Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Linking Your Family Together on Find A Grave

   If you've ever tried to use Find A Grave to track down an entire family, it can be a frustrating experience. Siblings can buried several states apart - making a search for their cemetery difficult, if not impossible. Linking your family together prove to be a huge help not only for you but also for any researcher studying your family. It's always easier to click a few links to find relatives.
   You can link families together in a few ways. Start by entering the gravestones for all your relatives. Once you've done that and have a memorial number, enter that number in the appropriate parent or child categories.  Someone looking at that memorial will be able to quickly click through to the next relative. You can also create a virtual cemetery, listing all the memorials for a family.
  If you're a Find A Grave researcher, take the time to finish these few steps. It's worth it in ease of research.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mystery Monday: How did the Camps become German... and what happened to them?

   In an earlier post, I wrote about the Luxembourger families of Meriden, Connecticut and my suspicions that they had "become" German. A few days ago I decided to test out my theory by looking at the 1880 census, the source that Gonner had cited for his statistics. Using the Ancestry.com census search, I soon stumbled across one Luxembourger family: Nicholas Camp, his wife Katie, and their two children.
     Strangely enough the Camp family's story exactly fit my theory. On the 1880 census, Nicholas, Katie, Annie (their daughter) and Nicholas (their son) are all listed as being from Luxembourg. In 1892, the now 1927 year old Nicholas applies for naturalization and lists his home country as Germany. The 1900 and 1910 census enumerations continue this pattern, although Annie is listed as born in Connecticut on the 1910 census. I lose them after 1910 and haven't made a huge effort to follow them further.
    That left me wondering: what happened to the Camps? And how did they suddenly become German?

a.       1880 U.S. census, New Haven County, Connecticut, population schedule, Meriden, p. 24D, dwelling 183, family 261, Nicholas Camp household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 22 January 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll unclear. 
b. "U.S. Naturalization record Indexes, 1791-1992," database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 22 January 2012), entry for Nicholas Camp; citing Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906 . 

c.       1900 U.S. census, New Haven County, Connecticut, population schedule, Wallingford, enumeration district (ED) 415,  p. 12A, dwelling 281, family 313, Nicholas P. Camp household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 22 January 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 147. 
d.   1910 U.S. census, New Haven County, Connecticut, population schedule, Wallingford, enumeration district (ED) 461,  p. 3B, dwelling 40, family 48, Katherine Camp household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 22 January 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 137.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Sharing those Special Family Objects

   One of my favorite parts of researching my Luxembourger family has been finding out about those photos, valentines, furniture, and more that have ended up with other branches of the family tree. In families of eight or more kids, objects given to one child tend to end up across the country within a generation or two. Doing research has allowed me to rediscover them. There's nothing more touching than seeing an ancestor's valentine to her parents - circa the late 1800s.
    I've been very lucky in finding the family members who own these items and are willing to share them - via digital images. I've started by contacting people posting out on my family on message boards and Find A Grave. I also check out Ebay. Sometimes family items appear there. Yet there's a lot I haven't found.
   I'd love to see a "Lost and Found" specifically for Luxembourger family items. I'll have to create one one day!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Naturalization and Luxembourg Immigration...

   I received the linked post from Genealogy Today as part of a genealogy email this morning, and thought it might be useful to all of you. The post outlines where to look for naturalization papers. Naturalization, the process of becoming an American citizen, was not a process every immigrant pursued. It was time-consuming, and did not hold the benefits it has today.
   If you believe your ancestor was naturalized, it is worth the time searching for his records. Naturalization records may include a birth date and location, names of family members, and arrival date. They can be a little bit hard to find, since they could be recorded at any local court. Check indexes on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com for help. If you're stuck, call the state historical society. Sometimes they've been stored there.
  I haven't tracked down my Luxembourg ancestor's naturalization papers yet. I know where they are... I just haven't need them yet. I have the information from other sources. However, if you're not so lucky - it's time to order!

