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29 December 2011

Motivation Monday... Patience Pays Off

A while back, I shared how I was sending information packets to family members regarding their family history (see Treasure Chest Thursday: Sharing My Research). The patience is paying off. This week I received more pictures of my father, who passed away several years ago, when he was a child. I had no idea these pictures existed and I love how dang cute daddy was. He reminds me much of my children at this young age. I suspect he was around 18 months old. What do you think?

Young Robert Geiszler
Daddy is super cute!

 Here's my cute daddy. I LOVE all the things you can see in this picture taken by C & D Photo Studio of Columbus, Ohio. I love the innocence as he's looking at his small hands (what is on it or does he not like his adorable winter set?). I love the comparison of him to the car, you can see how little he was. The spread out fingers remind me of my children when they were 18 months old. However, I have so many, many questions. Where was this taken? Whose car is that? Why were these pictures taken, besides daddy being adorable?

Here's my daddy Robert Geiszler with his mother Helen Zumstein.

The picture adds my grandmother to the mix. She looks so youthful, happy, and energetic. I barely knew my grandmother as we moved far away when I was 2. However, I like to think that she adored her only child and enjoyed being a mother from the relationship you can see in this picture.

Mystery Zumstein
Who is this lady?
 But when I received this picture, I have more questions. Since this is a side profile, it's really hard to tell if this is my grandmother or not. She's not wearing earrings and is wearing a jacket. The bodice underneath is different. Her hair style is also not exactly the same. However the picture appear to have been taken on the same day. I think these pictures are of Bob and his Aunt. But which one? It could be his father's sister, but the profile doesn't seem to fit the ones I have of Aunt Margie Geiszler Wasson. However, it could be one of Helen's sisters... Dorothy Zumstein Merrit or Faye Zumstein Gaa. I'm thinking she looks more like Faye. If it is Faye or Dorothy, why were these pictures in the possession of my father's cousin?

Though the questions are numerous and I don't have anyone alive to share the stories I have no further way learn about the photos. However, I adore seeing these photos and I am so glad that I have been so patient in my research efforts.

09 December 2011

Surname Saturday... Charles Allen Smith

With a name like Charles Allen Smith, is there any wonder how easy it might be to mix him up? Never! Okay, that's wrong. Charles is the grandson of my 'newest' great+ grandfather David Smith.

In family research, I had a Charles Allen Smith married to a Rhoda J Prickett. Charles was from Ohio but died in Michigan. The dates were pretty fuzzy, things like abt 1859.

Using the GenSmarts program with RootsMagic, I came across a suggestion to look into the Michigan State Census of 1900. I don't know why hints like these come up and then I'm taken to US Federal Census 1900, but I digress. In any case, a large list resulted from the name Charles Smith. That's to be expected. Since I don't like the filtering format on, I decided to go over to I really like their filtering system. I can fine tune a search quickly, casting narrow and broad scopes easily.

In any case, I came across an entry for Charles A Smith and Rebecca E Prickett. The dates lined up with my Charles and Rhoda; however, Rebecca and Rhoda seem a bit of a stretch. I never found a Rhoda married to Charles. I revisited my family records and noticed the source a family story presented by a distant cousin to Charles. So, the validity is suspect until proven true. With the last name Prickett lining up with a marriage to Charles A Smith, I decided to do further investigation.

I went over the New FamilySearch website which is the family tree database. In it, I found Charles married to either: Rhoda J Prickett, Rebecca Elizabeth Pricket, and/or Ida Alice Prickett. Further investigation into the tree resulted in seeing Rhoda, Rebecca, and Ida having three husbands and multiple children all married and born in such a chronological order that there had to be a merging error.

I won't go into all the fine details, but suffice it to say, I confirmed my suspicion that Charles indeed married Rebecca and that Rhoda was her sister. As I separated out Rhoda and Rebecca, it became clear that Ida was a separate sister as well. As I separated these sisters apart, I wanted some proof to my suspicions. I was able to following Charles & Rebecca Elizabeth (who usually went by Elizabeth) through the census records and marriage record. I have not yet found a death record or an obituary for them, but that's next. I'm certain that if I followed Ida and Rhoda through the genealogical records I'd further confirm my suspsicion of the three sister merger.

It was really fun to untangle the tree, correct my perpetuated inaccuracy, and then remember to source my information should a question arise in the future.

19 November 2011

Discovering a Signature for Joseph Gesizler

Family history is easier with the help of a research database and a tool that provides search suggestions. My database of preference is RootsMagic and the search suggestion tool is GenSmarts. Now, GenSmarts doesn't look for hints and find possible records for me. Instead, it has a list of possible record sets that are online and off that may contain further information to pursue. I really love that the possibilities recommend things offline as I wouldn't know these record sets exist without the help of the GenSmarts tool.

Recently, GenSmarts recommended looking for the marriage certificate of my 3rd great-grandmother Caroline Mack (b. 18 March 1838 - d. 11 Oct 1904) to her second husband Michael Billman (b 13 Oct 1832 - 1 Aug 1884). I reviewed my entry for Caroline in my RootsMagic database. In so doing, I noticed that the second marriage record has already been sourced. Yeah, me! However, the first marriage to my 3rd great-grandfather Joseph Geißler was not sourced. Thus, I decided to explore the marriage certificate once again.

Searching for Marriage Record on Family Search

I went to and selected the Search > Records links. On the search form, I typed in Caroline's name and chose the Life Event of "Any." In the Any Place filed, I keyed in Ohio, United States.

Record Suggestions on FamilySearch

I received over 5,000 hits. I wanted to look specifically at marriage records in Ohio. So I added the place of Franklin County, Ohio to the "Search with a life Event" options in the left side bar.

Marriage Record Suggestions on FamilySearch

Caroline married Michael Billman after the death of her first husband Joseph Geißler, whose name is spelled without any consistency. When I noticed three record hints for the last name Gesley or Geissler, I knew I had the right woman with the right husband and I now had proof of their marriage and the correct dates!

There are two marriage record that have an image, one for Joseph Gesley and another for Joseph Geissler. The third suggestion is an index to the marriage record of Joseph Gesley that has an image.

Joseph Geissler and Caroline Mack Marriage License
"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 November 2011), Joseph Geissler and Caroline Mack, 16 Feb 1856; citing Franklin, Ohio, United States, reference vol. 2 p. 389 cn. 3; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,170.

The first image is for the marriage license which was issued in 16 February 1856. On this record, Joseph was required to sign his name! Happy Dance!!!!

