Many of you might be wondering right now where the third installment in my Geneteka tutorial is. I’d planned on posting it today, but then, life threw me a curve ball. The curve ball came in the form of some genealogy research that my friend and colleague, Marcel Elias, completed for me today in the Diocesan Archive in Fulda, Germany. Since Fulda is a little out of the way for Marcel, I’d asked him to get to the work when he had time, but we hadn’t established a particular time frame. Well, Marcel decided to surprise me with the research today — and I’m thrilled!
Now, this isn’t going to be a post with a whole lot of intensive analysis of genealogical data. Nope, this is just me being incredibly excited about having a whole lot of “new” ancestors to get to know. Presumably you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t care about genealogy, so maybe you can relate. For me, each new surname is a cause for celebration. Who knew I was descended from Orths, and Daubes, and Rieds, and Krählings? Not to mention the Schicks, Jacobis and Lauers that appear on the second page?
Each given name is exciting, even when half of them are Johann, Maria, or Elisabetha. Marcel hasn’t had a chance to send me the records yet, so right now, I’m just pondering the GEDCOM file he sent, which I’ve already merged into my existing family tree, along with a few notes he jotted to me on the train on his way home. Things like, “Once upon a time, there was a mill in Roßdorf called Seemühle. And a family Wagner/Wagener operated it. Hence their nickname Seemüller…. the mill your ancestors operated worked already in 1361. But I don’t know if your family was there.” He also mentioned that the records themselves are in Latin, rather than German. I feel like I dodged a bullet there, because German is still a struggle for me, but the amount of Latin required to read typical church vital records is pretty minimal.
One of the best parts about all this research is that it proves that I was right. Researching immigrant ancestors is such a thrill for me because making that jump across the Atlantic can be quite a challenge. Finding the right records with the right clues, wrestling with misspelled place names, hypothesizing about what the ancestral village must be, and then determining the parish which would serve that village, are all part of the game. But until one finds one’s ancestors in records from the hypothesized location, the whole house of cards could come tumbling down. In this case, I nailed it — the village of Roßdorf, near Amöneburg, Germany — so I’m savoring the sweetness of the victory.
I’ve written about my Wagners previously, and in that last post, I concluded, “Although the evidence looks pretty good at this point, the identification of the Wagners’ ancestral village must be considered tentative until we find mention of them in the church records for Roßdorf.” And so it was, until today.
The beautiful thing about this piece of research is that there can be no doubt that this is the right family, even with an exceptionally popular German surname like Wagner. All the parts add up so perfectly. My great-great-grandfather, Henry Wagner (shown in dark green in the first image), was known from U.S. sources to have been born circa 15 December 1829 to parents Johann Heinrich “John Henry” Wagner and Maria Anna Nau. All three of them immigrated to the U.S. circa 1853, along with three of Henry’s siblings, John, August, and Gertrude. Since John Henry and Maria Anna immigrated as well, there was some evidence from U.S. records for their year of birth, in addition to just their names. This evidence suggested that Johann Heinrich and Maria Anna were each born circa 1803.
The records that Marcel located show that Henry Wagner, baptized Carl Heinrich, was born 16 December 1829 to Johann Heinrich Wagner, who was himself born 27 July 1803, and Maria Anna Nau, who was born 18 January 1803. The pieces just don’t come together any better than that. And they were all right there in the village of Roßdorf, exactly where they were supposed to be. It makes me so happy when all the evidence fits.
So, I hope you’ll forgive me if I got a little off-track with the final installment of my Geneteka tutorial. There’s been a whole lot of celebrating going on in the Szczepankiewicz house today, because my ancestors who were lost to the mists of time are lost no more. Thanks for all your hard work, Marcel, and to all those waiting on that Geneteka tutorial — thanks for your patience.
© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2018