Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mrs. Knight and the Whalehead Club

By all accounts Marie Louise Josephine LeBel was a trailblazer...a woman who loved to hunt, and according to some, was "a foul-mouthed, hard drinking woman, who thought nothing of killing a neighbor's dog with a shot from her pearl-handled pistol."[1]

Marie Louise Josephine (LeBel) Knight; courtesy of Find A
Grave volunteer Doc Wilson

Since 2003 visitors to the Outer Banks of North Carolina know her as the second wife of Edward Collings Knight, Jr., who built the magnificent Beaux Arts home known as the Whalehead Club for her after she was denied membership to all the hunt clubs along Currituck Sound because she was a woman. Currituck County was one of the premier waterfowl hunting regions along the east coast. Before hunting regulations, men often bagged several hundred birds in a day.

Whalehead Club circa 2002; courtesy of

The father of Marie Louise's husband developed the Knight sleeping car, a company he eventually sold to George Pullman. These railroad cars became known as Pullmans. His son was heir to a great sugar refining and shipping fortune and he was adept at spending that fortune. The Whalehead Club cost $383,000 and three years to build. All of the materials were shipped by barge from Norfolk, Virginia. According to Outer Banks Architecture: An Anthology of Outposts, Lodges, and Cottages, written by Marimar McNaughton, the "cottage" had a reinforced steel I-beam frame, a sixteen-room basement, an electric generator, a coal-fired furnace, steam radiators, an Otis elevator, a dumb-waiter, fresh and salt running water, brass pipes, and lead drains. It was approximately 23,000 square feet. The Knights only lived at the Whalehead Club during the autumn and winter months. They had an apartment in the Plaza Hotel in New York City and a summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island.

Edward Collings Knight, Jr. died on 23 July 1936 in Newport. His wife, Marie Louise, died several months later on 29 October also in Newport. In her will (a transcription is available on North Carolina GenWeb), she left her estate to Edward's granddaughters by his first wife, Dorothy Colford de Sibert and Clara D. Doreau. They were married and living in Europe and had no use for the Whalehead Club.

Over the years, the house became a private school for boys, a Coast Guard training station during World War II, and was later owned by Atlantic Research Corp. and used to test fuel for rockets. In the 1980s a group of investors purchased the Whalehead Club and planned to turn it into a golf resort. However, they lost $12 million in the savings and loan scandal before work could start. In 1992 Currituck County bought the house and several acres around it for $2.2 million. Restoration was completed in 2003 and the house and grounds are now open to the public for a nominal entrance fee.

My cousins and I discovered the Whalehead Club in 1984. We were vacationing several miles down the banks in Southern Shores and heard about a seafood festival in Corolla. We had to go. At that time, the road to Corolla was usually closed to the public and could only be accessed by residents with a permit. My family had been coming to the Outer Banks since I was five years old and I was dying to learn what was "up the banks" beyond Sanderling. After attending the festival, we continued up the road and, lo and behold, saw the Whalehead Club for the first time.

Whalehead Club, 1984; photograph taken by my cousin, Constance Jean Hudson

We wandered all around it and found an open window. Who could resist?

Whalehead Club kitchen, 1984; personal collection

My cousins in Marie Louise Knight's bedroom, 1984; personal collection

Marimar McNaughton's book described the bedroom, " on the southwest corner for Mrs. Knight, the other on the northwest corner for Mr. Knight. Both rooms offered views of Currituck Sound through glass doors that led to an open balcony on the west elevation. Each room had a fireplace. Mrs. Knight's mantel and surround were carved wood in a leafy anthemion pattern..."

In 2003 my entire family (parents, siblings and their spouses, and nephews) rented a house in Nags Head. One rainy day Mom, my husband and I drove up to Corolla and toured the Whalehead Club. I took photographs of many of the architectural and decorative aspects of the house.

Water lilies carved in the door frame, 2003; personal collection

Tiffany wall sconces, 2003; personal collection

Again, from Marimar McNaughton's book, "The sixteen Tiffany wall sconces -- eight in the dining room and eight in the grand hall -- had brass bases with white and green globes also inspired by the water lily. The waterlily motif continued in the custom furniture; it was hand-carved into the legs of the dining room table and across the facade of the breakfast sideboard. These and the Steinway are the only authentic furnishings and fixtures in the house today."

The Steinway piano, original to the house, 2003; personal collection

The piano was custom built for Mrs. Knight in 1903 and moved to the Whalehead Club in the 1920s. It was restored in 1995. I have a photograph from 1984 when my cousins and me took our private tour of the piano but I cannot find it at this time.

How many of you have visited the Whalehead Club during your Outer Banks vacations? I'd love to hear your story.

[1]"Built for spite, saved for grace," The Baltimore Sun, 9 June 2000 (accessed 13 March 2016)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Administrative Divisions of Poland: Why Knowing Is Important

In order to research in the government archives of a country for which I do not speak the language, I need to understand how the country organized for administrative and legal purposes. Often, the archives are organized in an identical or similar manner. My mother's ancestors lived in eastern Europe in what is today Poland and Ukraine. Many of the civil records about her ancestors are housed in the archives of those two countries. So I needed to get smarter about how those countries are administratively organized.

