Thursday, August 18, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Grandma Tessie's Books

Before my trip to Utah I mentioned in the blog that we hoped to retrieve a copy of a book written by Grandma Tessie during our overnight stay in Idaho. We got to the motel late in the evening and then played phone tag with our connecting person. The person still in Portland was trying to facilitate the exchange, but it was just not working out. Even though we were stopping over at the same place a week later, on our way home, the family was reluctant to provide access to the book. Finally it was agreed that another family member would make a copy and deliver it to Portland.



I had suggested that my readers keep their fingers crossed that we might make the meeting in Idaho and receive the copy of the book there. Even though that did not happen, on Tuesday of this week the family provided copy arrived in Portland. So, in a round about way we were successful in reaching our objective. Why all the fuss over a book, which was the fourth one of this type that Grandma Tessie had written?

The first thing we did was make a copy for me to work with. In the last two days I have entered forty-four pages of information into our database. There are another thirty-one pages to go. It is absolutely amazing the variation of content from one book to another. This book, by far, is the most informational. In the process of reading the books, one can see the increase in knowledge that Grandma Tessie gained as she worked on her family history. Major new clues are provided in this book. Some of her dates and places are not consistent with documented sources, but she provides us clues for so much more.

The main serendipity moment came last night when I read her further explanation of her great grandfather John Hau's immigration to America. At this point I wonder if he actually made two trips to America. The first book said he sailed on the ship Phoenix in about 1851. I can find no such ship record for that ship on that date. There was one in 1854 with a John Hau aboard. The new book says, "John Hau/Howe, emigrated from the Bavarian Alps to Pennsylvania in 1850. He landed in Baltimore, Maryland. Lived in Kersey and lived with relatives, one Andrew Hau. He later moved to Chicago, and went with a wagon train to Kentucky." This provides some great new clues.

 The immigration clue may be the most important find from the book. It spurred me on to look for additional records online. Turning to ancestry.com I found a ship record for John Hau, age 17, in 1851 on the ship Bremen. He is traveling with Peter Grammen age 31, Olive Grammen age 18 and Harry? Hau age 22. They were from Eckersdorf, Germany and both men were farmers. It is odd that when the record comes up for the ship there are five pages, but the first page of the record is not there. It begins with page two. I did a further search at Stephen Morse's website and was able to locate page one.


It is a challenge to take such a collection of books, all written by one person over a period of years, and try to extract the crucial pieces of information. The client did not understand why I wanted my own copy for review, but to do the work well I need to patiently decipher the information being provided. Sometimes our serendipity moment does not come until we have time to reflect on the pieces of information that we have uncovered. The puzzle is going together nicely. It takes a lot of patience and preseverance and those are two qualities every genealogy researcher needs to develop.

1 comment:

  1. Sue this is simply marvelous. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete