Thursday, June 30, 2011



Since I retired this spring I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work.  When I saw the notice in the paper from the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society about the Diocese of Pittsburgh needing volunteers I decided  I would like to do that sort of volunteering.  

I had taken a few classes on the old style German writing and thought that might help me.   So far I have done two days and I am quite enjoying myself and obtaining a lot of skills in reading the “old” writing styles and research of old records.   The older records are also in Latin a lot of the times.   I am even getting better at Latin.   

I have completed two requests for clients.   It is taking me a long time but I feel I will get better as the months go on. 

After I was finished with my client I still had a bit of time left and I decided to look for Katharina Rauscher, my husbands great grandmother.  

I  decided to search St Ann’s Catholic Church in Millvale PA.   I had already had sent for the records at St Anthony’s in Millvale in 2008 but that marriage was not found.

I hit the genealogical jackpot.   They were at St Ann’s.  Anton Sperl and Katharina Rauscher were married 17 June 1884.    Anton’s parents were Christof. Sperl and Margaret Buchl, this information I already knew because the family emigrated from Bohemia in 1869.

But I found Katharina’s father, Franc. Rauscher and her mother M. Anne Fleishner, both of Rosshaupt, Bohemia.   Frank Rauscher’s name was listed on Katharina’s Death Certificate but her mother was listed as unknown.

A few weeks ago I found a Frank Rauscher living in  Millvale and he was of the age that my theory was that he was Katharina’s father.   I still have to prove this and my theory is he came to the USA after his wife had died and that is why the informant knew his name.  His grandson, John Christ Sperl gave the information upon his mother Katharina’s death in 1947.     I have to go about and prove my theory.

Another brick wall has crumbled.

After thinking about M Anne Fleishner I decided that I would look for the name Margarethe because that is the name she gave her first daughter.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011



Gerda Schridde school photo

Picture of my mother I did not know existed until my German cousin Angelika sent it to me.   She looks so happy

Monday, June 27, 2011



On Saturday I went to the Family History Center and ordered two microfilms that I found while perusing the LDS site.   I found the baptism of my great grandmother, Bridget Naughton and the marriage of her parents, Thomas Naughton and Catherine Ward.  They were both from County Galway, Ireland.

What am I hoping to find is the names of any brothers and sisters of Bridget.   My father had long spoken of Bridget’s twin sister.   I have not been able to find any information about his recollection.   He would have been a child at the time so they could have just been sister that resembled each other. 

In about two to three week I can expect them to be in, but I know there can be delays.  I expect the delays so I will be pleasantly surprised if they come on time.  What I am wondering is why every record I find of interest there is no image available?   I guess that is just the way it goes.

Today I am going to see about volunteering at the local church diocese.    I went on Thursday for a look see and an interview.  Today I suppose it could be called an orientation.  I ran off a copy of Latin phrases related to genealogy and I have the papers on the old German style of writing.  

I am finding it easier to read after taking two classes but I need my “cheat sheet.”   More on that later.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Wednesday I decided to go back to Armstrong County Genealogical Library.   The people there are quite helpful and offer many good ideas and suggestions.     We have now searched Ancestry, Heritage Quest and innumerable books about the county and about the Bowser Family.    Still no luck, the newsletter will be published this month and I posted a query with the information that I had.

One person suggested that I send for the Civil War Pension records for the Jacob Bowser that I suspected might be Olives father.   This is my last resort,  I really do not want to spend $75 on a long shot.   What else to do?  Do I want to go to Armstrong County Courthouse and sift through the will of every Jacob Bowser?  The clerk told me that there were sixty three of them in the records alone.   I suppose I could narrow it down to Jacob Bowser's who died after Olive would have been conceived.  

Another thought I had was that in the 1860 census I found a Jacob and Mary Bowser living with her father Thomas Murphy who was born in Ireland.   Could Mary Murphy Bowser have been Catholic and baptized the children in the Catholic Church?     Armstrong County belongs to the Diocese of Greensburg and they do not have an archives.   To obtain the record you have to go to each and every Catholic Church and since this family in question had different addresses in every census that might prove to be an monumental task.

I also have to drive to Ohio and see if the cemetery has any information that was not in either the death certificate or obituary.   It is only an hours drive, which is certainly easy to do.   I think I need another relative to occupy my time for awhile.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011



I am grasping at straws here.   Since I can find no records of the early life of Olive Bowser I have formulated some ideas to pursue.

