Sunday, July 13, 2008

Looking For My German Ancestors: My Research Experiences Part 3

In my previous post, I wrote about my research into my ancestor, Carl, and for this post, I thought I would continue to do so. In my research at the Library of Michigan, I wrote about finding Carl and his family in the 1894 Michigan State census, and I thought I would start this post by analyzing the census entry.

The image above is of Carl's household in 1894 in Bay County, Michigan. As you can see, I have cut-off Carl's surname, and I did this so that I could protect the identities of other people. After Carl's children are listed, Fred is listed. The census lists Fred's relationship to Carl as son, but that cannot be possible as Carl is listed only about 32 whereas Fred is about 25 in this census. One possibility is that Fred is Carl's younger brother or is Carl's cousin. What do you think? This happens to be the first piece of evidence that I have that connects these two men together.

This next above image is the second half of the census sheet. On this sheet, the occupations of the men are listed, and also the number of children a woman had in the census year. Also included on this image is the number of years that a foreign person has been in the United States and Michigan. According to this census, Carl has been in the U. S. since 1880 and Fred has been in the U. S. since 1889. Of course, these years are only suggestions, but this does help me narrow down the possibility of when Carl came to the U. S. (As I mentioned, I've had difficulty finding him in a passenger list.)

Unfortunately, this census still does not give me a more exact birthplace than the information that I already had. A couple years ago, before I found this census record, I went up to Bay City with my grandparents. While there, I looked for vital records for Carl's family (I had just found Carl's marriage earlier that day in Saginaw), and I found a couple of records. Before we left the county clerk's office, my grandmother mentioned to me that Carl had been a mason, and the clerk informed us that the city Masonic building was just across the street. To make a long story short, we went over to the Masonic building, and I was able to obtain some records on Carl. From the papers, I got Carl's birth date and a possible death date, but I still was unable to get a more detailed birthplace than Germany from these papers. (At the moment, I have only obtained records from Bay City. I have not yet contacted Detroit's Masonic temple, to see if they have any other information on Carl. Carl also lived in Detroit, in addition to Bay City.)

During the summer of the next year, I was able to visit the Library of Michigan, and I was able to obtain Carl's death certificate by going through the microfilmed death certificates from Detroit. (Death records for Detroit are kept separately from the rest of the death records for Wayne County, and I'm not sure why.) From Carl's death certificate, I was able to confirm that his birth date was the same as the Mason's records and confirm Carl's actual date of death. Unfortunately, my copy of Carl's death was poor, so I was unable to determine where in Germany he was born. I was able to read the name of his father, but I know I need to do more research to confirm the name of his father.

Although, the first three parts of this series was done for the Carnival of Central and Eastern European genealogy, I still plan to continue writing about my research into my German ancestors. Stay tuned for the next post in this series ...

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