Genealogy Research


Genealogists are NEVER really finished!

Categories // Genealogy Research

Life Goes On

Genealogists can never be done because life goes on; babies are born, grow up, gret possibly married, divorced, have their own children, and then ultimately pass away.

I sent my Breitenstein book off to the publisher a month ago. I spent probably 30 years researching it, the last year writing it and the last four months indexing, correcting footnotes, proofing and altogether finishing it.

In the last three weeks, I have discovered an Albano/Saylor marriage in Florida, Benko/Bodeman marriage in Indiana and a McGee/Richardson marriage in Kentucky. I have also found that Jerry Luhr Jenkins, Charlotte Rose (Fischer) Kohler, Robert Elston Chappelle Sr. and Mary Shannon (Ryan) Saylor have all passed away. As a researcher I am thrilled to be updated. As an author who just sent a book off to the bindery, it makes me nuts.  This is why so much research stays as work in progess and doesn't get translated into books. Times passes, things change and at the same time new records become accessible leaving more information open to discovery. Wow, is it hard to let go.


How to Choose What to Include and What to Exclude

Categories // Genealogy Research

When You Are Writing a Family History or Genealogy, What do you put in and what do you leave out?

Family histories and genealogies are in general filled with names, dates, and places, especially for births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. They also include lots and lots of relatives, in-laws, cousins, godparents, ministers, doctors, neighbors, people who make the story hold together. In a genealogy, the author is going to have much more information about her branch and the branches closest to her than other farther removed, more distantly connected relatives. It's natural. So how do you keep the whole from becoming lopsided?

My mom had more than twenty first cousins on her paternal side. I know those Breitenstein cousins and their families way better and with much more detail than I do her second cousins, the Fischer, Bodeman, Meier, and some other Breitenstein cousins. Her oldest cousin, Elizabeth married a wonderful man named Jimmy Baker, had four children, and moved to Massachusetts and then New Hampshire. I visited them with my best friend in the early 1970s and again with my husband in the early 1980s. In the meantime, we wrote back and forth. I never stayed with Mom's other cousins in Louisville, because when I went to Louisville I stayed with my grandparents. So Elizabeth and Jimmy were different. I got to know them without the swirl of all the other relatives, in fact, I got to know them separately from their own children, who were gone, out of the house, married and living their own lives, when I visited. In the perfect world, I could have written about how funny they were, how self deprecating, how gracious, and how interesting. I think that would have hurt some feelings across the board, not that I said nice things about Elizabeth and Jimmy, but that I couldn't, except through hearsay, say the same nice things about all the others. My grandmother taught Elizabeth and her younger sister Thelma how to drive, and when it came time to chose godparents for their youngest child, Grandma and Grandpa chose Thelma as one. Thelma's two children were in my parents' wedding and yes they were very cute. So I am partial to my great uncle Mike's daughters, and Uncle Ed's daughter, and Uncle Carl's son, and Uncle Herm's two, and Uncle John's daughter Carol, and Uncle Lawrence's son Doug, and Uncle Jule's kids, cause he was the baby and all the others even though I didn't know them, because Grandpa thought the world of his nieces and nephews. Even listing them, I feel badly I left a couple out, but there were some I never met.

So back to the original question, what to put in and what to leave out. I include the spouses of cousins, but not a ton of detail about their lives. So unless you read the footnotes, you might not realize that my mom's cousin-in-law Jimmy Baker, also known as James Gilbert Baker, was a well known physicist, astronomer and designer of optical lenses. Check him out on Wikipedia. I am proud of him even though we don't share any DNA, and I was glad to have known him. He was a good man.


Some thoughts on writing:

Be evenhanded.

Don't hurt anyone's feelings if you can avoid it.



Walk A Mile in Their Shoes

Categories // Genealogy Research


Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile in 1954 and several days later Diane Leather broke the 5 minute mile for women. Huge accomplishments, but how are those times germane to genealogical research? Chances are, you can walk a mile in 15 to 20 minutes and a realistic estimate for a non-runner, is to jog a mile in 10 minutes. Don't trust these estimates. Get in your car, watching the odometer, drive a mile down the street and around the corner. Go home and wearing comfortable shoes, walk that mile and time it. Don't hurry, but don't meander. Your time may be closer to 25 minutes, it may be an uphill course, there might be snow on the road, you may be pushing a stroller, the road may be full of potholes, or it may be raining, lots of situations could slow you down. The same is true in reverse, you could be going downhill, in gorgeous weather, on a flat surface, with great tunes moving you forward and maybe your time may be closer to 10 or 12 minutes.


Five of Nine Breitenstein Brothers

Categories // Genealogy Research

Mara Seirp Breitenstein had an album with this photograph of her husband, John Louis Breitenstein as a little boy. It is one of a multitude of porch pictures taken on that porch. John is the little boy on the horse. My wonderful second cousin, Mara Sprott, send me a scanned copy of this photograph, which I had never seen, since it was taken ca. 1899 in rural Jefferson Co., Kentucky. My grandfather wasn't born yet and isn't in the photo.

