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# Friday, October 24, 2014
How to Find the New German Genealogy Civil Registration Records on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com just added 31 new databases for researching German ancestors. The 11.7 million records cover civil registrations (government birth, marriage and death records) for various places in Germany, dating between 1874 and 1950. There's no single link to search just these 31 collections, so you could do a few things:
  • Searching one database at a time is your best bet if you know it covers the area in Germany where your family lived. Go to the card catalog and use the filters on the left: Under Filter by Collection, narrow the database list to Birth, Marriage and Death Records; and under Filter by Location; narrow by Europe, then by Germany.

    Then at the top of the list, use the Sort By dropdown menu to choose Date Added, and the new German databases rise to the top of the list. Click a title to search that collection.

  • You also can view a list of all German birth, marriage and death records by going to the Search All Records page and scrolling down to Explore by Location. Click the Europe tab, then click Germany. Under Germany Birth, Marriage & Death, you'll see a few databses listed; if you click the "View other" link at the end of that short list, you'll see all the German birth, marriage and death records. This list is arranged by record count, though, and you can't sort it in other ways.
  • If you want to search all the German civil registration records at once, run a global search for your German ancestor from the Ancestry.com Search All Records page. (At the bottom of the search form, make sure the box for Historical Records is checked.)

    Then narrow your results  on the left: In the Collection dropdown menu, choose Germany and click the green Update button. Next, under the All Categories heading, choose Birth, Marriage & Death.
    If you still have too many results, look at the top of your results list, click the Categories tab and choose the database titles that most relate to your search.

For more Ancestry.com search strategies, see our book Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com.

My third-great-grandfather Joseph Ladenkötter was born in 1814 in Rheine, Steinfurt, Germany. Rheine is not among the areas covered with this records addition, but I thought I might find a relative who was born, married or died elsewhere.

I searched on the surname Ladenk*tter (with the asterisk wildcard to pick up both Ladenkotter and Ladenkoetter), and found a 1911 marriage record for Auguste Gertrud Ladenkötter (it looks like her birth surname was different, so she may have been a widow) and Wilhelm August Friedrich. The records are in German, of course.

German Genealogy Records

The Ladenkötter surname is pretty unusual, so I suspect that Auguste Gertrud was married to one of my relatives before she married Wilhelm. (I see the record mentions Rheine.) My next step is figuring out what the record says, which should help me find out if my hunch is correct.

Are you researching Germans? Visit ShopFamilyTree.com to find out more about our German Genealogy Premium Collection. It contains six terrific research tools, including the Family Tree German Genealogy Guide and the German Genealogy Cheat Sheet (which will be the first thing I get out when I'm ready to start on the marriage record).


Ancestry.com | German roots | Research Tips
Friday, October 24, 2014 12:30:07 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Genealogists Celebrate German-American Heritage Month
Posted by Diane

In addition to being Family History Month, October also is German American Heritage Month—or at least the second half of it. The commemoration actually runs Sept. 15 to October 15, roughly corresponding with Oktoberfest.

German is America’s largest ancestry group. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 50,000,000 Americans claim German ancestry.

Do you fit into that group? I certainly do. My Germans arrived in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area mostly in the early to mid-1800s. They were near the beginning of the era that saw the largest influx of German immigrants, between 1820 and World War I, when nearly 6 million of their countrymen immigrated to the United States.

The first significant groups of Germans arrived much earlier, in the 1670s, and they settled primarily in New York and Pennsylvania. A wave of political refugees called the “Forty-Eighters” arrived after 1848 revolutions in the German states.

Immigrants before 1850 were mostly farmers. After 1840, many headed for cities and established "Germania," or German-speaking districts.



This 1872 map, part of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, shows America’s German population from the 1870 census. Note the dark shading over the northeast and southwest corners of Ohio, along Lake Michigan, and in New Jersey. By 1900, the populations of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Hoboken were more than 40 percent German.

We can thank our German ancestors for the Christmas tree, chicken fried steak (whose origins are supposedly in wiener schnitzel), the hot dog, “Here Comes the Bride” (composed in 1850 by Richard Wagner) and of course, a variety of beers.

