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.


Power Scrapbooking through 2015

Power Scrapbooking

Howdy y'all.

2016 has kept me super busy. Writing projects, teaching workshops, serving in my church, tracking down new genealogy leads, all in addition to raising my family. The one project that I haven't completed yet is my annual "Year in Review" scrapbook for our family. Thankfully, I have practiced my Power Scrapbooking method for years and in a short amount of time, I can throw together the album. This year, I created 106 pages (or 52 two-page) layouts in a short amount of time.

This time, I broke my method and decided to put the journaling on last. Why? Well, because I plan on sharing some of my favorite scrapbook pages and why I like them. I keep the journaling private, so I will have 'fake' text in the layouts you'll see. So, the journaling will be added as the last step before printing when in actuality, journaling generally goes onto my layouts before I decorate the pages.

The other hold up is printing. I have recently submitted projects to a few photobook printing companies. I have contacted the companies to learn how to improve the quality of my printed books. The process is slow going, but I can't wait to share with you what I learn once it's all complete.

The reason I'm excited and taking time from blogging about scrapbooks is because I really want to provide a great service. When I searched the internet for company comparison blog posts, I discovered numerous of chart based analysis that offer a star rating regarding quality. They rarely depict side-by-side comparisons of what you would expect to see (your computer rendering) and what you receive (a photo of the printed book). I have two companies that I can compare in this way. But, I don't want to compare and leave it at that. I want you and I to both know how to correct for the variations prior to printing.

There are some moderately helpful websites that recommend calibrating for the printing company. Not every company provides the ability to so do, and it can be complicated enough that many won't bother and thus won't create family history scrapbooks. So, that's why my experiment is taking a bit longer to provide. I have sent to the companies what I've noticed and thus far, one is willing to discuss how to improve. The other company is still not answering my quality issues. Thus, I might just have to force things a bit by showing the side-by-side comparison and mention that this company isn't willing to help us produce quality albums.

Stay tuned scrapbook fans. There is a reason why I haven't posted much about the topic recently, but I'm looking forward to what will be shared in the future. In the meantime, be sure to read old posts about creating personal and heritage scrapbooks.

And, if you'd like to learn more about scrapbooking, visit my Amazon.com Author's page to purchase my books on the topic.


Happy Mother's Day Lura Long

With the recent success of discovering more about the birth mother of my Grannie (read more here), I wanted to praise a special woman this Mother's Day who is the only mother Louise Eleanor Long ever knew.

Lura was married to Harry Howard Long (1883-1937). The couple married in Columbus, Ohio on Jun 19, 1907. They were unable to have children and finally adopted their first child in 1916.

In May 1920, a baby girl was born in Columbus, Ohio to an unwed mother. The mother died of preeclampsia. This baby girl would become my grandmother.

Upon her mother's death, Baby Anderson became a ward of the State of Ohio Welfare Department. She had a caseworker, Ethel Huffman Ackerman, who wanted to place Baby Anderson in the home of Harry Long. The caseworker was a friend and classmate (at Ohio State) of Harry's sister Elizabeth Long.

As Elizabeth retells the story, Ethel received Baby Anderson's birth mother's history and felt that Harry and Lura were just the parents for this new baby. Louise was at the state receiving home and Ethel had not yet met the baby.

According to Elizabeth, Ethel didn't think anyone would want the baby after seeing the sickly child for the first time. The baby had been through a rough delivery and absorbed some of the fluids from her mother's kidney failure. The baby's face was broken out and her whole body was very thin. She looked as if she had hemorrhoids. (Elizabeth remembers the baby girl had no buttocks and wondering if she would ever learn to sit!)

Ethel told Harry that he was under no obligation to take the baby. She also apologized for not having warned them of her condition. It is said that Harry responded, "if there ever was a baby that needed a home, I believe this one does." Lura agreed with her husband. The couple took Louise and nursed her to good health. The State of Ohio probably provided health services for a year until the adoption was complete.

Although the words were said by Harry, the nurturing mother Lura is a saint in my book. She could have refused to take the baby based on looks alone. Lura and Harry didn't. They gave that baby a chance at life. That sickly baby lived to 92 years-old, had three children, thirteen grand children, many great grandchildren, and multiple great-great grandchildren!

On this Mother's Day, I praise Lura Maud Smith. Without her decision to adopt such a sickly child, I might never have come to be.

Sentimental Sunday 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.


how to do modern family history
Are you using all the resources available for a 21st Century Family HistorianIf not, you need to order my book at Amazon.com today. 

Further Reading about Lura:

Writing a Simple Birth Story
Writing a Simple Marriage Story
Writing a Simple Death Story


Top Ten 10 Tombstone Photography Tips

Top Ten Gravestone Photography Tips


A great photo has the power to illicit deep emotions. A great grave stone photograph has the power to turn on the tear faucet and melt the heart.

You could got to a cemetery and snap a few photos for yourself or for a service like BillionGraves or FindAGrave without much thought or preparation. And your efforts would be appreciated. But it only takes a few moments to go from a photo like this:

Thomas and Emma Billman Gravestone
Photo taken by Devon Noel Lee

To a photo like this:

Benny and Constantina Susi Gravemarker
Photo taken by Devon Noel Lee

Here are 10 tips to help you take a photo more in line with the latter than the former.

  1. Make It Tidy
  2. Clean Off the Bird Droppings
  3. Educate Yourself on Gravestone Photography
  4. Solve Uneven Shadows
  5. Learn How to Deal with Decorations
  6. Take Yourself Out of the Photo
  7. Check Your Photos Before You Leave
  8. Transcribe On Site
  9. Learn the Power of Cropping 
  10. Determine if You Should Post a Second Photo

Mystery Monday: Is Joseph Geissler's death story true?

Family Legend Fact or Fiction


The death of my 3rd great grandfather, Joseph Geißler, could be a legend handed down through the generations or it could be true. How would you go about deciding what is fact and what is fiction?

Death story about Joseph Geisler in Margie Wasson's scrapbook in her handwriting.
The story reads:
Henry Geiszler
"Henry's father was on horseback and rode into Fort 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 loved on a farm in Georgesville. As a boy, this is where my dad visited and remembered his grandmother driving her horse."
The first step would be to determine the names of all the people.

Henry Geiszler's father is indeed Joseph Geißler. Joseph's widow is Caroline (Mack) Geißler Billman. She married Michael Billman and they did have a farm Georgesville, Franklin County, Ohio.

"My Dad" is Margie Wasson's father George Joseph Geiszler, son of Henry Geiszler (of this writing). "His Grandmother" once again is Caroline Billman.

So, the 2nd great-granddaughter of Joseph Geißler is writing the story down about his death, along with a brief mention of her father's trip to the 2nd great-grandmother's second husband's farm. Confused much?

There is a lot more to dissect, but I'd love to know what you would do with a story like this. How would you prove / disprove whether Joseph was killed outside Fort Hayes because he was German and told to halt but didn't understand?

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