Monday, April 10, 2017

TIPS: Working with German Newspaper Articles

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently found an article about one of my relatives from a 1916 German newspaper. I found the article on Chronicling America by searching for the surname: Kaechle. But, since I don't read German, I struggled with both transcribing and translating this article. In the process, I came across some tips I'd love to share:

Tip #1: Determine the Font

The initial "P" and "kk" in this word are difficult to read.

While many of the letters in this German newspaper article were easy to recognize, some were more challenging. For example, the above word looks like "Barffonzerte." The initial letter "P" and the "kk" do not look like are English P and kk. This word, "Parkkonzerte," translates to park concerts.

This font is calles Mars Fraktur Normal

After struggling trying to read the article, I finally found a font that helped me transcribed some difficult letters: Mars Fraktur. Again, the "s" at the end of Mars and the "k" in Fraktur do not look like our English letters. However, after printing out a copy of this font, I was able to transcribe the article letter by letter.

The Mars Fraktur font I printed off, though I cannot find the site now

Tip #2: Look on the Page for Related Articles

After finding the article that you are interested, look at the rest of the page. In fact, this tip doesn't just apply to German articles, as I have had success with this tip using English newspapers, too.

In this case, before I found the Mars Fraktur font, I was working on the article that mentioned Jerome Kaechle but I was having trouble decoding some of the letters. I decided to try to read some of the other headlines and create a letter by letter key. The article right above the article mentioning Jerome and the fire had this headline: "Driven from their beds by fire." At that point, I realized the article I had been translating, which even had its own heading, was just a part of a longer article! Reading the entire article gave me more details of this fire that my relative experienced.

Tip #3: Look for a Related Story in English Newspapers

50 Persons Flee for Safety in Big Fire, Lansing State Journal,
Lansing, Michigan, 4 August 1916, page 5, column 5,
digital image,, (
accessed 7 April 2017. 

With such a large fire, I assumed there would have been an article in English newspapers. Using, I did not find an article by searching for Kaechle. However, I did find an article by narrowing the year to 1916 and searching for one of the addresses mentioned in the article: 512 Ashland. Although this article had less information, it did include facts that were not in the German article. For instance, this article stated that "None waited to don their clothes, but began fleeing into the street in scant attire." And, "Many jumped from windows when they saw the stairway in flames."

Tip #4: Use the PDF Option and Paste Into Google Translate

This tip comes from my dad. When using Chronicling America, use the "pdf" option. After clicking on "pdf," copy and paste into Google Translate. You will need to make some corrections, but this is a wonderful start to getting an article translated. And, it will save a lot of time!

Tip #5: Ask for Help on Facebook's "Genealogy Translations" Group

Facebook's "Genealogy Translations" group has wonderful members who are always ready to help. And, they're fast! If you choose to post to the group, make sure you read the "rules for posting" first.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Incredible Fire Story Found in German Newspaper

I cannot read German. But, thanks to technology, I can still search German newspapers to find stories of my German relatives.

I recently found my first German newspaper story about Jerome Kaechle who was my great grandfather's younger brother. The article, which I found on Chronicling America, was in the Detroiter Abend-Post on August 4th, 1916.

After seeing his name, I painstakingly worked with Google Translate to translate the article. I also sent the article to my dad and shared it on the Genealogy Translations group on Facebook. Combining all of our work, I was able to come up with this composite translation:

Durch Feuer aus Betten getrieben [Driven by Fire from beds],
Detroiter Abend-Post, Detroit, Michigan, 4 August 1916,
page 8, column, 3, digital image, Chronicling America,
(, accessed 1 April 2017. 

Driven from their beds by fire
3 houses and 4 sheds burned down this morning
Several people forced to jump out of windows

The three two-storied houses 512 to 520 Ashland Avenue and four sheds were destroyed by fire at 1 a. m. today, the cause of the fire is not yet known for certain. It caused damage of approximately $8,000 to $10,000. The residents of the houses, some 40 people, had to hurry out onto the street in their night clothes, as the fire spread really quickly, several had to jump out of windows, and two were carried out by neighbors having been overcome by smoke.

