank & Anna’s house. Lawrence, however, married when he was older—38! He would have been more independent and mobile than his older siblings—particularly the girls, who may not have known how to drive before they were married. Times had also changed, so his not marrying someone from the more immediate neighborhood is not too surprising.

I doubt the experience of these siblings, in that time period, was unusual. Remoteness, travel methods, and the time involved with those methods, would have limited their potential spouse pool. Or as Stephen Stills would have said, “Love the one you’re with.”

What about the other two? They looked further afield, but you’ll have to come back next week for them . . .

#52Ancestors


¹1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Neshoto [Two Rivers], e.d. 078; Page 13; dwelling number 112; family number 112; line 25; Lisabeth HASSE household; accessed 26 January 2020. Lisabeth HASSE, 55, widowed; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²Foote, C. M., 1849-1899 (Charles M.); Henion, J. W.; ca. 1832-1904 (John W.), Plat book of Manitowoc and Calumet Counties, Wisconsin (Minneapolis, Minnesota: C.M. Foote & Co., 1893), p. 23, “Plat of Kossuth, Township 20 North, Ranges 23-24 East of the Fourth Principal Meridian of Mantitowoc Co., Wis.”; digital images, University of Wisconsin-Madison Digital Collection (http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WI.manPlat1893; accessed 26 January 2020).

Long Line

When I first started my family tree, my grandparents were all dead, but some of their siblings were still living. Luckily, my grandmother’s (Victoria Barbara Schweiger Haws) younger brother, Sylvester Joseph Schweiger, was living nearby. Age 74, he was the last of the Schweiger siblings.

So Mom made a phone call to arrange a visit to their house in Oak Lawn one weekend day. Uncle Syl and Aunt Stacia were wonderful to talk to, and he gifted me with photocopies of the letter from Fr. Sylvester Hartman[n] (in later years, he drops the 2nd ‘n’), and the Schweiger family tree, typed up in German.

4 April 1936, letter from Sylevester Joseph Hartman[n] to Stacia Cooney Schweiger (Uncle Syl’s wife), referencing the tree, below.
Schweiger family tree (in German) obtained from Anna Schweiger Alf. She was the daughter of Sigmund Schweiger (at the top), oldest brother of my great-grandfather, Ignatz. The siblings are all listed (with Sigmund repeated) to the right of their father, Alois. “Confirmed by the parish office of Steingaden; Anton Börmann, chaplain” is the only sourcing for the entire page.

The tree showed my great grandfather, Ignatz, at the top right, listed with his siblings. Then it had their parents to the left, his father’s parents, grandfather’s parents, and so on. The earliest person was born in 1711. I was suitably impressed! It wasn’t particularly well-sourced, but it was from 1936—that wasn’t too surprising. It was my longest genealogy line until the Meintzer wall came down in the mid-1980s.

An English transcription got into my hands in 1980, clearly taken from the first document. I’m not sure who typed it—Fr. Hartman[n], Uncle Syl, or Leslie Larson (husband of my 2nd cousin, once removed, on the Harry line), who sent it to me.

English transcription of the previous page. Someone’s typwriter keys needed cleaning. Plus, it’s probably a copy of a copy, so a little degradation happens each time. I could retype it, but that runs the risk of introducing errors from making that copy. As I continue to go through my do-over, I probably will create a cleaner transcription in a digital format for better preservation, with VERY CAREFUL proof reading.

On all my other lines, I was lucky to have great grandparents’ names and birth dates (off their tombstones), and “Germany.” No village names, ships’ names, immigration dates. Nothing to help me search for them in the old country. In pre-internet days, I’d have been throwing darts at a map, trying to guess which LDS microfilm to order and crank through. At $3.25 each, the dollars and time spent would add up quickly, with possibly nothing to show for it.

But the Schweiger line? It was practically handed to me on a silver platter. The drawback was the tendency to be complacent about it. I might have been able to order microfilm records from their villages (if the church records had been filmed), but it would have cost me money for information I “already knew.” Since it was coming from German relatives in the family, I tended to believe the information, despite its lack of sourcing.

