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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ancestor is talking from the grave with DNA results!

Sometimes when you are researching your family history you feel like your ancestors are talking to you.  Last weekend my great great grandmother was talking loud and clear.

My last blog was about Conrad Boehler and his coming through Lincoln, Ill.  Conrad married Amelia Spoettle (Spitly) and today's blog is about her family.  The history of the Spitly family had been passed down but we had no information about Amelia's mother, Theresa.  When I was in Lincoln, Ill last spring going through the church records I discovered that her maiden name was Herberger ( many different spellings of this are found).  So now that I knew her maiden name researching her family should be easy...yeah, not so much.

I started by looking for other Herberger families in the area and I found another gentleman, John, researching the Herberger family too.  We found a Goerge and Josephine Herberger in Lincoln but have no records connecting them to Theresa.  Nothing I have mentions Theresa's family.

Anyway, John had contacted me recently and wanted to look at this again.  We had spent the week exchanging emails and ideas of where to look next but still had no idea if Theresa had any family in Lincoln or where she came from.

So last Saturday we were exchanging a couple more ideas and going back over what little information we had when I see an email come in from Ancestry.  It said that I had some new DNA matches.  I click on it and I had a new third cousin match.  That was excited in itself but when I clicked on it the person that was my third cousin match had her tree attached to her profile and she is a direct descendent of George Herberger of Lincoln, IL!!!!!  I had goosebumps.  This had to be more than a freaky coincidence….my great great grandmother, Theresa Herberger Spitly was pointing me to her family.  She wants to be remembered.

*Side note…John's link to the Herberger family is a Carolina Herberger who married Ambrose Wachter.  Ambrose and Carolina were neighbors to Joseph and Theresa Spitly.  They were found together in the church records as sponsors for the baptisms of each other's children.  This make me believe that Carolina is also related to Theresa but Theresa and George are both listed as coming from Bavaria in several places and John has a complete story on Carolina and her mother coming from Germany so we are not sure if there is a true relationship there or not.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In Search of Konrad...

My Great Grandfather Conrad Boehler came over from Germany in 1872 according to census records.  I have yet to find his passage on a ship list but will keep looking.  This blog is going to discuss finding Conrad in Germany considering all we had to go on was that he said he was from Baden. First some background on what we already knew about Conrad.

Conrad landed in Lincoln Ill and met my Great Grandmother Amelia Spitley (Spoettle).  Amelia's father, Joseph farmed in Lincoln, Ill and her Uncle Martin Spitley owned the Spitley House there.

*Photo was sent to me from the Logan County Genealogy and Historical Society.

The hotel burned down in 1924 but it is still remembered by a mural in downtown Lincoln.
I was lucky enough to make a trip with my mom last spring to visit Lincoln, Ill.  I took the picture while there.

Conrad married Amelia on the 12th day of January in 1875 at St. Mary's Catholic church.  With Amelia came 80 acres of  farm land as found in the deed books.  A quit claim from Amelia to Conrad was recorded in July 1875.

They remained in Lincoln, Ill until 1878 at which time they moved to Beatrice, Nebraska.  After doing research of the area it seems there were friends from Lincoln, Ill that also moved to Beatrice. Knochel is one of the names found in Beatrice and Lincoln.  Conrad filed an intent to become a citizen in Lincoln, Ill and completed the papers in Beatrice, NE.  It took me 3 trips to the Beatrice Courthouse to finally talk to someone who knew where these records were kept but on that 3rd trip his record of naturalization was found.  
In 1893 Conrad moved his family to Alma, Nebraska and took up farming on land just west of Alma. This land is still being farmed by my dad and brother John and JJ Boehler.
Below is a picture of the house that first resided on this land.
*Picture given to me by my dad.  Although hard to see Conrad and Amelia are seated and all 7 children are in the picture.  

In 1908 Conrad and Amelia retired from farming and built a beautiful house in Alma, Ne.  That house still stands today and is still beautiful.
*I took this picture on one of my trips to Alma.

Conrad passed away on May 20, 1930 from Carcinoma of the Stomach.  Amelia had passed before him from heart disease on November 14, 1926.

Conrad and Amelia had 8 children, one died as an infant, but the others lived to adulthood.  Theodore, Joseph, Mary, Frank, Caroline, George and Edwin. Only two of those children married.  Frank Boehler married Mattie Colgan and they had one son, Clement.  My Grandfather, Joseph Boehler married Loretta "Etta" Fuller and they had 4 children.  Margaret (Peg), Jody, Conrad and John (Jack).  John is my father.

