Paul Held’s baptismal record

I started this blog with good intentions of posting regularly. I even started off on the 52 Ancestors challenge as if posting once a week wasn’t wildly optimistic! But here I am in an effort not to abandon the thing entirely, and to share my newest find.

I recently learned about, a German website that just went online a couple of months ago with scans of German church records. The interface is all in German, the individual volumes aren’t indexed, and it’s a pay site. But it’s also the first real chance I’ve had to find my German immigrant relatives before they arrived in Cincinnati in the 19th century.

You have to know where to look to have much of a chance of finding anything – it’s not like Ancestry where you can put in the info you know and run a search, and then sift through the results. But I knew the town and date where my 2nd great grandfather Paul Held was born, and had the baptismal records for that time and place.

I found it – Paul Held’s baptismal record. There’s a whole paragraph here with information to discover once this has been transcribed and translated. Can’t wait to see what’s there!


Paul Held’s school document: a translation

There’s a few different things in the queue for a blog post. I need to write my 52 Ancestors post for this week, and I have some news to share about my research into Joseph D. King. For now, though, I’m just going to follow up with the translation of the German document I posted last Friday. Continue reading Paul Held’s school document: a translation

Paul Held – unknown German document

My grandmother died recently and my grandfather is moving from independent living to a specialized care facility, so many things are being shifted around and some cool items are coming to light. My dad just gave me this document, which had been stored folded up in an envelope labeled “Paul Held school paper 1870.” Paul Held was my grandfather’s grandfather, and was born in Germany 22 April 1854 but immigrated to the US. He would have been 16 when this document is dated in May 1870.

Paul Held 1870 German document

Transcribing/translating this isn’t going to be an easy task as I don’t speak any German at all!

The estate of Mildred Hebert: Jefferson County, Texas land records

Mildred Hebert died without a will on August 3, 1942. She and her husband had no children, but she had a daughter – my grandmother – from a previous marriage. I have had a copy of her death certificate for a while, but recently I went looking for her probate file in Jefferson County’s online records. I didn’t have any luck searching the probate index, so I started checking the real estate index for my family names in the area.

In 1949, my grandmother’s stepfather Murphy Hebert wanted to sell his house. However, the house had been purchased as joint property with his late wife Mildred. Since the estate had never been probated, Murphy needed to establish what had happened to her half of the house. Affidavits were filed that established the names of Mildred’s first and second husbands, her daughter, and her daughter’s husband. Murphy Hebert and my grandmother were her sole heirs.

Since my grandmother owned an interest in the house, she was listed on the deed documenting the sale. However, in Texas in 1949, married women still could not sell land without their husband’s agreement. So the deed includes my grandfather, as well.

The relationships proven in these particular documents were all things that I already knew, but it’s nice to have the backup. It also gives a good example of what can be found in county records that won’t show up anywhere else. If only all my counties had online databases like Jefferson, my life would be so much simpler!

52 Ancestors #2: Joseph D. King

Since I started the 52 Ancestors Challenge a week late, I’m publishing two ancestor posts back to back in order to catch up. While I probably won’t be following the weekly themes every time, this one was a bit too easy to pass up. The theme is “King,” which happens to be a surname in my family tree. Joseph King is the only one of my 2nd great grandparents that I haven’t been able to find parents for. Most of his life history has been maddeningly elusive, but I may be about to break through that brick wall. Joseph King is, of course, a very common name. The question right now is whether I can link two individuals and prove that they are in fact the same person. Right now there are circumstantial similarities, but no real evidence. I’m waiting on a record file I ordered to see if it can help me solve this problem of identity. Continue reading 52 Ancestors #2: Joseph D. King

52 Ancestors #1: Nellie Marie Cole Sawdon

This is a brand new blog, so a challenge designed to give me 52 things to write about in the next year seems like a good idea. Enter the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, although I’m already a week behind for 2015.