Follow Friday: Ignoring my "ethnic" heritage

   Marian Pierre-Louis's post of January 26th on her Roots and Rambles blog sounded very familiar. In it, she wrote that she had been ignoring some of her "ethnic" ancestors because a) they were harder to trace and b) she had all those good colonial ancestors on the other side. I was guilty of the same thing until very recently. In my Explorations in Connecticut Genealogy blog, I've written about my colonial New England ancestors. I've been reaching the same line for over ten years. They were easier to trace (thanks to my ancestors' interest in the DAR/SAR), relatively local, and "more interesting." This was, of course, the line with the pilgrims, Revolutionary War soldiers, etc. It was only a research report on Luxembourg immigration that made my interest in my Luxembourger ancestors take off.

   Fortunately, a few of my immediate relatives were smarter than I. I inherited labelled family photos, obituaries, school newspapers and more. With very little work, I was able to trace my family back to their arrival from Luxembourg in the 1860s. Thanks to the family trees I inherited, I can actually go back much further... but I want to double check their work myself!

  The lesson I took from all of this: ask questions while you can. I was just lucky that my ancestor decided to make sure his descendents knew about his family. Not everyone will take those steps. Interview your relatives to see what they remember. Copy family photos and label them. Visit cemeteries together. The more you ask now, the less you'll wonder who this later.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Identifying your photos

   I stumbled across a post on Sort Your Story while reading Geneabloggers this morning about identifying your family photos... and realized a similar idea could be useful to Luxembourger research. If you have unidentified family photos, I like Lorel Kapke's ideas about posting them online. But for Luxembourger research, there's something else you should consider.

   Like many American immigrant groups, Luxembourgers like to buy from their own - even if this meant traveling miles. This even applied to photographers. A Luxembourger photographer may print photos of the residents of his home town, but he also may print photos of a distant relative's or a friend's Luxembourger family. Since the immigrant population was relatively small in some areas, a Luxembourg photographer's name can be a valuable tool. Those unfamiliar faces may be found at the point where his family tree intersects yours.... And if that doesn't work, you can always post the photos to Find A Grave or a message board!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Sharing Online

    I've taken to skimming Geneabloggers every day before I sit down to write my posts. It allows me to see what other people are saying, learning a few new techniques, and get inspiration for future blog postings. This morning I stumbled across two posts that struck me. The first, on Deb Ruth's Adventures in Genealogy site, talked about the advantages of using Find A Grave. The second, on Family Tree Helper, mentioned the advantages of sharing in general. Both encouraged making research public and accessible to others.
    In terms of doing Luxembourg research, this topic draws mixed feelings for me. I will probably never publish my entire family tree on the web. Why? Because - like many  Luxembourgers - I'm related to almost anyone that shares my surname. It's easy to violate someone's privacy, even unintentionally. On the other hand, sharing within my family has made my research much easier. What's a good middle ground? Publish your gravestone photos on Find A Grave, even those random ones with your last name that you can't quite identify. They'll usually turned out to be cousins... and someone will be very glad you took the time. Add your name to the surname search on Rootsweb. Post on message boards about your family's surname or home location. You'll still be able to share and protect your privacy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Luxembourg in North Dakota

   I was searching Luxembourg genealogy on Google this morning and stumbled across one of Amy's old posts reviewing a surname frequency app (http://wetree.blogspot.com/2009/02/were-big-in-luxembourg.html). What struck me wasn't the surname frequency (my family has the same stats!), but how few of us know about the Luxembourg population in North Dakota!
   Several branches of my family made their way to North Dakota. They were driven by access to homestead land as well as the westward growth of the railroad, c. 1870. They built lives there. Some stayed; others moved onto the next frontier - Canada and the American West. They were only one of several families referenced in Luxembourgers in the New World.
   For more information, you may want to look at Luxembourgers in the New World and North Dakota Immigrants: Coming to America. I suspect there are more resources. What have you heard about?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Mary's, Belgium, WI

