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This isn't a long one this week; but volunteers for hosting Open Threads have been a bit sparse as of late. So, I thought I'd come out of hiding and pull my weight with a little quickie diary about my summer plans (which I'm very excited about). I'm hoping everyone can join in and share what you've got lined up this summer.


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After several years of research, I'm finally heading out on my second cemetery hunt. The first was technically before I started actively researching my family history. I visited my birth town in 2008 to find my paternal grandparents' graves. When my grandfather died in 1959, my dad paid $75 for 3 plots in the local cemetery. He buried his mother next to his dad 3 years later. That third plot has been waiting for him for over 50 years. My siblings and I will bury his and our mothers ashes probably next year (whenever we can coordinate a time when we can all make the trip).

The impetus behind my trip this year is that 2014 is the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first German colonies on the Volga River in Russia. My ancestors were part of the original settlers in two of the colonies founded in 1764: Dobrinka and Galka.

To celebrate the 250th anniversary, the Center for Volga German Studies (CVGS) at Concordia University right here in Portland, Oregon is hosting several conferences throughout the summer for each of the original colonies. More will follow over the next few years for the anniversary of each colony. Lucky me though - my colonies are both this year.

The first will be a little bigger - 2 days June 27th and 28th right here in Portland (conveniently enough for me). CVGS hopes to link up to other celebrations around the world including events in South America, Germany, and present-day Dobrinka.

The Galka conference is scheduled for August 2nd at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. That's quite a ways away for me to travel for just one day. However, I've got other reasons to go. Number one is that my grandmother's father, John Henry Bischoff is buried in Deerfield, Kansas. He died around 1907 just a little over a year after moving his family from Russia. They couldn't afford a gravestone at the time, so the grave has been left unmarked all these years.

My Great-Grandparents - John Henry Bischoff and Katharine Neiwirth
I thought I was going to be in for a tough time finding the exact burial plot, but lo and behold, a few weeks ago help arrived. I received an email from my cousin's wife. She said they were driving through Kansas and were heading to the Deerfield cemetery to find our great-grandfather's grave. She wanted to know if I had any information on where it was located. I gave her the only clue I knew - my Dad said he was told by his uncle that he was buried next to a man named Bauer.

Fortunately, they met a worker at the cemetery who pulled out old (and I mean OLD!) maps of the cemetery. Looking for both a Bauer and Bischoff, they found it on 3 different maps.

Yay! The hard work is already done for me. I just need to go and visit it myself. Now what to do with my time? Well... my grandmother's little brother Jagor also died right after they arrived in America. He died before their father did while they were living in Sugar City, Colorado. My cousin's wife said that my Dad's cousin knew where he was buried. I'm trying to get in touch with him to find out more. If I can get a good sense of where to go and what to look for, I'm going to keep driving out to Colorado to find his grave too. It's going to be a ton of driving, but what else is there to do in Kansas?
Bischoff family picture taken before departure from Russia in 1905
What makes Jagor's death even more tragic was that he was placed on the far right edge of the family when they sat for a family picture before leaving Russia. When the photos were delivered, they found he had been almost completely left out. The only trace of him is his hand on his sisters lap. So the family was left with no picture of the son/brother that they lost so early. I think it is this fact that gnaws at me and makes me want to find his grave to make sure he is remembered.

I've also got one more item on the agenda (other than the conference, of course). I've suspected that my grandfather had a half-brother who settled in Kansas. The church records from Russia to prove it haven't been found, but the half-brother's grandson lives in Missouri. I talked to his wife a couple years ago on the phone. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to know much about his grandfather's history. I am hoping they will be agreeable to a short visit where we can compare family pictures. I'm flying into Kansas City, so I figure I can take a detour and visit them first before turning around and driving into Kansas.

So that will be my Kansas trip. In July, we are taking a camping trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho where it just so happens one of the grandsons of my Dad's Aunt Katie lives. If I can overcome my introverted tendencies, I'd like to call him up as well to see if I can visit him and see what pictures and stories he's been handed down.

Well, that's my agenda for the summer. Anyone else have sleuthing planned this summer? If not, what are the places you want to go "some day"?

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Comment Preferences

  •  End of Summer Bonus on PBS (12+ / 0-)

    Finding Your Roots finally returns in September. Looking forward to the new season!

  •  Road Trip! (8+ / 0-)

    Those are so much fun!  Especially when they're successful.  Like you, I don't mind the driving.  In fact, I look forward to it, as long as I'm the one behind the wheel.

    Being forgotten - I just hate that!  I don't want any of my relatives to be forgotten.  I guess that's a big part of why I do what I do.  Last year, my husband and I went to Cincinnati to see if we could locate my g-g-grandfather's grave, Joseph Kramer.  We found, and my husband was so touched by the experience of finding someone who was lost for so long, that he insisted we buy a headstone.  Last week, we returned to Cincy for my husband's conference, and we visited Joseph again, complete with his new headstone.  

    Joseph won't get lost again!

