Monday, December 30, 2019

House in Wüstenzell

My husband’s family lived in Wüstenzell before 1885. My husband’s great great grandfather, Joseph Engelhardt (Engelhanz?) Spanheimer, immigrated to the United States in 1885 with his sister Rosa and much older sister Martha.  

I reached out to some folks on Instagram and a nice person contacted their friend who lives nearby. The house still stands! The Wüstenzell  native took a current picture and shared it with me.  It was easy for them to take the pic as THEY OWN THE HOUSE. Neat coincidence. Pretty exciting!

Photos of the family home- many years apart

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Family History Library Week

I know I've been MIA for a while. But I have still been doing research. In fact, two weeks ago I spent my week nights at the Family History Library. 
I used the whole time on only two digitized films. It was so much easier than what I remember working with the films directly a number of years ago, but the process of going through the yearly, un-transcribed indexes and then back through the images was just as slow. However, I was able to create discrete sources, save to tree, and d/l the images. I also was able to log onto Dropbox and upload the images. I was trying to save time and not do the translations there. I think the method was effective and I could work on what I retrieved for the next year and still not get through them. The prep work I did by doing specialized reports from my tree of birth, deaths, and marriages against the region meant I wasn't looking for a record that couldn't possibly be there. While the family group sheets were helpful for context, the reports formed a detailed checklist for record retrieval.
I also learned more about the Family Search Community feature; the volunteers and staff who work at the FHL do indeed monitor the groups. Once I have my work in order, I plan to utilize two of the groups I joined to help with the tricky bits. 
I think I am close to making enough of a connection between these records and the records hosted at

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Christmas Greetings from 17th Balloon Company, Fort Mills, Corregidor, PI, from 1921

In 1920, Joe Wolff was in 17th Balloon Company Fort Omaha, Nebraska. His job is listed as timekeeper. Also included in the memorabilia stash were pictures of a balloon and what I believe to be pictures taken from a balloon.  My cousin-by-marriage and I have identified the balloon as a Coquat Type R Observation Balloon. I'll save those pics for another post. The star of the show today is this booklet dated inside as 1921. As of this writing, that's 96 years ago, folks. I believe this was sent from Private First Class Joseph Wolff while stationed in the Phillipines to his sister, Adele Wolff, in Chicago. I don't have the original here. This beautiful artifact is with family in Arizona.

I wonder if this is why oyster dressing was and is so popular with the Wolff menfolk?

At some point, I will attempt to transcribe all the names here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Not in Italy?

Lichfield, Crawford, Kansas

Maggie Corgiat Arnaudo on the 1910 census and on the Kansas state census is described as being born in Italy. According to her family when she dies of cerosis of the liver at age 52, she was from Leitchfield, Kansas. Only one problem. There is not record of such town, but there is a record of a Litchfield in Crawford County-- where she grew up.
This could be why I have never found her birth in Italy and also why I have been looking for arrivals way to *late*.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Old Skool Reels

I want to know Dominic Corgiat Loia and Mary Ruo Redda were. I want to know where they got married, who were their sisters and and brothers were. I want know about their lives. But my 
letters to Torino, Italy government and religious offices had gone unanswered. I don’t think my stilted Italian is so bad it offended the entire nation. 

I needed a recharge. I needed new way to come at the problem. I  looked around for ways to circle back that didn’t feel merely like chasing my tail. To the beginning I went. Not to the beginning of the paper trail but rather to to the beginning of of the search. I needed to refresh my skills and tune them to be more Italy specific.

I started on the training area. I watched a great video on records available in Italy with a wonderful section on civil registrations. (Ironically, I cannot find that video right now.) While the records I need are not online, the reference to them are online. FamilySearch has microfiche of statutory registrations of Corio, Torino. 

  • Film Number: 2096348 
Items 1 - 2
Registri dello stato civile di Condove (Torino), 1866-1929
Condove (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Matrimoni 1900-1910 -- Morti 1866-1910

Item 3
Registri dello stato civile di Corio (Torino), 1866-1929
Corio (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Nati 1866-1880

  • Film Number: 2096349
Item 1
Registri dello stato civile di Corio (Torino), 1866-1929
Corio (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Nati 1880-1907

  • Film Number: 2096351 *backordered*
Items 1 - 2
Registri dello stato civile di Corio (Torino), 1866-1929
Corio (Torino). Ufficio dello stato civile
Matrimoni 1869-1910 -- Morti 1866-1878 

Since the death and marriage records are backordered, I’ll only have 1866- 1907 births. Still pretty exciting. I’m not sure how much copies are going to cost. It has been 20 years since I have used a microfiche reader. While I wait for them to arrive at my local family history center I plan to make an an inventory and checklist of what I expect to find. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

::RECORD NOT FOUND:: but appears

Despite having the month, year, and names correct, my repeated requests to the Detroit,Wayne county, Michigan vital records office went unfulfilled. I had an undated photo from the day. But very own grandparents, the rare people in my family tree that I actually knew when they were alive apparently had married in stealth in another location = a location where no records we kept. It was odd that living family recited the same exact day one year prior the couple's first son’s birth as their wedding date. Was that a easy to remember lie because in truth the wedding was much closer or even after the wedding? All I had were theories. Honestly,  I wouldn’t judge them at all if there was comfortable shifting of events to make things easier on them but it certainly wasn't making easy on me as the family historian. Folks did and still have a lot of pressure to “keep up appearances”. Considering my possibilities, I began research what counties and states around them had the laxest laws and the shortest wait times. More records requests from likely candidates came back empty handed as well. I finally decided to step way from it and wrote it down on my “if I ever travel to Detroit list…". I have been looking since at least 2006.

L-R: Marvin Corgiat, Unkown, Leola Corgiat, Ray Dancy

I moved on to other things and even in that time let my subscription lapse. I was looking and using as many other resources as I could for other efforts. Then in February this year, Ancestry published their latest collection “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952". And, without any cajoling of names and squinting to make things line up, the leafy hint popped up and there the record of their marriage was…in the right month and in the right year that I had provided to the clerks so many times. Leola Corgiat was spelled incorrectly twice (CORGAIT), but Ray's was just fine. 

Is there a moral? I am not sure- because if was so badly misfiled that the clerks familiar with the records couldn’t find it, what makes me think I could find it during a costly journey to the records office? It was only through an exhaustive one-to-n scanning and uploading process that caught the record like a fish in a net. Then, it was through extensive indexing, a brute force effort by many folks that the record became known to me. I am well aware how no part of this was automagical. 

Michigan Marriage record for Mr. Ray Dancy

I learned my grandmother was once a stenographer, I had only known about her days as a bookkeeper. Perhaps now I can identify the second woman (Evangeline Monacheim??) in the photograph. Overall, I'm of course pleased as punch the record finally came to light, but I can't say I have a reproducible strategy since "simply wait" is what got the job done in the end. 

Citations Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.