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.

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