Are you interested in tracing your German ancestors, finding their old records in the US and Germany, and discovering where they fit into this history? Our German Genealogy Premium Collection has the guides you’ll need:
  • Our popular Family Tree German Genealogy Guide—signed by author James M. Beidler
  • A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your German Ancestors e-book, a classic by S. Chris Anderson and Ernest Thode
  • Find Your German Roots Family Tree University Independent Study Course download
  • German Genealogy Cheat Sheet download
  • German Genealogy Crash Course on-demand webinar
  • 2015 German Genealogy Calendar
Learn more about the German Genealogy Premium Collection now in ShopFamilyTree.com.


German roots | International Genealogy | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 9:49:48 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, March 25, 2014
What Does Your Last Name Mean? How to Find Out
Posted by Diane



Our Unpuzzling Ancestral Names Value Pack made me curious about my family surnames and whether things I heard growing up about where a name is from or what it means are true. Here's how I checked out a few of the names I'm researching:
  • Haddad: My maiden name, inherited from my great-grandparents who immigrated in 1900, is the Lebanese equivalent to Smith. I Googled surname Haddad and one of the results was this Wikipedia page.
  • Seeger: I looked up this name, which comes from my German ancestor H.A. Seeger, in the last name search on Ancestry.com, which uses surname meanings and origins from the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names (a reference you also might be able to find in a library). It also maps where in the United States most people with that name lived. The name is German and Dutch, "from the Germanic personal name Sigiheri." 
  • Norris: This name, which belonged to my Irish third-great-grandfather Edward Norris, is a place-based name for someone from the North or who lived on the north side of a settlement. It also could be a French occupational name for a nurse. According to the Irish Times' mid-1800s surname distribution search, most Norrises lived in County Waterford, with next-door Tipperary and Kilkenny as runners-up. Family lore says Edward came from County Cork, which also is on the list and borders Waterford.
  • Frost: This surname, from my English third-great-grandfather, gives me fits in online searches. Besides all the weather reports, it's a pretty common name. It helps to add place names, genealogy and -weather or -winter to my searches. The name could be English, German, Danish or Swedish, and it's based on a nickname for someone "of an icy and unbending disposition or who had white hair."
  • Reuter: Google wants to show me Reuters news reports if I forget quotation marks (as in "Reuter") when searching for this name online. It's a German name, possibly for "someone who lived in a clearing or an occupational name for a clearer of woodland." 
  • Ladenkotter/Ladenkoetter: Does anyone have ideas about this German name? It's not in the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names or on surname sites, and web searches turn up mostly my own posts. I even tried typing the name into Google translate to see if it means anything in German (it doesn't). On the plus side, it's unusual, and just about any Ladenkoetter records I find are for a relative. Update: If you have German roots, the comments about this name's origins (including one from A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors coauthor Ernest Thode) are insightful. Thank you to Mr. Thode, K. Hewett and Fawn!

Here are seven more surname research tips from FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

The Unpuzzling Ancestral Names Value Pack has resources for searching names, understanding naming patterns, figuring out how surnames changed over time, and discovering surname origins and meanings. Learn more about it in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Ancestry.com | German roots | Research Tips
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:57:22 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, March 17, 2014
Talking in German Genealogy, Digital Libraries & More in Our Free March Podcast
Posted by Diane

In the March 2014 free Family Tree Magazine podcast, host Lisa Louise Cooke talks with German genealogy expert James M. Beidler about tracing German-speaking ancestors. Jim shares tips from his new book, The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide.

Podcast listeners also can tour of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) website with DPLA executive director Dan Cohen, and get tips on unpuzzling US county boundary changes with Family Tree Magazine contributing editor David A. Fryxell.

Lisa also chats with Family Tree Magazine publisher Allison Dolan and myself about solving genealogy research problems.

This Family Tree Magazine Podcast episode is sponsored by EpiGenealogy, a research service for tracing family health history. Host Lisa Louise Cooke is the founder of the Genealogy Gems website and podcast.

You can listen in iTunes or on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Click here for show notes, which include handy links to the websites mentioned.

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

↑ Grab this Headline Animator



Genealogy Web Sites | German roots | Research Tips
Monday, March 17, 2014 10:38:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 25, 2014
11 Things I'm Looking Forward to in the Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference
Posted by Diane

Our Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference starts this Friday, Feb. 28, and goes through Sunday. Now's the time to register if you haven't already!