When we enter a place name into our family tree for an ancestor who lived in the United States, we would enter it [Municipality, County, State, Country] if we followed genealogical standards, for example:

Raleigh, Wake, North Carolina, United States

Poland is actually organized in a very similar fashion.

Gminas are municipalities or communes. Powiats are counties. Voivodeships are provinces (similar to states). Administrative authority at the voivodeship, or province level, is shared between a governor appointed by the central government, an elected assembly (similar to state legislatures), and an executive chosen by that assembly.

The 16 voivodeships of Poland; map courtesy of Wikipedia

My great grandfather was born in:

Maliniec, Kolo, Wielkopolskie, Polska

Now when I am searching the Polish archives, I know how to navigate.

Polish Roots (links and descriptions of archive holdings)
Central Archives of Historical Records

Ukraine is a little more complicated so I will save that for another day.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Worldwide Genealogy: 12-Step Program for New Online Collections

Today is my once every two-month day to collaborate on Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration with a post.

I recently learned that FamilySearch had a collection of Ohio death certificates for 1908 through 1953. This was news to me so I wanted to take maximum advantage of the collection. To do so, I have a workflow I use when I discover new online collections that may be relevant to my genealogy research.

My 12-step process for taking maximum advantage of new online document collections;
created using Microsoft Powerpoint

Preparation Steps

These are important steps for saving time and creating efficiency. They let me target specific individual, eliminate duplicate entries, and improve my knowledge of the availability of online sources.

Searching and Recording Steps

These are the actual "meat" of the process. The order of Steps 6 through 11 is just my personal preference. I find I get in a rhythm of search, discover, switch browser windows or tabs, record findings, etc. If I add too many different steps, I lose my rhythm and make mistakes. (I'm a terrible dancer, too!)

Wrapping-up Steps

These steps enable me to easily pick up where I left off if I have to end my research for the day. By updating my custom report of people with new findings, I can easily record where I stopped if I run out of time. I prefer to create source citation creations for many documents from one repository all at once (as it has its own unique rhythm). But it's totally up to you!

To learn more about each step, I hope you'll click over to my post at Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Polish Partitions

Some of you may remember the song, "(What a) Wonderful World," written Sam Cooke:

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took

I've found it's hard to put my ancestors' lives into context without knowing and understanding history. I'm still working on my French. <smile> I won't mention biology and science; they weren't positive school experiences.

Here's an example of why I find knowing the history so important. I thank my European history instructors everyday. And I read...a lot. My husband is continually amazed at the odd titles of old, used books that arrive by mail.

Marcin, or Martin, Schalin was my four times great grandfather. He was born about 1770 and married Anna Dorothea Rosno on 11 May 1791. They settled in a village known as Maliniec. If you wanted to find it on the map today, you would need to search for Maliniec, Kolo, Wojewodztwo Wielkopolskie, Polska. Four generations of the Schalin family lived in this village until Gottlieb and his family moved farther east between 1861 and 1863. The Schalin family considered themselves German. They spoke German for much of their history. In fact, Gottlieb's granddaughter and her husband spoke only German until the early 1920s when their oldest daughter went to school in Maryland and could speak no English.

When I began my family history research, I asked myself why did a German family live in Poland. It turns out for much of the time they lived in Maliniec Poland didn't exist at all.

Map of the three partitions of Poland, 1772-1795, courtesy of Wikipedia
and edited using Microsoft Powerpoint

In 1569 the Union of Lubin created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which included modern day Ukraine, led by elected kings. The period between 1648 through 1764 saw the decline of the commonwealth as a result of several foreign invasions and internal disorder. One such invasion resulted in the first partition of Poland in 1772 when Austria, Prussia and Russia took about 30 percent of the country and added it to their dominions. What was left of Poland became known as the First Polish Republic. Russia did not want to see a rebirth of a strong country on its border and invaded in May 1792.  Poland capitulated in 1793 and the country was partitioned again -- this time by only Prussia and Russia. Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a popular general and veteran of the American Revolution was chosen as Poland's leader. He issued a national proclamation in 1794 calling for a national uprising under his command. Austria, Prussia, and Russia gobbled up what remained of Poland the next year, erasing the country from the map until 1807 when Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw from lands ceded by Prussia. After Napoleon was defeated the Kingdom of Poland, or Congress Poland, was established in 1815 in a personal under the Russian tsar. Technically, however, there was no sovereign Polish state until 1918.