Joseph Geiszler of Franklin County, Ohio, Signature
Joseph's signature on Marriage License

Joseph's signature is very German and includes the beta letter known as eszett. Translate into that name into English! I can see why this record has the recorder writing Gesley (and someone indexing the Germanic signature as Geissler).  In any case, this marriage license led to the following marriage record.

Joseph and Caroline Gesely Marriage
"Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 November 2011), Joseph Gesley and Caroline Mack, 19 Feb 1856; citing Franklin, Ohio, United States, reference v6 p263; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,144.

On 19 Feb 1856, Thomas Oharea, Justice of the Peace, solemnized their marriage. This record corrects that family records that said they were married on the 16th. The license was issued on the 16th and the marriage occured on the 19th, although the 16th in the outer left column could be confusing, The testimony by Mr. Oharea says the date was the 19th.

As grateful as I am to discover these records, I was hoping the marriage documents had more information. Alas, they did not. Yet, I am so ecstatic to have a peak at my 3rd great-grandfather's own handwriting.

My new wish is for a signature expert, like the one for celebrities on Pawn Stars, that could help me decipher hidden clues of Joseph's origin with a signature such as his.

Further Reading:
Surname Saturday - Geiszler Family

18 November 2011

Tech Tuesday - Personal History

I have been taking a break from the blog but I haven't abandoned it. I have a bazillion posts that I need to write, but I thought I'd write a quick one.

One of the easiest forms of digital scrapbooking is creating a blog and then printing it. However, what if you don't want your personal and family information made available on the internet? Well, create a 'blog' on your own computer. Most every computer comes with a text program (MS Word, Open Office Writer, and Apple TextEdit).

All you need to do is create a text document.Set up the document 'blog style' in that you have a title for your entry, a photo, and the date. I love to include the week day on my entries. But that's just me.

In any case, add your entries for a year and save them on your computer. When you're ready to print, save the file to PDF and submit the PDF to For a reasonable price, you can get a laminate, hard cover book that has your offline blog printed in one place.

That's really all there is too it. If you want more technical specifics, I'll be happy to share. However, this is enough to get you started thinking and have a resource of where to print.

By the way, this application can easily adapt to family history purposes. Someday I might do one so that I have a sample of what I mean. I just know that printing books has never been easier, or more affordable. All we have to do know is find the time to create so we can share.
By the way... many people ask when I have time to do something like this while raising the kids and handling my other responsibilities. The secret is I don't do this everyday. (I probably should, but I don't). When i have chunks of free time throughout the year, I'll write a week's or a month's worth of entries. I also would rather work on personal and family history than to watch TV. So, it can be done. Hope that is helpful to know.

29 October 2011

Hooray. We Have Two New Relatives

Genealogy Discovery!

I've pleased to announce that I have a two new family members... my fourth great grandfather and his wife.  Here's how I discovered that David Smith and his wife Elizabeth Browning are my grandparents so far back.

Genealogy Research Notes
Notes from Conversation with Green Lawn Cemetery
Nov 24, 1976
In the late 1970s, my mother had that her Grandpa Andrew Nelson Smith  (1855-1933) was buried on the plot owned by a Philip Smith in Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. She knew that Philip was Andrew Nelson Smith his son and had a death record that said Catherine Dague was Andrew's mother. 

When visiting the burial plot of Andrew Nelson in 2010, I found saw tombstones for:

  • Mary E Smith (1834-1899)
  • Orlando Smith (1865-1928) 
  • Clara Smith (1869-1927)
  • Andrew Nelson Smith
  • Emma Smith
  • Marietta Smith
  • Harry Smith
  • Lura Smith
  • Lewis Brown
I didn't find stones for Philip, Earl, or the Tooill infant. (update, I've learned more about the Tooill infant)

With the cemetery information in hand, I began looking for other documents to detail the family. I discovered an 1860 US Census record for Philip and a few of his family members. 

Phillip Smith 1860 Census Blendon, Ohio.
"United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2011), Phillip Smith, 1860.

I knew that Philip had married Mary E Smith in June 1859, so Andrew and a brother named Charles must be from another wife. This I presumed is Catherine Dague as I had a record linking Andrew to this mother. 

Year: 1870; Census Place: Blendon, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M593_1200; Page: 20A; Image: 43; Family History Library Film: 552699. Accessed through on 29 October 2011)
Once again Philip and Mary have Andrew and Charles as well as three other likely children in their home: McKindree, Orlando, and Louella. It's believed Orlando is the son listed in Philip's family plot with a wife named Claa. 

I used Member Trees for hints and noticed that many individuals had an L before Philip's name. I used this clue to see if I could find more records for Philip when additional records dried up. 

Using, I did discover a death record for a Leon Philip Smith that died in 1916. Could this be my 3rd great-grandfather?  

Leon Philip Smith Death Record
 Family Search, "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953" database, (http:/ : Entry for Leon Philip Smith, 24 August 1916

The informant is Mrs. Harry H Long. That is my 2nd great grandmother Lura Maude Smith! Lura and her husband Harry Howard had cared for Andrew Nelson Smith for a time after his second wife died. To see her name on Leon Philip's death certificate clicked the light bulb and confirmed that indeed Leon Philip Smith was my 4th great grandfather.

And what do you notice on this record? Parents names!!!! It's time to do a happy dance.

And it's time to start researching David Smith and Elizabeth Browning.

19 October 2011

Family History Class Helps Me Write a Book

Digital Scrapbooking Family History
Slide from my Digital Scrapbooking Class
This may seem strange but I'm thankful for the opportunity to speak at a Genealogy Conference this weekend. I was asked to fill in for a friend this past Monday. I'm thankful that I've been writing a book about Digital Family History Scrapbooking which will help me teach the class (I just need to remember to be BRIEF). I only have 50 minutes. I also am pretty sure that there will be digital novices and I need to not go completely technical on them. However, I'm hoping to share a brief overview of possibilities and the process of creating a digital scrapbook. Then, I plan on leaving a good chunk (15 minutes or so) of time at the end for Q&A.

This is a great opportunity to fine tune the book before publishing. It's a great opportunity to teach (which I love). And a wonderful opportunity to serve a friend. Plus I get to talk about Family History...

Get Your Copy of my book at

BUT I have a decision to make. Since I'm filling in for two classes, that's two I'm unable to take at the Conference. I was able to make an easy decision of what class not to take when I was only asked to teach the am session. However, I'm really stuck. The afternoon session has two classes that I don't know which to pick. They are both offer the same hour earlier in the morning. So, I have to chose only one. The first is Digging Through Brick Walls and the second is German Research. I'm really sure which one to pick. The conference will provide the notes for all the classes, whether you take them or not. I just don't learn well from notes. Soo.... my brick wall happens to be a German. Which do I go to? 

