Saturday, January 31, 2009


picturesbyclaudia 284 This is a picture of a group of German children. I wonder how they got them all to sit so still. The only person I know is the girl in the back row who is holding another child. The older girl is my grandmother Anna Bartels, the girl she is holding is her sister Johanna Bartels Reimers. My grandmother is about 14 years old in that photo, because I know that she was 13 years older than her sister.

Anna had two brothers, one of which was August. He was born in 1902, Anna was born in 1900. There is another brother but I know nothing about him. I found August immigration record yesterday on I thought I had saved it on my computer, guess I have to look for it again. August came over in 1921 and on his application is stated that his destination was Duquesne PA. There were quite a number of steel mills in the Pittsburgh PA area. August came over to work in one, a few years later, my grandparents (Willi and Anna Schridde) came over with my mother (Gerda Schridde) in 1926. My grandmother said that her brother had a job waiting for Willi when he got here. On the first day in the USA they went to the local school for English classes.

I am wondering if August is the boy standing to the left of Anna and Johanna. The picture was taken circa 1913-1915

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I had the two previous photographs/pictures in my basement but did not know who they were. I was cleaning out the basement when I came upon them again. On the back of Antons picture it gave the date 23 August '99. This was nineteen days afte his death, my theory was that the death was unexpected and Katharina had the picture drawn from a photograph. Some people on the Alleghen County PA website said that enlargements that size were not avaliable at the time, so hence, the drawing.

Anton Sperl

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This is a picture of Anton Sperl.  He was born 18 December 1860, in Bohemia, and died 4 August 1899. I had this picture in my basement.  My husband brought it home when he and his brother cleaned out their grandfathers house.    

His son, John Crist Sperl was born in May 1899, a few months before his fathers death.   I suspect it was unexpected.   I had always thought that Anton had emigrated to this country in the 1880’s.   But, much to my surprise, I found him in a ships record as immigrating in 1869, from St.Catherines, Bohemia.

AntonSperl1869On this paper it lists the father, mother , Anton and his sister Barbara.  Chuck had told me that  the story was that his great grandmother was pregnant with his grandfather when they came to America.  

To every rumor is a hint of truth.   It was the great great grandmother who was pregnant and she had Antons brother Thomas in Baltimore after they arrived.   There was also a sister Margaret who was born in the USA also, I do not know where she was born.   I also need to find out when the moved to PA.  I can not find them in the 1870 census, but the 1880 census has them living in Shaler PA.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Anton, Katharina Sperl 008 This is my latest discovery. This is my husbands Great Grandmother, Katharina Rauscher Sperl Nosseck. Katharina was born 26 October 1864 in Rosshaupt, Bohemia. I have read in an entry that her fathers name was Frank, I emailed that person and did not receive a reply, guess she didn’t want to share information.

In the information I received from the Diocese of Pittsburgh it had listed a child Frank born 1 July 1890, Frank died 11 March 1891 from scarlet fever. So it leads me to believe that perhaps it is true.

Katharina emigrated from Bohemia in 1883, I do not know if she knew Anton, but it would have been when they were children. Anton and his family emigrated in 1869.

Katharina and Anton had many children, eight that I have documentation for and at least three died in childhood, and a few more died in early adulthood. The only one who survived to old age was John Crist Sperl, he had two half sisters Catharine and Josephine Nosseck.

Katharina died on 27 October 1947. There is much for me to discover about the family. About ten years ago my husband and his brother were cleaning out the house of his grandparents. At that time he brought home two pictures which were in the basement. I came across them recently, and I had an eureka moment…..I had him take off the backs and the one of Anton had 23 August ‘99. He had died on 4 August 1899. That is when I knew who the mystery people were. Being stored in his sons closet helped a lot with the deduction.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


When Becky left me a comment and said I should take it one item at a time I think she was correct.

Does everyone get frustrated when working on one topic/person and then bounce to someone or someplace else?

Does everyone else go back and re-read their notes/ acquisitions and discover something that was overlooked?

I am finding some answers or clues were hiding in plain site. The answers to the questions that I hadn’t even think to ask.

The people at the LDS Church are helpful but their comment was (and I have to agree) most of my trouble with reading the documents are poor handwriting from 150 years ago, and the poor quality of the ancient records.