   Founded in 1848, St. Mary's in Lake Church (Belgium), Wisconsin is among the oldest Luxembourg-American parishes in the United States. Its founders were Luxembourgers from what is now part of Belgium - hence the name. Initially St. Mary's was a missionary parish for two surrounding churches (Holy Cross and St. Mary's), but later became a separate parish. The parish church and cemetery should hold records for a multitude of local families.  
   Unfortunately for us long distance researchers, neither the church or cemetery records appear to be available online. However, the church is an active parish and regularly participates in Belgium's historic activities. I suspect a phone call should point you in the right direction for research help.

For more information about St. Mary's, visit my source for this blog: http://www.luxamculturalsociety.org/StMarysLakeChurch.htm. For more about Belgium, visit: http://www.village.belgium.wi.us/. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Society Saturday: Historical Societies with Luxembourg-American Resources, from the University of St. Thomas

   The library at the University of St. Thomas has developed a wonderful resource for Luxembourg-American researchers at http://www.stthomas.edu/libraries/collections/special/research/luxamdir/iowa.html. As part of their website, they have created a list of historical societies and university libraries with collections that might be relevant for research. These lists include a description of the collection, relevant contact information for each society, the street address, a website, hours and more.
   The list is not perfect. I noticed some major repositories missing. North Dakota contains only the State Historical Society and the NDSU archives, missing the Richland County Historical Society. There are no references to Jackson County, Iowa historical society and museums, an area with a large Luxembourg population.
  However, if you need a starting point for your offline research... This is it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Follow Friday: The We Tree Genealogy Blog

 Thank you Amy... I stumbled across your genealogy blog while looking for something else.

Amy had published an entry on "crossing the pond" and discovering her ancestor's birth record in Luxembourg's  That entry on Luxembourg genealogy (http://wetree.blogspot.com/search/label/Luxembourg) provided me with a helpful hint. I had forgotten that Luxembourg's civil registrations (as well as vital records) are available on FamilySearch.org. Only the civil registration has images - and, as browse only, it's a slog - but if I get through the 1400 + images for my ancestor's hometown, I may be able to start verifying his family. It'll be a great way to backtrace the children who "disappeared" before the trip to the United States. Thanks for the reminder!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Luxembourg-American Traditions and our Luxembourg Genealogy

   I've been taking a few days off and reviewing my Luxembourg family tree. It's been interesting process. As I review our data, I've discovered both "successes" and "failures." We've well traced the birth, death, and marriages of our family back into the 18th century. However, we have same major gaps.
   What quickly struck my family was how little we know about our ancestor's ethnic heritage. I've only every heard one "Luxembourg" tradition kept by this family. My Luxembourger ancestor married a German, and I suspect her holiday traditions gradually took over  We've become immensely grateful for the one story we do have. Ironically, it's from the darker side of Christmas. Black Peter, originally a devil-like character from the Christmas traditions of the  Netherlands, was adopted as part of the Luxembourg community's Christmas. Scary, but I'm glad to know it. It ties me to my roots and helps me better understand my ancestor's experiences.
    What were the traditions of your Luxembourg-American family? How do they play into your genealogical research?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Luxembourg in America: Meriden, CT

  I've only found references to Luxembourgers in Meriden in one source: Nicholas Gonner's Luxembourgers in the New World. According to Gonner, there were 16 families in Meriden in 1889. Most were factory workers. The size of the population fluctuated as some families headed to the Midwest.
  I have a sneaking suspicion that individual families may not even know they were from Luxembourg. Meriden had a strong German population. Some of these families may have intermarried and begun to consider themselves German. 
  Take a look at Gonner's suggested source, the 1880 census. If your family is listed as Luxembourger, you may fall in among Gonner's 16 families. There's something to research there... Your next stop should probably be the Meriden Historical Society.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Donatus Iowa