Since Conrad had died in 1930 and my Grandfather Joe died in 1968 when I was in kindergarten there really wasn't anyone to ask about what part of Germany he had come from and what life was like there.  On his death certificate his place of birth was listed as Baden Germany and his parents names were listed as Unknown.  His son, George had given the information so he didn't seem to know much either.

I had been told that Conrad was a stow away on a ship and that he left Germany suddenly.  He had served in the Franco-Prussian War and the "story" was that he was dating a girl and later found it was his superior officer's wife.  Because of this he had to leave Germany in a hurry to avoid the wrath of the officer.  His obituary said that he was the youngest of seven children.  That is about all I had to go on.

As I had become interested in genealogy I had started by researching the other side...the Fuller family.  My cousin, Barb, had done research on the Boehler/Spitly side and for a family reunion she had put together a fabulous book of family group records and pictures that she had collected, but as I became more and more caught up in genealogy I really wanted to know more about where in Germany Conrad came from and more about his family.  

I knew since I had just started out and was still learning that I had to have help.  I got a name of a German researcher from the same friend that has helped me multiple times in my research.  So I contacted her with the only information I had.

Conrad Boehler, born October 16, 1849, in Baden Baden Germany.  The only other thing I had in my possession was a picture that was with my dad's things that had been passed down to him.  It was a picture that listed a Boehler in Germany getting married and the site was listed as Lake Constance, Germany.  I had no idea if this person was related to us or why that picture was mixed in with the Boehler things but it was.

The researcher told me that she would start looking in Baden Baden but that she did not believe any Boehler's were born there.  She searched the records and reported that no Boehler was born that year in Baden Baden.  Next she searched the areas around Lake Constance going from the only hint we had in the picture of Helene Boehler. 

First she found a Conrad Boehler in that area that was born in November 26, 1841 but the year was too far off to be my Conrad.  So she went to looking in another area of Baden where she felt the Boehler family originated from.  I also had asked her to look for an emigration record for Conrad but explained that I believe he stowed away on a ship.  She told me that when they said that they "disappeared in the dark of night" translated to "stowed away" to us, that it meant that he did not ask permission to emigrate to the US.  When someone wanted to leave the principality it was a loss of taxes from this man so they have to pay money to emigrate.  Most people were poor and did not have the amount of money needed for this so they disappeared "by night and fog"!  She told me that he would have still had to purchase a ship ticket as they were very careful to not allow stow aways.  

So she continued to look for my Conrad and one day I received an email that she felt that she had found him!  He was the only Conrad born in that area that year.  The record stated that he was born
October 24, 1849 and he was the youngest of seven children.  I was excited but still unsure due to the birthdate being off.  I felt like everything else fit in.  His father was Sebastian Boehler and mother was Theresia Schey and he was born in a small parish of Riedoeschingen.  Also the distance to Mittelzell, Lake Constance was only 40 there still could be a connection to the picture we had.  She went on to get me lots of information of generations going back many years but I still had that little bit of doubt in my mind.  But how would I ever be sure....

A few months later I had been to a genealogy workshop and they were talking about going back and doing google searches every so often of the people that you are working on because new information is being added everyday and something new could pop up when you least expect it to.  Well my great grandfather was pushing me to check for him that day so I put his name in and I couldn't believe my eyes at what came up.

This is a page from The Bulletin, United States Bureau of Plant Industry that states that my great grandfather had seed from Riedoeschingen Germany that he was growing and developing for them.  This was the confirmation that I needed that he was indeed the Conrad from Riedoeschingen born October 1849.  
Since then I have been told that one explanation for the difference in the day of his birth was that the priest may have been a traveling priest who went from parish to parish to baptize babies and by the time he got back to record births in the books he may have not remembered everything correctly. I don't know but I do believe that my Conrad had been found and with it being in Germany I could never have found the information on my own. 
*Pictures of Conrad and Amelia and a copy of Conrad's intention to become a citizen.

My mom remembers being told that Conrad was spelled Konrad in Germany.  She was right, the books that record his birth have him listed as Konrad Boehler with the "K".  Everything I have found of him in the United States has it spelled with a "C".

We still have not found a connection to the picture of Helene Boehler but I think it must be there. Time will hopefully tell...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

My great uncle, George Boehler, was an interesting man.  He was born in Beatrice, Nebraska , April 6, 1888.  In 1893 he moved with his family to Alma, Nebraska.  He graduated from Alma High School in 1905.  George is in the back row, 5th from the left.

