Month: February 2009


Johann Thielke
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The headstone this week is from my great-great grandfather, Johann THIELKE. Johann was born on 26 Oct 1843 in Württemberg, Germany. He married my great-great grandmother, Wilomene “Minnie” RATHKE on 21 June 1891 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That marriage date makes him 47 when he married Minnie and she was married previously. This makes me wonder if Johann was previously married also, but I have yet to find any evidence of this. Johann passed away on 24 Apr 1927 in Grafton, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. He was buried at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Grafton. Below is an image on the back of his headstone with some German writing. I can’t make it out, but if any of you can, let me know what you think it says.

Click for larger image
Click for larger image

[ Johann Thielke’s Information | Find-a-Grave Entry ]

Today I was browsing some of the professional genealogy society-type websites. I hope to one day become certified in some sort of genealogy-related area. I know that I’ll enjoy doing genealogy for the rest of my life and hopefully I’ll be able to help others.

The first one I came to was Board for Certification of Genealogists. I was curious as to what it took to become certified. It actually seems in reach since applicants are sent a photocopy of an historical document that relates to the geographic areas and time periods in which they normally work. I read over one of their example that dealt with an area I’m familiar with, an 1870 Wisconsin Deed. Everything that they went over would be something that I would normally ask myself or make notes on. I don’t have much experience with deeds, but I can figure out the basics of what I’m looking for. Have any of you readers become, or tried to become, certified?

I know that one of my weak points right now is probably sourcing. Don’t get me wrong, I add every possible source to everything I enter into my family tree, but I’m not hip on the lingo. Does anyone know of any good references of how to write out your sources, preferably free? BCG has a book, but they want me to spend $45 on it.

I also looked at the National Genealogical Society’s website. This is not really a certification, but it is a central location that a lot of genealogists go to. Is anyone here a member of NGS? Are the online courses worth the money? I’d like to become a member, but I want to make sure I get my money’s worth. I hope to one day be able to go to one of their genealogical conferences. I’d love to meet other genealogists.

I do plan on becoming a member of a local genealogical society, the Milwaukee County Genealogical Society. A lot of my family lived and died in the Milwaukee County area. Plus, it’s pretty decent deal at $12/year and you get some access to helpful local information, etc. Plus, it’ll make me go out and meet other people doing research in the same area. Maybe I can help them get their website into the 21st century, too. What are your experiences with local genealogical societies?

Photo: amyc500@flickr

Wordless WednesdayWordless Wednesday’s photo is a picture of my grandfather Richard Zalewski (in the back) and my great-great grandparents, Joseph & Clara (Szulta) Troka. I don’t have a date down for it, but I assume it’s sometime in the 1950s. Clara passed away in 1959 at the tough ol’ age of 83. Joseph died in on New Year’s Day in 1962 at the age of 90. He probably would have lived much longer, but he was hit by a drunk driver on his way to church in Milwaukee. You can read an excerpt from the newspaper article on my family tree site. Both Clara and Joseph were born in the Poland area and immigrated to the United States. They were married in Milwaukee in 1894.

Augusta (Luedtke) Last
Augusta (Luedtke) Last

Headstone of Augusta Johanna Wilkelumire (Luedtke) Last. She wins for having the longest name of my ancestors and for living the longest. Augusta died just shy of two weeks past her 100th birthday. I posted about an article in the local paper mentioning her 100th birthday.

The headstone is located in Union Cemetery in Port Washington, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin. It’s also near her husband and also some of her children and extended family.

[Link to headstone on Find-a-Grave]

Today’s featured cemetery is St. Finbar’s Cemetery in Saukville, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. I’m choosing this cemetery due to the fact that it was the first (and, unfortunately, only) cemetery that I fully transcribed. I picked it for transcription because it was small and out of the way, so it made good practice. I did the transcribing in May of 2000, so I was just a young’n.

Here is the description from my writeup:

This cemetery was founded by Saukville’s Irish settlers. Consisting of mainly Irish families. The cemetery is still in use today by a few families. It is a very beautiful and well kept cemetery, settled on top of a hill within the trees. Many of the headstones are old and worn and unreadable, so there are a few not included in this list

The cemetery is located just east of the Village of Saukville, on St. Finbar’s Road. (Google Maps Link) I’m hoping that someone finds the transcription useful and it helps them find their lost ancestors. I grew up in Saukville, but I wasn’t aware of this cemetery until I got into genealogy and local history more in my early college years.

I’m sure there have been a few new headstones added since 2000. The cemetery still seemed to be in use, but not by a lot of families anymore. It’s a quiet and peaceful place, if you just need somewhere to relax and soak up the old Irish history of Ozaukee County.

[ Transcription | Map ]

When I bought my house in 2005, I ended up purchasing my grandparent’s house. My grandpa had passed away in 1999 and my grandma was moving into an assisted living apartment since she hurt herself in a little fall. I did get a very nice deal on the house. It’s perfect “starter” house, being the house that they bought new in 1955 and that my dad and his siblings grew up in.

When she moved, a bunch of boxes were left in the basement. Most of it was just things like blankets and pots and pans, things she doesn’t need right now. I found one box a few months back when I was taking inventory that I saw had funeral cards and old newspaper clippings in it. Today, I decided to just browse through them to see if there were any of my ancestors that I could use to squeeze out some more information.

I only found a few funeral cards on the top and they were probably of old friends, I assume, and not relatives. But, I did find a nice collection in the news clippings box. Most of the items were just random clippings of recent photos and articles from the newspapers. But, I did find a nice selection of old obituaries, though. A couple were straight from the newspapers and a few others were copies. The obituaries that I found were from Emma Jane (FIRMENICH) COOK (my gg-grandmother), George S COOK (Emma’s 3rd husband), Margaret (STEARNS) BRAATZ (my gg-grandmother), Frank F BRAATZ, Sr (her husband and my gg-grandfather), and Margaret (SCHUMACHER) STEARNS (her mother and my ggg-grandmother.) Most of the obituaries didn’t have any new info of note, but the big find was the last one. In my tree, all I had was “Margaret” listed and her death date. This obituary gave me her birth info and her surname, which is brand new to me. Plus, it listed all of her siblings and locations. I need to start looking for SCHUMACHER now, any tips?

Another treasure find in the box was some old letters written to my grandfather from his parents in 1941. It seems, from the address that he was in navy school in Pensacola, Florida. There are about 5-10 letters all written from March 31, 1941 to April 27, 1941. One weird note here is that my great-grandmother, his mother, Emily (TROKA) ZALEWSKI, passed away on May 1, 1941. In the later letters that I just quickly scanned through, there is no mention of being sick, etc. So, this points to her death being quite sudden as she was only 45 years old at the time. Maybe my grandfather saved these letters due to the fact that he was away in Florida when his mother died. There are no letters beyond the April 27th one. I am in the process of scanning them so I can read them and archive them. This is the only comunication from my great-grandmother that I’ve found. Then, I plan on taking this box over to my grandmother since I’m assuming she’ll want it.

Claude-Françoise "Frances" (Quinet) Thompson
Claude-Françoise “Frances” (Quinet) Thompson

This week’s tombstone is that of my gggg-grandmother, Frances Thompson. I’m happy about this headstone since no one had a photo of it or a location for it. My wife and I drove an hour or so up to Wrightstown and checked the few cemeteries and found it, along with her husband.