Sunday, March 25, 2012

A big/little shift in my research

I've been doing some thinking over the last couple weeks (a dangerous pastime, I know). I've had a lot of success in my genealogy research and documentation the last couple weeks, as well as in finding new records on my family, particularly my Joseph side. (Speaking of which, I need to do a blog post on the records I got from Church of the Cross in Winnipeg.) But in all my years doing  research on my family history, there is one avenue I've never really thought of exploring until recently - DNA. I've been interested in DNA research and its application to genealogy for a long time, but now I'm really starting to get involved - I watched several videos about it at the SMGF website (very informative, but also very easy to follow); I've talked to CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist, who has given me loads of helpful information and advice, and pointed me to several great books on the subject; I've joined the DNA Newbie mailing list, and started asking questions and talking to people there, and reading (though not always understanding) the other conversations there; I've also poked around the ISOGG wiki (still need to read more on it though).

The more I get into this, the more I'm hit with two prevailing thoughts - "WOW, this stuff is amazing!" and "I can't believe I'm actually trying to understand all this! What am I thinking?" This is a very large and complex field, and the more I read about it, the more I feel like a guy on the sea shore trying to count and categorize the grains of sand on the beach. But even with the hesitation I feel at the idea of delving into such a complicated subject, I feel this pull towards it that just says "you need to learn more about this, you need to understand this," to the point of asking some relatives to take some DNA tests. Not so I can prove my relationship to them (though that is always the first question I get asked when I tell people I'm having my relatives' DNA tested), but so I can see what DNA analysis can tell me about where my DNA comes from, and hopefully find other relatives who are researching their ancestry, so we can help each other in putting together our family tree as far back as it can go. The paper trail side of genealogy still holds as much interest, excitement, and fascination for me it always has, but this would be adding another research tool and record type to my research. I'm up for anything that can tell me more about my family history, and this is a whole new avenue of research that no one in my family circle has ever tried before. That fact alone has a pretty significant pull all its own. Who could resist the opportunity to be the first Gibson/Bergstad/Joseph/Wagner/Harris/Craddock descendant to start researching the family history through DNA? Not I!

The only downside is the cost - the tests do not come cheaply. Fortunately, I have some help in this regard, through the kindness of relatives and an understanding wife, I will hopefully be able to start getting these tests done in the next couple of months, starting with my grandparents. I have been extremely blessed to have all of the grandparents alive at the time of my birth still with me today. I know that won't last forever, and I really feel the need to take this opportunity while I have it. They have been so supportive of me as I've delved into our family's past, that if I can find anything worth telling them about our family, I want to do it. DNA research will give me a whole new range of facts and info I can share. If I can only get to the point where I understand it myself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not So Wordless Wednesday - New Joseph photos!

Thanks to my cousins Ruth Kyle and Jim Joseph, I now have three new photos of my Joseph relatives - including one that has my great-great-grandfather Sam Joseph in it!

This is Bernhard Joseph, son of my Gottlieb Joseph, my great-great-grandfather's older brother. It's so sad to see the little guy on crutches, and sadder still to know he died when he was just 9 years old.

This is a picture of my 3rd-great-grandparents, Ludwig and Justine (Witt) Joseph, and several of their children, their spouses, and some of their grandchildren. Amanda and Rudy Joseph (back row, far left) are Gottlieb's kids; Ed Joseph (front row) is Henry Joseph's son; Martha Siegel (front row) was Wilhelmine (Joseph) Siegel's daughter; and Edith, Elsie and Walter (front row, far right) are all Gottlieb's kids. Sadly, none of Sam's kids are in the photo.
Oddly enough, the brothers in the back row - Gottlieb, Henry, and Ludwig - are all identified with their spouses, but the woman standing next to Sam is not identified. My first inclination is that it's his first wife, Pauline. She died in January, 1909, and since there isn't a firm date as to when this picture was taken, it could be her. Sam did remarry in November, 1909 to Elizabeth Ackermann, but Elizabeth was 20 or 21 at the time of marriage, and the woman in this photo looks older than 20. She does look a lot like the woman in the top right corner of this photo, though older. My feeling is that the woman in Ruth's photo is Pauline, and the younger woman in my grandpa's photo is her daughter Lydia. Admittedly, I don't know for sure that the woman in this photo is Pauline, but I believe it is.

