Below is a client’s fascinating story on how the past connects to the present.
Back in August, my cousin’s wife contacted me. Her mother and her aunt had been trying to replace their naturalization papers for years. They have also been trying to renew their driver’s licenses and get passports since the attacks on 9/11.
They were not able to write checks or travel anywhere, etc. The problem has been the lack of documentation of their immigration from Latvia to the USA in 1949. Their names were missing from the ship’s manifest and courthouse clerks who she contacted told her they did not have a record of them, they were not listed at Ellis Island. It was like they didn’t exist.
It all started in 1940. The first Soviet occupation started after this immigrant’s marriage and when she was just 19 years old. It ended a month after her first child was born. With her mother-in-law and young family in tow, they were forced from Jelvaga, Latvia to Schneidemühl, Germany in 1944. The Schneidemühl Labour Office sent them to Landsberg, Germany. In December of 1944, they had their second daughter. It was so cold where they lived that the 6 weeks old lost all her fingernails and toenails.
In January of 1945, they fled Landsberg, approaching the front, towards Bamberg, Germany, and were sent by the labor office to work on a farm in Stucht, Germany, receiving food and an apartment. She and her husband worked there until June 18, 1945. That same month they went to Erlangen, Germany and she worked for an American family. That’s where their fortunes turned.
In 1946 she began work in a US Army Officer’s Mess as a waitress. Through the sponsorship of a Lutheran Church Council, they were able to make the trip to America where the Lutheran minister arranged for the grandfather’s employment in Illinois. All in all, they moved 27 times until reaching the United States. They arrived in New York in 1949.
My cousin contacted me for help. All they really asked me to do was to verify the ship the family was on and what port they arrived in. However, I was able to do so much more. I was able to locate 25 perfectly clear documents: scanned copies of the original immigration cards for her entire family, the amended ship manifest with their names on it, her grandparent’s work application, written notes about the camp in Germany they were in, and how they had to flee Latvia, even the list of items their suitcases when they arrived. One such picture is
My cousin-in-law’s mother has since received her naturalization record and we now have the information we need to help her aunt obtain a passport.
See my bio, profile, or website for more information on how I can help you connect your present to the past.
It has been a gorgeous weekend here in Florida. As I write this, it is 10:00 am EST and 75 degrees outside. I spent the earlier part of the morning on the porch with coffee, my mom, and my dog. The breeze was blowing and the birds were singing their tunes.
Mom and I both started cleaning up a bit outside, clearing out weeds and dead brush. It was great being in the fresh air and moving the body! I repotted and planted some of the hardier plants and had to refrain from doing any more. Our last frost date isn’t until March 15 so I am wary about putting out anything more. Although, this weather makes it seem like Spring has sprung!
This weekend was the RootsTech 2021 conference. RootsTech by FamilySearch is an annual family history/genealogy and technology event held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This year, it went virtual! And, free! That means that I could join and join I did.
I took a personal day Friday to attend. I was able to join lectures and add on-demand items to my playlist. There are classes in several different languages, even sign language.
I watched live presentations and learned all kinds of tips and tricks. Interacting with others who share my passion was an awesome experience. Keeping on top of the ever-growing technology is constant. This conference is the best at helping you do that. The things I learned will definitely help me with my research, for myself, and for others.
Having this three-day weekend has been wonderful at keeping me in touch with my two loves. From the outside trees (gardening) to the inside trees (family history). It is good for my soul and great for mental health.
Don’t forget, I now offer Family History Packages to help you with your family history. Whether you want a little help to do your own research or need someone else to research for you. I can assist. There are packages for everyone. If you cannot find one that suits your needs, email me, and let’s come up with a package custom-made for you.
It’s hard to believe I haven’t written a blog in months, but as we all know, this has not been a banner year. However, I did not want this wondrous holiday to go by without wishing my followers a very Merry Christmas. I truly hope that you are well. I hope that you are taking care of your mental well being, as well as your physical well being. Find something that makes you smile and forget the outside world. Put the weather alert on your smartphone, then stay away from the news, even for a little bit.
I have a few clients I will be doing some work for, but I hope that I can find time to blog also. So, stay tuned. Don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook too.
I hope that the new year is kinder and gentler, less stressful and more joyful. Thank you for following me.
