Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 26, 2015

Bateman Elementary School

2015 03-26 Throwback Thursday 01Among my late mother’s photographs were class pictures taken when she and her brother attended elementary school.

Being a genealogist of course I Googled the name of the school.

And there I stumbled upon a page where Chicago’s Newton Bateman Elementary School displayed some of their alumni.

One quick email to the school and my photos were added to their collection.

What fun might it be for another researcher to stumble upon pictures of their grade-school-aged ancestors?

Is there anything in your photo collection that might bring joy to another researcher?

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 24, 2015

World TB Day

Chicago's TB Hospital

Chicago’s TB Hospital

Would you be surprised to learn that “tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year*.”?

I certainly was.

Tuberculosis impacted my family tree, taking the lives of my maternal grandfather’s sister Myrtle (1917) and his father James Walton (1911).

Others in my tree were also affected.

My second great-grandmother’s 53 year old brother Klas Alfrid Landstrom died at Chicago’s Municipal Tuberculosis Sanatorium in 1923:

2015 03-24 1923 08-18 DC Landstrom Alfred WM

I thought TB was a disease of the past. It isn’t.


*Source: Stop TB Partnership

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 23, 2015

If I Knew Where the Gun Was

the type of gun used by Herman Mangels in 1912

the type of gun used by Herman Mangels in 1912

Not all genealogical searches end with a happy dance.

My 2nd great-grandfather died of pneumonia.

The result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

We’ll never know what was going through Herman Mangels’ mind when he shot himself.

But the testimony given during his inquest hearing certainly suggests a history of mental illness.

Found lying on the ground bleeding, Herman was asked about the whereabouts of his gun. He replied, “If I knew where the gun was I would be dead long ago.”

Was his state of mind situational? Genetic?

Regardless of what brought Herman to the dark place in which he took his own life, his suicide leaves a mark in my family tree.

And casts suspicion around the circumstances of his stepson’s death 24 years later.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 22, 2015

Just Past the Curtains

2015 03-22 1910 US Census IL Tolf and ThompsonMy husband and I recently took a genealogical tour of the Chicago neighborhoods in which my ancestors had lived.

The 1910 census showed that my Thompsons and Tolfs both resided on Newport Avenue.

In person, the buildings seemed to be situated a bit differently.

Rather than living down the street from her in-laws as I had imagined, Julia (Thompson) Tolf lived directly across the street from them.

Standing in front of one building and looking across the street at the other Tolf residence, I couldn’t help but think that when Julia drew the blinds to let in the morning sun, she was literally opening her home to the critical eye of her mother-in-law.

And now I wonder how much geography contributed to Harry and Julia’s subsequent divorce.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 17, 2015

The Mangels Marriage Mystery

1903 08-19 MC Mangels and GasperIs this “my” Frank Mangels? It is the only documentation I’ve uncovered that mentions the nickname Fred.

And Catholic? Hmm.

Frank’s stepfather, the man who raised Frank, was born in Germany and was very likely Lutheran.

As genealogical luck would have it, six weeks before their wedding Frank and Lucy had considered eloping to scenic St Joseph Michigan.

Apparently they changed their minds.

The Berrien County clerk didn’t do a very good job obtaining mother’s maiden names. Frank’s mother was Mary Bukmakowsky, a surname which would have immediately verified that the Frank in this record is most certainly mine. Thankfully the record book also asks prospective grooms for their occupations and for their father’s names.

1902 07-06 MR Mangels and GasparThere is a significant amount of documentation showing Frank’s stepfather Herman Mangels was a glass polisher. It’s a logical conclusion that Frank may have tried his hand at the same profession.

So as it turns out, the incomplete Berrien marriage register proves the couple named on the Chicago marriage certificate is the right couple.

Further research revealed Lucy was Catholic.

Mystery solved!

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 15, 2015

Washington County Maryland 1877

1870 US Census MD Clark, Susan Hammer ShankAccording to the 1870 census, my third great-grandparents 40 year old shoemaker Morgan Clark and his 34 year old wife Susan have eight children.

The census taker also recorded the families living near the Clarks. It was interesting to read the list of names, but it was far more interesting to see the neighborhood in 1877, not long after the census was taken.

I was able to view Morgan and Susan’s neighborhood because of a project undertaken by Western Maryland’s Historical Library.

The Library’s vast collection includes one for Washington County. And among the treasures there, I found The Illustrated Atlas of Washington County, Maryland. I clicked on Town Maps and then Funkstown and Clear Spring.

And that’s where I found M[organ] H[enry] Clark and his family. They are on a corner in lot 768:

2015 03-15 Clark-Shank marriage 02

There is an index under the map listing all the names it includes. Matching the names on the index to the names on the map and in the 1870 census gave me another view of the world in which my ancestors lived.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 14, 2015

Ask A Question Day

2015 03-14 Ask a Question DayInterviewing the people in our family trees can connect them (and us) with historical events in ways that may surprise us.

Years ago I asked my mother-in-law about about the day she became a citizen of the United States.

