Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2013

Once again Jill aka GeniAus has posed another end-of-year geneameme for us. She thinks we’re too tough on ourselves and need to reflect on the positives we’ve achieved in 2013 rather than all the things we wished we’d accomplished. So here’s my response.

2013

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was – no new ones this year but I’ve learned a little more about some like when and how the Dorfprozelten emigrants left Bavaria…but not my George Kunkel (so unusual..not)

2.  A precious family photo I found was not for me, but for Prue from Becoming Prue when I posted a photo of Erle Victor Weis for Remembrance Day – it turned out he was Prue’s 1st cousin, twice removed…talk about coincidences! I also saw photos of some of the early Dorfprozelten descendants at the Zöller/Zeller reunion at Highfields. During my mother’s move mid-year I was given a prayer book which was a gift to my grandmother shortly before she emigrated.

3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was… no new ones this year. I do need to try to find where in Glasgow my great-grandfather Duncan McCorkindale is buried.

4.  An important vital record I found came from a blog reader who shared a brilliant resource he’d acquired in Ireland which I’d never seen despite several visits to local archives etc etc. Not precisely a vital record, but even better given its contextual value in the beginning of the Famine years and shortly after the parish records commence. I’m still waiting on some “copyright” clearances to see if I can disclose more about this wonderful document from Kilseily parish, County Clare. I am indebted to my reader, Morgan, for sharing it with me. Truly an Irish research pot of gold!

Image from Shutterstock.com

Image from Shutterstock.com

5.  A newly found family member who shared: a 4th cousin from my 3xgreat grandmother’s first marriage to Georg Ulrich. In 2012 I traced the family in the US census records, recently Tom commented on my blog and said “your history is part of my history which has been lost”. During last night’s hangout a few of those online mentioned how much pleasure it gave them when they helped someone. I’m so pleased that Tom and I have connected up across the miles. I just wish I could find my George Kunkel’s brother as well - Philip Joseph Kunkel (bapt 17 October 1840) who reputedly also went to “America” (any relatives out there? Anywhere?)

6.  A geneasurprise I received came from a blog reader who shared a brilliant resource he’d acquired in Ireland, yet I’d never unearthed. (See #4) I was over the moon and doing a family history happy jig.

7.   My 2013 blog posts that I was particularly proud of was the Fab Feb Photo Collage series invented by Julie Goucher (she’s a busy woman!) Not only did I enjoy sharing my own 7xUP series with the blogosphere but also rather enjoyed re-reading it myself last night <smile> I’ve also started writing up posts for Julie’s Book of Me series, though I’m rather behind with topics. I also completed the A to Z April challenge for the second time in 2013. This year it was a tour around Oz, with Aussie colloquialisms, which I posted to my Tropical Territory blog. It was a voyage of discovery for me too as I met other bloggers whose interests don’t even include family history – can you imagine?

8.   My 2013 blog posts that received a large number of hits or comments were the two I wrote when our lovely furry friend, Springer, disappeared back in March and then was restored to us on Anzac Day Eve. I was so thankful for the support my friends gave me. I also ventured into the the Sepia Saturday themes this year and got lots of support from fellow Sepians - what a great group they are!

9.  A new piece of software I “mastered” was Google hangouts and Win 8. I’m using Evernote but I wouldn’t like to say I’ve mastered it either.

10. A social media tool I “enjoyed” using for genealogy was Google Hangouts…slowly feeling more comfortable with it and the opportunity to chat with like-minded people around the world.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was the Geniaus Community Hangouts. A bit of a drought locally this year.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave in Darwin during Seniors Month on blogging. People went away clearer about its purpose but only a handful expressed a real on-going interest and one potential blogger. I am also thrilled to have been selected to present a few other papers but as yet they’re still not publicised.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was: nada, but this blog did make the Inside History Top 50 again in 2013 – thanks Jill Ball and Inside History, another happy dance <smile>.

