Genealogy Research


Genealogists Love Names, Patterns, and Symmetry

Categories // Genealogy Research

Baby's First Birthdays


We recently were lucky enough to  attend a first birthday party, a baseball themed party for a little boy named Henry; for the adults were stashes of Oh Henry! and Baby Ruth candy bars, seemingly obvious choices, one for the child and one for the baseball theme. I suspected the Baby Ruth bars were included because his great grandmother's name was Ruth.

At the party was an adorable two week old baby Marshall. His two older brothers also had first names that began with the letter M, as did his father. His amazingly peaceful mother, with three boys under four, had a name that began with an A. I wanted to ask so badly about the boys' middle names. Did they begin with A? Were they family surnames?  Were the boys named after relatives, grandfather's or uncles? How did they choose them?

One of the guests was a lady named Usha. I now know three women named Usha. I wanted to question her on it's familiarity, is Usha comparable to Mary or Elizabeth or is it more like Charlotte or Pamela, or even further off the bandwidth like Rainbow or Sunshine?

Thirty years ago, we attended a first birthday party for an adored daughter named Karishma. It is possible there were more than fifty adults at that party, it was a family, friends, and community wide, celebration of life. I asked about her name and I vaguely remember it might mean miracle, similar to first names like Faith, Hope, and Grace.

Across the board the common theme was the increcible joy children bring, a nice reflection in tumultuous time.


The Old Prestonia Elementary School, Jefferson Co., Kentucky

Categories // Genealogy Research

This photograph is a school wide gathering, likely sometime between 1910 and 1920, of the first through eight grades in Jefferson Co., Kentucky.

image.Jefferson Co. Ky elementary school 1912-1919

I think I recognize Herman Joseph Breitenstein Sr. in this photograph. Does anyone see any other family members that could help date this picture?


Log Cabin Church - Candlelight View

Categories // Genealogy Research

St. James Episcopal Church, Riverton, Fremont Co., Wyoming

Floating loose in a photo album was this unidentified photograph of a church.

image.St. James Episcopal Church Riverton Wyo. 1959 to 1961

In order for my dad to have taken a picture of this church, it had to be one that had meaning for the family. The logs indicate a rural church rather than a city or suburban building. My best memory was Wyoming since I thought I had been in this church. I could not have remembered any of the churches in Montana. I googled Riverton, Wyoming to see if this inside matched the outside of photo of the Episcopal Church. Totally NOT. I had never seen that building before.

I emailed the church, sent a photo, and asked if this was a possibly the inside of a church they would have used in the late 1950s or very early 1960s.

It was, and they were delighted to have a copy.

My best guess is April or May of 1961, after Easter, since the lilies are still up.



Okolona High School Football Team 1940s Photograph

Categories // Genealogy Research

Unidentified Photographs Can Still Be Useful

Here is a professional 8 1/2 x 11 inch black and white photograph of an unidenified football team that was loose inside an old photograph album from the 1940s from rural Jefferson Co. out by Okolona.

Can this photo be identified as 1946 or 1947?

Football squad photo Okolona class of 1948

By itself, this photograph is nearly worthless, an unidentified crowd of football players, some time and some place, but in context and connected with the writing on the back, it becomes more clear and possible; 16 names are inscribed, 14 of them followed by their jersey numbers. 

Charles Lamont 48
Earl Harelfield 24
Dave Fischer 35
Raymond Riggin
Ernest Steillery 46
John Parrish 23
Eugene Tichenor 22
Jim Metcalf 20
Bill Kramer 38
Orval Lindsey
Don Dearing 26
Billy Van Meter 31
Eugene Nicholas 40
Stanley McCauley 21
Carl Snyder 33
Billy Ferring 44

Football squad Okolona Class probably Fall of 1947

Most of these young men, born from 1930 to 1932, were in either the class of 1948 or 1949 at Okolona High School in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. Dave Fischer, John Parrish, Jim Metcalf, Don Dearing and Billy Ferring have all passed away. It would be nice to identify the whole team and determine if it was the 1947/48 team or the 1946/47 team. Orval Lindsey didn't write his jersey number on the photo, but I'll bet he could name most of the team.


South Carolina County Marriage Records

Categories // Genealogy Research

I wanted to search for runaway marriages that may have taken place in various South Carolina northern border counties. A fairly solid working relationship with Ancestry led me to believe they did not have a good South Carolina marriage section, nothing comparable to the Virginia Marriages or the North Carolina Marriages. A double check of the Familysearch site revaled the same thing. The York Co. SC Probate site led me to a wonderful option, the South Carolina Probate index. South Carolina contains 46 counties and ten of them are included in this search site:

  1. Barnwell
  2. Beaufort
  3. Charleston
  4. Colleton
  5. Dorchester
  6. Jasper
  7. Marlboro
  8. Newberry
  9. Saluda
  10. York

A quick look at a South Carolina County map, shows, Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee and York on the northernmost border, with York right on the north south Interstate 77 corridor, in contrast to Dillon county along the northeastern edge with Intersate 95 as its main throughfare.