In no particular order, here are 11 things I'm looking forward to about this weekend:
  1. Watching 16 genealogy video classes on the laptop when it's convenient, which for me means during naptime (my kids', not mine) or after bedtime. Or downloading classes to watch later. They cover ethnic research, records (including land, tax and occupational records), strategies, online genealogy and more.

  2. Sneaking downstairs to go to live chats with genealogy experts. Six are scheduled on topics from translation tools to forensic genealogy, and I'll be able to download transcripts for any I miss.

  3. The Find Your German Town of Origin class with James M. Beidler: I've found hometowns for some of my German ancestors, but a bunch more still have "Germany" or "Prussia" as a birthplace. I'm hoping to learn new strategies from the author of The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide.

  4. The conference Message Boards, where people share surnames, ancestor stories, research questions, favorite websites and resources, family recipes and embarassing library stories.

  5. The Female Ancestors and the Law chat with Judy G. Russell of the Legal Genealogist blog: Half of me wants to learn about the legal hooey my female ancestors put up with, and the other half doesn't want to know. But I'll go with the first half, because those laws determined what kinds of records were created about women.

  6. Rick Crume's No Index? No Problem: Tricks for Browsing FamilySearch.org Records class: I'm eager to get my paws on the records FamilySearch puts online even before you can search them by name. Browsing these unindexed records is time-consuming (I'm looking at you, Ohio, Hamilton County Records, 1791-1994), so I need these tricks.

  7. The Mobile Genealogy Apps and Hacks chat with Kerry Scott: Kerry is a riot (check out her Clue Wagon blog), so this will be informative and fun.

  8. The Pain-Free Family History Writing Projects class with Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton: Gathering my family history research into a book is a long-term goal, and I'd love to learn about small steps that can get me on the path.

  9. The Brick Wall Busters: Solve Your Stumpers chat with Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Lisa A. Alzo: It's a chance to ask questions and get input from Lisa and others in the group. There are always pretty smart cookies at the Virtual Conference, and someone might have dealt with a similar problem to yours. 

  10. Not packing a bag, getting on a plane, having sore feet at the end of the day, or missing my family.

  11. Doing all of the above wearing my sweats.

Here's the link to the Winter 2014 Virtual Genealogy Conference program—just click the blue Register button on that page to sign up.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | German roots | Social History
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:47:37 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Four Ways I've Found German Ancestors' Birthplaces
Posted by Diane

Finding a birth place for your ancestors from Europe is the genealogical Holy Grail, because it opens up the possibility of finding overseas records, particularly church records.

For German ancestors, our German Genealogy Crash Course webinar next Thursday, Jan. 16, has information about resources that can help you trace your roots back to Germany. It also gives attendees a chance to ask questions of presenter James M. Beidler.

In case any of you are ready to throw in the towel on finding your ancestor's place of birth, I wanted to share the places I found birthplace information (unexpectedly, in a couple of cases): 
  • My fourth-great-grandfather Edward Thoss was a founding member of the Covington (Ky.) German Pioneer Society, which I was surprised to discover on the Kenton County Public Library website through a Google search. The overview there gives his birthplace as Langenweisendorf, Schleiz. The library has a 25th anniversary book, published in 1902, which lists "Langenweizendorf Fürstentum Schleiz." I believe this should be Langenwetzendorf.
  • My third-great-grandfather Joseph Ladenkotter immigrated in 1836 from Rheine, in the district of Steinfurt. I discovered this from the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s (it's in print at many libraries, or search it on Ancestry.com), which in turn led me to a list of emigrants called Auswanderungen aus dem Kreis Steinfurt (Emigration From the County Steinfurt) by Freidrich Ernst Hunsche. I searched WorldCat and found this publication at the Allen County Public Library, so I ordered copies through the Genealogy Center 's Quick Search service.
  • The obituary of my third-great-grandmother (Joseph's wife) Anna Maria Weyer, printed in the German-language Cincinnati Volksfreund newspaper, gave her birthplace in Schapen. (The alphabet chart in our German Genealogy Cheat Sheet helped me read it.)
  • My great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger was born in Steinfeld, as noted in his 1907 passport application, which I found on Ancestry.com. I had no idea he ever traveled overseas, so this was a thrilling find.
For a couple of other families, I've had luck by finding people I'm related to and contacting them about their research. Here's a map of birthplaces I've found so far. That cluster in northwest Germany is my Cincinnati ancestors; Edward Thoss is the one in the bottom right corner.



