Amazing Info Found – The Net As a Beginning Tool

Life has returned to semi-normal after the recent hurricanes. By semi, I mean the county still hasn’t collected the debris, milk and gas aren’t available everywhere and several parks remain closed due to damage. When our power was out for several days, I limited my internet usage to conserve my cell phone battery. It wasn’t until I went to clean my spam filter for my website, Genealogyatheart, that I discovered a message from a distant cousin. He had discovered my site and our connection through our great grandfather by simply Googling the last name.
I replied to his comment and he included one of his nieces on our messages. Between the 3 of us, family puzzles began to be solved quickly. In the past week, I discovered that my paternal grandparents had hosted a small family reunion at their farm in the 1960’s. My parent’s divorce was finalized by that time so my mom knew nothing of the event. Without my cousins input, I wouldn’t have known about it, either.
That got my brain going about unidentified people on an old movie I had inherited from my father. Hubby and I have had all our 8 mm films and VHS tapes professionally saved to a DVD. (Side note: If you think your VHS tapes aren’t so old they need to be saved, think again. The oldest VHS tape from 1984 was fading away while some of the 1950 movies looked as good as new). The DVD contains still photos of some of the movies so hubby took those of the mystery people, along with another CD we had made of all the old family photos we had scanned years ago, and sent them off to both cousins for help in identifying these unknown folks.
We’re fairly certain that the picture above is of my grandmother, Lola, and her older brother, Stanley. Why? I have the photo and they have the photo. They are descended from Stanley and it was in their box of photos of his family. My step mother had placed all the old photos in one box so I was never sure who any of my unlabeled people were. Were they a Leininger, Landfair, Kuhn, Kable, Kettering, Bollenbacher, Adams or Duer? I had tried the old Google Picassa facial recognition feature and it helped somewhat but I didn’t have enough identified photos to have it match effectively.
These cousins sent me a few other photos electronically over the past week to see if it would help but Picassa is no longer supported by Google and it kept freezing so no answers there! I’m hopeful they’ll be able to match some of the photos on the CD to photos in their box so at least we can categorize by surname.
The cousin who initially contacted me stated their tale is that the family originated from Ireland and not Bavaria as my line recalled. I tend to believe them for several reasons. I’ve had another family member misidentified’s country of origin as Germany instead of being born in the U.S. Maria Duer Kuhn’s death certificate states she was born in Germany but she was born in Ohio. Her son was the informant. Her husband was the one born in Germany. It seems like my Great British ancestors assumed the German culture of those they married in Ohio. Additional support for their story is that my DNA has a much higher likelihood of Great Britain then it does of German. Further, Landfair is not a German surname. When I questioned that years ago I was told that it probably had been changed from Lamphere. Could be but no proof of that was ever discovered.
One of the cousins also has a copy of my great grandfather’s funeral program which she will send me. I’ve blogged about him previously – he’s the gentleman who “accidentally fell from a platform” and there was a followup investigation a few months after his death resulting in additional paperwork after the death certificate. The lesson there was make sure you get the complete records you request.
This gets me to the point of today’s blog – there remains A LOT of additional information about your ancestors out there – in attics, basements and the brains of the living who recall the unrecorded stories past down. The internet can help you get to those that hold the key you need but alone, the internet is not enough. Reach out to long lost family and you just might discover the info you seek. Happy Hunting!