He went on to Dentistry school at Creighton in Omaha Nebraska and graduated from there in 1908.  In 1910 he has a practice in Alma and stays there until WWI.

George was stationed at Base Hospital No. 49 holding the rank of Lieutenant and later Major of the Dental Reserve.  Upon returning home from the war he practiced dentistry in Omaha rising high in the ranks of his profession.  He served for 10 years as a member of the State Dental Examining Board and was a President of the Nebraska Dental Alumni.  He frequently contributed to various medical journals including, "The Removal of Palatal Bone Tumors and Growths" which he presented to the Midwest Association of Anesthetists at their tenth Annual Congress of Anesthetists in New York City.
After returning from the war he continued with his studies spending time at Northwestern University in Chicago and Queens College of Arts, Cambridge England.  He built a national reputation for himself for skill in dental and plastic surgery.

George's most noted plastic surgery was making an ear for a gentleman who had lost his.  According to the Omaha World Hearld, December 20, 1919 on the front page,
"An interesting piece of work in facial reconstruction was successfully completed Monday when Anthony Robinet, 21 years of age, left for his home in Hospers, IA, with a new right ear to take the place of his own which was severed from his head in an accident eight years ago. 
The ear was modeled by Dr. George M. Boehler and tinted to reproduce the translucent appearance of the natural ear by Donne Powell.  The ear was fastened to the head by Dr. J.P. Lord.
Dr Boehler, who was a member of the Nebraska Base Hospital, No. 49, studied facial reconstruction in Sidcup,  the Queen's hospital in London.
In modeling the ear, he first reproduced the natural ear in wax, and from this model made a mold into which he poured the composition of which the ear was finally made.
Dr. Lord fastened the ear to the head by a means of platinum wires which are concealed in openings in the head.  The finished ear is difficult to detect as artificial, so nearly is it reproduced in color and form. "Gee," said Robinet, "I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me."
The operation was the first of its kind to be performed in Omaha."

The World Hearld had a more comical view on the new ear on January 6, 1920.
"Our correspondent at Hospers, IA, reports that Anthony Robinet of that thriving metropolis, recently had an artificial ear hung on him in place of the one sliced off eight years ago, and that the beneficiary later remarked:
"This gives me a new outlook on life!"
A man who can see through his ear is remarkable."

George was not all about work though.  He was listed continually in the Omaha Society pages.  When he wasn't going to gatherings he was hosting them.  On March 27, 1932, George was listed in the Omaha World Hearld in an article about Omaha's Bachelor's Charms.  The description of George goes like this.
"Makes lots of money by fixing teeth of best people.  Likes music and theater.  Sober and kind.  Belongs to clubs and has stunning black and red roadster.  Travels a lot to Europe and here.  Popular. Goes home from parties at midnight"
When asked why he wasn't married, he was quoted in the Omaha World Hearld on April 12, 1931 as saying,
"Why I never married?" echoed Dr. George M. Boehler, young, good looking bachelor dentist, then answered, "I just can't fool 'em. " Just like that."

George died on June 5, 1933 following complications of Gall Bladder surgery.  His place of residence at the time was 102 S. 52nd St., Omaha Nebraska.  His funeral was held at St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Church in Omaha on 61st and Dodge.  He is buried in the Alma Cemetery in Alma Nebraska.

***One side remembers that there was a picture of George with Anthony Robinet with the new ear but we have not seen the picture in many years.  We are not sure what happened to it but it would be a gem to have today.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brick Walls Come Down Little by Little

It seems to me that with each brick wall I bust through I may gain several more.  The very first line that I started searching when I started genealogy still has the most brick walls but I have also busted through a lot of them over time.  So wins and losses have been the theme for this line.

Tilghman Overton and Elizabeth Byers were my great great grandparents.  They came to Nebraska from Indiana in the early part of 1860 to claim free land through the Homestead Act.  Their homestead was located in Sarpy county, Nebraska.

Elizabeth I will save for another day because her brick wall is a tall one, except to give you enough information to help you understand Tilghman.  On the 1870 census the family is listed as:
Tilghman 28, Elizabeth 30, Margaret 7, Robert 5, Anna 2.