“It took two trips to the courthouse.” she said. “The first ceremony was postponed because the President had been shot.”

Today I’m wondering what other historical events directly impacted my ancestors. If only I could ask each of them just one question…



Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 13, 2015

In Loving Memory

Recently I compared the lives of my third great-grandmother Elisabeth (nee Schmitt) and her sister Christina Kirchheiner.

While drafting that post, a document inside Christina’s file caught my eye; a receipt for her funeral arrangements. Three obituary notices were listed. Why hadn’t I followed up on these leads? Immediately I sent a request to the Cincinnati Public Library. The very same day I received digital images of the three obituaries I had requested and two additional notices:

From the German-language newspaper, the Cincinnati Volksblatt published 08 Feb 1911 page 8 column 4:

1911 02-08 Obit Cincinnati Volksblatt pg 8 col 4.jpg

1911 02-08 Cincinnati Enquirer pg 7From the 08 Feb 1911 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer page 7, column 1: “KIRCHHEINER- Christina Kirchheiner (nee Schmidt), widow of Nicholas Kirchheiner, Monday, February 6, at 8 p.m., at her [r]esidence, 1722 Baymiller st., aged 63 years. Funeral Thursday, 2 p.m., from St. Luke’s Epicopal Church, Findlay and Baymiller. Services at Crematory chapel at 3 p.m. Kindly omit flowers. Friends invited. (New York and Chicago papers please copy.)”

1911 02-08 Cincinnati Times Star p11From the 08 Feb 1911 issue of the Cincinnati Times Star page 11: “KIRCHHEINER – Christian (nee Schmidt), widow of Nicholas Kirchheiner, Monday, February 6, at 8 p.m., at her residence, 1722 Baymiller street, aged 63 years. Funeral Thursday, at 2 p.m., from St. Luke’s Episcopal church, Findlay and Baymiller. Services at crematory chapel at 3 p.m. Kindly omit flowers. Friends invited. (New York and Chicago papers please copy.)”

The reference to New York intrigues me. I don’t know of any Schmitt descendants living in New York. Is it possible that Christina’s husband had family there?

A very kind and thorough librarian (many thanks!) included the following memorial notices as well.

1914 02-08 Cincinnati EnquirerFrom the 08 Feb 1914 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer, page 5: “In Loving Memory…Of our dear father, Nicolaus Kirchheiner, who died September 29, 1895, and our mother, Christine Kirchheiner, who died February 6, 1911. Gone, but not forgotten. From Their Loving Children.”

1915 02-06 Cincinnati Enquirer pg 5From the 06 Feb 1915 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer, page 5: “In Memory…Of Nicolaus Kirchheiner, who died September 29, 1895, and Christine Kirchheiner, who died February 6, 1911. Gone, but not forgotten. From Her Loving Children.”

I have to admit I’m always a little disappointed when obituaries don’t contain the names of surviving family members.

Nonetheless I am thrilled that there are extant records of all three of the newspapers mentioned on Christina’s funeral statement.

Most exciting was that the Cincinnati Public Library provided me with this picture of Christina’s family both at the time of her death and for years after.

Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 12, 2015

Girl Scout Birthday

2015 03-12 National Girl Scout DayHappy Birthday Girl Scouts!

On this day in 1912 Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the organization’s first 18 girl members in Savannah, Georgia.

Most of my Girl Scout days were enjoyed as a junior scout. I had the best leader ever and have many fond memories of scouting.

This picture was taken after I marched in a parade as a cadet scout. My Girl Scout career ended shortly thereafter.

Wonder if it was ’cause of those knees. :)


Posted by: Laura Aanenson | March 10, 2015

Obituaries at the Cincinnati Library

2015 03-10 Cincy LibraryThe Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is 700 miles away.

While I wait for warm weather and time off of work I can view the library virtually here.

And I can use some of the library’s many resources from the comfort of my home. I’m thankful for a service provided by the very helpful reference librarians in Cincinnati.

Recently I requested three Schmitt family obituaries by sending an email to I wrote

“May I ask for your assistance please with three obits for the same person?

Christina (nee Schmitt) Kirchheiner died 06 Feb 1911. Her funeral receipt mentions funeral notices posted in the Volksblatt, the Enquirer and the Times Star.

I very much appreciate your help!

Kindest regards,”

The very same day I received:

“Thank you for using the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for your information needs. Please find attached the document scans that you requested:

Death Notices for Christina (nee Schmitt) Kirchheiner who died on 06 Feb 1911

Cincinnati Volksblatt 2/08/1911; 8:4

Cincinnati Times Star 2/08/1911; 11:8 (This notice lists her as Christian (nee Schmidt) Kirchheiner)

Cincinnati Enquirer 2/08/1911; 7:1 (This notice also gives Schmidt as the maiden name)

I was able to locate two notices that the family placed in the Cincinnati Enquirer on anniversaries of her death.  I am including those scans.

“In Loving Memory”  Cincinnati Enquirer 2/08/1914; 5

“In Memory” Cincinnati Enquirer 2/06/1916; 5″

Have you explored the resources available in your ancestor’s home towns?

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