We do not know where Marcin Schalin was born but we know he lived in Poland by 1791 and the family remained in the same village until sometime between 1861 and 1863. So during the that time, without moving, the Schalin family lived in:
  • Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (included modern day Belarus and Ukraine) (1569-1795)
  • Prussia Partition (1793-1807) (Prussia called this area South Prussia)
  • Grand Duchy of Warsaw (in personal union with king of Saxony) (1807-1815)
  • Kingdom of Poland, informally known as Congress Poland (in personal union with tsar of Russia) (1815-1867)
According to Albert W. Wardin, Jr.'s book, Gottfired F. Alf: Pioneer of the Baptist Movement in Poland, "The Kingdom of Poland was a strange construction. Its king was the tsar of Russia, who held strong executive powers. At first the kingdom possessed a rather liberal constitution that provided for an assembly, civil service, judicial system, and Army. The constitution also granted personal liberties, including religious tolerance. The Polish population was, by and large, hostile toward its Russian overlords. As a result of the Polish uprising of 1830-31, the kingdom came under full Russian control. Its constitution was destroyed and its assembly and army disbanded. The Russian regime curtailed civil rights and Polish institutions. After another uprising in 1863-64, the Russian government abolished the Kingdom of Poland, calling it Vistula Land, and completely subordinated it under Russian administration."

The Russian tsar freed the serfs in 1861, as a result much land became available in what is today Volyn', Ukraine, then known as the Russian Partition. Is it any wonder the Schalin family moved to the greener pastures of that vast eastern European plain, which has been known as the bread basket of Europe.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Ludwig Breakthrough: The Life of Johann Jacob Baerg

Continued from The Ludwig Breakthrough: Reporting from Brazil

As I learned more about Mom's second cousin match whose mother was Ida Missal, a niece of my great grandmother Caroline (Ludwig) Lange, I learned their branch of the family had married into the Baerg family. And what an interesting family they turned out to be.

The Baerg family considered themselves Dutch and almost always listed that nationality on various documents in which they appeared in several countries. I first found them in Canada where they had married into my Ludwig line. As I worked backwards, I was in for another whirlwind tour of the globe thanks in large part to Johann Jacob Baerg, who was born on 15 November 1886 in Klippenfeld, or Molonochnoye, Russia. If we were looking for it on a map today, we would search for Molochansk, Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine. At the time Johann was born, however, Klippenfeld was a village considered part of the Mennonite Molotschna Colony.

Johann's parents were Jacob Wilhelm Baerg and Anna Thiessen. Jacob's name appeared in several of the colony records. As did that of Jacob's father Gerhard Wilhelm Baerg. They had been attracted to the region by Tsarina Catherine the Great when she appealed to farmers from the low country and Germany to settle in the vast, empty steppes of Ukraine. In return, she promised freedom of religion, exemption from Russian military service, monetary loans and more. After sending scouts to meet with government officials and survey the land, over 200 Mennonite families migrated to southeastern Ukraine. The first colony they established in 1789 was Chortitza, known as the Old Colony.

Old Mennonite barn in the Molotschna Colony area of Ukraine; courtesy of the
Mennonite Archival Image Database

Another wave of immigrants founded the Molotschna Colony in 1803 on the Molochna River east of the Dnieper. By 1860 there were over 60 villages and hamlets associated with the colony. These settlers were generally more prosperous than those of the Old Colony and for many life was good. However, in 1870, the Mennonites of Russia were no longer exempt from state service. This began a wave of emigration, mostly to the United States and Canada, which accelerated after the Bolshevik Revolution and World War I.

Lighthouse on Isla de Sacrifcios, an island in the Gulf of Mexico near the
port in Veracruz City; image courtesy of eBay

Johann Jacob Baerg's grandparents made their way to Riga, the capital of what is now Latvia and sailed via Hamburg and Glasgow to Rosthern, a Mennonite settlement in Saskatchewan, Canada. His parents left two years later and settled in Winnipeg, Canada. Johan chose a differently. He and his wife, Susanna Penner and six children, sailed to Veracruz, Mexico, arriving on 19 August 1926. They settled in Durango, Mexico, where Johann Jacob farmed. They would have two more children in Mexico, the youngest died as an infant.

Johan Jacob Baerg Family 1926-1927; image made using Google Maps and
Microsoft Powerpoint

In February of 1927 Johann and his family undertook an arduous trip of nearly 2,300 miles to visit his parents in Winnipeg. Records exist of their Mexco-U.S. border crossing at El Paso, Texas, and their U.S.-Canada border crossing at Noyes, Minnesota. It is from those records we know that Johann Jacob Baerg was about 5 feet 11 inches tall with a fair complexion, blonde hair and blue eyes.

Eventually, Johann and his wife, Susanna, moved to Canada. He died on 23 March 1964 at the Chilliwack General Hospital of heart disease. He was interred in Greendale Cemetery in Chilliwack, Canada. His wife, Susanna "Susan" (Penner) Baerg died on 22 July 1970 also at Chilliwack General Hospital. She is interred beside her husband.

Both of their death certificates indicated they had lived in Canada since 1927 yet two daughters were born after that date in Mexico. So that is one little mystery still to be resolved.