31 August 2011


Ugh! I don't know what it is but I think I'm stuck. Burn out? Boredom? Brickwalls? Or a combination of all.

In recent months, I've been really excited about the finds I've been making and the paths I've traveled. However, if I have a spare moment to switch on to my ancestors these days. I just find myself staring at the computer not knowing where to go. Since I don't know where I want to go, I just stare for a few minutes and then find something else to do.

I wonder if other genealogists also have these challenges. I also wonder what they do about it. Since I'm a patient genealogist, I think this is a time to be patient with myself.

I'm not giving up on genealogy. Thankfully it's a life long process and hobby. I'm just realizing this month is a month of transition. School has started for the youngsters. My husband is working full-time, completing a bathroom remodel, coaching soccer, and serving at church. I'm a home educator of four and I'm trying to finish a quilt by Christmas. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Add to that worry for my children. The oldest one has two friends moving away. She makes friends easily, so I'm not terribly worried, but she is. And my second just learned his best friend is moving away. That is a huge bombshell. Though we're happy for the family, we're so sad to see their son go. My son has had a harder time making friends. I'm really worried about how he'll weather this storm.

So I suppose this mind of mine is a bit taxed and a brief respite is necessary. However, my mind doesn't really take breaks for too long. So, I suppose the best thing I can do is assess where I want to head. I've found that I've have been using a dartboard approach to genealogy. It's fine in the 'survey' phase but now I need to find some true direction and set some specific research goals. This is where even more patience will come in. I have four lines to research. Which one do I pick? Which person on that line do I focus on? Should I work on more than one person at a time to be more 'efficient' when searching a particular record (say Ohio Tax Rolls for Franklin County)? I don't know and I really need some guidance.

Hopefully this stuck period will result in a time of stepping back from what I have, formulating the big picture, and seeing where to head off next. I have hope.

26 August 2011

Thankful Thursday - Friends Willing to Find a Transcription

In a recent post, I was seeking for help translating a scrap of German. I really couldn't understand the writing enough to know what to insert into the Google translator, per Elizabeth's recommendation. It was a great lead though.

The next step in my query was to see if any of my 100+ friends on Facebook knew German or someone who knew German. Having several friends who served foreign language missions, it was worth a shot. So, I posted the link in my Facebook account and two dear friends Lisa and Chad offered to help. They didn't personally know German but knew people who knew German.

Both forward my query on to their friends. Both friends returned with a reply that the language was on older German dialect that they were unable to read. However, Chad's friend said his father was familiar with the language. Chad sent my query on to him and I received the following message.

Here is the German translation first:

"Zum Andenken von deiner dich gewiss liebenden Freundin Katharina Ellenberger von Kuessingen 22. Juli 1833"

In English it would be something like:

"In memory of your surely always loving friend Kathatrina Ellenberger from Kuessingen 22 July 1833"

Hope this helps your friend.



Well Tobias, it does help. Know I know what this scrap of paper means per the translation. Unfortunately, this is a new name to me. I don't know where this scrap was found. However, Katharina Ellenberger is a devoted friend to someone in one of my family trees.

Even though this nugget has more questions than answers, I'm very grateful for friends willing to help me find the answer to the translation of a scrap German piece of paper. (I also learned how very important it is to document where every scrap comes from, but that's another thing all together).

So today I'm thankful for Lisa and Chad, their friends who know German, and Tobias.

10 August 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Helen Zumstein Geiszler as a Mother

Helen Geiszler and her son Robert

I recently received this wonderful picture of my father and his mother Helen Zumstein Geiszler. I don't have many memories of Grandma Geiszler. I also don't have many young pictures of my father. This one, taken in 1949, is priceless.

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

07 August 2011

Mystery Monday - Samuel Barton

Evaline Townley Geiszler Family Bible, formerly possessed by Margie Wasson

In reviewing records that my mother passed to me, I looked at this entry in my great-grandmother's Bible. I have no idea where the Bible currently is located. My mother photo copied the entry in 1977 from my father's aunt Margie Wasson. I don't know if the bible still exists. Perhaps it's still with the Wasson family. Sadly, Margie passed away last year on the day I drove into town to see her. The Bible could also have been in the possession of my mother, but she's moved several times recently. In going through her boxes during the most recent move, the Bible has not turned up.

In any case, I have this photo copy and I've identified many of the persons on the page. The one I do not know is Samuel B. Barton, died July 22, 1929 in Columbus, Ohio. I recently read a tip that one should research collateral lines. So, I decided Samuel needed to be researched.

Death Certificate for Samuel Barton, 22 July 1929, File No. 46454, Ohio State Board of Health.
Digital copy obtained through

I was happy to find this death certificate through However, there is not much information about Samuel that I can use to track him down. The reason being, is that the informant is Mrs. Geo. Geiszler of 1151 Medill St, Columbus, Ohio. Apparently, Samuel was working on the roof of the home at 1147 Medill St. He fell from the roof and was crushed. His neighbor, Mrs. Geo. Geiszler (Evaline Townley Peak) handled his case with the department of health.

Evaline is a great-grandmother of mine. Apparently, Evaline knew the birthplace of Samuel and where he worked, but not much else. I thought that was very interesting. I don't know the full names and birth dates of my neighbors enough to be an informant on their death certificates. I wondered why Evaline would know such information.

Then I noticed that Samuel was a retired pattern maker having worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. A light bulb went on. Evaline's husband George Geiszler was a pattern maker for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Samuel and George must have known each other from the work place. I imagine they were good enough friends, and neighbors at this time. I'm imagining that Evaline handled the paperwork for Samuel while George was at work. Otherwise, George himself (a friend and co-worker) would have handled this information. And, if Evaline is the one handling the paper work, then no family members were around to do it for Samuel. Samuel is listed as a widow at the time of his death. So, it's possible that no children were close by or the couple had no children at all. The reason I'm imagining all of these things (friendship, no family close by, and no children) stems from this young man.

George Barton Geiszler (1923-1994)

This is George Barton Geiszler. So far as I know, Barton is not a Geiszler family name. Perhaps it is and I've yet to uncover the family link. However, this son was born in 1923. According to the 1920 US Census, George and Evaline were living on Medill Street and George was working as a pattern maker. After the Census, George Barton was born and given the name of his father and now presumably the last name of my mystery man Samuel B. Barton.

With such a namesake, mention in the family bible, and signature of Evaline on the death certificate, I imagine there was a very strong closeness between George (age 44 in 1929) and Samuel (who died at 76).

