Saturday, January 26, 2008

Video: Lutheran Roots in America

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Friday, January 25, 2008

Video: Shrine of St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph was the church that generations of EBERTs and HOLTERMANNs attended on the north side of downtown St. Louis.


Early St. Louis Probate Records Found

KTVI (Fox 2): St. Louis' Earliest Probate Records.

Video: Kentucky Pioneers

If they don't make kids in school these days watch this stuff, something is wrong.

"This film shows representative aspects of the early pioneering movement into the kentucky territory. This is the life of our country in the 1780's picturing travel along the wilderness road, the role of the frontier forts, and the settler's establishment of new homes. Weaving, soap-making, cooking, candle molding, carpentry, cabin construction, schooling, and square dancing are among the activities of the time."

Encyclopedia Britannica Films, Inc., 1941.

Video: Immigration in America

I'm a sucker for old educational shorts like the one below. Sadly, though, this film lacks two key ingredients: a chipper announcer whose life must have been swell and a catchy soundtrack.

"Origins and number of immigrants entering the USA from colonial times until 1920, reasons for immigration, adjustment of immigrants to life in the USA, drastic reduction of immigration caused by the Act of 1924."

Encyclopedia Britannica Films, Inc., 1946.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Prairie in St. Louis cemetery

Well, here's another excuse to get back down to Calvary Catholic Cemetery:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Life springs anew in Calvary Cemetery.

Calvary is in northern downtown St. Louis, north of the downtown most people are familiar with (e.g., Busch Stadium, the Arch, etc.). Calvary is a huge cemetery right next to another large cemetery, Bellefontaine Cemetery. Quite a few notables are buried in these cemeteries, most importantly some of my ancestors and distant relatives, haha. I'd guess that this section of prairie is unknown to locals. Or it was until Sunday's paper came out. I'll have to check this out next time down there.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lutheran Churches in St. Louis

The Special Collections (SC) Department at the St. Louis County Library's Main Branch is, in my mind, the best place to research St. Louis ancestry. This is old news to regular readers, as I've regularly praised their resources. For me, their best assets come in little yellow and white cardboard boxes that hold hundreds of rolls of local Lutheran, Evangelical and Catholic parish records.

SC staff has made it easy to use that microfilm by creating guides similar to what one would find on the FamilySearch site. Being able to refer to a guide and see what section of the roll, and sometimes even what page range, records can be found on saves a lot of time.

I guess it was a few years ago that I asked the librarian who created the Guide to St. Louis Catholic Archdiocesan Parish Records if I could take her information about church locations and plot them to a map. I wanted to do this because I'm not familiar with every street or neighborhood in St. Louis and was having trouble trying to figure out which church to check next once family records ceased at one church. (The library has a map of St. Louis with each church highlighted, but it was a little difficult getting the 6' x 6' laminated poster on the copier.) And the great thing about these guides is that they list not only the current address, but where the churches were previously located. Some churches have had two or three locations in their history.

After I put together the Catholic map, I did the same for Lutheran and UCC/Evangelical churches. At the time, I had problems getting the pages to work as intended with RootsWeb hosting them on my Freepages site. Until this week, the files sat neglected in folder on my hard drive. I have retooled the Lutheran map and it's now ready for its relaunch. If anyone has additions or corrections, don't hesitate to contact me. My email is at the bottom of the home page.

Map of churches in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

Goodbye, RootsWeb

It's been a long time since I last updated my genealogy pages on the Freepages site I have at RootsWeb. With less time for research, less time to edit and create pages, and a desire to make a new site, working on those pages simply was not a priority. I'm going to try and jump-start myself, though, and get more done.

The first step is to make a new site; not just a new layout, but a different way of managing the site. So, I bought a domain with a plan to take advantage of the packaged Wiki software and its image gallery. I think that if I can simplify the process to just managing data without messing with the layout — something I am easily addicted to — it will become easier to stay on top of finds and getting the news out. And with a Wiki-based system, I will be able to invite others to collaborate on research.

Having my own domain will also allow me more freedom in what I'm able to publish. I once created Google maps that showed where current and past churches in St. Louis were located. The problem was, I could never get the pages to work perfectly with RootsWeb as the host. That issue has been resolved, but I've changed the function of the page so only one is currently online. (See next blog entry.)

My domain package also comes with a few different blogging options, but I have not decided what to do on the that front. Since my feed goes through Feedburner, I believe I'd be able change the source and no feed subscribers would be affected.

Before I mention the new site, let me make one thing clear: picking a domain name is not easy. I wanted something that was easy to remember (catchy and not too long), conveyed a little about myself and since genealogy was the focus it also had to describe my ancestry. I also wanted a domain name that would lend itself to other projects, that I may or may not ever finish.