I suppose I am envious of the people who can trace back their families to the Revolutionary War. My earliest people can here in 1872 and the latest being my mother in 1926. I am finding the records here in the USA but not in Europe. Maybe I am expecting too much too soon?

I must admit I am a person who expects instant gratification. But I have to retrain my brain to the fact that instant gratification doesn’t work in genealogy.

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My mother Gerda SCHRIDDE Dowd and father Thomas Dowd, circa 1958 by me in one of my first attempts at photography, at least I didn’t cut off their heads.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I found a good blog and the idea is blog improvement. With only a few entries I guess at the begining is a good place to start. That way I will not have a lot to improve on. What are my goals, I really did not think of any when I started. I just wanted to write and explore my ancestors. Maybe I should set a goal.....but setting a goal for me at the start is going to be difficult.

Should it be names of my great great grandparents and beyond? Perhaps photographs of my ancestors. I have a lot and love pictures, should it be following the great Aunts and Uncles forward and meet second and third cousins? I have met a few but right now that is one of my Missions Impossibles. Honestly, back to the old countries of Ireland and Germany is Mission Impossible.

How do I get results out of the LDS microfilms? Everyone tells how they get all sorts of informaiton and I get nothing. How do I go about gleaning the informaiton? I know where they are from, studied the old Germany writing styles, but still can not find ancestors.

Does everyone have the same troubles and I? I must admit that I have only been doing this for two years, I started on the quest in January of 2007. I think what started my research was going thru the papers that my father had tucked away in his file cabinets. Really, I never knew he had such things. If I had known I would have asked about them.

So BlogImprove I hope to do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today I purchased a large foam poster board. On New Years Day I started to clean out the basement. I came across two pictures, I knew they were there, but had forgotten about them.

When my husband was cleaning out his grandparents house for sale, he came upon two pictures. A man and a woman. The pictures were stored in the bedroom closet of his grandfather, John Crst Sperl. This happened about ten years ago.

With my recent interest in genealogy I was intrigued about them...I had my husband take off the back of the mans picture and there was the date 23 Aug '99. (1899 that is) I realized that the two people were his great grandparents, Anton Sperl (b.18 December 1860--d. 4 August 1899.) My theory is that his wife Katharina RAUSCHER Sperl (b. 26 October 1864 d.27 October 1947) had the picture drawn of her husband after his untimely death. Did she have the picture drawn of herself at the same time?? They looked like they were copies of photographs, and the size the pictures are would not have been available as enlargements.

Back to the poster board. I want to place the drawings against the white poster board to serve a backdrop for the two pictures. I will take them as a couple and separately to make digital images. Of all the great grandparents I never thought I would find a picture of them. My husbands family house had burnt down in 1963 and all the treasures in the attic were destroyed. I will post them when I get them copied.

Anton came to the USA from Bohemia in 1869. It took me awhile to find the record, I had thought he came over in the 1880's. Katharina did come over in 1883, also from Bohemia. Some days are just eureka moments.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I had to tell someone, so I thought I would post it here. I have been perusing links and blogs in the Genealogy community. Lo and behold I came to a link on the German Ancestry. I may join it, the price is about $15 per year.

That is not the most amazing thing. I typed my ancestors name SCHRIDDE into the search feature, and to my surprise and utter amazement up popped my O'Rourke Family Tree written by me and on the USA version of

My daughter said people in Germany could be reading it. Maybe I should post some of my pictures on Ancestry.
Pictured Willi Schridde, Anna Bartels Schridde and Gerda Schridde c.1928 Duquesne PA USA


Here is a picture of my grandmother AnnA Bartels Schridde and her mother Maria Korbach Bartels. If you look and her photo and the one I had posted of Maria as a young girl you can see the resemblance. Anna would go to Germany every few years to visit her. My mother Gerda told me that after the war Anna would send money to her to help her rebuild and get on her feet. They never talked about the war and how it affected my grandmother and the communication with her. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been. Maybe there was no communication at all for the war years. Where would I find that information??
I think this might have been taken in the late 1950's or early 1960's.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Herr und Frau Bartels

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After I had published a picture of my great grandmother Maria Korbach Bartels I received a comment from Cheri about the name Bartels in her research.  So, here is the picture I promised.   My great grandfather was Daniel Mathias Bartels from Celle, Germany.   There are a few so I am researching the one closest to Jena, which is were Maria was from, according to my grandmothers birth certificate.