Saturday Serendipity


I’ve blogged often about my mysterious Duer family who left scarce records behind. Last Saturday I attended a local genealogy workshop hosted by Thomas MacEntee. While he was in Chicago and we were in Florida, my serendipitous encounter happened regarding Trumbull County, Ohio.
About once a month since August, out of the blue, some small item shows up which gives me a clearer picture of the family. The first weird event occurred in August when I made a call to a reluctant Trumbull County Clerk asking for help in locating cemetery records. When she told me I wasn’t going to find anything she actually meant she wasn’t going to look, as access to the original books were restricted to the general public. I told her the connections I’ve made on this line and how family history has seemed to repeat (see my blog Circular Migration Patterns – How History Repeats Itself). She was hooked and agreed to try to find the cemetery records, though she warned me I might not hear back for weeks. I laughed and told her I bet she turns to the exact page I needed. Ten minutes later she called to say my prediction was correct and she was spooked! Unable to place the book on the copy machine which was down, the clerk used her smart phone to take pictures of the page and then texted them to me.
During the hurricanes in September, I tried to locate a deed from 1805. Another Trumbull County employee told me that they were no longer available. I told her a little about the family and within an hour, I was on the phone with a retired genealogist who used to be president of the local history society. When the employee had called her with the name I was searching, Thomas Duer, the genealogist said, “Oh, I must speak with this woman as Thomas almost killed me once.” She explained that his tombstone had toppled and she had tripped over it during a cemetery cleanup several years ago. She had a photo of the stone that I had been searching for but her computer died and she had no backup. With a large personal library, she looked up the Duers and Byrds in every resource she had. That’s when I discovered that Thomas’ family had been left out of his father John’s will.
In October, I discovered who was Hazen, who had been named in John’s will. I had tried to find a newspaper obituary the previous month for him but they weren’t available. By the end of October, they were. Turned out Hazen was a grandson of John’s, the son of one of John’s deceased daughters. As I pondered why one grandson was named and not others who were descended from deceased son Thomas, I hoped for another wonderful find.
That discovery arrived unexpectedly right before Thanksgiving when I checked an unsourced tree on MyHeritage. Thomas’ wife, Hannah, was named as the wife of John Preston. Using FamilySearch, I found the marriage record; the reason I had never found it before was because Hannah’s married last name, Duer, had been indexed as Dure. That was odd as I originally had the surname as Dure from information I had received from a second cousin in the 1990’s. I only discovered the Duer name in 2010 when a family researcher contacted me via email. I was never able to find out how he connected with me as he died a few weeks after we began corresponding. But back to Hannah, she and John Preston had married just a few months after her first husband’s father-in-law had died and she and her children had been left out of the will.
I didn’t research much in December due to the holidays. My last words to my husband as I left for the genealogy meeting last Saturday were in jest; I hoped I make another awesome Duer find. The workshop was on finding the living so I really didn’t expect it to be useful for my Duer’s as the family relocated by 1860.
I arrived early to the meeting because I knew traffic would be fierce with the college championship games being held in the city. The parking garage line was long and when I finally got up to the ticket machine, it was empty. There was a line of cars behind me so I couldn’t back out but I couldn’t go forward, either, as the gate was down. I got out of the car and told the woman behind me I’d call security. Like the old fashion game of telephone, the message was passed from car to car.
Soon security arrived with tickets but the machine had jammed and then the gate was stuck. By now, it was pouring down rain as a cold front was coming through. I considered going home. A few minutes later the gate was open and I had a parking space. Because of the strong wind, I decided to just run into the auditorium as the umbrella would have been useless.
Dripping wet, I signed in and found a seat as the attendees were having a discussion about their brick walls. I wasn’t really paying attention when I caught the words of the woman in front of me “where do I look for divorce records?” No one replied so I asked in what location. “Ohio,” she said. I asked if she had used the Wiki on FamilySearch as I had found divorce records in several Ohio counties through the Common Plea records. She thanked me and another attendee asked a question. I went back to looking at my emails on my phone when a gentleman came up to me and asked where I was researching in Ohio. I told him Trumbull and Mercer Counties for my Duers. He said, “I was born and raised in Trumbull County.” My heart started thumping. “Oh my goodness,” I thought, “I was just kidding this morning when I said I hoped to find some Duer info.” We exchanged email addresses and yes, he also has a personal library of Trumbull County information which he has graciously shared with me in the past week. He also volunteered to have a friend of his go to the cemetery and take a picture of Thomas’ grave as soon as the snow melts. I’m hoping that’s my March Miracle!
This gentleman also explained to me why most of the records are not available. Several years ago there was a sewage leak in the basement of the building where the records were housed and most were destroyed. I can add this disaster to my burned courthouses, gas explosions and ripped out pages!
So, on that blustery Saturday I discovered a living knowledgeable individual from the area I was researching at a workshop on finding living people. That turned out not to be one of the methods but it certainly worked for me!

