Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday - Shute facts

I'm still in the middle of going through and cataloging all the documentation I've collected over the years. I finished the Wagner/Sitzman piles (finally!) and now I'm into the Shutes. I started researching this line way back when I first got into genealogy, and have dabbled in it now and again since then. But I haven't really brought my research lens onto the family in quite some time. Thus, while going through my records, I've found a few little tidbits I thought were kind of cool.

1. My 4th-great-grandparents Alexander and Letitia (Sanford) Shute lived in Princeton, Mille Lacs Co., Minnesota in 1870. A few doors away, Alexander's youngest sister Mary Josephine Shute, an 18-year-old teacher, was rooming with the family of Letitia's oldest brother, Gilbert Sanford. Must have been interesting, living your sibling's in-laws.

2. In the 1890 Veteran's Census, Alexander says he was a Corporal in Company D, NY 115th Infantry, and that he served two years, 10 months, and eight days in the Civil War. I think it's pretty cool a) he knew how long he had served down to the day, and b) he was a Corporal after serving for just under three years. He also says he suffered sunstroke, and was wounded in the foot and hand, but doesn't say which foot and hand. I'll have to look in an old dictionary to see what sunstroke meant to him, see why he thought it worth mentioning along with a hand and foot injury.

3. In 1910, Alexander's son Burr Shute was living with his wife Annie, their three daughters, and a hired girl named Alice Profitt who was 16 and was born in Wisconsin. In 1920, Annie is no longer in the home, Burr and Alice were married (you can tell it's her because of her age (26), and the fact that she was born in Wisconsin), and had a seven-year-old son named Ralph (whose mother was born in Wisconsin). I'd sure like to know how that trade-off worked out.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Surname Saturday - Sitzman, Zitzmann

I'm not sure if I'll get this post done in time to be posted on Saturday, but oh well. I wanted to wrap up this little miniseries on the Sitzman/Zitzmann line, and tell you about the last few discoveries I've made this week, and other things I've learned.
Since learning my great-great-grandma and her daughters were deported on June 11, 1906, I've tried to find where and when they came back to the States, but haven't been able to yet. I'll keep looking, because I'm keen on finding out now that I know getting to this country was more difficult for them than I first had thought. But even though I haven't been able to find that specific record yet, I've found several others that I think are just as important in tracing this family, and which have also helped confirm where this family came from. Using the location names of Rosshaupt and Bohemia, and the alternate spelling of Sitzman as Zitzmann, I went to looking for other immigration records. They just happened to have a week's free access to all immigration and naturalization databases going on right now (through Labor Day), and I thought, if I can get lucky once, why not twice?

I went back to the 1910 census I had for Sebastian Sitzman, and saw that he said he came to the US in 1891. I tried searching for Sebastian in the (temporarily) free databases at Ancestry, and found him! In the passenger list I found for him, he is listed as being born in Austria and 23 years old (making him roughly 8 years older than my great-great-grandma), which fits well with the data he gave in the 1910 census, (where he said he was a German born in Bohemia, and 45 years old). He arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on the SS Hermann on August 7, 1891. His stated destination was Pennsylvania, and that got me thinking - by 1910, he was in Montana. What drew him to Pennsylvania? The only thing I could think of was the same thing that drew four of his other siblings there 15 years later - family.

I went back to the obituary for Barbara Wills, thinking there might have been something said about when she came to the US in the article. Lo and behold, there was indeed! Her obituary said she came to Buffalo, New York, in 1883, moving later to Pittsburg before coming to Butte, Montana around 1913. Wondering if my luck would continue to hold, I went back to Ancestry and did a search for Barbara Zitzmann arriving in 1883. I did not find a passenger list showing her arriving at an American port, but I did find Barbara Zitzmann, a single 30 year-old, from Rosshaupt, Bohemia, leaving for New York on April 12, 1883, on the ship Polynesia. Not only that, there's a J. Plumer also from Rosshaupt listed just above her, and a Margaretha Hofner, also from Rosshaupt, on the previous page. It looks like another instance of people from the same hometown (again, a very SMALL town) immigrating together, and that last name Hofner sounds a lot like Haffner, as in Johann Haffner, who came with a later group of Zitzmanns. It feels like all this stuff I'm finding is just the first chapter or two in a whole new book! (By the way, I've since found the Port of New York record showing Barbara's arrival, so I have both the departure and arrival records for Barbara now).