14. I taught a friend how to…<mind blank>…I shared lots of stuff and discoveries on the blog but person-to-person, does that count? Blogging friends certainly taught me lots over the year!

15. A genealogy history book that has already taught me something new is one of my Christmas presents (yes I’m already into it!), Sending Out Ireland’s Poor by Gerard Moran. I think it’s going to offer lots of learning.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Anglican Archives in Brisbane (currently residing at Bowen Hills, not far from the Exhibition Grounds. A fantastic resource!

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Not the Same Sky by Evelyn Conlon. I was especially interested in the idea that the immigrants silenced thoughts, and mentions, of “home”. Why not read Carole Riley’s review?

18. It was exciting to meet County Clare Facebook coordinator extraordinaire, Chris Goopy, again for a lovely long chat in Brisbane. I’m also looking forward six weeks to when I meet some fellow fanatics genealogists, great bloggers and excellent presenters on the 4th Unlock the Past Cruise in southern Australia.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was…well it was indirect but I unearthed lots of interesting family bits and pieces when I helped my mother move to a retirement home. Meeting an enthusiastic bunch of Zeller descendants at their reunion was also great fun, mitigated by the recent death of the man who’d done so much to bring them together, Paul Davis.

20. Another positive I would like to share is the growth in interest by the Dorfprozelten descendants, many of whom are beavering away at their own families; building networks; sharing a Zöller family reunion, and establishing a facebook group for the Dorfprozelten Descendants.

21. I’m thrilled to be one of the Official Bloggers for the 4th Unlock the Past Cruise, and look forward to sharing some of the excitement with you via my blog posts. Just imagine 245 enthusiasts in one place listening to great talks…woohoo!

This year was more about my living relatives: spending a holiday in Africa with two of our adult daughters, several trips to Brisbane including helping Mum move, and other family engagements. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the living take precedence over the long-gone ancestors.

I expect I’ll be doing a more critical review of my year before the year is out but thank you Jill, for encouraging us to be more affirmative in how we view what we’ve achieved over the past 12 months.

C19th Dorfprozelten emigrants in “America” Part 2

Now that I’ve set the scene for this Bavarian family’s lives, and deaths, we can turn to their American experiences.  No doubt there’ll be more to come but I wanted to publish yesterday’s discoveries while it’s fresh in my mind.

Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.

C19th Dorfprozelten Emigrants in “America”

Instead of single-mindedly pursuing Philip/Joseph/Philip Joseph Kunkel, this time I turned my searches to George Mathias Kunkel’s half-brother’s children, the Ulrichs. I’d known that two of them emigrated to the States thanks to the local history of Dorfprozelten[i]. My theory was that perhaps if I found them I’d also find a link to Philip Kunkel (good luck with that!).

Bertha Ulrich and husband William Kuhn

There is still a Kuhn Metzgerei (Butcher’s) opposite the site of the Happ’s inn, Das Goldene Fass, but now a bank.

I started out tracing Bertha Ulrich and her husband William Kuhn and found them easily enough in the US census records living in Syracuse, New York.

Now I’d heard of Syracuse but honestly didn’t know where it was precisely so of course there was a quick trip to Google maps (next stop Google Earth). I hadn’t realised how close it was to the Great Lakes and Canada. The local history told me they’d had six sons which was confirmed by progressive censuses, but so far I’ve found no mention of their daughter who died aged six, presumably in an inter-censal period. The photo of Wilhelm/William Kuhn in the US gives every appearance of a successful man. This is borne out by the census details.

William’s father was a butcher (Metzger) in Dorfprozelten and their house was almost directly across from the Happ’s inn[ii]. These days there’s still a sign for a Kuhn butcher’s shop but the inn no longer exists, replaced by a bank in the 1960s or 1970s. William Kuhn followed his father’s occupation working as a butcher in the market.