The Ludwig Breakthough: Reporting from Brazil
The Ludwig Breakthrough: DNA and Chocolates
The Ludwig Breakthrough: Discovering Some Great Greats

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Ludwig Breakthrough: Reporting from Brazil

Continued from The Ludwig Breakthrough: DNA and Chocolates

After entering the new information about Mom's second cousin DNA match into my tree so I could begin to look for source documents, I noticed Gottfried Ludwig and Ernestine Irrgang, my great great grandparents, now had hints. Those hints led to the same public family tree created by one other person who had Gottfried and Ernestine in their tree!

A closer examination of their tree revealed another daughter named Pauline Ludwig. This brought the total to possible children to three: my great grandmother, Caroline; "Daughter" Ludwig (now known to be Juliane), grandmother of Mom's new second cousin match; and Pauline. Apparently, she married Andreas Assenheimer somewhere in Volhynia. Their eldest child, Olga, was born there about 1908. Sometime before 1914, the family immigrated to Brazil!

Andreas and Pauline (Ludwig) Assenheimer family group; image courtesy

As I continued to review this tree, I discovered the family likely immigrated to Porto Alegre the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil sometime between 1908 and 1914 based on the birth dates and locations of their children.

Porto Alegre, Brazil, circa 1850 about fifty to sixty years before the Assenheimer
family arrived; image courtesy of Wikipedia

The majority of the population of Rio Grande do Sul are Brazilians of European descent. First came the Portuguese, but in 1824 German immigrants began arriving. They were brought over to populate the empty southern interior region of the state and to help protect that area from Brazil's neighbors. By the 1870s there were over 28,000 German immigrants living in the state.

After learning a tiny bit about this region of Brazil, it did not seem outside the realm of possibility that the Assenheimer family would go there on the eve of World War I. I still have much to do before I can confirm that Pauline Ludwig was a daughter of "my" Gottfried Ludwig and Ernestine Irrgang. But a check of the master pedigree database developed by the Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe (SGGEE) does include the same mother and father of Andreas Assenheimer, the husband listed in this tree of Pauline Ludwig. So we are off to a good start.

Getting serious about researching my eastern European ancestors has required a great deal of study and I still have much to learn. I think I'll set aside this Brazilian family aside for now as I will need to learn about the history of the country, the type of records that are available, and so much more. Discovering Pauline Ludwig was exciting, though.

Update: Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to put this family aside, I couldn't do it. I looked on the SGGEE website again and discovered an index for Russian records. A Pauline Ludwig was born 14 December 1878 but died on 9 August 1880. So either another daughter was born later and married Andreas Assenheimer or the public tree on Ancestry is incorrect and its creator, Pauline's great granddaughter, has misidentified her.

To be continued...


The Ludwig Breakthrough: DNA and Chocolates
The Ludwig Breakthrough: Discovering Some Great Greats

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Memories of Grandma Jennings

In honor of what would have been the 110th birthday of my grandmother, Alice (Muir) Jennings, I am crossing posting my memories of her from the soon-to-be-published book, The Descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869): Volume VII: James Muir (1848-1926) Descendants. It also appeared on the Robert Muir Family blog on 12 October 2015:

Alice was my paternal grandmother and the only grandparent who lived past my fifth year. She was a great grandmother and loved to spend time with her grandchildren of whom she was very proud. She took me on my first airplane trip when I was nine years old and we went on several trips together.

Alice (Muir) Jennings, "Grandma Jennings," personal

I spent a lot of time at her home on Carr's Creek in Deale Beach, Maryland, after she retired. We used to go to Amish farmers' markets to buy fresh bread and other goodies. She would often take me to the local amusement parks at several Cheasapeake Bay towns. Once I decided I was brave enough to ride the small rollercoaster, which was made of wood. I was the only passenger. It was fun in the beginning, but after that first downhill, I wanted off. The ride operator was determined I would ride to the drop-off zone. Grandma was determined he would stop the ride immediately. She won and walked along those wooden tracks to the back of the ride to carry me back to safety.

Alice (Muir) Jennings at my first condo c1980; personal collection

Dad kept a small flat-bottomed row boat at Grandma's and we used to row all over the creek. Once when my cousin, Joyce, and I, took Grandma for a boat ride, I dumped her in the creek as we were tying up to the pier. Poor thing! She was covered in black, sticky mud. We would set out crab pots and crab all week, keeping our catch in a live box. Then when our parents came down on the weekend, Grandma would steam the crabs and we would have a picnic feast.

Grandma Jennings with my brother, Ted, at my wedding, 1988;
personal collection

Grandma loved to play cards. When she started wintering in Florida, she would bring a new card game back home every spring. Our family played that game until she returned from Florida the next year until she came back with a new game. Slot machines used to be legal in Maryland when I was a kid. The local restaurant we patronized had one or two machines. You had to be an adult to play. So Grandma fed the machine and I pulled the arm. We were so tickled when "we" won something.

