Genealogical Research in Germany

May 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm (Steltjes Family)

I completed today an article concerning the Steltjes family in the Lower Rhine region of Germany. It may be accessed on the right by clicking on the title: “Steltjes Family of Germany and the Netherlands.”

In researching this article I used sources available in English, German, French, and Latin. As I am here speaking about the family dwelling principally in Germany, I employ for the most part German spelling. So, for example, documents in German spell the family name as steltjes or stiltjes where the Latin documents use stiljes.  In America the spelling takes on various additional forms: stilts, stiltes, stilt among others. Or consider the man whom we would in America call Anthony.  On his birth certificate in French (he was born during the period when Napoleon ruled Germany), he is  Antoine.  In ecclesial documents he is Antonius  a form also used in German documents. Or again, in English we have John, in French Jean, in Latin Joannes, and in German Johann.  In my article, therefore, I speak of Antonius Steltjes and of  Johann Hermsen After his immigration to the United States we would call a man Henry John Hermsenback in Germany we addressed him as Heinrich Johann Hermsen.

I relied on four primary sources for information about the Hermsen and Steltjes families in the Lower Rhineland.  For the Steltjes family in Frasselt I obtained records from  St. Anthonius Katholic Kirchengemeinde, 4193 Kranenburg-Frasselt, den, Gocher Strasse 52, Deutschland.  For the Hermsens in Nutterden, the records were at St. Lambert Katholic Kirchengemeinde,  4190 Kleve-Donsbruggen, den, Nossling 7, Deutchland. I received a trove of information about both families in Germany and in nearby Netherlands from Mosaik, Familienkundliche Vereinigung fur das Klever Land e.V., Lindenallee 54, 47333 Kleve, Deutschland. Most major municipalities have a records bureau (standesamt) from which one may obtain copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates. For this article I wrote to–Standesamt, Gemeinde Kranenburg, Klever Strasse 4, 47559 Kranenburg, Deutschland. 

I have found it useful to write to German sources in their language.  I had a friend of my wife at Yale’s German Department do the encoding and translating for me. I could handle translating both the Latin and French documents myself.

I additionally used the genealogical search engine of . Federal census records and ship arrival records were most helpful.


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Initial article on Caldwell Family

May 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm (Caldwell Family)

I finished today an article on the coming together of the Willis and Caldwell branches of our family. I call it the San Francisco Connection. The article is published on the right.

In completing research for this piece, I found most helpful three sources. In the first place, the San Francisco City Directory from 1860-1900 proved invaluable in locating the dwelling places of various family members and in ascertaining their work, whether alone, together, or for a company. Complementing this, the federal census records from 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910 established households, membership  in households, birth and marriage years. Other government records–military, natualization, voter registration–filled out the story of these immigrant families becoming active participants in their new land.

I intend to follow up this article with two more initial explorations of the Steltjes and Lynch links:  Steltjes to Hermsen, and Lynch to Fleming.

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