It is know and documented (death certificate and obit) that her birthday was 4 October 1874 in Armstrong County PA.   Her parents  are listed as Jacob and Mary (UNK) Bowser of Armstrong County PA.

Also listed are “several brothers and sisters”  but no names are listed.   I still want to go and see if there are cemetery records and return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Library.

In Armstrong County there was listed an Olive M Bowser b. 1875 in Armstrong County, she was the daughter of Felix and Mary Bowser.  I later found the death and picture of her tombstone and she had died in 1885.  In the 1880 census I find Maud Bowser b. 1874 with parents of Jacob and Mary Bowser living in Armstrong County.

My Olive disappears until the 1900 census living in Pittsburgh with Robert Stephens.  The couple have three children at this time.  

A while back I received a copy of Robert Stephens Civil War Pension Record.   I did not post much about it at the time because of something I had found.  My husband and his brother told me that I could post the information because all the people involved have all died long ago.

Robert was married 9 May 1868 to Sarah Wright (b. Franklin Township PA) in Allegheny City PA. They had four children, Rachurl  (Rachel?), Robert, William and Rudy.   In 1890 Robert is living alone in the “Morgan House” in Allegheny City PA.

In 1914 Olive filed for his accrued pension.  In that statement it said that she was married under the name of Olive Bowser at Allegheny City (Allegheny County PA) in 1893 by “no ceremony.”

Olive had not been married before and the “soldier had been married and application made for divorce in 1893 from 1st wife but never carried through”  First wife (Sarah Wright) died 19 December 1910.  

In the 1900 census they stated that they had been married since 1891 and have three children at this time.   Olive was probably about sixteen when she and Robert met and were together until he died in 1913.   They were never legally married,  in an affidavit filed after his death she stated that she could neither read or write and she thought he had divorced and they were married until someone read his papers she found after his death.

My thought is did her parents know of her marital status?   Did she take the name Olive from her dead cousin Olive M?   Is my Olive really Maud also born in 1874?    At what age did she move to Allegheny City?   She worked as a domestic, did she meet Robert in the “Morgan House?”   Robert was twenty five years older than Olive.   Did she take up with Robert out of necessity?  Was she unable to support herself?

In the pension records it was stated that he referred to her as his “wife” and they lived together for twenty years and she took care of him after his spinal injury in 1903 until his death in 1913. All the affidavits given by people who knew the couple stated they the were happy together.

Will I ever find the answer?  

Sunday, June 19, 2011



Patrick O’Rourke - Great Grandfather

picturesbyclaudia 002

Thomas Dowd - Grandfather

Thomas Dowd baby Thomas Dowd 1918

Thomas Dowd - Father

Thomas, Gerda, Claudia, Tommy Dowd 1951 001

Grandfather - Willi Schridde

Willi Schridde  Circa1030 (2)

Great Grandfather - Daniel Bartels

Frau und Herr Bartels   ggp Claudia DOWD Sperl (2)


Frederick Schridde- Great Grandfather

update schridde

And lastly my great grandfather Thomas Dowd, of which I have no picture and would dearly like to have one.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I am so excited, today I was experimenting with my Irish ancestors on the LDS search site.   I popped in the names of my great great grandparents Thomas Naughton and Catherine Ward and (drum roll here)  they appeared:  Now with that information I can order the film and off I go, Hopefully,   Bridget was born in 1868, so I can imagine that there other siblings.   I am so excited. 

Groom's Name: Thomas Naughton
Groom's Birth Date:
Groom's Birthplace:
Groom's Age:
Bride's Name: Catherina Ward
Bride's Birth Date:
Bride's Birthplace:
Bride's Age:
Marriage Date: 12 Feb 1861
Marriage Place: Roman Catholic, Killian And Kilronan, Galway, Ireland
Groom's Father's Name:
Groom's Mother's Name:
Bride's Father's Name:
Bride's Mother's Name:
Groom's Race:
Groom's Marital Status:
Groom's Previous Wife's Name:
Bride's Race:
Bride's Marital Status:
Bride's Previous Husband's Name:
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M70176-1
System Origin: Ireland-ODM
Source Film Number: 989748
Reference Number:    

Thursday, June 9, 2011



I suppose this could go into Thrifty Thursday and  Tech Tuesday.  Yesterday I published a very colorful picture of flowers taken by me on WORDLESS WEDNESDAY    

This great photo was the result of COLLAGE IT   This is free software, with the option to buy for $19.90.   Is is really great for free so I am wondering what you would get for the full version.  Collage It is available for Mac and Windows Operating Systems.