Doing a Google search I came across links to newspaper articles on the Newspaper Archive site. This was the second time in a couple of days that I’d wound up here so decided I’d best follow up the nudge, and signed up. It has proven to be very helpful for some notices and there are no doubt more tucked away when I persist with trickier searches. The site’s terms and conditions preclude you doing almost anything with the information apart from reading the articles in a dark room on your lonesome, so I can’t (on my current reading) add as much as I’d like here, though I’ve emailed for clarification.

When you come across sites like this you realise just how great, and unique, Australia’s Trove site is. Not only is it free, accurate, highlights the precise wording and is easy to use, you aren’t as limited by terms and conditions. However it is curmudgeonly to complain when you have no opportunity to read newspapers from far away.

Without going into the prohibited detail the obituary for William Kuhn confirmed that he had been a successful butcher for over 50 years, gelling with the census. It refers to his brothers Ludwig and John Kuhn, both in the States, and his sister Marie Seus in Germany.[iii] Ludwig’s migration is not listed in the Dorfprozelten history so is new information both in terms of this story as well as the local history in Bavaria. William and Bertha Ulrich had 5 children in 1900, all surviving[iv]. They were Joseph P Kuhn, William Kuhn, Jacob G Kuhn, John P Kuhn and George Kuhn. At the time of the census William’s brother John (Jacob) was living with them and also working as a butcher. They were living at 208 Jackson St, Syracuse, not far from Bertha’s sister Josephine of whom more anon.

The William Kuhn and Beuttner families lived in the same street which appears to have been affected by the freeway. Image from Google Earth.

John Jacob Kuhn and Ida Rippberger

The Dorfprozelten history reveals that John was uncertain about his migration and returned to Germany before emigrating once again to the States. He married a Stadtprozelten woman, Ida Rippberger, and had two daughters. So far I haven’t pursued this family in the records as they are part of my general Dorfprozelten interest rather than my specific family research.

Josephine Ulrich and Peter Buettner

Further searching for Bertha Kuhn’s obituary has been unsuccessful so far, but turned up another Dorfprozelten link: the death of Josephine Ulrich, eldest of the children of Georg Jacob Ulrich and Elisabeth Fermbach. Josephine Buettner nee Ulrich died in March 1916, a few weeks before her uncle George Mathias Kunkel in Australia[v]. The obituary confirmed that brother Jacob and sister Bertha had also emigrated but revealed the migration of another brother, Lothar, living in Niagara Falls. Lothar had appeared in the Dorfprozelten history only as “Kind” (Child) b March 1858.[vi]

The various US census reports Josephine living with her husband Peter Buettner (aka Buttner), and children Bertha, Lizzie, Peter, August, George and A(u)gusta. They lived at 307 Jackson Street, Syracuse.[vii] At the time of the 1900 census Peter Buettner was working in real estate. They had been married 27 years and all eight of their children were still alive. On the census documents Josephine records that she arrived in America in 1873. Peter was also German and had arrived in 1869. He had been naturalised but I’ve yet to pursue that thoroughly.

George Jacob Ulrich

George Jacob emigrated circa 1883, following his sister Bertha, and as we now know, his sister Josephine and brother Lothar.

George (aka Jacob), born 13 May 1865, was known to have married an “Englishwoman” and while we don’t know her surname, the census reveals that her first names were Mary E.  She had been born in England and her father was English but her mother was Irish. George and Mary also lived in Syracuse at 310 Jackson Street in 1910 and at 519 Tallman St in 1930.  George was (another) butcher working in the markets. He was also naturalised. George and Mary had no children from their marriage.

Lothar Ulrich

402 Cedar Ave, Niagara Falls. Google Earth satellite view.

Lothar Ulrich was a totally unexpected ring-in as his existence wasn’t even known. It appears that he was the child born in May 1858 as this reconciles with the census details. Lothar had ventured a little farther than his siblings and was living at Niagara Falls. The Falls have been a low priority on my bucket list, but that may change with these discoveries!

Lothar also had a large US-born family and had obviously established himself successfully in his new country after arriving circa 1881. The census tells us he worked as a master brewer, which is an interesting diversion from other family traditions which focus on butchering or hospitality. Perhaps it too was a skill he learned before leaving Bavaria.

