Wednesday, April 19, 2017

German documents transcribed

About two years ago, I ordered German church microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The only way to save the images was to snap a photo with my cell phone. The images weren't great, but using Photoshop Elements, I was able to piece two or three images together into one document. 

I could make out a few words like legitimate, baptism, family surnames but that was about all. Using a German dictionary, German word lists from Family Search Wiki, and Google translate - German to English, I still couldn't make out what the documents said. 

Earlier this month, I attended the FGS Regional/Wisconsin State Genealogical Society's conference at Wisconsin Dells, WI

On the second day, I attended a session by speaker Antje Petty. Her lecture was: “Max Kade Institute: Resources to help with your German-American Family Research”. My ears perked up, this was just what I needed. Part of my road trip this month was to research my mother's German paternal line. I spoke briefly with Ms Petty after her session and she said to email her with my German document questions. Ms Petty's office was on the University of Michigan-Madison campus near the Wisconsin Historical Society.

I made an appointment to meet with her the following Monday afternoon and sent my scanned documents in advance. Since I had planned on going to the historical society for research anyway, this was perfect. Over the weekend, Ms. Petty emailed me she wasn't feeling well, and would have to cancel our appointment. She said she looked over my scans and thought the documents might be in Latin, which she doesn't read, not German like I thought. That's why Google translate, the word lists and German dictionary couldn't decipher the documents. Wow, didn't see that coming! I would have to look into the documents after I got home.

I was disappointed we couldn't meet but thanked her for the valuable translation tip. A week later Ms Petty email me and said again how sorry she was we couldn't meet, she had actually come down with the flu but taken a second look at my documents and they were definitely in Latin. Thank you, thank you and thank you again! I won't be wasting time trying to decipher German. I'll be looking into Google translation - Latin to English. 

That invaluable tip was well worth the trip. You just don't know what you're going to learn when you attend conferences.

Copyright 2017, Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

Saturday, April 8, 2017

FGS Regional/WSGS 2017 Gene-A-Rama Conference – Day 2

Today, was day two of a two-day conference of the FGS Regional/WSGS 2017 Gene-A-Rama held at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI. Here’s the sessions I attended.

Speaker: Curt B. Witcher
“Fingerprinting our Families: Using Ancestral Origins as a Genealogical Research Key”
He has a way of stating facts differently than any other speaker would. Instead of “bread crumbs,” he used “fingerprints.” Really makes you think outside the usual box. Thanks Curt!

Speaker:  Antje Petty
“Max Kade Institute: Resources to help with your German-American Family Research”
Ms. Petty’s talk was an eye-opener. I’m researching my mother’s line of Germans the Rammingers’ of Sheboygan County, WI. Date range 1852-1900. The institute is in the Wisconsin State Historical Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I happen to have some German church records that need to be translated. She said to contact her this coming week at the library to take a look at what I have. Good info, handout and talk!

Speaker:  Grace Dumelle
“130 Years of Genealogy Gems: Delve into the Newberry Library’s Treasure House.”
As many times as I’ve been back to Chicago, I’ve never had the research time to visit this library. Glad I was able to hear Ms. Dumelle’s talk. An extra handout was passed out spotlighting the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Collection. She walked us through the special collections; how to register online; what type of ID you’ll need; how to get a Reader’s card; what you can and can’t bring into the library, like personal scanners. I’ll definitely try and carve out some research time for this library.

Last and final speaker of the day: Rorey Cathcart
“After the Fire: Research Strategies for Besting Burned Counties”
Good examples of what could destroy county records, not just fire. Floods, tornados, loss, theft and malfeasance to name a few. Look elsewhere, use substitute records. What exactly was destroyed, what survived? Maybe the records you need were in another building and not in the courthouse after all. Determine if substitute or abstracted records were created. Ms. Cathcart’s handout, suggestions and tips are priceless.

My husband and I drove five days from California so I could attend this conference. The trip was well worth the trek.

© 2017, Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

FGS Regional/WSGS 2017 Gene-A-Rama Conference – 8 April 2017

Yesterday, I attended the first of a two-day conference of the FGS Regional/WSGS 2017 Gene-A-Rama held at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI.

The syllabus was sent via email a week ahead of the conference. I printed the pages I thought I’d need from home for the various sessions I planned to attend. The night before the conference I set up my conference bag, clothes I would wear, and other items I’d need. I either read the schedule wrong or was so excited for the conference to begin, I went down to registration about two and a half hours early. I was excited!

Before the sessions began, there was society business matters and announcements. Two of the sessions I’d planned to attend, their speakers were absent because of family emergencies. The WSGS president announced that the sessions would be filled with FGS speakers so there was no delay.