A Getting Started Screen appears and you click the Add button to import photos from your computer.   On the top right you can choose the number of photos to use.

After your selection you click the Generate Layout to generate a preview, you can click this option many times to get the best arrangement you would like.

Next you click Save Layout and insert a title and save it to your picture album.  There are a few other options including changing the size and shape of your field.

I need to explore the other options to see what is included.  

I have not been compensated in anyway for my evaluation and use of Collage It.   It is worth giving it a try…I am planning to arrange a collage of my ancestor photos.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


This is the elusive Great Uncle of mine,  Dennis O’Rourke.  He was the brother of my Grandmother, Gertrude O’Rourke.  She would speak of him and all I remember was that Dennis drowned in the river.    I do not think that Gertrude remembered him because she was born in 1892, I think all she knew was that he was her brother and he had died and was sorely missed by her parents.

Denis is the name of my great great grandfather, who would have been the younger Dennis grandfather.   I do not know when he was born or when he died.   I have not found any records of his existence except this picture and my grandmothers tales.

But my theory is Denis was born after his sister Ann O’Rourke (1875) and I think that is he would have been named after his grandfather and according to the Irish naming traditions.  I am thinking that he was somewhere between the ages of 11 and 16. 

My theory on his death was it was in August 1891 because that was the time that my great grandfather, Patrick O’Rourke bought the plot in Monongahela Cemetery ( Now All Saints or Braddock Catholic Cemetery) in North Braddock PA.    I can not imagine a poor person buying a cemetery lot if it was not needed. 

The Vital Records of Pennsylvania do not start until 1908 and the County of Allegheny kept records from about 1893 until about 1905, so I never found Dennis in the records.

The picture is from the collection of my cousin Joanne D.  She said that it was a copy of a large charcoal drawing that was held by her mother.   The large charcoal drawing has disintegrated, but we do have a copy of the lad.  My estimation of his age would be about 12 to 14 years of age.

Picture from the collection of my cousin Joanne D.

I decided to change the title of my post published on Tuesday and even though it is Thursday I think the title is appropriate.

Sunday, June 5, 2011



picturesbyclaudia 001

My great grandparents Frederick Schridde and Anna Meta Hackman and their children.  Elsa Schridde Czitkowski, , Willie Schridde  my grandfather, Kate Schridde Schmolling, Emilie Schridde Beckmann, Frieda Schridde Bordolo, and Lilly Schridde Claussen 



Went to a conference this weekend.   It was the  PALINTINES TO AMERICA conference.   It was held at the SHERATON STATION SQUARE.   The location is great and is along the banks of the Monongahela River, just over the SMITHFIELD STREET BRIDGE from the city center of Pittsburgh.

The weather was spectacular with the temperatures in the 70’s and low humidity.   The attendees raved about the location and the weather,  I told them it was not like that every day. 

While the location was great the food at the Sheraton Station was expensive and mediocre at best.   Fortunately there are several restaurants close by and a lot in the city which can be accessed by the Pittsburgh T STATION or taxi.  You can also walk into the city on foot if  you choose.

A woman I spoke with also said she brought her iPad and asked if they had wifi.    She was told in no uncertain terms that the Sheraton “did not have free wifi.”   What?????   Even Motel Six has free wifi !!!!!!  

There were two main speakers John T  Humphrey and James M Beidler.  Mr. Humphrey spoke mainly on research technique and source location and Mr. Beidler on 17th and 18th century research.  Since my German ancestors came over in the late 1800 and early 1900’s I attended mostly Mr. Humphrey’s lectures.   His presentation well worth the attendance.

There were many other speakers who presented various topics and many activities were planned and well received by those who attended.   Also available were books and other genealogical related item for purchase.   The vendors were great and had a wide selection for sale.

I enjoyed the conference very much.  Now onto to researching those elusive Germans.