Grandma Jennings with her first great grandson, 1984;
personal collection

Grandma took me to Williamsburg for several days when I was in elementary school. We toured through several of the buildings and had a fine time until we went to the Weatherby Tavern. I fainted in the tap room and Grandma's yelling brought me around. She had organized the entire tour group to carry me outside. We decided to return to her home after that and she drove halfway there with her left blinker on. No wonder so many cars pulled out in front of us!

She took Joyce and I on a Caribbean cruise when we were in our mid-20s. Grandma's half-sister, Henrietta Muir, joined us and we had a delightful time. Most of the time Grandma and Aunt Hen stayed aboard and gambled while Joyce and I took in the sights in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Mexico. At our fist stop, however, Grandma and Aunt Hen joined us. We took a cab through Port au Prince, Haiti. At the time, there were few if any sidewalks and the streets extended from building to building. Drivers were completely blind as they approached intersections with no traffic lights. They would toot their horn and if there was no reply, they would proceed. If a return toot was heard, drivers stopped. Grandma was not a fan of this system!

Left to right: Henrietta Muir, Grandma Jennings, Joyce Jennings, and me
aboard the Boheme in 1984; personal collection

She also loved to dance! Unfortunately, only her oldest son did as well. She found her outlet at local senior centers where ever she lived.

She was a great Grandma and is still much missed today.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Ludwig Breakthrough: DNA and Chocolates

Continued from The Ludwig Breakthrough: Finding Some Great Greats

Sometimes DNA matches are like that box of chocolates Forest Gump's mother talked about in the iconic movie of the same name. The scantiest information coupled with a DNA match can lead to great things.

My Mom graciously provided a DNA sample for testing in 2013 less than a year before she died. When the results came back, they were disappointing, but not unexpectedly so. Mom's ethnicity is 64 percent Europe East and 26 percent Great Britain. The surprise is the amount of Great Britain ethnicity. We expected it to be much lower or non-existent. Figuring out that mystery is a story for another day.

My mother's ethnicity map; image courtesy of AncestryDNA

Mom also had three shared matches and that was the disappointing part. Those three matches were her children -- my two siblings and me. She was very pleased to have proof we were her children though!

I was able to figure out two matches without a shared ancestor, but both of them were on her maternal Schalin side of the family. Thanks to the book, Our Schalin Family -- 1770-2003, written by cousin, Lucille (Fillenberg) Effa, we knew enough about this part of Mom's tree to identify some third and fourth cousin matches. 

I would review Mom's DNA matches every few months to see if I could make any headway with the new ones I received. Usually, they were distant cousins and I knew I had no hope identifying them. Image my surprise when a second cousin match appeared! I was crestfallen, though, when I opened up the match and saw three people.

Family tree of Mom's only second cousin DNA match; image courtesy of

The Lade and Missal surnames did not sound familiar but I checked my tree for them, as well as any variations, and came up empty. I was so disappointed, but I sent a message to the owner of the DNA match and hoped for a replay. Weeks passed.

One morning I was deeply involved in creating a timeline when the phone rang. I answered it without bothering to look at CallerID, something I rarely do. But I am so glad I did. A gentleman introduced himself and said he was the DNA match. He was 85 years old and could not remember his maternal grandmother's given name. Only that her maiden was Ludwig. As we talked about the Lange/Ludwig family, I learned that my grandfather's younger brother, Richard Lange, had paid for Mom's DNA match to immigrate to Canada after World War II. So we had two points of connection and I surmised Mom's paternal grandmother, Caroline Ludwig had a sister, who I affectionately named "Daughter Ludwig" in my tree.

A second phone call a month later, after Mom's DNA match had spoken with his older sister in Germany, revealed more details. Daughter Ludwig was Juliane Ludwig, who married Emil Missal. They had six children, one of which was Ida Missal, who married Friedrich "Fritz" Lade. They were the parents of my Mom's DNA match. He was born in 1930; joined the Hitler Youth at age 14 to defend Germany and was taken prisoner by the Russians in 1945. Two years later, he joined the East German police force but escaped to West Germany in 1949.

I am struck by the differences in the lives of my Mom and her second cousin, which I put down to the fact her father decided to immigrate before World War I and her cousin not until 1952.

To be continued...


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Ludwig Breakthrough: Finding Some Great Greats

When I took over our family's genealogy research from my Dad a few years ago, all I knew about my maternal grandfather, Gustav Lange, were the names of his parents and siblings and some vital fact dates.

Family Group Sheet for Carl August Lange, my great grandfather; created
using Microsoft Excel

In the spring of 2015 I got my first breakthrough with the help of the husband of one of Mom's second cousins once removed, who pointed me in the direction of a microfilm collection which included the registration of the marriage between Carl August and Caroline Ludwig. That lovely record provided their ages, their parents, names, where they lived and where they married. I was back another generation!

