Friday, March 27, 2015

Finding the Family in My Family Tree

Family History Library
Last week I spent six days in Salt Lake City, home to the Family History Library. As the largest genealogical library in the world, the Family History Library is a dream vacation for genealogists. While many of their microfilms can be loaned to local Family History Centers, the vast array of books held by the library do not circulate. While I traveled by myself, I met up with a small group put together by Family Tree Tours, the same company I traveled with to Germany and Switzerland in the fall of 2013. This was the first time that Kathy Wurth put together this type of a trip, so our group was small - only seven of us altogether, including one couple that I had met on the Germany trip. It was fun to see them again, and reminisce about our past travels. The other three ladies in Salt Lake City were very nice, and I enjoyed eating breakfast and/or dinner with them.

Jim had a meeting in Salt Lake City many years ago, and I accompanied him. While he was in his sessions, I spent several days in the library, so this was actually my second trip there. With advancements in technology, things had changed quite a bit. Many of the films have been scanned for the computers, or at least indexed. I believe all of their compact discs can now be reviewed on computers in the library. That certainly helps expedite the research. While some of their books have been digitized, the vast majority have not. So I spent much of my time looking through their book collections. As an example, I found one of Jim's families in a genealogy book on the Rauch family. The Rauch name does not in the tree that I have put together so far, but apparently one of the Rauch daughters married into the Woerdehoff family, and so a few pages in this book were dedicated to Conrad Woerdehoff. A couple of Woerdehoff sisters married two Wolterman brothers, so I am eager to read more about Conrad. The reference in this book is something I just would not be able to find online anywhere.

My main goal on this trip was to find a definite connection between Thompson Hightower, my three times great-grandfather, and the man I believe to be his father. Online family trees state that his father was George Hightower, Junior, but they give no documentation to support that contention. They all seem to rely on a posting at, where the information for George Hightower, Junior lists his children, including Thompson. The woman made the posting has disabled her email address, so I cannot contact her to see where she came up with her data. There are no birth or death certificates available in Kentucky for the time period when Thompson was born and died. However, on a small success note, I did find Thompson's burial date and location in a book of cemeteries in Kenton county. I knew that he had died prior to 1870 as I could not find him in the census record for that year or later. So at least I now know that he died in August of 1866. His marriage information does not include the names of his parents. His reported father died in Ursa, Illinois and left no will or probate records, so that was a dead-end (pardon the pun) as well. If I can find a positive connection, which is looking slim at this point, the rest of the Hightower family from George, Junior on back is very well documented as they were early pioneers in Virginia in the 1600s. Back at the library, however, it was time to move on.

I next tried to find the ship passenger list for my Kubler family, who emigrated from Switzerland around 1854. I know the approximate year because I saw the paperwork in Switzerland where Josef Kubler paid taxes to the Swiss government in 1854 because he was going to leave the country with his family. He would have left with his family that year or the next year at the latest. His death notice stated that he entered the country through the port of New Orleans. As he died fairly young and his wife would have been the one reporting the information for the death notice, I am fairly confident that New Orleans is correct. Having said that, I looked through all of the New Orleans passengers lists for those years using every possible way of spelling Kubler that I could imagine. I even looked through the "C"s and "Q"s as wild cards. I did not find this family of five. I then moved on to Michael Crusham, my mom's grandfather. On his application for naturalization, he stated that he arrived from Ireland in 1879 at the age of 21. I could not find any information on him either. Strike 3.

James Duffy & Catherine Gorman
Late in the week I switched gears and began looking for someone in my mother-in-law's family. She has often wondered where her Duffy family came from in Ireland. With a name like James Duffy, you might as well be looking for John Smith in the U.S. However, I knew that James Duffy had married Catherine Gorman on April 14, 1856 in Quebec. The library had a book of marriages from St. Paul's Church where they had gotten married. And lo and behold, the book listed not only where James and Catherine were from (Tipperary, Ireland), but the names of both of their parents as well. So I took her back one more generation in her tree. I am not going to lie, I got a little tear in my eye at the discovery!

Overall, it was a good week with some fun people, and I am glad I went on the trip. The weather was absolutely beautiful, with spring a full three weeks or so ahead of St. Louis. There was no rain and temperatures were in the 60s or 70s the entire time I was there.

The Temple & spring flowers
The temple & flowering trees

I wish I had done some things differently before heading to Salt Lake City, and I will be writing a separate post of my suggestions for preparing for and using the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

1 comment:

Mrs. Wryly said...

I think you have some bloodhound in your family tree because you really know how to sniff out and follow a trail! Woof! WOOF!