Ed Theo Mike Lawrence Elizabeth Mike Jr. and John Breitenstein, Prestonia, Jefferson Co., Kentucky

From left to right, Edward Lorenz, Theodore Peter, Mike Breitenstein Sr. (sitting), Lawrence Jacob, Elizabeth (sitting), Mike Jr. and John Louis Breitenstein on the horse. This photograph ca. 1899, possibly late 1898, is the earliest photo I have seen of this group. I wonder who might have an older one of any of the Breitenstein, Fischer, Bodeman or Meier families from the greater Louisville area?


Education, Education, Education

Categories // Genealogy Research

More than forty-five years ago, my grandmother sent my mom a page from the Citizen Tribune, 28 March 1967, page 3. It was a story about her great-aunts teaching preschool, which was kindergarten for some, in Morristown, Hamblen Co., Tennessee. Luckily for me, my mom saved this and I kept it too.


Ultimate Genealogical Test

Categories // Genealogy Research

Wedding Guest or Gift Lists

I recently came across my grandmother's file of papers from my parents' wedding. The costs of the cakes, reception food and drink, and dress were all in this file along with the lists of presents received at the shower and wedding. Then again was a list of invitees and attendees. All three interesting lists, who was invited, who sent gifts and who came to actual ceremony.


Under the Name of Sanders

Categories // Genealogy Research

Alias, Nickname, Pseudonym or Nom de Plume

If research subjects are not findable under their own names, try their alternates, initials, nicknames, pseudonyms, nom de plume, pen name, alias, nom de guerre, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) name, or performance name. (Two examples of performance names are Vanilla Ice and Fanny Brice were Robert Matthew Van Winkle and Fania Borach).


Eight of Nine Breitenstein Brothers Photo ca. 1906

Categories // Genealogy Research

Proofreading is Hard, Hard Work

I am in the midst of proofreading The Descendants of Jacob and Margaret Gerber Breitenstein of Louisville. As a break, because proofreading is very hard work, I came across a photograph of the family of their seventh son, Michael Henry Breitenstein Sr. ca. 1905 or 1906. At that time, he and Elizabeth Steinmetz Breitenstein had eight sons, Ed, Mike, Theo, John, Lorenz, Herm, Carl and Emil. 


Henritze Christmas 1906

Categories // Genealogy Research

Thomas Lynch Henritze and Louise Noble Fairchild Henritze

My dad's cousin, Dave, sent me some photographs in 1991 of various parts of the T. L. Henritze family, his first four sons, some of his in-laws and a Christmas shot taken in 1906 in Welch, West Va.


Adoption and Genealogy

Categories // Genealogy Research

Cousins are Cousins

My father was an only child and only one of my mom's siblings was married with children. I have very few first cousins. Second cousins abound, including two on my maternal grandmother's side who are adopted. Because my great Aunt Mary's daughter was lucky enough to have two children, adoption has always been in my life. I am not sure when they were adopted, probably when I was three, (hmmm, why have I never asked that or was it an open or a closed adoption? Don't know, didn't ask, it was a non-issue.) They are younger than I am, so they haven't always been in my life, but for sure have always in my memory. When I read the Scholastic Book version of The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss, her adopted family seemed very exotic compared to my cousins, who were run of the mill relatives, just like all my other cousins. I look back on it and it was truly no big deal. Another of my mother's first cousins, adopted a son and then had three more children. Again on my mom's paternal side, one of my second cousins adopted a little girl from Guatemala. Still no big deal.


Memorabilia With a Story

Categories // Genealogy Research

Ephemera with a Story

Family stories,  amazing or amusing? My maternal grandmother passed away in 2000. Amongst a box of her papers, I found a fifty-year-old uncancelled check. On the face of it, no big mystery, a little absurd perhaps to have a check for 24 cents, but still, knowing the background made it even more curious.

Harlan National Bank check Harlan, Kentucky


How to Date a Snapshot

Categories // Genealogy Research

Steinmetz Sisters Snapshot

Finding an old labeled snapshot is so rewarding, because there are hundreds of unlabed specimens in drawers, boxes and albums everywhere.


Antique Touring Car ca. 1909 or 1910

Categories // Genealogy Research

Keep Trying to Date Those Photographs

Like many families, we have studio photographs, snapshots, and now digital photographs galore. Way too many of them are not labeled. However, those that are known might be able to help someone else identify someone or something.

[12 3 4 5  >>  

I would be happy to forward your name, connection, and email if you wish.

Barbara K. Henritze Barbara K. Henritze 06. November, 2016 |

Absolutely! Send a check.

Barbara K. Henritze Barbara K. Henritze 01. September, 2015 |

Shopping Cart

The cart is empty