New information added to the Family Group Sheet for Carl August Lange

After entering the information from Carl and Caroline's marriage registration, the excitement of finding their marriage registration faded. I was stuck again. It was time to join the Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe (SGGEE). From the SGGEE website:

"The Society is devoted to the study of those people with German ancestry (most often of the Lutheran, Baptist, or Moravian Brethren faiths) who lived in present-day Poland and northwestern Ukraine. Special emphasis is placed on those who lived in the pre-WWI province of Volhynia and on the pre-WWI region of central and eastern modern Poland known as Russian Poland or Congress Poland."

The region described on the SGGEE website is where my mother's maternal ancestors lived before immigrating to Canada. I learned after discovering the marriage registration for Mom's paternal grandparents that it was also the geographic "hotspot" for the Lange/Ludwig families.

Birth and marriage locations for Mom's ancestors in Congress Poland (now
Poland and Ukraine); map made using Google Maps and Microsoft Powerpoint

The green squares are the birth locations of my great grandfather, Wilhelm Schalin, and where he registered the birth of one of his daughters in 1892. According, to her birth registration, the family lived in a small town that has not yet been located. I assume it is at least somewhere near where her father registered her birth. The red squares are the birth locations of my great grandparents, Carol August Lange and Caroline Ludwig, and where they were married in 1886.

To be continued...

NOTE: I use current place names when entering facts into my family tree. I enter the place name at the time the event occurred in the description field. In this way, I can map the movements of my ancestors, who on Mom's side, at least, seemed to have itchy feet and liked to wander. 

The Sibling Problem

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Army Campaign Streamers

Today would have been my father-in-law's 98th birthday. In honor of his life and military service during World War II with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division, I am starting an occasional series about what I have learned while researching his military service, which I have been doing for nearly 30 years. Today I'm describing Army campaign streamers. If you have visited a museum of a color-bearing Army organization, you've probably seen some of them.

Campaign streamers are ribbons that hang from the top of a military color-bearing unit's flag staff. Each streamer (2-3/4 inches by 4-feet long) is embroidered with the designation of a campaign and the year in which it occurred. The Army flag currently has 189 ribbons commemorating all of the campaigns in which the service fought since its founding in 1775. Individual color-bearing elements of the Army's organization are privileged to add streamers to their flags for each campaign in which they fought.

The concept of campaign streamers became popular in the Civil War when several Army organizations embroidered the names of battles on their organizational colors. This practice was replaced when Army units were authorized to place silver bands, engraved with the names of battles, around their flag staffs. American Expeditionary Force units in World War I were unable to obtain these silver bands so General Pershing authorized the use of small ribbons bearing the names of World War I operations. In 1921 all color-bearing Army organizations were authorized to use the campaign streamers currently used today.

Army flag with campaign streamers; source unknown

Each war or conflict includes a different number of streamers depending on how many campaigns comprised it and each war has a different ribbon design. The design of the streamers are also used for the campaign medals and ribbons soldiers are awarded. The specific names of the campaigns are embroidered on the ribbon.

World War II European Theater of Operations (green/brown) campaign streamers;
photograph courtesy of the 63rd Infantry Division

The complete list of Army campaign streamers, along with an image of the ribbon design, may be found here:
  • Revolutionary War (16 streamers)
  • War of 1812 (6 streamers)
  • Mexican War (10 streamers)
  • Civil War (25 streamers)
  • Indian Wars (14 streamers)
  • War with Spain (3 streamers)
  • China Relief Expedition (3 streamers)
  • Philippine Insurrection (11 streamers)
  • Mexican Expedition (1 streamer)
  • World War I (13 streamers)
  • World War II (38 streamers)
  • Korean War (10 streamers)
  • Vietnam War (17 streamers)
  • Armed Forces Expeditions (4 streamers)
  • Southwest Asia (3 streamers)
  • Kosovo (2 streamers)
  • War on Terrorism (13 streamers)
My father-in-law's division earned five campaign streamers during World War II:
  • Normandy
  • Northern France
  • Ardennes-Alsace
  • Rhineland
  • Central Europe
I began trying to collect the streamers several years ago and pretty easily was able to collect the first four streamers. However, Central Europe proved a challenge. A few weeks ago a seller on eBay offered that streamer and had a Buy It Now Button (love that thing!). I've cleaned the ribbons and am having them framed now as a gift to my husband.

World War II European Theater of Operations Central Europe campaign
streamer; image courtesy of

If you are interested in learning more information about your ancestor's Army service, then the Center for Military History is a good website to visit. If you want to read something informative buy quite dry, Army Regulation 600-8-22: Military Awards will explain campaign streamers in exhaustive detail.

NOTE: My third cousin once removed, Haskins Thomas Farrar, served in 10th Infantry, 5th Infantry Division. He died on 19 November 1944. A previous post, Fortress Metz and the 5th Infantry Division, told his story.

I have written about my father-in-law's war experiences: Historic WWII Assault Crossing of the Rhine River, They Called It Ireland, and When Things Went Sour on the Sauer.

To read all my posts related to World War II, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Ancestor Score and 500th Post

Cathy Meder-Dempsey, author of Opening Doors in Brick Walls, introduced me to the Ancestor Score method of measuring your genealogy research achievements.