I searched the 1920 Census, and I can't seem to find Samuel living on Medill St. I did find a Samuel Barton on Long Street in Columbus. Medill is in the 6th Ward of Columbus and Long Street was in the 1st Ward. I haven't figured out where these wards were in 1920 and how close the two streets were. More research to come. Plus, I probably need to figure out where the office for the Pennsylvania RR was in 1920.

Anyway, I found this census entry:

1920 United State Census, Columbus 1st Ward, Franklin County, Ohio; p. 4A, family 86, dwelling 57, lines 26-277; January 6, 1920.

I know it's hard to see, but Samuel Barton is married to Caroline. He's 66 and was born in Pennsylvania. She's 43 and was born in Illinois. Her parents are German and his parents were also from Pennsylvania. But the identifier is the Samuel is a pattern maker for a Railroad company. I'm not certain how many Samuel Barton's were pattern makers in their 60s in the 1920 Census. I didn't find many entries for Samuel Barton in Columbus in 1920 in the first place so I'd like to suggest that this is my mystery man.

Working backwards, I found a Samuel Barton in the 1910 Census (Year: 1910; Census Place: Columbus Ward 4, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1181; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0078; Image: 346; FHL Number: 1375194.). In this one he's married and has his in-laws living with him. Samuel, 54, and Kataline, 34, have been married for two years. They have no children. Samuel was a pattern maker. His in-laws Julius F and Fredericka Bergener arrived in the US in 1867 and are now living with the Bartons.

Working backwards again, I found Samuel Barton in the 1900 US Census (Year: 1900; Census Place: Columbus Ward 8, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T623_1268; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 76.) This time his wife, of 14 years, is Nannie A. They have a lodger living with him. Nannie and Samuel were both born in Pennsylvania. From this I could guess that his marriages to Kataline and Caroline were done in Ohio. I found his marriage certificate to Caroline in 1907, which lead me to believe that Kataline was a miss interpretation of Caroline in 1910.

All of this is leading me to believe that Samuel had no family in Ohio besides his two wives. Apparently, none of his wives born children to him. So, my guess is that Samuel worked with my great-grandfather George in the pattern shop of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Perhaps George was like a son to Samuel and George felt Samuel was like a second father. The closeness developed such that George wanted to pass Samuel's name on to his son George. Evaline must have also felt the closeness which is why she recorded Samuel's death in her family bible.

I can't say that all of these leads are true. But, if I'm right, then Samuel will never be forgotten in the Geiszler family anymore. Perhaps a Barton family might know him and appreciate the impact Samuel must of had on this family in Ohio.

Mystery Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

03 August 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Samuel Leroy Brown and Marietta Hicks

Genealogy Marriage Record Generates New Questions
I'm excited that I found the wedding certificate for my grandfather's brother. But now I have more questions than answers.

According the Brown Family Bible kept by Emma Virginia Townsend Brown, Samuel Leroy Brown was born in 20 Jun 1902, in Columbus, Ohio. Emma is Samuel's mother, so it's fairly certain to say that she remembers her son's birth date. Various interviews done by my mother regarding her father's brother indicated that the name of Samuel's wife was Mary Jane. The couple had a son born in 1945. He could still be living so I'm going to withhold his n. And the last clue that I had was that Samuel moved to Missouri and potentially died in Dec 1948.

Unfortunately, Samuel's nieces (by his brother Lewis Sherman) did not know much about Uncle Samuel. So, I decided to see what I could see.

Using, I attempted to locate a marriage certificate for Samuel and Mary Jane. I had the hardest time narrowing down my searches to the year, name, and dates of interest. So, I went over to I LOVE being able to filter the records down on this site. I think they have the best record filter there is. It makes sense and is easy to use.

Ohio County Marriage Records, 1790-1950. FamilySearch ( Digital images of originals housed at various archives throughout Ohio. Marriage Records. FHL microfilm, 1,525 rolls, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

So, I was able to find a marriage record for Samuel L Brown (no birth date given) to a Marietta Hicks. Well, Mary Jane / Marietta, that seems close. When the marriage certificate mentioned the names of Sherman Lewis Brown as the father of Samuel and Emma Virginia Townsend as the mother, I knew I had my man (and his marriage!).

Then the next step is to figure out if I can find his death certificate in Missouri. More on that later.

Wedding Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

31 July 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Transcription Needed

My dear mothers gave me a lot of records when I took over as the research 'guru' of the family. I'll admit that I probably should have asked a lot more questions regarding her research. Nevertheless, I didn't and know I'm stumped.

I have this little nugget stapled to a piece of paper. I have no idea what it says. I could be written in German, yet many words look English. There appears to be a date as well of perhaps 22 July 1833.

Anyway, I'm posting this in hopes that someone could help me figure out what it says and perhaps what it might mean.

Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

16 July 2011

Top Five Thus Far

I just wanted to thank everyone who visits my blog. I often check to see if anyone comments and find they might be fewer than I hoped. I love connecting with people but I have learned that I should measure my efforts by the comments that may or may not have been posted.

It's been fun to see which posts have had the most traffic:

So... my most popular posts have a trend. Tech Tuesday! And perhaps, that's where my trend is right now. Sharing what I've learned as well as asking questions in hopes that I can learn more.

Whenever I feel like I'm not reaching anyone with this blog, I like to review my page views and see where people are going. Thank you for visiting my little piece of cyberspace and I hope you'll come back often!

09 July 2011

Surname Saturday - Zumstine Family

German names are quiet challenging to find in Census records. The last name Zumstine has been quite challenging. For one, no family member can agree on how the end of the name should be spelled... Zumstine, Zumstien, Zumstein?

Add to that the fact that many government document records are written in terrible hand writing and the search for this family name gets even more complicated. When I was searching in Canadian Census records for the last name, I found the last name spelled Zumptine. Okay, I can see where the last name might have a p in the name if you hear it spoken.

Henry Zumstein Canadian Census

I couldn't find the family of Robert Walter Zumstein in the 1881 Census. He would have been in the family of his father Henry as he didn't marry Adeline Snyder until 1894. I found Heny Zumpzine, age 38, in the 1871 Canadian Census in the Gainsborough township of Lincoln, Ontario, Canada. Since the Library and Archives Canada database search, doesn't have a soundex search feature, I was stumped as to how to find the family in Ontario fr the year 1881. I tried a similar search on but did not come up with anything close to the relatives I was searching for. What was going on?

I decided to do a genealogy trick that I've heard about but had not tried before. I looked at the 1871 Canadian Census for a neighbor with a common name that could be easily interpreted even if the handwriting was terrible. The neighbor I selected was George Snyder. I could have chose Jane Vaugh or Israel Snyder as well. I figured I'd try each of these names until I had exhausted them all.