The fire was discovered simultaneously by several neighbors, and Mrs Ausher, of 551 Ashland Ave raised the alarm, but the fire was burning fiercely when the fire brigade arrived. The families of Arthur Kretschmer, Frank Donahue and Frank Hart lived at no 512 and were woken by the neighbors' warning. The house was already in flames, and without having time to dress, they had to rush out to the street.

Durch Feuer aus Betten getrieben [Driven by Fire from beds],
Detroiter Abend-PostDetroit, Michigan, 4 August 1916,
page 8, column, 3, digital image, Chronicling America,
(, accessed 1 April 2017.

It spread quickly

Even before the alarm had been raised, the flames had taken hold of the house of Karl Duppernell, 518, and that of Jerome Kaechle, 520 Ashland Ave, and when the fire brigade arrived it was not possible to save either of the houses, and the teams could only stop the further spread of the fire. Frank Donahue lived on the top floor of one of the houses; his wife is ill in hospital, and when Kretschmer ran into the house to warn him, Donahue was lying on a bed, overcome by smoke, and had suffered slight burns. Kretscmer carried the unconscious man onto the street, where he soon recovered. Kaechle was also almost overcome by smoke, when he was found and rescued.

The Hart family had only moved in two days earlier, and had furnished their home completely new: everything was destroyed by the fire. Hart works nights at Chalmers car factory, and wasn't home at the time of the blaze. Arthur Bartell, who lived in a room in one of the houses, ran back in to save $150, and was almost overcome by smoke. Everyone who had been made homeless by the fire found accommodation with neighbors.

[Special thanks to my father and volunteer Anne Callanan for their help with this translation!]

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Meeting a "New" Cousin and Solving a Family Photo Mystery

One of the best parts of doing genealogy is meeting "new" cousins! I recently had the opportunity to spend a day with my new-found cousin, Terry. who is my 3rd cousin once removed. My 3rd great grandparents, Joachim and Henriette (Bünger) Peters, who I recently traced back to Germany, are our common ancestors.

My cousin, Terry, and I at Clayton Library
Houston - March 2017
We met at Clayton Library in Houston and she brought a pile of photos and documents to share. We had a wonderful time discussing our family and getting to know each other. And, now I have a lot of new information to go through!

One of the photos Terry shared was this "mystery" photo. Terry's father, who is still living, wrote the following note on the back: 

Some Peters went to Oklahoma. One had a cotton gin. Grandpa Peters (Eckard) [who is Joachim's son] had 3 brothers:
  • Bill - Ashton [Sumner County, Kansas]
  • Henry [Oklahoma]
  • Charles [Oklahoma]
This photo is of one of them [either Henry or Charles]

The 4 sons of Charles Peters. Photo in the Stewart family collection
Probably from Beulah (Peters) Brewer's collection.

Charles Peters (1847-1910) is my great, great grandfather. I would LOVE for this mystery photo to be of him and his family! But, the above photo shows his four sons, and I don't believe they look like the two young men in the other photo. [Besides these four sons, Charles also had two daughters who lived to adulthood.]

When I started researching this morning, I believed that Henry Peters and his wife, Hattie, had 2 sons and 3 daughters. But, after several hours of research, I have determined that they had 3 sons and 5 daughters. However, only 2 sons and 4 daughters survived to adulthood. So, I believe this is a photo of Henry, Hattie, and their 6 grown children.

A photo my dad, JRS, posted on FindAGrave shows three of Henry's children, along with one of their spouses, as older adults. From this photo, I believe we can determine that the taller young man in the "mystery" photo is Albert Roy Peters and the shorter man is Edwin Eugene "Ted" Peters. 