    In my own experience, I have found cemetery managers/administrators to be very helpful.  Well, most of the time anyway.  There is this one cemetery in Kenosha WI that's being a real bugger (not really the guy's fault, though.  I understand he has some health issues).  I've received cemetery cards for other burials, and they provided a good deal of previously unknown information, such as my g-g-grandfather's death in Racine WI being due to asphyxiation.  The newspapers reported his death as being due to "a short illness".

    Anyway, have a great time on your trip and wish you much success.  You'll have to let us know how it turns out.

    And thanks for the diary today!

    •  Thanks! (6+ / 0-)

      I'll probably sign up for a late summer thread to give a report on my adventures.

      My cousin wants to buy a headstone for our great-grandfather. I think he definitely needs one. I'm surprised his sons never bothered to do that - they were all fairly successful middle-class men and could certainly have afforded it. The headstone for their mom is fairly large.

      Dad said his uncle had actually looked into having his body exhumed and moved to Idaho to be buried next to his wife but that too much time had passed (like 40 years) and that it would have been disintegrated too much. Well sheesh! If he was willing to go through that much trouble, why not just buy a headstone?

      Dad was also told that the cemetery cards from that era had been burned in a fire. So we don't know the actual date he died, or any other information that might have been on it. Thankfully the maps survived!

      •  I wonder if an area church might have (5+ / 0-)

        more information on your g-grandfather's death date - assuming he had a church funeral, of course.

        I know what you mean about the question, why didn't one of the sons buy a headstone.  At least two of Joseph's sons were eventually successful (one of them was my g-grandfather), so why didn't they get one?  I thought maybe that by the time they achieved their "success", Joseph was long dead and they forgot exactly where he was buried, and didn't think to ask the cemetery.  Seems like a lame excuse, though.  I think it was probably because they just didn't get around to it - or they were just cheap.

  •  Urgent Call for Volunteers to host (5+ / 0-)

    an upcoming GFHC open thread

    Current Schedule

    Jun 6 -   open for adoption
    Jun 13 - open for adoption
    Jun 20 - open for adoption
    Jun 27 - klompendanser
    Jul 4 -    open for adoption
    Jul 11 -  open for adoption

    Such a sad looking Current Schedule.  So lonely.  Tears are falling.  How could such a thing happen?

    Won't someone think of the Current Schedule???

    Volunteers?  Anyone?

  •  Hmm (6+ / 0-)

    I've visited greats and 2nd greats on my side as well as have pictures of additional sites for some 2nd greats.  On my wife's side - forget about it!  I've visited more graves of very old relations - few of which she or her family were aware of.  The oldest grave I've visited on my wife's side is her 4th great grandparents.  I have also been to at least 4 or 5 of her other ancestors and have info on maybe a half dozen or more - which I will get around to visiting.  I enjoy it.   I enjoy the flat out stab in the dark hunts where I am guessing that a particular person is buried there but have no real idea or maybe know that they are there but not sure where - which calls for the methodical cemetery walk - this is the majority of visits I make.  Ive had a few where I learn exactly where they are and find them immediately.  All are "fun" and all potentially lead to more information or sometimes more mysteries to solve.

    My family does not quite share in my fascination.

    "I'm not left wing because i'm ideological, or passionate, or angry. I'm left wing because I'm informed." - Mikesco

    by newfie on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:39:49 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, what's with that? (6+ / 0-)
      My family does not quite share in my fascination.
      I guess some people just don't know what fun is - and I mean that!
      •  Heh (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim H, edwardssl, mayim, klompendanser

        For me the best is having an idea that someone is buried somewhere and doing the "walk" some weekend morning (early before the family is up and wants to do other things).  Then plodding along and getting a surprise.  

        For instance, I was out at a site where I had found evidence of the burial of a set of my wife's third great grandparents.  It was not in a place I expected them - they died early 20th century and were buried 30 miles from the place I last knew them to live - not entirely out of place but I have not found the connection - such as historical family presence etc.  I had an hour and a half to search and the cemetery was smaller - not tiny but small enough that I could probably walk the entire thing in 2.5 to 3 hours.  So I mentally divide up the cemetery and began.  

        I finished the first section and had maybe 45 minutes left so I was standing on the path trying to suss out a 45 minute section that I could do so that when if I failed I could come back and not have to take to long to figure out where I stopped.  I settled on my target and headed off in that direction but something caused me to glance back.  And it turns out that I was making my plans as I stood just in front of their graves.  

        So I then had 45 minutes to see if anyone was at or about the Church.   I find this important as well as I have had a bit of luck getting information from Church people.  I have found quite a few people who are willing to dig around some records to see if there is anything that can be learned.

        "I'm not left wing because i'm ideological, or passionate, or angry. I'm left wing because I'm informed." - Mikesco

        by newfie on Fri May 30, 2014 at 10:05:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  very common - mine too! (5+ / 0-)
      My family does not quite share in my fascination.
      When I went to find my grandparents graves, we were walking all over. I found my uncle before I found them. While looking, a very old man drove up in a pickup to put flowers on his wife's grave. We talked to him for a bit. Turns out he was a good friend of my uncle's and remembered my parents.