My Dad was our family genealogist for nearly 20 years. He started his research pre-Internet and continued until his health made continuing the research more difficult in about 2002. I didn't realize he had nearly stopped researching until November 2012 when he had a massive cerebral hemorrhage that required months of brutal physical, occupational and speech therapy followed by 24-hour by 7-days a week care.

When he and Mom moved into an assisted living facility in May 2013, I brought all Dad's genealogy files home and took over the research.

My Ancestor Score, as best as I can remember it at that time.

My Ancestor Score in 2013; created using Microsoft Excel

To be fair to Dad, he did not work on Mom's side of the tree as her father was an immigrant and had a very common German surname and a book had recently been written about her mother's side of the family to which Mom and Dad contributed.

His big brick wall was his paternal grandmother, Effie (Beard) Jennings (1871-1906). He learned her maiden name in 2001 but knew nothing else about her. My research goals are not necessarily to push our family tree back further into time, but rather to tell Dad stories about our ancestors so he knows his research continues. But this year I did make a commitment to learn more about Mom's father's side of the tree. I joined the Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe and hired researchers in Poland to help me. There have been some early successes! So tracking my Ancestor Score made sense.

My Ancestor Score as of 6 February 2015, the third anniversary of this blog;
created using Microsoft Excel

This is also my 500th Tangled Roots and Trees post!

Friday, March 4, 2016

"Oh, Come on! We Can Look"

When my Polish researchers sent me a marriage license for the daughter of my four times great grandfather Marcin (or Martin) Schalin, it was new information. I hadn't previously known about Anna Rosina Schalin. I learned she married Christoph Arnholtz on 24 January 1816 in Maliniec, Kolo, Wielkopolskie, Poland. That sent me to the Master Pedigree Database maintained by the Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe (SGGEE) to see if Anna and Christoph were included and found them. The database indicated they had a son, also named Christoph, born about 1826 in Police, Kolo, Wielkopolska, Poland.

Son Christoph married Anna Rosalie Buech on an unknown date and they had three known children. Then the trail ran cold at SGGEE. However, after entering the names and birth dates into my family tree, I discovered their son, Carl Ludwig Arnholtz's wife, Rosalie Juliane Schechinger, lived with her son, Adam, and his family in Strathcona, Alberta, Canada in 1911. There was no mention of her husband, Carl Ludwig, on the census form, even though it indicated she was married. I found the passenger list for Adam's family but not his mother, who did not appear to travel with him. Adam immigrated to Canada aboard the S/S Bremen in 1907, leaving Bremen, Germany on 11 May and arriving in Quebec on 22 May.

Adam wasn't the only son to leave Russia. His brother Friedrich, still single, also left and settled in Portland, Oregon, about the same time according to his naturalization papers. Once in the United States, he went by Fred. He married Ernestine "Tinnie" Ganske sometime before 1912. They had six children children, including daughters Esther Nettie and Evelyn Mae who married two brothers named George and Raymond Rueck.

In 1987 a long article about George and Raymond, their spouses, and three other siblings and their spouses was published in The Oregonian on 10 April entitled, "Commitment upholds long-lived Rueck marriages." When Raymond and Evelyn (Arnholtz) Rueck celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary that year, they became the fifth Rueck sibling to pass the half-century mark.

Five Rueck siblings and their spouses; article courtesy of the Oregon
Historical Society

There was one passage in the article that made me laugh out loud:

Another reason the five marriages has [sic] lasted is, Ella May Rueck said, "We don't have our eyes on other men."

"Oh, come on! We can look!" joked Evelyn (Arnholtz) Rueck.

I just loved her sense of humor; she reminded me of my Dad and his telling his children after we were married we could look but couldn't touch. It was Rule No. 1. Another one of his adages was, "Just because I'm on a diet doesn't mean I can't look at the menu," about giving pretty girls a second look. Then he would quickly remind us of his first rule! He had all sorts of pearls of wisdom that I still live by today.

I find it hard to believe an 1816 Polish marriage registration led me to an article in Oregon newspaper over 170 years later and half a world away.

How I got there:

Christoph Arnholtz (c1787-unknown) married Anna Rosina Schalin (c1792-unknown)[1]
>Son Christoph Arnholtz (1826-unknown) married Anna Rosalie Buech (1829-unknown)
>>Son Carl Ludwig Arnholtz (1848-1936) married Rosalie Juliane Schechinger (1849-1937)
>>>Son Friedrich "Fred" Arnholtz (1889-1948) married Ernestine "Tinne" Granske (1893-1933)
>>>>Daughter Esther Nettie Arnholtz (1912-2006) married George Rueck, Jr. (1910-1996)
>>>>Daughter Evelyn Mae Arnholtz (sister of Esther) married Raymond Rueck (1914-2003)

Anna Rosina Schalin was my three times great grand aunt

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

4 Things I've Learned about Researching Eastern European Ancestors

I have finally seriously begun to study how to research eastern European ancestors so I can begin to work on Mom's and my husband's sides of my family tree. One morning over coffee I was bemoaning the difficulties I have experienced. Pete agreed it sounded tough and said I should write a blog post about it so others who are thinking of doing the same thing will know about which issues to watch or take into consideration. I'm certainly no expert but am making progress in my education.

