The Albers Family Sells Stuff in Denver in the 1880s–Full Text Searches Finds Employees

The beauty of full-text searches is that it facilitates the finding of references that otherwise would take a great deal of time or simply be impractical. That’s the case with these entries  for the Albers name from the 1882 Denver, Colorado, directory (from Corbett and Ballenger).

All the Albers entries are related to each other. Anna is the widowed mother of Ulfert L. Albers and L. U. and W. H. Albers are sons of Ulfert Albers. Other members of Ulfert Albers’ family (his wife and younger children) are not listed. That’s typical for city directories and not cause for any concern.

Based on the entries for the Albers family, it looked like they resided at 448 Blake and 671 Lawrence in Denver. It also appears that L. U. Albers and Company was based at 448 Blake, but L. U. Albers is actually listed as residing at 671 Lawrence. It is possible that there were living quarters above the apparent store at 448 Blake where the Alberses were apparently commission merchants (indicated by the “com mers” abbreviation).

A full text search of the directory located two of Albers’ employees: Reiner Gronewold and Christ. Haefliger. Both Gronewold and Haefliger are listed with a residence of 448 Blake.



Whether or not the employees had any relationship to the Albers family is not known at this time. The Albers family would be in Dawson County, Nebraska, later in the same decade and, as we’ve seen in other posts, another Gronewold interacted with the family in a way that was somewhat more confrontational.


Some Simple Things

[from 20 May 2015]

I use the online trees for the occasional clue. However in reviewing many of these trees while searching for research leads this week, I was reminded that apparently not everyone is aware of the following:

  • People do not marry after they die.
  • People do not have children after they are dead.
  • People are not born before their parents.
  • People do not marry before their parents are born.
  • The letters “bef” in front of a date matter.
  • The letters “aft” in front of a date matter.
  • The letters “about” in front of a date matter.
Note: A reader pointed out that men can have children born up to around nine months after they are dead. That’s correct. Nine years afterwards is a bit much though!

Using That Old Database

My original genealogy database started in the mid-1980s when I began using Personal Ancestral File. I did not include sources in those early days. I’m not even sure that one could really cite sources back then, but I was careful to obtain information from “somewhere.”

“Somewhere” was defined rather loosely, but it was made clear to me early in my research that I needed to have a source for information as I entered it on my family group charts (which I used and filled out with a manual typewriter before I got a computer in 1985). For much of my maternal side those sources initially were compiled family histories. Probably the biggest problem I later discovered with my research on those families was that I or someone had totally butchered the name. I later migrated to a variety of local records (which involved name butchering by clerks and census takers). I was always reliant on local records for my paternal families as there were no published family histories.

I had it drilled in me that I needed to find actual “record” sources for information and that “tradition” and “what aunt so-and-so” needed to be backed up. I also tend to be somewhat cynical and doubtful of information by nature and that helped a great deal. I also learned a lesson early on in “grabbing” a random Mr. Miller to be the father of my Miller ancestor because he was the closest one I could find and the easiest to research. I’ve cut myself some slack for that since I was 14 at the time. Because I tried to have some source when entering information, most of the time (with some exceptions), when I’ve gone back and tried to documented something already in my database, what I have is fairly accurate. The problem is that sometimes it is difficult to document your research twenty or thirty year after the fact. Your memory of how you found it the first time fades.

And sometimes when it is clearly wrong, you wonder if you actually dreamed it. That’s why we cite sources.

I still have a great deal of “unsourced” data in my database.  A great deal. Going through all of it and sourcing it will take some time. I may never get through it all as sourcing adequately and completely is a much slower process than simply entering in what one locates.

I’ve taken to using my “old” database as a stepping stone to reworking specific families. I’m not doing the research over from scratch as that is a waste of time. I try and remember that any of my conclusions from the old days could be wrong and I also try not to invest any emotional attachment to my old conclusions. One doesn’t want to hold unsourced conclusions too closely.

The only time I “start from scratch” is if I realize that I really don’t have much information in the first place or if it appears that what I have is somehow fundamentally flawed. Once in a while a clean slate is good.

Going through and getting the sources on a family that I thought I had done years ago (but unsourced) sometimes leads to the best discoveries. We tend to overlook things when we think we are done.

Schwantje Ehmen Sells Some Property

When Tonjes Jurgens Ehmen wrote his will in 1864, it appeared as if his wife, Schwantje, was living in Germany. There was no clear reference in Tonjes’ probate paper indicating she immigrated to the United States.