I choose York because it was available and proceded witih my personal test question for any website, HENRITZE. Whoa there were two, one was definately an elopement, the night after college graduation and the other  I had known about the date but not the place. It put that marriage in a new light, for sure.

When using any new web site, take a moment of research to be certain you are utilizing the site correctly.

  1. Must you use a full surname? One name I search BLANKENBECKLER is routinely too long for the search field parameter. Some website come back with zero responses, others chop off the extraneous letters and others require you type in only and exactly the ten letters they consider important BLANKENBEC and still others let you use a wild card generally an asterik * or percentage sign %.
  2. Must you have both a surname and given name? Some website requite two names and others let you use a surname only, obviously Henritze is a better choice than Smith in those cases.
  3. Is there a comma between the surname and the given name? Some webiste return zero matches unless you have a comma between the surname and given name, others are more forgiving and let you search both ways.
  4. Is there a wildcard option and What is it, usually % or *?
  5. Are maiden names differentiated from surnames?
  6. Is the date the application date or the marriage date?
  7. Is the county the application county, the county in which the marriage actually took place or the county in which the finalized marriage record was recorded? in some states all three of those counties have to be the same county, in other states that is not the case. A huge percentage of marriages take place in the county from which the application was filed, the license received, the marriage took place and the minister lived.  In other cases, the application may have been from a county near the groom's work place and it may be recorded in the county in which the marriage took place, many times this is the residence of the bride's parents.

The nice thing about this website it the search reveals fields for the license number, the groom's name, the bride's name, the application date, the marriage date and the county. the application date field is not always complete. There is an Order copy field which leads to a page to pay by credit card, currently $11.50, $5.00 for the marriage document, $5.00 for a convenience fee and $1.50 for postage. I didn't order one, I don't know if you get the return, the application, the license or all three. 


The Breitenstein Book is Done

Categories // Genealogy Research

The Breitenstein Family: From Oberotterbach, Bavaria to Louisville, Kentucky

The Breitenstein Family: From Oberotterbach, Bavaria to Louisville, Kentucky; Four Generations - Descendants of Jacob and Margaret (Gerber) Breitenstein

The book's not quite 300 pages, including an every person index, footnotes, bibliography, chart, table, photographs of Jacob and Maggie, passport application, and a lot of decdendants, 13 in the second generation, 63 in the third generation, 119 in the fourth generation and a list of 222 in the fifth. I think that generation is complete, but not if Henry Thomas Bodeman and Elaine J. (Kegler) Bodeman of Lake and Cook Co., Illinois had children. I also don't know the maiden name of Robert Joseph Bodeman's first wife, Betty J. But, and this is a huge but, if I wait until I have every single fact nailed down, I will never publish this book, soooooo...., It's off!!! (I may have liked it more as a work-in-progress! Then I could keep tinkering with it.) 

Breitensteins from Okolona, Louisville and Kentucky

This is a mockup of the book. I should have it in hand in a couple weeks. What a labor of love. While I tried to include whether or not a specific descendant went to U.K. (see the blue binding) or U.of L., I didn't know for everyone, and amazingly some people didn't choose either of those and went to different schools altogether! 

For the next volume, I want to include all the photographs I can locate of the grandchildren of Jacob and Maggie.

For starters, Jacob Breitenstein Jr. had nine children and of those, Jacob Peter Breitenstein had grandchildren, and George John Breitenstein had grandchildren, some of whom still in Louisville. 

William Phillip Breitenstein had six children and of those, Bertha Elise (Breitenstein) Parsons, Robert Edward Breitenstein, Margarite Rosamond (Breitenstein) Saylor Buehler all had grandchildren who might have early photographs.

Carrie Breitenstein Bodeman's family broke up early, but she also had three children who had children; Elisa Henrietta (Bodeman) Miller, Oscar Frederick Bodeman and Rudolph Peter Bodeman.

Next, somewhere in the houses of descendants of Maggie Breitenstein and Peter Fischer's ten children; Margaret Caroline (Fischer) Richardson, Peter Jacob Fischer, William Phillip Fischer, Charles Peter Fischer, Elisabeth Barbara (Fischer) Jenkins, Henry Louis Fischer, Arthur Michael Fischer, Florence Anna (Fischer) Diemer, Lillian Rose (FIscher) Klotter, and Ruth Emma Fischer, there must be pictures. OK, not Ruth Emma, she didn't marry, she didn't have children, but the rest of them all lived in and around Okolona or Louisville and I know there are photographs out there.