Besides the German Genealogy Crash Course webinar, we also have a couple of seats left in Family Tree University's German Genealogy 101 online course. It's starting this week, though, so you should register ASAP.
 

Family Tree University | German roots | Webinars
Wednesday, January 08, 2014 2:04:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 02, 2013
The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Genealogy How-to for 13 Countries and Regions
Posted by Diane

As you might guess, I enjoy asking people I've just met where their ancestors are from. Here in Cincinnati, the answer often involves Germany, so then I ask about their surnames to see if we have anyone in common. (Then I wrap it up before people start thinking I'm weird.)

Every once in awhile, someone will answer my ancestor inquiry with, "Oh, I'm a mutt" and rattle off a bunch of ancestral homelands.

Well, this is for all you genealogy mutts: The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Your Essential Guide to Trace Your Genealogy in Europe.



It collects genealogy research guides to 13 countries or regions of Europe, plus European Jewish ancestors. You'll learn
  • what records are available and where they're kept
  • which records you can get from here in the US using the web, microfilm, books and other sources
  • how to get records from overseas
  • how to deal with language barriers and boundary changes
  • what websites, books, organizations and archives can help in your research
It's a good way to get expert instructions for researching ancestors across Europe in one economical package. The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe is available now in ShopFamilyTree.com (where you'll see the list of countries covered).

You also can get The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe as an ebook.


Genealogy books | German roots | International Genealogy | Italian roots | Jewish roots | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, October 02, 2013 2:43:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, September 27, 2013
Why We Celebrate Oktoberfest in September
Posted by Diane


It's a question that burns inside my brain this time every year: Why is Oktoberfest celebrated in September?

Here in "Zinzinnati," where German roots run deep, we've already had our Oktoberfest. Our neighbors across the river in Kentucky have one this weekend. In Munich, Germany, home of the first and largest Oktoberfest, the two-week party wraps up the first weekend in October.

The first Oktoberfest celebrated the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810.

So why September? I finally decided to look it up. In turns out the informal roots of Oktoberfest started back in the 15th century, with beer, according to the German Beer Institute.

The brewing season in Bavaria ran from October to March. Beer brewed during the hot season tasted bad, so in late winter, brewers would work extra hard to make enough beer to last all summer. The high alcohol content and storage in casks in cool cellars and caves would preserve it. (You can get all the technical details on the German Beer Institute's site.)

After the summer's grain was harvested, brewers needed to empty those casks to make room for the October start of the brewing season. People were happy to help.

In 1810, by the date the royal wedding made Oktoberfest official, there wasn't much beer left. Horse racing was the main event there, and Prince Ludwig repeated the races every year on his anniversary. Over the years, the festival was extended and combined with finishing off the March beers, evolving into today's party attended by millions around the world.

Proud of your German heritage? Learn more about those roots with our Boost Your German Genealogy Value Pack, on sale for more than 20 percent off in ShopFamilyTree.com.


German roots | Social History
Friday, September 27, 2013 10:06:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Chelsea Handler on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Tracing German Roots
Posted by Diane

From the beginning of last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?," Chelsea Handler knew her mother's father had been a German soldier in WWII. She just wanted to know the extent of his involvement. Her Jewish heritage through her father's family heightened her curiosity.

If you missed the episode, you can watch it on the TLC website.

The Leistungsbuch ("performance book") mentioned in yesterday's post and seen here:



wasn't a military service record after all. Rather, it was a record of the grandfather's scores in the Nazi party's Sports Badge Program, part of the mandatory labor service program and a way to provide military-style training without violating the Treaty of Versailles.

A few things I liked about this episode:
  • It shows the importance of learning the historical context in which your ancestors lived. Knowing about post-WWI life in Germany helped Handler understand why many Germans supported Adolf Hitler when he first came to power. Finding out about her grandfather's experience in the Camp Algona (Iowa) POW camp revealed his likely motivation for later moving his family to America.

  • It showed a side of WWII history—the lives of ordinary Germans during that era—that I didn't know much about. 

