Should I believe the paper tree?



A few years ago, my cousin sent me some information from Germany. He had contacted a researcher in Germany and asked for some information on our Mack relatives and their friends the Puseckers.

He received a wonderful letter in response to his queries. A sweet woman spent about 7 hours looking through the Kirchenbuch for the church and seemed to have pushed our family back a few generations and supplied names for a wife we had not previously known. I was very excited to receive this information.

My first challenge was how do I document this information?

Genealogy Hack: Hunt for Neighbors

GenHack Search for Neighbors


Ever have trouble finding an ancestor in a record collection, such as a census? I have a little genealogy hack that you have to try.

German names are quiet challenging to find English language records. My 3rd great-grandfather Joseph Geißler has at least seven name variations in documents from 1856-1863!

My Zumstein  line, who immigrated to Canada, has also been quite challenging. For one, no family member can agree on how the end of the name should be spelled... Zumstine, Zumstien, Zumstein? Add to that the fact that many government document records are written in terrible hand writing and the search for this family name gets even more complicated. So, when you have trouble finding a relative, be they German or otherwise, use the genealogy hack to cast a wider net by looking for a neighbor.

Writing a Compound Reason Statement

Writing Better Reason Statements of FamilySearch


FamilySearch is a great online research service where you can build your family tree and attach records and memories to the leaves on your branches. However, there is one kind of record set that you need to be aware of.

Emily Peak of Dayton Kentucky Death Index
Index to Kentucky Death Record on FamilySearch.org 
An index is a great starting point but it doesn't tell you everything on a record. And, sometimes the information is slightly to completely wrong in the index. So, it pays to see if you can find the original record in another resources.

Was Lackman a name or a statement?

Genealogy Lackman Question


We shouldn't read too much into the names of women who appear 'alone' in census records but I couldn't help but wonder why the records dried up for Marietta Hicks who appeared in the 1930 US Census in Ohio after her marriage to my great uncle Samuel Leroy Brown in 1924. Her last name in that record was Lackman and I was scratching my head.

Previously I posted about discovering a second wife to my great uncle Samuel Leroy Brown (read that post here).  The woman I discovered on that record was Marietta Hicks and I wrote about how I thought she might be Mary Jane that my aunts knew about.
"Samuel L Brown married Marietta Hicks on 18 Nov 1924. My mother, my aunt Shelley, and my 2nd cousin Betty insist that her name was Mary Jane. It's possible that Marietta has a middle name of Jane. It's possible that Marietta, wife of Samuel, preferred the name Mary Jane. I have yet to find a birth certificate for Marietta born on 16 Nov 1902 to Morris Hicks and Agatha Sun, according to the marriage certificate." (To read more see "Journey to the Past: The Mysterious Samuel L Brown"

I eventually sorted out that Mary Jane was Samuel's second wife and the one my relatives remembered.  Marietta was a mystery.

Marietta is the daughter of Morris and Atha Hicks, who was a grocer at the time of Marietta's marriage to Samuel in 1924. Samuel was working in his father Sherman Lewis' Garage. 1929 is the last time that Samuel is listed in a city directory. In the 1930 US Census record, Samuel is working as a fireman for the railroad and boarding at the house of Leslie and Fronia McCue. Leslie also works on the Railroad as a fireman.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Portsmouth, Scioto, Ohio; Roll: 1867; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0030; Image: 680.0; FHL microfilm: 2341601. Family 311, Morris P Hicks, head of household


Meanwhile, Marietta is living with her parents once again. She is working as a saleslady in a bakery. But the things get a little strange. First, She listed as 28, which is accurate, married, possibly accurate, but had been married for 23 years? Um... is that right? Three years would work, but that would be a second marriage. Meaning, Marietta and Samuel's marriage was over by 1927, if not earlier.

Now, I discovered a marriage record for a possible daughter named Mary Lou Lackman that would match the daughter listed in the 1930 US Census. There is a possibility that Mary Lou is still living, so I won't post that record here. That marriage record links Marietta Hicks to a William Lackman. The daughter's marriage record also answeed a question of mine. Perhaps I'm the only one who thinks this way, but I'll go for it. I had trouble finding a marriage record for Marrietta to a Mr. Lackman. So, I thought perhaps she was being bold and making a statement with her last name (Lack - Man). It turns out, there is another marriage record to find!

But, knowing that there is really a last name Lackman associated with Marietta and knowing that she now has a daughter to raise, where did she go next. In the 1940s, I have new clues why I couldn't find Mary before knowing for certain about her daughter.


Year: 1940; Census Place: Red Bank, Monmouth, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2369; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 13-146. Household 20, Mary Hicks and duaghter Mary Lou Lackman, boarders.

I find it fascinating that Mary is listed as a widow. She was living in Newark City, New Jersey in 1935 but her daughter was living in Ohio. Why were they separated? The clue could be that Marietta was working as a nurse in 1940 in Red Bank, New Jersey. Thus, she may have gone to training and once complete and ready for a full-time job, this new living situation was the transition to bring her daughter to live with her once more.

Oh, it's so nice to revisit old research and old posts and dig a little deeper having learned new skills. It's also nice to realize that few people, if any would really give a government worker a 'statement' for a last name. But, I do know a few people living who would. Maybe that's why my mind asked the question. Am I the only one?

Mystery Monday: SOLVED: Who is Bertha Schenck

Bertha Schenck Columbus, Ohio

Mystery Monday Solved (at least I think so)

I have someone in the family album that belonged to Maggie Geiszler (1861-1921, Columbus, Ohio) that I've been blessed to be the guardian of. Many of the photos have been identified, but several have not.

