What were the problems with my Case Study?

I think I have reworked my Case Study three times now, each time learning something new about how to write these.  I am using indirect evidence to prove the relationship between two women, my great grandmother and her sister.  This discovery was one that led to the breaking down of a twenty year old brick wall!

Here’s the story (and I promise to be short!):  Grietje immigrated in 1865 at age 16; I couldn’t find an immigration record for her nor her parents. She married in 1869 and shows up twice in the 1870 census.  I had her tracked from that point until her death in 1922.  Death certificate stated her parents were Boyo Wienenga and G. Kriens.  For twenty years I tried to find her village and in 2002 I attended a class on patronymic naming at a conference.  That night after the class, I compared the family names of Grietje and this woman who “hovered” around the family, Eda Eckhoff.  (pure intuition or educated luck?) Using given name naming customs it appeared that Eda Eckhoff was the sister of Grietje.  At that same conference a local expert directed me to an area of Germany called the Rheiderland and specifically the village of Weener or Bunde because that is where the family surname shows up (and yes, Ostfriesland is composed of villages where a single surname may reside for a long while).  I did some research on Eda and found that in the 1920 census the enumerator had entered the birth location  as the village name of Weener for Eda and her family!  I ordered the Weener tape from the LDS library and twenty years after I initially asked the question, I found Eda and Griejte and her twin sister Martje in the parish record! Goose bumps!  Yesterday, I received Eda’s death certificate and it lists the father with a very similar last name as was on Grietje’s death certificate. I also re-reviewed the 1870 census and enumerated with Grietje’s family was a person whose identity I had never determined.  It was Eda, before she was married, but her name was so mangled that no one would have identified it as her without already knowing the alternate spellings of the surname and some of the other clues.

Over the years, I discovered that I had to:

  • become more technically competant about genealogy to solve my personal brick wall
  • “fine tune” my “gut instincts” indicator so I knew which clues to track and which to let alone
  • ask lots of questions of lots of people to more clues
  • re-review documents for clues that I missed when I was perhaps more naive,
  • practice patience and persevere!

But, the question was how to make this into a genealogical proof case study?  What I found I was doing was putting in the many false leads and the wandering paths I had taken into the proof.  While being interesting to me, I was not being efficient with my writing.  I was very enamored with the two census enumerations which were very interesting but just didn’t add to the proof.

So I resaved the document and have been working on it the last few days to get it down to the relevant evidence.  I still struggle a bit as to whether this qualifies under the indirect evidence but I have been pouring over ESM’s classic work on the topic (see below) and am comfortable with the case and the proof process.

But, this, like the discovery of the village of Grietje and Eda, has taken a while to get here and a few wandering paths.

Happy hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  attended class (lecture on newspaper research and very good discussion about our findings after reading a newspaper over a segment of time.  One of the most interesting classes to date.  1 woman looked at pamphlets of the 1600’s!), also turned in my assignment, which will be my work for my friend on Jens T. Dahle.  reworked the case study, again!

Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and and Standards,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 87 (September 1999) 165-183.


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