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?

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