Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Whose Goat Is That? --- Niehaus Cousins, Donny, Billy & Diana --- Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

       Sometimes we get lucky and catch a priceless moment in time.  I believe this is definitely one of those Almost Wordless photos.  Here are three Niehaus family cousins visiting at their grandparents on a hot day in June of 1943.  My brother, Donny Niehaus, with his cousins Billy Niehaus and Diana Ellis are each displaying their own unique impression.  From left to right, we could read leave-me-alone annoyance from Donny; then Billy is doing the cool ignoring routine and Diana is over-the-top, boisterously excited.    I don’t have any idea who that goat belongs to but he adds just the perfect touch in this piece of family history.    
Niehaus Cousins, Donny, Billy & Diana enjoying a July day at their grandparents.
      Surely there’s another story about this animal. Anyone in the family know about the goat?  Was this a pet?  Or did he just wonder down the street and do a photo bomb? 
     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
     Nancy

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Monday, June 20, 2016

We Didn’t Even Know He Had a Middle Name! --- Birth Certificate: Walter Johnnie Niehaus, 28 July 1918–28 Feb 1919

     It never fails.  Each time I find another family history record, there’s some morsel that adds color to the story.  Those discoveries provide confirmation of a specific event or a link between people or maybe a hint to a new location to look.   For instance, lately I’ve been uncovering a plethora of information due to the posting by ancesty.com of new Indiana birth, marriage and death certificate databases.  It’s going to take a while before I can squeeze all those juicy ingredients out.  But, here’s an example of one that came to the surface immediately. 
       A sad chapter in our family history took place during the 1918 flu pandemic.  My paternal grandmother, Louise (Albers) Niehaus, and her seven-month-old child, Walter,  were struck down.  I’ve written about Louise before (Here’s the story.).   The short duration of Walter’s life doesn’t leave us much to know about him. So when these birth certificate records were published for the years 1907 through 1940, he was one of the first family members that came to my mind.  I was anxious to gather anything I could learn about him. 
     Quickly I completed the search fields on ancestry with the information I had collected from the W.P.A. index: Walter Niehaus and his birth date of 28 July 1918.  Yay!  The record topping the results page looked very promising.  Glaring straight at me were Walter and his parents, John Niehaus and Louise Albers.  But there was another part of that listing that wasn’t familiar.  This person had a middle name, Johnie.  Is there another Walter Niehaus Niehaus, Walter, Birth Certificate, 1918born that day in Indianapolis?  Some kind of mistake?  None of our family’s researchers had ever recorded a middle name for Walter.    
     All it took was one more click to answer the questions.  Sure enough, when I opened the actual document I was able to confirm the match.  The information on this birth certificate agrees perfectly with the information I have about this uncle and his family.  Walter Johnie Niehaus’s father, John Niehaus, lived in Perry Township, Indianapolis, Indiana.  John was 29 years old and a “cloth cutter” (Actually, a garment cutter at C. B. Cones Clothing Manufacturer).  Walter’s mother was Louise Albers, 25 years old, a housewife in Perry Township, Indianapolis, Indiana. 
     But now I also know that Walter carried his father’s name as his middle name.  That might be significant, or at least somewhat expected, since none of the other five sons were named for him.  I learned that he was born at 8:00 a.m. and that the physician attending the birth was Frank P. Reid.  Since the line for the address of his place of birth was not completed I can’t know positively where that was. Not yet anyway.  Most likely, since it was 1918, Walter was born at John and Louise’s home at 1123 South Keystone Avenue.
     This youngster lived only seven months, succumbing to the deadly flu on 28 February 1919. 30 to 50 million people worldwide were infected in the pandemic of 1918-1919.   The secretary of the Indiana Board of Health issued an order prohibiting gatherings of more than five people when the virus began to spread.  Approximately 675,000 Americans died.  At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain or prevent its spread.  Walter was born  at a perilous time.
     I wish I could have known Uncle Walter.  But thanks to this genealogy find, I can be a tiny bit more acquainted with him.  It makes me think…Could there be other clues here on his birth certificate?  Where else can these tidbits of information take me?  Maybe I could find out where he was born. Could it have been in a hospital?  Are there medical records of any kind? I’ll be keeping this information in mind as more records come onto my research radar.  The quest never ends!
     If you have comments or more background on Walter Johnnie Niehaus or the records I’ve been discussing here, please leave me a message below.  I’m happy to hear from anyone with an interest in these family ties.
     Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
     Nancy