Still, I've never really been the type to stop and thoroughly analyze documents I've found until I've stopped finding them, so I decided to keep looking. Frank/Franz Zitzmann's passenger list entry had a naturalization record number next to it, so I thought I'd try to find it (again in the free Ancestry records). Nothing came up for Frank, but I did find his brother Joe's record under the name Josef Zitzmann. I knew it was him because in the declaration of intention he gives his date of arrival as June 4, 1906, having sailed to the US on the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, and states his birthplace as Rosshaupt, Bohemia, Austria. To paraphrase that old guy from the A-Team, I love it when genealogical details come together! I haven't had time to look over this record properly yet, but I did notice that by 1912 (the year he filed the declaration), he was married and had four kids - his wife was Teresia, and his children were Rosa, Catherine, Frederick, and John. I wonder if I can locate any living descendants of his? It'd be fascinating to compare notes with them, and see if any tales of the 'old country' survived in their lines better than they did in mine.

Just for fun, I also looked for and found Joseph Haffner in the 1900 Pittsburg census. I did so for two reasons - one, to see if I could find something on him before the Zitzmanns came over with his brother Johann, to see if he'd been in the area for a while. And two, to remind myself I need to look into his family and see if they are perhaps related to my Zitzmanns. I still need to find Louis Fullmer (who, according to the 1906 passenger list really was family), J. Plumer, and Margaretha Hofner. The to-do list never grows shorter, does it?

But still, even with Grandma Hoffman's silence on the issue, we're starting to blow some big holes in that brick wall. I've got a lot of new information to sort through, a lot of really good, solid leads to follow up on, and some really interesting stories that no one knew about. Not a bad week, eh?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Follow Friday - Almost an immigrant

Christ Hoffman and Mary Sitzman's marriage license
After I'd gone through the obituaries and census records for Grandma Hoffman, I went to FamilySearch's Montana County Marriages database (which, as I've said before, is a goldmine for anyone doing Montana research) and looked for the marriage record for Mary Sitzman and Christ Hoffman. Didn't take long to find it, and I am now SO glad I did! It gives the names of both of their parents - Christ's parents were Gottlieb Hoffman and Kunijnunda Buchner (if you can tell me how the mom's name is pronounced, please do), and Mary's parents were John Sitzman and Teresea Doffler. The witnesses were Rose Sitzman (probably Mary's sister, not her daughter), and Charles Aspling (no idea who he is). But the real find was the birthplace Mary gives - Rosshaupt, Fromberg county, Austria.

Rozvadov in the Czech
Republic, courtesy Wikipedia
I know nothing about that part of the world other than a few names of countries that no longer exist (Czechoslovakia, anyone?) so I hopped online and did some digging for info on Rosshaupt. What I found was very interesting. It turns out, Rosshaupt is now known as Rozvadov, and is just inside the western border of the Czech Republic. The best part is, it's a tiny town, the population is only about a thousand inhabitants even today. That's the best part because it means it's more likely that it's where she's actually from. Kind of like when people from out of state ask where I'm from, I don't tell them Fife, because they've never heard of Fife. They might know about Tacoma, five miles south of here, but to save myself from having to explain where Tacoma is, I just say I'm from "near Seattle," even though Seattle is 30 miles north of here. But Rosshaupt isn't a Seattle town - it's a Fife town! Heck, compared to Rosshaupt, Fife IS Seattle. But that little village name has become very important in finding out more about the Sitzmans, as I'll explain later.