Records Breadcrumb Trail May Lead to Wrong Conclusions

I’ve been researching my Duer line lately with the idea that I’ll write a Kinship Determination from where my line begins, with Maria Duer, my great great grandmother, to my gateway ancestor, Thomas Stone Duer.

I’ve blogged previously about the serendipitous events and detailed how history repeats itself (see Circular Migration Patterns-How History RepeatsItself, 30 May 2015). After discovering the connection, I’ve become more determined to learn about the Duer Family.

Maria left some wonderful records, however, they initially led me to a wrong conclusion.  Years ago, I had found her obituary through the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center Obituary Index[1] but I couldn’t decipher it as it was in German and used Gothic script.  Her daughter Emma’s death certificate stated Maria was born in Germany.[2]  The obit and the daughter’s death certificate led me to believe that Maria was of German descent.  By just looking at the surface, those two records reinforced what I already knew about my father’s long line of German ancestry; I had Leininger, Bollenbacher, Kuhn, Kable, and Kettering surnames sprinkled everywhere in my tree and all of them were German immigrants.  No surprise that Maria Duer would have also been German.  How wrong I was!

Maria was born in Mahoning, Ohio on 2 September 1833.[3]  Adam Kuhn, Maria’s son with whom she resided at the time of her death and who was the neighbor of his sister, Emma, had served as Emma’s death certificate informant.  It is understandable that Adam most likely identified himself with his father Henry Kuhn’s German heritage.  German born Henry Kuhn was a prosperous citizen in Mercer County, Ohio and maintained a close connection with others who had immigrated from Germany.  Henry and Maria had been married for 55 years so she, too, would have been known in the German community so her obituary in a German newspaper makes sense.  After having the obituary translated, I learned that it never stated she was German but it did mention her German born husband.  Daughter Emma died at age 50 after suffering long term physical abuse from her ex-husband of 25 years.  Adam likely recalled his father’s birth place instead of his mother’s when he provided Emma’s death certificate information.  In grief, he probably just made an error.

Census records, a second obituary in English, and a mug sheet entry all confirm Maria was born in Ohio and connect her to her parents, John and Mary Jane (Morrison) Duer.  Maria Duer was once a brickwall ancestor but no longer!  What a great lesson in making sure a reasonably exhaustive search was performed AND analysis of all the found records was done.

[1] “Maria Duer Kuhn,” obituary, Die Minter [Ohio] Post, 1 August 1913, page 1, col. 3.

[2] Ohio, Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate, “Emma Landfair,” number 12296 (stamped, 21 February 1914.

[3] 1850 U.S. census, Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio, population schedule, page 245 (handwritten) dwelling 557, family 572, Maria Duer; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016); citing NARA microfilm publications M432_696.

1860 U.S. census, Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio, population schedule, page 141 (handwritten), dwelling 1008, family 1013, Henry and Maria Coon Jr.; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016); citing NARA microfilm publications M653_1009.

1870 U.S. census, Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio, population schedule, page 15 (handwritten) dwelling 55, family 58, Maria Kuhn; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016); citing NARA microfilm publications M593.

1880 U.S. census, Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio, population schedule, page 7 (handwritten) dwelling 55, family 58, Maria Kuhn; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016); citing FHL microfilm 1255048; citing NARA microfilm publications T9_1048.

1900 U.S. census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, population schedule, sheet 9 (handwritten) dwelling141, family176, Meriah Kuhn; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016); citing NARA with no further information provided.

1910 U.S. census, Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio, population schedule, sheet 9 (handwritten) dwelling 320, family 278, Miria Kuhn; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T624_1214.

