Thursday, August 27, 2009


Sometimes I feel like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower.   I had a doctors appointment  and the office was close to UNIONDALE CEMETERY.    This cemetery was on my list of places to go.  My husbands paternal grandmother, MARY STEPHENS,  had two relatives; who were Civil War Veterans who were buried there.

Joe would go there every Memorial Day to put flowers on the graves.   I had never been there and neither had my husband.

There we found Robert in the Grand Army of the Republic section, all the graves were decorated with flags.

Then we looked for John, the office staff had given us directions and a list of who was in the plot. In the plot were listed     Rachel A Stephens, David J Stephens, Daniel Stephens, John Stephens, Mary Stephens, Mary Jane Axton and Irene Axton.   This is indeed the Civil War Veteran, but where is the Family plot located?

                                                                                  In the plot that we had the information contained the   Stephenson  family, not the Stevens.   We were hungry and wanted to go to lunch after searching for John Stephens for about one hour. 

Mary Stephens had told the tal of her family being English and Scotch-Irish.  With the help of  I found listings for the Stephens Family.    The family was Welsh.  The owner of the lot was the veteran John Stephens born October 1834 and died  27  April  1912.   His wife Mary born February 1840 and died 26 October 1915.

Who were the others ???  With a little investigation  I found that Rachel A Stephens born 1844 and died 16 January 1875 and David J Stephens born 1883 and died 30 January 1883.   They were John and Mary' children. 

Daniel Stephens was born 1826 and died 21 March 1900.   In the census records it lists him as married with a wife Jeanette (born 1829)  Jeanette was not buried there.  Daniel and Jeanette were listed in the 1870 an 1880 census. Son Morgan born 1859, daughter Gwenllian (born 1883) and a adopted son, John Robert age 14.   Was John Robert a nephew???

Mary Jane Axton was the daughter of John and Mary Stephens who was       born  1866, married 1890 and widowed sometimes before 1900.  Mary Jane died 5 June 1945.

Irene Axton was Mary Janes' daughter born 1890 and died 1 July 1908.

Chuck had found a listing of those two uncles in his fathers wallet, I  will have him find that list and see exactly where they are.

MY THEORY is John, Robert and Daniel Stephens were brothers.

Every answer begets twenty more questions.


Saturday, August 22, 2009


Got an update on my handwritten note. The name Kalli Beckman which I had thought was female is in reality Karl. I would have never guessed that one.

Mile siberne Hochzeit is Silver Wedding 12 September 1929. Which of the sisters is this? They would have been married in 1904. My THEORY is that it is Emilie and Willie Beckmann, because their first child was born in 1907.

On the second page daughter Leni is struck out, possibly died by 1928.

Belle Alliance on the margin is the Prussian word for the battle ground at Waterloo, when the Prussians and British beat Napoleon. No clue why it is there. Unless some relative fought in that war.

All this information is from Klaus and I am very grateful for it.

My theory on the birthdays of Vater and Mutter being Willis parents has been proven correct also by Klaus.

With the birthday 8 April 1868, Anna Meta Margarethe Schridde, geb. Hackmann was on the LDS site. Anna was born in Bremen. Then there Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Hackmann and Elsie Johanne Rettel geb. 13 July 1844 in Bremen. Elsie and Ernst are my great great grandparents and Elsies parents are Carl Friedrich Rettel and Anna Metta Margarethe Lurssen. Carl Rettel and Anna Lurssen are my great great great grandparents.

All of this information gleaned from a small scrap of note paper with birthdays. It also means some descendant of my great grandmother is also searching and doing genealogy.

Do they know of Willi and wonder what happened to Willi and do they have a clue he had emigrated to the USA and wonder if they have relatives in the USA? Do they have a picture of Anna HACHMANN Schridde, like I do?

That is something that I ponder now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Name Update

I received an email from a fellow genealogist, Klaus who is from Germany. We have been searching the same Family name Schridde from the Hanover area, I guess it is Lower Saxony. I sent him the Birthday list to get his input.

Klaus had read my listing of Birthdays and he said that the Hilowsly is Zikowsky and is a common name in Hanover.

It is amazing to me that sometime the leaps you find are from obscure and seemingly inconsequential family papers and documents that are useless to anyone but the family historian. The very thought that my grandmother would have saved the birthday list from the 1920’s and it would remained hidden in an envelope to be discovered by me in 2009 are about the same odds of winning the Lottery.

I suppose it is the Genealogy lotto.

I am having trouble with Ancestry and Their Family Tree. When I am working on the Family Tree it has little leaf icons that appear to alert you to possible matches. When I click on the icon I get a message that Internet is not available, even though I am connected to the WWW. Also I am unable to view my Trees or Manage my Trees on I have written to them, but is anyone else out there having this problem or has had this problem?

I would surely like to get this solved.picturesbyclaudia 304

In this picture are my grandparents Anna and Willi and my mother Gerda. This was taken c. 1926-1927, guessed by the age of my mother in the photo.