Henry Michael Breitenstein had five children, four of whom had children; Henry Palmer Breitenstein, Anna Marie (Breitenstein) Weber, Lula Lee (Breitenstein) Hilton and Charles William Breitenstein. Maybe the oldest or the youngest branches have those old photographs.

The nine sons of Michael Henry Breitenstein all took photographs and I am lucky enough to have some of them, but there are bound to more out there of Edward Lawrence, Michael Henry Jr., Theodore Peter, John Louis, Lawrence Jacob, Herman Joseph Sr., Carl Ernest Sr., Emil Raymond Sr., and Julius Clarence Breitenstein.

Pictures of George Breitenstein and his family might be harder to find, since he had no grandchildren. The same as Annie (Breitenstein) Meier, but of Daniel Breitenstein's nine daughters, two did have children, Gladys Lloyd (Breitenstein) Bush and Shirley Minrath (Breitenstein) Jennings. Their children must have some photos of all nine girls.


Genealogists are NEVER really finished!

Categories // Genealogy Research

Life Goes On

Genealogists can never be done because life goes on; babies are born, grow up, gret possibly married, divorced, have their own children, and then ultimately pass away.

I sent my Breitenstein book off to the publisher a month ago. I spent probably 30 years researching it, the last year writing it and the last four months indexing, correcting footnotes, proofing and altogether finishing it.

In the last three weeks, I have discovered an Albano/Saylor marriage in Florida, Benko/Bodeman marriage in Indiana and a McGee/Richardson marriage in Kentucky. I have also found that Jerry Luhr Jenkins, Charlotte Rose (Fischer) Kohler, Robert Elston Chappelle Sr. and Mary Shannon (Ryan) Saylor have all passed away. As a researcher I am thrilled to be updated. As an author who just sent a book off to the bindery, it makes me nuts.  This is why so much research stays as work in progess and doesn't get translated into books. Times passes, things change and at the same time new records become accessible leaving more information open to discovery. Wow, is it hard to let go.


How to Choose What to Include and What to Exclude

Categories // Genealogy Research

When You Are Writing a Family History or Genealogy, What do you put in and what do you leave out?

Family histories and genealogies are in general filled with names, dates, and places, especially for births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. They also include lots and lots of relatives, in-laws, cousins, godparents, ministers, doctors, neighbors, people who make the story hold together. In a genealogy, the author is going to have much more information about her branch and the branches closest to her than other farther removed, more distantly connected relatives. It's natural. So how do you keep the whole from becoming lopsided?

My mom had more than twenty first cousins on her paternal side. I know those Breitenstein cousins and their families way better and with much more detail than I do her second cousins, the Fischer, Bodeman, Meier, and some other Breitenstein cousins. Her oldest cousin, Elizabeth married a wonderful man named Jimmy Baker, had four children, and moved to Massachusetts and then New Hampshire. I visited them with my best friend in the early 1970s and again with my husband in the early 1980s. In the meantime, we wrote back and forth. I never stayed with Mom's other cousins in Louisville, because when I went to Louisville I stayed with my grandparents. So Elizabeth and Jimmy were different. I got to know them without the swirl of all the other relatives, in fact, I got to know them separately from their own children, who were gone, out of the house, married and living their own lives, when I visited. In the perfect world, I could have written about how funny they were, how self deprecating, how gracious, and how interesting. I think that would have hurt some feelings across the board, not that I said nice things about Elizabeth and Jimmy, but that I couldn't, except through hearsay, say the same nice things about all the others. My grandmother taught Elizabeth and her younger sister Thelma how to drive, and when it came time to chose godparents for their youngest child, Grandma and Grandpa chose Thelma as one. Thelma's two children were in my parents' wedding and yes they were very cute. So I am partial to my great uncle Mike's daughters, and Uncle Ed's daughter, and Uncle Carl's son, and Uncle Herm's two, and Uncle John's daughter Carol, and Uncle Lawrence's son Doug, and Uncle Jule's kids, cause he was the baby and all the others even though I didn't know them, because Grandpa thought the world of his nieces and nephews. Even listing them, I feel badly I left a couple out, but there were some I never met.

So back to the original question, what to put in and what to leave out. I include the spouses of cousins, but not a ton of detail about their lives. So unless you read the footnotes, you might not realize that my mom's cousin-in-law Jimmy Baker, also known as James Gilbert Baker, was a well known physicist, astronomer and designer of optical lenses. Check him out on Wikipedia. I am proud of him even though we don't share any DNA, and I was glad to have known him. He was a good man.


Some thoughts on writing:

Be evenhanded.

