That age old genealogy question….When is it proven?

That is my dilemma on the recently discovered possible second marriage of my great great grandmother.

While I was in Illinois this past week I was luck enough to carve out some time to do personal research.  I was in the Freeport Public library and the adjacent courthouse and county offices for 3.5 days.  Since I will probably never be back I tried to maximize my time!

Some background:

Ida/Eda Van Hoorn (b.1811, Ostfriesland, d. 1889, Iowa) married Siben (van) Berg(en) (b. 1811, Ostfriesland, d. 1858, Illinois) in 1838.  they had seven children.  The family immigrated in 1857 and that same year purchased a small parcel of property just outside of Freeport IL.  Siben died in 1858, leaving Ida with six children (one died in Ostfriesland) between the ages of 3 and 17.  I have a record of her joining the church in Silver Creek IL (nearby township) in 1863.  And the two daughters get married in IL in 1862 and 1863 respectively.

She cannot be found in the 1870 census.  She, under the name of Berg, and the rest of the family are all found in Iowa in the 1880 census.

Back to the present…..

I looked at the marriage indexes for Illinois for all Bergs and saw three, the two daughters and one for an “Ida Berg” and Frederick Eilers.  Is this my Ida Berg and a second marriage?

  • The name “Ida Berg” is relatively common in the Nordic countries but not so in the Ostfriesen community.  A look in the 1870 census index reveals no other Ida Berg in Stephenson county.
  • This Ida married a Frederick Eilers.  No previous record of Frederick has been found; no past record of Frederick has been found in IL.
  • The officiant of the wedding is Rev. Wm. Kampmeier.  The county history records him as the pastor of the Freeport German Reformed Church.  This was my Ida’s religion; however, the church no longer exists in the Freeport community. The Freeport German Reformed church was within walking distance to where Siben had bought land a few years prior and which Ida held until 1864 when it was sold under her own name of Berg.
  • The librarian and I researched the “genealogy” of the church and discovered that the “descendant” church is the St. John’s Presbyterian Church and which held the old records.  I made arrangements to visit, hoping that the church entry would contain more information (an age of the bride and groom would have been really nice!).  While ages were not given, there was the additional information stating the location of birth of the bride and groom.  Ida was recorded as being born in Ostfriesland!

The Genealogical Proof Standard (see below) states that one much conduct:

  • a reasonably exhaustive search;
  • complete and accurate source citations;
  • analysis and correlation of the collected information;
  • resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

So far about all I can say I have done is started to do the search, the first bullet. There is a lot of information which does not exclude this person being “my” Ida but I am still not convinced.  I will continue to pursue this problem.  Some of the areas I will look will include:

  • Does she show up in the 1870 census under a married name? In Illinois or in Iowa?
  • Where is Fredrick before and after the marriage?
  • One daughter was married by a justice of the peace.  The other daughter was married by a pastor other than Wm. Kampmeier.  Since no records other than the marriage of Eiler and Berg were found at St. Johns, perhaps the family most normally attended a different reformed church?
  • Frederick did not own property in Stephenson County.  What was his trade?
  • Did Frederick die early?  Did he fight in the Civil War?

All are possible leads to pursue.  Your thoughts about other avenues to pursue would be appreciated.

But, first I have to file what I found and work on my client work!!

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: gone to WW where I weighed in at goal for the month (a monumental task given that I was in IL for 10 days!), walked around Green Lake (3 mi.), made bacon and waffles for the family, our traditional Saturday morning meal and answered a couple of e-mails related to the conference.

* source:

3 comments on “That age old genealogy question….When is it proven?

  1. Congratulations on maintaining your goal weight while chairing a conference, doing research and being away from your normal routine! (Applause, applause!)

  2. Jacquie says:

    I grew up near the area you are speaking about. The Illinois Archives give the marriage liscence for Fred Eiler and Eda Berg on the same date in Stephenson County. #420 Not Eilers. Then in 1872, Frederick Eiler (again no S) is naturalized on 11/4/1872 in Winnebago County, which is near Freeport. Next in 1880, a married Frederick Eiler born 1813 in Germany is in prison in Randolph County, IL. Married. I’d keep looking in 1870’s Illinois census for either name. Good luck in your search.

    • jkmorelli says:

      Thank you. I wonder if there was a divorce? Perhaps in Winnebago county? Obviously, i have a lot of work to do. I have the Illinois license. It also seems possible there are multiple Fred(erick) Eiler(s) around. This is a great little mystery. But how exciting to have a rogue in my (relatively) boring family. If I were her I would have been desperate enough to marry anyone so the kids would have been taken care of. I think I will have to do a very complete timeline of her life to start. Thanks again! Jill

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