Document: Walter Niehaus Birth Certificate at Scribd 
Related Reading:
Louise Charlotte Albers Niehaus
John Niehaus: A Cutter For C. B. Cones
Indianapolis In the Influenza Encyclopedia
The Great Pandemic
1918 Influenza Pandemic Virus









Sunday, May 29, 2016

“500” History For Me -- The Race Memories

     Each year in May many of us who grew up around Indianapolis have our own kinds of flashbacks.  What do you think about when you look back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 500-mile Race festivities?  These individual memories may not be of each year’s winner,  the speeds for qualifications or a certain crash.   Some have flashbacks that tend more toward activities of family, friends and neighbors on race day.  People situated on top of their cars in the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.I’m sure there are race fans everywhere who have thoughts of everyone sitting around a radio, having a beer and eating hot dogs grilled in the back yard. 
     My Indianapolis 500 memories are varied, changing as I got older.  Some are a child’s scattered pieces.  When I was growing up on the south side of Indy we listened to the race on the radio, from “Gentlemen Start Your Engines” to the checkered flag.  Of course, when I was a kid the race took most of the day since the speeds were much slower.  I’m sure I wasn’t paying attention for all those hours. 
     My Dad, Frank Niehaus, absolutely loved the entire spectacle.  He even listened to recordings of Indy race cars on his stereo, zooming around the room.  He could be found at practice or qualifications or the race itself over the years.  He talked about Andy Granatelli and the Novis and A. J. Foyt, Jim Hurtibuise, Billy Vukovich, Eddie Sachs, etc.  I recall my dad taking me to qualifications with him. It was probably just one year but the recollection sticks with me.  My most vivid memory of going with my dad is being in line early in the morning on 16th Street so we could get inside to get a good spot to see who would be in the 33-car lineup.  I was fascinated by the crowd, which is definitely a part of this experience. And the sound of the engines passing by is still thrilling, no matter how old I am.
     Frank Niehaus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Later in my years, I remember going with friends for practice or qualifications and sometimes I was there on race day.  As an adult I went one year with my best friend the night before the 500 to hang out and watch people, a tradition that continues for some.  We had tickets and watched the race; but again, the year and the final results are a blur.   Also, I was fortunate to get a pass over a period of years to a suite on the main straight-of-way to watch practice and tour the garage and the pits, up close and personal.  Just as prominent are race days when I invited friends to hang out at my house, listening to “Back Home Again In Indiana”, then that roar when all the cars fire up!  We would visit and eat and drink, all while keeping track (somewhat) on the radio of who’s still in the race using the newspaper’s 33-car lineup.  Yes, there was some friendly wagering  as well.
     Not many photographs from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are still with me. Although the ones I do have span the 1940s to the 1960s.  They tell many stories, but mostly of my Dad’s times at The Track. Dad’s in the photo on the right with his sun-shading hat, keeping his bald head from burning. He is about 30-35 years old here.   The infield photo above shows fans sitting on top of their cars, possibly inside the fourth turn. Judging from the cars, this is the late 1940s or early 1950s.  Below are two photos of the 1941 fire in the garage area that occurred as they were preparing to begin the race.  One shows the billowing smoke from across the infield.  Another is a striking photo of the aftermath in the garage area. I believe my parents took these photos. For a bit of the story about the tragedy that day is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
    “On the morning of the race a fire broke out in the garage area. George Barringer's revolutionary rear-engined car was destroyed. At the time, the car was being refueled (with gasoline). In a nearby garage, another car which was owned by Joel Thorne was being worked on with a welder. The fumes caught fire from the sparks of the welding, and a huge fire broke out which burned down about a third of the southern bank of garages. The start of the race was delayed by a couple hours, and fire fighters had trouble getting to the Speedway to put out the blaze due to the heavy race day traffic. Barringer's car was withdrawn, and he was credited with 32nd finishing position. With Sam Hanks and Barringer out, the race lined up with only 31 cars.”

