Brick Walls & Puzzle Pieces

et86 Researching one’s family history can be very time-consuming, but the gain of understanding the distant past from a personal perspective can be very rewarding. At times it can also be very frustrating particularly when it seems almost impossible to find any information regarding a particular family line that goes back only two or three generations from the present. Genealogists refer to these "end-of-lines" as brick walls. I sometimes like to think of them as missing pieces of a jig-saw puzzle…

End of the Line?

In the previous chapters, I have described how I have had great success in piecing together the history of family using a variety of research tools available to the family historian. The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) web site provides a description of the US government records that are available to genealogists. NARA has [...]

The Kollros Family

Prior to the unification of Germany under Bismarck in 1871 the area that we know of today as the nation of Germany was a patchwork of rival states made up of a variety of kingdoms, principalities, duchies, and margraviates. These nations had been formed over hundreds of years from the Germanic tribes that had roamed [...]

The Spiegel Family

It was only a couple of years ago that I first learned of my gg-grandfather, George C. Spiegel. From my early childhood I knew about his daughter (my great-grandmother), Helen Spiegel. My mother kept a portrait of her grandmother on her bedroom dresser. Even my mother knew very little of her grandmother’s family and had [...]

The O’Malley Family

My father’s mother, Geraldine O’Malley DeBacker, died the year that I was born. She came from a family of all girls and she was the youngest of the six daughters of Patrick O’Malley and Molly Hooks. I knew from my father that Patrick O’Malley had been a railroad conductor in Kansas and that his family [...]

The Mystery of Della Pickering

Quite possible the hardest brick wall to break through is the one that prevents us from learning the history of the family of my gg-grandmother, Della Pickering. According to the military service records for my gg-grandfather that I obtain from NARA, Frank Gaume married Della Pickering in the state of Wisconsin in October or November [...]

The Gaumes Go West

It is not know for certain where Frank Gaume was living between the time of the death of his first wife in 1868 and up to the latter part of the 1870′s, but it is known that in 1871 Frank Gaume married Justine Blanchard. In the military service records, for Frank Gaume there is a [...]