Apparently by late 1875 Schwantje was in the United States as she appears as the grantee on a deed referenced in the 3 January 1876 issue of the Quincy Daily Whig.  The property in question was in the town of Keokuk Junction, Adams, Illinois (currently known as Golden). I’m not entirely certain yet that this Schwantje is mine–more work needs to be done.

But it seems pretty likely this is her. The chance that there is another Schwantje Ehmen who was selling property to Jurgen T. Ehmen (one of Tonjes Jurgen Ehmen’s) besides Jurgen T. Ehmen’s mother is fairly slim.

None of Jurgen T. Ehmen’s brothers married a woman named Schwantje so the grantee on this deed is not his sister-in-law either. Jurgen T. Ehmen did have a sister, but her name was Antje T. Ehmen. Antje is not a diminutive for Schwantje–they are separate names. And Antje was married to Anton Sievers by 1864 anyway.

Note: This newspaper clipping was located on GenealogyBank.

My Wife Can Have $100 If She Wants to Get it

The will of Tonjes Jurgens Ehmen, of Adams County, Illinois, is dated 21 April 1864. It was filed and admitted to probate on 12 May 1864. His bequest to his wife is somewhat atypical:

“2d I give and bequeath to Schwantje Jurgen Ehmen my wife now in Germany in addition to what she has received on a former division the sum of one hundred dollars provided that she may call for it otherwise it shall be equally divided between my other heirs”

Interesting. This appears to suggest that at the time Tonjes wrote his will that he and Schwantje were separated, particularly because she is in Germany and a “former division” referenced. Living across the Atlantic Ocean would qualify as a separation.

It’s also interesting that Tonjes considers the possibility that his wife may not claim her inheritance. The rest of Tonjes’ estate is bequeathed in various portions to his children:

  • Johann T. Ehmen
  • Jurgen T. Ehmen
  • Willm T. Ehmen
  • Antje T Ehmen (wife of Anton Sievers)

Anton Sievers petitioned to be appointed executor on 12 May 1864 having been named by Ehmen as his executor. In that petition, he stated that Tonjes died on 30 April 1864 and only states that Tonjes Ehmen was “of Adams County, Illinois.” No specific place of death is given. Sievers’ petition to be appointed executor was approved.

A careful reading of the estate packet of papers for Tonjes’ estate located an inventory and an appraisal for that inventory. The widow’s award was left blank.

My previous date and place of death for Tonjes is 30 March 1864 in Knox County, Illinois. That information was obtained early in my research and is unsourced. The date in my unsourced file is exactly one month different than the date given in Tonjes’ probate file. I have no reason to disbelieve what is in the probate file and have concluded the date I originally had for Tonjes is incorrect. It really is difficult to argue with a death of date given in a probate file that is after the will was signed and before it was admitted to probate.

At this point I have decided I no longer have any evidence backing up the claim that Tonjes was died in Knox County, Illinois. That location has been removed in my file. I’m not indicating that he died in Adams County, either as the probate does not specifically state that. A probate would have been executed in Adams County if that is where the bulk of Ehmen’s property was located.

There are numerous trees on that have that same date and place of death for Tonjes. Based upon my past successes with getting information in online trees corrected, I have chosen not to contact the submitters to correct them.

There are also numerous trees on that suggest Schwantje died in Illinois as well. In fact, my own unsourced tree has that same information. Now I’m questioning that also given that she was not apparently living in the United States when her husband died. Given that all her children were living in the United States at the time Tonjes died, it is possible that she eventually emigrated.

Stay tuned.


State Census Records by Ann Lainhart

Published in 1992, Ann Lainhart’s 1992, State Census Records, is an overview of what state censuses were taken, what information they contain, and how (as of 1992) to access them. It is not an index of all these records. Instead it is meant to provide an overview of non-Federal census records. As such, it’s a handy reference for someone who is researching a variety of people in a variety of locations.state-census-records

Of course a significant number of state census records have been put online in the interim. This book does not address those access options. However being aware of the existence of these records for a certain locality should motivate the reader to find them on, etc.

When Lainhart indicates a state archives held state census records, a search of that state’s state archive website is in order. It may be even advised to perform Google searches in order to determine if the materials are online.

Note: When this post was written there were several former library editions of this book for sale at discount prices on

A Few Quick Reminders From Menne Aden

The “name’s the same” can be a big problem–even when that name is not too common.