Then of course, I had kids, and genealogy screeched to a halt. When I resumed, I learned about the laws passed in April 1933, in Nazi Germany, requiring Germans to put together a family tree, demonstrating there was no Jewish blood in their ancestry. While I knew I still had Schweigers living in Germany then, who could have been impacted, I had no idea if that document still existed, or who might have it.

Imagine my surprise when Dad’s cousin Fred mailed me the document created because of those laws. It measured 10.5″ x 21.5″. It took 4 sheets of legal paper, taped together, but trimmed down to 14″ x 23.75″. Fred obtained it from a granddaughter of Anna Alf, the woman referred to in the 1936 letter.

Lower left corner: “Before the completion of the pedigree, to be considered” followed by instructions. I suggest opening this image in a new window, to do it justice. It’s dated 20 December 1939, so 3½ years after Fr. Hartman[n]’s letter. So while Anna had to research her ancestors earlier, she apparently didn’t have to file something formally, until 1939—or had to present it a second time, for some reason.

It appears to be the source of the information contained on the pages I obtained from Uncle Syl. His note penciled in the left margin explains this document’s provenance. Of course, it also includes additional information about the women’s lines, not included in the chart from Fr. Hartman[n]. The Schweiger ancestors are on the left half of the page. Anna had to provide information back to her great-great grandparents. Presumably her job as a stenographer for the German Labor Front (a civil service position) required her compliance.

The small circles, looking like chicken pox? It’s a rubber stamp, difficult to read (it could have used a cleaning, and more frequent re-inking), stamped on each block (person). In the center is “Geprüft!” (“checked!”). The circle part is much harder, with partial letters, or letters over other printing. At the bottom it has “Ahnen____,” which might actually be “Ahnennachweis.” It’s not one of the terms mentioned in the Wikipedia article above, but seems to be a merging of “Ahnenpass” and “Ariernachweis.” You know how they like to make up compound words in German by just adding words together. “Nachweis” means “evidence,” so that would fit. The next word might be “Augsburg” (which would also make sense). The very last section almost looks like “Haupt” (head), but I can’t make out what’s inbetween. My guess is that it’s a department name—so something like, “Augsburg [department] head/office.”

If anyone can interpret the stamp better, please let me know! I have a feeling the stamp and even the form itself varies from place to place. While the information required was probably the same, there may not have been a standard format. Did Anna have to produce actual documents for each person? Is that what constituted proof? I don’t know.

This document is one of those serendipitous things that sometimes drop into our laps. It’s something that could have easily been discarded, due to disinterest or its connotations. Fortunately, it wasn’t. It remains proof of a time it may be easier to forget than to remember.

So . . . do I actually have something to be thankful to Adolph Hitler for? That’s a really scary thought. Nevertheless, it may be true.

I’m grateful, though, to the distant family members who decided to keep it, rather than discarding it, because of the reasons the information was gathered. Since more records are now online, I definitely need go back to verify the dates and places stated there.

#52Ancestors

Favorite Photo

“Keep the Home Fires Burning”–Lena Guilbert Ford

Growing up, the upstairs hall closet contained a hodgepodge of curious items. Dad’s Navy trunk was there. I have no idea what was in it; it surely wasn’t empty! A black, weighted silk, short cape (with a lot of ruffles) belonging to Mom’s Aunt Lizzie (Elizabeth Meintzer Ahrens) hung there, covered by a dry cleaning bag. It was later donated to the Northbrook Historical Society. Boxes of old photos (that never came down) were on the top shelf.

Also on the shelf was another dry cleaning bag. This one contained brown, dry grass, curved around in a fish hook shape. It was always the top item, so would come down occasionally, for easier access to items below. Mom told me it was the grass skirt Dad sent her when he was in the South Pacific.

It sure didn’t look like the grass skirts I saw on Hawaii Five-O each week! It was down-right threadbare. Or grass-bare? I once asked about using it for a Halloween costume, and was summarily denied. Of course, dressing in a grass skirt in October in Chicago, isn’t necessarily the best plan, anyway.