So, I chose Show Me Ancestors. Missouri's nickname is the Show Me State and that's an attitude you'll find in a lot of us here, myself included. This is (so far) where most of my American and immigrant ancestors lived, and it's where I was born and have lived almost my whole life. Were I to write about sports or news/politics, I'd go on and on about the Cardinals, Blues, Rams, Mizzou and SLU or how one group of locals made my city a local joke with their antics. This is why the vast majority of my posts here have been about St. Louis research, the Missouri death certificates project and so on. I can't help it.

Finally, I would like to state that what RootsWeb does by offering free web space to genealogists and societies is a great asset to the community. For those unable or not wanting to invest much in a site, I cannot recommend a better option.

The Genealogue

Chris is back and in form: Top Ten Worst Ways to Begin a Family History.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

St. Louis Genealogical Society Open House

From another St. Charles mailing list post on RootsWeb: The St. Louis Genealogical Society will have an open house on Sunday, January 27th, from 1-3 p.m.

Beginner Genealogy Class in St. Charles, Mo.

Beginning in late February and running through March, the St. Charles County Genealogical Society will be conducting a series of genealogy classes for beginners. Details were posted on the RootsWeb St. Charles mailing list.

From personal experience, I can attest that the SCCGS staffers are very, very helpful. And if your ancestors were Germans who settled in the county, it would be pretty hard not to find a lot information with the Society's assistance.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is there a Hallmark card for 165 years?

I forgot to post yesterday that it was the 165th anniversary of my family coming to America. By "my family," I mean those whose surname I share.

It's hard to imagine being so desperate to leave northwestern Germany that they left in October and didn't disembark until January. Late fall and early winter at sea must be brutal. (I would guess they waited to leave after the harvest, but then why did several of my other farming ancestors leave in the summer when the weather was surely more pleasant?) Oh, and they had a small child with them. That had to be fun. (Let's be real, folks.)

After arriving at New Orleans, the family is reported to have taken a boat up the Mississippi River to the St. Louis/St. Charles area. One account mentions the father, Johann Friedrich BENNE, having less than fifty cents in his pocket at the time. Things would get better. Within ten years, he had his own farm, was a church's founding member, and was able to buy a portion of a city block where he had his retirement home built.

Used headstones free in St. Louis: Update #2

KTVI has posted video of tonight's report.

Used headstones free in St. Louis: Update #1

All of the headstones that were on a St. Louis City sidewalk yesterday are now gone. According to KTVI, the stones were removed overnight. A funeral home may be in possession of the stones.


Via Miriam and Apple, and subsequently others, came a post from 100 Years in America: Where was your family in 1908? Well, let's take a look...

I wasn't born yet. My parents weren't born yet. My grandparents weren't born yet. The end.

Just kidding.

