Thursday, September 28, 2006

False Hope

I thought I had done it tonight. I was so sure the mystery of the EBERT family was about to be revealed. Not just once; I had two chances to learn the name of the town they came from in Germany. Neither source panned out, though.

My first crack at their hometown came while reading a small booklet about Osage County, Missouri history. In the front of the book was a description of a monument that named many of the immigrants who settled in Osage County. That was followed by a list of the names, their year of immigration and, in many cases, their hometown. So, I'm thinking, "This is great! Just another page or two to see what it says for the EBERTs..." All that was listed, though, was "Conrad EBERT and Rosalie KNIDDEL" (sic?). It doesn't appear that their year of arrival in America was even known -- it was actually 1841 -- since that detail was omitted. And the EBERTs were among the minority of names without a specified German hometown.

Next, while looking at a book of transcriptions of Osage County cemeteries, I headed to the back of the book to look at the index. I noticed, though, that a section in the back of the book was devoted to church burial records -- from the church the EBERTs attended. It's been my experience that local Catholic burial records don't provide many clues, but I was floored to see so many German town names listed. Unfortunately, this detailed practice began years after Conrad and Rosalie had passed.

I did find the names of EBERT descendants who helped sponsor the monument, so hopefully I can make contact with those folks and see if they know where our ancestors came from.

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"Grandpa, you're still alive?" (AP): Obituary's 'Itsy Bitsy' inaccuracy is attributed to impostor.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cross another name off the list: Holtermann

Not that I need to order even more microfilm, but after just finding 3rd great-grandfather Wilhelm HOLTERMANN's baptism record, the names of his parents and his place of birth, it looks like there are at least a few more rolls of film in my near future. I'm pretty darn pleased to have found this information, because there sure hasn't been anything in St. Louis records to help. The sad thing is, I realize now that I could have figured this out months ago had I been more aggressive. Heck, the HOLTERMANNs' origin could have been solved over a year ago had I followed through on a hunch and a suggestion. As it turns out, Wadersloh -- south of where I first suspected (Wiedenbrück) -- is where Wilhelm and his siblings were born and baptized. Wiedenbrück and Wadersloh were targeted as the result of collateral research, which really does pay off sometimes.

The first clue that the Catholic records of these towns should be checked was actually what I (and Cousin Dan) were not finding: Wilhelm HOLTERMANN and Dorothea LODENKAMPER's marriage record in St. Louis. This made me suspect that the couple may have been married prior to their emigration. So, the next step was to take a look at the IGI. Search results showed that the name LODENKAMPER (and variants) was somewhat concentrated around Wiedenbrück and Liesborn (south of Wadersloh). An online contact also suggested looking into this area based on his ancestry. The problem was, all of this was far too vague for me and I really dislike wasting time and money on films without some sort of definitive clue to justify getting my hopes up.

Research of other HOLTERMANNs in St. Louis and Osage County is what helped break down this brick wall. Passenger lists for Ferdinand and Bernhard HOLTERMANN referenced both Wadersloh and Wiedenbrück. (Additionally, a man named Peter Heinrich LODENKAMPER was aboard the same ship as Bernhard HOLTERMANN and Peter's last residence was in the same are of Westphalia.) Ferdinand HOLTERMANN was determined to be worthy of interest because he settled in Osage County, Missouri, not far west of St. Louis. Bernhard HOLTERMANN was even more likely related to Wilhelm HOLTERMANN because he settled in St. Louis, attended the same church and one of his citizenship papers was filed the same day Wilhelm filed his.

Ordering microfilm from the FHL was a no-brainer, but where to start was a little tricky. I decided on Wiedenbrück since that appeared to be Bernhard HOLTERMANN's last residence (based on the passenger list). While Bernhard may have once lived in Wiedenbrück, examination of the those Catholic records showed no HOLTERMANN families (or at least no matches) among the baptisms and marriages. (There were plenty of LODENKAMPERs, LAUKAMPERs, etc., but still no matches to Dorothea or other St. Louis LODENKAMPERs.) I was a little disappointed by the lack of results and, as usual, was distracted by other research. Months passed. Then, this summer when Cousin Dan and I started to communicate, I decided to order the Wadersloh records and resume looking for the HOLTERMANNs and LODENKAMPERs. Thankfully, this second attempt at guessing the town and church was successful.

Although not baptized with his full name, Wilhelm Louis/Ludwig HOLTERMANN was listed near the end of the roll of microfilm. Realizing that dates in American records aren't always exact, I was happy to find that his date of birth, 7 August 1821, was correct and I wouldn't need to order another roll of film to view baptisms from 1822 and beyond. Wilhelm's parents were listed as Anton HOLTERMANN and Friederike HÜLSMANN. So far, Dan and I have found that Wilhelm had at least six siblings. One of Wilhelm's brothers was named Bernhard Joseph, who by all accounts looks to be the same Bernhard HOLTERMANN who immigrated to St. Louis. Although we are currently unable to connect Ferdinand HOLTERMANN of Osage County to our HOLTERMANNs, I did find Ferdinand's baptism in the Wadersloh records, and the two HOLTERMANN families are intertwined throughout the records as sponsors and witnesses -- somewhere further back there just has to be common ancestry.

With a little luck, we'll be able to extend the HOLTERMANN ancestry even further. In all of the baptism records of his children (as well as when named as a sponsor), Anton HOLTERMANN is listed without another name. I suspect that his full name may have been Jodocus Anton HOLTERMANN, which was found in a 1780 baptism record. If correct, then his parents -- Wilhelm's grandparents -- were Bernhard Anton HOLTERMANN and Maria Gertrud BADDE. There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence in the Wadersloh church records to suggest most of the HOLTERMANNs can be traced to the HOLTERMANN-BADDE couple.

