Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

#54--Living a Long Life--Maria Huelster Eitlbach

This week’s theme is living a long life.  People in my family tend to live a long time so I had a number of ancestors to pick from.  Plenty of my ancestors lived into their seventies or eighties so I began to look for people who lived longer than that.  So I want you to meet Maria Huelster, my great grandmother, my Oma.

Schmallenberg, Germany
 Oma was born in Schmallenberg, Germany in February of 1865, one of four children of Johann and Maria Franciska Monig. In 1885, she married Louis Eitelbach.  They lived in Hagen, Germany until 1896 when they, along with their four youngest children—Walter, Louis, Maxmillian and William—came to the United States.  They settled in Brooklyn, New York at 1287 Greene Street.  After their arrival, Maria had two more children—Harry and Frank.  I often wonder how she managed six boys.  I do know one thing--My mother told me that when they were small, on Sundays, before they went to church, she would dress each one and sit him on the sofa with directions not to move until they were all ready and dressed. Then, they would go to church.  Maria’s husband, Louis, died in 1927 and after that she lived on her own.  In fact, she lived alone in her apartment until very shortly before she died.

Maria Huelster Eitelbach "Oma"
I do have some memories of Oma.  This is how I remember she looked.   I also remember that we  would go to visit her several times a year.  I do not remember much about those visits as I was rather young.  I do recall that she liked to speak German with my parents.  Her English was perfectly fine, but since both my parents had studied German in school, I think it was fun for all of them.  Oma also would come to visit us.  Here is a picture of her holding me when I was about two years old.
Oma and me
Every Christmas Oma would come and spent Christmas Eve with us.  We always sang Christmas carols that night and Oma would sing Silent Night and O Tannenbaum in German for us.


Oma died on November 3, 1958.  She was survived by her four sons—Walter, Louis, Harry and Frank as well as 13 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.  If my research is correct (and I believe it is), anyone in the United States who has the last name of Eitelbach is a descendent of Maria Huelster and Louis Eitelbach.  So if you are an Eitelbach, please contact me.  I would love to meet you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

#53 Eitelbach--So Many Ways to Spell it Wrong




I love my mother dearly, but her paternal and maternal lines have led me a merry chase because they were spelled (or misspelled) in a number of different ways.   I have written before of the difficulties I had researching the Minarcik’s, my mother’s maternal line as the last name was spelled a couple of different ways---( See #6  How Do You Spell That Name?   Joseph Munarzik).  That problem pales in comparison to the trouble I have had with her paternal line—Eitelbach.

My greatgrandfather, Louis Eitelbach came to New York from Germany in 1896.  So naturally I looked for him and his family in the census records.  Louis along with his six sons and wife appear with no problem in the 1900 census on Greene Avenue in Brooklyn.  His son, Walter, my grandfather married Regina Minarcik in 1908 so I looked for them in the 1910 census.   When I searched on Ancestry, they did not appear.  So I needed to get a little more creative.  When I tried searching using Walter with a birth date of 1886 in Germany and a wife named Regina, up came the Citelbachs on Ridgewood Avenue, in Brooklyn.  I used the same technique on the 1920 census when Eitelbach did not work.  This time they were listed as Latelbath on 86th Street, in Woodhave, Queens.  The 1930 census was close enough to come up in a routine search as Eitelback at the same address as 1920.  My search for them in the 1940 census did find them.  I knew they were at the same address in 1940 so this time I searched for the family that lived next door as I knew that they had been neighbors for a long time.  This time they were listed as the Estelbachs.  Interestingly, in each of the New York 1915 and 1925 census, the name is spelled correctly.

Since the Eitelbachs were from Germany, I thought it would be interesting to see how the name was spelled in the baptismal records there.  Using Family Search, I found the following variations—Eidelbach, Eydelbach, Eitelbeck, Eitelback, and Eytelbach.  Those were not variations from different parts of Germany, but from Koblenz, where they originally lived.

I would really like to ask my grandfather or grandmother if they spelled the name for the census takers.  I also would like to know how much difficulty they had with other people misspelling their last name.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

#52 Eitelbach--Going for a Drive





Those who know me or who have read this blog know that I really like old photographs.  I have used them in this blog several times ( #19 Gertrude Richards--Who Are These People?;   #15 Memorial Day—Honoring Andrew McKee) .  I have them from my mother’s family as well as from my father’s.  So when it came to picking my favorite photo, I had a lot to pick from.  I am not sure I actually have a favorite, because I like them for various reasons, e.g. good story, great place, interesting people, etc.

