Who is Bertha Schenk?

I have another photo from the family album that I've been blessed to be the guardian of. Many of the photos have been identified, but several have not. This picture is labeled Bertha Schenk. Bertha was said to be the maid of honor, or some such important attendant, at the wedding of Henry Joseph Geiszler to Magdalena Hopppe on 3 Jul 1882 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.

Other than this information, that's all I have of her. Except that she has a son, of which I have a baby picture for. So... perhaps someone is looking for Bertha Schenk. Hopefully they can help me solve this mystery.

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.

Surname Saturday - With a name like Brown

Oh yeah, Brown is a great family name to have. It's easy to spell, not like Geiszler, Zumstein, or Zanganazadeh. However, when it comes to genealogy... this surname is a bit of a problem. It's so common. Right now my Brown family line is stuck with Samuel Curtis Brown (1821-1900). Yep, it doesn't get anymore common than that.

I found this website Brown Family Crest and History. It suggests that the name is English or Scottish. The origin could be Norman and referring to someone with Brown hair or eyes as well as a person who wore a lot of brown. I love how the website says, "endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames." Woo-hoo! More difficulties in genealogy. Gotta love it.

The website goes on to detail numerous Browns who migrated to the United States starting as early as Edmund Brown, who arrived in New England in 1637. I'm not claiming any relation. As I said, with a last name like Brown, I could be related to anyone.

In due time, I'll figure out more about Samuel Curtis Brown of Balitmore, Maryland. For now, I'm just greatful to know as much as I do about him.

Surname Saturday 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.

Wedding Wednesday - Robert and Clementina Zumstein

Victor married his childhood sweetheart Clementina Comfort, who at that time was teaching public school in Smithville Ont. Her engagement ring was said to have cost $100. They were married under a pear tree at the home of Alonzo Comfort.

This photo is such a treasure. I've posted before how I've had to have Patience and Courage in Genealogy. The above picture is an example of having patience and courage. Victor and Clementina are my father's grandparents. My grandma Helen Zumstein is their daughter. Grandma Helen had numerous pictures lining her home in Ohio of her ancestors. She loved sharing stories about these relatives. Unfortunately, I didn't share the interest when I was 7. Sadly, she had a stroke with resulting dementia when I was ready to pursue the family history.

It's a long and sad story, but suffice it to say, when Helen was in a nursing home, her family pictures seemed to have been lost to the times. Perhaps the state of Ohio has a collection of unclaimed family artifacts waiting to be discovered. Regardless, I never thought I'd have more than one picture of my great-grandparents.

In March, I called upon a niece of Helen's who lives in Ohio. Cousin Molly was insanely nice and the next day, she filled my inbox with 30+ pictures of Helen, her siblings, her nieces and nephews, as well as her parents and grandparents. Not only is this Wedding photo awesome and the couple so handsome, the picture is a priceless treasure for me because of the story in how I received a copy of it.

Wedding Wednesday 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.

Mystery Monday - Basler

Who is this man? The name written under his photo is Basler. But it's hard to decide what's written in front of his name. This picture was found in a photo album held by the recently deceased Margie Geiszler Wasson. The album contains photos of Caroline Mack Geiszler Billman, Henry and Margie (nee Hoppe) Geiszler, and Conrad and Lizzie Grener.

Currently I don't have any established connections to this gentleman. I don't really know when this photograph was taken. It's possible that this man was a family friend or a Godfather. I do have one photo in this album that fits that bill. Sadly, the family members who would know why this picture is in the album have passed away.

So... this photo is open to the internet as a Family History mystery to be solved.

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.

Surname Saturday - Gesizler Family

Lineage of Joseph Geißler of Baden and Ohio
Lineage of Joseph Geißler of Baden
who immigrated to Franklin County, Ohio

My father is a descendant of a German Catholic immigrant to made his way to Franklin County, Ohio perhaps in the 1850s. The immigrant's name was Joseph Geißler. Future posts will discuss the many things I know about the Geißler/Geiszler line, for now I want to focus on the last name and some broad information about other Geißler/Geiszler immigrants to America.

The Last Name

A variety of resources, many with suspect sources, put forth the idea that the Geißler surname has a Swiss and German origin. The meaning is supposedly related to a goatherder. One source speculated that Geiß translates as "nanny goat" in German, giving weight to the origin and meaning. Goat herders not only tended goats but products from goat milk.

How do you say the last name Geißler?

The G in German might have various sounds depending upon who is saying the name. It can have a familiar English /g/ sound or a harsher /k/ sound. I have seen documents from my immigrant ancestor with a 'G' as the initial letter and a 'K'.

Next is the vowel combination of 'ei'  The German pronunciation is long i.  The English pronunciation tends to be long e.  Geesler?  German ie is long e.  English ie is long i. Most Geiszlers that I have met say the "I" sound... almost like the first syllable is "guy" rather than "Gee"

According to Paul Joyce German Course at the University of Portsmouth,  "A double 's' (written 'ss' or 'ß') is always pronounced as an unvoiced English 's' in words such as 'seal' or 'self'. This sound is written 'ss' when the preceding vowel in a word is short. It is written 'ß': after a long vowel e.g. 'Fuß', 'Maß', 'Spaß'"

It's important to note that the ß is called Eszett. So, when Germans were describing how to spell their names in English, the middle letters have often become 'ss' or 'sz'. The Geiszlers on the lineage above have had various spellings until it finally locked into Geiszler by Henry's death in 1931.

For the most part, the Geiszlers in Ohio pronounce the name: "Guys - lure."

Spelling Variations

Wouldn't it be easy if the Geißler had only two variations? Well, that's not the case.