Estimated date of early 1910s based on youngest childrens' ages, Cora's 1910 marriage date, and clothing
Here is the "mystery" photo again. I am fairly certain this is the family of Henry J Peters, son of Joachim Peters. The family consists of:
  • Henry J Peters (1852-1931)
  • "Hattie" (Clifton) Peters (1857-1929) apparently never married
  • Hugo Peters (1877-1878) died as infant
  • Cora May (Peters) Pickett (1880-1957) married Robert Pickett (1877-1953) [likely seated next to her mother wearing a wedding ring in the photo]
  • Jennie Lynn Peters (1884-1886) died as toddler
  • Albert Roy Peters (1887-1968) never married [taller young man in photo]
  • Pearl Elsie (Peters) King (1893-1955) married Glen H King (1888-1976)
  • Myrtle Lillian Peters (1893-1973) never married
  • Edwin Eugene "Ted" Peters (1895-1966) married Clara Elizabeth King (1898-1984) [shorter young man in photo]
  • Hattie Isabell (Peters) Porter (1897-1978) married Earl Brown Porter (1897-1945)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tip: Working Around Wrongly Transcribed Families in Census Records on

I hadn't been able to locate my husband's grandfather, Fred Hunter, and his family in the 1940 census. Searching for his parents and siblings individually didn't help me locate the family. So, I turned to a census "trick" to find this missing family.


I chose one of the more unusual names in the family: Mabel. I chose the 1940 U.S. federal census and searched for the following:

  • First name "Mabel" set to "exact"
  • Born in "1912" set to "+/- 2 years"
  • Born in "Oklahoma" set to "exact"
  • Lived in "Garvin County" set to "exact"

With this search I got 2 results, though neither were the correct family. So, I changed the "lived in" Garvin County from "exact" to "county and adjacent counties" and got 36 results. Near the bottom of the list was an entry for Mable Gunter with the correct parents listed. I had found the family!

1940 U.S. Census, McClain County, Oklahoma, Turnbull, population schedule, page 10A [written], household #163,
William E Hunter Household, image, ( : accessed 19 March 2017), citing
National Archives microfilm T627, roll 3308.
You can see it is a fairly poor copy, so it is understandable that it was transcribed incorrectly.


There are several other ways I could have found this family:

  • Searched for some of the family's 1930 "neighbors." Since the Hunters were still in the same, small community, it is likely I would have located them.
  • Searched page by page through the 40 pages of this Turnbull enumeration. 
  • Searched using either FamilySearch or MyHeritage, both of which have the family transcribed correctly as Hunter, not Gunter.
  • Searched with the wildcard "?" to start the family surname by searching for "?unter." When there is a transcription error in surnames, it is often with the initial letter.
Do you have other tricks for finding missing families in census records? I'd love to hear! 
Please leave a comment or email me at

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Who Was "Lawless Mary"?

While doing some research today, I came across an intriguing name in a 1940 census: Lawless Mary. She was an 82 year old widow living in Texas, and I had to learn more about her. What fascinating life did she live to earn her nickname?

After finding her in a 1900 census, it turns out "Lawless Mary" was not a nickname; her name was Mary Lawless. 

1940 U.S. Census, Falls County, Texas, Lott Ward, population schedule, page 7B [written], household #165, North 6 St, John Priest Household, image, ( : accessed 15 January 2016), citing National Archives microfilm T627, roll 4030.

The 1940 census enumerator had just added a line indicating her surname was the same as the name abover her: Cone. But, her name was, in fact, Mary Lawless and there is not an amazing story.

So, if you were researching Mary Lawless, how would you have found her? I think the most likely way would have been to search for her daughter, Susie, in the census.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"Found Lifeless" in a Brook

Bethuel Vincent was only 29 years old when he was found lifeless in a brook. His obituary reads:

Died – In Turbut township, on the 11th inst., Bethuel Vincent, junior, aged about 30 years. The deceased had gone to the fields to collect raspberries and while crossing a small brook was taken with convulsive fits, to which he was daily subject, fell into the water, where he was, shortly after, found lifeless. ["The States Advocate, Thursday, 17 July 1828. Posted on Bethuel Vincent's Find A Grave memorial page in Warrior Run Church Cemetery, Delaware Run, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania]

Find A Grave memorial page in Warrior Run Church Cemetery, Delaware Run,
Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, photo by Earl Munday

Daniel Vincent's will, who was Bethuel's father and my 5th great grandfather, told more of Bethuel's story. [The "junior" designation in the obituary was because of Bethuel's uncle, also named Bethuel.] 

