I don't know the full extent of the relationship between John Launitz and my ancestors, but I do know one thing at least - he was the minister who performed their marriage. I know this because his name is written (in tough-to-read handwriting) in the bottom right corner of their marriage certificate.
|Marriage certificate for Jacob Beilstein and Emilie Wachter|
It took a couple hours of searching Google, Ancestry, and FamilySearch using various combinations of John's name to find out who he was. His first name is written Johann on the certificate, and I couldn't tell if the surname was Lumitz, Bumitz, Lurnitz, or several other possibilities. I got some help from Kerry Scott (of Clue Wagon fame) and Dear Myrtle in finding the church in Pittsburgh. But after finding out his name was listed in American records as John Launitz, I found a whole plethora of records on the minister himself. He appears in an old copy of Who's Who in Pennsylvania (whence most of the biographical info above is taken), several books about the church he founded, not to mention city directories, census records, and other normal genealogical fare. Almost makes me wish I was related to him!
I've known about Elizabeth Shown Mills' teaching about researching the FANs (friends, associates, and neighbors) of our ancestors for years, but never really put it into practice until now. It was really fascinating to study, even briefly, the life of someone who knew my ancestors but was not directly related to them. I wonder if they attended his church and heard him preach. Was he chosen to perform their marriage because they believed what he did, or was it more of a matter of convenience? My Germans from Russia were apparently Lutheran (that's the church they attended in Manitoba), and my Germans from Bohemia were all apparently Catholic. It would be pretty cool to find out my Beilstein-Waechter Germans were Presbyterians! I'm still trying to find out if the church is still in existence to see if they have anything else on my ancestors. Having had previous success with German church records in Manitoba, I would love to see what this church might offer.
|First German Presbyterian Church, from the book|
Allegheny City, 1840-1907