Our community blogs
If I had blogged yesterday, it would have simply stated "We are home."
Secondarily, I would have mentioned that we found a lot of Bennetts in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. And I mean a lot, pages and pages. Ron insisted that they must have owned the whole town. We first focused on the Wills, making copies of Bennetts prior to 1900, with a focus on 1800-1860. I have Martha's! Next, we took pictures of early Bennett Land Deeds. I'm not even certain the exact time-period for this because, while I was making copies of the Wills on the microfilm reader, Ron was listing what we should take pictures of next. There were a couple very helpful and knowledgeable people at the courthouse who assisted. I still need to review all the information we captured. It will take a while. I'll post some more information and lessons learned about the visit to the Luzerne County courthouse.
The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, Inc. was a bit of a let-down. There were two rooms of computers (about five in each room) with the seats almost completely filled. That wasn't the let-down. The website states "NEPGS has many available resources which can aid in your genealogical quest." and continues on to list books, newspapers, manuscripts, church records, cemetery records, etc., etc. It further states that the lists on-line are only indexes and that they invite people to NEPGS to visit during operating hours to view the actual files. However, when I asked about any plat books on the cemetery or aids in finding information on my relative Rufus Bennett, we were told to talk to the caretaker of the cemetery and basically escorted out of the building. As the President of the organization walked us out, I asked about the work that was going on in the two rooms and she said they were working on a very important transcription of Scranton records to put on-line. I imagine they must have been on a tight deadline. She also said that all their references are on-line and that all the Luzerne County courthouse records are on-line at Family Search. I will be curious to find out if this is true. Okay, I've grumbled about that enough.
The caretaker of the cemetery at Hanover Green could not be found, so Ron and I wandered around what looked to be the old section to find Rufus Bennett. It took us a while but we found him, his wife, and daughter! It would have been quicker if I had remembered what it looked like from FindAGrave. It was very helpful to have this reference because it helped us track down the location. I got some pictures and we headed back to our home base. Because our day ended so early, we decided to pack up and head back home yesterday evening instead of this morning. While it wasn't fun to be on the road for another four hours after we had already driven three hours, it is so very good to be home!
Things have been progressing nicely for the site and for our personal efforts in Genealogy and History. We believe we are on the right track and that over time we will have a wealth of information posted here that will help others. While it will be time that is the judge of that opinion, I am comfortable in continuing our efforts on our current path.
We do have the basic constructs built for the US States and their respective counties. Efforts to create this infrastructure has provided over 3143 county pages, and each of those allows us to place more focused information in an easy to find format. All of these pages and their information is fully searchable on the site, and we are seeing more information posted each month. Yes, this will be a long term project.
We have a few local volunteers that are helping us, so maybe some would say progress is slow, or slower than hoped. Sure, it is, but the one thing that volunteers need is a peaceful and pleasurable environment within which to be creative. There is no need in making a volunteers life be miserable, they wont stay long if that happens anyway. So, we will continue to build what we can and post it. In time we may uncover a few more volunteers and then a few others. Either way, the journey needs to stay pleasant, and for us it is.
I hope everyone continues to view the pages in their own way, participate when you feel like it. This is merely a community, and one that will be represented by those that use it.
The Westerwald and Colonial America
I have been working on an effort for a few years now, but never really understood it was to become such a major project. I guess a little more thoughtful consideration about my efforts might have helped to understand what I was really doing and what I was about to take on.
Mostly, I began to look at records from an area of Germany called the Westerwald. For me, this area represented the most likely source of German ancestry on my father's side. His line passed through time with variances to the family name. One of my great-great-grandmothers married a man named Maurice Decker Tinsman. This event led me to track my Tinsman line back through the middle of the country (Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska), to portions of the Northeast (Maine, New York, Pennsylvania), and finally to my "Brick Wall". This ancestral wall was built in West Jersey. My research focused on the colonial time period and that has left me discovering some sparse records if any at all.
As I approached the early 1800's I discovered a variety of names that seemed like they might be early derivatives of the Tinsman lines I had tracked. Yes, names, what a chore to work through! As a researcher and genealogist of the not-for-profit sort, this was a place where supposition and "guess work" seemed to take hold, not just for me, but for others as well. In some areas I could track the name Tinsman, in other places and records; Tinstman, Stinsman, Dimeson, Stinstman, Dinesman, and some other "one-off" entries emerged. So, not only are the records few and far between, once those records were found, I found they had been written by Germans, Dutch, Englishmen, and who knows who. Those that wrote these records did the best they could to write what they heard, at least that makes some sense. They are not exactly written as Tinsman. This is also the time period where one can understand a variation of names as people Anglicized the names of our German ancestors.
Where does this leave me? Well, as far as my Tinsman line tracing from today back to the furthest point I feel really comfortable with, I get back to an area of New Jersey and the "MAN", Dennis Tinsman Sr. I don't have a single authoritative record that convinces me who his father is, though I am very close to committing to a name. Doing so will still leave me with this question. If I decide who Dennis Sr.'s father is and I am still about the year 1770, how do I then go one step further and align that decision with the next one that needs made. Who was his grandfather or great grandfather? All of this backward tracing left me wondering if I could also track forward towards 1770 if I could decide on where the line may have begun. Some of these early colonial records have led me to believe that the original name was Dünschman. The next records I can find are the immigration and oath records and they indicate a number of Dünschman persons came to the colonies between 1740 and 1753. At least 5x males of "oath age" arrived in the colonies, though I am not certain there are not others.
How does this all tie in to my original entry about the Westerwald? It seems a dedicated group of researchers and accomplished genealogists had done some initial work for me. They had taken time to look at this Palatine immigration period and sought to better understand facts. Henry Z. Jones had already published written works about the Palatines from the 1708-1711 migration, as well as other associated events. One of his books was published with Annette Kunselman Burgert, this book is called "Westerwald to America". In this book, I discovered the research that they had conducted, and might even relate to my potential line. There are 4x Dünschman men identified in this book, and each had a story of various depth about their families and lives. They even state that they "MAY" be ones that went on the Journey to America.
I wish to respectfully point out what they already wrote in their book, a thing I seemed unwilling to take to heart during my early research. On page 7 of the book, they point out the difficulties that constrained there body of work. They identify some of the assumptions they placed in the book, and even that areas just did not get the time they had desired to apply. The most striking sentences are found in the middle of page 8. They write; "this book should be used as a springboard for the reader's own ancestral research", "there may be additional children and grandchildren of the emigrants to be found", and finally, "as found" was another meaningful phrase they used to describe what the work they had completed, it's state, and that application they hoped others would find valuable. Yes, it was bold in the book as well. I wish I had paid more attention.
I am not sure how to describe this time in genealogical life, but I was so excited to have found so much quality research.