Sunday, August 14, 2011

What I Learned Reading The Tracer

I was excited to receive my August 2011 copy of The Tracer.  It seems that every time I dig into my copy lately, I find something directly related to my research.  This edition was no exception.  I've been researching my ancestors who served in the Civil War, some of whom were German.  So of course I was drawn to Don Heinrich Tolzmann's article on Germans in the Civil War. Mary Ann Faloon submitted and article on "More Irish Genealogy Learning Opportunities Available from Home" and Jim Dempsey helped us get a better handle on Probate Court records.  What really caught my eye in this issue, however, was Judy Craven's article on "The Mystery of Passenger #171 . . ."

Scanning the article, I realized that Judy had included a list of 204 passengers from Bremen to Cincinnati in 1852.  Better yet, many of the passengers came from the Oldenburg region of Germany with town names so familiar I can rattle them off in my sleep.

My Vonderheide ancestors emigrated from Holdorf, Germany.  The first family of "my" Vonderheides that came to Cincinnati were included in Judy's list.

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Although not in my direct line, this Herman and Elisabeth were the aunt and uncle of those who were to arrive 29 years later.  They probably were the link that made my g-grandparents decide on Cincinnati.  Judy questioned in her article whether or not Arnold Muthing, passenger #171, could actually be her great-grandfather, Adolph, using his brother's name.  Judy went on to describe her evidence for why she had concluded that "This must be Adolph!"

How did this impact me?  First of all, I grew up in Pleasant Ridge and was in a Girl Scout troop with Carol Muething.  Her mother, Mildred, was one of our leaders.  A quick phone call to Judy confirmed that she knew that family well and that they were related to her.  Secondly, I was encouraged to think that if Judy could find Vonderheides on a Passenger List that I should be able to also. 

For years it amazed me that I could not find "my" family in Germans to America or on a passenger list.  After all, I knew more than most.  I had a copy of  my gg-grandfather's naturalization papers and I knew they had arrived in the U.S. in June, 1881 when my g-grandfather was 7 years old.  Encouraged by Judy's success, I searched one more time.  Here is what I found:

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The person who transcribed this record recorded the name of passenger #157 as H. o. d. Heide, age 42. Here is the transcription for his wife and three children:

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My Vonderheide family of 1881 included Hermann Heinrich (age 42), Elisabeth (age 43), Joseph and Heinrich (Henry) twins (age 11) and August (age 7).  The ages for the parents were correct.  Elisabeth could have had the nickname of Liselle.  What was clearly "Heinr." on the original record was transcribed as "Heiur", and "August" was transcribed as "Margurt".  The poor transcription of the names was understandable, but the ages were clearly wrong.  And how did they EVER decide that their surname was HeideHeide?

I have overwhelming evidence that this is the exact time frame for the arrival of my ancestors in Baltimore.  I have the Naturalization record, a written family history and census documents that all support this date.  I'm not surprised that the people responsible for recording the names of the people in steerage were not too concerned about getting the ages of the children correct.  Everything else fits.

So I want to thank Deb Cyprych and Judy Craven for their work on The Tracer and publication of this article.  Without their contributions, I would have never solved this mystery  -- The Mystery of Passenger #157 and his family. And Judy can add her name to the list of HCOGS members from this area.  Anybody for a DNA test?

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