  • The WWII historian who met Handler on the beach, and who was there serving in the Army the day her grandfather was captured. I bet he could tell some stories!
Foreign archives and languages makes the research in this episode more difficult for the average person than Kelly Clarkson's Civil War research or Christina Applegate's 20th-century research in New Jersey.

But if your German ancestors, like mine, immigrated to America in the 1800s, church records will be your main source of information in Germany. Chances are you can find German church records yourself. I know this because the October/November 2013 Family Tree Magazine will have Rick Crume's step-by-step guide to German church records. I'll let you know when it's available.

Because so many Americans have German ancestry, we have a number of German genealogy guides in ShopFamilyTree.com
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | German roots | Research Tips
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 11:29:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Tonight on "Who Do You Think You Are?": Chelsea Handler's Roots in Nazi Germany
Posted by Diane

This evening's "Who Do You Think You Are?" promises to reveal more disturbing family news from the not-too-distant past (we blogged last week about the troubled life of Christina Applegate's grandmother).

This teaser for tonight's episode gives you a glimpse of actress and talk show host Chelsea Handler's quest for information about her German grandparents' involvement with the Nazi regime:



The booklet you see in the clip is titled Leistungsbuch, which translates to "performance book." Possibly a German military record? I guess we'll find out tonight.

Watch this season's "Who Do You Think You Are?" at 9/8 central on TLC. (And if you have other plans or don't have cable, TLC has been putting full episodes on the show's website the next day.)


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | German roots
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 11:47:50 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, April 05, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has added 23.9 million indexed records and images to the free FamilySearch.org, with new browsable image collections from Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, England, Italy, Mexico and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 19.2 million document images from the new collection United Kingdom, WWI Service Records 1914-1920; 2 million index records from the collection US WWI Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; and almost the 931,000 index records from the collection US New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1925-1942. Search or browse these databases from the chart here.

  • In case you missed it (and were wondering), Irish genealogy research company Eneclann has researched Tom Cruise’s roots. The actor's real last name is Mapother, but Cruise actually is a family name. His great-grandfather, born in 1876 to Mary Pauline Russell Cruise and her second husband Thomas O’Mara, took the surname of his half-siblings and thus became Thomas Cruise Mapother I. Read more and download a copy of the family tree here.


Celebrity Roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | German roots | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, April 05, 2013 1:44:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Learn How to Interpret German Genealogy Records
Posted by Diane

You're looking for genealogy records of your ancestors in Germany, and perhaps you've even found some. They might look like this:



And it makes you understand why everyone talks about how hard it is to understand German records: Not only are you dealing with an unfamiliar language, but the script makes the words difficult to interpret.

Most German Catholic church records are in Latin; Evangelical (Lutheran) records may be in Latin or German. Records as late as the 1930s are usually written in the old German Gothic script.

But there are tricks you can use to figure out what these church records say about your German ancestors.

Our March 14 webinar, Interpreting German Records, will teach you how to work with German genealogy records, from basic translation to decoding hard-to-read handwriting and typeface. German genealogy expert James M. Beidler will show you
  • tricks for reading German script and type
  • resources for building your vocabulary of German terms and deciphering abbreviations
  • a methodology for solving the quirks of the printed Gothic/Fraktur typeface
  • strategies for transcribing and translating the handwritten German cursive script
The Interpreting German Records webinar takes place Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (that's 6 p.m. Central, 5 p.m. Mountain and 4 p.m. Pacific). You'll save $10 on your registration if you sign up before March 7!

Family Tree University | German roots | Webinars
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:23:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, January 02, 2013
What's in a Name?
Posted by Beth

Bonne année, Gutes Neues Jahr, Xin nian yu kuai, Feliz Año Nuevo and Kali hronia … Whether you say it in French, German, Mandarin, Spanish or Greek, they all translate to "Happy New Year!" Hope yours is off to a great start!

Speaking of languages, genealogists understand and appreciate the value of names and all the family history information that they can provide. Naming patterns and traditions; spellings; pronunciations; and meanings can impact your search for ancestors from a given locale.

