Saturday, August 28, 2010

Persistence strikes again

Since my last entry, I have managed to add on another three generations to the Bertsche line. The cause was a little persistence and the fact that I was trying to update the family history report I'd created for the Walker line when I added another generations to that branch as well. It happened completely by accident and I can thank the FamilySearch 'pilot' site once again. I used that site as well as, which is the one that started my genealogy research in 1998. Even though the sites are linked and basically contain the same information more or less, going back and forth between the two I have now traced the Walkers back to my 6th great grandparents and the Bertsche line back to my TENTH great grandparents, for which I'm still gob-smacked over

I just wish I could have this kind of luck with the Wilhelm, or Gentzen lines, but because of progress I've made this week, it gives me a little more hope for those branches, especially the Wilhelm line. I never expected to get those branches back as far as I did and believe it or not there is still the tiniest bit of doubt sitting in the back of my mind, because if any of the research and progress I've done lately turns out to be wrong I will be completely devastated. But even IF that does happen, I will press on and continue my research. And that is all any genealogist can do.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taking a genealogy plunge

After a lot of thought and some opinions from other researchers, I've decided to add the information I found on Johann Georg Walker and Maria Anna Bertsche (aka George Walker and Mary Ann Bertseh) to my family tree. But before I actually jump in and do that I'm going to gather as much information about their siblings and parents, grandparents etc. as I possibly can. Why you might ask, especially if it turns out to be wrong and I end up removing it. Because IF it does turn out to be the wrong family (which it still might down the road) I want to be able to post the information on the genealogy message boards so that the right family can find it.

The one place that stands out in the research I've done so far has been Schlaitdorf, Germany. That doesn't seem to change except for the occasional marriage record where the couple is married where the bride was born. The FamilySearch pilot site is about the only place I've found information, I haven't found the right trees at Rootsweb, but then again I have never come across another tree there with Gentzen in it either.

I feel reasonably confident that Johann Georg Walker is my George Walker and I feel equally as confident that Maria Anna Bertsche is Mary Ann Bertseh (or Pearce if you like). So if you come across information in your research that is similar to what you know but not EXACT, don't write it off as wrong. Look between the lines and see if it is possible that you could actually be on the right track, because in the end you might be.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Clue for George Walker

Did you ever come to a point where your brain is telling you one thing and your heart is telling you something else and your instincts are trying to mediate between the two? That's what I am going through right now and believe it or not I really want to go with my instincts on this one.

I went to the library to use Ancestry to see if I could find any immigration/emigration information on George Walker (or Johann Georg Walcker). Believe it or not you can do the particular search I did for free and at home if you don't have a subscription. Anyway, I put Johann Georg Walker in the search boxes and clicked 'search'. Much to my surprise, the very first hit that came up was for a Johann Georg Walker that was born in SCHLAITDORF, Germany and his destination was OHIO. His application date was 1831, all which pretty much coincide with my George's obituary and I STILL think that Schlaitdorf was shortened to Slidor and its even entirely possible that whoever provided that piece of information for the obituary SPELLED it that way because maybe that's how its pronounced.

I honestly don't know but seeing not just the name but Ohio in the listing made me smile and told me (or at least my instincts) that the parents and siblings I'd found were the right ones. I also tracked Johann George's siblings in Germany and they ALL stayed there, George was the ONLY one to make the trip to America. Unfortunately, the Wuerttemberg Germany Emigration Index at Ancestry doesn't give any other information AND I couldn't find anything on a ship or when specifically in 1831 he arrived. But the word 'Ohio' was the biggest clue for me because that's where my George ended up.

What are my instincts telling me? They are saying that it is very possible that you may have found the key to George Walker's ancestry. I tracked the siblings to see if maybe one of their children went to America and possibly found George or something. With genealogy anything is possible. As for his wife Mary Ann Bertsche (or Bertseh or Pearce) I haven't found anything concrete yet, but the Bertsche family I DID find is the most likely candidate, at least that's what my genealogical instincts are telling me.

