NGS: German Day!

NGS 2015 computerEven lunch was schnitzel and German chocolate cake!

I signed up for a special class at National Genealogy Society 2015 conference: “German Studies: Understanding German Records and Methodology.”  It was taught by Warren Bittner, CG, Baerbel Johnson, AG and Carol Whitton, CG.  All were excellent and all were very different in their approach but consistent in their love and passion for German records and research. (my class “station” in photo left.)

Since so many of the US citizens claim Germany as their ethnic heritage, I thought I would identify some of my big “takeaways,” as there were many.

My German Problem ‘child” is Fredrick Eilers, who must be an alien as he seems to drop from the earth, marry my Eda (van Hoorn) Berg and then must have been called back to his planet, as he then disappears from the area.  Eda used his surname on one document but within 7 years Eda reverts to her previous name of Berg and Friedrick is never mentioned again in any record found.

I do know Fredrick’s birth parish, something that others search years for and may never find.

Since I already had “Fred’s birth parish, I didn’t think that Baerbel’s session on “Finding a German Town of Origin” would be a particular interest.  I was wrong! Here are some of the interesting items Baerbel Johnson presented, all of whcih may help me with my problem.

  1. Read the FamilySearch Wiki first.  This has become a go-to site for me and I was glad to hear that she felt that way too. There is a long description of search strategies in Germany on the wiki; just look for “Tracing Immigrant Origins.”
  2. cCeck out for German Emigration Records.
  3. Emigration before 1820 was often clusters of individuals from single areas.  After 1820, individuals became more dominant.  Don’t know how this can help me yet.  I have already traced all the families named Eilers/Eilerts/Ahlers/Ihlers in the Stephenson County (IL) area and I cannot find where they intersect.
  4. Check out the “Fuzzy Gazetteer” if you have names of places you cannot find and suspect that the spelling is incorrect.  This works for all areas of Germany.

Warren Bittner also spoke in the AM about German maps.  When you see how much the boundaries changed you can understand how hard German research is.

Between the two lectures, I have several new places to look for help.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  conducted four lectures at British Columbia Genealogical Society just south of Vancouver on Saturday, 9 May.  It was a wonderful day and I had a great time. Pat and I spent Mother’s Day touring Vancouver.  Went to Granville Island, University of BC, Museum of Anthropology and walked along the seawall in Stanley Park! Had 12 hours to  prepare to leave for NGS 2015!



A 2015 Look Ahead

I want to thank all the followers of this blog who have continued with me and the newbies who signed on this past year.  To some my lack of actually submitting my portfolio to BCG looks like procrastination–and maybe it is.  I would like to, however, redefine it to be “expanding my education to be more qualified to submit.”

This past year I have had fun with the house histories, Jens Dahle “A Year in the Life” series, my obtaining records of Dirk Bode from the state of Illinois through the courts and exploring educational issues in my search to be a better genealogist.

Looking forward, I have some new projects in mind, including publishing my Dirk paper on insane asylums in the late 19th c., a study of the numbers of men in the insane asylum in 1880 who also served in the Civil War (a PTSD study), teaching/lecturing more in the region and hopefully expanding into other areas as well. A friend of mine and I are exploring the idea of a joint presentation on mental health issues of the 19th century.   While I am certain I will not submit my BCG portfolio by May of this year, I am also certain I will submit within the next yearly extension.   I will “miss” Jens Dahle and my postings about him as his story culminates in February -April of this year.  Historic Seattle will be doing additional repository tours in the Puget Sound region; I anticipate  blogging about a few of those.

Thanks to Allen Gray and Mary Swenson for being my top commenters this past year. I appreciate all comments and learn from each of you.  Please let me know what you think…even if it’s just clicking the “like” button.

If you want to see the details of the blog in retrospective, scroll to the bottom and click to see more of the annual report the “helper monkeys” prepared.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I hope each of you have a safe and healthy 2015! I hope that all your brick walls come tumbling down and you get answers to all those perplexing genealogy problems which haunt you.  May you have the thrill of discovery and the strive to be just a little bit better genealogist this year than you were the last. May you have numerous moments when you look up and see that it is 2:00 in the morning and you forgot to go to bed.

Happy Hunting!


What I did since the last post:  had lunch with my genealogist and librarian friend Lisa.  We talked about a wide range  of topics including a possible joint presentation at a librarian conference about how to better work with genealogists.