To provide added insight to your ancestral search, we've created 15 PDF downloadable reference guides featuring first names from around the world. Each comprehensive guide is presented in dictionary-style format, making it easy to search for names, spellings and their meanings. For example, A Genealogist's Guide to British Names reveals that the name Harry means "ruler of an estate." Rather prophetic for Prince Harry!

Get more information from your genealogical research this year with a better understanding of your ancestral names!

A Genealogist's Guide to Ethnic Given Names
A Genealogist's Guide to African Names
A Genealogist's Guide to British Names
A Genealogist's Guide  to Chinese Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Eastern European Names
A Genealogist's Guide  to French Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Gaelic Names
A Genealogist's Guide to German Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Greek Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Hawaiian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Indian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Irish Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Italian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Japanese Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Jewish Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Native American Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Russian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Scandinavian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Spanish Names


African-American roots | American Indian roots | Asian roots | Celebrating your heritage | French Canadian roots | German roots | Hispanic Roots | Italian roots | Jewish roots | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 12:04:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, November 12, 2012
Document the Lives of Your Military Ancestors
Posted by Beth





Celebrate your ancestors who served in the military or lived through historical conflicts by exploring and documenting their lives. With the Military Research Value Pack, you'll get easy-to-use tools that will guide you through:
  • What records to look for—military or otherwise—and how to locate them
  • How to find and mine online records
  • Research tips and guidance for tracing ancestors' involvement in specific US wars and conflicts
You'll find that many types of military documents—from service to pension to land records—can reveal important information about your family tree, including soldiers' widows and children. Even ancestors who didn't serve might have left behind draft records.

___

And, a reminder:
There's still time to register for one (or more) of the 16 Family Tree University courses that begin today, including:
Use code FTU1112 and save 20 percent!


Editor's Pick | German roots | Military records | UK and Irish roots
Monday, November 12, 2012 10:26:09 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, August 31, 2012
Prepare for German Place Names
Posted by Tyler

German heritage has been the #1 most claimed ancestry in the US, so we here at Family Tree University have done our best to accommodate our Deutsch friends. In this guest post, Presenter Jim Beidler breaks down his session on German place names at Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference:

Probably the No. 1 goal of most genealogists is tracking one or more immigrant ancestors all the way to an Old World hometown, and the many folks of German descent are no different. Unfortunately, problems of history, phonetics and duplicated names often get in the way of that quest.

“Mastering German Place Names” is designed to combat these problems. I am a seasoned researcher that has been sleuthing for the Heimats of his almost entirely German-speaking ancestry for more than a quarter century, and will present my top tips in this Virtual Conference course.

Learn more about the Fall Virtual Conference.


Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | German roots
Friday, August 31, 2012 11:31:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Get Expert Advice for Researching German Genealogy
Posted by Diane


People claiming German ancestry still outnumber any other heritage group in the United States—which is why we're offering a new German Genealogy Value Pack that'll help you trace your German roots in the United States and in your ancestral homeland.
German genealogy value pack
This Value Pack is full of practical advice for overcoming the challenges of tracing your German ancestors.

Our German Genealogy Value Pack includes: 
  • Find Your German Roots Independent Study Course download, with four lessons to help you use genealogical records and more to determine who your German ancestors were and from where in Germany they came. 
  • A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors e-book download by Chris Anderson and Ernest Thode, with expert instruction on researching German ancestors.
  • Tracing German Ancestry in Eastern Europe download, with guidance on tracing the German ancestors from Slovakia, Romania, Russia and other places beyond Deutschland's borders.
  • Genealogy Cheat Sheet download, a quick reference designed to deliver the information you need to understand the records of your German ancestors
Plus, you'll get a coupon for 25 percent off coupon for our Family Tree University course German Genealogy 201: Strategies and Skillbuilding.

Best of all, this collection of German genealogy guidance is on sale for $49.99—64 percent off the price of buying each item individually.

Learn more about the German Genealogy Value Pack in ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | German roots | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 4:37:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, April 30, 2012
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Rob Lowe and His Revolutionary War Ancestor
Posted by Diane

In Friday's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actor Rob Lowe learned about his Revolutionary War-era ancestor.

FindMyPast.com's Josh Taylor helped Lowe find him in the Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Research System, which lets you search online for a Revolutionary-era ancestor on which a DAR member's application is based, or for people named in the lineages in DAR applications.

