Thursday, February 23, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - More, more more!

Holy cats, I have been inundated with genealogical treasures this week! I finally got a chance to do a preliminary look through the records my Bergstad cousin Delores sent me - the scans came out to 50 files! She wrote on the back of every single picture she sent, with names, dates, and other interesting info she had. Talk about a gold mine! There's a couple of plat maps, a host of pictures, and gobs of other info.

Then the other day, I got a package in the mail I wasn't expecting. Adrene, the kind-hearted employee of Christ Lutheran Church that was so helpful before, had gone through the communion registers of the church over the years from 1905-1914, and copied the registers where my ancestors and their relatives appeared. There's at least 30 pages!! It shows so many of the Josephs attending the same church, I think it will be very telling to see who attended and who didn't. I know I caught a glimpse of Samuel Joseph's 3rd wife Juliana (listed as Mutter Lorenz), next to her daughter and son-in-law, Seraphine and Ludwig Joseph. I do the genealogy happy dance just thinking about going through all those records.

Just this morning, I got an email back from another Lutheran church up in Manitoba, Lutheran Church of the Cross, that said they have records of the Lorenz family they can send me! They haven't been a brick wall for that long, but they have been hard to find, so this is very exciting news.

Now if only the Manitoba Vital Records Agency and SSA would hurry up and send those records I ordered. :) Not really complaining, I already have more to go through than I have time to do it. I just know good things are coming and I can't wait for them to get here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: I had a feeling...

Many genealogists have reported unusual coincidences occurring while doing their research that led them to breaking through a brick wall, or to find a long lost cousin, or similar wonderful discovery. These "coincidences" include everything from random phone calls from long-lost cousins, to coming across just the right book to answer a burning questions after years of fruitless searching, to just getting a feeling that they should look at this one book or talk to that one person at a conference, and finding a wealth of information that they never would have otherwise had they not followed that feeling. These experiences have many names - genealogical serendipity, psychic roots, spiritual promptings, etc. I'd like to share two such experiences I had recently in my own research.

A couple weeks ago, I had just finished my lunch break at work, which I'd spent going through my Joseph family files. (I told you they'd take a long time to go through!) After I'd gone back to work, I had a boatload of paperwork come my way, and I figured I'd just skip my afternoon break (usually 10-15 minutes), push through the paperwork, and go home. However, I had a feeling I should take my break, and just do a little more genealogy before going home. I took the break, went down to the lobby, and hopped online. In going through my files, I noticed I had a lot of files for my great-great-grandfather's sister, Tina Leistiko, but I didn't have an obituary even though she died fairly recently (1959) in an area with lots of newspapers. I'd searched the index for it before, but never found it. This time, I thought I'd try actually browsing for it, just to see. I picked the Montana Standard, and opened the issue for the day after she died, 30 May 1959. Guess what I found on page 2 - her obituary!! It was fairly long, and gave me lots of details about her that I didn't know. I kept searching and in the space of my 15-break, I had several more obituaries for people that didn't appear in the word searches but were there nonetheless. And to think, I almost didn't take that break!

Then just last week, I was going through more Joseph family files, and was entering what I had on my great-great-grandfather's brother Ludwig (aka Louis) Joseph, which wasn't much. I remembered I had found him in the 1930 census, living in Michigan. Again, I had a feeling I should check Michigan newspapers for him and his family. I logged onto Newspaper Archive and searched Michigan for newspaper articles about Ludwig Joseph - and hit the jackpot! In just a few minutes, I'd found a dozen articles about him, his wife Sarah (Seraphina nee Lorenz), and their daughter Adeline! I suddenly had all kinds of info on their family - Adeline's graduation from 8th grade at Trinity Lutheran School, info on Adeline's marriage to Herbert Leitz in 1940, obituary and funeral info for Sarah (including a list of out-of-town attendees for the funeral), and more. There's also a whole other set of 12 articles about Herbert Lietz and his family, which look like they might very well be about the same family! All from following one feeling to look for Ludwig.

