13 July 2013

I forgot to look for my great grandmom

I am in a state of disbelief. How could this happen? How could I forget her?

I'm always thinking about genealogy, investing significant amounts of time and money to find my own ancestors, and carefully thinking through the problems. How could I have completely forgotten to look for my great grandmom? She is actually my 4th great grandmom (Veronica Schuermer), but that is no excuse because I have a large 9 generation chart on my wall which I often stop to look at. There she is, one of the remaining lines that stops before the chart stops--my questioning gaze almost ignores her, I set her aside.

I remembered that I had worked on her husband's (Blasius Grein) line not long ago and figured I did not have the information I needed to go any further. I knew that I had extended her husband's line, but just assumed that I did not know where she was from and there is not much to do when you don't know where someone is from. At some point, I found that she and her husband immigrated together with the same surname. That means they got married before coming. Somehow I forgot about this important fact, and was still assuming that I did not know where she was from. When I wrote my July 4th list of immigrants, I started thinking about it again. When I finally realized that Veronica was probably from some place near her husband--if not the same town--I pushed the thought to research her aside, thinking I must have already looked at her husband's town (or else, how could I have found his ancestors?). And, if I looked at her husband's town, I must have looked for her. Although I could not remember doing it, I knew I couldn't have overlooked such a task--at least I thought I knew that.

It turns out that I never did look at the Boxtal, Germany microfilms--a realization that I only had today. I ordered the films a few days ago, but did so still thinking that I was going to be "more" thorough this time, and make sure I take my time in looking for Veronica--not just Blasius' family. I did not realize all of this until I searched my digital genealogy folders, and my e-mails for all mention of the surname Grein. There was very little to be found, and certainly nothing that indicated I had ever searched the Boxtal microfilms. I still had a hard time believing it. How could I possibly forget to look for my great grandmom? I think about my ancestors all the time, and who I can find more about--especially any immigrant lines that are not documented yet.

Then I started to put the pieces together. I read a post that I wrote back in August 2011. My parents and I ordered some films for a close-by town in early 2011 because we knew someone named Blasius Grein appeared there. Many Greins were in those films, but within a few months I found that our Blasius Grein was actually part of the "Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898" collection on FamilySearch.org. That collection revealed that he was from Boxtal. I actually used extractions on FamilySearch to extend the line multiple generations, but it said nothing about Veronica. At the time, I may not have known she was married to him before they moved to the USA. I never ordered the films. I was in college at the time, and became sidetracked. I suppose that I was satisfied with the extracts, and over time I forgot exactly what I had done. In 2012 I visited the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah several times, having much success. At no point during that time did I decide to look at the Grein microfilms. I am not sure why. Perhaps because of the major success for finding other new names, or forgetting about it.

What makes it even more perplexing is that I've spent a couple thousand dollars this year to hire experts in countries of origin and towns that have not been filmed by the LDS FHL. It has been very successful, with hundreds of direct ancestors resulting. I believed that I had exhausted the resources for my German immigrant lines, as far as what has been filmed for Germany and available through the FHLC. This was all based on faulty memory.

I'm not sure that Veronica will be from Boxtal, but at least now I am not working on false assumptions anymore when it comes to her. I know that I can at least start with Boxtal and then look at surrounding parishes. At least now I am back on track.

I have a very similar story that happened to me with another immigrant line, where I never did order the films. This other example was another one that I started to review because of writing my July 4th list. I realized that I had overlooked it so many times, thinking that I must have already viewed the films or something. Needless to say, I've ordered that film too.

I'll let you know how it goes. Moral of the story: even if you are a genealogist 24/7, you might be forgetting one of your relatives. Pull out a 9 generation chart, make a detailed list of certain types of people that you like to research (immigrants, military, etc), and then carefully verify that you really have pursued all the leads that you think you did.

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