Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ancestors who want to be found - Catherine Neher Meinberg Hellmann

I have to say, in all my years researching my family tree, no ancestor of mine wants to be found more than my 4th great-grandmother Catherine Neher Meinberg Hellmann. Her spirit seems to be manipulating the universe to open up avenues for me to discover her, moreso than any other person I've had to find entirely from scratch.

A little less than a year ago is when I had my first breakthrough with her, with the discovery of her obit and the fact that the reason I couldn't find her anywhere is that because after her first husband and my 4th great grandfather John Meinberg died, she remarried to a George Hellmann. That oh so tiny but oh so important fact knocked down her brick wall, and I found her in the census, discovered she had at least two sisters, and was able to order both a death certificate and marriage certificate. Those two last items led me to my 5th great grandparents, Martin Neher and Anna Maria Mitsch, who, like every new generation that is revealed, posed yet another brick wall, and so I put aside my Catherine Neher research for the time being. Sometimes you need to refocus, regroup, and then return.

Catherine, though, seems to be an impatient one. I think I might have annoyed her a bit by moving on to my other branches.

On Ancestry, you can build a family tree. It's both a help and a hindrance, because the website automatically searches its records periodically for matches to people in your tree - sometimes the searches are fruitful but more often than not they've just been completely wrong and a source of false hope. What it also does is connect you to other people who are researching the same people in their trees - again, this is both a good and a bad thing. Obviously, I am a huge proponent of sharing your research, and I am happy for people to have access to the records I have acquired. It's when I am doing my own research that I am either a) told to connect to someone who is sharing wrong, unsourced info or b) people whose sources are my own, with no new ones to offer that this feature isn't my favorite.

Anyway, recently someone has been copying my sources and records for Catherine to their own tree. Fantastic. Apparently they are following the lines of one of her sisters, Elizabeth Neher Riders. I don't primarily work on side branches, but I try to update them when all my backroads are blocked. Plus, knowing the side branches gives you other names to search for, as someone might not have your ancestor on their tree, but they might be descended from a sibling and have information on his or her parents that you don't have. So it's important to trace those side lines.

And how.

Something moved me today to check this person's actual tree, instead of just looking at the notifications of what they were taking from me. Catherine was giving me a little nudge, I suppose. Attached to my Catherine, Martin, and Anna Maria in his tree were handwritten notes on the Neher family by this person's relative - names and dates and how people were related and married names and ship names and birthplaces and I'm just so excited that I can't even stand it. The photos of these notes also shows two other people have connected these records to their trees, so those are other relatives of mine out there.

Since Catherine is being pushy today, I'm going to read these notes more closely in a bit, and will be let you know more when I get a chance!

A little bit persistence, a little bit serendipity...

1 comment:

  1. How wonderfulofyour discovery. I understand the excitement when an unknown treasure appears. I hope that you keep getting nudges.