George Snyder was the ticket! I entered George Snyder, b 1831, into the website and found one listed in Gainsborough, Lincoln, Ontario in 1881. When I clicked to view the original record, I scrolled down two families and found one with a promising name... Paul Swinstine. I thought, perhaps the transcriber wasn't able to understand the handwriting. Perhaps the Census recorder couldn't understand the German name. I looked forward and determined that Paul was Henry's brother as his wife's name and the children I know of are listed as well.

I looked one family further and found a Henry Swinstine. After further inspection, I have determined that yes, this is my Henry Zumstine.

Henry Zumstein 1881

I can see where the transcriber saw Swinstine. They're not familiar with the last name. It also looks like Sumstine. So now, I have new name spellings to search for and have used a 'old standby' technique to find my missing family members.

Surname Saturday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

28 June 2011

Tech Tuesday: Family History Scrapbook

In my post Plans for Family History, I touched briefly on my goals of presenting my family history research in a 'kid' friendly format. I recently created a 33-page heritage scrapbook with Penny as the focal point. I created a photo family tree, a timeline, and descendant pages. I then included pages on her parents and four grandparents. Then I included things about her life: birth, youth, sisterhood, twirling, high school photos, wedding, and married life.

I hope to share some more pages from the album. I'm really impressed with the turnout. I will note that I decided to print this out as the 'standard' 12x12 scrapbook size. I'll admit that it's cool that the book is so large. But, that's the problem. The book is so large. I can't find a good place to store it. It's a bit awkward to handle. I may someday try the 'new standard' of 8x8. However, I've been doing scrapbooking at the 8.5x11 size for many years and I'm most comfortable with that size. We'll see.

I used Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 to create my customized pages. I know there are many heritage album places (or scrapbook album) available for the novice scrapbooker. I don't like the rigidity of these services. I also don't like how they do not enough space for content. And a heritage album needs content!

Anyway, stay tuned for future postings from Penny's album.

Tech Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

22 June 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Robert and Adeline Zumstein

Robert and Adeline Zumstein Wedding
Robert Walter Zumstein and Adeline Snyder were married on 21 Aug 1894 on a farm near Smithville in Wellandport, Lincoln, Ontario, Canada. They are the parents of several children including my great grandfather Robert Victor Zumstein.

Adeline, the daughter of John Snyder and Caroline I. E. Lane, was born on 6 Jan 1870 in Smithville, Lincoln, Ontario.

Robert, the son of Heinrich Zumstein and Catherine Hedrick, was born 14 Aug 1868, Gainsborough, Lincoln, Ontario, Canada.

Sources available upon request.

Wedding Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

07 June 2011

Tech Tuesday: Ohio Postcard Collection

My Geiszler and Brown family lines have been located in Ohio for at least 100 years. I came across this website Ohio Postcard Collection where you can see images from all across the state of Ohio. I love how the website has sorted the pictures by collection. The only thing missing is the approximate date the post cards were created or that the images depict. That would help me put everything into perspective a little better. Perhaps I'm missing the dates that are there. Nevertheless, I look forward to sharing this website with my mother, who was raised in Ohio, and seeing what memories she has of the various sites of her hometown.

So, I've been hoping to figure out what to do next after my survey of available research on I suppose this gem was at least one answer to my query.

Tech Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

31 May 2011

Tech Tuesday: How do I protect my family?

I think my Tech Tuesdays keep being questions more than solutions. I couldn't figure out a cute word to tie with a day of the week in order to ask questions. So, hopefully others won't mind my asking questions on Tech Tuesday. Someday I might be able to share.

Anyway... protecting my family and identity while sharing genealogy is my quandary. I came across a website that has information on a branch of my family that has had a brick wall for many years. The website is password protected. So, I contact the website owner and discover that indeed this website does have information on the family that I've been looking for. And guess what? I'm the branch he's been at a loss for for many years. So, mutual assistance is likely to occur.

Problem? When I asked how to gain access to his website and the family information therein, the owner asked for my full name and birth date. Since it's possible to obtain an identity with these pieces of information, I was torn. We take a lot on trust that other genealogists won't turn out to be horrible, horrible people. We share so much information willingly on faith that the other person won't be careless with the information.

So, what do I do? Well, I sent the owner an email that stated my concerns with sharing my vital information. I asked if we could use my deceased father instead. Perhaps that is still pretty naive of me. However, what would you have done? What do you do?

Tech Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

25 May 2011

Sharing My Research

This week, I put into the mail copies of a narrative story of my Geiszler and Zumstein families. I created this in several stages.

First, I used RootsMagic to organize my resource facts and to create notes detailing the events in my ancestors lives. Then I used the program's Narrative Report form to create an organized descendant report with the facts about each person in sentence format. I felt the format didn't flow exactly as I wished, so I then copied and pasted the report (from an exported PDF file, as the RTF function doesn't really work on the program) into a text document (I use Open Office).

Unfortunately, the citations were no longer linked well, so I learned how to make end notes for each section of the family. It was time consuming to re-establish links and cross-references but so worth it. I created a table of contents (very easy if you have used pre-formatted headers for your titles). Eventually I'll make an index, but it's not needed at this time.

The next thing I did was attempt to make each person's biographical sketch read more like a story rather than genealogical facts in sentences. Having the notes feature from RootsMagic insert the information made this fairly smooth. Still it was time consuming, but certainly makes for a better read.

Finally, I went through and inserted a photo for each family member, if I had one. Sometimes I had to use a handwriting sample because that's all I have from that relative.

So now what? Well, these research files are certainly in need of more information, more photos, and more editing. However, now I can send these 'books' to different relative connections. I'd prefer to send it electronically as one printing has 50+ pages. However, not all of my relative connections have e-mail accounts.

Why do this work? The hope and intent is this: generate more interest in my research. For years I've contacted different family members and they're like, "what do you want?" I share a group sheet, a list of questions, etc., and it's met with resistance or ignored completely. However, when I share stories of what I have, then it opens the doors for more communication. I am familiar with how exciting a family tree or a family bible listing is to genealogists. However, many of my family members aren't so excited. However, when they read that George Geiszler was a railroader and his grandson Bob loved making model trains because they reminded him of his grandfather, that's tangible and exciting.

So... the packages will go in the mail and I'll wait patiently for replies from those distant relatives. Perhaps they'll say, "Aww, that's nice" and then throw the pages in the trash. That's fine. It only cost me postage and printing of loose papers. Others will say, "Hey you got such and such wrong," and proceed to correct my mistakes. Others might say, "I have more information on ____ person. Now that I know what you're doing, I'll send you a packet for your use."