1941 Speedway Garage Fire1941 Speedway Garage Fire Ruins

     I’m continuing through the years with a photo that looks like it’s taken from the grandstands across from the starting line.  In this one we can see the old pagoda, the 1956 DeSoto pace car and, if you look carefully, you’ll see the #29 Novi lined up to get underway.  Driver Paul Russo in #29 led the race for the first 21 laps before a blown tire threw the car out of the race.1956 Desoto, Speedway Pace Car, and #29 Novi, preparing for the start of the 1956 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
     The last 500 photo I'm posting is of Andy Granatelli and Parnelli Jones, car owner and driver. This is most likely from the late 1960s when they were running the turbine-powered cars. I’m not sure how my dad came to have this candid photo.  The quality tells me it was  purchased and maybe was given to him as a gift.  Granitelli and Jones 1
     I believe it’s appropo that I post these snipits of memories on May 29, 2016, during the running of the 100th Indianapolis 500.  Today is historic, but there’s a new twist.  It has been announced (as I’m writing this on Wednesday before the Sunday race) that for  the first time since 1950 the Indianapolis 500 will be shown live on TV in Indianapolis. I’m not sure how I feel about that since traditions are traditions, you know.  There was that special listening-on-the- radio ingredient.  Maybe I’ll sit on the deck and listen for a while.  But don’t get me wrong….we’ll definitely be tuning in for the live spectacle on TV.  Then later we’ll get a few of the inside details from Krissy and Caroline and Ben who are at the track today.
     I hope everyone has a safe and memorable Memorial Day Weekend.  Thanks for spending a little of your time at Hurley Travels.

     Nancy Hurley
    
To have some fun looking at 500 Drivers, Click Here

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Surprise in 1835 Ruhlkirchen Records -- Birkenstock Project, Pt 5

     I left off in my search for Katherine Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn’s marriage with the Catholic Church records in Ruhlkirchen, Hessen.  In part 4 of this Birkenstock Project I was about to dig deeper into the marriage records beginning in 1834.  The deciphering of the script and the language is, of course, the big obstacle.  So, let’s see what I’ve been able to accomplish.
     My first step was to get more deeply into the 1830s marriages on the microfilm from the Family History Library.  I  took photos of the microfilm pages that I wanted to examine closely, to look for the Birkenstock and Kuhn names. Then I began blowing them up on my computer to narrow down the records that could be the one. Since the family records I have give May of 1836 as the birth date of their first child, I concentrated on 1834 through 1836 marriages. My search through the marriage records didn’t turn up anything that appeared to be Anna Katherina Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn’s marriage.   
     I was a little discouraged. But since I have these microfilms rented for a while longer, I decided to look through baptisms too.  Maybe there could be a clue to Kate and Martin’s marriage.  Well, that turned out to be a good idea.  As I was straining my eyes looking for a Birkenstock or Kuhn record, I came across a legible baptism record with both names included. The record turned out to be for a Gottfried Kuhn, the same name as Kate and Martin’s child.
     I’ve concluded that this is the baptism of the first child of our Anna Katherina Birkenstock and Martin Kuhn. The date of this record, 26 May 1835, is exactly one year prior to the date recorded in some family histories for Gottfried’s birth.  And this may explain why Gottfried used 1835 as his birth year in later records. This record lists his parents as we know them from all documentation and states that his father is from Neustadt.  This much of the record I could decipher on my own. 
     To confirm the translation of the remainder of this baptismal record,  I received very helpful assistance from the German Genealogy Group on Facebook.  Below is the record for this 1835 baptism excerpted from facing pages of the Ruhlkirchen Catholic Church book.  I’ve listed the translations under each section.       
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Baptismal Record, Ruhlkirchen Catholic Church, Hessen, Gottfried Kuhn, 26 May 1835
First column: #147 of 1835 baptisms
Second column: Birthplace:  House #47?
Third column: Information on the birth: Born 26 May, 12 noon
Fourth column: Place and date of baptism: 26 May, in the church
Fifth column: Sex and name of Child: Gottfried Kuhn, illegitmate son.
2nd portion of the baptismal record of Gottfried Kuhn, 26 May 1835, Ruhlkirchen Catholic Church, Hessen
First column: Parents: der ledigen Ann Catharina Birkenstock....means Anna Catherine was not married.  Followed by the name of the other parent - Martin Kuhn from Neustadt.
Second column: Sponsor: Johannes Birkenstock, Grosvater des Kindes...grandfather of the child
Last column: Remarks: legitimiert durch der Ehe 1842 - legitimized through the marriage in 1842
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     The surprise within this record is that Gottfried is listed as the illegitimate son (see first image above, fifth column).  Then, the record states that Anna Katherina Birkenstock was not married, as you can see in the second piece of the record above.  Fortunately for our family history, someone wrote in the last remarks column: “legitimized through the marriage in 1842.”  Now I know that Martin and Katherine were married in 1842.  Yay!!!
     This was such a super find!  I now have a new challenge though.  Find this 1842 marriage.  That should lead to more interesting family facts, since there were two more children born to Kate and Martin between 1835 and 1842. Stay tuned for the continuing exploration of the Birkenstock Project!