The will was written two years before Bethuel's death. It regards to my youngest and afflicted son Bethuel it is my will that my Executors provide him with all the comforts of life, to live in the family of my son Isaac or John as he may choose - whilst being with Isaac his wife Rebecca is to receive at the rate of Thirty dollars per year and when living with John his wife Maria is to receive the same - to be paid out of the estate not previously devised - and should Bethuel by accident or affliction become more helpless than at present the sum to be drawn from the estate shall be increased in proportion to his frailty and the expense necessary to keep him. Bethuel have one of the best beds and bedding in the house.

I still don't know what type of "affliction" Bethuel had, but I love that his father was taking care of him even on his death bed. And, I love that, even though his mother had died several years before, Bethuel would continue to live with his family in the house of one of his brothers.

My Line of Descent
  • Daniel Vincent (1760-1827) m Angelchy Huff/Hough/Heuff (1760-1821)
  • Bethuel Vincent (1798-1828) is a brother to my direct ancestor Elizabeth "Betsy" Vincent (1789-1846) m George Watson (1783-1856)
  • Sarah Jane Watson (1826-1853) m John Quiggle Stewart (1825-1922)
  • Alexander Stewart (1852-1922) m Catharine Jane McClintock (1852-1929)
  • Andrew "Andy" McClinock Stewart (1882-1954) m. Bessie Waldron Merrill (1879-1959)
  • James Edward Stewart (1910-1972) m. Hazel Lucille Peters (1910-1975) (my paternal grandparents)

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My First Jump Across the Pond

In November of 2013 I found my first record of an ancestor in Europe. It was my first "jump across the pond." It was a huge day for me and I was thrilled! In fact, that's the day a volunteer told me she loved my 'enthusiasm' for genealogy and I came up with my blog name. So, how did this 'pond jump' happen?

1860 Census - Lock Haven, Clinton Co, PA from

At the time, I knew the following...

  • my great, great grandmother, Sarah, was born in 1848 in England (she was 12 in the above census)
  • according to her obituary, she was from Leeds, England
  • her parents were James & Sarah Ann
  • she had an older brother, Adam, who was also born in England
  • there was another male, Humphrey, who was probably James' brother as he is listed as only 16 years younger than the James in the 1860 census

1841 Census - Prestwich Cum Oldham, Lancashire, England from

The next clue was finding an 1841 England Census that listed parents named James & Sarah who were about the right age. It listed two children who were transcribed as follows: Thomppey (age 6) and Sylwanos (age 1). I was at the Dallas library and I took this record to one of the librarians to see if he could help. I thought that Thomppey looked like "Humphrey," but I wanted to make sure that wasn't just wishful thinking. He agreed that the name was Humphrey and helped me translate the second name as Sylvaneous (which he told me refers to trees). In this record, the ages of the parents were a little different and it now looked like Humphrey could actually be their son.

As you can see, between the 1841 England Census and 1860 U.S. census, Humphrey aged appropriately 19 years (from age 6 to 25). Sarah's age, though, went from 25 to 47 (so, an increase of 22 years) and James went from 30 to 41 (an increase of only 11 years). But, if this was my family, what happened to Sylvaneous?

If this was really my family, I know knew where to find them: Lancashire, England. I did another search on Ancestry and found a marriage record! The record was for James Eastwood & Sarah Hall (I already knew her maiden name, so this confirmed it) in 1839 in Prestwich in Lancashire—the same location as the 1841 census!

1839 Marriage Record - Parish of Prestwich, Lancaster County, England from
There were many interesting things on this record, but one of them was the fact that James was a widower! James and Sarah got married on September 2, 1839. So Humphrey, born about 1835, was James' son from a first marriage. But Sylvaneous, who was probably born in 1841, was a son of both James Eastwood and Sarah Hall.

This marriage record and census were the first European records I'd found for my family. And, they remain the only family I've traced to a country besides Germany.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

TIPS: Working with German Newspaper Articles

As I mentioned in my last post , I recently found an article about one of my relatives from a 1916 German newspaper. I found the article on ...