Sunday, April 8, 2012

Church Record Sunday - The Joseph Family at Church

Register for 10 Apr 1906
I've spent some time over the last couple days going through the communion registers of Christ Lutheran Church of Winnipeg, Manitoba, as copied for me by an exceedingly friendly and helpful employee of the church. All told, I have 29 registers spanning the years 1905-1916. Many of the registers were taken on special church holy days - Good Friday, Christmas, Easter, Harvest Festival, and Pentecost. It's been very interesting to me to learn what holy days my German Lutheran ancestors celebrated, and what the days were called in German.

Maybe it's because of the jobs I've held over the last several years, but my first thought in figuring out a way to analyze these records was to compile a spreadsheet. I ended up doing two - one that listed the records by date, and the names of all pertinent Joseph family relatives and connections listed for each date; and the other that listed all people I was tracking in the records, and the dates they attended. The information is the same, just organized two different ways. That way I can see what days were best attended by my family, and which family members attended church most often. (By the way, the award for best church attendance goes to my 3rd-great-grandfather, Ludwig Joseph, for appearing 19 of the 29 registers!)

I learned quite a few interesting things by doing this. My great-great-grandfather, Samuel Joseph, is recorded as having attended church six times between June 1906 and April 1914. The register for 3 June 1906, the first one he appears in, also records the only appearance of his first wife and my great-great-grandmother, Pauline Joseph, who died in 1909. However, half of Sam's attendance dates are after 1910, when I originally thought he'd moved to Montana. He is recorded attending once each year in 1912, 1913, and 1914. That reinforces the theory I had about him moving back to Canada after entering the States in 1910 with four of his five kids (Olga and Gustav Hoeft stayed in Canada for a while). Sam's last attendance date was Charfreitag (Good Friday - today, incidentally!) 1914, with his wife Juliana.

Augusta and Lydia both attended church in Canada before moving to the US, three and four times respectively, between 1906 and 1909. Neither of them appears on the registers again after 1909, though Augusta was named godmother to her cousin, Wilhelmina Siegel, in Wilhelmina's baptism record from 1912. Augusta Joseph (my great-grandmother) and Lydia Joseph (her sister) married their respective spouses in 1910 and 1911 (both Germans, both Lutheran). Two of Augusta's siblings, Elmer and Helena Patricia (aka Pat) never appeared in the registers. As I understand it (and please correct me if I'm wrong), the registers only record members who were confirmed. Hence Lydia's first appearance in the registers is 24 March 1907, the day she was confirmed (though Augusta's first appearance in the registers is 3 June 1906, a week before she was confirmed, so I may be wrong on this assumption). Either way, Elmer and Helena are never seen in the registers. Helena may have been too young - she was only 2 or 3 when the family arrived in Canada, and around 7 when they moved to Montana. But Elmer was a teenager during the time Sam's family lived in Manitoba, and he should have appeared in the records if he went. Interestingly, Helena and Elmer both married Catholics later on (though Augusta's second husband, my great-grandfather Frederick John Gibson, was of no particular faith, though he joined many of the churches in Butte, Montana at one time or another, including the church I now belong to).

One other thing I discovered in these registers is there was a whole host of Lorenz's in the area! There was Seraphine Lorenz, who married my Sam's younger brother Ludwig; Juliana Lorenz (listed in October 1913 as Mutter Lorenz next to Ludwig Jr and his wife, and as Sam's "Frau" in 1914). However, the same date in October 1913 that Juliana attended with her daughter and son-in-law, there was an August Lorenz listed as well. That's also the name of Juliana's first husband. Coincidence? Not only that - there was an August Lorenz in the area who married an Ottilie Kletke in 1907, the same Ottilie Lorenz who attended this church on Good Friday 1914, when Juliana was there. I'm thinking there has to be a connection there. In addition to August and Ottilie, other Lorenz's listed were Wilhelm, Mathilde, Theodor, Adolf, and Edward. Curiously, none of those Lorenz's are listed after 1908.

The last thing that stood out to me in these records - no Ackermanns. None. Sam is absent from the registers in 1909-1911, when he would have been married to Elizabeth (assuming they stayed married, that is). Once again, the sudden appearance of Elizabeth Ackermann at her wedding to my great-great-grandfather, and her apparent disappearance after the marriage completely puzzle me. How do you just blip in and out of existence like that, leaving no other trace you were ever there?

All in all, I am very grateful to Christ Lutheran Church for providing me with these records, and for all the fascinating things they have taught me about my family. It's also very cool to see that religion played such an important role in many of their lives, much as it does in my own.

No comments: