Sunday, January 15, 2017

GPS Study Group Week 2: Resolving Discrepancies

DearMyrtle's GPS Study Group is covering Christine Rose's booklet, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 4th Edition Revised, one chapter at a time. For each week's homework, the participants post something related to that chapter's readings.

Chapter 2: Building a Solid Case

Chapter 2 discusses that, whether or not conflicting information is found, a conclusion must be written. But, we must weigh all of the evidence we've gathered. Two important questions to ask are "who created the record?" and "why was the record created?" Answering those questions can help us determine the reliability of each piece of evidence.

My Research Question

Who were the parents of Carl Peters?

My Case Study: Resolving Conflicting Information

1860 U.S. Census, Pike County, Ohio, Pee Pee Twp, population schedule, page 394 [printed], page 158 [written], dwelling #1112, family #1083, Joab Peters household; image, ( : accessed 15 January 2016), citing National Archives microfilm M653, roll 1024.
In the past couple of months, I have written a lot about my Peters family who immigrated from Germany in the summer of 1859. Many records, including his baptismal record, identify Carl's parents as Joachim and Henriette (Bünger) Peters. However, though the 1860 US Federal Census does not state relationships, this record seems to imply that Carl's father was Joab, not Joachim. His mother was not listed at all, but a 43-year-old man named Morrice Peters was listed as living in the household. According to the GPS, these conflicts must be resolved in a written proof.

Peters Household        
1859 Hamburg Passenger List  1860 CENSUS  1870 CENSUS
Joach44  Joab47  Jochim58
Henrietta40  Morrice (male)43  Henrietta56
Louisa14  Louisa17  Louisa (living with husband)26
Eckard13  Echart15  Ackhard (living with Louisa)24
Carl10  Carl12  Charles22
Wilhelm7  William10  William20
Heinr6  (missing)-  Henry 18
Friedchen4  Frilde8  Freeda16
  Theodore6  Theodore10

Though I have other records regarding Carl and his parents, for this post I'm concentrating on resolving the issues surrounding conflicting evidence found in the 1860 census. [Note: In this proof, I'm ignoring ages since they are not consistent among the documents. However, I have baptismal records for the parents and the six oldest children who immigrated with their parents in 1859.]

Problems with the 1860 Census
  • The "father" is listed as Joab, not Joachim
  • The "mother" is missing, or she's listed as a male named Morrice
  • Henrich/Henry is missing
  • Wilhelm/William and Friedchen/Frilde are listed as born in Ohio instead of Prussia
No other records for Morrice Peters have been located. And, the fact that Henriette and Henry are missing is problematic. Neither had died, as they both show up in later records. And, with a one-year-old in the household, it seems unlikely the mother would be living elsewhere. Henriette and Henry have not been found enumerated elsewhere.

With this many errors, I think we can safely assume that this record is not reliable. Although the informant is unknown, either they gave a lot of erroneous information or the census taker did a poor job of recording the information. Perhaps the fact that the Peters family had only been in the United States for a year led to some language issues. Though there were other Prussians or Germans in this small community, it is unknown whether or not the enumerator could speak German. Attempts were made to locate the enumerator on a census to determine his place of birth, but he was not found. 


Despite what is found on the 1860 census, which has been determined to be unreliable, Carl Peters' parents were Joachim and Henriette (Bünger) Peters. 

GPS Study Group Week 1: Sources, Information, and Evidence

After returning from vacation last Sunday, I heard about a new DearMyrtle study group. I ordered the book they were using, received it, and am now starting the homework even though I am behind!

For this group, each week the participants read one chapter in Christine Rose's 56 page booklet titled Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 4th Edition Revised. Then, the participants use the chapter to share something they learned related to that chapter. Those who have been chosen to be a part of the panel do an online hangout once a week, though everyone is welcome to attend and make comments.

Chapter 1: What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?

Chapter 1 was about the Genealogical Proof Standard and, more specifically, step number three in which we analyze and correlate all sources, information, and evidence. Although I feel pretty comfortable with these concepts, I am realizing my challenge lies in understanding how certain documents were created. The example I'll be using in this post is a marriage license application for my grandparents.

But, before we can analyze and correlate, we must start with a research question.

My Research Question

Who was the mother of Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle (1915-2004)?

Document: Marriage License Application and Certificate

"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 January 2017), entry for Sherman J Kaechle and Evelyn Dickson, 5 July 1941, Lucas County, page 152, application number 133454; citing "Marriage Records, Ohio Marriages."

Source: Original, Derivative, or Authored?

To determine what type of source this is, we must understand how the document was created. When the couple came in to get a marriage license, was the information written directly into this book which would make it an original? Or, did they fill out some other paper and the clerk transcribed into this book which would make it a derivative?

"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 January 2017), 1941, Lucas County, pages 152-153; citing "Marriage Records, Ohio Marriages."

