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 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: Meyers Gazetteer of the German Empire [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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


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  Castle Garden was the precursor to Ellis Island, accepting immigrants from 1855-1890 in New York ( 

Low and behold, here is what I found:


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? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Etzel Family Origins...

Image Source HERE

...still a mystery!  

(*Context - John Etzel (1826-1904) is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family)

Every family researcher - novice and professional alike - eventually finds themselves face to face with what is commonly called a genealogical "brick wall".  In less than a minute, I can rattle off my list of most-wanted individuals.  I will neither confirm nor deny that these brick walls have robbed me of precious sleep on occasion.  What if?  Where?  Who?  Why?  

Last year, I wrote a bit about John ETZEL (1826-1904), his will and probate record in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Etzel emigrated from Germany to the United States about 1854, according to the 1900 US Federal Census in Reading, PA.  Prior to this, though, I hit a brick wall with both John and his wife, Maria Schumacher (1837-1894).  The local prothonotary office could not locate a copy of his naturalization paperwork (which should give birth date, home town, etc.) even though I know from census records that he naturalized at some point prior to 1900.  Also, since wife Maria died before the 1900 census (valuable because it requires citizens to answer whether or not they are alien or naturalized & approximate date of arrival)...I do not know whether or not the couple were married prior to arrival or afterward.  I assume they arrived together - but that is just a gut feeling.  As for home town - that is also a mystery.  Here is a breakdown of info provided by census documents:

Birthplace of husband and wife John and Maria/Mary ETZEL listed in US Federal Census:

1860 - Baden
1870 - Bavaria/Bayern
1880- Prussia
1890 (no census available)
1900 - Germany (John Etzel...wife died in 1894)

One solution - I am looking for a town that was located in Baden in 1860, Bavaria in 1870, Prussia in 1880, and "Germany" in 1900.  This will require a refresher course in Germany history...specifically studying the ever-changing borders on historical maps.  What was considered Baden in 1860 might just have been considered Prussia by 1880.  I think I need about 5 extra hours in my day to tackle this one :).

In the meantime, here is a snippet from the US Civil War Draft Registration in 1863 including John ETZEL:

Source: U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Col. John Powell (1752-1826): Lanesborough, MA

My research lately is leading me down a Massachusetts rabbit trail of sorts.  Having spent the majority of my life in the Deep South, little did I know that I had such roots in New England!  One of my favorite parts of family history research is taking time to learn about locales that are completely new to me...familiarizing myself with geography, culture, and historical aspects of that particular town/state/country.

For context, today's ancestor is my 6th great-grandfather through my mother's father's paternal grandmother's side of the family :).  Papa's grandmother was a MEAD, and Col. John Powell (1752) is connected through that branch of the tree.

Col. Powell is one of four patriots connected to the MEAD side of our family.  While digging through newspaper archives in this week, I located the following mortuary notice from The Sun in Pittsfield, MA:

John POWELL married Lois CURTIS (1753-1838) on 20 November 1755 in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  Their daughter, Lois POWELL (an Independence baby! 1776-1871), who married Caleb MEAD (1773-1856), is my 5th great-grandmother.  From FindAGrave, here is an image of John POWELL's grave stone in Center Cemetery, Lanesborough, Berkshire County, Massachusetts:

Source HERE

Friday, November 7, 2014

Our Massachusetts Patriots

Feeling a little patriotic this holiday weekend!  Today I stumbled upon digital images of a text on that includes names and specifics for "Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War".  Three of the patriots in my tree (yes, family...THREE - the number keeps growing!) hailed from Massachusetts, so I was eager to search with their names and see what I could uncover.  Here are the entries, which really read like journal entries or summaries of their records of service:

Source: Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War (Images Online) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.Original data: Massachusetts. Secretary of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. Vol. 1-17. Boston, MA, USA: Wright & Potter Printing, 1896-1908.

Azor Curtiss has an incredible story - including time spent at Valley Forge.  I will have to buckle-down and put pen to paper and share that one with everyone!  John Powell is Azor Curtiss' son-in-law, and his daughter Lois Powell (1776-1871) marries Stephen Mead's son Caleb (1773-1856) in 1795.  Confusing much?

Happy Veterans' Day, everyone!