Friday, December 20, 2013

Using eBay to find family memorabilia

I found three letters listed on eBay written by a gr. gr. gr. grandmother.  These letters were written in 1848, 1849 and 1850 to her mother. The letters were being sold by a collector of antique letters, diaries, etc.  The auction for all three letters ended at the same time, so I needed to watch all of them simultaneously.  I was only able to win one of the letters.  The other two were won by a professional collector.  Fortunately, upon request, the seller agreed to scan the other two letters before mailing them to the other winner.  The seller realized that these were personal to me and acknowledged that it is rare that someone can have a personal connection to the various items up for auction.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cluster genealogy method differs from the collateral genealogy method.  Instead of focusing on relatives, the search now broadens to neighbors, church members, passengers on the same ship, soldiers in the same military regiment, co-workers, people buried in the same cemetery with graves in the same section or nearby.  I searched the passenger list that Grandma came on and made note of the passengers on the same page, then all passengers from Prussia.  I searched the church records for sponsors at baptism, and any name that matched from the passenger list.  I looked at the earliest census (1900) to see who was listed on the same page and the pages before and after.  I compared these names with names on the passenger list.  No one in the family served in the military.  I have yet to check out the cemetery for people buried near my great grandparents graves.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

 Recently I found Grandma on a passenger list.  She arrived in 1882 at the age of two with her mother and her brother and sister.  Her father was not on the list, and I presume he came earlier and then sent for the rest of his family.  The family’s place of origin was only listed as “Germany” – not much help.  But now I had Grandma’s year of birth – 1880.  Now it's time to use the Cluster Genealogy method of research......To be continued.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

While using the collateral genealogical research method, I looked at census records, church records, death records, cemetery records, obituaries, marriage records, and land records.  Besides my grandmother and her parents, the collateral relatives included Grandma’s brother and his children, Grandma’s sister and her children, and Grandma’s aunt and her children.   In the past, this method has proved to be productive, however, in this case, there was little information to be found.
.....To be continued.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


We all experience “brick walls” when doing our genealogical research.  I reached a dead end almost immediately when searching for my grandmother’s year and place of birth.  She never knew where she was born and could only guess at her age.  Her parents were natives of Germany and that is all she knew.   After searching all of her known collateral lines—that is, searching for information about her siblings, parents, and aunt on her father’s side, I still came up with little more than I started with.  The only new clue is that they came from West Posen area of Germany, which is now in Poland.  Her Aunt Minnie was the first of the family to arrive and she married a man from Gross Jestin, Pommern.  That is not too far from West Posen and also now in Poland.......More to come.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Witches in your Family Tree

Genealogical research can be bewitching. It’s nearing two of my husband’s ancestor’s favorite time of year. They were witches and he can claim them in his family tree. I am referring to Colonial America when the fear of witchcraft prevailed. These “witches” were the subject of an overriding fear of things that the colonists did not understand. In the case of Lydia Gilbert, she was accused of killing Henry Stiles. She never held the weapon or was anywhere near the place of death. Thomas Allen, a militiaman, cocked his musket during a training exercise and inadvertently knocked it against a tree. The weapon fired killing Henry Stiles. Mr. Stiles lived in the household of Lydia Gilbert. It is not known if there was trouble between them, but subsequently she was accused of witchcraft, because “by the devil’s help”, she caused the musket to fire. Collecting names and dates is part of genealogical research, but the interesting part is when there is a good story to be told. There were many books and articles written about the witches in Colonial America, many concerning Salem, and Massachusetts. But many men and women were accused and indicted in Connecticut as well as other less known courts. There is a lineage society of the descendants of witches, called Associated Daughters of Early American Witches. Membership is by invitation only. I can check their list of approved ancestors. Contact me at