Daniel was a cigar maker and a cabinet maker.    My daughter said they both look like they have on their “German” faces.

By the style of Marias hat I would guesstimate that the photo was taken circa 1920’s.   As usual nothing was on the back.


Maria Anna Johann Korbach

This is a picture of my great grandmother, Anna Maria Johann Korbach. On the picture is says Jena, and on my grandmothers birth certificate it gives the place of her birth as Jena. Jena is in Thuringa, Germany. I have requested the Church records from the LDS Church for that city. I think she died some time about the early 1960's. My grandmother, Anna Bartel, had a picture of the grave, but I could not read it even though I had enlarged it with my photo editing software.

I keep trying to add a later picture but it won't put the picture where I want it to go. Guess I will have to post this and start another post. My grandmother Anna would send pictues of her grandchildren to her mother Maria, I guess there are a lot of pictures of my sibs and I in Germany with people wondering "Who are these people, not one put their names on the back?"

Maybe they ended up in some antique shop where people wonder about them. I know I do when I find a box full of old pictures. Who were they, where did they live, and what was their life like??

Friday, January 16, 2009

Schridde Family

Schridde Grandparents 

Since yesterday I had written about my mothers birthday I decided to publish a picture of a Family Portrait.  My mother looks to be about two in the picture so I can estimate this was taken c. 1924-1926.   I would think it was before they emigrated to the USA.  I wonder if it was taken to give to the families as a remembrance because they were going to the USA?

I really do not know much about my grandfather.   I have always felt a little cheated in life since I did not know either of my grandfathers.   My fathers father died in 1921, I guess my father did not know him either.   My father said the only thing his father did right was not to let his mother call him fathers name was Thomas, I have to admit I like Thomas better.

My grandfather above died in 1937.  He was closing the attic windows in an August storm when lightening struck  the chimney and killed him.   That is very sad.  

I know nothing about Willi’s family although I have a picture of them.  That is a treasure in itself.   I found most of my information on my ancestors on this side of the Atlantic but very little on the family in Europe. 

At the beginning of my research I did not know my great grandparents names but I did manage to find them.  I have to keep on looking.   I have posted on lists and hope that someday someone will respond to my inquiry.

Above Anna Maria Johanna Bartels Schridde, Willi Schridde, Gerda Schridde Dowd

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Today is, was my mothers birthday. She was born in Altona, Germany, in 1923. My mother died in 1995. She and her parents emigrated here to the USA in 1926. My grandmothers brother, August, was already here, I do not know much about him or why he came. I do know that he had died at an early age also. There was another brother but I do not know his name. My grandmother did talk about her sister, Johanna, who was 13 years younger than her. I know she married a man with the last name of Reimers and had two children, Crystal and Egon. Egon came to the USA for a visit sometime in the 1960's, I remember his visit but nothing much about him.

I guess it was the economy in Germany after the war My grandmother said that the Mark was worthless and they would go shopping twice a day because of the super inflation the prices were raising daily. She had said that people would carry the Marks in a wheel barrow and not be able to buy a loaf of bread.

My mother was an only child, her father died when she was about thirteen. Strangely I never asked why her parents did not have another child. She said she could remember bits of the voyage on the ship. One was she was on deck and eating a lollipop and there was a bee who tried to land on the lollipop. She said she scream and tried to get it to leave. The other memory she had was when they were on Ellis Island she had a cold and was coughing. Her mother told her not to cough because they would send them back.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to be in another country and all of a sudden be a widow? I know she was employed by the school system and cleaned the classrooms in an elementary school. She would bring discarded library books for the grandchildren when the school would be throwing them away. My grandmother died in 1969.

I still miss her very much.

Emily told me that her grandmother, Gerda, had told her about watching the dolphins jumping in the water on her voyage to the USA when she was four.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


It is 7:10 PM and I am at work and it has wound down. I am actually waiting to go home. So I thought I would do a bit of writing but no pictures since I do not have my computer here.

My recent finds have been on my husband line. His cousin Helen Jean had already did his mothers line, so I went to do the fathers. My husband was surprised, he said I knew more about his family than he did. I just laughed.

