Showing posts with label exhaustive search. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exhaustive search. Show all posts

04 August 2013

Exhausting Those Homesteaders Who Regularly Attend Church in Nebraska

Genealogists talk about "exhaustive search" and what it entails. Generally speaking, it means look at all material that could reasonably answer the question at hand. I understand the concept of "exhaustive search," it does serve a purpose. And I do "get" why it is important--largely because there are people who only research one or two documents and declare themselves done.

Not me. 

I prefer to use "brute force" research. Get everything you can. Everything. And then keep looking and realize that there may always be something you have yet to uncover. But really, you never know what a record will say until you have seen it. Records that contain affidavits are particularly rich in "who knows what they'll put in there."  Such is the case with the homestead application of Jurgen Ehmen in Dawson County, Nebraska.

Renke Kaiser is one of the witnesses in Ehmen's claim from the 1880s.

Where We've Lived Before



Kaiser documents in his affidavit where Ehmen lived before settling in Nebraska, beginning with Ehmen living in Illinois in the 1860s. Kaiser states that he has known Ehmen for over twenty years, apparently since they were living in Illinois.  One of the neighbors mentioned in Kaiser's statement is Focke Goldenstein--actually a relative of Ehmen and the great-grandfather of yours truly.
Testimony of Renke Kaiser, 23 November 1887, Completed Homestead application of Jurgen  Ehmen, Dawson County, Nebraska, Township 11 North-24 West, section 18; digital image,  Fold3.com.
Kaiser indicates the Illinois counties in which Ehmen lived. This was a significant clue as the ethnic group (Ostfriesen) of which all these men were members settled heavily in Adams County, Illinois, and Dawson County, Nebraska. But Knox County, Illinois? That was an unusual place for an Ostfriesen to live and a place that warrants research as to why Ehmen was there (supposition is that he worked for the railroad).

Going to Church


Kaiser even states that he seens Ehmen regularly at church on Sunday and that the church was "near there."  One doesn't always think of homestead records as providing clues as to church attendance. But there it was.

Testimony of Renke Kaiser, 23 November 1887, Completed Homestead application of Jurgen  Ehmen, Dawson County, Nebraska, Township 11 North-24 West, section 18; digital image,  Fold3.com

Ehmen's other witness Eime Friesenborg also indicates in a statement from the same date as Kaiser's that he also sees Ehmen at church every Sunday. His statement includes similar statements about Ehmen's residences before he lived in Nebraska and that he had known Ehmen for twenty years.

Of course, Goldenstein probably attended the same church as the other men. And the reason why Goldenstein did not testify in Ehmens claim: relatives were not supposed to appear as witnesses in these claims.

Brute force with some finesse and some time spent reading. It may be just what your research needs.