Friday, January 06, 2006

Ebert: Clue in Catholic records

I'm sure that Ferdinand EBERT died in the 1850s. He's not listed in St. Louis City directories after 1854; his wife, Agatha, was listed as a widow in the same records beginning in 1859; and there's a somewhat unclear entry in the City's death register from June 1856. It'd be nice to find a church burial record or any cemetery info, but I'm fairly confident to have exhausted those avenues.

Then there's the Catholic marriage record of Ferdinand's son:

Josephus Ebert filius +7 Ferdinand Ebert et Agathae Albrand.

When researching church records written by Germans it's common to find the + symbol to indicate that an individual had died (gestorben). You'll typically see such a notation in marriage records when a widow/widower remarried (referencing their previous spouse) or a parent died before their child married. So, I believe the record translates to "Joseph Ebert, son of Ferdinand Ebert, deceased for seven years, and Agatha Albrand."

This transcription from an 1862 church marriage record is nothing out of the ordinary, except for the number seven, which is written in superscript, that is, to the right and slightly above the cross. This notation may be normal elsewhere, but a couple of St. Louis County librarians -- one very familiar with local Catholic records -- and someone at the St. Louis Archdiocesan Archives had not seen a record like this before.

This notation is very important to the research of Ferdinand EBERT. That the math is a little off (1862-7=1855) doesn't really concern me. What's important is that this bolsters the City death register, in which the name was indexed as EBUT -- understandable when seen on microfilm.

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