Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spessart Roots: A History of the People of a German Forest

Saturday, April 22nd, 1:00 PM 

Main Library - Third Floor Program Area

Many members of HCGS have German roots. Whether your ancestors came from northwest Germany or The Bavarian southeast, have you ever wondered how your ancestors actually lived? Fortunately, HCGS member and native Cincinnatian, Mary E. Wuest, has written an exciting book -- Spessart Roots: A History of the People of a German Forest. This non-fiction work gives a vivid account of how events and circumstances played out in one location—Spessart Forest—in northwest Bavaria. Travel the road of peasant life through the centuries: through the wars, witch persecutions, famines, and heavy governance. Learn about life as a serf from the time of earliest settlements until the time of mass emigrations; and how religion, schooling, and customs affected everyday existence. Read gripping stories of individuals, including stories of the author’s own ancestors, which bring the forest’s history to life. Finally, in the last few chapters, travel with the emigrants as they transplant their roots in new lands. And, as a bonus, in the last chapter, learn what DNA can tell us about our deep ancestry, our original roots. 

Tim Trainor, Writer and Editor, provided an excellent review of this book on Amazon.
More than a million Germans immigrated to the United States from the mid-1840s through the following decade, fleeing repression, political turmoil and bleak futures. Andreas Wust and his future wife Maria Magdalena Gessner were among this diaspora, joining fellow countrymen in 1848 in a noisome Cincinnati enclave called Over-the-Rhine, where German language and customs prevailed through the twentieth century. Former U. S. Navy Commander Mary E. Wuest, great-granddaughter of this Bavarian couple, tells their story through the broad sweep of German history, focusing on the Spessart Forest, a forbidding and magical realm where wild animals, poachers, rogues and robber knights roamed the dense woods and feudal nobility ruled a network of farms and villages.
A model of meticulous research and crisp, clear writing, Spessart Roots traces forest inhabitants to the twelfth-century settlements of the Kahlgrund Valley, a mining and glassmaking region known for crystal clear "talking" mirrors immortalized in Snow White, the Grimm Brothers fairy tale. The book chronicles eras of famine, epidemics, invasions and pillaging punctuated by times of quiet prosperity. The stream of events flows through the centuries-long reign of the Holy Roman Empire, the Thirty Years War, Napoleonic conquests and other epochs that uprooted and shaped German society and culture.
Spessart Roots also is the story of America revealed through the microcosm of poor immigrants seeking freedom and opportunities denied them in their homelands. After settling in Cincinnati, Andreas Wust (Americanized to Andrew Wuest) started a mattress-making business that grew and prospered, staying in the family until its sale to Serta International in 1999 -- the American Dream fulfilled.
We hope to see you there.

Submitted by Kathy Reed
Program Director

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Two-Day Irish Genealogy Workshop and Streaming Webinar - Main Library - March 15th and 16th

We are excited to announce our participation in a two-day webinar presented by The Fountaindale District and the Plainfield Public Library District. The webinar will feature speakers from the Ulster Historical Foundation on Wednesday,March 15 and Thursday, March 16, 2017. We have reserved the Huenefeld Tower Room at the Main Library as well as one of the adjoining meeting rooms and kitchen so that participants will be able to spend the day in a relaxing atmosphere. Because we use Eastern Standard Time and the library hosting the webinars is in the Central Time Zone, sessions will be scheduled from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM each day. Participants should feel free to come and go as desired as well as watch the webinars from home. Here is the schedule. (Note: All times have been converted to EST from the original website posting).

