There appeared to be little information for Mary Schaffer. My grandmother always said she was born in Paris and was from Alsace, Lorraine and spoke French at times in their home. This was very misleading. Being stuck with this information in my head she was put off for future research, or when I felt like attacking this brick wall. On Tuesday while visiting a good friend at her Family Search Center we discussed locating her. Then in looking at online family trees we discovered some very good clues to her origin.
In the 1880 census with her husband, her place of birth is listed as Bavaria, which is the same area her husband was from. From the online trees we discover who her family is and that they were from Zwiesel, Germany, a place not far from where he was from. She apparently immigrated in 1875 with her parents and seven siblings. It appears that her older brother John came 1870-1872 according to the census records.
For her siblings there were some additional family trees. They provided various birth, marriage and death information. Some included pictures of the person, headstones, marriage and death certificates, and naturalization records. Of the nine children there are marriages for six, and at least one appears to have not married. Two have family histories included. This family first settled in Carroll County, Iowa and then spread out west to the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, California and Oregon. The parents appear to have deceased in Stanton, Martin County, Texas.
The online family trees have contact information for the submitter and in contacting them I did receive one response so far. It was from a gentleman who has no connection to the family, but was gathering information for a project about the Lost Dutchman Mine alleged to be in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. Maria's brother Albert worked at this mine. I am very grateful for his post as it provided the clear path to locating my great, great grandmother. Many of the other online trees seem to have also made this connection and added information about their line. These clues provide the information to take this family back to Germany.
The next step in the process is to contact the Catholic Church in Carroll, Carroll County, Iowa for records for my immediate ancestors Frank and Maria Neppl, their marriage, births of their eight children and death records. For Mary and five of her siblings the full birth dates may be found in the US records or in the records of Zwiesel, Germany.
For my final step in all of these amazing serendipity moments came when I did a google search for Zwiesel, Germany. The results of that search included the following information:
German Research Handout - Comcast.net