Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Military History and a New Resource from Ancestry.com

Every so often, I browse through the new searchable resources available on Ancestry.com.  The majority of my research these days is done on the local level, or using free sites such as FamilySearch.org, Castle Garden (for immigrants arriving in New York before 1890), newspaper archive sites such as Genealogybank.com and Newspapers.com, and Fold3.com for military information.  I still pay pay a monthly subscription (begrudgingly!) to Ancestry because of my DNA testing and results; also, I occasionally use the local search features by state or county. 

This week, I noticed a GREAT new resource for anyone with veteran ancestors who served in the US Navy - "Registers of Patients at Naval Hospitals from 1812-1934".  My husband is the one in our household with family members who served in the US Navy (he's doing his job to keep that tradition alive!).  Since our surname - Melvey - is very uncommon, I always start there when searching a new database.  Never know what you might discover!

A while back, I wrote a Memorial Day post about Ernest Melvey, my husband's paternal great-uncle.  While not a direct ancestor (I usually focus my research on directs only), we were both captivated by his story of survival from WWI.  According to a news article published in the Aberdeen American in South Dakota (1 January 1919), Melvey's ship - the USS Westover - was blown out of the water en route to Europe by a German submarine.  Eleven of the ninety-three crew members were killed.  The remaining crew managed to swim their way to three freed rescue boats, including the captain, who brilliantly tossed his officer's coat for a seaman's uniform.  When a group of Germans approached the rescue boats "demanding surrender of the captain", the crew "told the [Germans] he had been killed when the torpedo struck" (Aberdeen American, 1 January 1919). 

After four days of floating in open water, the survivors were rescued by a French fisherman and brought to Brest, France.  Ernest Melvey sustained a hip injury in the accident and spent some time in the Naval Hospital 5 in Brest.  Using the new database on Ancestry.com, I located his entry in the hospital register:
9 October 1818

22 November 1918
30 November 1918
 What a neat snippet of history to add to the news stories about his ordeal!  According to other news articles I located, his parents - Paul's great grandparents Nels N. Melvey and Ingeborg (Johannesdatter) Melvey - did not hear about their son's accident until weeks after it occurred.  I can only imagine their shock and worry. 

Very thankful for these digital resources that enable us to add a little color to our research!




Monday, January 26, 2015

Anselmus Ostholthoff - Hamilton County, Ohio

Welcome back!  Yes, that was self-directed.  The entire month of January - it seems - was a bit of a wash, due to our upcoming move, a kitty health "cat"-astrophe, and overall craziness after the Christmas holiday season.  Our home is packed and all belongings are on their way to Virginia from Sicily.  The day of the pack-out, the movers did a fantastic job...but I was sweating bullets over my large plastic tote of genealogical files.  Of course I have scanned copies of the critical documents - but the remainder of the files represent hours of digging, printing, browsing through old newspaper archives online.  Buried stories resurrected with care.  Please, oh please do not let anything happen to my box of treasures! 

Yesterday, while the boys napped, I worked a bit on my #1 genealogical goal for 2015 - tracking down naturalization paperwork, passenger lists, and potential hometowns for my half-dozen "German" immigrant relatives.  For each family unit, I follow the same rule; track down all information on THIS side of the ocean before jumping across into German records.  I want to have all pertinent census docs, death records, addresses, etc. 

Today's post focuses on ANSELMUS OSTHOLTHOFF (1831-1876).  Previous post with information about New York Passenger Listings for the family of Anselmus Ostholthoff can be found HERE.

Context: Anselmus Ostholthoff is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family.  My maternal grandmother's maiden name was OSTHOLTHOFF.

From at least 1870 (when he is listed in the US Federal Census for Hamilton County, Ohio), Anselmus and his family lived in the Cincinnati.  Until this weekend, I did not know exactly when he passed away - only that he was not present in the 1880 census; his wife, Maria Anna (Doepke) is listed in 1880 as a widow.  

Using the University of Cincinnati's Digital Records Collection, I finally located a death record for Anselmus:


Listed above, we have cause of death (encephalitis), age at death (46 years), address, place of birth (Germany), occupation (laborer), attending doctor, burial location (St. John Catholic Cemetery, Hamilton County, OH).

Death date mystery solved!

 



Friday, January 2, 2015

Etzel Family Connections: Reading, PA

This month, I have been spending the majority of my research time working through one particular family unit from my mother's side of the family - John (Johann) ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria (Schumacher) ETZEL (1837-1894).  Here are quick links to previous installments -part I (from 2013), part II, part III, part IV, and part V, and part VI.
Research Goal: To locate information about John ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria SCHUMACHER (1837-1894) prior to their listing in the 1860 US Federal Census in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Context: John Etzel  is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family.

Happy New Year!  In my last installment of ETZEL research, I outlined the discovery I made concerning the hometown of Johannes Etzel and wife, Maria Schumacher.  A breakthrough!  Just before I stumbled upon the couple's immigration and marriage records, I made another discovery that enabled me to start to link Johannes (John) with another Etzel family in the Reading, Pennsylvania area.

I had always wondered WHY and HOW Mr. and Mrs. Etzel ever ended up in Reading, PA of all places.  It turns out that they had family there all along, potentially encouraging their move from Cincinnati to Reading sometime between 1856 and 1858.

Here is what I know:

Johannes Etzel had a nephew - Jacob Etzel (1853-1903).  According to his obituary, as well as census records, Jacob Etzel was also born in Bavaria.  He was married to a woman named Mary LEYER (1855-1941).  From his obituary in the Reading Eagle:





Mr. Etzel was a native of Bavaria, Germany, and lived in this country since boyhood.  When still a young man, he came to Reading and secured a position in the brewery of the late Frederick Lauder, where he remained a number of years, succeeding by meritorious work in rising to a responsibility position.  Leaving the employ of Mr. Lauer, Mr. Etzel went to New York, where for some years he conducted a hotel in the historic building that had been Washington’s headquarters during the revolutionary war, at Broad and Pearl.  After relinquishing the hotel, Mr. Etzel returned to Reading and engaged in the saloon business at 10th and Green, which he conducted up to the time of his appointment as first sergeant of the police department under Mayor Weidel in April 1896.  In May 1897, he became chief of police, succeeding John Albrech, resigned, a position he  filled with credit until the close of the administration.  Mr. Etzel again went into the saloon business at his old stand, 10th and Green, where he remained until April of last year, when on account of ill health, he retired and entered private life…Mr. Etzel was a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church and leaves his widow and one son, Jacob C. Etzel (Reading Eagle, 15 July 1903).

SO - what clue did I have to his relationship with my relative, Johannes ETZEL (1837-1894)?  Here I present the obituary for his wife, Maria (Schumacher) Etzel printed in the Reading Eagle:

Reading Eagle, 15 December 1894 - Via Newspapers.com
 SEVERAL clues in this obituary to explore.  First, you'll see the link to Jacob Etzel near the end.  "She was also an aunt of Jacob Etzel, of the New York House, Tenth and Green streets".  The New York House was the name of Jacob Etzel's saloon.  Second - and this is for further research - you'll see the names of her living siblings listed in the obituary (love these little gems!).  Brother - Adam Schumacher of Kansas City; brother, John Schumacher of Hamilton, Ohio; sister "Mrs. Merkel" of Reading, PA.  Going back to the original passenger list in my previous post HERE, Adam and John (Johannes) are both listed.  Two sisters - Rosina and Asila - are listed.  More digging for the "Merkel" surname in Reading will lead me to the identity of this particular sister. 

I could go on with even more evidence here...but you get the picture.  Johannes' nephew was Jacob Etzel.  I can assume that Jacob's father was a sibling of Johannes.  Working on identifying his name.  A project for 2015!  

Newspapers.com and Google Newspapers (FREE!) score again!  Love these resources and the extra detail they help provide.

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

John Etzel: Place Name Game


Schöllkrippen, Germany (Image Source HERE)

This month, I have been spending the majority of my research time working through one particular family unit from my mother's side of the family - John (Johann) ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria (Schumacher) ETZEL (1837-1894).  Here are quick links to previous installments -part I (from 2013), part II, part III, and part IV.

Research Goal: To locate information about John ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria SCHUMACHER (1837-1894) prior to their listing in the 1860 US Federal Census in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Context: John Etzel  is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family.