Hello followers! It has been many months since I have written. I could blame it on the virus, and I will. It did start because of Covid-19. When the students from my school were sent home in March, I had additional admin duties. Yes, I was blessed because I was considered “essential” and was able to work many hours from home, but I was swamped.
Being home, I spent a lot of time in my yard and garden in between having to be on the computer. I started concentrating on the garden as it reduced my stress level. I have blogged about this before; gardening helps you forget the world’s problems and be in the moment. If you want to follow my trials and tribulations with my “yarden”, follow me at @marleesyardening on Instagram.
I also wrote an article for Family Tree (U.K.), and it was published this month. You can read it here (although it looks much better in the magazine itself!) My Wolcott Family, I hope you enjoy it. You can also follow my Loganalogy posts at @Loganealogy on Instagram or @Loganealogy on Facebook.
Recently, I was able to help my cousin’s wife’s family with her mother’s history. Here is their story.
“Both my mom and my Aunt have been trying to replace their U.S. naturalization papers for years. After 9/11, they haven’t been able to renew their driver’s licenses, which means they can’t write a check, travel anywhere, etc. The problem has been the lack of documentation of their immigration from Latvia to the U.S. in 1949. Their names were missing from the ship’s manifest, the courthouse clerks I contacted told me they didn’t have a record of them, they weren’t listed at Ellis Island. It was like they didn’t exist. We consulted an immigration attorney, worked with Senator Bill Nelson’s office and spent countless hours on the phone with USCIS and the local USCIS field office. Aunt Roz was going through the same nightmare in California… she hired an immigration attorney, etc. Nothing.
A few weeks ago, we decided to ask Matt’s cousin Marlee, a genealogy consultant, for help. All we asked her to do was to verify the ship the family was on and what port they arrived. Last week, Marlee sent us 25 perfectly clear documents: scanned copies of the original immigration cards for my entire family, the amended ship manifest with their names on it, my grandparent’s work application, written notes about the camp in Germany they were in, and how they had to flee Latvia, even the list of items in my mom’s suitcase when she arrived. My Aunt and I were both in tears when we received it all. We are kicking ourselves for not seeking Marlee’s help sooner, but we are so thankful we finally did.”
I am happy to say that you’ll be hearing from me more often as I help others discover their roots and find connections, especially my own. If you know of anyone who would like help building their family tree, let me know.
Hello Followers. I wanted to check in with you since I have not written a blog in quite some time. The last real blog was March 19, so almost a month now. Like you, my family has been self-isolating. Not only from the virus but the crazier people who do not think it is a serious threat.
My son and I are both essential works so we have been working except for my Easter vacation. I am working four hours in the office and four hours at home. My son works all day in the warehouse. Neither of our companies allows outside visitors. We are both very careful as my mother, who is in her late 70s, lives with us.
Since I am working from home I have not had a lot of the extra family history time I see a lot of people talking about. But, I have tried to take advantage of the free sites and free records that have become available. It’s funny, some of the records I have run across have names that I could have used a couple of years ago. But, now I at least know I am on the right track.
I did have success with my 80 year old uncle’s tree. Back on Thanksgiving he was telling me about his brick wall with his grandparents on his mother’s side. Her father seems to have disappeared after deserting her and her brothers. The name he always went by with this family seems to actually be a nickname. In tracing the date of birth and his birthplace, we tracked down what we think is his real name.
With the help of the West Virginia Archives and History Library, we followed these coincidences and found all kinds of information on his family. But, until we find a document where he uses his nickname along with his real name, we cannot be 100% sure it is him. Or, until we can find some DNA matches. Once we entered his real name into our database, a whole slew of information and family members popped up. Including others on their public trees who seemed to have come to the same conclusion. And, here’s the kicker, it seems there is another family who this man deserted…under his real name. We hope to connect to this family to find some answers.
I’ve also been doing a lot of gardening, my other great passion. We had some umbrella palms start to take over so we had them pulled out, by the root balls. Little did I know a few years after I planted them, they would become evasive! They loved the wet clay soil, too much! I’ve since been filling the spaces in with some organic matter from my compost pile. I’ve also added a few pieces of cardboard and will mulch and soil over that. It’s like having a blank canvas to start planting in.
And, my flowers are blooming. Always a welcome sight and lifts the spirits. My garden is defintely a great boost for my mental health.