In 1908, all eight of my great-grandparents were alive and mostly single.
  • William BENNE, Jr.: He was only 19, living on the family farm northeast of St. Charles helping his father, and five years from getting married.
  • Eleanor SCHUMPE: Her 20th birthday took place at the end of year. She was living with her parents on the farm northeast of St. Charles.
  • Carl BURGER: The BURGERs had been in Missouri for about five years at this point, and 25-year-old Carl was working on the family farm. He was still five years from getting married. (It wasn't until 1909 that the BURGERs moved closer to Carrollton.)
  • Clara KOCH: Five years younger than her future husband, Clara was also living with her parents near Carrollton.
  • Mark HEATON: Just 13 in 1908, Mark was living at home south of Vandalia. He was ten years from joining the Navy and 11 years from getting married.
  • Vera LANKAU: The youngest of my great-grandparents, she would have been in elementary school at the time. I believe that Vera, three at the time, and her family had attended the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.
  • August EBERT: I haven't finished researching city directories, but by this time 25-year-old August had likely began as a butcher, which he was for many years after. August and Theresa had been married for a couple of years and had one son.
  • Theresa MEYER: Married two years and mother of one, Theresa was keeping house in downtown St. Louis, the area in which she and her husband grew up. She was nine days younger than her husband.
3rd great-grandparents:
  • William BENNE, Sr.: Several years from retiring in his mid-50s and moving into town, William was farming land a cousin still owns.
  • Minnie BULL: Married for 31 years at this point, 48-year-old Minnie was keeping house on the farm outside St. Charles where she raised five children, ages 11 to 27. Her oldest son would be married in 1908. Minnie was ten years from death.
  • Henry SCHUMPE: 47 years old and farming northeast of St. Charles, 1908 was about the time that Henry bought land that was the first piece of a larger farm my grandpa farmed. A bit of this property is still in the family.
  • Emilie VOSSIEK: She was 48 and a mother of three, ages 14 to 22.
  • George Jacob BURGER: Farming in Carroll Co., he was 48. Some of this land may still be owned by cousins.
  • Elisabeth REINMILLER: She was 43 and a mother of four. Two of her sons died after the family moved to Missouri, one the year before in 1907.
  • William KOCH, Sr.: A German immigrant, he had been in America for just over 40 years at this point. He was 59 years old and still farming in Carroll Co.
  • Caroline SCHOLLE: Like her husband, she was also a native German, immigrating five years later. She was 49 and six of her children, ages 6 to 27, were alive, the eldest having already married.
  • James HEATON: The oldest of my 3rds, he was 69 and farming near Vandalia. Around this time, he would have also been serving as a judge (county commissioner) in eastern Audrain Co. He was tough, but respected in the community.
  • Mahalia HALL: Twenty years younger than her second husband, she was the mother of seven or eight children at this point. (I haven't figured when her oldest son from a previous marriage died.) Her youngest children were 9-year-old twins.
  • Emil LANKAU: The last of my German immigrant ancestors, 49-year-old Emil had been in America for 27 years at this point and married for 22 years. He held a variety of jobs, most involving iron works in Soulard.
  • Alvina RICK: She turned 50 in 1908 and would have been keeping house in the Soulard area of south St. Louis with at least five of her six kids still at home.
  • Martin EBERT: 60 in 1908, Martin was a porter in northern downtown St. Louis. He was also a widower, having lost his wife Friederike HOLTERMANN 25 years prior. All of his kids were married by this time.
  • Gustave MEYER: A German immigrant in the early 1870s, Gustave moved his young family from St. Louis to the County in the 1880s. In 1908, at the age of 51, he was still farming and would have been a few years from moving back into the City, where he would live the rest of his life.
  • Mary POHL: 48 and mother of six. 1908 would have been about the time Mary was in an undated photo we have of her, her mother, daughter and a grandson.
4th great-grandparents:
  • Clara UHLMANNSIEK: 72 years old, this German immigrant (1858) was now living in St. Charles with her retired second husband. The house was still owned by distant cousins as of a few years ago. Clara would live another 13 years, at which point her obit would have the frank title, "OLD LADY PASSED AWAY."
  • Margaret FUCHS: She was a 62-year-old Bavarian immigrant (1851) living on the family farm near Staplehurst, Nebraska. Her husband, Conrad REINMÖLLER, had died in 1901 and she would die in 1919.
  • Adeline SHIPMAN: She was 66 and had been a widow for 11 years (Matthew HALL). She was living with a son in central Missouri. She died in 1925.
  • Carl LANKAU: I'll list him, but I do not know if he was still alive in 1908. Carl would have been about 87 in 1908 and, if alive, would have been my only ancestor still in Germany at the time.
  • August RICK: 78 years old and still working as a team driver in south St. Louis. August was a native of Baden (1851) and lost his wife, Magdalena, in 1908. August died in 1915.
  • Magdalena MÜLLER: 1908 would be the year she died (Sept. 17th). She was 71 years old and had emmigrated from Baden in 1851. All of her adult children were alive. (Three boys died young.)
  • Helena HUHN: She was 76, a widow (Henry POHL, d. 1900) and living in northern downtown St. Louis. She had been in America for 54 years at this point. We have a couple of pictures of her, at least one from right around 1908. She died in 1920.
None of my 5th great-parents were alive in 1908, though two did make it past 1900: Cordelia HOWARD (1822-1902) and Adam FUCHS (1819-1906).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Used headstones free in St. Louis

While briefly channel surfing tonight I caught this report on the local Fox affiliate's (KTVI) 9 p.m. newscast about 24 headstones sitting on a downtown St. Louis sidewalk. The stones have been sitting there for weeks.

Unless I missed him listing people or agencies he contacted, there was an apparent lack of research exhibited by this reporter. Why were the City or State (for death records), the St. Louis Genealogical Society (who could offer help in various ways), the City Library (for obits) or the Post-Dispatch (again, for obits) not contacted? (And did no one think to wonder why the City has allowed 24 stones to be on a public sidewalk for three weeks? I'm sure the code enforcement division has their hands full downtown, but...)