A week or so ago, I last wrote about my search for more information about my 3rd great-grandfather, John Etzel.  I presented a great find - his name (and the names of his future in-laws and wife, Maria Schumacher) on a passenger list from the port of New YorkOne question remained: where was the city/village "Schillgrippe", listed on the passenger form, originally located?  Gazetteer searches proved fruitless...and I was out of ideas.  Until I decided to ask the question on an Ancestry.com message board...


Here was the reply I received from a gentleman in Germany in less than 24 hours after my initial post (yay!):


"...This location could be Schöllkrippen in the northern part of the Bavarian county of Aschaffenburg (district of Lower Franconia), in the local dialect "Schöllgröbbe". The older Catholic parish registers are in an archive in Würzburg. Please keep me informed, if you need further assistance."

YES!  Genealogical gold.  

Here is the place name information as described in one of my favorite German genealogical resources - the Meyers Gazetteer of the German Empire:

Source: Ancestry.com. Meyers Gazetteer of the German Empire [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
Original data: Erich Uetrecht. Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs. 5th Edition. Leipzig, Germany: Bibliographisches Institut, 1912-1913.

I find it so interesting that the town's name is Schollkrippen, yet as the person responding to my post indicated, this place name would have sounded like "Schillgrippe" in Johannes Etzel's regional dialect (especially to an English-speaking port authority).  Schollkrippen is located due east of Frankfurt (love the airport, by the way!).

One mystery solved.  Now, to track down the Etzel family in Germany.  Sadly, it appears that his naturalization documents in Cincinnati, Ohio were destroyed in the late 1800s when a riot caused the courthouse - and important records - to burn. 

I last promised an article about a connection I found between my John (Johannes) Etzel and another Etzel family in Reading, PA...stay tuned! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Even more John Etzel research!

"New York: Welcome to the Land of Freedom" (1887).  Library of Congress. IMAGE SOURCE

This week, I have been spending the majority of my research time working through one particular family unit from my mother's side of the family - John (Johann) ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria (Schumacher) ETZEL (1837-1894).  Here are quick links to previous installments -part I (from 2013), part II, part III, and part IV.

Research Goal: To locate information about John ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria SCHUMACHER (1837-1894) prior to their listing in the 1860 US Federal Census in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Context: John Etzel  is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family.

John and Maria (I believe she went by the name Mary) had two daughters:
  • Rose Etzel (about 1856-?).  Married Louis Oberly (or Oberle) in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
  • Elizabeth Etzel (1858-1923).  Married Edward Musser Luden in 1885.  Elizabeth Etzel is my 2nd great-grandmother.
Here is what I know about John ETZEL and Maria (Schumacher) Etzel's whereabouts based on the paper trail of census documents, birth/death records, and newspaper articles:

  • 1854 - John (Johann) Etzel emigrates from the region now referred to as Germany, arriving at Castle Garden in New York on 21 July 1854.  I still do not know *exactly* when Maria Schumacher arrived, since she passed away prior to the 1900 census in which year of immigration is noted.  
  • 1854 - John and Maria marry in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio.
  • About 1855-1856, daughter Rose is born in Cincinnati.
  • Some time prior to abt. 1858 (year of daughter Elizabeth's birth), John and Maria move to Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
  • 1860 - living in Reading, PA- North East Ward (US Federal Census)
  • 1870 - living in Reading, PA - Reading Ward 9 (US Federal Census)
  • 1880 - living in Reading, PA - South Moss Street.  Daughter Rose lives at home.  Daughter Elizabeth, listed as a servant, living in a boarding house about 1 1/2 miles away on Walnut Street, Reading.
  • 1894 - Maria passes away on 14 December 1894
  • 1900 - John Etzel living in Reading, PA on 5th Avenue in the household of Edward M. Luden and wife Elizabeth Etzel Luden (John's daughter and my 2nd great-grandmother).
    • *Interesting note here!  Edward M. Luden and wife Elizabeth lived on 5th Avenue in Reading...from what I can tell this is the house in which he was born, and the same property in which brother William Henry Luden launched his candy business (with his mother's encouragement and business acumen, from what I can tell...and even possibly her recipe).  Edward Luden's mother owned several properties around Reading which were divided among her children upon her death in 1896.  Have you heard of the candy bar "5th Avenue"?  Did you know this was originally a Luden creation?  Neither did I until today.  Hershey's purchased Luden, Inc. in 1986 and thus the bar eventually became a Hershey product.  The "rumor" is that my 2nd great uncle, William Luden, named this candy after his childhood home address...on 5th Street, Reading, PA.  Way cool.

