15 December 2008

Stick with the Facts

Ancestry.com has revised their New York City Passenger Lists database (or at least it showed up as "new" on their home page recently). This prompted me to look for an elusive ancestress, Barbara Siefert.

Barbara was born ca. 1826 in Germany. She is known to have married in 1849 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Peter Bieger. They headed to Illinois shortly after.

I would love to find her in a passenger manifest.

Barbara's obituary indicates she came to the United States as a "young girl," originally living in Ohio. I am really wondering how accurate this "young girl" phrase actually is. After all, it was in her obituary which was probably written by one of her children born in Illinois. To the best of my knowledge, Barbara had no blood relatives in Illinois other than descendants. Consequently her children would have used what they remembered from their mother in compiling an obituary. It wasn't like there was an aunt or uncle they could ask for information. As a result, I'm not assuming too much about the age at which Barbara immigrated. And "young girl" could mean different things to different people.

The 1900 Census for Barbara indicates she arrived in 1846. And while the census can be incorrect, I am slightly more inclined to believe it than the obituary. Barbara is listed in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, in 1900--living by herself with her married daughter as a neighbor.

Before I search for Barbara in the manifests, I should review what I know about her. And this analysis is best done before I start typing information willy-nilly in search boxes.

Based upon census records, I think Barbara was born between 1824 and 1826. She immigrated before her marriage to Peter Bieger in 1849 (if I have a specific date, that should be kept in mind). I also need to think about how accurate I believe her maiden name is. Then I can start searching the passenger lists.

But analyzing what I have before I search is important.