There were two Menne Adens who lived in the Golden, Adams County, Illinois, area:

  • Menne Hinrich Aden, born about 1865 in Adams County, Illinois.
  • Menne Ehme Aden, born about 1867 in Adams County, Illinois.

Both men were named for a paternal grandfather. Menne Ehme is the “person of actual interest,” as his mother is my aunt. The difficulty is in separating out some records where it is not clear to whom the reference is being made. Many documents clearly list them with a middle initial in an attempt to distinguish between them.

Once I determined there were two Mennes, census records were relatively easy to use as Menne Hinrich was about two years older than Menne Ehme and they fortunately married women with different names. There was some overlap in the names of their children as sometimes happens in families where names are passed down from generation to generation.

Newspapers were the one record where it was occasionally difficulty to determine to whom the reference was being made. I put the references into three virtual piles:

  • clearly a reference to Menne Ehme,
  • clearly a reference to Menne Hinrich,
  • not clear at all.

I made an annotation in my notes indicating why I thought the reference was to Menne Ehme or Menne Hinrichs (unless the name made it obvious). That way it will be easier later to review the information and my reasons–either for myself or for someone who wants to know why I assigned a record to a specific person.

Because if I don’t track the why then I don’t know why.

Never assume there is only one person with that name, no matter how common it is.

Sifting references to multiple people with the same name (and including your reasons) is always a good idea–whether it’s Menne Adens living in late-19th century Adams County, Illinois, or James Tinsleys living in late-18th century Amherst County, Virginia.’s Shoebox in the Probate Collection

There are times when I really wonder just how many genealogists are really involved in the construction of the website interface at

This is one of those times.

I was‘s “Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999” to look at the 1885-era Adams County, Illinois, probate file for Heinrich Mennen Aden. I was hoping to find something on his brother Ehme Mennen Aden. No such luck. I did make a find. While looking at the list of individuals who purchased property at the estate sale in 1886, I noticed the name of two ancestors of my own: Hinrich Sartorius and Ulfert Behrens.

I decided to add the page to my shoebox for later viewing.


Upon going back later and clicking on the item in my shoebox, I had hoped that the link would take me to the specific page in Aden’s probate file that I had been on when I had saved the item to my shoebox.


No such luck.

It took me back to the first image in Aden’s probate file.

That seems somewhat illogical to me.

Why can’t it take me back to the actual image in the file I was on when I saved the item to the shoebox?


Note: Hinrich Mennen Aden (1841-1885)’s brother was Ehme Mennen Aden (1832-1915). Ehme was married to Reenste Focken Tammen (1826-1892). All died in Adams County, Illinois and were born in Ostfriesland, Germany. Reenste was a sister of my 3rd great-grandmother, Tjode Anna Focken (Tammen) Goldenstein. 

Browse Film When Digitizes It

Genealogists who have used Family History Library microfilm known that it is not unusual for items to be on a roll of microfilm that do not appear in the catalog entry for that film. Sometimes microfilmers film an unusual small book or a few pieces of paper that really don’t “fit” with the other records. Sometimes catalogers simply miss these items, especially if there are only a few pages. Sometimes catalogers don’t quite know how to catalog them and simply move on to the next item.

And sometimes users discover things on microfilm because they didn’t read the catalog description completely.

When indexes digital images that it has made from Family History Library microfilm, they sometimes index only part of what has been digitized. That appears to have been the case with‘s “Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969.”

The baptisms, marriages, and burials appear to have been indexed and appear in this database. Other items that may appear in these digital images (particularly confirmation records) do not appear to have been indexed.

That appears to have been the case with the confirmations from Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany in 1841. Two of my 3rd great-grandfathers (Johann Christophers Janssen and Hinrich Jacobs Fecht) appear in that list.  1841-wiesens-confirmations

How many villages have confirmation records included in this database is unknown. Users will have to browse the images for the desired location to determine if additional materials other than baptismal, marriage, and burial appear in the records. The card catalog entry for the roll of film from which the digital image of these was created, does not indicate that confirmations appear as well.

Why bother with these records?

Some may think that the confirmation records are not helpful and only repeat information that is in the baptismal and marriage records. Yes, that’s true. However, in an area such as Ostfriesland where patronymics were unofficially practiced until the mid-19th century in some families, an additional reference to a child with his or her last name is helpful.