So... I'm sharing my treasure chest of information with my families. I still have the Long and Brown lines to print and mail. I hope that I'll receive a treasure chest discovery in the future. I'll keep you posted.

Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

18 May 2011

Ask Readers: Is this a tangent?

I haven't found this as a blog prompt but I'm going to start it anyway. What are you in need of help on? What questions puzzle you as a genealogical researcher? On Wanting Wednesday, I'm posting items that I could use a little guidance on. I hope others will do the same.

My want is to understand if I'm going on a wild goose chase or not. Here's the story.

I have documented that Samuel Curtis Brown (1821 MD - 1900 OH) is my great-grandfather. His wife is Martha Gordon (1827 OH - 1901 OH). I've been having trouble establishing Samuel's father, or any siblings for that matter.

In the LDS Ancestral File, a father's name of James Brown of Maryland is given as Samuel's father. There is no supporting documentation. I've searched and and found a family tree with my Samuel on it. It also lists James as the father as well as some potential siblings. One of the potential sibling is Ferdinand Brown (1813 MD). A Ferdinand appeared in the 1870 US Federal Census as the deaf neighbor to my Samuel Brown. In the 1850 Census, Ferdinand is living with his deaf brother Moses, his sister Mary, and his mother Catherine. In the (undocumented) tree, these individuals are connected. I can not find these family members in the 1860 US Census, and I'm not exactly sure why.

In the 1870 US Census, Ferdinand is living in Holland, Illinois with his brother William Brown (1815 MD - 1889 IL). William Brown married Mary Ann Fickle (1820 OH - 1898 IL). Mary Ann is the aunt to Martha Gordon (Samuel's wife). The question is... are William and Ferdinand related to Samuel aside from Mary-Martha's connection?

I contacted the Rootsweb Family Tree author. He said he had done the research in the Brown family as a way to track down information for another Brown family relative of his wife's. William, Ferdinand and Samuel are too far removed from his main line. He also apologized for not documenting his work for me to trace. He had taken a hunch that Samuel and William were brothers because of too many related coincidences that led him to the conclusion rather than solid genealogical evidence.

Several Geneabloggers have said to beware of the information on I bet they'd say the same thing about undocumented trees of Ancestral File or Rootsweb. However, the question I have is... should I pursue the William & Ferdinand might be Samuel's brother lead? If so, how would you suggest I go about doing it?

I've done a brief search using to find the Census information that I've shared above. I can't find the 1860 Census with these participants in the story. There isn't an 1840 US Census, is there? The 1820 US Census lists head of household and tally marks. Not exactly helpful when you have common names like William, Samuel and James Brown.

So... I'm wanting advice on what to do this Wanting Wednesday.

Wanting Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

15 May 2011

Sentimental Sunday - An Amazing Mother Named Lura Smith

For me, Mother's Day was on May 15th this year since my husband was out of town. So, to celebrate my Mother's Day, I want to praise a very special person. Her name is Lura Maud Smith (1884-1934).

Lura was married to Harry Howard Long (1883-1937). The couple married in Columbus, Ohio on Jun 19, 1907. They were unable to have children and finally adopted their first child in 1916.

In May 1920, a baby girl was born in Columbus, Ohio to an unwed mother. The mother died of preeclampsia. This baby girl would become my grandmother.

Upon her mother's death, Baby Anderson became a ward of the State of Ohio Welfare Department. She had a caseworker, Ethel Huffman Ackerman, who wanted to place Baby Anderson in the home of Harry Long. The caseworker was a friend and classmate (at Ohio State) of Harry's sister Elizabeth Long.

As Elizabeth retells the story, Ethel received Baby Anderson's birth mother's history and felt that Harry and Lura were just the parents for this new baby. Louise was at the State receiving home and Ethel had not yet met the baby.

According Elizabeth, Ethel didn't think anyone would want the baby after seeing the baby for the first time. The baby had been through a rough delivery and absorbed some of the fluids from her mother's kidney failure. The baby's face was broken out and her whole body was very thin. She looked as if she had hemorrhoids. (Elizabeth remembers the baby girl had no buttocks and wondering if it would ever learn to sit!)

Ethel told Harry that he was under no obligation to take the baby. She also apologized for not having warned them of her condition. It is said that Harry responded, "if the ever was a baby that needed a home, I believe this one does." Lura agreed with her husband. The couple took Louise and nursed her to good health. The State of Ohio probably provided health services for a year until the adoption was complete.

Although the words were said my Harry, the nurturing mother Lura is in my book a saint. She could have refused to take the baby based on looks alone. Lura and Harry didn't. They gave that baby a chance at life. Now my grandmother is 90 years old, has three children, thirteen grand children, many great grandchildren, and at least one great-great grandchild! On this Mother's Day (which may be belated for some), I praise Lura Maud Smith. Without her decision to adopt such a sickly child, I might never have come to be.

Sentimental Sunday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

10 May 2011

Talented Tuesday - Robert Victor Zumstein is a Hawkeye not a Cyclone

OSU Professor R Victor ZumsteinDo you consider education a talent? Well, in a family where I heard "Get your Ph.D. before your Mrs.", education is considered a talent.

Thanks to I have found out that my great-grandfather Zumstein was not a graduate of Iowa State University in Ames. Robert Victor Zumstein was a native of St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada. He graduated from a university in Toronto in 1917. He moved to Iowa and obtained his Masters in Math and and Physics in 1918. And he obtained his PhD (probably in Physics) in 1924 from S.U.I in 1924 before moving to the University of Michigan to obtain more education and become a professor until 1926. He later became a professor at Ohio State University from 1928-1968. It seems he loves the Big Ten schools!

Victor's sweet daughter Dorothy wrote his biography in the 1970s. To his Canadian born daughter who married a Canadian and raised her family in Canada, I'm not sure she knew there were two colleges with similar sounding names in Iowa at the time. When her father graduated, there were was the State University of Iowa and Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. In 1959, Iowa's colleges became more confusing to 'outsiders' as S.U.I. became more commonly known as the University of Iowa and the other college became Iowa State University.

Iowa State Logo
So, when Texas reared me reads Canadian Dorothy's biography about Victor graduating from Iowa State University, I think about the red and yellow colored college from Ames. I made a big genealogy mistake and began inserting facts about ISU into my writings. I began to imagine my newlywed great grandfather rearing his children in the middle of Iowa. I should have realized that a daughter's biography about her father is not weighted the same as a diploma or newspaper article.

