How Having a Birthday Helped Find My 7th Great-Grandparents

Adding another birthday candle to mark the number of years is an honored tradition.  Mine hasn’t quite reached the point where we need to put the local fire department on standby alert <yet.>  Besides, I prefer to think of celebrating a birthday not so much as getting older, but, as advancing another year in wisdom!

Well, as a recent “advancing in wisdom” anniversary was approaching, my daughter Naomi asked what I would like as a gift. What question could possibly be nearer and dearer to a genealogist’s heart! Sensing a great opportunity to request something to help track the ancestors seemed just a logical and foregone conclusion, so I responded I’d like one of a set of CD-ROMSs containing information on Oldenburg, Germany families.   I opted for the Rastede CD speculating it might contain additional information on my Schwans line. (These Ortssippenbücher or OSBs, are available through the Ostfriesen Genealogical Society of America.)

I refrained from ripping the CD-ROM from the mailman’s hands (part of that “advancing in wisdom” thing), but eagerly popped the disc into the computer and searched for the Schwans surname.  There was one entry, in German, for a Gerd Schwans.  My best attempts to understand it, using Google Translate, was that this person died in a Bekhausen Frailty and was buried 24 Dec 1701 at Rastede, Germany.  Sadly, there was no data on his parents or other family members.  I thought this was the last of it.

Ah, that “advancing in wisdom” thing surfaced a few days later, when on a whim I sent a copy of the OSB entry to my good friends in Germany, Jane and Jens.  I asked them if my translation attempt was anywhere close to the actual meaning.  (Important fact: Jens and Jane are avid, competent genealogy researchers.)  In their generosity, Jens and Jane extended the research far beyond what I had envisioned and, through correspondence and more checking, discovered additional facts about Gerd Schwans.  Then, for the bonus round, they discovered the names of my seventh great-grandparents: Harmen Schwaans and his wife Anna.  AND Gerd Brunnings and Taleke Schumacher.    These folks date back to before 1650!

Lessons learned:

  • Genealogy birthday gifts are a wonderful thing!  (Thanks, Naomi!)
  • Asking a few questions and pushing the curiosity is a good thing!
  • Having connections and collaborating with genealogy gurus is a great thing (Thanks, Jens and Jane!)
  • Getting older  Advancing yearly in wisdom can have wonderful genealogy effects!
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About maryjlohr

Avid genealogist.
This entry was posted in ancestry, German Ancestry, Schwans Genealogy. Bookmark the permalink.

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