I often seek out the tips and tricks from the best-known names in Genealogy to try to break through our brick walls or push our family research beyond the United States’ shores. But too often, a line I am focused on proves to be stubborn, or our target ancestor didn’t conform to various examples provided. They also fall into those pockets of records that don’t exist, were destroyed, or may be recorded in locations that I haven’t connected to our ancestors (those damn gypsies).
And just when I think, “that’s a unique name, I should have no problem finding them!” I find at least two or three people with the same name. And they are always living far enough apart to be different people, but close enough regionally and in age to leave me wondering which one is our ancestor.
But let’s face it, the real problem is early U.S. records (and sometimes modern records) are a hot mess. Our clerks and lawmakers seem to be adverse to capturing enough information to help definitively say, “so-in-so, is the son of so-in-so and was born on such-and-such date.”
But… I have now hit pay dirt. And I mean Gold Nuggets.
Up to the posting of my last Kuck’s write-up, I wrote about some confusing information in the U.S. Census. In 1900, Ollerrich’s (the elder) marriage to his wife Anna Metta was reported as 1853 in Germany (then Prussia). Ohlrich (the younger) was born between 1851 and 1854 in Prussia. This opened up reasonable doubt in the findings of a distant German cousin whose related Kuck’s line remained in Germany. Our German cousin referred me to a website he called an Ortsfamilienbuch, or local family book, which reported two marriages; his first wife was Ohlrich’s mother. But due to distance and language barriers, I was never able to validate his conclusions, and at that time, the website did not state what the source was. So I never really pursued them beyond their arrival at Castle Garden between 1870 and 1880.
Then there was Ohlrich’s (the younger) death certificate naming his mother as “Eckhoff,” not Maria Schroeder. Who was this Eckhoff? The information was suspect since his mother died in Germany and the informant was his son-in-law. What could August Neidermeyer possibly know about Ohlrich’s mother, right?
So what is really going on here? Well, all the records are correct to a certain degree. Even Ohlrick’s mother being named both Eckhoff and Schroder.
How do I know this for sure? I’m glad you asked.
If you recall, I had previously raved about how great U.K. records were proving to be, superior to the fledgling United States for the same periods. Well, it turns out German records are equally fruitful and clean, for some places and periods, anyway. More and more records are becoming available digitally from Germany. And that previously unsourced online familiabacken (family book) that I originally referred to? It now has a source associated with it (the website has undergone some updates since I first accessed it).
Ok, there was also a cultural learning curve to contend with on my part.
An Ortsfamilienbuch or familiabacken is actually a church record for a local family. It IS the record, and they are GREAT! Especially when the family you are researching turns out to have roots. And very deep roots. This means that several generations of one family are recorded within a single church’s archives. Yes, I found the origins of our Prussian Kucks. Well, the origins within human record keeping.
I am fortunate to have been able to trace them to the correct place in Prussia, and I have already written how I am confident they were from Selsingen, Germany. Ohlrich was considerate enough to record Ostereistedt on his 1880 passenger list. Ostereistedt is a municipality, in the district of Rotenburg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The geography of Rotenburg has not changed much, and the modern parish of Ostereistedt is near the old locations of Sassenholz and Selsingen.
Yes, yes, trust but verify. I will have to go with trust for now, as verifying is still problematic. The records are digitized and available online, but they are in handwritten German. I have a problem with typed German, so the struggle is real on handwritten records! But at least I can put eyes on the digitized records and can confirm dates and names. Most words are recognizable/legible, but only a few words are hard to decipher for me. And Google Translate is no help because the words appear to be a combination of German, Dutch, Latin, and French (for some reason, maps for Germany were made in France).
Oh, did you think I was going to write about some more Kucks in this post? I’m sorry, you will have to wait. I am still pouring over the data and entering it (source citations and all) in my offline record.