Early 20th Century Confirmations Confirm and Question

The records of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) as digitized on Ancestry.com have been mentioned before. The digital version of these records contains an index that is only partial and usually just includes records of baptisms, marriages, funerals, and some confirmations.

It is still advised to browse the digital images of these records manually. There are other records included in these digital images that are unindexed, including:

  • membership lists
  • communion registers
  • offering lists
  • church board or council minutes
  • confirmations

Of course a manual search can also help the reader find baptisms, marriages, or deaths that were either missed by the indexer or extremely difficult to read.

A manual review of the records of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Golden, Adams County, Illinois, located confirmation records for the five youngest children of Focke and Anna (Dirks) Goldenstein:

  • Heipke-born in 1892-confirmed in 1908
  • Wilhelmina-born in 1894-confirmed in 1909
  • Altje-born in 1900-confirmed in 1914
  • Christopher-born in [not stated in these records]- confirmed in 1917
  • Jurgen-born in 1904–confirmed in 1918

The places of birth and dates of baptism were also given for all these children. The information contained in any of these entries can be incorrect, but there’s no reason not to believe it at this point. These children were born in Illinois before vital registration was a state mandate so there may not be contemporary official records of each of their births.

The locations of their births were not a surprise to me. I knew that the family moved from a farm in Hancock County, Illinois, to one near Golden, Adams County, Illinois, around 1900. However, Wilhelmina’s place of birth perplexed me since it said Coatsburg, Adams County, Illinois.

It’s not all that far from Golden and both are in Adams County. But to the best of my knowledge, the family never lived near Coatsburg after their marriage. Several things are possible

  • The pastor made a mistake. The mother of the Goldenstein children was actually born in Coatsburg, but she and her husband moved shortly after her marriage and to the best of my knowledge she never lived there again. Pastor may have gotten confused.
  • The family may have actually lived in Coatsburg for a short time after leaving Hancock County and moving to Golden in Adams County.
  • The mother may have gone to Coatsburg to have the baby. That seems slightly less possible as Anna had been married for nearly 13 years at this time and already had several children.



What I need to do are review the church records of the church where the children were baptized. There may not be local records of their births, but the confirmation records indicate that the children were baptized, so there should be baptismal records. That may clear up the place of birth for Wilhelmina.



My transcription of these records should be true to the record being transcribed. It is worth noting that date of birth information given in a confirmation record may be incorrect. Typically these records are fairly consistent, but it is always possible that a copy error was made.


Records such as these can be good ways to determine earlier residences of parents if those details are unknown.


Records of this type can also be good ways to learn of other families who may have migrated with your ancestor as well.


My webinar:

Using the Lutheran (ELCA) Records at Ancestry.com

This presentation will provide an overview of digital images of ELCA congregational church records on the Ancestry.com site. Navigational and search techniques, limitations of available index, citation issues, download, and use of images will be discussed. Learn how to get the most out of this record set.

Order the ELCA presentation here (media file and handout) for only $7. Download is immediate.



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