The last name can be spelled as: Geiszler, Geissler, Keisler, Keiszler, Guysler, Gysler, Gesley, Geiss, Geisler, GEisen, Geisnger. (I'll add to this list as I discover more variations.)

Geiszlers in America

My mother discovered a book many years ago called, "Geiszlers of America." It has long since been discarded as there was a whole lot of 'how to do your research' and very little about 'Geiszler family history' in this book.  What I did discover was a large number of Geiszlers (with the z, that my family thinks is oh so important) in North Dakota and Oregon but only the men on the lineage chart above in Ohio. My mother attempted to contact some of the names in that book at was disappointed by the lack of response.

The Rumor

Several Geiszler 'cousins' have shared emails with me over the year and suggested that the Geißlers were in the Prussian aristocratic class. When things deteriorated for the gentry, the Geißlers fled.

No there may or may not be truth to this idea. What I do know is that there was no 'real Germany' as a unified country in the 1830s-1850s when my immigrant was born and then sailed to America. In the early 1800s, many Germanic people hoped to create a unified country with democratic rather that royal government. In 1848, uprisings began throughout the German-states to overthrown the princes. The princes won and for a time worked with the rebels towards reformation, but soon many rebels were being arrested and persecuted. Disappointed relatives then began leaving their homeland.

The link to aristocracy doesn't seem likely as it was primarily rebels or rebel sympathizers that were a large part of the mass emigration in the 1840s and 1850s. For my particular ancestor, I'm inclined to believe he was a part of or related to a rebel and needed to find a new home quickly to save his skin.

This overview of the Geißlers does have scant resources but it is this compilation is the most consistent across the family legends and secondary resources available on the internet. If I were to publish this information in a lengthy family history, I'll look for more reliable documentation.

Further Reading:
Discovering Signatures for Joseph Geißler

Tech Tuesday: Help!?! I don't know what to do next on Ancestry.com


I took the plunge at got a one-month membership to Ancestry.com. Now that I've found all the family trees that mention my family members and gone through all of the Hints. Now I'm overwhelemed on what to do next.

First, I don't understand how to sort through the families I have accepted as hints.

Second, I don't understand how to refine the search historical documents so that I don't have 400,000 records that aren't even CLOSE to the individual I'm attempting to search. I guess I don't understand why I have so many options when I select a family member from my tree and the search field are completed for me.

Any help in the reverse would be GREAT! Thanks!

Tech Tuesday 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.

Mystery Monday - Who is Charles Gordon?

I broke down and purchased a one month subscription to Ancestry.com. I'm working crazy to make use of it and then remember to cancel it. I really have other projects to handle this year, so one month of intense record searching is about all I can spare. In the future, I'd consider having a yearly membership... but that's a big commitment when you're trying to get out of debt.

ANYWAY... two things I found. My mother and aunt have ancestry accounts. Go figure? Second, I found Charles Gordon (1755-1809). Turns out, he's hard to find in records because his name is Nathaniel Charles Gordon. Some records only have him as Nathaniel. I found 14 different family trees with Nathaniel on their branches. Then, when I added the name Nathaniel to the LDS Family Search website, I found all Charles' siblings listed, and his ancestors going back another 4 generations confirmed. Now, if only I can figure out how to download these generations from FamilySearch or Ancestry.com quickly, I'll be in business.

I probably need to add more information, but this is just to get me started sharing what I've found.

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.

Thank You GenaBloggers

I found this great community called GenaBloggers. It is a great place for inspiration on what to share on my family history blog. I've found technical tips and genealogy tips as well. I have not been able to begin absorbing all the information as there are over 1,800 blogs on their blog roll. Wow!

Additionally, the community has been so welcoming already. I haven't even begun participating in the Daily Prompts and community members have reached out to me. I'm so excited. I hope as more people find me, they'll find them. Even if you receive moral support in your genealogy efforts alone, the community was worth the membership (it's not a paid membership, just in case your wondering).

So thank you to Thomas MacEntee for this awesome blog and all the work you do.

Family Trees: Post at Ancestry.com

I have posted several family trees on Ancestry.com so others can see who is in my family tree.

Lewis Sherman Brown


Lewis Sherman Brown, of Columbus, Ohio, and his ancestors including: Brown, Gordon, Tannehill, Fickle, Townsend, and Claybaugh

Harry and Lura Long Ancestral Tree

Ancestral Family Tree of Harry Howard and Lura Maude Smith of Columbus, Ohio. Family names include: Long, Moore, Marvin, Young, Sherwood, Burr, Smith, and Ward

Geiszler and Zumstein Family Tree

Ancestors of Robert Geiszler of Columbus Ohio. Includes family surnames: Geiszler, Zumstein, Comfort, Hoppe, Peak, Townley, and Mack

Plans for Family History

I have a lot of family history. Much of it has been stored in boxes, rarely accessed, since 1977. In the 1990s, I put some of the information into Personal Ancestral File. I felt that was a huge leap forward. However, the people on the family tree still were not very real to me.

Recently, I've caught up on my living family's scrapbooks so I have turn some free time over to family history. As stated in a my More Patience and Courage in Genealogy post, I have recently been blessed with MANY pictures and stories. I'm itching to do something with it all.

I have great plans for compiling things into scrapbooks and 'research' books to share with my kids and other family members. The stories and information can't stay stored in computers or research files. They have to be transformed into reader friendly formats. I don't want to wait until 'everything is perfect' before I 'publish' something. I plan on creating something 'temporary' since printing costs have become so cheap. I can afford to do an initial printing and share with family members. They'll know what I have and then be able to make corrections where necessary. Then, I can reprint the work and share it again.


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