Monday, May 2, 2016

Getting Into The Ruhlkirchen Church Records -- Birkenstock Project, Part 4

     Where were we with Kate Birkenstock’s marriage? I discussed in my earlier post, Birkenstock Project, Part 3, that I was renting the Ruhlkirchen German Catholic church records on microfilm from the Family History Library to locate a marriage record for Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn.  Recently I had my first look at one of the three film rolls that arrived from the FHL.
    To view the microfilm I went toSample of German Alphabet Types from The German Researcher by Dearden the Genealogy Society of Marion County (Indianapolis), the local history center where the microfilm was sent.  Since I estimate the marriage date to be 1834 to 1836, I chose to begin with film #939230, Mainz Diocese, Ruhlkirchen Parish, Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, 1830 – 1860. Within a few minutes I was reminded that deciphering Gothic script and then translating from German to English is quite a challenge. But wait! I also have to remember to be patient and take this step by step, getting the most that I can from what I have.  The films are on a 60-day rental. So I’m going to call this first viewing my overall introduction.
     I came to the library armed with my German research references that contain Gothic script alphabet samples and German words commonly used in church records. Since I am a novice, having only read German church records once several years ago, I knew I needed quite a bit of help.  My references were of great assistance for understanding the basics of what I was viewing. For instance, for the headings on the pages I was able to translate ort und tag to place and date; die Trauung to the marriage, braut to bride, and so on. I was able to get a start with searching for the Birkenstock name in the marriage records for a particular year.
         From the first few rolls forward on the microfilm of Ruhlkirchen church records I was excited.  Wow! There’s an index and I can actually read the Birkenstock name in the list. If this is how it’s going to be, I thought I would get directly to what I wanted and possibly decipher enough of the Gothic script to find my marriage record. Take a look at the photo and you’ll see the Birkenstock’s on a page from the church book. 
Index from Mainz Diocese, Ruhlkirchen Church Records, 1830-36

       From this beginning I was optimistic about finding Kate and Martin’s record. I could see reference numbers next to the names that might indicate pages.  Well, that’s not exactly how this search progressed.  I advanced the microfilm through some pages of baptism (taufe) records until I saw the marriages. There I found that the person(s) who wrote the marriage records had a decidedly less readable script than I viewed in the index. And the reference numbers next to those Birkenstock names don’t seem to be easy to find either.  Oh well, I’ll have to work with what’s there. I snapped photos of several pages so that I could look at them more casually, translate the page headings and make a plan on how to proceed.  Below is an example of a page of marriage records from 1834 so that you can see what I mean about the script.
Excerpt from Church Records Book, Ruhlkirchen Marriages, 1830-36
      So far, I’ve had success with translation of the page headings. For instance, a summary of the above marriages page, columns left to right, are:
      Place and Date —    Church Proclamation —    Date, Place, Witnesses —    Remarks
     Other information about the bride and bridegroom would be listed on the facing page to this one.

What did I learn in this first look inside the Ruhlkirchen church records?
    --- There is a good possibility I am in the correct church, judging from the Birkenstock family history and the many Birkenstock names listed.
    --- It’s more workable for me to use photographs of the microfilm taken on screen with my camera.  Then I can study them at home using my computer rather than sitting in front of the reader for long periods of time.

 What should be my next steps?
    --- I'm reviewing the first few screen shots of the 1835 marriages, comparing entries, deciphering a few words and getting used to these records before I have another day of viewing.
   ---  When I go to read microfilm next, I’ll open the other rolls first to determine whether there are 1835 or 1836 marriage records. Just in case they are written in a script that could be easier to read.
   ---  I’m planning to photograph all of the 1835 and 1836 marriage pages to examine them closely for Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn.

     Overall, I am still psyched to find some news on Kate and Martin’s marriage. I’m determined not to become discouraged in sifting through the Ruhlkirchen church records. It’s interesting to put my eyes directly on these pieces of 1800s family history, even if I can only decipher a fraction of it.  One thing that comes to mind is how someone would read my writing almost 200 years from now. Will they know what the terms are that I’m using without doing some research and consulting?  Do you think anything that we write down will survive that long…or will future family historians be looking at only digital records? Or none at all? 
     Meanwhile, I’ll keep researching on the Birkenstock Project.  If there are suggestions from anyone on my path, I am happy to hear them.  

