Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Happy Dance! Going Back One More Generation.

The theme for the 65th Carnival of Genealogy: "The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy. Almost everyone has experienced it. Tell us about the first time, or the last time, or the best time. What event, what document, what special find has caused you to stand up and cheer, to go crazy with joy?

My happy dance had to be in the summer of 2002 when my husband and I went to Manhattan to research at the New York Genealogy & Biographical Society (NYGBS). Although we were members, we had never visited their library and didn't really know what to expect. We met some really nice librarians and patrons doing research and we had fun going back in all of the early directories where my husband's great great grandfather, Frederick Christmann, would appear. We knew he fought in the Civil War, and having already acquired his Pension File from NARA, we had some dates to use. We knew that he married 3 times and the dates of each marriage was recorded in this file. Frederick Christmas was born in Lahr, Germany and his wives were German.

The cool thing about this visit was that someone at the library told us that the St. Matthew's German Lutheran Church Records were on microfilm and that we should go through them to find the record of his marriages.

My husband sat at one microfilm machine and I at another and we tediously went through the rolls of film looking for Frederick. It sounds easier than it actually was. The church records were handwritten and in GERMAN!

My husband was the lucky winner, finding Frederick's second and third marriage entries. We never found his first marriage. I think we knew from the Civil War pension file that the 2nd and 3rd marriages were at St. Matthew's German Lutheran Church. We are not sure when or where the 1st marriage took place.

The records that we found provided the names of his parents, hometown and the names of each of his wives and their addressess! We also found out that his second wife, the woman my husband descends from, was a widow and we were later able to find some half-cousins from her first marriage! The marriage record for his 3rd wife, provided names for Frederick's parents.

We BOTH did the happy dance when my husband found this record and I will always remember that sense of accomplishment we both felt at the end of a very long day!

Here is the record for his second marriage. It is jam packed full of vital information. Thank goodness we had a friend in Germany to assist us with the transcription:

Frederick Christman and Eliza Eggersmann's marriage is the last one listed on this image. If you click on it, it will enlarge. They were married on August 7, 1864 in New York, New York.


Frederick Christmann, Wittwer [widower]; aus Lahr, Baden; 44 Jahr; 275 Mulberry Str; Schneider [tailor]; und Wittwe [widow] Elise Eggersmann; geb. [maiden name] Meier; aus Salzhausen, Hannover; 36 Jahr; Crosby Str. 35; Zeuge [witness]: David Mebold Mulberry Str. 277. Christian Zimmermann 275 Mulberry Str. (legitimiert durch C. Stollmann; Mott Str. 167) [legitimacy by C. Stollmann]

It was through his marriage to his 3rd wife that we discovered the name's of Frederick's parents. And we almost stopped when we found the record for the marriage that my husband descends from! What a mistake that would have been....

In this record, we found out his father's name was also Frederick and his mother was Salome Maaler.

This just goes to show you, you are never finished until you are finished...and that is sometimes hard to tell in genealogy!!!


  1. Great find, Andrea!
    I am lucky in that nearly all my ancestors were from the British Isles, except for my mom's
    paternal grandmother, who was German. I think
    I'd be tearing my hair out by the roots if I had to translate something from another language!

    Keep Happy Dancing!

  2. I think I could do okay with the translations if only the handwriting wasn't so hard to decipher! Thanks for your comments!

  3. Sweet find indeed. The German writing is great.

  4. I love gleaning through microfilm records. In my Acadian or French Canadian records the parent's names are always there and it indicates whether they're alive or dead at the time of the marriage. I also like seeing who the witnesses are because it helps bring the scene alive when I write my family history. Lastly, knowing who the priest is often give me insight. For instance, one of my ancestors immigrated from P.E.I. to Quebec and when I looked up the history of the priest who officiated at family baptisms, I found that the priest was a missionary who went more than once to P.E.I. to convince Acadians to move to Quebec where(in his opinion) they could lead a more Catholic and French life.
    Evelyn in Montreal

  5. Thanks for your comments! I know what you mean (Evelyn) when you say you researched the priest...I did that too along with a little research into this German-Lutheran Church and it does add a bit of descriptive color to otherwise dry facts!

  6. I think this is an excellent case to point out why we should also be researching collateral lines, second/third marriages, etc. When I first started researching, I would usually only look for the records of my direct-line ancestors. I have since learned that records of siblings and other spouses can provide important clues as well.

  7. You are so correct Jennifer and I did the same thing in the beginning; just the direct lines. This person that is highlighted in this blog--Frederick Christmann married a widow for wife #2 and she had a son coming into the marriage (Frederick Eggersmann) and then they had a son together (his name was William). Frederick Eggersmann went on to become a doctor and he delivered the children of his half-brother, William!!! I would not have picked up on that if I were just looking at print records because their last names differed! Isn't that a small world?

  8. I am a big fan of collaterals. They often lead to directs.

    I awarded you the Kreativ Blog award at!

  9. I enjoyed reading this story of your research and particularly your happy discoveries, Andrea. Good work!

    100 Years in America
    Small-leaved Shamrock
    A light that shines again
    Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture

  10. I got chills over your find in 2002! Isn't it one of the best feelings in the world. Especially for those long sought after gems.

    I see that Colleen has already awarded you, but you deserve to be selected again. So...

    I have awarded you a Kreativ Blogger Award. Please see my post at Oh Blah Vi, Oh Blah Va. Enjoy!