(You can download our tutorial on searching the DAR database on sale for just $1.59 from ShopFamilyTree.com.)

But something was wrong: The application had been "closed" because it was discovered that Lowe's ancestor John Christopher East had been mixed up with a similarly named soldier.

Previews hinted at a twist in this episode. It came when a historian showed Lowe his ancestor on a list of prisoners who'd been part of Rohl's Regiment. A sparkle in the historian's eye hinted that he knew something, but only when he showed Lowe George Washington's personal papers did Lowe realize Rohl was a commander of German Hessian troops.

East (listed under his German name, Oeste Cristophe) was among the troops Gen. Washington defeated in the Battle of Trenton, when his soldiers crossed the Delaware River to surprise the Hessians at Christmas.

I remember learning in grade school about these 30,000 men the British hired to fight the Americans, and we kids thought that was pretty bad.

But Lowe's research revealed Cristophe as a sympathetic figure: Among the youngest of eight children, he wouldn't have inherited land or even had the means to marry in Germany. He took a risk in leaving for America at age 22—then staying (as about 15 percent of the Hessians did) after his release from prison.

This story has a happy ending. Taylor's researchers found Christophe on a list of Americans who paid a tax levied to raise money for the war. Lowe is descended from a Patriot after all and he was invited to apply for the Sons of the American Revolution lineage society.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy societies | German roots | Social History
Monday, April 30, 2012 9:03:33 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Happy Triple Heritage Month: German, Italian & Polish Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane

Did you know October is German American Heritage Month, Italian American Heritage Month and Polish American Heritage Month? That’s right. The month is almost over (that was fast!), but we can’t let it go by without sharing resources to help you trace these heritages. Here are some of our favorite online articles, sites and resources:

German
People with German heritage make up the largest ancestry group in the United States, according to the 2000 US census. I'm part of this statistic, at one-half German.

Italian
Those with Italian heritage make up the seventh largest ancestry group in the United States, with 15.6 million Americans claiming Italian roots in the 2000 US census.

Polish
If you have Polish ancestors, you share heritage with 9 million Americans and are part of the country's eighth largest ancestry group.

Hispanic Heritage Month (celebrating the ancestry of another big US heritage group) spanned part of this month, too, ending Oct. 15. You can see Hispanic heritage tips and resources in this blog post.


Family Tree University | Free Databases | German roots | Hispanic Roots | International Genealogy
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 2:40:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, July 22, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, July 18-22
Posted by Diane

I'm back at it after a short vacation (which involved my first visit to a Civil War battlefield—I'll show and tell next week) to post this week's news roundup. Here goes:
  • The new Black Sea German Research site is for those tracing families who migrated from Germany, Alsace, Poland or Hungary to the Black Sea region of South Russia (now Ukraine) in the early 1800s. Search a database of names, upload your GEDCOM and share historical information at this free, volunteer-run site.
  • NBC is re-running “Who Do You Think You Are?” season 2 episodes Saturday nights this summer. Check your local listings if you missed an episode or want to watch your favorite again.

Canadian roots | Celebrity Roots | German roots | Photos | UK and Irish roots
Friday, July 22, 2011 2:14:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
# Wednesday, July 13, 2011
If You Were a Pie Chart …
Posted by Diane

While working on an article on ethnic heritage and genealogical societies (look for it in the forthcoming November 2011 Family Tree Magazine) I was inspired to figure out what, exactly, Leo is, heritage-wise.


And by “exactly,” I mean “theoretically,” because:

  • you never know what proportion of genes you ended up with from each ancestor after the DNA-combining process
  • geopolitical developments and population shifts can mean ancestors' ethnicity is different from the country whence they came (Your ancestor from Russia would actually be German, for example, if he was one of the many “Volga Germans” who settled in Russia’s Volga River valley.)

  • nonpaternity events, such as adoption and children fathered—unbeknownst to you—by someone other than the person named in records
  • a lack of documentation or incorrect documentation about an ancestor's origins
  • all those ancestors yet to be discovered (unless you’ve found ‘em all)

With that caveat, figuring out Leo’s theoretical heritage combo involves first determining Mom’s and Dad’s percentages. Three of my husband's grandparents came from Germany and one from Hungary, so we'll estimate him at 75 percent German and 25 percent Hungarian. I'll go back to my great-grandparents’ origins: I’m half German, a quarter Lebanese (the source for my last name), and one-eighth each English and Irish. 

