The Long Silence

To all, I apologize for the long silence.  It has been too difficult to keep up with everything else and also keep active with a blog.  But there are some new developments at the IGS Library that should be noted.

Those who come in might ask volunteer (and nominee to our Board) Janine Pizano about a project she and I are working on, and which was her idea, namely to build a database on our family histories and genealogies that goes beyond the catalog entry to specifically note information (such as major allied family names, time focus, major places of residence, etc.) that could assist researchers to learn about possible book resources they wouldn’t otherwise consult.  Databases, once constructed, are easily searchable.  And we want to see our books get more use and our researchers find more success.

A project of mine that now has received our Board’s approval, but which isn’t producing tangible results just yet, is to cull old research files and extract usable material (such as detailed request letters from lookup requestors, pedigree charts, document photocopies, etc.) to be filed according to major family in our surname files vertical file cabinets.  I found that — for the first 1,000 requests, dated from the late ‘80s — only 6% of requests had worthwhile material that should be saved to help others.  For the rest, we still have the volumes that were consulted to provide answers to the requests, so there’s really no need (this many years later) to save what we sent the requestors, as the search could be repeated easily if needed again.

Both of these projects are aimed at making what we have more available and useful to researchers.  Janine’s database project is partway into the letter “B,” and has covered exactly one shelf of books to date.  My filing project won’t immediately do anything beyond add to our IGS surname files, and there’s a lot of reorganizing of those files that also has to be done before they’ll be truly user-friendly.  And, at the moment, the papers selected for preservation have yet to be actually filed where they belong, so the project is only at the start.

But do come visit the Library.  New things are happening!

My Wife’s 7th Cousin

Every so often I read something in a genealogical periodical that catches my interest in a personal way.  And so it was over seven years ago, when I was browsing the newly-received journals at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, MO.  An article in the Germanic Genealogy Journal produced by the Germanic Genealogy Society (of Minnesota) made reference to a village from which my wife’s 19th c. immigrant Schwingel family had emigrated.  The issue in question was volume 11 number 4 (Winter 2008), and the article was “Chasing Family Myth Through Canada to Germany,” by Dick Kline.

The article was a research case study describing how the author had successfully located a place of origin in the German state of Saarland, and the place in question was one of three villages in the parish that had served my wife’s ancestors.  This author knew of the town family book that had been published for his Klein immigrant’s ancestral village, but did he also know that one of the remaining villages had also produced such a resource book?  I had to contact him in case he wasn’t aware of this, and so I wrote to the journal’s editor to get the man’s address.

It was a good move on my part, because in the ensuing correspondence between us he was able to assist me in my own research in an important way.  I’d begun researching this particular family in the days before we had personal computers and online databases, and I’d made the mistake of not revisiting my earlier research as new source material became available.  In this instance, I had failed to search the now-digitized images of passenger records that were available by 2009, in order to document the date of arrival of my wife’s ancestral family.

As we exchanged information, he had a hunch that he’d seen my wife’s immigrant family named on a companion ship that had sailed with the one carrying his own Klein-Schneider immigrant family.  He was right!  And was I ever grateful that I’d taken the time to reach out to this man.

Dick Kline continues to publish articles through the Germanic Genealogy Journal.  The latest one appears in the volume 19 number 1 (Spring 2016) issue, and is titled “Spinning Genealogy Into Family Stories.”  In it he describes how he’s produced two brief booklets about his father’s family, and how the rewards of that effort have paid off so handsomely for him through the responses of relatives to his stories of the earlier generations.

In between the 2008 and 2016 issues, he’s also written articles for the Summer 2009, Fall 2011 and Summer 2012 issues of the same journal.  The library of the Immigrant Genealogy Society has these back issues, and both members and visitors are welcome to come in and read the continuing saga of discovery of my wife’s 7th cousin.  It’s always a treat to have established such a personal — if distant! — connection to a genealogical researcher and author.  But many of you would also enjoy reading what Dick has to say, even if you’re not “kin.”


That’s the family name of the first German researcher to contact us since we switched our website to the new domain.  This person is looking for Dommershausen immigrants to America — any time, any place.  A cursory examination of family trees on leads us to believe that all persons carrying this surname originated in or near 56346 Prath, Rhein-Lahn-Kreis, Rheinland-Pfalz (Palatinate).  This lies very close to Sankt Goarshausen.

It appears that members of this family emigrated in the 1850s and 1860s, and there’s an early association with Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana.  In the 20th c. there are persons of the name living in Cross Plains, Dane County, Wisconsin who appear to originate in Prath as well.  And so we appeal to you, the reader, to help us by “crowd sourcing” more information about families of this surname.  If you are researching Dommershausen, know of someone else who is, or are merely aware of an instance of this name appearing in records you have used — then, please, write to:
…and we will take it from there.  Thank you!