Above is a photo of Bertha Schenk. However, I'm not certain when that photo was taken. It is a very thick, heavy print so that should help me discover the date. However, I do have a photograph that helps me determine a few more details with which to do some research.
Bertha Schenk is Maggie Geiszler bridal party
Bertha as bridal party to my ancestor Magdalena Hoppe in 1882
This picture is part of a wedding party collection associated with the marriage of Henry Joseph Geiszler to Magdalena Hopppe on 3 Jul 1882 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. That explains why Bertha was be in Maggie's photo album, she was her Maid of Honor.

So, Maggie and Bertha are likely about the same age. And, they're living in Ohio in the 1880s. So, I added these items to Ancestry.com as I hoped to discover a City Directory about the 1880s or a census record from that time period for Bertha. Turns out, I did! And what's great about Ancestry.com is that it has a box of "Suggested Records" to follow.

Sure enough, I discovered Bertha Schenk was born on Mar. 6, 1861 and died Mar. 14, 1939. She's the daughter of Jacob and Katarina Schenk, immigrants from Switzerland. In the 1870s, Jacob was a common laborer and Katarina worked at a garden nursery. In the 1880s, Bertha was a domestic servant (same as her friend Maggie).

She married Jacob Kuehner, also from Switerzland, and they have one son. They have four sons... Herman born in 1884, Arthur in 1886, Edgar in 1889 and then Raymond in 1896. I'm inclined to think this photo is either of Herman (the first born) or Raymond the last (as he's much younger than the others).

Mystery Kuehner child of Columbus, Ohio
Which Kuehner son is this darling?

Isn't it amazing that when you solve one mystery you discovery another?

Mystery Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Joseph Geissler: Are Funeral Paper Neighbors Connected

Are Funeral Paper Neighbors Related


The mystery of my 3rd great-grandfather has many parts to investigate. Here's another installment of that investigation.

In 2011, my distant Geiszler cousin theorized that perhaps their is no evidence to corroborate the story that Cousin Margie Geiszler Wasson told William Joseph Geiszler.
Henry's father* was on horse back and rode into Ft. Hayes. Guard yelled Halt. He only spoke German and as the story went didn't understand. So the guard shot him and he died. 
His widow married a Billman and lived on a farm in Georgesville. As a boy this is where my dad* visited and remembered his grandmother driving her horse.
* Henry is Henry Joseph Geiszler b. 1859 in Columbus, Ohio. His father  is Joseph Geiszler b. abt 1836 in Germany and emigrated to America prior to his marriage in Franklin County, Ohio in 1856. *'My Dad' is George Joseph Geiszler (b. 1885 in Columbus, Ohio) and 'his grandmother' is Caroline (Mack) Geiszler Billman (b. 1838 in Gillersheim, Germany).

My cousin thought he might have a plausible alternative explanation for Joseph Geiszler's death in 1863.  The theory speculated about a homicide and a quest to find news accounts and court records was begun on his part.

Mystery Monday: Who is Mr Basler?

Geiszler FAN Club Mystery
Mystery Man in Maggie Hoppe Geiszler's photo album

Who is this man?

That's the question I want answered.  This photo resides in a photo collection that once belonged to Magdalena Marguerta Geiszler (nee Hoppe).

Maggie Geiszler was born in 1861 in Columbus, Ohio to Christoph Hoppe and Anna Margaretha Karlsberger. She married Henry Joseph Geiszler in 1882, who was the son of Joseph Geißler and Caroline Mack, in the Zion German Methodist Episcopal church. Maggie died in 1921 in Columbus.

Many of the photos have been associated with Geiszler, Hoppe, and Karlsberger family members and friends, but this one is a complete mystery.

The first question is, what is written below the photo?

Need help deciphering bad handwriting
What does this really say?

I thought his name was Sam Basler. But that might because I have had a neighbor with that name. But in looking once again at the writing below the name, The last word looks like something scribbled on the capital letter B and then the word Basler.   The first word could be 'love' as in "Love ? Basler"

Photographer L M Baker South High Street Columbus
Back of the photo provides L M Baker as the photographer at 227 & 232 South High Street in Columbus

The back of the card provides the photographer's information. L M Baker of 228 & 232 South High Street in Columbus, Ohio. I researched him very quickly and discovered that he was a photographer in the Columbus area. I suspected that this photograph was in the 1880s, but I could be wrong. In any case, that guess led me to his census and city directory records suggesting that he was indeed a photographer in this location. A Find A Grave Memorial page has some details about the man actually named Lorenzo Marvin Baker (b 1834 in New York - d 1924 in Columbus, Ohio).

So, the earliest I believe the Basler photograph was taken is 1880 and the latest certainly was 1924.

There is a Rudolph Basler living at 779 S High Street and has a gardener's market at Wood Avenue and Parson's Avenue which is under 2 miles from the S High Street photography studio. Being that Rudolph is the only Basler listed in the City Directories in the 1880s, he could be the right one.

I still need to do more digging.

Thus far, I don't have any established connections to this gentleman.  It's possible that this man was a family friend or a Godfather, as another photograph in the collection says he's a Godfather. If that's the case, then Basler would possible be involved in the Zion German M&E church. Sadly, the family members who would know why this picture is in the album have passed away.

So, if anyone else has the ability to read the handwriting, narrow down the likely age of the person in the photograph and the time the photograph was taken, perhaps that would help be determine if Rudolph is the man in this photogram.

Mystery Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.


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