If you've read my blog before and seen my Bucketed List post, you will know that one of the things I've done is to go fishing in Alaska. On that trip my friends and I commented more than once about how very glad we were that we had decided to hire a guide. Not only did he row the boat (no noisy motors for us!) but he also helped us as much or little as we each needed. For me, not being a "fisher-person", I was more than happy to let him bait the hook, take the fish off etc. Nancy's husband Bob, on the other hand, needed nothing more than for the boat to stop and he was ready to fish.
So, what, you might ask, does this have to do with genealogy?? Have I change from "Random Relatives" to simply Random?? Nope - it's just that the last few days a small group of us have been enjoying the Allen County Public Library with Michael John Neill (who writes the great Casefile Clues) as our "guide."
Today was a great example of what this meant for me. I have been discussing one of my German relatives with Michael. William Eickelberg was born in Germany in 1863 and came to this country as a small child. [picture is William Eickelberg as a young man with his family in about 1887/1888] I've felt fortunate that in one of the census records I've found (1880, Meigs Co, Ohio) it is specifically noted as "Mechlinberg." Even better, on a passport application that I had found on Ancestry.com it showed that he had been born in Mecklenburg Strelitz.
Certainly that narrows it down - and Mecklenburg Strelitz is the smaller of the two Duchies of Mecklenburg - but still it's not enough to look at church records. I needed a town. Well to condense this somewhat - yesterday evening I found the passenger list for the family! Not only that but I had a few lessons re-learned along the way.
I had actually seen this in an index earlier and dismissed it because only the father's name was right. The children didn't seem right and the wife's age was all wrong. Also, the index had "unknown" for the town were they came from so really, what did it matter anyway, right?!?! I knew about when and about where - I needed a town. Of course the first rule that we all know, myself included, is LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL IMAGE anyway.
When Michael looked at the passport application with me - and pointed out a few things about naturalization laws along the way! - I decided to look again because the dates matched and were fairly specific - September, 1865. (The date of the passenger list on the index at Castle Garden.org and the date William had on his passport when he had come over from Germany.)
I had to page through the images because this year (on the Hamburg passenger lists) is not indexed and the handwritten index seemed as much work as just looking at a few months. Before too long there it was - and there was a town plainly indicated ~ Cölpin!
Also, the wife's age, which had been transcribed as 22 clearly showed 32 - which was a match. Between the time I first looked at the index for this record and now when I was looking at the actual record, I had found the family in the 1870 census and found the "additional" child who had seemed out of place before - so again, this was now a match. Second lesson, go back and review some of those items in your list of failures (you do keep that list, right??) Sometime new information will shed new light on records. The names still are not exactly what I would expect for the son and wife, but for the daughter, "Annie" in English and "Johanna" in German are close enough.
This was great - this was thrilling - but the search for Cölpin would prove even more interesting. (I know that many of you have already jumped on Google and are saying to yourselves, "easy - there it is" but the challenge is - what German parish does it belong to? If I wanted to now look at church records, I need to know that. And for those of you with the complete 33 vol set of Map Guides to German Parish records at hand - it's not in the index!
How did my guide help solve that problem? Tune in tomorrow!