Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Johns - Solving the Mystery Using Technology

It began with the answer to a question I asked my Grandmother when I was about eight years old.  "Bockie" I had asked "why don't you ever go swimming when we are at the lake?"  She relied that she was afraid of the water since her brother had drowned as a child.  I accepted her statement at face value and moved on.

Years later when I began researching our genealogy and recording census forms, her answer to my question came to mind.  My grandmother was the youngest of six children, two girls and four boys.  Which of the boys had died?  As I was using HeritageQuest online one day I happened on one line from the diary of a Milwaukee policeman.  The line said only "Burbach's boy drowned today".  This I felt totally substantiated my grandmother's statement.  It was true.  Of course in my excitement, I neglected to cite the source!

I still didn't know which of her brothers had drowned and to complicate matters further there were two related families with children of similar ages.  Brothers John and Herman Burbach operated a butcher shop in Milwaukee in the 1880s and 1890s.  Both men were raising families at the same time.

I used books.google to find the quote "Burbach's boy drowned today" and this time I cited the source and noted the date of the occurance.  Next I checked the Wisconsin Death Records online at ancestory.com for the family name and year of 1892.  I found the name John Burbach as having died on May 8, 1892.

Using obituary records from Milwaukee German Language newspapers (ordered from and translated by Gary Rebholz) I found obituaries for both a John and a Johnnie Burbach cousins, both aged 11. The death dates were 1892 and 1895. Who was who?

Using the 19th century newspapers online, Milwaukee Archdiocese Cemeteries online, and the Milwaukee City Directories online to determine which John/Johnnie lived at which address with which father, I was able to document the story of my grandmother's brother John.  An additional nugget or information disclosed in the 19th Century Newspapers was the fact that John Burbach had made his confirmation at St Joseph's Church on the morning of his death.
John Burbach drowned on May 8, 1892 in the Milwaukee River.  His two friends were rescued but John's body was not recovered for two weeks.  He was finally buried on May 22, 1892 in Calvary Cemetery in Milwaukee.

All of this information was gathered while I was home in Texas!  Hooray for technology!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

John Burbach - Geneabloggers Sunday's Obituaries

This death notice only tells part of the story.  John drowned in the Milwaukee River on May 8, 1892 and his body was not found until May 19, 1892.  He was buried on May 22, 1892 in Calvary Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

My thanks to Gary Rebholz for his translations of the German newspapers of Milwaukee.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It is WHEN not IF! It's data back-up day.

About a year ago, I was asked to do a general computer tips and tricks presentation to the Family History Center where I volunteer.  It wasn't a large group but they were interested in learning.  One of the topics we discussed was backing up your data.  We covered the need to have multiple backup back-up copies in multiple locations.  One gentleman raised his hand and said he didn't know how to back up his files except on his hard drive.  He had 30 years of genealogy research and it was only on his hard drive!  30 YEARS WORTH!  hoping nothing would happen in the meantime, I told him to bring it the next week and I would show him how to do a back-up.  When he returned he brought his laptop, 2 flash drives, and 3 blank cds.  We created multiple back-ups to be kept in different locations.  Not all at home.  I guess the lesson took because last week he came in with blank cds and asked me to create back-ups before he left for a trip to California!  

It's not just genealogy files, correspondence, photos, finances, anything other than the actual programs needs to be backed up.  Flash drives, cds (for now) and various cloud storage methods (drop-box and mozy are 2 cloud storage back-up methods) can be used.  Back-up often and check your back-ups.  If you don't know how to back-up your data you can google it or ask someone for help.