This blog is one of a series of blogs by staff of Lineages so that you can know a little bit about us and what brought us to this point in our genealogy journey. The first blogs were by the owner, Richard Price in 2022 and the next one in February 2023 by Andre Bagley, our clerical director.
I am Diane Rogers, office manager and research coordinator for Lineages and my genealogy journey began in two ways. First, I attended a Sunday School class in Arizona that had a course about family history which piqued my interest at the young age of 13. Second, my mother had a profound influence which is very appropriate to mention this weekend of Mother’s Day. My mother had a great interest in her family roots and began writing letters to relatives. She established firm contact with many of them which blessed me in later years when I wrote requesting information. She also began visiting the local Family History Center with a desire to learn more of her Swedish roots. She was not able to “cross the pond” with any of her ancestors, but she laid a firm foundation and base of information. In high school, I did little things to learn how to research and discovered the IGI and censuses and other beginner books and tools. I had a great desire to major in Genealogy in college, but it was not offered at the time I attended Brigham Young University. Still, I attended classes, learned basics, and put into practice everything learned. While stationed in England with the Air Force, hours were spent pouring over ancestral names and places in an effort to solve problems. Many letters were written requesting information and making specific requests to family members to do searches in records not accessible overseas. I took advantage of learning about my English ancestors while there and visited St Catherine’s house many times to obtain records. St Catherine’s House is where vital records for England were kept at that time. Eventually, when back in the United States, there were conferences to attend and local family history centers to visit. My learning was gradual but effective since it was hands on learning all along the way with experts placed in my pathway.
My ancestry is replete with immigrants in the late 1700s and 1800s from Sweden, Germany, and England. Crossing the pond became a major focus and each hurdle was resolved through study, effort, and miracles. A few of these stories will be related here.
Thomas Hallam, born 1837 in England, was all we knew about my great-great grandfather. So, I began writing letters to the relatives my mother had established contact with who still lived in the area where Thomas settled in Pennsylvania. One very elderly cousin happened to find in an old Family Bible, a copy of Thomas’ obituary which named a sister in Ohio and a more specific birth date with a general place of birth in Manchester, England. While visiting the Family History Library in Salt Lake, I took this information and pursued him with vigor in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. He was, at last, found with his sister on the census. This led to further information on Thomas’ parents, siblings, and other family members. But it all started with letter writing and an obituary.
What was known about great grandfather, Joseph Steinbeigle (Steinbüchel), was that he was born about 1877 in Germany, immigrated to the United States with his parents, married his English wife in Bibb County, Alabama and then later settled in Franklin County, Illinois. His parents, Conrad and Franziska, briefly went to Illinois and then off to California. Joseph’s Spanish-American War record was first found naming Kõln, Germany as his place of birth, but he could not be found in records of that area. While studying records in the Bibb County area, I looked at cemetery records and found Herman Steinbüchel buried as a child. He was a brother to Joseph. I studied other records in the area, including marriages for those with a similar last name and came across another Steiinbüchel; Francis, who married John Funken. I researched her and discovered she and John also went to Illinois and then she disappeared from the census and other records. Where did she go? I searched and pondered and finally, disappointed, went to bed. With all these thoughts racing through my head, one came distinct and prominent, “she went back to Germany.” I ran to the computer and searched ship passenger lists. I had already searched early ones for her and Joseph but had not been successful. This time I searched later passenger lists after the time I lost her in Illinois. And, there she was, coming BACK from Germany with all her children. Since this record was in the 1900s, it provided the town she just left as well as her birth place. Since microfilm was not available for this area, letters were written to appropriate places and birth records found for her, my great grandfather, Joseph, and the marriage of their parents. It put me on the path to the extension of this pedigree for many generations. This hurdle was breached by searching for other possible relatives.
Third great-grandfather, Caspar Kühnreich, was born about 1768 in Germany and came to Pennsylvania in the late 1700s. Nothing was known about his origins in Germany, so an in-depth search was made for him and his children in Lancashire County, Pennsylvania and on his descendants. A great deal of information was learned through church records, land records and probate. This was all posted in Public Member Trees on Ancestry.com which was before the advent of FamilySearch.org. One day, I received an email from a man in Germany who had seen the information I posted on Ancestry and he wrote, “if you will send me your information on the descendants of Caspar Kühnreich, I will send you his ancestors back to 1500.” And so, since I had the descendants of Caspar Kühnreich, I quickly sent all I had and received files of information on this ancestor and, eventually, a book on the descendants of Nicol Kühnreich, born 1495 in Bräunsdorf, Germany. This gold mine was begun by seeking descendants and ensuring it was available on line for others to view.
Finally, the Swedish line that my mother so diligently worked on. Carl Viktor Jonsson and Anna Elisabeth Linden married in Chicago, Illinois in 1889. Both were born in Sweden, but the place of origin unknown for Carl since he died as a young father. I did the best I could with a limited knowledge of Swedish research but could not find his place of birth. Carl and Anna had one child, my grandmother, Elsie, who married Ora Kenrich and they settled in Argo. A distant relative was determined to find our side of the family. She went to the last known place of residence for the Kenrich family, specifically, for my mother’s eldest sister, Olive, who had settled in the local area. She went to the local hang out for the older folk and asked questions. Someone knew where Aunt Olive went. This cousin contacted her and my aunt contacted my mother, who, of course, put me in contact with the cousin. It appears someone in my family had been offended and cut off contact with Carl’s side of the family. This cousin not only knew all of Carl’s siblings, but his parents, place of origin in Sweden and living cousins. Armed with this information, I headed to the Family History Center, where I encountered George, an avid Swedish genealogist who taught me the basics and got me started in the records. Eventually, many generations were added to this pedigree. And, how did this begin? The discovery of living relatives.
Along the way and since then, I have increased the knowledge base as more conferences became available in person and classes by correspondence. The best learning, however, came by hands on; putting anything and everything learned into practice. In addition, it was the small and simple things that helped bring great things to pass. For a beginner, keep taking classes, keep learning, keep trying, but in all the learning, always remember to do the small and simple things: get obituaries, write letters, seek living family members, search for other possible family members in the area where your ancestor lived, seek all their descendants and hope for the miracles, remembering from whence comes all knowledge and inspiration.
And when you are stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional with experience and knowledge. At Lineages we have both.