Anyway, thanks to, I searched for Robert Victor and found a listing of graduates from S.U.I. (State University of Iowa) in 1924. I read that his degrees match up with what I had previously found. Then I notice the paper saying Hawkeye. Hawkeye? Wait. It's supposed to be Cyclone. Then I notice the paper mention the city of Iowa City. Iowa City? It's supposed to be Ames. Righ?

No! I'm the silly.

Iowa Hawkeyes
A quick trip to Wikipedia and I learn that a miscommunication had occurred. If I had just taken the time to check the history of the Iowa Universities, I would have known that in 1918 and 1924, there was really only one university in Iowa. So my great aunt was mostly right in saying Victor graduated from Iowa State University only she really meant State University of Iowa.

So yes, my great-grandfather was talented in the field of physics. Yes he taught at Ohio State and Michigan before that. However, he was in Iowa City at the college who has the Hawkeye mascot and color theme of black and gold. Well, I like black and gold better than red and yellow and I have some family history stories to amend.

09 May 2011

Who is George Schneitzer or Snitzer?

George Schnietzer or Snitzer of Columbus
In the photo album I received not too long ago, there is a fine looking fellow was George Schneitzer. He lived in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus had a large population in an area which became known as German Village. He was the godfather of George Joseph Geiszler (1886-1974). George Joseph was the son of Henry Joseph Geiszler who married Magdalena Hoppe 3 Jul 1882. The couple married at Zion German Methodist Episcopal, so it's possible that the godfather ceremony was done at this church.

These are all the facts I have to go one. One day I'd love to know why Henry and Margie chose George Schneitzer to be their son's Godfather and potential namesake. The book suggests that George's last name is Snitzer. What if George didn't live in Ohio. The only time I've discovered a George N Snitzer is in the 1890 Veterans Schedule. He's listed as having served in Ohio Infantry Volunteers Company K, 88th Other records suggest that his name is not listed in this record. I found a death record for George Schnidzer with a birth in 1831 in Germany and a death in 1909 in Columbus, Ohio.

George's name is not easily discover-able..

03 May 2011

Talented Tuesday - David Geiszler's Art

My brother has had a gift for art that I've just never been able to acquire. Even though I focus primarily on ancestors, I just visited his family and I thought I'd pay tribute to him.

Here's a sample of his artwork. It's the team logo from his High School in Texas.
I'm fairly certain the letters were done in stencil (David had terrible handwriting) but the bear was done in free hand. Thanks to David's art ability, I got an A on an assignment for one of my English classes in High School. We were supposed to submit a drawing about some book. David's picture was AWESOME. I so wish I still had a copy of that picture. (Still don't know why I had an assignment for drawing a picture in English, but I digress).

Anyway, artistic do appear in my family. Unfortunately, I don't have samples of their work. My mother won awards at the Ohio State Fair for latch hook rugs. They were 1970 red and orange, so I didn't appreciate them, but that's still pretty cool. Elizabeth Long (1890-1992) creating numerous tatting and water color pieces in the 1980s. She even sold a few. She passed a few water color paintings to her nieces (she never had any children). I wish I could see a sample some day.

I'm still uncovering more talented artists in both sides of my family. I'm thankful that my daughter has a budding artistic ability that seems to have passed me by. She's carrying on a great family tradition.

Talented Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

25 April 2011

Who is Bertha Schenk?

I have another photo from the family album that I've been blessed to be the guardian of. Many of the photos have been identified, but several have not. This picture is labeled Bertha Schenk. Bertha was said to be the maid of honor, or some such important attendant, at the wedding of Henry Joseph Geiszler to Magdalena Hopppe on 3 Jul 1882 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.

Other than this information, that's all I have of her. Except that she has a son, of which I have a baby picture for. So... perhaps someone is looking for Bertha Schenk. Hopefully they can help me solve this mystery.

Mystery Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

20 April 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Robert and Clementina Zumstein

Victor and Clementina Comfort Wedding Photo
Victor married his childhood sweetheart Clementina Comfort, who at that time was teaching public school in Smithville Ont. Her engagement ring was said to have cost $100. They were married under a pear tree at the home of Alonzo Comfort.

This photo is such a treasure. I've posted before how I've had to have Patience and Courage in Genealogy. The above picture is an example of having patience and courage. Victor and Clementina are my father's grandparents. My grandma Helen Zumstein is their daughter. Grandma Helen had numerous pictures lining her home in Ohio of her ancestors. She loved sharing stories about these relatives. Unfortunately, I didn't share the interest when I was 7. Sadly, she had a stroke with resulting dementia when I was ready to pursue the family history.

It's a long and sad story, but suffice it to say, when Helen was in a nursing home, her family pictures seemed to have been lost to the times. Perhaps the state of Ohio has a collection of unclaimed family artifacts waiting to be discovered. Regardless, I never thought I'd have more than one picture of my great-grandparents.

In March, I called upon a niece of Helen's who lives in Ohio. Cousin Molly was insanely nice and the next day, she filled my inbox with 30+ pictures of Helen, her siblings, her nieces and nephews, as well as her parents and grandparents. Not only is this Wedding photo awesome and the couple so handsome, the picture is a priceless treasure for me because of the story in how I received a copy of it.

Wedding Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

18 April 2011

Mystery Monday - Basler

Who is this man? The name written under his photo is Basler. But it's hard to decide what's written in front of his name. This picture was found in a photo album held by the recently deceased Margie Geiszler Wasson. The album contains photos of Caroline Mack Geiszler Billman, Henry and Margie (nee Hoppe) Geiszler, and Conrad and Lizzie Grener.

Currently I don't have any established connections to this gentleman. I don't really know when this photograph was taken. It's possible that this man was a family friend or a Godfather. I do have one photo in this album that fits that bill. Sadly, the family members who would know why this picture is in the album have passed away.

So... this photo is open to the internet as a Family History mystery to be solved.

Mystery Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

16 April 2011

Surname Saturday - Gesizler Family

Lineage of Joseph Geißler of Baden
who immigrated to Franklin County, Ohio

My father is a descendant of a German Catholic immigrant that made his way to Franklin County, Ohio perhaps in the 1850s. The immigrant's name was Joseph Geißler. Additional posts about Joseph include:

This post focuses on the surname Geißler and much of the family lore and the published speculation about the last name.

What is the Meaning and Origin? 

A variety of resources, many with suspect sources, put forth the idea that the Geißler surname has a Swiss origin. The meaning is supposedly related to a goat herder. One source speculated that Geiß translates as "nanny goat" in German, giving weight to the origin and meaning. Goat herders not only tended goats but products from goat milk.

Another origin source says the name is a Bavaria / Austria name associated with the personal name Giselher (Gieseler). Giselher is from gisil meaning ‘offspring’, ‘pledge’, ‘noble offspring’ and heri meaning ‘army'.i

How do you say the last name Geißler?