Lothar’s wife, Anna E, was the same age as him and also came from Germany. They had seven children of whom six survived (assuming my reading of the form is correct): Adolph J, Richard, Jacob L, William and Augusta. They also had their grandson Frederic Clock/Klock living/staying with them at different times. Lothar appears to have died between 1920 and 1925. This family lived for many years at 402 Cedar Avenue, Niagara Falls.

The city directories tend to reaffirm the information found on census records including whom the wives are, and where they all lived.

The white house appears to be 402 Cedar Avenue and looks likely to have been the one Lothar Ulrich’s family lived in.

Where to from here?

Well that’s lots of loopholes to close and questions to answer but at last I’ve made a start, and successfully tracked down some of these 19th century emigrants from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria to the United States. Many of them are related to my family through my 3xgreat grandmother Eva Catharina Happ later Ulrich then Kunkel. I’m hoping that by posting about these families I may flush out some distant cousins who can share information. So if you’re related to any of these families I’d love to hear from you.

There are two of George Kunkels’ nieces who remain unaccounted for: Maria Augusta (b 21 February 1856 and Ernestina Veronika (b 24 February 1863). Did they die young although not shown as such in the local history? Did they marry and move within Germany? Did they too emigrate, and if so where?

Was my ancestor George Mathias Kunkel the only member of his family to make the great migration voyage to Australia? How did he get here, given that 26 years of research have failed to turn up an answer?

Meanwhile I’m none the wiser about the elusive Philip Joseph Kunkel born 1840 in Dorfprozelten. If your US or Canadian ancestor fits the bill, please do get in touch. I’d love to see if the family tale is true.

I have found a number of trees on Ancestry which relate to these families, and have contacted the owners. It will be interesting to see what the next few days bring.

I am greatly indebted to Georg Veh and the other local researchers in Dorfprozelten for the background to this story. If you have Dorfprozelten heritage please leave a comment so I can give you the details on ordering their excellent local histories.


[i] Dorfprozelten am Main, Teil II. Veh, G. 2002.

[ii] House #52 in the Dorfprozelten book, ibid.

[iii] Syracuse Herald 28 December 1939, page 6 column 2 per the Newspaper Archive.

[iv] His obituary lists his sons, adding one who does not appear on the census (Albert E) and omitting another (George) as well as his daughter Augusta.

[v] Syracuse Herald 6 March 1916, page 8 per the Newspaper Archive.

[vi] Dorfprozelten op cit, page 143.

[vii] 1900 US federal census.

C19th Emigrants from Dorfprozelten to “America” Part 1

Yesterday I was out on the back deck nearly all day chasing research rabbits down the hole. Today I’m driven inside by the pounding rain –the first of the season. Woo Hoo! (writing this and posting have taken me into yet another day and now it’s just HUMID!).

Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.

It’s been ages since I’ve put my nose to the research grindstone and yesterday involved some new learning as I ventured into the US records properly for the first time. I’ve been dabbling from time to time trying to find my 2x great grandfather’s brother, Philip Joseph Kunkel born 1840, but without conclusive success. Yesterday’s sleuthing started with Chris Paton’s blog alert on the release of New York Naturalisations.

A little background

George Mathias Kunkel’s mother was Eva Catharina (Catherine) Happ, whose family had lived in the village of Dorfprozeltenon the River Main, Bavaria and owned an inn, Das Goldene Fass, there for at least 100 years. Her first marriage was to a man called Georg Jakob Ulrich from nearby Stadtprozelten. They had surviving children Maria Ludovika (died aged 23), Josefa Gertrud (married Haun), Jacobina, Karl (died aged 22) and Jacob August. Three other children had died in infancy as was quite common in the village at the time. Georg Ulrich died quite young, aged only 34, leaving Catharina a widow, again not uncommon.

A postcard of Das Goldene Fass mid-20thC. Kindly provided to me by Georg Veh, local historian.

