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Monday, March 2, 2009

Sometimes We Need to Slow Down and Gather more Facts

Dona wrote:
Sure hope you can help. G-G-grandfather disappeared!! Georg Buechner was born Oct. 3, 1851 in Schondra, Germany. (I have his birth cert.)
He arrived in NY on Jun 21, 1873 (ships list says 1857 but I think this is wrong) from Bremen, Germany aboard the Rhein.(I think this info is true).

He married Mary Ott before 1875 in either NJ or NY. They had four children: George b.4-24-1875, James b.?, Boniface b.abt.1878, and Mary b.? I think they were all born in NJ. About 1889 Georg took off never to be heard from again. Can you help. I'm at my wit's end.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Donna, It looks like you have gathered some information on your ancestor but it's not clear what parts are verified with sources and which parts are not verified (perhaps they are family lore or from contact with other descendants?)

If I were you the first thing I would do is to verify your details. You have your ancestor's birth certificate so start from there.

Find out where he was in each census year available. Finding them in census records should give you places of birth, which is another fact you are not sure of (you say New Jersey or New York)

Verify his arrival on that ships passenger list. I'm not clear what you mean by "...ships list says 1857 but I think this is wrong..." What ships list? Have you found Georg on a ship named Rhein arriving in 1873? Or did you get this immigration information from his naturalization records?

I had a peek in the Ships Passenger Lists online on and I think this is the entry you are referring to:

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
Name: Georg Beckler
Arrival Date: 21 Jun 1873
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1857
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Port of Departure: Bremen, Germany
Destination: United States of America
Place of Origin: Germany
Ethnicity/Race­/Nationality: German
Ship Name: Rhein
Port of Arrival: New York
Line: 8
Microfilm Serial: M237
Microfilm Roll: M237_377
List Number: 608
Port Arrival State: New York
Port Arrival Country: United States

Although his name is indexed as Beckler, it looks to me like Bokler (it is difficult to read). He is shown with Johan, age 57. So if it is your Georg, you may have a father's name. However I would not say this is positively your man without more research.

Because you have so many questions about your ancestors I really think you need to take your research one step at a time. Go slowly and gather the records, think about what clues they are giving you and don't overlook tracing all Georg's children or his wife or his siblings if you find any. Tracing one of them may lead to Georg in later years!

Having given you my advice for further research, I can tell you that I had a very quick look at the databases online on Boniface Buechner is found in the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 so you really need to have a look there. He gives an exact date of birth (11 Jul 1877), a location and other details including his wife's name.

Boniface is also found in later census records in New York. My big question for you would be where is the family in 1880, 1900 and later? I'd start with that, then I'd look for marriages of the children, follow them in later census years. Remember, tracking them down may lead you to Georg.

Don't forget to use wildcards when searching and be creative in spelling of names! For help with this see Using Search Engines to Find Ancestors.

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