Irish Genealogy – Resources for Success! irelandPublic Library (Wednesday, March 15 10:30 am to 6 p.m.)
Morning Session
010:30 a.m.  Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research
(1 hr)
11:30 a.m.   Irish Education and School Records (30 mins)
12 p.m.  BREAK (30 mins)
12:30 p.m.   Introduction to archives in Ireland (45 mins)
1:00 p.m.  LUNCH
2:30 p.m. Sources available for Irish research by county (1 hr)
3:30 p.m. Gravestone inscriptions and newspapers as sources for Irish research (45 mins)
4:15 p.m. BREAK
4:30 p.m. Using the Registry of Deeds, with a short introduction to Irish wills (55 mins)
5:30 p.m. Q&A and solving brick walls
Famine Era Records and Emigration imrs(Thursday, March 16 10:30 am to 5:30 p.m.)
Morning Session
10:30 a.m.  The Great Famine in Ireland, 1845–51: A brief historical overview (1 hr)
11:30 a.m.   BREAK
11:50 a.m.   Emigration from Ireland to North America: An Overview (1 hr)
12:50 p.m.   The Great Famine in Ireland: Sources for Research Part 1 (45 mins)
Afternoon Session
1:45 p.m.   LUNCH
3:00 p.m.   The Great Famine in Ireland: Sources for Research Part 2 (45 mins)
3:45 p.m.   Emigration from Ireland to North America: Strategies for Researching Emigrant Ancestors (1 hr)
4:45 p.m.   BREAK
5:00 p.m.  Q&A and Solving Brick Walls
Online Webinar Available!
Can’t attend the presentation in person? No problem! Both programs will be available for free as a streaming webinar on YouTube!  Free reminder event and registration for the webinar is available on our site.
Streaming participants, please make a donation to the Ulster Historical Foundation to support their genealogical projects and programming.  The donation site is powered by PayPal, and you have the ability to donate without creating an account by checking out as a ‘guest’. If you are a member of HCGS, a donation from the society will be made in lieu of individual donations.

Credit: Fountaindale Library and Genealogy Website

Submitted by Kathy Reed
Program Director

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Weil Funeral Home Records
By Rick D. Cauthen & Paul K. Cauthen

The Hamilton County Genealogical Society is very excited to announce we have completed filming and digitizing the Weil Funeral Home Index card catalog. This represents a huge repository of information to the Jewish Genealogical community with more than 25,000 funerals dating back to as early as 1913. These records have been made available to the Hamilton County Genealogical Society through the generosity and kindness of present-day owners, Mr. Robert Weil and Mr. William Kahn. This tremendous collection will serve as an incredible tool and resource for the entire Jewish Genealogical community. Weil Funeral Home was established in January 1912 and has continued to meet the needs of the local Greater Cincinnati Jewish community to the present day. The funeral home can be found on the web at: Their current location: 8350 Cornell Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45249.
Weil Funeral Home has an interesting history. It had its earliest roots not as a funeral home, but as a livery service. As a livery, essentially, the Weil family would rent horses and horse-drawn carriages. Yes, as a livery, they even would have provided such rentals to established funeral homes that would have needed the horses and carriages to function as a modern day hearse. The livery service itself dates back to the 1890s. The Weil family originally came to Cincinnati from Alsace. Robert Weil’s great grandfather Isaac Weil was born August 5, 1860, in Cincinnati and started out as a produce vendor. He ended up dealing in horses by going into the business around 1895 with his brother-in-law Leo Mook under the business name Mook & Weil. The story goes that some 16 years later, Isaac went to a local Cincinnati funeral home that was closing and selling off their horses to make a deal. Well, you guessed it, he ended up buying not just the horses, but the entire funeral business.
 That the Weil Funeral Home has been nearly the sole resource for Jewish funerals for Greater Cincinnati as well as Hamilton, Butler, and Warren Counties for more than 100 years means that almost every Jewish family has had their final arrangements for their loved ones made using their services. Weil Funeral Home has maintained excellent records dating back to the 1940s. Within the card catalog, there were cards created that alphabetized the funerals dating back to 1913. Unfortunately, those cards contain very minimal information. It was not until 1940 when the funeral home began to maintain extremely detailed records all the way forward until the present day. We have digitized these records through December 31, 2015.
The Weil Funeral Home records are maintained in the Member’s Area of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society website located at and are available exclusively to the Society’s members. If you are not a member of the Society, you can easily join via our website with memberships beginning at $15.00 annually. Archival copies of the microfilmed records are being maintained at the American Jewish Archives located at Hebrew Union College and the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Main Library Downtown.

