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31 August 2013

Surname Saturday: More Geiszler Brick Wall Suggestions

As I shared before, I am stuck on my ancestor Joseph Geißler. I wanted to share a few more suggestions I received to attempt to crack through his Brick Wall.


"Check the immigration lists through the Ports of Philadelphia and Baltimore. Both popular ports of entry during this time period."

I used to search variations of Joseph Geiszler (see all the variant spellings below) in both ports. I only found one entry that could be a possibility. There were several 'hits' for people with a Geisler name variation but only one had the first name as Joseph. It's possible that Joseph has another name. But, I have never seen it used.

Joseph Giesel entry in Philadelphia Passenger List, database
Joseph Giesel entry in Philadelphia Passenger List, database

I do not want to get too excited about this record. It's only a possibility. I do like the fact that Joseph is 18, born in 1836. I have determined this year to be the approximate birth year for my ancestor. I like the fact that the passenger list Joseph is a farmer and arrived in 1854. My Joseph was a farmer and purchased land in Franklin County, Ohio in 1856.

Unfortunately, he's basically traveling alone. So I don't have any clues to home country or family, etc. I think  the strength of evidence is probably pretty small. Also, naturalization papers say that he was from Baden, not Bavaria (as listed on the ship's manifest). So... that's where I am at on the Passenger list suggestions.


I was told to check the actual document from the cemetery Joseph was buried in. Unfortunately, the only entry tying Joseph to his final resting place is the register of the old Catholic Church of Columbus and it's cemetery. The actual cemetery has a sad story which basically ends with... the cemetery was uncared for and built over. The remains of ancestors were unclaimed and without grave markers. The only thing on the parish register is name and death date.


The next suggestion was "Check to see if he served in the Civil War. Reason for this conclusion was based on the date he died in 1863. Was a relatively young man that would have been prime for service."

Franklin County, Ohio 1863 Civil War Draft record
Franklin County, Ohio 1863 Civil War Draft record

I think I found someone who registered for the draft, but I can't figure out where to go from that record. Joseph Keezler was record as signing up for the draft in Prairie Township, Franklin County, Ohio in 1863. He is listed as married and the appropriate age for service. I have not found anyone with a similar enough name in Prairie Township in the 1860s. So, I would presume (is that the right word), that it is him.

Additionally, a John Kinnear is listed above him. Joseph purchased land adjacent to the Kinnard family from the Kinnards. So, Kinnear could be his neighbor?

Records suggest that Joseph died one month after being listed on this register. My question now is... are there records to suggest why someone didn't go from signing the draft to a service man?


The final suggestion I received to attempt to crack my brick was was the following:

"Make sure you check the death certificates of his children. This may offer clues to his origins. Realize it would have been very uncommon for him to come alone."

Joseph (1836 - 1863) and his wife Caroline Mack (1838 - 1904) had four children.
  1. Carl  (1857 - 1859) doesn't have a death record, that I've found. His death was recorded via a sermon of sorts given by the Catholic Church when he died. His parent's name are identified with little else.
  2. Henry Joseph (1859 - 1931)... the informant was Henry's son William. William was 47 but he did not know (or didn't record) the names of his grandparents. He did not record where they were born either. This is odd because his Grandma Caroline Mack (remarried to Billman) would have died when William was 21!
  3. Mary Elizabeth (1861 - 1940) ... the death record lists her father as  Joseph Geisler and mother as Caroline Mack. No origin is listed. The information was provided by Freida Grener Barnes. Frieda was 18 when her Grandma Caroline died.
  4. Caroline (1863 - 1952)... the death records lists the father as Thomas Geisler and and mother as Caroline Mack. No birthplace for the parents was given. The informant was Curtis Bricker, Caroline's son. He was seven when his Grandma Caroline died.

So.. the death records don't sign any light on additional information for the parents. My only though was that perhaps Fredia Gerner Barnes might have learned about her grandparents from her mother. And, Frieda was 18 when her Grandma Caroline died. She might have known her. Perhaps an investigation of the descendants of Frieda Grener Barnes might reveal information about the Geisler ancestor. Additionally, the Greners did a lot of research on the Grener line. Perhaps they might have done some research on Mary Elizabeth's family as well.


The person who answered my query under the Ohio Genealogy Research name had this final thought;

"One question that I am curious about and don't have a answer for why all the name changes? What is the evidence that you have for these various name spellings

I don't know why there are so many variations of his name. I have posted previously about all the signatures and recordings of his name. Here is a summary of the names used and where I found them. My best guess is that his name was difficult to understand by someone who didn't speak German. And, I also wonder how literate Joseph might have been.
  • Naturalization Papers: Keisler,
  • Land Record: Guisler
  • 1860 Census Record: Gusler
  • Marriage License: Gesley (But his signature is included and is Geissler)
  • Civil Enlistment: Keezler
Now, these are the spelling variants that where associated with records when he was living. The variations continue with his children, who where 4, 2, and a few months old when he died:
  • Death Certificate for daughter Mary Elizabeth: Gysler
  • Caroline married under the last name Gisler
  • Mary married under the last name Geissler (but there is a second spelling that looks like Geiscler)
  • Henry married under the name Geischar, but he used spellings varying from Geiszler (used off and on, on his death certificate and the outside of his horseshoers shop), to Giesler, Geisler, Giescler (early 1890s), Gieseler, Gieszler,

One would think that with Joseph's wife alive she would have passed on the information about her children's father's name. She did remarried shortly after Joseph's death. They knew the only father they ever knew (Michael Billman who died in 1183) was not their birth father. But why couldn't they agree on the spelling of their father's name. And, Henry, couldn't lock into one spelling of his last name for years. Why? I do not know.

So, that's it. That's the update on the leads someone tried to share with me in hopes to crack open the Brick Wall of Joseph Geißler.

My new research queries involve the following:
  • Is there a list telling why someone didn't serve in the Civil War after signing up for the draft of 1863
  • Does the Frieda Grener Barnes family have an information that might shine light on Frieda's mother's family?
  •  What is on the PALAM Ancestor Charts for Joseph Geisler?
  • And, learn more about the migration routes that Germans followed from Baden to Columbus, Ohio.
Seems to me... Joseph did travel to America alone. He didn't live in America long enough to create a giant paper trail. Unless divine intervention happens. I just might have to let this Brick Wall stand.

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