But, now we have Family Roots Publishing, http://www.familyrootspublishing.com. This is one of the best companies that make some great books and volumes of resources available for those with German ancestry.
|http://www.familyrootspublishing.com, logo, accessed 12 Nov 2016|
Their maps and guides are endless. How do I know? I use them!
You see, when I started family tree research years ago, I started with my Italian/Sicilian family history. At first it seemed to be a challenge, but as I went along I discovered that so much information was available. It was not a challenge any longer, I made great strides with FamilySearch.org, www.familysearch.org, and somehow everything seemed to fall into place. The Italians, as I soon found out, had been very good record keepers.
I know that my husband's family had done some research on his family history....but not on the German, Reif side. His grandmother was a DAR, and yes, lots of papers just fell into my lap (well, not really, but the information came to me with sources, photos and such). However, the German, Reif research was very limited, so I had my work cut out for me.
I really can't point out any one specific source that helped me the most in my research, but so much instruction came from the publications of Family Roots Publishing. Since I started with this company and its offerings, I have made great strides...and, I don't read or speak a lick of German!
Their suggestion to start with death records in the US was fine enough to get me the information that family members were born in the northern counties of Illinois, but not really much more of a boost to my research. The next suggestion was to gather as many marriage records as possible from the siblings of this family, that I had located in northern Illinois. Taking their advice, I searched the indexes of marriage records from several Illinois counties, found the listings that may be clues, and contacted the respective county clerks for marriage return papers. BINGO.
From these records, the spouses mentioned the place of their parents' births. These were spelled phonetically, as I learned when using guides to find where these places were located. The only sure thing was that "Baden" was very plainly written on each one of the files. Using maps, guides, etc. from the list of offerings from Family Roots Publishing, I was able to ascertain the location of Baden, with an old town listing of Weissenstein, now known as Stein. Most of the marriage records that I had received had various spellings of the town..Issenstein, Essingstein, Isingstein, etc.
Finding the Germans to America book , I found a listing for Georg Adam Reif, arriving in 1854, born in 1807, Weissenstein, Baden. YES!!! Things were falling into place. This was the name of the man who was listed in the census data for 30 years, with his wife and children....all who were matched with the death records and marriage records. Further research in the sources used revealed that the old town is currently called Stein. It had merged with two other nearby towns as populations increased.
Looking further for clues, I was searching for this specific arrival of this family...knowing it had to be a family travelling sometime around that 1850 era, whether together or separate. One of the guides gave me a clue to research locations where German people were known to depart from in their journey to America. The clue was that persons from Baden, and the other provinces/areas west of Stuttgart were know to depart from Bremerhaven, among other ports. Great! They set me on a search for departure information from this port.. OK!..There was a website listed that had some information on these emigrants, and after a bit of poking around I found Georg departing with a wife and several children in 1854. Further searches listed the names and ages of the children....and....yes...they matched with the family that I had accumulated in my Illinois searches.
There was one thing that did not look right to me. The age of the wife did not make sense, because she would have been very young to give birth to the first four children of this family. Something was not adding up.
More references from the books and guides from Family Roots Publishing lead me to the family books published by the towns of Germany...a long German name, but in theory, it was the civil records of the families of the town....this being Stein in Baden. The Family History Library did have a copy of this book in their collections in Salt Lake City. Thank goodness, I had a trip planned there and took the information for this book with me.
I have to say that the assistance with finding the book at the SLC Family History Library was awesome, as I had it in my hands within 15 minutes of walking into the place. The book did have an index, and I quickly looked for the name, Georg Adam Reif. There were several pages mentioned....taking one at a time....I found him, AND his entire family, with a special note by the latest mention of him and his brood..."This family left for North America on xxxxday of xxxxmonth of 1854!!!!
To keep things short, as I grazed over the rest of the pages mentioning Georg, I found the names of his parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so on, with their family members...reaching back into the 1600s,.And, the identity of the first wife of Georg Adam Reif, passing away after giving birth to 4 children, and the remarriage of Georg to his second wife, and her family information, too. All of this information had dates attached to each entry, with full names.
This journey was not possible without the clues, information and sources provided by the publications of Family Roots Publishing.
AncestorStuff.com, the company that I own, does not sell or represent the publications of Family Roots Publishing Company. I had such great luck with the information and sources to the clues that helped me to make this journey into the history of the Reif family from Baden. I wanted to alert everyone that would like some assistance in their German Genealogy research...Please look into the resources of this fine company. It gave me such a boost in my planning and research. I know that it can be of great help to anyone else....AND, YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ OR WRITE GERMAN!