Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family history . . . again.

So, my two-week trial of Ancestry.com is up tomorrow, and . . . I signed up for another month.   I'm thrilled, perplexed, delighted, frustrated, confused, puzzled, and who wouldn't want to continue with that?

Seriously, it's wonderful, and I'm having a blast, along with my daughter.  It's so absorbing and addictive!  I've gotten back to the Revolutionary War on my son's tree, back to the 1700's on my daughter's tree . . . and not nearly so far on my own.  I wonder whether many records in Germany were lost during the war?  Here's what frustrates me:


This is the house my mother was born in (an apartment building, actually), at 1 Goethestrasse in Lehe, Bremerhaven, Germany.  I know this because 1) I found the address on a document of my grandfather's which listed his home address in 1926, and 2) I've seen the building with my own eyes, when I was in Germany long ago.  It is now a historically preserved building.

What frustrates me is that even with the exact name, date, location  . . . I can't find any record of her on several genealogical websites in Germany.  Nor her father, mother, grandparents -- it seems like a dead end.  I'm bummed, but I'll keep looking.

What's great, though, is being able to find stuff on the web that's really precious:

 
This is an old wooden church that is very significant in my family history:  Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ozone Park, Queens, New York.  My grandmother was baptized there in 1895, by Pastor Gustav Bates.  The next pastor was one I met:  Dr. Hugo E. Meyer.


Dr. Meyer, as almost everybody except his wife and children called him, was a herpetologist in addition to being a pastor :)  He had a collection of snakes, and I remember as a very young child, going into a shed-like kind of affair to look at the snakes.  Deliciously scary.

As time moved on, Dr. Meyer was succeeded by Rev. Ernest A. Meyer, his son.


Uncle Ernest, as he was known to almost everyone in my family, was married to my grandmother's sister, and he was a wonderful human being, tied for favorite relative of all time with my other uncle, Eric Berneburg.  Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly in his 40's, way before what should have been his time.

Anyway, back to the church:


This is the church as I remember it, and this is the church in which my father was baptized, my mother and father were confirmed, my mother as a girl would listen to my father singing in the choir, my parents were married, and I was baptized.  I remember going with my cousin through the "behind the scenes" parts of the church and loving it.  It stands there still, and I would so much like to visit it again.

 Imagine little baby me, down in front, being baptized. 

So there you have it -- I'm loving every minute of the search, except for the moments when it feels as if my head will explode. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the time to do it -- it's very satisfying.

Miss you, Uncle Ernest, and Mom, and Dad, and all Grandmas and Grandpas, and Aunt Dorothy, and and and . . . 

17 comments:

Nita Davis said...

What a wonderful and amazing adventure you are on. I wish you all the best in your search.

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

We have had a lot of fun researching our ancestry, too...so much to discover...

Linda Kittmer said...

Elise, this is such an interesting post. Good luck on your continuing search.

Danielle said...

Here are some of the links that I have bookmarked for my genealogy research...I also have a lot of New England sites I use but that is because my family came from Poland and Portugal and settled in Massachusetts. Good luck. There are always frustrating moments but the discoveries always override those!!
http://www.abcgenealogy.com/Guides/Forms_and_Charts/
http://www.unpuzzling.com/Guide%20to%20Documentation.pdf
https://www.familysearch.org/
http://www.cyndislist.com/supplies
http://usgenweb.org/
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-7050.pdf
http://www.ellisisland.org/genealogy/genealogy_sites.asp
http://www.ldsgenealogy.com/#Family_History_Centers
http://www.genealogysearch.org/free/forms.html
http://www.familytreemagazine.com/info/researchforms

Deanna said...

How fun for you to discover your roots and re-visit some of those places. Thanks for sharing, it was a delight to read!!

Jenny said...

I love that site, too!

It is very addictive, though.

How neat to see where your Mother was born.

That is a gorgeous building, isn't it?

LadyD Piano said...

We have some family historians in the family. I'm learning about cousins twice removed! :=) Thanks for sharing this interesting post with us.

Nancy Claeys said...

I've done a little digging around my family tree in the past -- but nothing like this. I'm excited for you that you are able to trace your lineage back so far. :)

Mary said...

That is great to find people..I think the links, stories and information is amazing.

Anne said...

It's always fun tracing our roots, going down memory lane and revisiting how things used to be.

Haven't heard from you in a while. Glad you're back.

Ms. Becky said...

You're in the midst of an adventure Elise! what fun being able to trace your ancestry back that far. That website is a wonderful tool for researching family history. I understand how it can leave you frustrated, delighted, thrilled, etc. It's a bit like reading a novel, only it's your own life story that has you captivated! happy week to you.

Buckeroomama said...

Good luck with going further back in your family's history. I have an uncle who is into tracing back our family's history and it all makes for interesting reading.

Thank you for your kind comments on my blog. :)

MarieElizabeth said...

It is so much more interesting when you have success like this. What fun. I'm sure you will find more on the German side eventually. Love that apt building, so gorgeous!

Friko said...

It shouldn't be too difficult to find records in Germany. Surely efficiency and order are the two words that spring to mind most often when thinking of Germans.

It's unlikely that archives of the time you are writing about have got lost.

Happy hunting. I want t do similar stuff myself.

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, everyone! Friko, I'm wondering whether the records were in buildings that were bombed during the war?? I don't know -- I'll keep looking. It's just odd that I can't find a public record of even one of my relatives, on both my grandmother's and grandfather's sides --

Tricia said...

My son, begs and begs me to sign up for Ancestry.com. The thing is that a lot of our family tree has already been compiled though and I feel like I would get all engrossed in investigating the past that I'd be at the computer even more than I am now! My ancestors were German too, but many of them moved to Russia. Perhaps that's your situation too.

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, Tricia -- yes, it is absorbing, but perhaps you could do it together with your son? My daughter (age 15) is completely captivated by it, and the time we spend doing it together is quality time, I think.

On the subject of German relatives, I learned in my investigations that a lot of records were kept in churches, so I have to figure out which church my grandparents went to in Bremerhaven. I have a picture with the church in it from the 60's; and there's street view on Google maps . . .