In researching Rosshaupt, I asked for help in finding it from the Germans in Volhynia and Poland mailing list I'm on. One of the members of the list said it was in Bohemia around Grandma Hoffman's time, and Bohemia had been part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and thus outside of the scope of the mailing list. Bohemia, if you'll recall, is where Grandma Hoffman said she was from in the 1910 census, so that made perfect sense. It also explained why she said Rosshaupt was part of Austria on her marriage license. On their recommendation, I joined a Germans in Bohemia mailing list and asked them for assistance in finding Rosshaupt and Mary Sitzman and her family. Within a few short hours (yes, hours!) I had several responses. The good people of the Bohemia mailing list told me Rosshaupt was in an area known as Pfraumberg (which sounds like Fromberg), and sent me a whole host of links and tidbits about the area, which I'm still wading my way through.

One especially nice lady, a fellow Washingtonian as it turns out, suggested I look at Ellis Island's records as the Sitzmans might have come through there when they immigrated. I'd tried searching the Ellis Island website before, but I'd had no luck on finding Mary Sitzman, and figured she must have come through another port like Baltimore or Philadelphia or something. I asked her why she thought Mary would have come through Ellis Island. She responded, but not with words - she sent me a copy of the passenger list from Ellis Island, showing Maria Zitzmann, her two daughters Marie and Rosa, and three siblings - Franz, Rosina, and Josef, all from Rosshaupt!!! The passenger list says they sailed from Bremen, Germany on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, and landed in New York on June 7, 1906. She also sent a copy of the immigration record (a little plaque-like thing Ellis Island creates showing the immigrant's info extracted from the passenger list) and a picture of the ship they had sailed on. I just sat there, stared at the screen, and couldn't believe my eyes - there was Mary, Rose, Frank, and Joe Sitzman, with my great-grandma Rosie and her sister Mary as little girls, ages 2 and 6. But I'd never found them because I'd always searched for Sitzman, and never thought to try Zitzman or Zitzmann.
SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse
The more I stared at this passenger list, the more info I started to see - Josef Zitzmann had a long number written next to his name, which (thanks to Lisa Louise Cooke and Stephen Danko) I figured was his naturalization record number. All the Zitzmanns were listed as going to visit a brother-in-law, Louis Fullmer, who resided at Rear 153 - 43 St. in Pittsburg. (I still don't know who Louis Fullmer is or whose sister he was married to, but I am going to find out!) There was another former resident of Rosshaupt on the boat with them as well, Johann Haffner, who had been to the US before and was going to see his brother Joseph Haffner, who also lived in Pittsburg. I'd like to find more on him too, see if maybe he was a relative or something. The family had $300 between them, which (according to this inflation calculator) would be equivalent to $6800 today. Not bad! But then I noticed that the word 'deported' was stamped over a handwritten SI that had been written next to Maria, Marie, and Rosa's names. My mailing list friend didn't know what that meant, and neither did I. No one in my family knew anything about any ancestors being deported, so that didn't make sense. To really understand this passenger list, I needed help from someone who knew these records better than I did. So I turned to the only person I could think of - Stephen Danko himself.

I certainly didn't expect Mr. Danko to get back to me so quickly (he is a well-known and very busy man, after all), but he did. He responded just a couple hours later, with a lot more info than I was expecting! First, he confirmed that the number next to Josef's name was in fact the information that will lead me (when I get time and opportunity to do it) to his naturalization record. He also said that the SI notation meant Special Inquiry, and meant that Maria and her girls had to meet with an inspector from the Board of Special Inquiry before being admitted to America. There was a page in the ship's manifest (which Mr. Danko was kind enough to look up and send me) that showed the results of all Special Inquiries from this voyage. The notes from inspector Cowley about my Zitzmanns just say "LPC Illegit. ch." Mr. Danko explained that the notation meant the "reason for deportation is LPC, meaning that the authorities thought that since Maria was unmarried and had two illegitimate children, they would likely be unable to support themselves and would become public charges." Whether the girls were really illegitimate, I don't know, but the inspector apparently felt that the risk of them becoming public charges was great enough to send them back to Europe.

And that is how my great-great-grandmother and her two little girls were deported from Ellis Island.

There's more that I've found, but that will have to wait until next time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wisdom Wednestay - From brick wall to stepping stones

Mary (Sitzman) Hoffman
My great-great-grandmother and her two little girls were deported from Ellis Island.

