Thursday, July 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - goodbye brick wall!!

This is a part of the census record that helped me blow a big hole in a brick wall that has been bugging me for years. My great-grandmother, Rosie Sitzman Wagner, came to the US as a little girl with her mother and sister, both named Mary. I knew quite a bit about the three women from about 1920 onward - who they all married (even Mary the sister, who married several times), where they lived, when they died. What I didn't know is how to go backward before 1920 and get more info on the Sitzman family closer to the time they came to the States, which was sometime around the turn of the century.

My grandma, Blossom Gibson, over the last couple years has given me all kinds of information on the Sitzmans, including letting me scan several photo albums, each containing several hundred (yes, several HUNDRED) pictures. She remembers names, some dates, places, and interesting tidbits about lots of these people. The only problem is I've been pretty unlucky in terms of finding historical documents on the Sitzmans. I wrote a few posts ago about finding a goldmine of Sitzman info in some historical newspapers on I've had those in my "waiting to sort through and analyze" pile since then. Not that I didn't want to go through them, but they had a lot of names I didn't recognize at first glance, and I wanted to take my time and go through them properly. I also wanted to have something in the way of primary source documents to check them against. As it was, all I had was a few census records for Mary and her daughters.

Enter yesterday. I was looking through the records I have on Mary Sitzman and her daughters, and noticed that I didn't have the 1910 census. I thought this was odd, as I should have collected all the censuses I could find by now. So I went looking, and found it pretty quickly. But, as you can see in the picture up top, the head of the family wasn't Mary Sitzman - it was her brother, Sebastian Sitzman! This was the first historical document with definite proof of one of Mary's siblings that I'd discovered. Boy was I excited! Using that info, I went back into the newspaper hits from a few weeks ago, and began compiling a list of all the names and relationships listed in them. It turned out be a good idea to use a list like that, as there were a lot of people that appeared in multiple articles, but under slightly different names. I knew from talking to my grandma that Mary had a sister named Rose, another sister named Barbara, and three brothers, Mike, Frank, and Joe. Oddly enough, she'd never mentioned Sebastian, so I'll have to ask her about him. But the articles listed an additional sibling as well - Carrie Morgele (also spelled Magual in another article; apparently it was an unusual enough name that the writer just spelled it as he/she heard it).

After going through one or two newspaper articles, I went back to the FamilySearch Labs site and searched through their Montana marriages database, and found a whole slew of marriages related to the Sitzmans, at least six or seven marriages. I'm not sure I even pulled all the marriages I could have, as it was after midnight when I was looking them up, and I was a bit groggy at the time, even though I was excited about what I was finding. I even found Sebastian in a few Butte, Montana city directories!

So now, needless to say, I have a treasure chest FULL of documents to go through and analyze more fully, which will hopefully propel me onto finding other documents (I know, for example, that Sebastian was naturalized, and his sister Rose petitioned in court for the authority to sell part of his estate some time after his death, so there's a couple documents to go after right there!). If I can only track this Sebastian, find out more about him and where he's from, it might be enough to FINALLY track this family across the pond. Woo hoo!!!!

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