Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adventures and Lessons in Finding Julius Bolda's Origins, Post 1

I've been chomping at the bit to get back to this topic and have had so much to post about. Getting sick kindof put a damper on things and also managed to remove me a bit from the conversations that helped bring me to some conclusions and a plan of attack for the future, but I'll try to remember as much as possible to get through this.

So, when we left off with this topic, I had just received the naturalization papers for my paternal Great Great Grandfather, Julius Bolda, from Cook County, IL. Julius arrived in the US from the port of Bremen in 1887 and by the time of the 1910 census enumeration, he claimed to be a naturalized citizen living in Chicago. Because his paperwork was filed before 1906, his naturalization was handled through the local courts rather than the Federal government. When you order naturalization paperwork from Cook County, you get both the Declaration of Intent and the Final Papers. There isn't a whole lot of "new" information given in these pages, but the real prize is pretty much a single question: where was he born? And they're not just asking for the country here, they are asking for the town/village. In Julius' case, his place of birth appears to be shown as "Grossrudorf", right? That one issue became the center of a pretty fascinating conversation a couple weeks ago on the APG list. This is where the fun begins!

Like just about every other "official" record genealogists face in their research, this page has its backstory. First, while it does look like Julius signed the bottom of the page, he did not fill out the information, including that given for his place of birth. Instead, the clerk filled it out which presents us with its own special set of issues. When he wrote the place name, he wrote what he thought he heard, not necessarily the proper spelling of the name. So we can't be real sure at this point whether the name is actually right. Also, his handwriting is suspicious because when we look at the rest of the page, the clerk had several inconsistencies with his letter forms. For instance, lower case "n" and "u" were also shown the same way and more pertinently, his lower case "e" and lower case "r" were also written the same way. Taking these problem with his lettering into account, the name can now be Grossendorf rather than Grossrudorf.

So now that we have a couple of options for names, we throw in the big elephant in the room. These place names no longer exist!! Yep, so even after you think you get this name figured out, you still can't just open up a map and find it. At this point, you need the Meyers Orts Gazetteer of the German Empire and a little help (actually a lot of help) from the research help articles on familysearch.com. Meyers Orts is, fortunately, available for ancestry subscribers here http://search.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=1074&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0 and the family search article on how to use it is found here http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/RG/frameset_rg.asp?Dest=G1&Aid=&Gid=&Lid=&Sid=&Did=&Juris1=&Event=&Year=&Gloss=&Sub=&Tab=&Entry=&Guide=Ger_BMD_RefDoc_HandbookGermanResearch.ASP between the two, you have a pretty good chance of success but it is absolutely crucial that you take a little time to go over the German handbook on family search first so you know what you're looking for, how to find it, and what you're going to see on the page. The reason for this is that the gazetteer is written in German script and has entries made up of all kinds of abbreviations specifying certain information. You need the familysearch guide, or some other online guide, to help familiarize yourself with the script and then to help you decipher what it is you're looking at and what information it's giving you.

I'll continue in a second post next...

No comments:

Post a Comment