   As a historically Luxembourger community, St. Donatus, Iowa drew many new Luxembourger immigrants- which means that their records should show up in the records of the local Catholic churches. Many are of these records are not online, but some helpful hints to finding them are...
  1) St. Donatus is still an active parish, as are the Roman Catholic churches of the area which also housed Luxembourger immigrants. If you're looking for a record, you may want to contact the parishes at http://www.stjosephbellevue.org/.
   2) The Family History Library has microfilmed the local cemetery records. Iowa Genweb lists the microfilm numbers and a description at http://iagenweb.org/jackson/FHC/FHC_Cemetery.html. Verify the microfilm number before ordering the microfilm - the site dates from 2007. 
   3) St. Donatus actually has a parish museum containing artifacts from the early years of the parish and more importantly, genealogical records. Information  on the museum can be found at http://www.luxamculturalsociety.org/StDonatusHeritageMuseum.htm.

I'm sure there is more online, and I'd love to hear what you've found.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Surname Saturday: Luxembourg-American Families Genealogy

   I stumbled across Luxembourg-American Families Genealogy Pages while researching my Luxembourger family's surname. Bob Arens has compiled information on Luxembourger families from a variety of sources and created a searchable database with basic information for individuals, a headstone list and more. Most of the information comes from his relatives, which he has supplemented with photos and further details. If your family has been well traced - as mine has (the joys of ancestors with long memories)- you may have more detailed information than Arens has available. However, if you're starting from scratch, this is probably a fantastic resource. For me, it was a nice way to find other Luxembourger surnames.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Luxembourg in America: St. Donatus, Iowa

  One of my favorite ways to learn about my Luxembourger ancestors is to study the settlements that attracted them. St. Donatus, Iowa was a favorite settlement for new immigrants. The local Catholic church was dominated by Luxembourgers, and many of the buildings were built in the old style.
  Take a look at this description of St. Donatus. It actually talks about more than St. Donatus - it also explains why buildings tend not to be in the Luxembourg style. It's a fun read: http://www.iowabeautiful.com/east-iowa-tourism/496-luxembourg-village-st-donatus-iowa.html.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday - The Luxembourg-American Cultural Society

   Honestly, when I started researching my family's past, I - and many of my relatives - thought they were outliers. How many families from Luxembourg ended up in the Midwest?  As it turns out, we were very wrong. We never would have discovered our mistake without the help of the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society.
    I've yet to visit the Society in person, but I would highly recommend their website. Their Luxembourg-American Cultural Society genealogical links offers a list of different resources for researching Luxembourg-Americans. Some are more historical, whereas others are straight genealogy. Poke through and see what you find. I was able to pinpoint exactly why my family left. Ironically, they were the farthest thing from outliers. They were part of one of the largest out migrations from Luxembourg.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Alternate Nationalities for Luxembourgers

Given that it's Wednesday, I thought it might be a good time to share my first research tip. Luxembourgers are rarely listed on the U.S. census with the correct nationality. Census takers seem to record the families as from anywhere but Luxembourg - but a few nationalities are few more common. I've seen my Luxembourgers listed as from the Netherlands (which had historically claimed the country) and German (because the spoken language resembles German). Don't give up your research just because your family isn't listed as from Luxembourg.


Welcome to my side blog, Researching Luxembourg Genealogy. I'm starting this blog because I noticed the spike in interest on my Explorations in Connecticut Genealogy blog after a post on Luxembourgers. First of all, I know the blog title is a bit boring, but what can I say? My creativity is a bit low this morning. This blog will be an occasional project.
Like many Luxembourger descendants, I trace my family back to the Midwest. However, I will do my best to offer resources for Luxembourgers across the country. I'm focusing on American resources since, I'm sad to say, I don't speak or read German or Luxembourgish. It is on my to-do list! Happy research.