I have always liked this picture of my grandfather, Walter Eitelbach, taking his family for a drive, probably a Sunday drive.  The date on the license plate is 1914.  That is my grandfather at the wheel with my grandmother, Regina, behind him.  Peeking out from the back seat is my mother.  I do not know who the other man and woman are, but my best guess is that is one of his brothers.  Since my grandfather had five brothers, I do not know which one it is.

If I could talk to my grandfather, I would have a lot of questions?  Where were they going?  Did they go for a lot of rides?  What kind of car is that?  How much did it cost?  How did he learn to drive?  Also who took the picture?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#51 William Cochrane and Andrew George Cobett Cochrane—That Wall is beginning to crumble

I never cease to be amazed that a brick or two, or maybe even three, may fall off that brick wall when you least expect it.  When I was in Washington, D. C. last month, I looked at a number of sources trying to figure out when William Cochrane and Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane with their families arrived in the United States from England.  All I knew was that in 1835 they both filed Alien Registrations in Erie County New York, indicating that they intended to become American Citizens. I
also had found a passenger list which indicated that an Andrew Cochrane arrived in Philadelphia in 1833-34.  That Andrew Cochrane was born in the correct year, but was it the right Andrew Cochrane.? Try as I might, I could find nothing for William Cochrane in terms of passenger arrivals.  That wall was still up.

The other day I was again looking at the information I had on Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane and decided to take another look at his application for a passport.  It had a lot of information on it, including that he had been naturalized.  I was hoping that the naturalization papers might be attached so I looked at the next page.  No luck.  However, I am persistent and decided to look at the pages before his application.  There I found a passport application from May of 1872 for his daughter, Emma Cochrane Kingman.  In her application she states that she was born in England on September 39, 1830 and came to the United States at two years of age.  Depending on when Andrew and his family arrived, she could have arrived in 1833.  Further, the parish record of St George’s Bloomsbury indicates that her brother Andrew Charles was born on February 8, 1832 and was baptized on February 29 of that year.

Taken together, these facts point to the conclusion that the Andrew Cochrane who arrived in Philadelphia may indeed be the Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane, brother to my great-grandfather.  Now I need to see if his naturalization records contain the date of his arrival.

If I could talk to Andrew, I certain would ask when he came to the United States and where he and his family landed.  I also would ask whether or not his brother, William, came at the same time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

#50 An Amazing Experience



I got back last week from an amazing experience.  I spent a week in Washinggon, D. C. on a week-long genealogy research tour with the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.  Imagine spending all that time with people who share your passion, understand your roadblocks, and can talk about things that most of your friends would consider very strange.  The first two days were devoted to getting to know and doing some preliminary research in the three sites:  Library of Congress, National Archives, and the Daughters of the Revolution Library.  Each one has its own rules and regulations, from what you can take in, copying fees, security screenings, cards, etc. For example,  you can take a purse into the DAR library with no size restrictions, your purse at the Library of Congress must be less than 9 by 6 inches, and you can take no purse into the archives, just a small clear plastic bag.    All that combined with finding out how to locate what you wanted was a little daunting, even though I had spent time looking at their websites and getting familiar with each one.    However, the NEHGS staff and the librarians at the sites were extremely helpful and I pretty soon had figured out how things worked.

So what did I find?  I went with some very clear questions that I wanted to try to answers and was able to answer some of them.  I confirmed that James Hannah did indeed fight in the War of 1812.  I found his muster cards on Fold3 at the National Archives.  He was a private in  the Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Rees Hill.  I was not able to find where he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio or where he was buried.  From his pension file, I discovered that Joseph Minarcik, my great, great grandfather not only was with the 2nd Cavalry when it explored Yellowstone National Park, he was in battles against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse!  For John Wesley Hannah, my great grandfather, I was looking for additional information about his Civil War service.  I found a number of documents that he signed.  Some were affidavits attesting that a particular soldier had indeed fought while others were rather sad, as they were the documents he signed when a soldier died.  Most exciting, however,
was to hold in my hands the letter that he wrote at the end of his tour of duty, requesting to be discharged and return home –that was much more personal and real to me.   There were questions that I was not able to answer.  Brick walls I did not knock down.  That is OK because for now I know
there is no answer, but maybe there will be in the future.