But I digress.  Back to Etzel.

As mentioned above, I'm searching for more information about my 3rd great-grandfather and his wife...specifically their place of birth and potential immediate family members.  Using the indexed passenger list record I found on the Castle Garden website, I tracked down an actual digital image of the document.  What I discovered was seriously surprising...

Steam Ship BERTHA, arriving New York 21 July 1854, SOURCE

 Starting at the top, you'll see Johann Etzel, age 28, male, farmer.
Country (or locale - city, state) to which he belongs: "Schillgrippe"
Country to which he intends to go: "Cincinnati"

Listed in the same group of passengers - all from this "Schillgrippe" - are an entire family of Schumachers :).

Father, Johann A. Schumacher, 52
Mother, Maria Schumacher, 52
Anna, Michael, Maria, Rosina, Adam, Johann, and Asila Schumacher.
Since they appear to be traveling in a group from the same home town - to the same destination of Cincinnati - could this be MY Maria Schumacher that John Etzel married just a few months later?

I was very excited to see this "Schillgrippe" listed as a hometown...yet I cannot find any information about it online or in the German gazetteer I usually use for old place names.  In later census records, John and Maria both state they were born in Baden (1860), Bavaria (1870), and Prussia (1880).  Keep in mind...the reason each census is a little different is because the location referred to that exact place at that exact time.  For example.  Their hometown must have been located in a region that was considered Baden in 1860, Bavaria in 1870, and Prussia in 1880, etc.  The historical maps of Germany are one confusing mess for those unfamiliar with its history (and that would be me!).

My next step is to try to locate naturalization documents for John Etzel.  I can also try to locate information  (marriage or death records) for the other Schumachers listed in this passenger document to determine a connection to my Maria.

OK.  Lots here, and I can already feel my mind melting.  Stay tuned for the next installment in this Etzel research rabbit trail...where I will show how a random newspaper article helped me connect my Etzel family to another Etzel family living in Reading, Pennsylvania (but never in Cincinnati).  The adventure continues!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Etzel Research, part III

EUREKA.

Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio
Probate Court Archived Records Search Marriage License Index (1817-1983)



John Etzel and Maria (Schumacher) Etzel are both listed in 1854, volume 6, page 635.  Married in 1854?  Fits with what I know about John Etzel's emigration from Germany to the United States in 1854.  Daughter Rose was born in 1855 in Ohio (guessing Cincinnati), which also fits.

Adding to the collection of Etzel sourcing!

Monday, November 24, 2014

John Etzel: Continuing the Search

 
Topographic View of the City of Reading, Pennsylvania, 1881.  Library of Congress




Research Goal: To locate information about John ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria SCHUMACHER (1837-1894) prior to their listing in the 1860 US Federal Census in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Context: John Etzel  is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family.
 
In 1860, John and Maria ETZEL are listed in the US Federal Census in Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania -

John, age 35, male, laborer, birthplace - Baden
Mary, age 23, female, birthplace - Baden
Rose, age 6, female, birthplace - Ohio
Lizzie, age 2, female, birthplace - Pennsylvania.

This indicates to me that John and Mary lived in Ohio at some time between 1855-1858, based on birth date and location for daughter Rose ETZEL.  Census records are notoriously "off" when it comes to specific birth dates, and late US Census records give an approximate birth year of 1855 for Rose Etzel and 1858 for Elizabeth (Lizzie) Etzel.

With those dates in mind, as well as the date of immigration for John ETZEL listed in the 1900 US Federal Census (he gives an arrival date in the US of 1854), I searched through the passenger lists at www.CastleGarden.org.  Castle Garden was the precursor to Ellis Island, accepting immigrants from 1855-1890 in New York (www.castlegarden.org). 

Low and behold, here is what I found:

Source: www.castlegarden.org        

This is the only ETZEL listed in 1854 with a name and age the information I already know about my relative.  Wife "Maria" is not listed.  Destination: Cincinnati.

Could this be my John Etzel?

More research to follow!  Also, did he meet Maria in Cincinnati...when did they marry...and did they come from the same hometown?