I don't expect that most people know that old Missouri death certificates are online, but in a matter of minutes I found all but one of the available records (1910-1939 and 1945-1956) online. A pattern developed immediately while viewing the death certificates:
  • All of the deceased were black.
  • Of the records found, all but one of the deceased died at or en route to Homer G. Phillips Hospital.* (One certificate cites Easton Avenue as the place of death. Homer G. Phillips Hospital was bounded by what used to be Easton on the south. The mailing address was on Whittier Street.) This hospital was founded to serve blacks in the City of St. Louis and closed in the 1970s.
  • All of the available certificates listed Washington Park Cemetery as the place of interment.** (This cemetery is well known in the area, even if not by name. Just ask someone about the cemetery across from Lambert Airport along I-70 that didn't appear to have an overly ambitious maintenance program. They'll know it. Everyone taking 70 downtown to work or a Cardinals game has seen it.)
I believe the key is that these folks were buried at Washington Park Cemetery. I think the cemetery actually straddled I-70 and when the airport expanded — a brilliant decision, by the way — remains in that section were moved. That's probably where these stones came from. But I also recall from past news reports that this cemetery had a reputation for poor records management. Who knows where these stones belong?

The other troublesome part of the story was this statement:
"We'd give them away," Wiegraffe said. "If someone wants these stones they can have them. They're here for the taking."
They are in fact for the taking, out in the open on a public sidewalk and anyone watching the news now knows where to find them. From what I could tell, the stones looked to be in good shape. In the news report (the online article is not a complete transcript), it was mentioned that people are already eyeing these stones for their gardens. Great.

If these were discarded after unsuccessful attempts to track down descendants, that's one thing. But if they can be placed where remains were moved to, that should be done.

Here are the names, with links to death certificates. An asterisk denotes death at the aforementioned hospital; two asterisks denotes burial at the aforementioned cemetery. Not all of the dates and spellings match, but based on the pattern described above, I believe all of the certificates linked to are for these folks.
  • Edward Mitchell (2 Jul 1950) * **
  • William Malone (26 Oct 1950) * **
  • Ruth Oldham (4 Oct 1951) * **
  • Hattie Shelley (20 May 1963)
  • Elzonia Scott (15 Jun 1961)
  • Elmer Perry (1963)
  • Aaron Smart (21 Aug 1973)
  • Evie Lee Miller (7 Jul 1962)
  • Kardiga Simms (6 May 1960)
  • West Richardson (16 Jun 1969)
  • Martha Lee Morgan (16 Apr 1964)
  • Baby Wavie Knuckles (23 Nov 1948) * **
  • Willie Dudley (1950) * **
  • Travis Berryman (1962)
  • Minnie Busch (4 Nov 1948) * **
  • Estelle Edward (19 Oct 1960)
  • Green Moore (7 Jun 1950) * **
  • Florence Mitchell Thomas (1955)
  • Elmer Clemmons, Sr. (13 May 1960)
  • Mary Boyd (1948) * **
  • John David Patrick (1961)
  • Williams Clemmons (26 May 1949) **
  • Archie Martin (3 Mar 1960)
  • Edward Drummond (13 Apr 1948) * **
Further reading:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Greatest Genealogical Find Ever?

Craig asked this question at GeneaBlogie and wrote about his recent find. There are some breakthroughs I'm proud of and happy about: finding the HOLTERMANNs and LANKAUs in Germany. In both cases, there was a little guesswork and luck after a few years of step-by-step research. The results were very satisfying, even if I wasn't able to go back several generations.

As great as I felt at the moment of finding that information, I have five as of yet undiscovered finds that would equal or exceed the HOLTERMANN and LANKAU breakthroughs (with apologies to those and all other ancestors).
  • Magdalena Maria "Helena" (HUHN) POHL (1832-1920): She is just one of a handful of German immigrant ancestors from the 19th century I cannot trace back to a specific village. I have a lot of German ancestry and to be so close to completing the immigrant stage of research is both exciting and frustrating.
  • Adam FUCHS (1819-1906) and family: Another family without a home (in my records).
  • Ferdinand Friedrich HOLZ (1805-?): This family came to America as a group in 1854, and a son and daughter settled in St. Louis. But what happened to Ferdinand, his wife and other daughters? There are two ways this research could go. Part of me feels the answers are literally right under my nose considering I live in area. The names must be recorded illegibly, right? If so, it's just a matter of time before I stumble upon something that leads to their local church and cemetery records. On the other hand, what if Ferdinand took the rest of the family elsewhere, bucking the trend of my other Missouri Germans? It may be time to search again like Craig suggested in another post.
And of course, this list wouldn't be complete without these two cases:
  • Ferdinand EBERT (1813?-1856?) and his wife Agatha ALLENBRANDT (sp?) (1815?-1895): I've written about this family several times. I would tell family members to reserve a date for a party if I found out where they came from. OK, so no one would come due to lack of interest, but still.
  • John HEATON (1810?-1844): Another ancestor whose roots I'm a little obsessed with. I have found out that there is a HEATON DNA project underway, but there is so far just one submitter.
And I'm sure I'd find enormous satisfaction in finding British roots, but I just can't seem to really get into Colonial research even though I should.