Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meet My Great-Great Grandparents

I have very exciting news! After complaining in my last post that New York records take forever to process, I received a letter in the mail from the NYC Archives that contained my great-grandparents marriage certificate! This is the first significant find I have ever had in my genealogy research and I am absolutely ecstatic!

I'm not sure where to even begin. The certificate has confirmed that the 1920 census match I found where a George and Florence are living together with my great-great grandparents (though not as the heads of the household) is actually them. This means I know not only where they lived but also the names of George's parents and siblings. I am actually able to fill in an additional generation on the Koehler side! As you can see below, my great-great grandfather George Koehler (apparently there were many Georges in my family history) and my great-great grandmother Mary Koehler have been added back to the tree in my RootsMagic account. Not included in this screenshot (because RootsMagic doesn't have space for siblings) is George Jr's sister Lela Koehler.

It's really exciting for me to have this document on hand not only because I re-discovered another Koehler generation but also because I can now trace back where my family lived at one point. I had mentioned in my previous post that I stumbled upon the Italian Genealogical Group site by accident when reviewing historical Bronx neighborhoods. Well, now I know that my great-grandparents were living at 997 Washington Ave when they were married and that the Catholic parish they were married at still exists.

It's funny because the area they lived and married is not far from Yankees Stadium and I've been to a few Yankees games when I still lived in NJ. I had no idea I was traveling so close to where my family historically once lived. I will definitely have to take a trip to check out the church and re-walk their steps. A quick street-level walk with Google Maps has confirmed that the building they lived at no longer exists but at least the church has stood the test of time.

My next step now is to try to trace my great-great grandparents back far enough to find the names of George Sr's parents. According to the 1920 census, George Sr's parents were born in Germany which means I am that much closer to finding the exact origin of my family before they came to America. I'm not currently able to locate George Sr and Mary in either the 1910 or 1900 censuses (always baby-step progress) so I'm going to do another record request but for my great-grandfather's birth certificate. Hopefully that will tell me where they were living when he was born so I can cross-reference their location on the earlier censuses and track them backwards one step at a time. We will see.

For now, I am just simply going to enjoy the afterglow of having my first real success in building out my family tree and brushing aside nearly 100 years of overgrowth.

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