I've had other experiences like this, and I'm sure many of you have as well. It's just one more thing that convinces me how important genealogical research is, and that those people we are researching want their stories discovered and told.

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.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - My evolving picture of the Joseph family

Grave marker for Samuel Joseph, Mt. Carmel Cemetery,
Anaconda, Montana. Photograph taken by me.
When I started doing genealogy research 12 years ago, one of the lines I knew least about was my Joseph line. I had info going back to my great-great-grandfather, Samuel Joseph and his four kids, Olga, Augusta (my great-grandmother), Elmer, and Helena Patricia. I didn't know the name of Samuel's wife, or where they were from, except that they were German (so I figured they were from Germany). I got to take a trip to Montana in 2008, and made a side trip to Anaconda, just to see the cemetery where Samuel and Augusta are buried. That really drove it home that these were real people, and really got me interested to learn as much as I could about them. As time went on and I acquired more records and info, I learned my great-great-grandmother's name was Pauline Rosen (or Rossenke or something like it), and that Sam and Pauline had a fifth child - a daughter named Lydia. My grandpa Fred had a picture of the Josephs, and with the help of relatives like Pegge Marjamaa I came into contact with, we identified the Josephs in the picture, including Sam's father Ludwig Joseph, his brother Gottlieb, and other relatives. I received a huge shock when a border crossing record told me Sam and his family weren't from Germany, but from Ulanowka, Russia (now in Ukraine). That led to me to original birth records for two of Sam's siblings - Justine/Christina and Wilhelmine. Then another shock came when I was contacted by Jim Joseph, who had scans of a Joseph family Bible I'd never known existed, as well as pictures of Ludwig and Justine (Witt) Joseph, and other Joseph relatives as well. That Bible, and other info Jim had, helped me fill out Sam's family group even more - brothers named Heinrich, Ludwig, and Michael. I really felt like I was making progress on learning about Sam's family, getting a more complete picture of who he was.
Grave marker of Pauline Joseph, Christ Lutheran Church
Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Photo courtesy of Adrene Schmidt
All of that was prelude to last year. I finally obtained a copy of Tracks of Time, a big book about the small town of Glenella, Manitoba, where Sam and his family settled after leaving Ulanowka (thank you, eBay!). The book made prominent mention of a church in Winnipeg, the Christ Lutheran Church, where Sam's parents Ludwig and Justine, and his wife Pauline were buried. One day I decided to write them and see if they didn't have any records on the Josephs. I found their email address, and wrote a simple email asking if they knew of any records on some relatives I had who'd lived there 100 years ago, and named some of them. An employee of the church, Adrene Schmidt, kindly wrote back saying that after a quick perusal of the records, she had a LOT of info she could send me for very low cost. I couldn't wait to get my hands on those records!

Headstone of Augusta (Joseph) (Staffan) Gibson
and her first husband, Charles Staff. Photo taken by me.
My grandpa kindly paid for them, and within a couple weeks, I had almost 50 individual church records - baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials for various members of my family! I spent a few days just poring over them, entering the info in my Rootsmagic database, when I came across one record I thought had to be a mistake - a marriage record for my Sam Joseph, to a woman named Juliana Lorentz. I'd never heard of her, my grandpa (who has an amazingly sharp memory for minute details of his family) had never mentioned her, and had only known him as a widower. So I found a civil copy of the marriage and sent for it. The civil copy confirmed it was indeed a previously unknown marriage of my ancestor to someone we knew nothing about. Turns out, my grandpa's cousin had heard of her (I'm still trying to set up a chance to talk to that cousin) but no one else remembers her. I later found she died alone and poor in 1933 in Manitoba, while Sam was living in Montana with or near relatives. I still don't know much more than that about her, though I keep searching. But after absorbing the news of Juliana, I figured I had gotten past all the surprises there were to find in Samuel's life.

I was wrong.

To be continued...