Monday, January 22, 2007

Geyers in Germany, the search for Johannesberg

In my search to find which Johannisberg my great great grandfather Franciscus "Franz/Frank" Geyer came from in Germany, I recently sent letters out to the Catholic churches in the three most promising looking Johannesbergs. I've received my first answer (from St. Johannes Church in Geisenheim), which does not look promising, especially since the churches older documents are in the Limburg Archdiocese, which I've already visited.

From: St.Johannes d. Täufer
Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 11:07:14 AM
Subject: Ahnenforschung

Sehr geehrte Frau Geyer,

bezugnehmend auf Ihr Schreiben vom 2. Januar 2007 teile ich Ihnen mit, dass ich bei der Durchsicht unserer Kirchenbücher- rückwirkend bis 1875 im Sterbejahr 1940 eine Anna Jos. Geier geb. 28.12.1883 in Königstein verst. 29.9.1940 in Johannisberg (Ordensfrau genannt Schwester Lucia) gefunden habe. Im Traubuch von 1941 von Kloster Marienthal (gehört zur Pfarrgemeinde Johannisberg) einen Gottlieb Geier geb. 14.11.1901 in Mainz Sohn von Wilhelm Geier und Maria Stövner gefunden habe.
Der Name Geyer erscheint nicht.
Sollten sie noch weitere Angaben suchen, wenden Sie sich bitte an das Bischöfliche Ordinariat, Limburg
- Postfach 1335, 65533 Limburg –

Ich wünsche Ihnen noch viel Erfolgt bei der Suche nach Dokumenten mit Informationen zu Ihrer Familie.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

- Pfarrsekretärin -


Subject: Ancestor research
Dear Mrs. Geyer,

referring to your letter from 2 January 2007, I communicate to you that after the examination of our church book back through 1875, in 1940 Deaths, I've found an Anna Jos. Geier, born 28 Dec 1883 in Königstein, died 29 Sep 1940 in Johannisberg (she was a nun called Sister Lucia). In the Marriage Book of 1941, in the monastery Marienthal (belongs to the parish Johannisberg) I've found one Gottlieb Geier, born 14 Nov 1901 in Mainz, son of William Geier and Maria Stövner.
The name Geyer does not appear.
If you are looking for further data, please contact the Episcopal Chair, Limburg
- P.O. Box 1335, 65533 Limburg -
I wish you much success in the search for documents with information on your family.

Yours sincerely,
- Parochial secretary -

Ginkens Marriages, etc.

I just received a scan of the Marriages page from a cousin who has the Ginkens family bible. The scan is fairly easy to read and contains the following information:

Henery A Ginkens, Mrs Alice M. McCracken, Nov. 2nd 1885
Sarah E Ginkens, James B Defrance, 12th Sept 1883
A. Harrison Ginkens, Marry M. Nelson, March 10th 1886
Martha J. Ginkens, William D Augustine, Feb. 11 1883
James B Ginkens, Brittie M. McCracken, Nov. 4th 1888
Mary E. Ginkens, Albert Carvin, April 20th 1890
J Edna Ginkens, Thos E Alter, Nov. 12, 1901
Aletha B Ginkens, Harold L Wilkin, Jan 27 1897

Henry Austin Ginkens and Martha Alice (Watson) McCracken were my 2nd great grandparents. Previous to her marriage to Henry, Martha Alice was married to a man named McCracken. I believe her first husband was David H. McCracken (born abt. 1850 in Ohio), her stepbrother, who was a son of her father Isaac Watson's 3rd wife, Louisa, but this is just an educated guess. I would love to hear from anyone with more knowledge on her first marriage. Martha had a daughter, Hattie McCracken, born about 1872 in Iowa, from this marriage.

I would also be interested to hear from anyone who knows who the father (or fathers) of Sarah E. Ginkens two children are: Vanna E. Ginkens (born Feb 1875 in Wapello County, Iowa) and Erk Harlow Ginkens (born 19 Jul 1877 in Wapello County, Iowa). One Ginkens cousin I am in touch with thinks Erk's father had the last name Harlow and that Erk may have been illegitimate. In the 1880 US Federal Census, Sarah and the kids are living with her father, Jesse Gum Ginkens in Clay Township, Washington, Iowa, and the children are listed with the last name Vandarn (alternatively, Vandorn or Van Dorn), while Sarah's surname is Ginkens.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Any handwriting experts out there?

I'm trying to transcribe a letter that was written by some Scotch-Irish ancestors of mine in the 1850's and am having a bit of trouble deciphering the handwriting. I've gotten pretty good at reading the handwriting from old documents, but there are a few places in the letter where I'm thrown for a loop. If you happen to have some experience reading old Scotch-Irish handwriting, or even if you don't but want to take a stab at it, I'd love some help and a second opinion. They're also writing from a place that I think is called Laughries Caus (I THINK the letter says: "When you Rite Direct Letters to the Care Mr James Moor Mohill Street grween newtown was Cunty Down Irland for William Mcgimpsey of Laughries Caus, farmer."), but I can't find any Laughries in Ireland, so if you know where they are writing from, that'd be great too. Thanks!

