Thursday, February 9, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Play it again, Sam

Samuel Joseph (center) and his children -
back - Augusta and Lydia, front Pat and Elmer.
Courtesy of Fred Gibson
One night about two weeks ago, I was entering some of my Joseph records into my Rootsmagic database. After a while, I needed a break, so I bounced around some websites, not really looking for anything in particular that I can recall. I can't even remember what website I was looking at, when I saw a link for Black Sea German Research. It said something about a German Lutheran church up in Manitoba, and that caught my attention. I followed the link, which led me here. The website talked about an index for the church records of Trinity German Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the time period (late 1800s-early 1900s) was exactly when my Joseph family was up there. So I clicked on the search link, and looked for anyone with a last name of Joseph. I got 43 hits!! I scrolled through the records and saw lots of names I recognized - Ludwig, Wilhelmine, Gottlieb, and yes, Samuel! I browsed through them, and recognized a few marriages and deaths, and when I got to Samuel - I was confused.

Sam's record said nothing about Pauline, or any of his kids. It linked him to his father, Ludwig Joseph, so that matched. But it had another name listed as well - Elizabeth Ackermann. Who was she? How was she related to Sam? Each record was created with the subject's name at the top, then listed family members below, and gave any pertinent dates and relationships. Next to Elizabeth's record, it said married. I did a double-take, and then a triple-take. Married??? Sam Joseph had a third wife? Really??? I double checked the birth info, just to be sure it was my Sam, and the birthdate was 1869. Ok, so that means it's him (how many other Samuel Josephs, born around 1866, being the son of Ludwig Joseph, could be living in the same little town as mine?). The date of the marriage was 15 November 1909. That also made sense, given that Sam's first wife had passed away 6 January 1909. Elizabeth was born in Russia, according to the database, around 1886. That meant she was roughly 20 years younger than Sam. I started having flashbacks of watching that old guy Lazer Wolf (or however you spell his name) in Fiddler on the Roof that tries to marry the girl who later becomes the tailor's wife - except my great-great-grandfather was Lazer! I've been surprised by things in my family history, but this just blew my mind. I sat there thinking "Really? Really???" over and over again.

Marriage record of Samuel Joseph and Elizabeth Ackermann
Eventually I got a grip and emailed George Murray, the administrator for the database. The website said you could ask for copies of any of the records in the database, as long as the subject and all immediate family members were dead. Not a problem for me. I wrote him, asking for records of my Joseph family, and gave him the names and record numbers in the database. I think I surprised him with how many I asked for, because he wrote back asking for clarification on who some of them were, and how they were related to me. I gave him that data, and I was even able to help him clarify some of the family relationships between the Josephs in his database, as the records weren't complete enough to link all the families together. A couple days later, and I had the records in my inbox!

I went right to the marriages, and found the record for Sam. It was indeed a marriage for Samuel Joseph, of Grass River, Manitoba (the same city where his wife, Pauline, had died just 10 months before) to Elizabeth Ackermann, daughter of Phil. Ackermann. Once again, I sat there staring at it, unable to believe it was really him.  I really wanted to know more about Elizabeth, but there wasn't anything else on her in the Trinity church's records. I searched the censuses for 1906 and 1911 - nothing. I searched Manitoba's vital records - found a civil copy of the marriage! Ordered that (and some other Joseph records I've been wanting - no sense ordering just one, right?) but couldn't find anything else. Went back and searched other Canadian census indexes for 1906 and 1911 - nothing. Searched FamilySearch - nothing. Went through the plat maps in Tracks of Time looking for Philip Ackermann - nothing. Went through the index of Tracks of Time - not one Ackermann. I wrote to Adrene Schmidt of Christ Lutheran Church - nothing. She even went through the communion lists for the period, and saw Samuel listed as attending communion, but alone. He does eventually appear with a wife, but not until 1914 - which would make the wife Juliana, not Elizabeth.

Not one to be deterred, I wondered if she might have come down to Montana with Sam and then died there. Searched the Montana death index - nothing. Searched Montana censuses - nothing. Searched Montana marriage indexes to see if she remarried - nothing. Searched border crossing records - nothing. What was going on? What happened to Elizabeth? It's like she dropped out of the sky just to marry my ancestor, and then disappeared. Something happened to her - death or divorce seem equally likely. Sam was listed as a widower in the 1910 census, living with his kids. The census was taken in April, just five months after his marriage to Elizabeth. Did she die? If so, that makes sense, seeing as Sam could and did marry Juliana in 1913, just four years after his marriage to Elizabeth.
Closeup of Lydia Joseph's marriage, showing her
mother "Lizzie Rossanke"
I did come across one interesting tidbit this week, quite by accident, that might be a clue. I was going through the marriage records of Sam and Pauline's kids, looking at how they spelled Pauline's maiden name (that's another puzzle I still have to figure out). Then I noticed the name that Lydia gave for her mom wasn't Pauline - it was Lizzie! In some Montana marriage records, it actually records the mother's name twice - once for her married name, and once for her maiden name. Lydia's marriage record said her mom was "Lizzie Joseph,"  maiden name "Lizzie Rossanke." Rossanke is one variation of Pauline's supposed maiden name Rosen (I've also seen Rosenke, Rosen, and Rosinski). I don't think I'd noticed that before, but even if I had, I probably would have brushed it off as just a mistake. But now that I know about Elizabeth, I wonder - was she thinking of her birth mom (who had died 19 months prior to the marriage) and her dad's second wife, and jumbled the names? Did she mention both and the clerk jumbled the names?

Unfortunately, that's where I'm at still. I haven't been able to find anything else on Elizabeth or her father, Philipp. I still need to follow up on the address given for Elizabeth in the marriage record - 508 Henry Ave. If I can find a city directory for the Winnipeg/Waldersee/Glenella area for 1909 or thereabouts, I might be able to find her or her dad in it. And I'm still waiting to get that civil copy of the marriage record, which will hopefully at least give me Elizabeth's parents full names, and an address for her residence at the time of marriage.

Until then, I'll keep looking through the records I have now, only I'll be looking at them with new eyes.

1 comment:

Gibson Family said...

Don't you wish you could just call up Sam and ask him a few questions? Humm... how do you solve this mystery? I hate puzzles that can't be solved so you need to find out how this ends!