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Related Stories You May Want to Read:
Taking My Research To Church, Birkenstock Project, Pt 3 
Ruhlkirchen and Neustadt in Hesse, Birkenstock Project, Pt 3 
When and Where Was Katherine Birkenstock Married to Martin Kuhn, Pt 1

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Billy and Donny Niehaus -- Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

     As I come across a family photo that makes me immediately smile, or say “Awe!” I just have to get a post ready for Wordless Wednesday.  I think you’ll agree that this one that popped up when I was doing some cleanup today would definitely be in that category.  Here’s a precious photo of two Niehaus cousins, Billy and Donny, taken in our grandmother’s back yard on Singleton Street, Indianapolis. I’d estimate this is taken about 1947 when they were both between 4 and 5 years old.  Billy is the son of Ed and Gin (Weber) Niehaus and Donny (my brother)  is the the son of Frank and Rosemary (Weber) Niehaus.  They must be hunting Easter eggs, based on the baskets.  They look ready to storm the yard for surprises. Aren’t they adorable!Weber and Niehaus Cousins:  Billy and Donny Niehaus

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
Related posts where you may want to click:
Generations of Veterans: Cousin Bill
Family Memorial Day: My Brother, Don

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Taking My Research To Church, Birkenstock Research Project, Pt 3

     Where am I on the search for Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn’s marriage? It’s time for church.  My research in Part 2 guided me to look for Kate’s church records in Ruhlkirchen, Hessen, Germany in the 1830s. I’ve been enhancing my skills and having an interesting time taking that path.    
     But while I go about piecing together more of their lives, I thought it would be helpful to have in front of us a reminder of where Kate and Martin fall in the family chart. So below is a simple pedigree chart using my mother, Rosemary Weber, as a starting point. Kate Birkenstock is her great grandmother. If you are in her line, insert yourself or a family member where appropriate.  Kate and Martin Kuhn were immigrants to Connersville, Indiana in 1862. After Martin’s death, Kate came to Indianapolis to live, sometime between 1874 and 1879. Thus we have our roots of this Birkenstock/Kuhn line. 
Birkenstock Chart Framed
     Now, for that research into a church marriage record.  As a result of my review of “what I know about Katherine Birkenstock Kuhn” in Parts 1 and 2, I believe that Katherine’s birthplace is Ruhlkirchen, Hessen, Germany and the approximate date of her marriage to Martin Kuhn is between 1834 and 1836.  Since the history of the Kuhn family tells me that they were Catholic in the United States, I’m starting my search with Catholic church records for the area where Kate was born. I realize the Birkenstock family may not have been Catholic, but my search has to begin somewhere.
     The logical choice for me would be to begin by looking for possible online sources that might include an index, OR, if I’m lucky, an image of this marriage record.  In times past, I’ve checked without success at for church records in Hessen. But it’s good to return to see if there are additional records posted.  But, no luck. The Germany, Select, Marriages, 1558-1929, database at doesn’t cover the area I’m researching in Hessen. 
     Then I tried my newest online resource,  The Germany Marriages records on that site appear to be the same records as ancestry. An individual search within family trees likewise didn’t produce any good leads.  Of course, an online research effort wouldn’t be complete without a Google search. Again, there were no additional websites to investigate. That is, except the one I already had on my list -
     Here’s where the sun shown on my research!  My search began with a records search, inputting Anna Katherina Birkenstock, marriage place Germany and an estimated marriage date of 1834.  This might result in a marriage record that’s been indexed, or even a copy of the original church record.  Or there could be a clue from someone else’s family tree.  I didn’t find any records that I felt led me to  the marriage record.
     But there’s so much more to investigate at the familysearch website.  If there were microfilmed church records for Ruhlkirchen, I could look at the microfilm at a Family History Center near me.  So, from the main website page I used the catalog link to get to Germany, Marriages and select Hessen from the list of places in Germany.  The list of types of records and places in the state of Hessen is very long. I had to keep paging down to find the Ruhlkirchen church records.  The records available on microfilm could be promising. Below I’ve posted an excerpt from the search results: 
Kirchenbuch, 1731-1876
Katholische Kirche Ruhlkirchen (Kr. Alsfeld) (Main Author)
Format:  Manuscript/Manuscript on Film
Language: German
Publication: Salt Lake City, Utah : Gefilmt durch The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1973
Physical: 4 Mikrofilmrollen ; 35 mm.
Notes: Mikrofilme aufgenommen von Manuskripten im Dioezesanarchiv, Rottenburg.
Parish registers of baptisms, marriages and deaths for Ruhlkirchen, Hessen, Germany. Includes Ohmes, Vockenrod and Seibelsdorf. Text in Latin and German.