As soon as the Homestead Land was officially theirs Tilghman and Elizabeth took out a mortgage on it in 1871 from a James Preston.  In 1875 James Preston files suit in District Court due to default on the loan.  In his claim he states that the said, Elizabeth M. Overton has died since the mortgage was taken out.  This is the only proof I have of her death.  Newspapers from that time period were not perserved in that county.  There are some starting about 1875 but nothing from 1871-1874 that I have found.

All of Sarpy County's cemeteries have been documented and Elizabeth's name does not show up in any of them.
 * Brick wall #1:
-Where is Elizabeth buried and when exactly did she die?

In 1876 Tilghman marries Marie Adkins (a widow) in Sarpy County.  They are together in the 1880 farm census in Forest City, Sarpy Co., Nebraska.  Tilghman's children are not listed with them but Maria's children are.

Tilghman's daughter, Margaret (my great grandmother), is listed in 1880 as being 16 and working for a James Davidson.  Tilghman's son, Robert, is listed in an 1880 farm census as being 14 and I find him living with his aunt, Matilda Byers McClure Groth, and her husband.  I don't find little Anna at all and I never find Robert again after the 1880 census.
* Brick wall #2:
-What happened to Robert and Anna?

Tilghman next shows up in the Omaha City Directory in 1881 listed as a carpenter and boarding.  On future census records for Maria the marital status box labeled "widowed or divorced" is checked.  When Maria dies and her son inherits her land there is a sworn statement that Maria Adkins and Maria Overton are the same person and that Maria Overton has divorced Tilghman.  No divorce record has been found in either Sarpy County or Douglas County.

For a long time I could not find Tilghman after seeing him in the Omaha City Directory.  "Brick Wall".  He seemed to have disappeared from the census records and the Omaha city directories.  Then one day when discussing this problem with another genealogist he did a search on ancestry and told me that he found him in the California Voter Records.  These records had just became available and I had not done a recent search for Tilghman.  This was a great lesson for me...just because nothing comes up one day you shouldn't give up. Something new might come up the next day as new records are being added all the time!

So Tilghman shows up in the California Voter Registers and there is a great description of him.  He is listed as being 6' tall, dark complextion, brown eyes and dark hair.  That is exactly how I would describe my dad!  At this point in time I had no picture of Tilghman and this was great information.
I can find Tilghman in voter registers and city directories up until 1897in California and then he is gone again.
*Brick wall #3:
-Where did Tilghman go?  When did he die?

So now I only have my great grandmother, Margaret Overton, to track.  Margaret married John Fuller in Sarpy County in 1882.  They have 9 children during the time they are in Sarpy County and 2 more when they move to St. Francis, KS.  3 of the children die in Sarpy County.  2 girls die in 1891 and one son, Charlie dies in January 1900.  John and Margaret move their family to St. Francis, KS about March of 1900.
I am reading the newspapers of the time for more information about how Charlie died.  I find lots of little family snippets in the papers about this Fuller family.  I find some birth records, and I do also find that John has been to Kansas looking for land and that he will be moving his family there.  I then find a record about the death of Charlie.  Seems he was about 17 and died of pneumonia.  I am not sure why I kept reading the papers after that date because the family had moved but it was interesting and so I kept on reading and my heart just about jumped out of my chest when I came across this:

"Til Overton, who was well known to all the old-timers in this part of the country, died in Kansas on the night of May 4.  He was about sixty years of age and leaves one daughter, Mrs. John Fuller, of St. Francis, Kansas.  The cause of the death the MONITOR did not learn."
-Springfield Monitor 10 May 1900

I was so excited to find a record of what had happened to Tilghman.  I have a death date for him and a state...but new mysteries too.  Did he die in St. Francis while visiting his daughter?  I have not had a chance to really search the cemeteries there yet to see if he is buried there.  I have borrowed the newspapers for St. Francis, KS and looked for more information on his death but found none.  I can also now be pretty sure that Anna and Robert had both died at some point since it lists her as the only daughter left to mourn him.

Later I did receive one more awesome piece of history on Tilghman.  My cousin, Connie, and my aunt, Jody, from California have been going through some of my aunt's old photo albums and they scanned and sent me this.

,What a treasure!  Brick wall #3 was knocked partially down.  I hope to be able to find where he was buried.  1900  is just a little bit too early for death certificates in Kansas but I will keep looking for other records.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Funeral Card Friday

I am going to switch over to the Boehler family for "Funeral Card Friday".