One of the best parts of the tour was the chance to interact with the NEHGS genealogists.  I learned a great deal from them.  From Rhonda McClure, I learned that you need to go beyond and look at the details in a documents and see where it leads you.  I have already used that and found that when you get a document in Ancestry.com, you need to look at the following pages as there may be more information.  Henry Huff gave me some great clues of how to get through a brick wall by looking at how others have solved similar problems, and David Dearborn taught me that there is much more information about the soldiers in the Civil War than the muster rolls and regimental histories.

My task now is to digest and organize all the information I gathered.  Stay tuned—I also gathered some information about my great grandmother’s three brothers and their service in the Civil War.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#49 Loving John Wesley Hannah


This week’s theme focuses on love and which ancestor you love to research.  So do I love to research an ancestor who was or is a great challenge, one who is easy to research, one who has an interesting story, or becomes a real person.  

After some though I decided that John Wesley Hannah was one of my favorite ancestors.  I think his life was interesting and to me, he seems to be more than a story on paper.  If you have followed this blog, you might be able to figure that out, since I have five entries about him(# 38 through 41 and #5).   I would not say he was easy to research, but I have been able to gather a good bit of information about him.  I sent for his Civil War Records from the National Archives so
I could track his military life.  I was able to follow him from Illinois, down to Tennessee, over to Arkansas, and west to Oklahoma.   I saw that during the course of the war he was promoted from a private to captain and that he end his career as the Captain and commanding officer of his company.  According to his pension file, his health deteriorated badly when he was about 58, due to illnesses that he was acquired during the war.  As an aside, his pension file was a wealth of genealogical information.  While I knew most of it, it serves as a verified source of birth information for his children and his marriage to his wife.

One day while looking for information about Butler, Missouri, I found the application that was made to place the Palace Hotel on the National Register of Historic Places.  John Wesley built the Palace Hotel in Butler Missouri.  The application for that status, tells the story of how the hotel was built and the various purposes it was used for.  I have used Google Maps street view to look at places in my genealogy.  So one day recently, I went on line and went to Butler and “drove” around the square in Butler and saw the hotel.  It was almost as good as going in person.

I just discovered that the Library of Congress has historic newspapers online, including two for Butler, Missouri.  Because Butler was a small town in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the paper contains lots of information about the people who lived there.  I cannot wait to explore it more, because it looks as though it will give me a feel for the daily life of John Wesley Hannah and his family.

 For most of the people in my genealogy, I do not know what they looked like.  However, thanks to my cousins,

Alice and Anna, I know what John Wesley looked like.  This is one of my favorite pictures of him with his two youngest daughters, “Tim” and “ Toots."


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#48--Joseph Minarcik--You Came a Long Way

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The theme for this week is  far away in either time or distance.  I have written two recent blogs about ancestors in the Middle Ages so I decided on distance rather than time.  First I had to figure out which ancestors came from  the farthest away.   I have three lines from Germany so I knew it would be one of them.  The Eitelbachs were from Hagen, which is 4,042 miles away, the Huelsters from Schollenberg, which is 4,080 miles and the Minarciks were from Winnweiler, which is 4,120 miles.  So if this is a contest, the Minarciks would win. 

Map Showing Winnweiler
Joseph and Regina (Wendel) Munarzik were my emigrant ancestors. Joseph and Regina were married on September 8, 1849  in  Battenberg, , Bavaria Germany.  I do not exactly when they came, but believe that they came to New York City sometime between 1850 and 1860.  I tried unsuccessfully to find them in the Castle Gardens database, but could not do so.  I am pretty sure they are there, but I have found that their last name has been spelled in a number of way (see Blog #6—Joseph Munarzik—How Do You Spell that Name?).    I know they were there in 1860 as they appear in the United States Census in New York City, with their 5 children.   

I had never heard of Winnweiler .  A couple of internet searches and I learned that it is in the Bavarian section of Germany, specifically in Donnersbergkreis municipality, south and west of Frankfort.  The population in 2008 was about 4600.  This is a very mountainous region, but also a very rural one.

I found a couple of pictures and was impressed with the beauty of the area.




If I could talk to Joseph and Regina Wendell, I would want to know why they came to the United States, what ship they came on, what the voyage was like, whether or not they came with other people they knew, and when they came.