I cannot seem to concentrate enough to pull an ancestor story together for a blog, but I did want to check-in. I hope that you and your family are safe and well. As our ancestors did from their pandemics, this too shall pass.
The last couple of weeks have been busy! Sure, I am busy working my full-time job, but my dabblings with my family history, as well as other’s family history, have kept me hopping.
However, this makes it all worthwhile.
This young girl is my true young protégé! She is so very excited, as are her mother and grandparents. Showing her documents and how to read them has been amazing. It helps that she is smart as a whip.
We use Zoom, video conferencing, where I can annotate, share our screens, and make notes on a whiteboard. She has genuinely picked up on chasing the leads and picking apart the information in the records.
Johann Henrich Heilig is my 6th great grandfather. He was born in in 1700 and married Susanna De Wees Rittenhausen in 1729. I wrote about the Rittenhouse family and their papermills here. Also, join the Rittenhouse Family Descendants and Friends Facebook page and learn about all the wonderful things they are doing to preserve the Rittenhouse legacy. There is a Rittenhouse Town Board of Directors. They also manage the Homestead House (1707) and the other houses in the village, as well as a Barn that was built during WPA and the grounds.
Some historians place Henrich’s birthplace as Hannover, German. But, other more recent historians say it is Baden-Wuerttenburg, Germany. Johann arrived in Philadelphia in 1720 on the ship “Polly.” Ships were not required to furnish a list of passenger names until 1727. Since their names are not shown on any lists after 1727, they must have arrived prior. Most information I have found says 1720.
Records state his Naturalization was on 11 Apr 1747. According to the Pennsylvania Archives. The requirements at the time were that they had to be a resident of the colonies for 7 years.
Henry, as he was now called, was by trade a clockmaker. It was a skilled and respected profession. At that time, clocks were for navigation and surveying, as well as time keeping.
Henry and Susanna lived first in Cheltenham. And, bought parcels of land in 1749 and 1750. It was on the boarders of Pennsburg and Upper Hanover Townships in Montgomery County. This land was from William Parsons who was a surveyor for the Penns. The homestead passed from Henrich to his son George. George passed it on to his son George Jr. and finally passed to the Hoch family in the 1860s. The house remains in the Hoch family today.
Prior to 1684, the Lenape Indians roamed the hills and fished the streams of the land on either side of the Perkiomen Creek. In 1684, the Indians lost this land when William Penn purchased it for reportedly “two watch coats, four pairs of stockings and four bottles of cider”. In time, Pennsylvania Germans settled in the area. Around 1840, the area now know as Pennsburg began to take on the appearance of a village. The hub consisted of a general store, a carpenter and blacksmith shop and several houses.
Most of the land was owned by the Heilig Brothers. They owned and resided in the oldest house in Pennsburg located at Seminary and Fourth Streets. The Heilig Brothers took it upon themselves to refer to this village as “Heiligsville”. Residents had their own ideas, and out of loyalty to the then Pennsylvania Senator, James Buchanan, wanted to name the area Buchanansville.
As the village grew in size, a meeting was held in 1843 at the Hilleg’s family store to decide on a permanent name and lay out boundary lines. After a week long bitterly contested battle, it was finally decided to name the village “Pennsburg” after William Penn.
Henrich and Susannah had five children:
i. Heinrich Heilig, b. 1722 , ii. Jurg George Heilig, b. 1720; d. 1796, Upper Hanover Township., iii. Johannes Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.). iv. Anna Maria Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.), m. Michael Slonaker., v. Susanna Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.), b. 1726; m. Henry Deany.
Johannes or John changed the surname to Highley. The other children kept the German spelling of Heilig.
Henry is even listed in the U.S., Craftperson Files, 1600-1995.
Henry was buried along with this wife in the mostly Rittenhouse family cemetery, Methacton Mennonite Cemetery. Click here for a partial list of burials with links to tombstone photographs. Henrich’s and Susannah’s are below. This cemetery is located in Worcester Township, Montgomery County, PA.
There is a wonderfully thorough history written by Linton E. Love, a descendant of the Rittenhouse family. In it are the descendancts of Henry and Susannah. Linton has created a database and another database extending from the 17th century up to the 21st century from Claus to his 12,810 descendants as of March 2005!