According to AncestryDNA eastern Europe includes these countries: Albania (northern), Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece (northern), Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia (European), Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey (European), and Ukraine. It's as good a definition as any other I have found.

Map of Eastern European Ethnicity per AncestryDNA; image courtesy of

Regardless of the specific country in which you find your research taking you, most of these countries require knowing certain facts before you can truly begin to make progress. And they are:

1. What calendar was in use?

It sounds crazy, I know, but if you want to add a certain date to an ancestor's timeline that puts that information in context with your other known ancestors, then you will likely want to use the Gregorian Calendar, which is what we use today. The Gregorian calendar was named for Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582.

The calendar is sometimes known as the Western or Christian calendar. Not surprisingly, Catholic European countries were first to convert to the new calendar. Protestant and Orthodox countries adopted the Gregorian calendar sometimes centuries later with Greece being the last country to adopt it in 1923.

I use this web page to determine what calendar the country in which I am researching was using at the time of the ancestor about whom I am working. Then I go to Stephen P. Morse's converter to determine what the Gregorian calendar date is for a record created using the Julian calendar. I enter the Gregorian date as the fact in my family tree and add a note in the description field that includes the original Julian calendar date with (Julian) in parenthesis. The recording of the facts about my paternal grandfather Gustav Lange's birth is a good example:

Gustav Lange birth fact in my family tree; image courtesy of

You could use an alternate birth fact, but my personal preference is to keep all of the information together as it really was the same date. If I had a source that listed an entirely different date, then I would use the alternate birth fact to record that information.

2. What religion did your ancestors practice?

Religion was more important in the daily life of our ancestors than it is for many of us today. My maternal grandmother's family moved from what is now Maliniec, Poland, to what is now Ukraine, but was then Russia, primarily for economic reasons. However, Tsar Alexander II offered many inducements, including the freedom to practice a different religion from Russian Orthodoxy, which was the empire's official religion. When Tsar Alexander III came to power, he rescinded those inducements and jailed my grandmother's family's minister. They undertook a 5,000+ mile journey in 1893 to escape Russia in order to practice their German Baptist faith. Many from their community and church made the same journey at the same time and settled in the same area in Canada where they built a church together. Without knowing your ancestor's religion, you will not know in what churches to look for records if none exist at the civil authority.

Photograph of the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Fredericksheim
in Leduc, Canada, which my great grandfather helped build; photograph
courtesy of Lucille Marian (Fillenberg) Effa

3. In what country did your ancestors reside?

Country boundaries changed a lot over time in Europe, but especially in eastern Europe. Poland actually disppeared from the map in 1795 after the third partition of the country as Prussia, Russia, and Austria gobbled it up. Other countries lost wars and territory and there was a war somewhere in eastern Europe for much of history. It is important to know in what country the town or area in which your ancestor lived at the time your ancestor lived there. It's also important to know the contemporary name of the location in case you want to plot it on the map.

I typically enter the current place name in the location field and the historical name in the description field. I do this so that mapping function of my family tree software will work. If they lived in a very small village that is not recognized by my software, I enter the region and enter the village name in the description field. By knowing the country in which Zamosty was located at the time of Gustav's birth, I can use Wikipedia or the JewishGen town search to get the correct spelling or current place name. Because most of my eastern European ancestors lived in Poland and the Volhynia region, I joined the Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe. Members have created some of the best gazetteers I have found. If your ancestors are from other countries in eastern Europe, however, the society's resources will not be as helpful.

4. What was the national language and what language did your ancestors speak?

Once you know the country in which your ancestor resided, then you will likely have a good handle on the official language spoken there. However, be aware that some countries allowed administrative areas to speak different languages based on the majority nationality in the area as did Russia until the reign of Tsar Alexander III. If you are lucky enough to find records about your eastern European ancestors, then knowing the language in which the record was written will be extremely helpful as you will need to have the record translated. I find Facebook groups very helpful for translations, but I must know to which group to post the record.

My maternal grandfather's birth registration provides a great example of how you can get tripped up. Remember, Gustav Lange was born in 1888. His birth information was recorded in German on a form pre-printed in Russian! After 1894, his birth information would have been recorded in Russian due to a change in the law.

Gustav Lange's original birth certificate; personal collection

Knowing it was in German enabled me to obtain a translation from the German Genealogy Facebook group. I now understand there is another group specifically for German translations.

I have found it particularly helpful to read the and wikis before I begin researching in a foreign country. I also spend a lot time reading about the history of the country, especially its internal civil procedures and how local governments were organized for administrative purposes.

I hope you found these tips useful. Please let me know if you have others.