04 March 2012

Two of My 19th Century Female Ancestors/Relatives

One of my favorite lectures is "Barbaras Beaus and Gesche's Girls." Barbara is a German immigrant who arrived in Illinois in 1850, was married 3 or 4 times, widowed once, and divorced twice. She figures in quite a few local records in the area and was fun to research. A discussion of Barbara makes for an interesting study in Midwest records during this time period--just about every record that can be found on a woman during this time includes Barbara, including:

  • Probate records
  • Land records-as grantor, grantee, and quitclaim deeds after her death
  • Court records--divorce and criminal records
  • Newspaper
  • Church
  • Cemetery
  • Vital
Her marriage records are atypical as are the records of her first husband's estate settlement in the 1850s.

Gesche Fecht Weerts Grass Heyen was my step-ancestor who married in Germany in the 1880s and disappeared after my ancestor's death. This part of the lecture discusses how she was located when her "new" married name was initially unknown. A good example of detective work when one does not have all the clues. 

I've given this lecture several times and sometimes people call the second part of it "Geisha Girls." I'll be honest...that irritates me on two levels. One, I'm half-Ostfriesen by ancestry and I love the sound of the traditional low-German names. Two, making fun of people's names is something I find very offensive. 

This lecture, "Barbara's Beaus and Gesche's Girls" is available as a webinar for download--handout included.