My first session was substituted from “100 Years Later: Finding Your World War I Ancestor” to “Pinterest.” I’m not an avid Pinterest user but sat in on the session and figured I could learn something new. The speaker didn’t disappoint. Good talk and PowerPoint slides.

My second session was after lunch. Again, the session was filled in with a different speaker, Curt B. Witcher. I’ve heard Mr. Witcher many times on different subjects. Several years ago, he was the seminar speaker at my local genealogy society. He’s a highly qualified and sought after speaker. His lecture was very much like the programed lecture; “Search for your Data in their Repository.” He gave many excellent points for narrowing down keywords in searches. He suggested using the “place” where your ancestors lived instead of their surname exclusively. His examples were five key components: place, ethnic, surname, religion, and occupation. I will be changing the way I do my searches based on the above.

My third session was again with Mr. Witcher, “Minding the Mother Load: Using Periodical Literature for Genealogical Research.” This was actually a session I had originally chose. Curt B. Witcher is the senior manager of the Genealogy Center in the Allen County Public Library in Ft Wayne, IN. I haven’t had much luck in finding anything in PERSI, that’s just me. I know it’s because I’m searching wrong. Mr. Witcher went into great detail showing and explaining the ins and outs of the search capabilities. Unfortunately, PERSI is now housed with a subscription site that is mostly used for international searching. I’ll have to use it in my local Family History Center.

The fourth and final session I chose was “Software: Genealogy Apps on Mobile Devices.” Substitute speaker was Rorey Cathcart. Ms. Cathcart is a professional genealogist. She did a great job pitch-hitting this subject. She used the handout from the syllabus and added many more ideas of mobile apps she herself uses. I’ll be checking out some of them and look forward to incorporating them with my research.

I met some very nice ladies from various parts of Wisconsin at my table for dinner. They gave me great tips for researching in Sheboygan County, which I will follow-up.

The evening dinner speaker was once again my favorite, Curt B. Witcher! His talk was “The Great American Tapestry—Voices of Our Ancestors.” No PowerPoint slides this time. His talk about our ancestors’ and the letters or journals they left behind gave us a glimpse of our ancestor’s thoughts and feelings. He wove a beautiful story by just reading the letters or journal entries.  A very enjoyable evening.

Copyright 2017, Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

Sunday, April 2, 2017

FGS Regional/WSGS 2017 Gene-A-Rama Conference

This week, I’m attending the FGS/Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Gene-A-Rama conference in Wisconsin Dells. The syllabus was sent to me via email. I prefer receiving it this way. I can then print out just the pages I want, and save $30 by not buying the printed syllabus that can sometimes be as big and heavy as a phone book. (Been there, done that!)

The conference has impressive speakers scheduled, some I’ve heard before, but will attend their lectures again. Curt B. Witcher, David E. Rencher, Rorey Cathcart, just to name a few. Of course, what’s a conference without all the fabulous vendors. I brought extra tote bags for the goodies I plan to bring home. Shopping, shopping, shopping!

I’ve attended various FGS events in the past so this conferences should be good. I hope to talk to WSGS representatives to ask if I should research at the historical society in Madison or perhaps go to the archive that best represents Sheboygan County where my Ramminger line is located.

I’m looking forward to visiting Wisconsin Dells again. My husband, daughters and I visited many years ago, with my cousin and her family. Great resort town. My mother took my sister, brother and I to the Dells in the early 1960s. This visit should bring back happy memories.

Copyright 2017, Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ramminger Research

I’m on the trail to tie up some “loose ends” of one of my maternal lines. I have quite a few documents and sources, but I’m missing some key elements.

1852 Passenger list
My direct line immigrant ancestor was Andreas Ramminger. He was from a village in Germany, Hesse-Darmstadt. In 1852, Andreas, his wife Gertrudis (Gertrude) and their six boys boarded a ship in Rotterdam, Netherlands to come to America. The sons were, Conradus (Conrad), Joannes (John), Henricus (Henry), Jacobus (Jacob), Philippus (Philip), and Adamus (Adam).

They made their home in Sheboygan County Wisconsin by farming. In 1854, Gertrude died. 

1854 marriage record

Andreas married Wihelmine Bergner. In December 1854, he bought 40 acres of land from John M. Watson, who received the Bounty Land as a solider in War of 1812.

I’d like to research the land deed.
Learn exactly when Gertrude died and where she’s buried.
Name all of Andreas and Wihelmine’s children. The list I have is: Frederick, Maria, Herman, William Mary, and George.

George is my great-grandfather. He was born in 1866 in Rhine, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

Married Susanna Steinhauser in 1894. Their homestead was in Clark County, Wisconsin.

I’m going to the Wisconsin Historical Society to research all of the above, and hopefully, more!

Copyright 2017, Gayle Ficarra Wolcott