Subjects —  Locality Subjects
Germany, Hessen, Ruhlkirchen - Church records

Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1792-1830 -- Microfilm #939229

Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1830-1860 -- Taufen, Heiraten 1861-1891 -- Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1731-1792 — Microfilm #939230 

Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1830-1857 (Ohmes) -- Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1830-1860 (Vockenrod) -- Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1830-1860 Seibelsdorf) -- Taufen, Heiraten 1857-1879 (Ohmes) -- Tote 1857-1900 (Ohmes) —  Microfilm #939231
     When I reviewed these listings I noted that there were marriage (heiraten) records from the Ruhlkirchen Catholic Church that fall within the 1830s dates that I’m estimating for Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn. Of course, my next step was to order these films.  At the bottom of the search results page is a link to the online ordering system. I paid the $7.50 rental fee for each microfilm and selected the Genealogy Society of Marion County as my Family History Center.  The microfilmed church records from Ruhlkirchen, Hessen, are on the way. I can peruse the records using the microfilm viewer at the GSMC. If the Birkenstock/Kuhn marriage is recorded in this particular church I’m optimistic that I’ll find it in this microfilm.
     Now I’m brushing up on my German.  I have lists of commonly used words from my research books so that I can decipher enough of the records to find Kate and Martin’s marriage.  And, if I get stuck, there are helpful genealogists around that I’m sure will assist.  I’ll be back with the results from my Ruhlkirchen church records, and more.

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Copyright(c) 2016 Nancy Niehaus Hurley  
Related Posts:
Where and When Was Katherine Birkenstock Married To Martin Kuhn, Part 1
Ruhlkirchen and Neustadt, Hessen, Birkenstock Research Project, Part 2

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Death Certificate: Katherine Birkenstock Kuhn, 4 July 1890, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana

     There’s a story in every document.  This one adds to the ongoing Birkenstock Project that I’m recording slowly but surely. Katherine Birkenstock emigrated from Hessen, Germany, in 1862 with her husband and children.  She lived in the United States for 28 years and died  on July 4th, 1890, while living with her daughter, Wilhelmina, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Below is her death certificate from the Marion County Health Department, followed by a transcription.   
Kuhn, Katherine Birkenstock, Death Certificate, 1890

Marion County Health Department
Indianapolis, Indiana
Certificate of Death
Name: Kath Kuhn
Date of Death:  7/4/1890
Birth place: Germany
Residence: Indianapolis
Place of death:  Marion County, Indianapolis
Sex: Female
Age: 82
Race: White
Marital Status: Widowed
Immediate cause: Shock from fall
Other significant conditions contributing: coroners
Date of Burial:  7/7/1890
Cemetery: Catholic yards
Certificate No.  8210, Vol. 6, pg. 82
Death certified by:  D. A. Wagner (coroner) MD
Date filed: 7/6/1890
Date issued: 7/20/2005
Clerk: LReeves
     This information isn’t necessarily unusual, for a lady of 82 years of age.  But when we read the immediate cause of death as “shock from fall” it possibly makes you wonder.  And then, the next line states other significant conditions contributing:“coroners.”  Well, I don’t have every detail, but I do have a partial answer.  Katherine’s will states that she is leaving all her property and possessions to her daughter, Wilhelmina, “having taken care of me during my life time and having nursed and cared for me since I became blind…”  This information about Katherine’s eye sight could explain the cause of death from a fall.  I’m glad her daughter was there for her. 
     But I haven’t yet found the answer to the contributing conditions note listing “coroners”.  If she died in her home from other than natural causes, there could have been a coroner’s investigation.  A report most likely won’t give us any other significant information.  But….all of these documents have a story, right?! Sounds like another To Do item for the Katherine Kuhn list.  
     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Related posts you might like to read:
Katherine Birkenstock Kuhn’s Will Discovery
Where and When Did Katherine Birkenstock Marry Martin Kuhn?, Part 1
Where and When: Ruhlkirchen or Neustadt in Hessen? Katherine Birkenstock/Martin Kuhn, Part 2

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Great Reminders -- Why U Can’t Find Your Ancestors

    Recently I’ve been researching a few surnames that have strange variations.  Meaning I’ve come across unlikely, and sometimes, wrong spellings. But who knows how they were rearranged, whether deliberate or not, over many years.  We only know that it’s important to stop to think about every possible way the name may have been pronounced, spelled or understood as our ancestors changed their location and/or interacted with others.  As I was reminding myself to keep these variations in mind, I remembered a related article posted at Rootsweb.   It was helpful for me to read it again and I thought I’d pass it along. Click on the link below to consider more solutions to finding those hard-to-uncover family members:  1209243_238594249628745_606587747_n
Why U Can't Find Your Ancestors
Misspeld Knames — A Commun Probblem for Reeserchors