Das Goldene Fass before its demolition for a bank. Image kindly provided by Georg Veh.

Unusually Catharina did not remarry quickly (a few months later was typical), perhaps because she had more economic autonomy through being the owner of the inn.

Her second marriage was to Adam Kunkel from a village called Laufach in the Spessart Forest region. Their surviving children were Georg Mathias (my ancestor, b 1834) and his brother Philip Josef (b 1840). It’s perhaps worth noting that in this part of Bavaria (very Catholic), baptism typically occurred on the same day as births unless the birth was late in the day.

The Laufach church and a historical Bavarian display. P Cass 2003.

The family story in Australia has always been that one son came here and one (or two) went to “America”. As Philip Joseph Kunkel disappears from the Dorfprozelten church records I’ve assumed (yes, I know!) that he’s the one I’m searching for…far easier today, in theory, than it was in the pre-internet era.

Catharina’s eldest son, Jacob August Ulrich, inherited the family’s inn, Das Goldenes Fass, while my ancestor, Georg Mathias, emigrated to Australia. Jacob married Elisabeth Firmbach circa 1851 (perhaps the impetus for George to migrate?). Thanks to the local history and the generous local historian, Georg Veh, I know their children were Josephine, Georg Jacob (died in infancy), Maria Augusta, a child (of whom more later), Bertha, Ernestine Veronika, Georg Jacob and Karl (died in infancy).

Of these I knew that Bertha had emigrated c1881 to the US where she married a Dorfprozelten man, William Kuhn. Brother Georg Jacob followed her c1882 and married an “Englishwoman”.

Tragedy struck this family in a big way in 1868 when, within months, four of the family died from lung disease (Lungensucht), perhaps TB? Jacob died on 19 June, son Karl on 1 July, Jacob’s wife Elisabeth on 20 August, and his mother Catharina on 15 October. What a terrible time for the remaining family as they lost one loved one after another.

Yesterday’s research revealed a new discovery: Jacob and Elisabeth’s eldest daughter had also emigrated, circa 1873, only five years after her parents’ death. What became of the surviving four children, two still under ten, is unknown, presumably they were cared for by other family members, aunts or uncles since their Kunkel/Happ/Ulrich grandparents were also dead.

What happened to the Happ family’s inn? After Jacob August’s death it was taken over by August Ulrich, possibly Catharina and Georg Ulrich’s youngest son, though the birth dates don’t gel. In 1930 the family sold the inn and for the first time in two hundred years it moved out of the Happ descendancy.

I am greatly indebted to Georg Veh and the other local researchers in Dorfprozelten for the background to this story. If you have Dorfprozelten heritage please leave a comment so I can give you the details on ordering their excellent local histories.

This post looked like being two much to digest unless split into two parts so Part 2 is for the American discoveries.

Next post: Across the Pond: the American connection. 

Fearless Females: Day 16 – Lunch with Catherina Kunkel in Das Goldene Fass in Dorfprozelten

My ancestor, 3x great grandmother Eva Catherina Kunkel nee Happ, was a descendant of a family dynasty which owned an inn in the Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten for at least 200 years. I would love to have lunch with her in her own inn, Das Goldene Fass. (I’m working on the whole time-travel-is-possible thing as the inn was demolished in the mid-20th century). She’s not really famous but in my family tree she is pivotal as she links the Australian branches and the Bavarian branches and could answer so many questions for me.A postcard of Das Goldene Fass mid-20thC. Kindly provided to me by Georg Veh, local historian.

It was Catherine’s son, Georg Mathias, who emigrated to Australia in the 1850s and started our Australian line. I would love to get her insights into so many things that affected her family. Why did her son leave home? Was it truly because of the risk of military service? How did she feel to see him leave the village, knowing it was likely she’d never see him again? Was he jealous perhaps that his step-brother inherited the inn? Did Georg’s brother Philip Joseph Kunkel really emigrate to the United States? Or was that after her sudden death? Did Georg write to her after he left home and did she know that he had married an Irish woman and had a big, healthy family. Did he tell her if he was happy in his new country? I really hope he didn’t regret giving up so much and making his life here.