And as soon as I have what I think is a pretty accurate transcription, I'll post the letter here. It's from William and Marget McGimpsey to their son Henry and is dated April 2, 1854.


Update: I'd like to thank all the folks who offered help! I also wanted to pass on a few really useful links that people sent me.

Monday, January 08, 2007

What's in a name?

Recently, I purchased the Oxford Dictionary of First Names, mainly because we are looking for baby names (I'm pregnant), but also because it looked like it might be a good literature, writing and genealogy reference, thereby extending it's usefulness quite a bit. I wasn't disappointed at all. In addition to all the names still in modern use, I've learned quite a bit about the origins of some of the more unusual (to modern ears) first names of my ancestors, like Dorcas, Kenelm, Lamont, and Lavinia. I've also discovered an interesting fact about my father and grandfather's first name: Harlan. According to the book:

Harlan [male] Mainly U.S.: transferred use of the surname, in origin a local name from any of various places in England called Harland, from Old English har 'grey', hær 'rock, tumulus', or hara 'hara' + land 'tract of land'. Use as a given name honours the American judge John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911), a conservative Republican who was nevertheless a pioneering supporter of civil rights in the Supreme Court. He was a descendant of the Quaker George Harland from Durham, England, who emigrated to Delaware in 1687, and became governor there in 1695.
VARIANT: Harland.

My grandfather was born in 1920, so he was likely named by my great grandparents Francis Grant and Grace (McGimpsey) Geyer directly after Judge John Marshall Harlan, or is only once removed from this naming (i.e., named after someone who was named after the judge).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Surname Distribution

I just found this pretty neat US Surname Distribution program on the web. You enter a surname and choose a year (1850, 1880, 1920, 1990), and the program generates a map of the US showing the surname distribution. The 1850, 1880, and 1920 data is derived from a sampling of 1 out of every 100 names in the US censuses and the 1990 data is derived from names listed in phone books. I'm not sure if it'll be much help research-wise, but it's fun to play with for a few minutes.

Distribution of the Kirkland surname in 1850

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Main Interest Getting Along In These Days

The following article was found in the book Early Pioneer Stories which I accessed in the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. this summer. The book was prepared for the DAR Library by the Appanoose County [IA] Genealogical Society and featured clippings of articles from the Progress Anniversary Edition of the Centerville Daily Iowegian, which came out on 14 Jan 1934. In the article, my gr-gr-grandfather Samuel Rupley Bear discusses his parents, Samuel Lewis and Mary (Rupley) Bear, and their life as early settlers in Appanoose County.

S. R. Bear of Johns township tells of the sod schools, the hard work of the pioneers, also some of their diversions, as follows: Father and mother, Samuel and Mary Bear, came to Appanoose county the winter of 1854 or the spring of 1854 or spring of 1855, from Illinois. They got acquainted with the pioneer business men of the county and Centerville and also dealt with them. He freighted from Keokuk.

I was born in Appanoose county in the year of 1856, the first school I attended was a log house with wooden slabs for seats with round logs to rest on. We had no desks and had to hold the books in our hands. The next school which I attended was held in a room in a dwelling house with slab benches.

Father and mother were hard working people whose main interest was in getting along. They did work of all kinds. Father broke up the land and planted it in corn, millet and buckwheat. He freighted when he had time, with mother helping in any way that she could. He first raised hogs and later raised cows. The hogs were butchered and sold. Father also made a cheese press and then made the cheese. There was an abundance of wild fruit at that time viz: wild gooseberries, blackberries, grapes, redhaws, blackhaws, and wild crab apples. Now and then father and mother and we children took a day off and together with neighbors and friends took a team and wagon and would go hunting. The men folks would hunt squirrels while the women folks and children would pick the wild berries. On returning home we would have a feast of young squirrel and the berries. Sometimes the neighbors would join us and a social time was held. In those days we also had much wild game of which there were chickens, turkeys, some deer and also plenty of wolves. At first we had no mail whatsoever, but later we had a mail man who brot the mail to the houses. Also we did not have the schools in those early days, or preaching, but when the schools were built there were many different activities carried on inside, for instance there were the singing schools, meetings, and also the debates.

After the first ten years the county began to get populated and was getting well filled with inhabitants.

Source: Appanoose County Genealogy Society, Early Pioneer Stories [Articles from the Progress Anniversary Edition of the Centerville Daily Iowegian, 14 Jan 1934], (Centerville, IA: by the society, n.d.), p. 28, "Main Interest Getting Along In These Days".

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