First, let's look at the book. Each two-page spread covers six couples. The top portion of each entry is the license application, and the second part is the marriage certificate.

"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 January 2017), entry for Leo A Studivant and Marian Hancock, 5 July 1941, Lucas County, page 153, application number 133457; citing "Marriage Records, Ohio Marriages."

Another couple from this page is a better example showing the difference in handwriting. It appears the clerk filled out the information for this couple, including the marriage certificate, but the couple actually signed the document about 2/3rds the way down. The way the clerk wrote the groom's name, it appears as Leo C Sturdivant. But, the signature clearly shows Leo A Studivant. And, Marian Hancock's signature appears as a third example of handwriting on the page.

If you return to the top image, you'll notice differences between the rest of the document and the signatures of my grandparents, Sherman J Kaechle and Evelyn Dickson. So, it appears this document was the document that was created when my grandparents applied for a marriage license, so this is an original source.

[Interestingly, it appears the clerk filled out all of the information for the marriage certificate. Since he was probably copying from the actual marriage certificate, this would be a derivative source.]

Information: Primary, Secondary, or Indeterminable?

Regarding information, we must look at the specific piece of information in the source. In this case, the research question was "Who was the mother of Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle?" So, the piece of information we are interested in is where the marriage application lists the name of Evelyn's mother as Nora Ward. Since Evelyn signed this document, I believe we can reasonably assume she provided the information. However, Evelyn's mother died when Evelyn was a baby. She would have no first-hand recollection that her mother was Nora Ward. So, this information is secondary.

Evidence: Direct, Indirect, or Negative?

In regards to evidence, we must also look at the specific item within the source that is in question. Again, we are asking, "Who was the mother of Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle?" So, the piece of information we are interested in is where the marriage application lists the name of Evelyn's mother as Nora Ward. Since this piece of information directly answers the research question, this is direct evidence.


My grandmother, Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle, was raised by her maternal grandmother, Sallie (Dickson) Ward (1860-1960). Her biological mother, Nora, died when Evelyn was a baby.

When I started doing genealogy 19 years ago, finding Nora (Ward) Dickson was a difficult task. I knew Nora died about the same time my grandmother was born, so around 1915, but I didn't know when Nora was born. I also knew that Nora was the daughter of Sallie Ward, who raised my grandmother, and her husband Reuben Ward.

The 1900 census was the only surviving census where Nora should have been living with her parents, and yet no one named Nora was listed in the household. A 1910 census appears to have Nora's correct husband, James B Dickson, and three oldest children, but the mother's name is listed as Martha, not Nora. Going back to the 1900 census of Nora's parents, we see a Martha L who is the same age as Martha Dickson, James B Dickson's wife.

A huge revelation for me was when I realized "Nora" was short for Lenora! And, in fact, Martha Lenora Ward, the daughter of Reuben and Sallie Ward, was also Martha "Nora" Dickson, my grandmother's mother. Records found later supported this conclusion.

As a new genealogist, finding Nora was my first "big" discovery.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review of a Genealogy Memoir: "The Secrets of the Notebook" by Eve Haas

Eve Haas has written a wonderful book that I believe many genealogists would enjoy. Titled The Secrets of the Notebook: A Woman's Quest to Uncover Her Royal Family Secret , the description on Amazon starts with these words:

Eve Haas is the daughter of a German Jewish family that took refuge in London after Hitler came to power. Following a terrifying air raid in the blitz, her father revealed the family secret, that her great-great grandmother Emilie was married to a Prussian prince. He then showed her the treasured leather-bound notebook inscribed to Emilie by the prince. Her parents were reluctant to learn more, but later in life, when Eve was married and inherited the diary, she became obsessed with proving this birthright.

As an adult, Eve and her husband seek to unlock the mysteries of the notebook. All the experts tell Eve that no information has survived about her Prussian prince. However, if anything still does exist, it is behind the Iron Curtain - the same area from which both she and her husband fled many years before.

Eve and her husband, along with a grown son, do the unimaginable; they travel to East Germany from which, if they are arrested, no one will be able to help them. For some reason, the records are opened to them, and the Eve is excited by the discoveries. But, did the Communist Germans have an alternative reason for opening the files for Eve? And, will Eve be able to uncover the true story of her royal ancestor and his beloved Emilie?

Eve's story was fascinating as both a memoir and as a series of exciting genealogical discoveries. Throughout the book, Eve expresses her excitement and enthusiasm about documents she is allowed to view - documents which had been hidden for 150 years. Within these documents, the stories of "her" Prince and Emilie emerge.

In an earlier post, I reviewed four other books I think most genealogists would enjoy. Do you know of other, non-method books that genealogists would enjoy? I'd love to hear about them! Please leave a comment or email me at

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Top 10 Genealogy Finds in 2016

As I did in 2014, I'd like to share my "top 10 genealogy find" for 2016...