And lastly, I also received this photo from Ruth and Jim, showing a much bigger group of Josephs.

The cool thing is, this photo apparently had the names of everyone in it written on the back:

I want to go through all these names (both in this picture and the other group shot) and make sure I know how they all connect. I also wonder at what the occasions for the group photos were.

I'm still in disbelief that these photos are real! My favorite thing about them is how Sam and his brothers all look alike. I don't know of too many cases in my family where family resemblances are that strong, and it's awesome to see so many Josephs together. It'd be fun one day to have a Joseph reunion with some of these Joseph's descendants, and see if there are any resemblances left.

Thanks Ruth and Jim!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Joseph documents galore!

The Manitoba Vital Records Agency came through for me this week in a big way. Several weeks ago, I sent off for a set of records from the Agency - death records for Ludwig Joseph and Justine (Witt) Joseph, and marriage records for Karl Siegel and Wilhelmine Joseph, Samuel Joseph and Elizabeth Ackermann, and Justine Joseph and Adolph Leistiko. I was excited to get the marriage records, particularly Sam's, because I really wanted that added confirmation that it was my Sam that married Elizabeth Ackermann. But beyond that, it was the death records I was really anticipating. The death record format used by Manitoba had fields for parents' names and birthplaces, and I have none of that info for Ludwig or Justine. So I was hoping the death records would come completely filled out.
Samuel Joseph and Elizabeth
Ackermann marriage record
When the envelope came from Manitoba, I couldn't wait to see what those records had to say. I read quickly over the marriage records for the Siegels and Leistikos - not much new there, except most of the witnesses' names weren't familiar. Samuel's marriage confirmed that it is indeed my great-great-grandfather who married a young lady half his age. It also confirmed the exact location of the marriage - 508 Henry Ave. in Winnipeg. Interestingly, that is also the address given for one of the witnesses, Gustav Rudel. The other witness, Julius Neumann, lived at 540 Henry Ave. I wonder if Gustav was a relative, a friend, or just someone who routinely offered his home up for weddings. More leads to follow!

Ludwig Heinrich Joseph death record
Then came the moment I was waiting for - the death records. First up was Ludwig. It gave his birth date and death date, which matched the other records I have. Birth place was different - Neuhof, Poland. I don't know where that is, and Google wasn't much help, so I'll have to look for that later. But then the real treat came - both of his parents were listed! According to the informant, his son-in-law Karl Siegel, Ludwig Heinrich Joseph's parents are - Christian Arthur Joseph and Frasin Froelich, both born in Neuhof, Poland! I realize that this is secondary info, as I have no evidence that Karl ever met Ludwig's parents, and I'll need to corroborate it with additional records. But he was married to Ludwig's daughter, and knew Ludwig for over 30 years. If he made no mistake, I now have the names of my 4th-great-grandparents on the Joseph line!

Justine (Witt) Joseph
death record
The good news didn't end there. I went on to Justine (Witt) Joseph's death record, hoping to continue my good luck streak there. It gave her birth and death dates - same as what I had. Birth place matched as well - Reischewo, Poland. Not surprising since the informant was Gottlieb Joseph, her son (and author of the info in the family Bible). Then - bingo, her parents were listed as well! This is secondary information as well, but Gottlieb stood a better chance of knowing Justine's parents, as he was their grandson, and could have met them in person. So according to Gottlieb, Justine Witt was the daughter of - Jacob Witt and Anna Joseph! Another set of 4th-great-grandparents' names!! Anna's surname was especially intriguing, as my cousin Jim Joseph told me months ago that the family believed Ludwig and Justine were cousins (maybe first cousins). The surname connection seems to lend weight to that story.