I have found on my short journey that sometime you just happen to stubble up all sorts of knowledge and facts. Then other times you will go for months of finding nothing. He had told me that his great grandmother was pregnant with his grandfather when she came to this country. I have always said "To every rumor is a hint of truth." I found this to be true because it was not his great grandmother, it was his great great grandmother who had a child the summer after their arrival in Baltimore.

I have met the most interesting people on the Roots Web List and People who are from the same town as my husband Before I started this research I had never heard of Bohemia as a country, but indeed it was. That is where his fathers line is from. When we were first married we had gone to the cemetery and their tombstone was written in German.

I could not read it, but many years later after in contact with Julie, a newly found cousin of his, I revisited and took the pictures. She had posted a family tree on Ancestry and I sent her an email. My husband remembered her mother as a babysitter from his childhood. Julie had email me information on the family, information that I did not have at that time. My part in it was the name of the great grandfather. She asked how did I know that, "It's on the tombstone" said I. "What tombstone?" asked Julie. Guess I should take a trip to the cemetery and take some more, and so my quest began.

I have met a few other relatives from his town Millvale PA. The town was settled by German Bohemians, and I am thinking his great great grandfather, Christof Sperl was one of the first to come to America. He and his wife and two children came in 1869. I have recently joined the German Bohemian Society. What was interesting is the fact that a lot of the same family names are in the families in Minnesota. I know there is a connection but at this time I do not know how. A few months ago I got an email from Ed who was at a Family Reunion and some cousin had an old (1880ish) picture of the Sperl Family. There were no names and no one knew who they were. I have tentatively identified some of the people. I guess after this work we could all qualify as detectives.....

I have met some Irish cousins researching the same two families. The Dowd and O'Rourke Families. The ones I am lacking are the ones in Germany. The Schridde, Hackmann, Korbach and Bartel. I am working on that but first I think I need to take some German lessons.

Guess that is enough for tonight, it is snowing and blowing and I will be glad to go home where it is warm.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Grandparents


I am still trying to work out the bugs on this picture posting.   I want to put the pictures of my grandparents side by side, but I can not seem to achieve that design.   I guess I need a tutorial on how to  do that.

This is a picture of my grandfather Thomas Dowd holding my father Thomas Anthony Dowd.  My father was born on 26 July 1918.  His brother Richard Regis Dowd was born two years later.

They were the only two children my grandmother had because in November of 1921 my grand father died in an accident.   My grandfather was about twenty six in this picture.  He worked on the Union Railroad in East Pittsburgh PA.

I wonder who took the picture and who was the lady standing in the doorway.picturesbyclaudia 274


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This is a picture of my grandmother Gertrude O’Rourke.  She is probably twenty six in this picture.  After my grandfather died she moved back home with her parents.  Things must have been really hard for her  at the time, actually I think things were hard for her all her life.  She had only complete five years of school, and she said she would go to school but she played “hooky.”   I wonder what she did all that time?   Guess they did not have any one check on them.  At ten years of age she would not have gotten a job, at least I do not think so.







Sunday, January 11, 2009


I wanted to add this picture last, but it came up first. This is me crying while Tom and Gerda worked on the house. If you look closely you can see I am tethered to the play pen by a rope. I guess I liked to wander, I think today it would be considered child abuse. LOL So I will just type the information at the top

Sheri, thank you for your encouragement. I decided to write more frequently. This picture was scanned by me. It was before I learned to align the photos to be scanned to the side of the scanner instead of aligning it by eyesight. They all were slightly askew.

This picture was take the summer of 1950. I do not know who took the picture, but it is a picture of my parents, my brother Thomas and my mom and dad. That is Claudia looking at her father. After the war they bought a lot and with the initial help of his cousin, he built the house himself.

They lived in the basement while he and my mother did the framing and all the rest that was required to build the house.. I can remember a kitchen area and a pot bellied stove for warmth. They also had a small bath room, including a toilet and a shower. When I was about four I went running into the bathroom and jumping on the seat in the dark, and my bare butt hit the water. I screamed and they came running. I figured it out much later it was my father who had left the toilet seat up. Later, after the upstairs was finished this toilet area was turned into a pantry for canned goods.