But before I get into that story, first let me give you some background. Ever since I started tracing my family's history back in 2000, there have been two lines that were the hardest to find concrete details on - the Josephs (my paternal grandfather's mother's side), and the Sitzmans (my paternal grandmother's mother's side). Within the last year or so, as I've blogged on here many times, I've had a lot of success (both in my own research, and in genealogical serendipity) in breaking through the Joseph brick wall. I now know much more about the Josephs than I thought I ever would, and I still have several leads I need to follow up on when I have time. But then my grandmother requested that I come over and talk about her side of the family, which pulled me away from the Josephs, and got me looking at her Wagner and Sitzman lines.

As I started going through my Sitzman records, I realized I still didn't know very much about Mary Sitzman, my great-great-grandmother. Her daughter Rose, my great-grandmother, once told my mom that Grandma Hoffman (as my great-great-grandmother was known) had come over pretending to be the wife of one of her brothers so he could sponsor her passage. She came over and used her maiden name, which she also gave to her girls, which led us to suspect she might have been running from her husband, but that was just a theory. We knew she was German, that she and her girls had come over around the turn of the century, and that Grandma Hoffman was very tight-lipped about the 'old country'. She didn't want her girls speaking German, and she said nothing about her life or family back in Europe. I knew of several siblings - Frank, Mike, Joe, Barbara, and Rose - via my grandmother, but grandma didn't know any concrete dates or events, though she did know some stories about them, and even had a few pictures of them. But no records from that line have come down, and without solid info to go off of for any of Mary's siblings, finding records on them was nigh impossible.  For Grandma Hoffman herself, I had her death certificate, a few census records, and an obituary, plus a lot of photos. I hadn't really found anything or seen anything in those records that jumped out at me with any real clues to where she was really from. So while I could trace her life from 1910 (the first census record she appears in) to her death in 1960, I didn't know of any leads that could tell me where she came from. Her death record and a census record said Germany, two other censuses said Bohemia, wherever that was, and the obituary was silent on the issue. Not much to go on.

The first break came when I was going through old newspapers online, and started finding some obituaries. The first one I found was for Christ Hoffman, who died in 1942. The obit for Christ Hoffman confirmed the names of some of Mary's siblings, namely Rose, Frank and Joseph, but it also named additional siblings - Fred Rhump and Sebastian Sitzman, both from Butte, Montana, and Carrie Morgele from Pittsburgh. I also found an obituary for Barbara, which listed most of the siblings I knew about, both from my grandma and from the other obits - sisters Rose (Mrs. William Fredrickson), Mary (Mrs. Chris Hoffman), and Carrie Magual, and brothers Frank, Joe and Sebastian. There was still no mention of Mike Sitzman, but I got really excited at finding all these names anyways, and started making a list of all these siblings to run past my grandmother.

When I visited my grandmother last week, I showed her the list of Sitzman siblings I'd put together. She recognized Joe, Frank, Rose, and Barbara, of course. She was puzzled at Sebastian, who in one of the obits was said to be from Dewey, Montana, which is where Grandma remembered Mike being from. She concluded that Mike and Sebastian were the same person, given that the name Mike never appeared in any of the records I'd found, though Sebastian did (I'd also found him in a city directory, newspaper articles, and census records). I've found other cases in my family where a person went by a name that had nothing to do with their actual names (my grandfather Roland John Bergstad went by Tom; my great-granduncle Donald Roscoe Wagner went by Bill; and my great-grandaunt Mary (Sitzman) Wagner was called Susie by her daughter). So Sebastian and Mike being the same person made sense. And honestly, I felt a little relieved that it wasn't another relative somehow managing to stay out of all major record sources! Grandma had never heard of Carrie, nor either of the last names she was given in the obits (Morgele and Magual), nor yet of Frank Rhump. I still know nothing more about Carrie and Frank than what's wirtten in the obits, so I still have work to do on them. But I was finally starting to feel like I had a handle on who my great-great-grandmother's siblings were.

The second big break came with what I discovered once I found Mary Sitzman and Christ Hoffman's marriage record. But that story will have to wait until next time.