I don't know much about Mary Boehler since she died young and was unmarried.  She was born on January 8, 1880 in Beatrice, Nebraska to Conrad and Amelia Boehler.  She moved with her family to Alma, Nebraska and continued to live with her parents up until she died from complications of diseases following a surgical operation.  I remember when I was little that my dad used to tell me that  I was not allowed to get married when I grew up...I was to live at home and take care of my parents for ever.  I guess that Mary and Carrie (also never married) Boehler took this literally when their dad told them the same thing.
Also stated in her obituary in the Harlan County Journal, October 29,1915, "In her death the community loses one of its leading young ladies.  A favorite among a large circle of friends and the home is relieved of a faithful daughter who has at all times devoted her talents toward making that place all the word implies."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ten Fingers and Ten Toes

When a baby is born most people can't wait to see if it is a boy or a girl, how much hair it has and what color eyes it has. In my family whenever a baby was born the first thing we checked was if the baby had 10 fingers and 10 toes.  We did this because we were told that my Great Grandfather, John Fuller, had died during a barn raising.  The story goes that he didn't have any thumbs and so wasn't able to hold his side of the barn up and it came down on him and killed him.

My mother tells me that as soon as one of us was born that Grandma Etta Fuller Boehler (John's daughter) would immediately unwrap the baby and check digits so in turn that was the first thing we checked when my children were born.

Now let's weigh the facts and see if this was just a Great Grandma Fuller story or if there is some truth in this.  When I started genealogy I looked for John Fuller's obituary.  He died in St. Francis, Ks on March 17, 1904.  The obituary from the St. Francis newspaper states the following:

"John Fuller was stricken with apoplexy about 9 o'clock last Thursday evening, March 17, and expired in one hour and thirty-five minutes.  He became unconscious instantly and never spoke again.
Mr. Fuller had just completed and moved into his comfortable new house and was in excellent spirits.  During the day Thursday he had helped John Nelson to butcher and raise a building which they were to move on the following day and being tired he retired early.
It was probable that in the exertions of the day Mr. Fuller injured a blood vessel in his brain which ruptured after he retired and caused his death"

This doesn't exactly say that he lost his grip on the building and was hit in the head with it...but something like that could have caused the bleeding in his brain.

The only other piece of evidence to support the possibility is a picture of 3 grandmothers with the first granddaughter, Margaret Boehler Brown.  From left to right,  Amelia Boehler, Sarah Jane Padgett Fuller Calhoun, and Margaret Overton Fuller (my great grandmothers on each side and great, great grandmother in the middle holding my aunt).   It appears to me that they have one of Margaret's shoes off and Great Grandmother Fuller is counting toes!

Grandmothers counting fingers and toes!
The original picture belongs to my aunt.  Thanks for sharing Jody Gehley and Connie Norland!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On the trail of my ancestors...

I have always loved family gatherings and the stories that were told.  It wasn't until about two years ago that I decided to try to learn more about my ancestors.

My dad is a great story teller and it sounds like a trait that was passed down in time from his Mother's side of the family.  My grandfather was 50 when my father was born so he was the baby of the family and didn't know many of his grandparents.  The one grandmother he did know lived with the family when she was older and dad was close to her.

So for the dad and his brother are both dark complected and both with coal black hair.  When asked where they got their looks we were told that Grandma Fuller was an Indian who had been abandoned on the prairie or something to that effect. This was the story that she had told my dad.  Other than that he had no idea what her maiden name was or where she was born, etc.

I happen to work with a Radiologist who is a very competent genealogist.   So one day I was asking him how I would find out if there was any Indian blood in our family.  He told me the easiest way would be to do a DNA test.  Since the grandmother in question was dad's maternal grandmother a mtdna test was ordered.  My sister and I purchased this for my dad for his birthday.  We were so excited to have the proof coming our way of the Indian blood that was in our family.

Well the test came back and we were so surprised... not a drop of American Indian in dad's blood!

So if great grandma wasn't Indian then I had to know who she was and where she came from.  From that day on I was hooked on genealogy.

I found that Grandma Margaret Fuller was born to  Elizabeth Byers and Tilghman Overton.  She was born on a homestead near Springfield Nebraska. She married John Fuller who was also living in Sarpy County.  They had 11 child three of whom died young and are buried in the Springfield Cemetery.  The family moved to St. Francis, Ks in January 1900.

This is a far cry from being an Indian child abandoned on the prairie but it made a good story to tell a grandson to keep him interested!

My next blog will deal with another one of her famous stories that stuck with the family for generations having to do with great grandpa dying because he had no thumbs!