St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Irish Roots With An Accent

Spending time researching for my friend's German roots made me stop
and reflect more on my Irish roots. I am of Fighting Orange Stock.
I am of dissenters stock. I am of Irish blood.

Granted, some of my Irish roots have been in America since before the
American Revolution. But I do have one that is fairly recent. That
is, if you can call 1879 recent.

Sometimes, I gripe about the costs of one of the paid genealogy sites
to which I belong. Sometimes, it's worth every penny. Today may
have been one of those days. For today, I may have made contact with
some descendants of my recent Irish roots.

I decided to check the newer indices today to see if I could track
down the boat my great grandpa sailed over the pond. I still haven't
pinned it down to my satisfaction, but I do have several leads to
follow. I also spent some time looking at Griffith's Valuation. If
you've got kin living in Ireland during the timespan of Griffith's,
it's worth a look see. I chose the county in which I am interested,
clicked on it, and realized I needed more information. Guess I'll
have to find Grandpa's Naturalization papers. They are most likely
in Pittsburgh. Now to find the right court. A search that will most
likely take some time, I'd wager.

In the meantime, I checked the paid genealogy site to see if
grandpa's brother was there. His brother left Ireland and settled in
New Zealand. He's there! And his information names a parish in
County Mongahan that I must search! And his information also gives
the same parents as my grandpa's. Right man.

I've popped off an email to the submitter of the information. It's
been some time since my New Zealand cousin posted the information. I
hope he still has the same address. If not, I guess I'll be
investigating how to find someone in New Zealand.

Pretty cool. Have I made contact with some of my Irish roots? Will
I see the family resemblance? Will I sing a song of Irish lore?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Confirmed Assumptions

Last week, we talked briefly about hunting for a person with "old
country" roots. I am pleased to share the followup finds.

As you will recall, a volunteer from Random Acts of Genealogical
Kindness responded to my pleas for help in Washington State. This
volunteer located the obits for our man in question and his wife.

His obit provides his birth and death dates. His obits tells us he
did live in San Francisco before Washington State. His obit is the
icing on the cake. We had found a passport application from 1894
with our gent's name and particulars. I am now certain that this one
is the right one. Yes, we've confirmed our assumption in this case.

His wife's obit provides the marriage date and location. The rumors
we had heard were only off by a county or two and only one year.
That's pretty good.

The next step, should my friend decide to pursue her German roots, is
to contact Washington State and get a copy of the marriage license.
That could provide us with the location of her birth in Germany as
well as the correct spelling of her maiden name.

We could also check with federal government for her naturalization
papers. They should have a copy of them, and if not, contact
Washington State for them.

As for our gent, I suspect he had kin in St. Louis as that is where
he was naturalized. We could send off for his naturalization records
as we know the date of naturalization and the court in which it

I still have one assumption that is not confirmed. I suspect our
gent met his future wife when he returned to the Rhein area of
Germany for a visit in 1895. She was a young teenager at that
point. She comes to America when she is of age and marries him. I
suspect this could have been an arranged marriage. If we find her
naturalization papers, they could go a long way to proving or
disproving that particular theory. In the meantime, it makes for a
nice story.

Use Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness when you need only one or
two items in a particular spot. Their volunteers can ask for
reimbursement for parking, copy costs and 50 cents per mile. It's a
great service. Just be sure to thank the volunteers.

Monday, February 25, 2008

When In Doubt, Check The Map

Just thought I'd pass on a site I stumbled across today. Not only is
this a great place to find some maps from the c. 1870 timeframe from
across the US, the site is allowing viewers to look for free during

I spent just a few minutes and quickly found some of my kin.

Hope you find some of yours!!

Community News You Can Use
Peachtree City, Tyrone, Fayetteville

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hunting We Will Go

I guess this could be thought of as a theme song of mine. A Hunting
We Will Go... Hi Ho The Merry O.......

I've been hunting this week in a place I've never been. I've been
hunting for some "old country roots" for a friend of mine. With
scant information, and I mean scant, I've searched for her
grandparents. All she knew is her birth father was reported to be
first generation American of German descent.

The hunt began easily with a search on one of the paid sites to which
I subscribe. A hunt that ended almost as soon as I began. I found
the marriage of her parents and then I found the birth of her
father. Her father's birth record lists the name of his parents.
The problem is that's about all it listed.

Her grandfather had a name which was Americanized. What I haven't
found is whether he changed the name or whether his new name came
from when he immigrated. According to census records, he was born
about 1863 in Germany and he immigrated in 1881. So, he is here too
late for the 1880 census and there are no remaining records of the
1890 census.

A person with his last name and a name similar to his Americanized
name is found sailing into New York in 1881. This information states
he was single and originated in Prussia. So now what. Keep hunting.

The next record found is one of the Americanized name application for
a passport in 1894. On this application, the name is correct, the
year and month of birth is correct. The year of his immigration
correlates with the year of immigration found on the census reports.
Other information noted is a specific location in Germany--
Ruthweif, Rhinforting (sic?). What is odd is this application was in
San Francisco, not Washington State as I had anticipated.

