Time for the genealogy happy dance!
One of the biggest genealogy challenges I’ve faced with my German ancestors is finding the village or town where they were born and lived. The reason for needing this information is that there was no centralized repository for 18th and 19th century records of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. These events were recorded at the local level, either in the church registers or the municipal archives. So, in order to find them you have to know where to look. (Basic genealogy principle!) And until you can identify where an ancestor lived, you really can’t do much research. For example, it took me about four years of intense searching to local the ancestral village and parish of my Schwans ancestors. But persistence paid off and eventually I found the little town of Vreschen-Bokel (with an incredible amount of help from Jens and Jane and many other persons!)
In researching the birthplace of my son-in-law’s German ancestors, I was facing the same challenges, with absolutely NO clue where in Germany they originated. So I focused on other lines that were easier to research and “forgot” about the Roths and Muellers. But one night recently I took another look at an obituary for Susanna Roth Mueller and noticed she had a sister who survived. Further research on the surviving sister, Elizabeth Rath Weimers, (now deceased) yielded her memorial on Findagrave.com and, wonder of wonders, an actual copy of her death record at FamilySearch.org. And what should appear on her death record but the names of her parents (including the maiden name of her mother) AND her place of birth. And, as almost a pure gift, the information was typed so I did not have to decipher handwriting. More checking on FamilySearch confirmed the names of the parents, Johannes Rath (not Roth) and Susanna Schmidt (or Schmitt).
As is so often the case, this opened more doors and I identified seven children who had been born to this couple … as well as the date of their marriage. But why stop there? I have ordered the microfilmed records in hopes of identifying the names of the parents, one generation back. Yeah, it does seem like we genealogists are never satisfied! But if the information is available to be found, I want to find it. Why quit when the chase is hot!
The place of birth on Elizabeth Rath Weimer’s death certificate was given as Dürkheim. The index to the microfilm listed her place of birth as Grethen and baptism in Dürkheim … but on a map there is a distance of almost 300 miles between Grethen and a town named Bad Dürkheim. That didn’t make sense that parents would travel that distance in 1855 with a newborn.
Back to more checking on the towns … it turns out there was a town called Grethen that was annexed by Bad Dürkheim in 1935. Also, the town of Dürkheim became Bad Dürkheim in 1905. NOW, the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fit together.
Now where are those dancing shoes?