MY THEORY is now that the younger man is Anna’s brother August. Could the older man be her Uncle Wilhelm, or perhaps Charles Dietrich, or Oswald Schwab. Charles and Oswald would be the husbands of her Aunts Alwine Bartels and Emma Bartels.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Random Thoughts


I have been very busy as scanning and adding tags.    I had a few oversized documents that I went to Kinko's and they scanned them and burnt them to a disc as a PDF File.    The man there said that was best because it would not be able to be altered.  Which is a good thing.   The problem I have encountered is one of the documents I can not read, it is too dark.  

I wanted to place it here but I can’t figure out how to take a scan from Adobe and place it in a folder that I can add to this page.

Guess I will go back to square one on that.  I did some searching on Google Earth to find the address of the houses where they lived and what I have found so far is they are all gone.   

Maybe I will look a little harder.  This is the house of my O’Rourke Family.   The front porch is probably the one that my grandmother Gertrude climbed upon to escape to a dance and then threw her coat on her fathers head…..she did not make that dance.picturesbyclaudia 258


Friday, August 7, 2009


I have gained a lot of information the past week. I found this piece of paper in one of my fathers many envelopes that he had squirreled away. I do not know which was worse; he for not throwing things away (I am so glad he didn’t) or me for not going thru them sooner. He died in 2004. I think going thru things and sending things to the final destination is some how mentally permanent.

This is a list of birthdays. MY THEORY is the list is off my grandfather Willi Schriddes’ family. I reach this conclusion by:

1) He had one sister named Lilly Clausen and she is listed on page two.

2) It is written in Old German Script and was older writing than my grandmothers, My grandmothers writing is on the bottom of page two.

3) The dates of the children’ birthdays end in the mid 1920’s, which is about the time my grandparents emigrated to the US.

Page One followed by Page Two

Willis Family Tree

Willis Family Tree 2

I had posted an inquiry to the PA Allegheny County Roots Web site and got several replies. A very kind woman Cari, from California so kindly offered to translate the old script.

Page one

Father…………………28 Sept 1862

Mother………………..8 April 1868

Emilie Beckmann…….24 Sept 1887

Fritz Beckmann………9 May 1881

Fritz Beckmann, jun…16 Jan 1907

Elsa Beckmann………..17 Aug. 1909

Rudolf Beckmann……..14 November 1915

Hugo Beckmann……….17 March 1920

Elsa Hi*ows*y………….15 Dec 1889

Ernst Hi*ows*Y………..18 Jan 1887

Kalli Hi*ows*y………….15 June 1916

Harry Hi*ows*y………..3 March 1921

Frieda Bordolo………….25 March 1892

Rudolf Bordolo………….24 March 1887

Rudolf Bordolo, jun…….3 Sept. 1919

Liese Lotte Bordolo………5 Oct. 1924

Mile silberne H…………….Sept 1929

Cari’s idea is that the Hi*ows*y could possible be Hilowsly…that one is a mystery. And the last name???? Is Mile meant to be Mlle, the French for Miss and silberne, the closest thing in German is silber for silver. Doesn’t make sense.

MY THEORY is the numbers on the right side were the ages of the individuals at the time the list was written.

Second page:

Lilly Clausen………..28 Jan 1886

Fritz Clausen……….21 April

Fritz Clausen jun…..28 April 1919

Heinz Clausen………9 Oct 1920

Rolf Clausen…………8 September 1922

Kate Schmolling…….26 September 1900

Willi Schmolling……..31 Dec 1899

Lein Schmolling (?)..6 June 1924.

Willi Schridde………..14 Feb 1898, my grandfather..

It still leaves a lot of questions, but except for my knowledge of Lilly I would be completely lost. But I am in the sense that the other four woman names were not the ones that my mother had told me.

Each answer begets twenty more questions.

Schridde Family c1917

The Schridde Family c. 1917


Thursday, August 6, 2009


Thomas Dowd Railroad Photo

This is the newly found photo of my grandfather and his work buddies. He was employed by the Union Railroad in East Pittsburgh PA. He is the first on the left, standing on the ground, leaning on the train.

It took a long time to download and scan the picture due to problems reinstalling the program. The error (as usual) operator error due to the cord not being inserted all the way

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Discovery

I have not found the documentation to finish my fathers story, but I have made a discovery. I have a box of pictures and assorted things my father had saved. He was a pack rat, and that is a genealogist dream...

I was going thru the box and looking at all the pictures of the grandchildren...What to do with them? I have decided to separate them and give the back to their parents.

But while looking in envelopes,and there must have been about twenty, I found another picture of my great grandfather Thomas Dowd and pictures of my dad while in basic training for WWII.

But the surprise of it all was a little hand written tablet paper written in German with birthdays, names of what appears to be family members and their families.
MY THEORY is that this was my grandmothers list of birthdays, but was this for sending cards or was she doing a family tree? Some of the people are Bartels and one Lilly Schridde Clausen, who was my grandfather Willi's sister.

The Western PA Genealogical Society is having a German Genealogy Workshop in Pittsburgh on Saturday September 26 and Sunday September 27.

I had been thinking about attending, but now that I have some information I NEED to go. Guess I will fill out the papers and get started.

Every discover begets twenty more questions.