Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tom Jones - Alsace Lorraine and Bavarian Connections

While preparing for the Genealogical Council of Oregon Advanced Workshop on August 1, 2014 with Tom Jones, that had a limit of twenty-five attendees, there was some required reading we were asked to do ahead. Some of this "pre-homework" was the same as what is in his book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, and the other was new material.

The first part of Tom's presentations was an opportunity to ask questions about these readings. There were many interesting things discussed and explained about the two articles. Tom suggested previously that we chart the relationships in the articles. For this I created Family Group Records for the families and this proved to be very helpful.

The first article was, Logic Reveals the Parents of Phillip Pritchett of Virginia and Kentucky, written by Tom and published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly March 2009, ten pages. It includes a map drawn by the author which is extremely helpful in understanding the conclusions drawn. For this article there were four families discussed, three of which are found on the family tree at

The second article was, Identifying an Immigrant Generation: Medarts of St. Louis, written by Tom and published in the St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly, Summer 2008, eight pages. He included lists of names from passenger records and then a comparative list of baptismal records, arrival list and family records. For this article two family group records for eighteen people helped to identify them.

Upon arrival we were given the syllabus for the day. The courses were:
1. Bringing Law to Bear on Complex Genealogical Problems, 12 pages
2. Resolving Conflicting Evidence, 8 pages
3. Writing Genealogy, 12 pages

Throughout the classes he would refer back to the articles. The syllabus materials are so good that there is little need to take extensive notes. This material will be great for future review of what was discussed. It was a great day and my favorite part of the conference. We met with wonderful, friendly genealogists who have a vested interest in learning from a professional and highly respected colleague.

For me the best part was being able to ask a question about my own family research that was sparked by a note in one of the articles. In the article about the Medart family it is mentioned that the family was from Ilbesheim, Bavaria, Germany. There are birth records for the family in this parish from 1802 to 1831. On page 47 he notes that, "Mr. and Mrs. Philip Medart, natives of Germany, came to the United States in 1832." He goes on to note that, "From where in Europe the family originated, I don't know for sure, I have always been told France", "Their ancestors are from the Alsace-Lorraine district", and "Grandfather Phillip Medart, came from Westphalia, Germany in 1856."

Very similar comments to these were made by my Nepple and Schaffer families who have children born in Arnbruck, Bavaria, Germany from 1845-1856  and Zwiesel, Bavaria, Germany from 1854-1869. "Family indicated she (Mary Schaffer the mother) was born in Paris, France and lived in Alsace-Lorraine, but the records located indicate she was born in Bavaria." They also mentioned that French was spoken in the home after they arrived in Iowa. So, could it have been Mary's mother that was born in France?

My question is why would families move from the Alsace-Lorraine area to the far side of the country in Bavaria? There must have been some type of push/pull reason for this to occur. After learning so much from Tom and the other attendees, I know this is something that I need to explore further. Families move for many reasons, relocating to unknown places in distant lands, like the United States. Exploring for possible answers and understanding is the best reason for attending these workshops. The personal level in a limited group setting was the perfect setting for a very enlightening day.

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