The application stated he lived in both St Louis and in San Francisco
since moving to America and was naturalized in St Louis in 1886. It
still can not be discounted as being the incorrect man. But, he is
not documented fully as being the right man. As of now, I strongly
suspect he is the man for whom I am searching. To date, I have no
rumors of when he moved to Washington or where he lived for the first
several years of being in America.

The 1900 census shows our man living in Kitsap Co, Washington, as a
boarder and he has been naturalized. The US Immigrations Records
show our man going to Germany for a visit in 1904.

The 1910 census shows him married to a German girl who came over
about 1904. Now, since I don't have a good feel for the spelling of
her maiden name, I have yet to identify her coming into the country.
What I have uncovered is she was about 20 years younger than her
husband. They rapidly had 3 girls and one boy. Since it appears she
became a citizen after 1906, we can check with the federal government
for her naturalization papers. All naturalizations before 1906 were
done locally with no requirement to send paperwork to the federal
government. Finding naturalizations before 1906 really means hunting
long and hard for where someone was living when they were
naturalized, and then finding which court naturalized them.

Our man disappears after the 1930 census. His wife's death was
easily found from the Washington State Death Index. Since the index
is only online from 1940 and his name is not listed, I will deduce he
died between 1930-1940.

The hunt is far from over. Next, I contacted the Random Acts of
Kindness organization and found a volunteer in Kitsap County. Within
a 24 hour period, this volunteer has located the obits and popped
them in the mail. I look forward to seeing if the obits answer any
of my questions.

I've also sent the passport application to a cousin of mine to see if
he can decipher the correct name of the town and region of Germany.
I look forward to seeing his response.

Hunting for kin. A Hunting we will go. Hi Ho, the Merry O- can't
wait to see the catch!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Influenza Strikes

The winters of 1917-1920 were tough on America. Not only were we
focused on events across the pond, we had a new enemy. Influenza.

Even now, during our winter months, our health officials warn us of
the dangers of influenza. Even now, our beloved family members who
died during that time are difficult to find. So many morgues were
overrun and the population was just tired. The rumors of some mass
graves for influenza victims still persists to this day.

Thought you might enjoy checking out the following site which has
some startling facts regarding the Flu Pandemic of the early 20th

Thursday, February 07, 2008

If You Don't Know It, You Could Blow It

Questions. It's a way of life for genealogists who are always
searching for answers. Quite often, we stumble right up against a
brick wall. It seems as if no matter how hard we hit that wall, we
can't find a way over it. Here are some thoughts for you as you try
to blast your way through your brick wall.

You have to know the information. In other words, don't assume
anything! If you can't document the family lore about where grandma
and grandpa came from, where they lived, how many children they had,
etc., you risk blowing right past the truth.

Think about it. Do you really know if great grandma or grandpa were
married only once? Do you really know if they were divorced or
widowed? Do you really know if all their children were born on the
right side of the marriage certificate? Does grandma really remember
when her parents were born?

One of my brick walls was with a grandpa of mine. I had been told by
my father that his father had been married twice. Funny how no one
else in the family had ever heard that tidbit. I asked my father how
he knew. It was simple. He was at a train station with his mother
and siblings back in the 1930s and there was another lady with a son
sitting close by. He heard the other lady tell her son not to speak
or look at my father and his family because they were the results of
"that woman" who stole your father away from us. Now my father was
never able to glean what the name of his older half brother was. He
spoke of it to me and his younger brother soon before my father
passed away.

So everyone who knew the truth was gone. I tried searching for a
divorce record in the county where my grandfather lived with his
parents. Nothing. I tried the surrounding counties. Nothing. It
has been suggested I try neighboring states. Way back in the early
1900s, divorce was not a common event, but it did happen. To date, I
have yet to find his divorce. Of course, I also haven't been able to
document the other son's name. The census records haven't been of
much help. Did the lady remarry?

I did locate the marriage license for my grandparents. On the
application, my grandfather had stated he was previously married and
provided the date of the divorce. So, now I have legal documentation
of the divorce. But from whom? And where?

I have also located his World War I registration in which he lists
his status as single. This, too, correlates with the date of the
divorce, which was 1917. It would appear he joined the Army soon
after his divorce. He also went overseas to fight for his country
and came back wounded. He had known my grandmother since he was a
child. I have pictures of her sitting with him at the hospital while
he endured the surgeries necessary to help him walk again. She
didn't marry him until 1920, so I'm going to go on a limb here and
say the distraught woman with her son at the train station gave false
information to her son. Marrying someone three years after your
divorce doesn't quite add up to a "stolen" man.

Take home message is simple. You have to be able to document,
document, document. You can't just blow past information if it
doesn't fit in with your carefully constructed tree. Sometimes our
assumptions become the truth. Sometimes, it's only in our minds.
Don't blow it. Just make sure you know it!!