Eventually I saw photos of Mom posing in the grass skirt. They would have been squirrelled away in those untouched boxes. My first impression (after my initial shock!) was that they were all essentially the same. No so. More about that later.

Now, before we get the censors all up in my face, complaining, Mom is wearing a swimsuit bottom or short shorts, under the skirt, and a scarf or midriff top on top. No need to panic or cover the kids’ eyes . . .

When my dad enlisted in the Navy in August, 1942, he and Mom were a hot item. They’d been dating a while, and had exchanged lover’s knot “promise rings.” They weren’t actually engaged, but were darn close.

Mom was all for getting married before he finally shipped overseas (basic training was pretty close to home, at Great Lakes Naval Station), but Dad didn’t agree. Not knowing where he’d be shipped to, or what might happen to him, he didn’t want her left a widow, possibly with a child to raise.

Dad was probably right, because fertility didn’t end up being an issue for my mom. After they married, she gave birth to three children in 2 years and 5 months, my sister arriving 14 months after they wedding. Would she have gotten pregnant right away if they had married earlier? Maybe not, but who knows?

Nor did they advance to an official engagement before he left. Dad didn’t think it was fair for her to be tied down (Northbrook was a small town, where everyone knew everyone!), while he was off, who knows where, pretty much unaccountable to anyone. They still had their promise rings, so letters and photos flew back and forth between them.

Dad also sent trinkets back; cowrie shells, and of course, The Grass Skirt. I don’t remember hearing my Mom’s reaction to its arrival, but obviously she realized should send a photo back, wearing it. She certainly didn’t want Bob to forget about her, 8000 miles away!

This first photo was probably taken at home, in her backyard. Mom is wearing shoes, and has a flower in her hair. Even if the photo was taken by one of her friends, her parents would have been close by, not to mention neighbors peeking through windows. She looks a little embarrassed, to me, at least. Or maybe the sun was just in her eyes.

Ardyth Meintzer, in the grass skirt sent to her by her boyfriend, Robert W. Haws, when he was stationed on Vanuatu. There’s a flower in her hair, and everything!

On the other hand, the two photos below were taken at a different time and place. She was at the summer cottage of the parents of her friend, Eleanor Wold. Ardyth and Eleanor were childhood friends, Eleanor’s father being a local pastor. The family moved to Ohio about the time Eleanor was going to attend Ohio State University. At least one summer Ardyth spent her vacation visiting the cabin/cottage Eleanor’s parents owned or rented. There is an entire collection of photos of the two girls, with that fencing somewhere in it.

I imagine Eleanor is taking the photo, and Ardyth is certainly vamping it up—definitely up at least one notch from the earlier photo! I question whether Ardyth’s parents saw these photos get mailed. Would she have even developed them at home? Personally, I would have developed them in Ohio, where no one knew me!

These photos are among the few things we have from that time period. All their wartime correspondence is gone. My dad made Mom throw out all his letters when they got married. He didn’t want her holding over his head any promises he’d made in the throes of courting. I’m reasonably sure he made good on all of them, eventually; he just didn’t want her griping about the speed or timing!I also wonder a bit about those Haws boys. Not only did my dad send a grass skirt home to his girlfriend, but so did his older brother, Henry—to his WIFE! They had a one year old son. Heavens, WHAT was he thinking?? I don’t have access to those photos, however. How many other grass skirts were shipped to the US during WWII? How many still lurk in closets or attics? Who can say?

Mom’s grass skirt is still up in my closet, while I try to decide whether or not to keep it. Its storage environment is horrible. Seriously? Dry cleaning bag? That’s about as bad as it gets. To keep it, I really should conserve it in some way. Can I straighten it? How? Then what? Mount it in a shadow box, for display? It’s pretty scrawny-looking. Does anyone even want to see it? Or store it? Questions with unknown answers.

Until I can decide, it remains where it is. But I’m quickly approaching the fork in the road where I need to make a decision.

#52Ancestors