More later.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Genealogical instincts

Tracing ancestors back across the pond is sometimes a lot harder than tracing them as they moved from one city or even one state to another here in the US. But the funny thing about tracing them in countries and eventually cities across the pond is that if you go with your instincts, much like detectives sometimes do, you can actually come out on the other side with more than just a clue.

Here's what I mean. Earlier this year I happened across a listing for an obituary for what I had hoped was my 3rd great grandfather, George Walker. At first I didn't know that much about him or when specifically he died, at least until I found a probate listing for his wife and then the obituary for him. Obituaries can hold crucial clues as to not only who someone was but where they came from. George's did just that. He wasn't referred to as George Walker but rather 'Father' Walker. According to the obituary, he was born in 1805 in SLIDOR, Wittenberg, Germany. I looked that city up and couldn't find ANY listing for it, even though I found Wittenberg (or Wittenburg). He died 18 Sep 1895 at the age of 89 years, 11 months and 11 days, which when calculated makes his date of birth 7 October 1805.

I used the FamilySearchLabs beta site and put George Walker, 1805 and Germany in the search boxes and I wanted an 'exact' match. The closest I came to getting an exact match was a Joann (Johann) Georg WALCKER born 12 October 1805.

Now at first I thought, 'well this can't be him because the place of birth is completely different.' It was Schlaitdorf, Wurttemberg, Germany. But now that I can't find a 'Slidor' in Wittenberg, I'm wondering if perhaps his place of birth actually IS Schlaitdorf and not Slidor. I know what you're thinking 'It can't be the right guy because the birthdate doesn't match.' And yes I thought the same thing but Slidor MIGHT HAVE existed back then and then again, that COULD have been the fault of the person writing up the obituary, after all, the headline reads 'SAW NAPOLEON' and it claims that George when a lad of only seven years saw Napoleon as he passed through the town WHERE HE WAS LIVING. Now that may or may not have been the same town where he was born. More research is needed to see just what towns Napoleon passed through in 1812.

But the big question is, do I put this and all the other information I found through Johann George Walcker in my tree right now? The answer is no, simply because I just don't have enough evidence to say with absolute certainty that Johann George and MY George Walker are one in the same. As much as I hope they are. I have this same problem with George's wife but that's another story for another entry.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Facebook and genealogy

I haven't posted anything in a couple of months, but I thought I would post today about the positive benefits of signing up for a Facebook account. The social networking site isn't just about playing games (like Farm Town or Mafia Wars), it can also benefit genealogists when they are looking for cousins to connect with.

The simplest way to find possible cousins would be to put a surname in the Friend search box and see what comes up. I did that about a year ago and believe it or not had moderate success. I found familiar names that I already had in my tree (when I talked to an aunt, uncle or cousin) and through simple deduction and matching of birthdays (also which I got when talking to family) I sent friend requests. Some accepted right away without asking who I was and others asked who I was, which I didn't mind because it gave me a chance to let them know how we were related. Most I'm happy to report were interested in their own family histories happy to provide information.

Yesterday I took it one step further especially with those that I had just sent friend requests to and also to those that I hadn't introduced myself to. That's exactly what I did and explained that I was the 'resident' family genealogist. I asked for basic information on their spouses, marriage, children and the like. I also let them know that they could e-mail me 'off' Facebook and that I understood if they didn't want to provide any info at all. Two asked about family histories and I plan on tweaking two of those histories and sending them so that they can not only get a better idea of how we are related to one another but also who else they are related to.

Unfortunately, a couple of cousins haven't accepted my friend requests and one even confirmed that I had the right person because she posted a comment to her nephew's page. I wouldn't say I'm sad about that, just disappointed that she could chat with her nephew and not me or even just accept the friend request and have that be it. I'm certainly not looking to have long conversations with every cousin I find on Facebook, heck some aren't actually related to me but they happened to marry a cousin.

So the next time you are on Facebook (which I like more than Twitter by the way), try a cousin's surname that you know about, you never know who might pop up on Facebook. You'd be surprised how many cousins and other relatives are out there playing Farm Town.