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...

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