Where to start? Although I have started a genealogy blog where do I actually start. I guess the beginning is the most likely place.

The couple on the left are my parents, Thomas Dowd and Gerda Schridde. They were married on 4 February 1943 at Seymour Johnson Field in Goldsboro NC. My dad had been drafted and was going to be shipped to Europe, so he called my mom and asked if she wanted to come down and get married. She hopped a train and went. I guess that tale is typical of the time surrounding World War II. They spent a week together and he came home in January of 1946 and I was born In October.

They had met on a "blind date." My mother was five years younger than my dad and on their first date he decided she was too young. They met a few years later at a wedding of her best friend and his best friend. I have a picture of the wedding party, guess I should scan and post it. I think the wedding was the start of their relationship. Guess she wasn't too young then. They married when mom was 20 and dad was 25. It is sort of funny, but physically they looked like they could have been relatives. My dads ethnic background is Irish and my mothers is German. She had emigrated with her parents from Hamburg Germany in 1926.........I will save that tale for another posting.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Yesterday I was on a quest to go to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. They have a lot of resources. What I was looking for were the death index and marriage index.

They have a book published by the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society That has an index. I found a few listings that I could use. You have to request a copy. This is good up till 1906 and after that you have to deal with the great and powerful State Of Pennsylvania. To get anything from the State of PA is like having elephants jump thru hoops. A lot of states now publish the deaths on line, but not PA, they do not even have an index of what is avaliable. The City of Philadelphia has an index and the listings on line.

There have been petitions to put these records online, but I doubt that they will do that because of the loss of the fee of $9 per death certificate. A cousin of mine had searched for the death certificate of Patrick O'Rourke and they said it did not exist. I had a copy of that certificate that I found among my dads things and sent her a copy.
Back to the story. Last January I recieved a document from the Diocese of Pittsburgh. It had listed two women, Catherine Dowd and Nora Dowd as a witness and sponsor for a Marriage and a Baptism of my grandfather and great grandparents. A year later I decided to research the marriages. So, there in sight was the marriage of my great grandfather Thomas sister Nora Nora, age twenty two, married Cummins Finarty (Feenarty) in February 1892. The most amazing thing is that they were hiding in plain sight. In the 1910 census they were all living next door to each other. I didn't know that because they were under their husbands names and I did not know about them.
Her sister Catherine Dowd married Thomas Mulroy in 1891. I found the listing on that one but not the actual document. The original had been taped and I did not get the proper page and volume. I will have to look for that again. The County of Allegheny had the names listed alphabetically by last and first name, plus by the men and women. I have to check the mens posting. Because of the alphabetizing it was difficult to find, but once I figured it out I found it.
Next week is a meeting so I will have more time to spend there.
I added the emigration paper of Catherine Dowd but it is too small to read and I need to find out 1) how to make it bigger for posting and 2) how to make it disappear if you do not want it there. It would be nice to be able to read the add ons.
Just click on the photo and it will enlarge to view the names. One problem solved. This was the listing of the immigration of Catherine Dowd, my great Aunt sister of Thomas Dowd.

Friday, January 2, 2009


This is the third entry. I do not intend to number them all. I started out yesterday with the purpose of cleaning out the basement. It looks like it should belong to Sanford and Son.

About ten years ago my husband was cleaning out the family house in preparation for its sale. He brought two portraits that were stored in the bedroom closet.

I came upon them again. One was a portrait of a man and one of a woman. He took off the back of the mans portrait and it was dated August 23, 99 (1899) I know for a fact that Chucks great grandfather Anton Sperl died August 9, 1899. Chucks grandfather was born in May of 1899, so I think that Antons death was unexpected. The womans picture I am thinking is Antons wife, Katherina RAUSCHER Sperl.

My theory is she had the picture done (Looks like charcoal) from a photo after his death. Then had one of herself too. Katherina lived until 1947.

A few years after Antons death she remarried Joseph Nosseck, I have to find the documentationo that. A person on the RootsWeb site said that pictures were not enlarged at that time, and people would have a drawing made from the small photo.

I have to take a digital picture of the two photographs and them keep them in my photo file.
Photo John Crist Sperl b.1988. First Communion or Confirmation. St Anthonys Churck Millvale PA