In Bavaria, the family inn regularly hosted tourists to their village and I wonder if her son spoke some English before he left home. I wrote a hypothetical story of his last day in the village. I’d love to ask her if this was just a romantic view of what might have happened or if he did any of these things? She was there when the 60+ men, women and children left Dorfprozelten for Australia.  I wonder how the loss of these people affected the small village: she would be able to tell me this, and the gossip about all those who left.

I’d have so many questions she might regret that we were lunching together, but I hope not. Would she see any physical resemblance between me and her own family. My daughter says I have “big German hands”, so perhaps she would.

The local history of the village tells me something of the menu for the inn at other times, so I’d expect we’d drink the local white wine from its distinctive Bochsbeutel wine bottle. We’d likely have fresh pike cooked with cardamom and mustard, salmon prepared with lemon, special beer, home-made apple-wine, bacon, roast pork and varieties of home-made sausage.[1] I’d love to tell her that George had brought those traditions with him, and that some had become part of his Australian family’s Christmas celebrations.

After a meal like that, and our lengthy conversation, I hope Catherine would let me stay overnight. It would be wonderful to sleep in the deep beds with their fluffy eiderdowns and feather pillows! And in the morning it would be wonderful to awaken to the smell of the freshly-baked bread and pastries from the neighbouring bakery. Or perhaps I’d awaken to discover it was all just a wonderful dream.

This post is inspired by Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog and her Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.


[1] Veh, G. Dorfprozelten Teil II. pp. 193-195.

From Dorfprozelten to Australia – new blog

When I started this blog two years ago, one of the pages tabbed under the image was “Dorfprozelten, Bavaria”. This has easily been the single biggest “hitter” on my blog, no doubt aided by the unusual name bringing it up in Google searches. It’s attracted quite a number of people with ancestry from this little village in Bavaria and it’s been a means of connecting up those researching the same families.

In the greater scheme of Australia’s migration, they are a small group – some 62 individuals in 23 family groups or alone. However the loss of these individuals, mainly over a couple of short years, must have been severely felt in their home town. They are also a little different from the general Australian perception of German immigrants, as they were Catholics not Lutherans. The majority of them were family units who arrived under New South Wales’s vinedresser assisted migration scheme. A smaller number arrived as individuals mainly contracted to work as shepherds before they arrived here.

I’ve been researching these emigrants from Dorfprozelten to Australia for about 10 years, initially in the hope they’d lead me to my George Kunkel’s arrival information. I’d also I noticed that land owners around his property in the Fifteen Mile near Murphys Creek, Queensland shared some of the same names as the Dorfprozelten immigrants. Over the years I’ve managed to confirm the connection between these families, which was largely lost to the descendants of these families. Even my reliable oral history from George’s grand-daughter suggested the families were just neighbours.

Also over the years I’ve slowly accumulated quite a bit of information on these families. I have more on those who came to Queensland (then called Moreton Bay and part of New South Wales) and less on the New South Wales immigrants. This is mainly an access issue – I’m more often in Brisbane near the Queensland archives than I am in Sydney.

For all these reasons I’ve launched another new blog called From Dorfprozelten to Australia where I’ll draw these stories together. Although the focus is on Australia I would certainly be keen to hear from anyone whose ancestors emigrated from Dorfprozelten – I know that over the years many emigrants left the village for “America”, be that USA or Canada.

One of these immigrants may be my ancestor’s brother Philip Joseph Kunkel, or perhaps Joseph Philip Kunkel, born 1840. Family stories throughout all the branches say a brother went to America and I think it likeliest he was the emigrant as he disappears from the church records. I’d really love to hear from anyone who might be descended from him.

I suspect the new blog will mainly be of interest to those with Dorfprozelten ancestry but may also interest researchers with a Bavarian background though I am unable to help with that in any specific way.