Number 10: Finding myself in several newspaper articles as a young child was lots of fun! One article was about a city-wide contest where I won 3rd place in jumping rope. Another article was about a trip I took as a Campfire Girl where I fell off a statue and got a nasty bump on my forehead. (I think this picture is pretty pathetic, but it's the only one I could find with this injury!)

St. Joseph (German) Catholic Church,
Detroit, Michigan (Wikipedia image)
Number 9: Years ago, I received a copy of a torn 1895 wedding photo of my great grandparents, Frank & Anna (Adam) Kaechle. With some help from a Facebook group, I was able to locate the church where they were married. I also hired someone to look up their church marriage record!

Marriage record for Frank & Francisca (Holthoefer) Adam (Ancestry)
Number 8: Just a few weeks ago, I discovered the 1858 church marriage record for Anna (Adam) Kaechle's parents. Anna's parents, Frank & Francisca (Holthoefer) Adam, were married at St. Mary's Church in Detroit.
Henry W Wingert & others on a bandwagon
Number 7: Although the person in the photo isn't a direct ancestor, I absolutely loved receiving a copy of this photo of Henry W. Wingert who was a band leader on a bandwagon! What an incredible photo!

Me in Clinton County with a business card of A. L. Merrill (June 2016)
Number 6: On a trip to Pennsylvania this past summer, I was thrilled to find an actual business card for my great, great grandfather, A. L. Merrill, who was a candidate for County Commissioner! And, yes, he did actually serve as county commissioner. I also found a photo of him as commissioner, but I still need to get permission to post it.

Papers received from the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
in regards to the Michael Kline family
Number 5: I "discovered" I had Mennonite ancestors, only to find out they weren't Mennonites after all! But, the information I received from Pennsylvania's Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society provided me with a lot of information about Michael Kline and his 14 children.

Number 4: Through work I did in Melinde Lutz Byrne's "Practicum in Genealogical Research," I determined that John M Boyers was likely the father of Eliza Ann (Boyers) Dickson. More research is still needed, but I made a lot of progress!

Me and two cousins at the tombstone of Robert & Frances (Quigley) Stewart
Clinton County, Pennsylvania (June 2016)
Number 3: One of the "genealogy" highlights of my year was meeting quite a few of my dad's Pennsylvania cousins that I had never met. Three of them went with me to Clinton County, Pennsylvania, where we spent a day visiting several cemeteries and the library. This is a photo of me with two of them standing next to the headstone of Robert and Frances (Quigley) Stewart's massive headstone. Robert and Frances are my 4th great grandparents and represent the furthest we've been able to trace our Stewart line.

Birth certificate showing my Werther family came from Berka
Number 2: Although I didn't know it, I actually had digital copies of the paperwork which showed where my Werther family had emigrated from in Germany! My Great Aunt Beulah, who got me interested in genealogy in 1998, had these papers in her files and I had copied them a couple of years ago while visiting an aunt and uncle.

Map made by JRS showing the immigration voyage of my Peters' family
Number 1: And, the top find for 2016 was locating the origins of my Peters family who emigrated from Germany in 1859. Though I wrote quite a few posts as I shared the steps to this discovery almost in real time on my blog, a summary can be found on my post titled "How I Traced My Immigrant Family to Germany."

Photo of Joachim Peters that belongs to my family, alongside a painting
of the photo that got handed down in a cousin's family.
BONUS: I can't believe I left this out of my "top 10" list! This year, I discovered my dad has hundreds of photos that I had never seen before! He has been emailing them to me, and we are working together to fill in the details. I have also received photos from other cousins. It's always exciting to find photos of the people we are researching! So, this is definitely one of my "top 10 genealogy finds" of 2016!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

January Goals

I believe that setting goals helps us to focus and achieve more. So, for 2017, I decided to set monthly goals. For January, my goals are in four categories: blogging, education, email, and volunteering.

Blogging: Write & post at least 8 blog posts.

Education: Watch at least 4 webinars and finish reading "Trace Your German Roots Online: A Complete Guide to German Genealogy Websites" by James M. Beidler.

Volunteering: Index at least 100 records on FamilySearch, which is something I haven't done in several years.

Email: Catch up with email, a lot of which is genealogy related.

Do you set genealogy goals? If so, are they weekly, monthly, or yearly? And, do you have categories you use? I'd love to read about them as I start this new process for 2017.

Monday, January 9, 2017

What's Your Genealogy Timeline?

Happy New Year!

I'm just back from a New Year's cruise I took with my daughter, mom, and niece. We sailed on Royal Caribbean's "Oasis of the Seas" from Port Canaveral, Florida to St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Haiti, and Puerto Rico and had a wonderful time. But, now it's time to get back to every day life and the "work" we call genealogy!

2016/2017 Cruise - Oasis of the Seas

As we start another new year, it's also a great time to look back. What's your genealogy timeline?

If you share your genealogy timeline, please let me know! I'd love to see it!