The G in German might have various sounds depending upon who is saying the name. It can have a familiar English /g/ sound or a harsher /k/ sound. I have seen documents from my immigrant ancestor with a 'G' as the initial letter and a 'K'. This could explain why Joseph's naturalization documents have a K rather than a G.  As one can see, the 'G' and the ß from Joseph's last name can create much confusion in the English speaking new world.

Next is the vowel combination of 'ei'  The German pronunciation is long i.  The English pronunciation tends to be long e.  Geesler?  German ie is long e.  English ie is long i. Most Geiszlers that I have met say the "I" sound... almost like the first syllable is "guy" rather than "Gee"

According to Paul Joyce German Course at the University of Portsmouth,  "A double 's' (written 'ss' or 'ß') is always pronounced as an unvoiced English 's' in words such as 'seal' or 'self'. This sound is written 'ss' when the preceding vowel in a word is short. It is written 'ß': after a long vowel e.g. 'Fuß', 'Maß', 'Spaß'"

For the most part, the Geiszlers in Ohio pronounce the name: "Guys - lure."

Spelling Variations

Wouldn't it be easy if the Geißler had only two variations? Well, that's not the case. In the name Geißler, the  strange looking letter that resembles a "B" with a leg on it is referred to as a German Beta or the eszett. When Germans were describing how to spell their names in English, the middle letters have often become 'ss' or 'sz' as it sounds like the letter name of eszett.  The Geiszlers on the lineage above have had various spellings until it finally locked into Geiszler by Henry's death in 1931.

The last name can be spelled as: Geiszler, Geissler, Keisler, Keiszler, Guysler, Gysler, Gesley, Geiss, Geisler, Geisen, Geisnger,  Gessler.

The Rumor

Several Geiszler 'cousins' have shared emails with me over the year and suggested that the Geißlers were in the Prussian aristocratic class. When things deteriorated for the gentry, the Geißlers fled.

Now there may or may not be truth to this idea. What I do know is that there was no 'real Germany' as a unified country in the 1830s-1850s when my immigrant was born and then sailed to America. In the early 1800s, many Germanic people hoped to create a unified country with democratic rather that royal government. In 1848, uprisings began throughout the German-states to overthrown the princes. The princes won and for a time worked with the rebels towards reformation, but soon many rebels were being arrested and persecuted. Disappointed Germans then began leaving their homeland.

If Joseph was linked to aristocracy it could explain how he had the initial money to purchase land in Franklin County, Ohio at such a young age. However, those who fled were generally merchants and educated individuals, and sometimes the poor class, which was generally below the aristocratic tier of society. In other words, the mass emigration in the 1840s and 1850s were primarily rebels or rebel sympathizers. For my particular ancestor, I'm inclined to believe Joseph was a part of or related to a rebel and needed to find a new home quickly to save his skin. He could still have been born a part of the aristocracy, but it currently can't be proven.

Further Reading:
Discovering A Signature for Joseph Geißler

i. Dictionary of American Family Names Edited by Patrick Hanks
ii. Joseph Keizler, certificate of naturalization (1858), The State of Ohio, Franklin Count, Clerk of Superior Court, September term AD 1858, Joseph Keizler, Certified in Columbus, On 11 October 1858. Document in possession of David G. Geiszler of Columbus, Ohio. Electronic copy in possession of Devon Geiszler Lee.

12 April 2011

Tech Tuesday: Help!?! I don't know what to do next on


I took the plunge at got a one-month membership to Now that I've found all the family trees that mention my family members and gone through all of the Hints. Now I'm overwhelemed on what to do next.

First, I don't understand how to sort through the families I have accepted as hints.

Second, I don't understand how to refine the search historical documents so that I don't have 400,000 records that aren't even CLOSE to the individual I'm attempting to search. I guess I don't understand why I have so many options when I select a family member from my tree and the search field are completed for me.

Any help in the reverse would be GREAT! Thanks!

Tech Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

10 April 2011

Thank You GenaBloggers

I found this great community called GenaBloggers. It is a great place for inspiration on what to share on my family history blog. I've found technical tips and genealogy tips as well. I have not been able to begin absorbing all the information as there are over 1,800 blogs on their blog roll. Wow!

Additionally, the community has been so welcoming already. I haven't even begun participating in the Daily Prompts and community members have reached out to me. I'm so excited. I hope as more people find me, they'll find them. Even if you receive moral support in your genealogy efforts alone, the community was worth the membership (it's not a paid membership, just in case your wondering).

So thank you to Thomas MacEntee for this awesome blog and all the work you do.

31 March 2011

Family History Requires Patience and Courage

There is an important lesson in genealogy. It's that it requires patience.  And the sooner you start the better chance you have of getting your hands on things. Also, when family feuds are involved, you need even more patience for family artifacts. But if I'm not a rarity, I know they will come.

Since December, I've been flooded with a desire to do more family history work. I'm working on a 'short' scrapbook that features my mother.  Thanks to digital scrapbooking, I'm finally getting around to doing this project that I've meant to do for so many years!

Magdalena Hoppe Geiszler's Photo Album
Magdalena Hoppe Geiszler's Photo Album

In February, I received the prize of all prizes. A vintage photo album with 30 pictures of Geiszler family members that I had hoped to someday see. I think this is one of many albums that were 'lost' during a family squabble that I never dreamed I'd lay eyes on. (Lesson: STOP THE FAMILY FEUDS!)

Lizzie Geiszler Greener and her husband name from Geiszler Photo Album

My cousin had taken out all of the photos and organized them into a white, 3-ring binder with sheet projectors. He had typed up the names of everyone. I'm so glad he did this. Had the photos been in this album, exposed to the rapid deterioration of the cloth album, they would be in worse shape. Sadly, the photo album smelled so bad and was in less than ideal shape. It is now longer in existence. Oh how I wish I had it earlier so I could properly preserve it.  (Lesson: Dig Your Stuff Out of the Attic, Today!)

The album gave me faces for Mary Elizabeth Geiszler Greener and Catherine Caroline Geiszler Bricker, the daughters of my 3rd Great Grandfather Joseph Geiszler. Catherine Caroline was only 4 months old when her father died. There are also a number of individuals in the photo album who I do not know but wish I did. Among them are:

Bertha Schenk
George Schneitzer (or Snitzer)

My quest for more family history has been interesting. I've had to develop patience and courage. Now, I just have to have more patience to temper my excitement of recent discoveries. I still have a living family to raise and record for our posterity. Ahh... it does feel pretty awesome though.