      You never know what is going to turn up.

      I haven't had a lot of chances to search cemeteries for my family. I'm in Oregon and all of my mom's side are in Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. Then there's my Dad who is first generation American. So the farthest back I can visit on his side is his maternal grandparents. I plan to visit his grandmother's grave in Idaho whenever we get around to taking a trip to Yellowstone (hopefully next summer, but I've been saying "next summer" for 3 years now).

    •  So, I'm not alone doing "stab in the dark" (6+ / 0-)

      I must admit that I enjoy exploring the back roads most of all. Spotting a cemetery is a bonus. I stop.

      I never imagined that I would find the graves of so many ancestors this way. I've solved a few puzzles by taking that methodical cemetery walk. Husbands are often buried in or near their wife's family plot. Other names in a cemetery lead to additional relatives and in-laws. Cemeteries located nearby, even a few miles away, usually reveal extended family connections.

      My gg-grandparents, Edward Walker and his wife Sarah were discovered using the stab-in-the-dark methodology. Census records provided their names, but the ages and birthplaces weren't consistent.

      Years later, I had relocated to New England and searched likely town cemeteries. Nada.

      Some years later, I was cruising the back roads of VT and spotted a Cemetery Road in Saxton's River, VT. This was a very well-maintained cemetery. It even has a large plot map displayed at the main entrance. There were several Walker plots. I drove in, followed the curve to the right, and there was Edward Walker and his wife Sarah. The dates matched. Some siblings who died young were there and dates were good. Another sibling, not listed in a census, was discovered.

      That was a special day, indeed.

      "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:35:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just found this group (5+ / 0-)

    While I have been a paying member of DailyKos since 2006 and read them everyday before that, this is the first I have seen a genealogy thread.

    I have done genealogy for over 20 yrs, my tree going back to Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, and Canada, all ending up in New York State.  I still have one branch, the McEntee family, that emigrated to NY from Ireland that I haven't found where in Ireland they are from.

    Recently I started my daughter in law's family history.  Her ancestors are mostly French and German so learning more history of the two countries plus dealing with some language issues.

    I use Ancestry and FamilySearch.org almost exclusively.  I will need to order some films to view at my local Family History Center to get my daughter in law's family further back, however.

    I have a genealogy website dedicate to the names and places in my family history.  If anyone is interested in checking it out:
    http://www.connorsgenealogy.com
    It has lots of data from parts of NY state, Ireland, England and Canada.

  •  On several occasions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, Jim H, mayim, klompendanser

    ... I've explored around western Kansas and SE Colorado. Mostly I've been looking for New Deal projects (schoolhouses, culverts &c.) I've come across numerous old prairie cemeteries along the way. I have found DeLorme-style detail atlases to be very helpful. I'd recommend getting your mitts on one before you go.

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri May 30, 2014 at 02:24:51 PM PDT

  •  Looking at the photo, I am reminded, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, mayim, klompendanser

    am I the only one who wonders what tree roots do to the occupants below ground?  I have a g-g-grandfather buried in Kenosha WI who has shrubbery literally growing right on top of him.

    Yeah, I know ... strange observation.

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mayim, klompendanser, edwardssl

    I'll look into getting one for Colorado and one for Kansas.

  •  my summer is quickly filling up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, edwardssl

    With a bunch of family projects, but not many are genealogy specific. Sigh.

    I'm still on a mission to put stone markers on a few neglected ancestors graves ... I am pretty sure of the locations in the cemetery, but the records for the relevant period in the cemetery history are just gone. Another sigh.

    On a side note, I just got an email from someone looking to invite me to a class reunion who said she found me through a reference to my mayflower papers ... who woulda thunk?  Lol!

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri May 30, 2014 at 04:50:44 PM PDT

    •  Heh, I've got a family-related project (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      klompendanser, Jim H

      going too.  I made my brothers tear out my old kitchen cabinets (after 27 years of  old broken drawers/doors!) and put in the new ones.  I wasn't much use except to hand them tools, go pick up food and beer, and to tell them they're doing it wrong (though they were almost always right), but we've been having a good time doing the project together.  I love my brothers.

      Impressive (and resourceful) that she found you via the Mayflower.  Are you going to go?

      •  ha...sounds like the best sort of project. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edwardssl, Jim H

        I've been busy turning my catchall room back into a bedroom. One of my grandnieces just graduated from high school and will be going to college up here. I've promised to squire them around the "big city" and "all that traffic" ( don't snicker), and to provide a weekend retreat away from the dorm on weekends where she can't go all the way home. Whew, who knew how much junque I could squirrel away in the back closets!

        Anyway, one thing has been leading to another around here, but it has been kinda fun.

        As for the resouceful former classmate, she was valedictorian, so I guess she really was smart. ;)  Not sure I will go-- high school not being a most favorite time and all.

        "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

        by klompendanser on Fri May 30, 2014 at 09:12:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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