     One of the suggestions in the article is to think of all the ways that your ancestor’s surname might have been spelled (or indexed) and make yourself a list to use in doing thorough  research.  So,  I tried a mind workout with a few of my ancestor names.  How have I found them in the past, or how could I imagine they might be hiding away in those old records? Here goes:
   Albers could be: Aulbers, Ahlbers, Allbers, Albeers, Ulbers
     Birkenstock could be: Biergenstock, Beerginstock, Birgenstok, Birkenstog
     Keen could be: Kihn, Kien, Kean, Keene
     Kraut could be:  Krout, Krote, Kraus
     Niehaus could be: Niehues, Niehus, Neehouse, Nihus
     Weber could be: Webber, Wieber, Veber
     What kind of name variations could you develop? Have any suggestions for me?  I hope this helps you in thinking differently of your family and leads to finding some of those elusive ones. 
    Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
Copyright © 2016 Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Friday, April 15, 2016

Family In The News: Entrepreneur? Bootlegger? Businessman? Was Julius Albers Being Neighborly?

      The newspaper archives continue to overflow with interesting pieces of family history.  Recently I decided to try out a data subscription to, which includes access to  So, of course, I immediately went after more discoveries to share.  But to keep my searching organized, I came up with a list of obituaries that are missing from genealogy.  The first name on that list was Julius  Albers, my father’s maternal uncle.   I input his name and death date as my first search.  Voila!  I was happy to see his obituary that provides more family history.  But also popping up in my search were a few unexpected family stories carrying the Albers surname.  Don’t you just love the newspapers!  
      For instance, among those news summaries tempting me with their highlighted family names I found a 1945 article about Julius’ son, Roy Albers, who was awarded a Purple Heart while fighting in France in World War II.  The story has an interesting slant.  But I’ll wait until Veteran’s Day to tell that one.  For now, a juicy article caught my attention that concerns a “business venture” of Julius Albers'.   This news appeared in the Indianapolis Star, Wednesday, 4 Jan 1933 (On Page 1, by the way).  Here’s the news I found:
Trade Food For Whisky
Husbands' Raids on Family Larders Lead to Arrest of Alleged Bootlegger

The barter and swap movement, seen as a solution to the problem of what to use for money, has been extended to the liquor business.  On complaint of several house wives who went ofAlbers, Julius H., News, 1933 the cupboard and found it bare, police conducted an investigation which led to the arrest yesterday afternoon of Julius Albers, 1849 Zwingley Avenue.  Police assert that Albers is a pioneer in the barter and swap speakeasy movement.
Food Stores Missing
A missing jar of preserves, a glass of jelly, filched from the family larder and mayhap a chicken from the backyard coop, served as the medium of exchange for a jug of liquor.  When housewives in the neighborhood wondered how their husbands obtained liquor without money, they coupled this strange fact with the mysterious disappearance of food supplies, got their heads together and then told Sergt John Eisenhut of a police squad about it.
With Patrolmen Statesman and Fulton, Sergt Eisenhut kept an eye on the home of Albers and the raid yesterday resulted.  Police said they confiscated two pints of whisky.  Albers was chrged with operating a blind tiger.
     Let’s think about the situation in those times. Both the Great Depression and Prohibition were having an effect on people’s lives.  Money was scarce and if they could afford an occasional beer or a cocktail, they couldn’t buy it at their local store or a corner bar.  I can imagine why many people grew grapes and made their own wine along with their jam.   Well,  Julius Albers evidently was helping to solve the lack of alcohol problem in his neighborhood. In my own opinion, my grand uncle was providing for the working class people around him a taste of what was available to those in the wealthier neighborhoods and even in the White House.   It is well known that doctors around the country earned millions from whiskey prescriptions. Also, it was legal to make wine and cider from fruit in your home for personal use, but not beer.  The Prohibition law did not prohibit consumption of alcohol, only the sale of alcohol. Many people who had the means to do so stockpiled wines and liquors for their personal use in the latter part of 1919 before sales of alcoholic beverages became illegal in January 1920.
     As confirmed by his obituary, Julius Albers was employed during these years at the E. C. Atkins Saw Works in Indianapolis.  So, he may have been more fortunate economically than some of his neighbors.  He was able to produce whisky somehow and barter for whatever the locals had to trade for his product.  I don’t know the final outcome of these charges against him. Maybe confiscation of his whisky and a strong warning were enough to satisfy the local police. I wonder if there were attorneys skilled in representing these types of clients and if he was able to acquire one. 
     Prohibition ended twelve months after this incident.   As stated on Wikipedia: “On December 5, 1933, ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. However, United States federal law still prohibits the manufacture of distilled spirits without meeting numerous licensing requirements that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal beverage use.”
     The search for family history never fails to produce surprises.  Or maybe, if we stop to analyze them, these circumstances aren’t really that surprising!  
    Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
Research links and related posts:
Prohibition in the United States
The Great Depression
Descendants of Charles and Martha (Marsischky) Albers
Charles H. Albers, 1865 - 1915

