Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why my genealogy is so awesomely hard to trace - part 1

As you've probably noticed lately, my posts (and the research behind them) have been pretty random in terms of content. That's because I'm having a hard time pinning down what lines to research and what I want to know about them. I thought I'd post about each of my lines and try to sum up what I know about them, what I still need to look into, and maybe (gasp) pick a line to work on for a while. This may end up covering multiple posts, since my writing time (and attention span) are limited. Here goes.

1. Gibson - My Gibson line stops at John Gibson, b. 1850 in New Brunswick, Canada, and his in-laws Dennis Cain and Catherine (Mulhearn) Cain, immigrants from Ireland who married in New Brunswick. I would LOVE to find out where in Ireland they came from, but so far my attempts have been unsuccessful. I've gone so far as to apply to be on Genealogy Roadshow to help me track down my Irish roots on this line. I'd hire a specialist if I had the money. For this branch of my family tree, I think I need to write to the Montana Historical Society and the genealogy society or historical society of New Brunswick and see what they have on John and Dennis. I know the Montana Historical Society charges for lookups, so it might be cheaper to join for a year and then request research, or to have a Montana-based relative submit it for me (they charge less for residents).

2. Joseph - When I started researching my family history, Samuel Joseph, my grandpa Fred Gibson's maternal grandfather, was my brick wall. We didn't even know the name of Sam's wife. Now we know her name - Pauline Rosen - as well as the names of two other wives that no one in my family knew about, Elizabeth Ackermann and Julianna (Kublick) Lorenz. I've also got names and some info on all four of Sam's grandparents. What I need to do next is order the FHL microfilms for the parish in Poland where the Josephs are from and see what else I can find in there. I saw a lot of people named Arendt in connection with the Joseph records I found there, and I want to see if the Arendts and the Josephs are related.

3. Wagner - A few years ago, a friend of mine was able to gather some info on the Wagners in Chicago for me, which helped me flesh out the Wagners of my 2nd-great-grandfather Charles Wagner's generation. I'd like to revisit that info, go over it and make sure it all fits as neatly as it should. I'd also like to see if I can really, officially jump the pond and trace them back to their supposed origins in Mecklenberg.

4. Shute - One of my long-standing goals is to very the info I found on the Shutes on FamilySearch years ago when I first got started. It supposedly goes back hundreds of years, and since I don't have as much experience dealing with pre-1850 sources, I've put it off and put it off. One day I will get around to it though!

5. Groff - Thanks to the military records at, I found some letters written by and on behalf of my ancestors Paul Groff, as well as one that was written by his mother, Hannah (the only source I have for her name at this point). These documents say Paul came from Monroe County, New York, and that his mother lived in Michigan while Paul was in the Army. I haven't really followed up with those leads yet. I'd love to push that line further back, and having his mother and a brother's name (Isaac) will hopefully help.

6. Zitzmann - When my great-great-grandmother Maria Zitzmann came to the US from Europe, she forbid her girls to speak German or say anything about where they had come from. I thought for years I'd never be able to learn where they were from or anything about her ancestry. However, thanks to DNA testing, mailing lists, and especially the help of some very, very, very helpful people found through both, I've taken my Zitzmann ancestry back to the 1700s and even 1600s in some lines. I do need to flesh out the families, some of them just have my direct ancestor, a parent or two, and that's it. I would like to translate (or have someone else translate) the documents I have so far collected. That's a task a bit beyond me though, I still have trouble with the old German script, and don't know German well enough to recognize words that are written poorly. Still, it could be very educational to even make the attempt.

Well, that about covers what I'd like to do with the research on my father's side. I'll go through my maternal lines in the next post.


Jo Henn said...

You might have already seen this, but did you know that New Brunswick has a website called something like the Irish Immigrant Portal that goes to a bunch of links about Irish immigrants to New Brunswick. Also, the Online bits of the New Brunswick Archives is helpful. I found a lot in the part where some nice person transcribed decades worth of stories from historical newspapers.mwell, not a lot but it broke a couple brick walls. I put links to both of those sites (among others) in the Canadian Resource page I keep on my blog under New Brunswick.

I hope this is of some help.

ironhide781 said...

This is great, thank you so much!