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
Nancy

To learn more about this quest for Kate and Martin’s marriage, read below:
Birkenstock Project, Part 1
Birkenstock Project, Part 2
Birkenstock Project, Part 3
Birkenstock Project, Part 4

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Family In The News: Wilhelmina “Minnie” (Kuhn) Scherrer -- Pioneer German Resident Will Be Buried Tomorrow

     My latest find in the newspapers brought a new family face.  I have written recently about this great grandaunt, Minnie (Kuhn) Scherrer, as she immigrated from Hessen in 1857 and cared for her mother, Kate (Birkenstock) Kuhn, when she lost her sight in old age.  But until now I had no idea what Minnie looked like.  Another late night of  newspaper searches yielded an interesting obituary… with a bonus photo and a glimpse at her life.  The Indianapolis Star on Sunday, 17 March 1912, contained the following article: 

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Obituary: Wilhelmina Kuhn Scherrer, "Pioneer German Resident Will Be Buried Tomorrow"

 

Indianapolis Star, 17 March 1912:
Pioneer German Resident Will Be Buried Tomorrow
Mrs. Wilhelmina Scherrer
The funeral of Wilhelmina Scherrer, widow of John Scherrer, who died Thursday at her home, 955 High Street, will be held at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning at the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart.  Mrs. Scherrer was a pioneer resident of Indianapolis and had lived at the present family home ever since she came to Indianapolis about 48 years ago.  She was born at Neustadt, Kuhrhessen, Germany, and came to America when she was 14 years old, living first in Cincinnati.  Later she resided in Connersville, where she married John Scherrer. She is survived by five sons,  Fred, Charles, Jacob, George and Louis Scherrer, and one daughter, Elizabeth Scherrer, and five grandchildren.
  

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    The reference to Wilhelmina being a “pioneer German resident” refers to the fact that she and her husband, John Scherrer, moved to Indianapolis soon after they married in 1864 in Connersville, Indiana.  Minnie would have been in America for seven years at that time.   Sure do wish this photo was clearer. But I’m glad the family made the effort to give us an impression of her.  Wilhelmina’s obituary was probably written by her daughter, Elizabeth Scherrer, who passed along family history generously years later to anyone who inquired.  Speaking of history, Elizabeth lived in the family home on High Street until her death at 91 years of age, an additional 62 years after her mother passed away. Other stories that include more information on Wilhelmina (Kuhn) Scherrer’s journey are at these links:

     Three Kuhn Children Immigrated in 1857

     Katherine Kuhn Bequeaths Her Property To Wilhelmina

     The Kuhn, Risch, Scherrer Neighborhood in 1880 & 1900

     If you have other stories about Minnie, or perhaps a better photograph, I would be happy to hear from you.  Also, I am open to sharing the family history I have documented so far.  If I can assist any cousin, let me know.

Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

Nancy

 

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Passenger Lists: Martin & Katherine Kuhn’s Family – From Hessen to America in 1853, 1857 and 1862

     There’s a “boat load” of family history wrapped up in these passenger arrival records for the Kuhn family.  Difficult decisions…determination…patience…courage…  This challenging family move from Germany to America spanned nine years, 1853 - 1862.  

     Of course we can’t know exactly why the Kuhns decided to risk establishing a totally new home thousands of miles across an ocean. Surely, the decision must have involved major frustration and lose of hope in the future. Crop failures, food shortages, wars, inheritance laws, mandatory military service and rigid social class structure are a few of the strong motivations that pushed many German emigrants. When friends wrote letters describing the improved standard of living they were experiencing in America a great many disheartened people eagerly pursued that same path.
Putting the Kuhn Plan In Place
      I can imagine Martin and Kate having growing concerns. They face the bleak outlook for their seven children, five boys and two girls. The oldest child, Gottfried, is sixteen in 1850. They have concerns for his opportunities to establish himself in a trade or make a living at farming. They were probably also worried about his requirement for mandatory military service. His brother, Fred, is only four years younger and will soon be facing these same concerns. Other friends and family have left to find opportunity and freedom in the United States. It sounds like the answer to a better life for the Kuhns too. 


     Then, around 1852, the family plan comes together. Let’s say Martin and the older sons, Gottfried and Fred,  make enough money in the next year for Gottfried’s passage on a ship to America.  The plan includes him finding a job in the state of Ohio in a city called Cincinnati, where many other Germans have established themselves. Gottfried could send money home to help with the expenses for the next oldest three children, Fred, Minnie and Barney, to make the voyage in approximately four years.  After the four children are together in Ohio and find employment, they could help out by sending money for the others to join them. 
Gathering the Family In America
    The Kuhn family journey had to include numerous struggles.  For instance, it took five years after the second voyage of children for Martin and Kate to arrive with the remainder of the family. When the final family group arrives in 1862, there are a total of nine children, two being born after the oldest child left Hessen for America.    Even though we don’t have all the details, we can begin to weave together this episode of family history with what we do know.  I know the where, how and when of their trips.  And we can add a sprinkling of family lore passed along by their descendants.  After that, each one of us can imagine in our own way the scenarios for Martin, Kate, Gottfried, Fred, Minnie, Barney, Marianne, Charles, Richard and Adam. So, to start this saga moving, here are the ships’ passenger records:  
Step One:  Gottfried Kuhn arrives in New Orleans, Louisiana, 11 November 1853 on the ship Eva.
     Gottfried’s voyage took approximately six weeks from Bremen to New Orleans.  Below are images of two of the pages from the ship’s passenger list. The first page below is the beginning of the record showing the ship’s name, Eva, the port of departure and arrival, along with 45 of the passengers.  Next is a subsequent page listing Gottl. Kuhn as #65, male, age 18, farmer (see blue arrow). 
     Family history passed down through Gottfried’s descendants relates the story of the cholera and yellow fever epidemics raging in New Orleans when he arrived there.  They say that he hurried to leave New Orleans as soon as possible.  Fortunately he was not infected.  He traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to begin his life as a German-American among the many fellow countrymen there.
Passenger List, Ship Eva, 11 Nov 1853, Page 1
  Passenger List containing #65, Gottl Kuhn, Age 18, male, Farmer
Source: Ancestry.com: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902. National Archives Microfilm Publ: M259; Roll # 38.
In case your curious, at the end of this post is a link to a transcription of the passenger list from the Eva arriving 11 Nov 1853.  Also, if you would like to read about the 1853 epidemics in New Orleans, there’s  a website below.
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Step Two: Fred, Minnie and Barney leave Bremen on the Joannes on 15 May 1857 and arrive at Baltimore, MD, 27 June 1857.
     Three more members of the Kuhn family boarded a ship for America at ages 18, 15 and 12.  The first page of the passenger list below gives the ship’s name, her captain and 29 of the passengers.  The second page below includes the three Kuhn children (see blue arrows): #186, Ferdinand Kuhn, Occupation: Laborer, Age 18, From Neustadt, Whither: Cincinnati;  #187, Minna Kuhn, Age 15, Neustadt, Cincinnati; #188, Benedict Kuhn, Age 12, Neustadt, Cincinnati.
     A family story told to my Aunt Dolly Holzer by a direct descendant of Minnie Kuhn includes this chapter when these three children, traveling ahead of their parents, came to the United States.  And yet another confirming treasure, a letter from Elizabeth Scherrer, states that her mother, Minnie Kuhn Scherrer, came to U. S. in 1857 at 14 years old.
    I’ll always wonder if the choice of arrival port in Baltimore had anything to do with Gottfried’s experience with the epidemics in 1853. Maybe he advised his younger siblings to make plans to come through Baltimore instead of New Orleans.  Maybe he felt the city had better sanitation or was safer.  Just wondering!
       Kuhn Children Passenger List 1857 (2)
       Kuhn Children Passenger List 1857 (3) 
Source: Ancestry.com; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1891. Microfilm Publication M255. NARA, Wash., D.C.
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Step Three:  Martin and Katherine Kuhn and seven of their children, including my great grandfather, Charles, arrive in Baltimore, MD, 21 Aug 1862.
     Mother and father, Katherine and Martin, arrive nine years after the first child emigrated from Neustadt, Hessen. Below are two pages of the passenger arrival records for the ship Albert from Bremen when they docked in Baltimore, Maryland on 21 August 1862.  Here we learn there were 103 aliens and five citizens aboard. The Kuhns are on the second page below, steerage passengers #88 through #94, ranging in ages from 54 to 7: Martin, Anna Cath., Marianne, Jakob, Carl, Richard, Adam.  The information given for each of them is Country of Birth, Prussia; Last Residence, Neustadt; and Destination, Cincinnati.  Martin Kuhn’s occupation is indicated as weaver.  The blue arrows on the last page below point to the family.
Kuhn family on ship Albert arriving 21 Aug 1862.

Passengers #88 through 94 are the six members of the Kuhn family arriving in Baltimore, MD, 21 Aug 1862.
Source:  Ancestry.com; Baltimore Passenger Lists Indexes, 1820-1948, Ship: Albert, Arrival: 21 Aug 1862, Lines 88-94, NARA Microfilm, Wash., D. C.
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     Finally, the eleven Kuhns are in America.  In August of 1862, after nine years of work and separation, their plan to establish a new home was successful. All of the family members traveled to Cincinnati to be at one location together, at least for some period of time.   They all survived an arduous six-week trip with overcrowding and unfavorable conditions on the emigrant ships.  From this point the family history takes many interesting paths.
    Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
    Nancy

If you would like to download the above images from my Scribd account: Click Here
To learn about the port from which the three voyages above departed, Bremen/Bremerhaven, click here: http://www.maggieblanck.com/Blanck/Bremen.html
To see a transcription of the Eva’s passenger list that includes Gottfried Kuhn, click here:  http://immigrantships.net/v14/1800v14/eva18531111.html
To read about the 1853 cholera and yellow fever epidemics in New Orleans, click here: http://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/856
To learn a little about the Steerage Act of 1819 and the history of passenger trade to America, click here:  http://sunnycv.com/steve/ar/immig/steerage.html

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley





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,
Nancy

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