While one German brick wall has been torn down, the LODENKAMPERs still remain a mystery. The Wadersloh church records are chock full of people by this name, but we've yet to find anything relevant to the St. Louis immigrants.

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Little did I know the other day that the book I was considering purchasing was actually in the possession of my brother's in-laws. After a conversation and then a phone call, it looks like I'll be receiving their copy on loan in the near future.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Beneath Los Angeles

Via Defamer.


New location for images

After a few missteps, I think I'm about to settle on using Google's Picasa Web Albums to display scans and photos. Eventually, I'll move everything from the RootsWeb Freepages site over to my Picasa account, and then add even more images.

I haven't uploaded much yet, but those few that are interested in the HOLTERMANNs of St. Louis may notice that some significant progress is finally being made on Wilhelm's ancestry. (More on that another time.)

Picasa is a great program, but now having the ability to upload the images (with their captions) really makes this a must-have tool, in my opinion. Google is offering a lot of storage space (250MB) for free and RSS feeds are available for the entire set or each subset of images. Fantastic.


Playing with fire?

I don't like buying anything without having the opportunity to at least look it over for a few moments. Genealogy/family history books are no different. In fact, I'm now even more apprehensive about buying books after having been disappointed with the lack of documentation in a few of the titles. That doesn't mean I won't repeat the mistake again, though.

I was recently willing to spend a few bucks on a book that I'd use for a few months, then give as a Christmas gift. (Give me a break, I was going to give it to a toddler who wouldn't know any better or, hopefully, appreciate it for several years.)

The book was auctioned online and I didn't want to go overboard, so I only exceeded my initial limit a few times. As it turned out, though, a few people really wanted this book and it sold for about twice as much as I had hoped to get it for and about 30% more than my highest bid.

Since then, I've found two copies for sale at a fixed price. Great. The prices are lower, but still close to what the auction ended at and it looks like these books are a little more worn. Darn.

Should I take another chance? (Keep in mind that the book has no information on my ancestors; my interest is solely for a kind of side project.)


MO Death Certificates

The Missouri State Archives is still plugging away; they now have death certificates through 1927 scanned and online.

The Archives' snail mail service still takes a few weeks, but it's really not that bad considering the price -- just a buck per copy.


Thursday, September 14, 2006


Paying sizable fees for copies is something I've tried to avoid, but there are some records -- such as those in German archives -- that just cannot be had on the cheap. With that in mind, I recently decided to finally order a few emigration papers from the Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv-Staatsarchiv Osnabrück. I've known that these records were available for at least a year, but just couldn't bring myself to ordering them even though it was almost certain that three of the names in the index were of a 3rd great-grandfather, his brother and half-brother. There were other names in the index that will require future consideration, but to get my feet wet I decided to order the emigration records for Johann Friedrich BENNE, Johann Heinrich BENNE and Johann Friedrich SCHUMPE. (I passed, for now, on Ernst Heinrich BENNE's paper for reasons that aren't important at the moment.)

The two BENNE records were exactly what I thought they'd be and had some key details that shed new light on the family's migration from the Kingdom of Hannover to Missouri. The highlights are that Johann Friedrich BENNE and his wife, Clara Maria LANGENHEDER, apparently had a son before they emigrated. Considering their marriage date and the time they left Hannover, I would have to guess that the boy was either Clara's from a previous marriage or was born before the couple was married. If the latter turns out to be the case, it may be possible that this boy -- named Ernst Heinrich on a passenger manifest -- was overlooked in past attempts to research the family. I mean, would anyone have looked for a boy baptized as a LANGENHEDER a year or two prior to when his parents boarded a ship at Bremen (and just a few months after they were married)?

The other key detail came from Johann Heinrich "Henry" BENNE's record. Henry did not receive permission to emigrate until his younger half-brothers, Johann Friedrich and Ernst Heinrich, had already been in America for over six months. This means that there's little doubt that Henry, his wife and children, were in fact not on the same ship as other family members in the fall of 1842, and we still have to find another passenger manifest.

As for the record of Johann Friedrich SCHUMPE, it turns out that this name in the index was a red herring. Maybe it's because the site lacks a lot of documentation, I did not carefully translate the pages or I failed to ask enough questions leading up to my order, but what I got was a record for a woman whose father was named Johann Friedrich SCHUMPE. What I was hoping to receive was a record for a single man in his early twenties. It's not a bad thing that the Archives apparently indexed every name referenced in these records, but without additional information for context, such as a date or (in some cases) a clearly defined location for the origin of the record, ordering copies based on a matched name may cost you more than you're used to for failed searches. In this case, it cost me about $20 to learn this lesson.

So, for $45 total, which covered the cost of copies, research fees and postage, I was able to obtain two useful records that weren't available any other way. And unlike some archival requests, I received my copies in just a couple of weeks. Despite the SCHUMPE mistake, I'm happy with the results and am now in the process of getting information from a church in Hannover. And if a lead on another German family doesn't pan out, I'll be ordering church records from another archive later this fall. I'm excited about taking the next step with my research. I just hope the results are worth the money.

Those interested in ordering emigration records from the Archive in Osnabrück should check out the two links below. And if anyone needs the email address of the person in Osnabrück to deal with, let me know. (I haven't dealt with the Archives in Hannover and Wolfenbüttel.)

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