So now, having received these records, I need to spend some time analyzing them, extracting all the details I can and putting them in my database. I still like repeating aloud the names of my 4th-great-grandparents - Christian Arthur Joseph, Frasin Froelich (whose name I'm probably pronouncing totally wrong), Jacob Witt, and Anna Joseph. Their names have been lost to their descendants for generations, but now we know them again. Hopefully this is just the beginning of learning about them, and I will make sure that their names are not forgotten again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday - Ludwig and Justine (Witt) Joseph

These pictures are of my 3rd-great-grandparents, Ludwig Joseph and Justine (Witt) Joseph. They were born in Poland - Ludwig in Kepa Kikolska and Justine in Rajszew, married and moved to what is now Ukraine, and eventually immigrated to Canada, where they both died. They raised seven children - Gottlieb, Samuel, Justine, Wilhelmine, Ludwig, Heinrich, and Michael, though Michael died at age 21.

Photos of Ludwig and Justine are courtesy of my cousin Jim Joseph of Mississauga, Ontario.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - Obituary for Catherine (Cain) Gibson

This is one of the obituaries I found a couple of weeks ago, as I talked about here. It's for my great-great-grandmother, Catherine (Cain) Gibson. She was born on 4 February 1854, in New Brunswick, Canada. She married my great-great-grandfather John Gibson in 1879 (and she had to get a dispensation from the Catholic church she attended to do it, as John was a member of the Church of England). They had 1 girl and 4 boys, the last of which was born in Montana, where they moved around 1884. She died of pneumonia in 1907. Her obituary was pretty hard to read, but here's what I could read of it.

Funeral of Mrs. John Gibson takes Place Tomorrow at 9(?) A.M.

The funeral of Mrs. John Gibson will be held Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock…Cathedral of the Sacred Heart…will be celebrated. Interment will be in the Catholic cemetery.

Mrs. Gibson died quite suddenly, after a short illness. She was taken sick Wednesday and died only yesterday morning at the family residence on the corner of __ and __ streets.

Mrs. Gibson lived in Helena 21 years…made many warm friends by her constant thoughtfulness…others, her generous…and by her lovely character. She was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.

Mrs. Gibson is survived by her husband, a daughter, Mrs. W. T. Condon of this city…Fred and David Gibson, Helena, and Thomas Gibson, of …Ida., who reached here last night. A brother living in Minneapolis was notified but owing to the…North Dakota is unable to come.

Helena Independent, 28 Jan 1907, p.8, col.3

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Lewis Barney Connection

I've written previously about my great-great-grandmother Philena Emily "Lena" Beilstein, and all that I've learned about her and her marriages and children. Last week, I learned something that put a different spin on her story.
Photo courtesy of Ron Barney, p.251
of "One Side by Himself"

I've been listening to a podcast from the Mormon channel called Legacy, where they talk about the life stories and experiences of various church members from the early days (1830s) through today. The episode I was listening to this week was about Lewis Barney, who converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1840s. The person being interviewed, Lewis' great-great-grandson Ron Barney, had recently written a book about Lewis and his family titled "One Side by Himself: The Life and Times of Lewis Barney, 1808-1894", detailing their struggles and experiences as pioneers in the American West. The book sounded really interesting, as Lewis and his family went through a lot as they moved around between Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and other places. As I listened to the interview, I remembered that Lena's first marriage was to David Briscoe, whose parents were Thomas Briscoe and Martha Ann Barney. I knew David had been born in New Mexico, and I thought I remembered someone else in the Barney/Briscoe family being from Arizona. I thought "Wouldn't it be interesting if David was related to this Lewis Barney?"

When I got home from work that evening, I went to my Rootsmagic database, and pulled up David Briscoe. He was indeed born in New Mexico, and had two siblings, Claude and Cora, who were born in Arizona. Then I went online to try and find some info about the Lewis Barney book. What I didn't expect to find was the entire book available online for FREE! Thanks to the USU Press website, I downloaded the whole book, and quickly searched it for the Briscoes. On page 268, I found the answer to my question - Martha Ann Barney, wife of Thomas Briscoe, was Lewis Barney's daughter! There was indeed a connection, and a lot closer than I ever suspected!

The book focuses mostly on Lewis Barney and his children, and doesn't mention David Briscoe at all, unfortunately. But it does tell a lot about Martha and Thomas, which I'm very interested to read. It even has pictures of Martha and her brother, Arthur Barney, who performed Lena and David's marriage.
Photo courtesy of Ron Barney, p.247
of "One Side by Himself"

So while I may not be descended from Mormon pioneers, I am related to them in a unique way. And that suits me just fine.