I just divided each of our percentages, added up the common German heritage, and came up with these numbers for Leo (I generated the pie chart online using Kids Zone): 

He’s pretty typical as far as American ancestry: In the 2000 census, German was the heritage most often claimed by Americans and by his fellow Cincinnatians. He also shares in the second- and fourth-most-commonly reported ancestries: Irish and English, respectively.

Download the Census Bureau’s Ancestry: 2000 report as a PDF here.

What's your theoretical heritage combo? 

Update: Apparently you can order a t-shirt boasting your ancestry pie chart from MeonaTee.com. Great idea! (Thanks to Megan Smolenyak for mentioning.)


Celebrating your heritage | Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | German roots
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 9:44:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Monday, February 14, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 2 Recap
Posted by jamie

Spoiler Alert: If you don't already know what happened during Tim McGraw's episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” you are about to find out.

Country singer Tim McGraw, after looking at his birth certificate as a teenager,  discovered the man he thought was his father was not his biological father. His birth certificate named baseball star Tug McGraw as his father, who he then forged a relationship with as an adult. Tug passed on without revealing much about the McGraw family tree, so Tim explored the paternal line of his ancestry on "Who Do You Think You Are?"

After gathering a few clues from his uncle, McGraw travels to Kansas City, Mo., to find out more about his great-grandparents Andrew and Ellie Mae McGraw. He views Ellie's death certificate and discovered she was a member of the Chrisman family, who settled that area of Missouri.

This led him to Virginia, researching sixth-great-grandfather Isaac Chrisman. Using surveying records and historical maps, McGraw discovers Chrisman lived on the boarder of Indian territory in colonial Virginia. Through a report made by a militiaman, McGraw discovers Chrisman was attacked by Indians and died.

Issac Chrisman's grandfather is Jost Hite, a German immigrant. He traveled to the colonies as an indentured servant with the Pressler family — ancestors of Elvis Presley. Hite quickly worked his way out of servitude and was awarded a massive land grant in Virginia. McGraw views Hite's deeds, and heads to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley to see his land.

The Hite trail then leads McGraw to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. There an archivist shows him George Washington's teenage journal, which indicates Washington lodged at the Hite family home. McGraw also reads a letter written by Washington to his ne'er-do-well neighbor, in which he praises the Hites as a prime example of how one should live his life.

While McGraw had professional researchers to help him navigate land plats and Virginia records, our Family Tree University Land Records 101 course and our Virginia research guides to help you find your ancestors on your own.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode, and post a comment to be entered to win in our Discover Who You Are sweepstakes!


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | German roots | Land records
Monday, February 14, 2011 10:07:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Monday, September 20, 2010
Exploring German Roots
Posted by Diane

Here in Family Tree Magazine’s hometown of Cincinnati, where the population in 1900 was 60 percent German-Americans and a downtown neighborhood is called Over the Rhine, Oktoberfest is a pretty big deal.

The oldest and biggest Oktoberfest, of course, starts in late September in Munich, Germany—which is celebrating its 200th Oktoberfest this year.

Oct. 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen held a grand horse race in Munich to celebrate their wedding five days earlier. The successful event was held again the next year and the next, and Germans—who continue to claim the largest ancestor group in US censuses—brought the celebration to the United States.

Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest includes the Chicken Dance and plenty of goetta, aka “Cincinnati Caviar.” Supposedly, ours is the largest celebration in the United States. Other Oktoberfests take place across the country in towns such as  La Crosse, Wis.; Fredericksburg, Texas; and Tulsa, Okla.

Here’s our article about how a fellow Cincinnati genealogist unpuzzled surname variations to discover his German roots.

Our German Heritage Toolkit has helpful articles for you to explore your own German roots, including
... and more. For extra assistance, you can download our research guide to German ancestors, available from ShopFamilyTree.com or look into our Find Your German Roots Family Tree University course

Family Tree Magazine Plus members with German roots can check out our online research guides to Prussian and Bavarian ancestors, and to Germanic ancestors who lived outside of German borders.


German roots | International Genealogy | Research Tips
Monday, September 20, 2010 2:54:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]