Ohio, Department of Health Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate, “Maria Kuhn,” state file number 41826, 22 July 1913.

“Marie Kuhn,” The Grim Reaper, The Celina [Ohio] Democrat, 25 July 1913, page 1, col. 4.

Compilers, A Portrait and Biographical Record of Mercer and Van Wert Counties, Ohio (Chicago,IL:  A. W. Bowen & Co., 1896) 400-401; digital image, Google Books (https://books.google.com:  accessed 16 October 2016).

Education Across State Lines

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 20 Aug 2015.

Education was extremely important to my Leininger lines and I have an interesting story to share about my gateway 3 times great grandparents, Jean “John” (20 Nov 1801-1 Dec 1868) and Margueritte “Margaret” Gasse (27 Jan 1801-4 Apr 1886) Leininger who emigrated from Endenhoffr, Alsace-Lorraine, then Germany to America in 1827.  Previously, I’ve blogged about what a difficult trip it must have been for the family but the following story illustrates how quickly they acclimated to the “rules” of America and bent them for the benefit of their children.

The family emigrated with 2 sons – Theobald and John George.  Settling in Stark County, Ohio the family grew, adding sons John and Jacob.  In 1835, the family relocated to Mercer County, Ohio.  GGGgrandpa opted for a career change from blacksmithing to farming.  Sons Henry and Samuel were born after the move.  On July 1, 1839, John purchased 128.60 acres of land in Wabash Township, Jay County, Indiana with an additional 8 acres of land on the adjoining Ohio side.  John then built a home across the state line. This benefited the family greatly as they could easily relocate from Ohio to Indiana and back to Ohio without ever leaving their home.  They simply moved their furniture from one side of the house to the other.  Why would someone do this?  Family lore says it’s because of the variation in educational opportunities.  When the school teacher left Mercer, the children could easily continue schooling in Jay, and vice versa.  Personally, I think this was ingenious and says so much about how the family valued education.  They were in the forefront of the School Choice movement!

I’d love to visit the home but it was destroyed by fire in 1970.

My dad pulled the same stunt in the 1960’s.  His farm was on the county lines of both Lake and Porter in Indiana.  He preferred the Porter County school district so my step sibs were sent to Porter County schools. Technically, the house was built on the Lake County side so I’m not sure how he got away with it.

My great great grandfather, Jacob Leininger (11 Nov 1832-Jul 1908), served as town trustee and a long term school board member in Mercer County, Ohio.  I guess he preferred the Ohio to the Indiana schools after he grew up!

My great grandmother, Emma Kuhn Landfair (20 Jun 1864-21 Feb 1914) and grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger (27 Apr 1891-30 Jan 1964) were teachers for a short time before their marriages.  School must have been important to them as they saved their remembrance cards and all of my dad’s report cards.

john-d-kable

The above school Souvenir was for my grandmother Lola’s 1st grade year.  Her teacher, John D. Kable, would become her 2nd cousin through her marriage to my grandfather, Edwin Leininger. Edwin’s parents were Theobald Leininger, son of Jacob the School Board member and Caroline Kable. Caroline’s brother, John, had a son, John, who was the teacher at Wild Cat School (above).

My grandparents were in the same class – Eddie Leininger (1st column # 1) and Lola misspelled as Lora (2nd column #16):

eddie-leininger

My husband and I are high school sweethearts.  It’s an awesome thought to think that my grandparents were grade school sweethearts!

leininger-landfair-wedding

All grown and graduated, Eddie and Lola (above) married in 1914.

The Bakers-Kuhns-Landfairs-Leiningers all intermarried for several generations so many of the classmates were also related.

wm-kuhn

In 1904, William Kuhn was on the School Board:

William Kuhn was my grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger’s uncle.

Below, School Board member Henry Bollenbacher was another relative – he was my grandfather Edwin’s 2nd cousin:

henry-bollenbacher

It’s an amazing thought to reflect on the amount of impact the Leininger line had on education at the turn of the last century!