Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Genealogy Happy Dance

This post has nothing to do with corrections or errors - it actually has nothing to do with anyone related to me. 

Here's the situation.  My immigrant ancestors came early, very early - before Ellis Island, before Castle Garden, before most recorded passenger lists.  So that has been an area of genealogy research that I've not really needed to deal with - there was nothing to find.  However, my mother remarried when I was age six and her new husband legally adopted me, changing my name - they went on to have two more daughters.  I have researched his families for my half-sisters  ...but he was adopted!   So all of this research is perhaps family history, but not true "gene"alogy.   Yes, we do know who he was prior to the adoption and I have also looked at those families.

My adopted Dad's mother had come with her family from Germany as a small child.  I knew the names of her parents, I thought, and at least one sister, possibly a second sister.  There was a brother born on this side of the water and I had found some information about him.   So here was someone I could actually look for on those passenger lists.

My adopted Dad's surname was McKim [his adopted name ...still with me?].  I called his mother "Kim" since she wasn't really my grandmother.  For all intents and purposes, I considered her a grandmother!  Her name was Mary Ida (Schniebs) McKim - I was told her parents were Otto and Emilie Schniebs.  Some old family letters suggested two sisters, Annie & Mattie - neither of their married surnames were very legible - and the younger brother was definitely Otto.

Through the years, I eventually discovered that Kim's sister Anna, or Annie, had married a man named August Priebe and was able to find them in the censuses, etc.  The brother Otto had married twice and had a son by each marriage - he was considerate enough to move to Texas and I found death certificates for him and his family courtesy of the FamilySearch Pilot.  However, Otto's death certificate contained a surprise - he listed his father as August Schniebs, not Otto.  I even discovered that sometime before 1900, Ida's father had died, and her mother Emilie had remarried to a Henry Waschow.  With that information, I located Emilie's grave - in the row just behind Ida McKim and her husband Paul McKim.  Emilie Waschow is on the stone, not Schniebs, and neither husband is there.

The 1900 Census revealed some interesting facts. Ida was born Jan 1878 in Germany. She immigrated in 1882 and had lived in this country for 18 years. 12 year old Otto, Ida's brother, was living with Ida and Paul, although his mother Emilie was still living.  Actually Emilie was counted twice in 1900 - with her daughter Annie & family in Pope Co, AR, and also in the same location with husband Henry Waschow.  The year of immigration varied a year or two as I checked censuses for the family - one time Annie even gave her year of immigration as the same as her husband's which had been several years earlier.  But 1882 was more or less the concensus.

Every now and then, I would research the various immigration websites and look for the name Schniebs with assorted spellings, in the early 1880's.  I would use Otto, and Emilie spelled different ways.  No luck.  I even wondered if they had come in at Galveston and the records lost in the hurricane - many German families did come in at that port.  And Ida and Paul McKim married in Ft. Smith, AR and lived in the northwest part of Arkansas the rest of their lives.

Last week, I tried again.  On  Someone had submitted a correction for the spelling Schniebs and up popped this family:

On the Passenger list of the "Salier" which arrived from Bremen, Germany, in New York, 11 Jun 1883. They were in Steerage.

Amalie Schniebs, age 39
Anna, age 10
Mathilde, age 8
Ida, age 5

No husband or father with them.  But I was inspired.  I still wasn't convinced whether or not I was looking for Otto Schniebs or August Schneibs - particularly since a second wife had given the information on that death certificate and I knew that Otto had a brother-in-law named August.  But I tried just the given name August.  Schniebs was not indexed as Schniebs - who knows what it might have been since I thought I'd tried every possible spelling.  And I found him.  He had come the year before.

August Schniebs is shown as arriving through Castle Garden, 13 Mar 1882. The ship was the "Oder" and he had come from Bremen, Germany, via Southhampton, England, also in steerage.  I believe his occupation is labourer.  He was age 41.

My inspiration kept leading me ...with the age of Mathilde, the fact that she was later called Mattie, and a guess at her husband's surname, I did indeed find Mattie, married to Israel B. Stevinson, living in Hallsville, Boone Co, MO, for many years.  The Missouri death certificates are online, too ...and Mattie's father was listed as August Schniebs.  So he wasn't Otto!

So although I don't know the whole story...  how ever did they get from New York to Arkansas, and why?...I know so much more than I did.  I still don't have the deaths of either the sister Annie or of the father August Schniebs.  Emilie married Waschow, 12 Oct 1890, in Fort Smith, AR.  Otto Schniebs, the youngest child, was born 2 Apr 1888, in Fort Smith.  So August Schniebs died sometime around 1888-1890 and is probably buried there in Fort Smith.   I know that Anna Schniebs Priebe was living in 1930 and I have found the death listing of her husband in 1950 and he died still in Pope Co, AR.

Naturalization papers?  Never thought I'd be looking for those.  Mattie Schniebs Stevinson states she was naturalized in the censuses, Ida and Anna and their mother never do.  In fact, Ida began to say she was born in "Oklahoma".  A place I've not found any of this family!  I suspect she was not too proud of being German, and I also think she was probably not ever naturalized.

I was having so much fun that I googled the ships.  Both were wrecked and sunk prior to 1900, but both had by then been removed from the Germany-USA route. The Oder went down in the Indian Ocean; the Salier, off the coast of South America. Both ships owned by North German Lloyd. They were both iron ships, two masted with a single funnel, with a speed of 13 knots - that's about 15 miles per hour.  I even found a picture of the S.S. Oder.

Perhaps I will do a few blogs about the rest of the information I have found on the Schniebs family ...there should be descendants out there somewhere.  Please email me direct if you are part of this family.

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