Friday, April 8, 2016

Church Record: Beerman, Siegbert Marriage on May 4, 1811 in Riesenbeck, Westphalia

     Today I’m featuring a German marriage document for the collection here at Indiana Ties. Maybe this will be the one that helps a distant cousin to find that missing link.  My church record today skips back to 1811 to the marriage of Gerhard Heinrich Beerman and Anna Maria Elizabeth Siegbert.
     Below is a page from the marriage records of St. Kalixtus Catholic Church in Riesenbeck, Westphalia.  I'll provide a little assistance to understand the record as we go. (Isn’t it more fun to peruse the list of German names here than to have me snip out only the one line of Gerhard and Anna Maria’s record?)
     First, across the top of the page are the column headings: Name of Groom, Date of birth, Occupation, Name of Bride, Date of birth, and the last two columns are for information and dates.  The top half of the page was used for several 1810 announcements of banns, or pending marriages. And on the lower half of the page you see 1811 listings of couples and their marriage dates.  The infinity symbol in the column before the dates here is stating that the marriage took place. So now, scan down the page, almost at the bottom, to the red arrow I have inserted next to Gerhard and Anna Maria’s marriage on 4 May 1811.

Beerman Siegbert Marriage, Riesenbeck, Westphalia, 4 May  1811
My Transcription of the marriage information next to the red arrow:

Name of  the Groom: Beermann, Gerh. Heinr., born 30 May 1790, birthplace: Bergesh., Occupation of the groom: Leineweber/Linenweaver
Name of the Bride: Siegbert, A. Mar. Eliz., born 24 Dec 1786, birthplace: Bergeshov.  Marriage date: 4 May 1811.

To complete this family picture somewhat, here are a few more related facts:
-- The Bergesh. abbreviation in the transcription above, after the birthplace of both Gerhard and Anna, is Bergeshovede. This village is outside Riesenbeck that in 1811 was in the Kingdom of Westphalia.  Today’s location of Riesenbeck is in northwestern Germany: Steinfurt, Munster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. 
-- Our family line from Gerhard Beerman and Anna Maria Siegbert carries on through their daughter, Maria Anna Beerman, born 7 Jan 1813.
-- Maria Beerman married Josef Niehues in this same Riesenbeck church on 10 Oct 1843. Their son, Heinrich Joseph Niehues/Niehaus was born 11 Feb 1843.
-- Joseph Niehaus married Gertrude Wilmsen on 24 June 1873 in the Catholic Church in Emsdetten, Westphalia, a few miles from Riesenbeck.
-- Joseph and Gertrude emigrated to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1885.  And the story has many more chapters eminating from their large family.
     If you see more information that I missed on this record, or you have a question, leave me a message below.  My plan for uploading documents such as this marriage is to spread out their benefit.  I’m featuring these items of family history evidence in my blog posts as well as listing them on the Documents page above for easy reference. They come from all types of sources, from civil war pension files to wills to coroner’s reports.  I’ll get around to loading many more eventually.   Meanwhile, let me know if there might be a particular piece of information in my hands that could help you in your research.  I’m happy to pass it along.

As always, thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Research Information:
I have uploaded a copy of the above church record to my Family History collection on Scribd. Here’s a link to that page.  
The birth, marriage and death records from the St. Kalixtus Catholic Church in Riesenbeck are available on microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, or at a local Family History Center.(Kirchenbuch, 1610-1873, Katholische Kirche Riesenbeck (Kr. Tecklenburg), Marriages, 1811) Here’s a link to the film information. 

Related Posts You May Wish To See:
Beerman Surname
Gerhard Heinrich Beerman: Linen weaver or hay farmer - Or both?
Siegbert Surname