How to Find the Funeral you want

The 25,000 3" x 5" index cards of funerals from 1940 to Dec. 31, 2015, are divided into 86 Acrobat PDF files alphabetized by last name and one PDF for funerals from 1913 through 1939.  These files contain the actual images of the funeral record cards.  After accessing the Weil Funeral Home Records link from the member’s area, click on the surname pair in the list where the family name of interest would be in alphabetical order between the first surname and last one in each pair. Within each group of identical surnames, the cards are in alphabetical order by the first name. As the card images are in alphabetical order, it would be simple enough to locate your ancestor by browsing. However, the OCR technology makes it possible to use the find function (usually Control Key + the F key) to access a popup window by which you can do a search for any keyword you desire. It will then give you all the possible index points to locate that record. These index cards have a wealth of genealogical information such as: birth and death dates, Hebrew date of death, surviving spouse, Rabbi who performed the service, place of death (particularly valuable when out-of-state), cemetery of interment (or if cremation was chosen), where the body was sent if not buried locally, marital status, and the individual who was responsible for paying for the funeral. You can search for virtually anything, such as the cemetery name, the rabbi who did the services, but the first or last name of the deceased will probably be the most popular way of finding your ancestor. Be advised, however, that the OCR indexing is not perfect. If you do not have success using the find option, always follow up by browsing.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to write to Jewish Interest Group leader, Rick Cauthen at

Sample record from our collection

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Southwest Ohio DNA Interest Group - "Work Session" on January 31st

January Work Session On Tuesday, January 31st from 7:00 - 8:45.

We will have a "work session" at the MidPointe Library in West Chester, Ohio. Bring your laptop or other device and questions about using autosomal DNA. We will rely on the expertise of other group members to solve problems you may be experiencing.

Meeting Dates for 2017
February 14th – Using your FTDNA and 23andme results.
April 11th – Introduction to Gedmatch
June 13th
August 15th
October 10th

Videos for the first two meetings are available at the following links:
Introduction to DNA and Genetic Genealogy 
Using Autosomal DNA on Ancestry

If you want to be placed on the mailing list, email

Friday, January 13, 2017

Photography and Genealogy Research with Thomas Jordan

Photography and Genealogical Research
Thomas Jordan
HCGS member and author, Thomas Jordan, will be the featured speaker for two programs to be held at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM at the Main Library on Saturday, February 11th.

Saturday, February 11, Main Library (2 sessions) Photography and Family
Photography and Genealogy Research, 11 a.m.
Behind every photo lies a story. Genealogist Thomas Jordan will explore genealogical clues just waiting to be discovered in cabinets and photo albums found at home. This program will take place on the First Floor in the Reading Garden Program Space.  

Saturday, February 11, Main Library (2 sessions) Photography and Family
Photography and Genealogy Research, 11 a.m.
Behind every photo lies a story. Genealogist Thomas Jordan will explore genealogical clues just waiting to be discovered in cabinets and photo albums found at home. This program will take place on the Second Floor in the MakerSpace area.

Additional Information:
You may want to read Thomas' book.

Double Jordan:: My Journey Towards Discovering My Paternal Ancestors 

When Thomas Darron Jordan’s paternal aunt died in 2002, another generation of his family was gone. Thomas realized that he knew very little about his family roots. A visit with a cousin in Dunbar, West Virginia in 2008 forever altered his purpose in life and he became a genealogist. Thomas invites you to join him on his journey to uncover his paternal ancestors. His search led him to Roberta, Crawford County, Georgia, the place where it all began. He has documented all eight of his paternal great-great grandparents and his research led to the creation of a bi-annual reunion of the descendants of his great-great grandfather Jessie Jordan, Sr. (1817-1915). Utilizing his newfound sleuthing skills, he discovered his connection to one of the most pivotal civil rights events in history.

Available on Amazon.

Submitted by Kathy Reed


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Posted in Error

Note: Yesterday I posted what was a "preview" of things to come in regard to Cincinnati deeds. The deeds are currently available on the Hamilton Co, Recorder site:

Deed Books A through W2 (1794 to 1823)

Detailed descriptions of early deeds and deed book indexes can be found on the Recorders' Historic Records page

Some pages may be missing due to the 1884 Hamilton Co. Court House Fire. The March 2017 Tracer will have additional information.