Nellie Marie Cole Sawdon was one of the first ancestors I knew anything about, outside of my living, immediate family. My grandmother had a small trunk that had belonged to her grandmother. Rather than collecting dust on a shelf, it was a regular part of our play as a treasure chest, holding all sorts of small goodies. My grandmother sent it home with me after a visit once, and it still holds an assortment of treasures – everything from a key to my first new car, to the letter my daughter wrote to Santa last year.There’s a label in the back in my grandmother’s handwriting: “This trunk belonged to Nellie Marie Cole Sawdon (b) December 17,1874. She was the maternal great grandmother of [my father’s name].”

Nellie Marie Cole was the youngest of four children born to Samuel Delaney Cole, farmer, and his wife Margaret Francis Wheeler in Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana. She had two siblings who were significantly older – Carrie, born 1861, and James Denton, born 1863 – and one brother closer to her own age, John Elmer, born 1871. The Coles had a family history in Dearborn County. Nellie’s grandparents and great grandparents came to the area in the early 19th century. I don’t know much about her mother, but she appears to have been born in Dearborn County and orphaned at a young age.

Nellie lived her entire life in Aurora, marrying Robert Adin Sawdon on September 25, 1895. She was 20, he was 24. They started life as farmers like their parents, apparently working a portion of the land that belonged to one or both of their families. On the 1900 census, there are three households listed in a row: Adin’s parents George and Anna Sawdon, Adin and Nellie, and Samuel and Margaret Cole. George and Samuel owned their property, but Adin was listed as a renter. Eventually, though, Nellie and Adin struck out on their own and moved to town.

By 1910, Adin was listed as a merchant of hardware on the census. They had three daughters, Mildred, Ruth, and Frances. In this History of the City of Aurora, Indiana written in 1915, Sawdon & Schooley is listed in the business directory in the categories of Harness and Hardware. You can also find a J E Cole listed under Dentists – this was Nellie’s brother John. There is also a mention of a Samuel Cole as part of a list of businessmen known to be active in the town in 1848; this would have been Nellie’s grandfather, as her father was only ten years old then.

Nellie and Adin continued to operate the store throughout their lifetimes. My grandmother grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and would come back to spend summers with them, playing and working in the store. Adin died on November 5, 1942, and Nellie died on February 13, 1947 at the age of 72. They are buried in the Riverview Cemetery in Aurora, along with daughter Frances who died in 1931.

Getting started: Missing branches

Growing up, I knew my paternal grandmother had a family history file going back to the Mayflower. I knew my maternal grandfather came from Cajun stock, so there were deep roots in Louisiana.  The other two quarters of my family tree, though, had branches that no one in my immediate family knew much about. Wanting to solve those mysteries was what got me started on my own research. I’ve made some progress, which I’ll talk about in future posts, but there’s still a lot unknown.

My paternal grandfather’s father was one of thirteen children. Three died in infancy, which left ten living children when their father died in 1909 and their mother followed in 1910. The youngest was 2 when they were orphaned; the oldest was 22. I never heard my grandfather talk about aunts or uncles or cousins, never knew anyone else on that side of the family – but with that many siblings in his father’s family, I knew he had to have relatives out there. I wanted to know more about what happened to those children after the parents died.

My maternal grandmother’s parents were divorced when she was young, and she was estranged from her father after he remarried. I knew a little bit about her mother’s family, but on her father’s side all I had was a name…and a common last name, at that. I had no idea when I started how I would be able to track down those ancestors.

I’ve been at this off and on for almost a decade now. There have been surprises along the way. I’ve found a genuine genealogical controversy – a dispute over my ancestor’s parentage that has been written up and will probably never be completely solved. There’s always something new to research.

In future posts, I’ll talk about some of the discoveries I’ve made and some of the mysteries I’m still working on. I hope to make connections in the online genealogy community, to have a place to share the exciting and frustrating moments of research, and to document the narrative side of my work. Looking forward to it!