Saturday, May 31, 2008

Relatively speaking...relationships to be determined

The more people you meet, the closer you come to people to whom you might be related. In particular, I have two new leads.

First, I learned of a site for Germans from Russians who moved to Argentina. It provides a list of descendants who live around the globe who may have ties to this group.

Second. my friend Andy has a distant relative who is a descendant of Herrmanns from Mariental, Russia. I sent an email to her today and will keep you posted on the results.

On a disappointing note, the research on Margaretha Bach has come to a dead end, no genealogical pun intended. It appears the Margaretha who was found actually married Jean Behr not my ancestor Johann Nickolaus Herrmann. So, the search continues....

But between all of the books I need to read, all of the classes I may attend, and all of the other potential connections, I know my journey has a long way to go.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day again

How quickly the year passed since last Memorial Day! The flags line the entryway to Cooper Commons dutifully on guard again. The wind tosses and flicks the colorful stripes until the stars stand straight out at attention. Memorial Day encourages memories of all kinds so my historical research figures prominently today.

Another year passes and what have I accomplished on my genealogical journey? I have accomplished much but the more I learn, the further I have to go.

For example, I completed my first course from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. The Institute partners with the Professional Learning Centre, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto. I won the certificate for the class when I attended the Milwaukee Genealogical Society's event in April 2007. Courses can be reviewed at

I opted for the class German: Introduction to German Research for North Americans. The resource list alone from this course is immense. I need to add these books to my "to read" list at This course inspired me to investigate the Margaretha Bach connection to my family which lead me to the Bettviller/Bitche/Luxembourg connection. It also led me to read two books; Luxembourg Enchantment of the world and The Grand duchy of Luxembourg, The evolution of nationhood 963 A.D. to 1983. Excellent books which help me to realistically understand exactly why my ancestors chose Russia instead of Moselle. I need to reflect more to determine if I should pursue my certificate in German Genealogy from the Institute and how I can build it into my already crammed schedule.

My latest editing project is A Man Called Andreas. Andy Kroneberger conducted an enormous amount of research and compiled it into a book. My task is to edit the book to make it ready to publish. As I edit Chapter One I continue to learn from what he has written. He has connected with many relatives and one of them may well be a Herrmann relative who descended from the Herrmann's in Mariental. Another valuable contact which merits my follow-up.

My second coloring book Maggie Visits Casper is next on my list of priorities. After completing my first edit of Andreas I want to devote time to the Maggie project. I hope to draw at least half of the book before I travel to Casper in July.

The more you accomplish, the more you find to do. Memorial Day is a good day to remember it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Vous parlez fran├žais? Nein,nur ein bischen Deutsch

Amazement. Actually, amazement tinged with synchronicity. Amazement and synchronicity best describe my research status at the moment.

Recent discoveries have re-affirmed my belief that my ancestors in the 1750's lived in the area now known as Luxembourg. I found one link for an ancestor, Margaretha Bach, on I sent two possibilities to three fingered frank for his take on it.

Then he turned around and checked with his European sources. He was able to track back a few more generations.

Margaretha was born in Bitche, Moselle, Lorraine and she married Johann Nickolaus Herrmann of Luxembourg. Margaretha's parents likely lived in Bettviller. Historians familiar with Moselle Lorraine know this area transitioned back and forth from Germanic to French rule numerous times over the centuries. Further research shows the city of Bettviller lies only a few minutes from Bitsche according to Google maps. Check out this link to see how close these cities are to Germany and Luxembourg.,7.684169&sspn=0.824,2.559814&ie=UTF8&ll=49.066219,7.444611&spn=0.102798,0.432587&z=12

So, this small area of roughly 30-50 miles near the current borders of Luxembourg, France, and Germany, was critical to my family history. The border wars and religious shifts no doubt altered my family's lives. I also discovered yesterday the surname Herrmann means Army Man. Coincidence?

My research continues and I gain a whole new respect for the small details and subsequent effects which ripple down through generation to generation. Right now, I am a sponge soaking up all of the information I can find on Luxembourg, Moselle and Lorraine. Somehow, learning French is right around the corner.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New Rage Phrase

You need to check out the latest wit and wisdom from three fingered frank. His blog made its debut this week after I nagged him for nearly a year. I have been the recipient of his repertoire for years and he is at his best in a quick easy to read blog format.

His humor is legendary among his friends and he is an avid historian. This is the same guy who spent over five hours at the family history center with me reviewing filmstrips of Luxembourg census information from 1675 to 1798. Who else do I know who is fluent in French and would help me review an entire century of village listings? (BTW, we found a Nicolaus Herrmann in the census who is more than likely a distant ancestor of mine!). I call him the ultimate Renaissance man. Check it out today at and enjoy!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Miller Park and Memories

My favorite Brewer fan, Lorie, treated me to an outing at Miller Park on Wednesday, April 23 and again on Saturday, April 26. The first time was for a victory in which Derek Turnbow saved the day (in near heart attack fashion) against the Phillies. The park is one of the best for baseball. The music, the setting and lights are fabulous. If you walk in as a lukewarm fan, you will leave as a true fanatic.

Of course, the retired player numbers of Yount 19 and Molitor 4 arouse memories of my entire life. But one of my favorites is still Aaron 44 who played at the first MLB game I attended in Milwaukee before the Braves moved to Atlanta. Baseball and softball are so closely knitted to my family history, both in attending games and spending great times with family. I can see highlights of Dennis Eckersley and Kirk Gibson and I know exactly what was going on in my life.

The Saturday visit to Miller Park was for Lorie to collect a signed baseball. The posted pictures reflect that day and was my first time on the Miller Field diamond. Kevin Weeks, second baseman, was in the dugout where Lorie collected her Carlos Villanueva autographed baseball.

Despite Turnbow's subsequent departure from the Brewers and their loss again today, the game goes on and the memories continue to grow. Thanks, Lorie.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Return to Milwaukee Roots

My last blog comment was well over a month ago and I have missed my updates. When I write about my searches and activities, my memories are cemented in my mind. The act of reflecting on my activities adds credibility and progress to my journey. So, just where did April go? My quick snapshot of the April 2008 blur includes:

  • Finalizing plans to edit/rewrite a remarkable story about family history research.
  • Celebrating another year of life on this earth
  • Joining with fellow Germans from Russia to hear Geri Harris of the Family History Library of Mesa to share with us her expertise on researching families from Eastern Europe
  • Turning a business trip to Milwaukee for business into a family reunion with emphasis on good old-fashioned conversation, vegetarian food and baseball.

More details to come over the weekend. Right now, I need to ring in the month of May with a glass of Barefoot Merlot. Be back soon.