Don't hurt anyone's feelings if you can avoid it.



Walk A Mile in Their Shoes

Categories // Genealogy Research


Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile in 1954 and several days later Diane Leather broke the 5 minute mile for women. Huge accomplishments, but how are those times germane to genealogical research? Chances are, you can walk a mile in 15 to 20 minutes and a realistic estimate for a non-runner, is to jog a mile in 10 minutes. Don't trust these estimates. Get in your car, watching the odometer, drive a mile down the street and around the corner. Go home and wearing comfortable shoes, walk that mile and time it. Don't hurry, but don't meander. Your time may be closer to 25 minutes, it may be an uphill course, there might be snow on the road, you may be pushing a stroller, the road may be full of potholes, or it may be raining, lots of situations could slow you down. The same is true in reverse, you could be going downhill, in gorgeous weather, on a flat surface, with great tunes moving you forward and maybe your time may be closer to 10 or 12 minutes.


Five of Nine Breitenstein Brothers

Categories // Genealogy Research

Mara Seirp Breitenstein had an album with this photograph of her husband, John Louis Breitenstein as a little boy. It is one of a multitude of porch pictures taken on that porch. John is the little boy on the horse. My wonderful second cousin, Mara Sprott, send me a scanned copy of this photograph, which I had never seen, since it was taken ca. 1899 in rural Jefferson Co., Kentucky. My grandfather wasn't born yet and isn't in the photo.

Ed Theo Mike Lawrence Elizabeth Mike Jr. and John Breitenstein, Prestonia, Jefferson Co., Kentucky

From left to right, Edward Lorenz, Theodore Peter, Mike Breitenstein Sr. (sitting), Lawrence Jacob, Elizabeth (sitting), Mike Jr. and John Louis Breitenstein on the horse. This photograph ca. 1899, possibly late 1898, is the earliest photo I have seen of this group. I wonder who might have an older one of any of the Breitenstein, Fischer, Bodeman or Meier families from the greater Louisville area?


Reunion Yearbook for Okolona High School

Categories // Genealogy Research

Jefferson Co., Kentucky - Okolona

Out in Okolona, a rural part Jefferson Co. in the first half of the twentieth century, many first and second cousins, attended Okolona High School between 1927 and 1951, including those named Kihnley, Besson, Klotter, Fischer, Richardson, Breitenstein, Weber, and Hilton. During the Depression, a year book was not published every year, however, a quick look through those available, looks like there was not a four year period with at least one representative of the great grandchildren of Jacob and Maggie Breitenstein in the building. 

While the many of the yearbooks are available online, there is a 1930-1951 Okolona High School reunion book published May 26, 1984.

Okolona High School Reunion 1930-1951, Jefferson Co., Kentucky



Education, Education, Education

Categories // Genealogy Research

More than forty-five years ago, my grandmother sent my mom a page from the Citizen Tribune, 28 March 1967, page 3. It was a story about her great-aunts teaching preschool, which was kindergarten for some, in Morristown, Hamblen Co., Tennessee. Luckily for me, my mom saved this and I kept it too.


Ultimate Genealogical Test

Categories // Genealogy Research

Wedding Guest or Gift Lists

I recently came across my grandmother's file of papers from my parents' wedding. The costs of the cakes, reception food and drink, and dress were all in this file along with the lists of presents received at the shower and wedding. Then again was a list of invitees and attendees. All three interesting lists, who was invited, who sent gifts and who came to actual ceremony.


Under the Name of Sanders

Categories // Genealogy Research

Alias, Nickname, Pseudonym or Nom de Plume

If research subjects are not findable under their own names, try their alternates, initials, nicknames, pseudonyms, nom de plume, pen name, alias, nom de guerre, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) name, or performance name. (Two examples of performance names are Vanilla Ice and Fanny Brice were Robert Matthew Van Winkle and Fania Borach).


Eight of Nine Breitenstein Brothers Photo ca. 1906

Categories // Genealogy Research

Proofreading is Hard, Hard Work

I am in the midst of proofreading The Descendants of Jacob and Margaret Gerber Breitenstein of Louisville. As a break, because proofreading is very hard work, I came across a photograph of the family of their seventh son, Michael Henry Breitenstein Sr. ca. 1905 or 1906. At that time, he and Elizabeth Steinmetz Breitenstein had eight sons, Ed, Mike, Theo, John, Lorenz, Herm, Carl and Emil. 

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Ida Sherwood Bettis is my paternal grand mother. Aunt Clara is my great aunt. I can remember every nooks and crany of that house and yard...

Eric Bettis Eric Bettis 25. July, 2017 |

I would be happy to forward your name, connection, and email if you wish.

Barbara K. Henritze Barbara K. Henritze 06. November, 2016 |

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