Friday, September 5, 2014

Going "Home" Again

There are only a few places that emotionally feel like a "home away from home" for me, and I sense it immediately.  London and Rome are two places that I knew I belonged.  There's no logic to it, but I knew I had an attachment to those places as soon I got there.  I yearn to be there.

Then there are places that I thought I would emotionally respond to like I did to London and Rome and was surprised when it didn't happen.  Paris quickly comes to mind.  I love the history, culture, architecture, etc., but I don't have that "you're home" feeling.  Wiesbaden is another.  If any single town/city should've awakened something in me, you'd think it would be a German town.  But it didn't.  I liked it.  I liked being there.  But I didn't feel "at home."

And then I visited Haselünne three years ago, and I felt that same "at home" feeling as I did with London and Rome.  My heart yearns for it.  I feel a connection to it that I don't feel with any other town that my ancestors came from.  Why?  I have no idea.  But I've learned to not question and just accept it.

Next week, I go back "home."  But this time, two of my sisters and one brother-in-law go with me to our ancestors' birthplace.  I hope I haven't built it up so much to them that it doesn't live up to their expectations.  But I'm really looking forward to seeing the church and the Hase River again, drinking some more Korn, and just being in the same place that my ancestors were.

St. Vincent's Catholic Church--To the right is the spot where the Latin Boys School once stood, a school my male ancestors probably attended.

The tower of St. Vincent's

The "Historic" Road 

St. Vincent's

The Hase River

Grandpa Joe's pipe resting on the baptismal font where his father was baptized in 1850

Me in front of my "home."  My Kerkhoff family's home was located on this spot--Hasestraße 4

I think of Casper and Lisette Kerkhoff and what they must've been doing 150 years ago tonight.  I'm sure they were preparing for their big adventure, and saying goodbye to family and friends.  And I'm also sure that they knew that they would probably never see these people ever again.  I think of them as they visited the grave of their only daughter for the last time.  Bernadina Antonetta Lisette Kerkhoff died in 1862 when she was just 14 years old.  I can't imagine the pain my great great grandparents felt as they walked to the cemetery for the last time and told their daughter of the journey they were about to take.  A journey they had to take without her.

My sisters and I will be in Haselünne on the 150th anniversary of our Kerkhoff family leaving the town (15 September 1864), and I hope Casper and Lisette will be smiling down upon us.

Let the adventure begin!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Old Catholic Sacramental Records are Priceless!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Catholic Church archivists are some of my favorite people. For the most part, they are incredibly helpful and fully understand how important sacramental records are regarding each Catholic family's history.  Each diocese and archdiocese has its own way of making these records available (or not available, as the case may be), and it's very important that the family researcher find these records.  Here are some links and tips that might be helpful to you.

The Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Toledo have their "old" sacramental records online at FamilySearch.

Archdiocese of Chicago Sacramental Records

Diocese of Toledo Sacramental Records

I could weep looking through these beautiful old records.  This is a priceless resource for people searching for their family members, and they're beautiful to read and see.  I could also cry because none of my ancestors lived in Chicago or Toledo, so these records don't help me at all (at least not that I've found yet).

Many more Catholic records are found on FamilySearch (and also on microfilm at their library in Salt Lake City--microfilm can be ordered to be shipped to your local LDS library).  I've only listed a few, but if you google "Catholic Records FamilySearch" you'll find these listed and much more.

Italian Catholic Sacramental Records

Hungarian Catholic Sacramental Records

Ontario, Canada Catholic Sacramental Records

I found the Catholic baptismal records for 2 of my great great grandparents in this German collection.

German Births and Baptisms

And some release their records to Ancestry.

Irish Catholic Sacramental Records

Quebec Catholic Sacramental Records

And some others have their own website with digital images of their records.  Why, oh why, couldn't any of my Germans have been from the Diocese of Passau?  Because that would have been too easy for me, I think.

Diocese of Passau Sacramental Records

Other dioceses and archdioceses will send you the records you need and/or allow you to come into their archive office (or library) and search through them yourself.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Archdiocese of Boston

Archdiocese of Baltimore

Diocese of Sioux City

And still others, like Covington and St. Louis, release their sacramental records to the local library.

Diocese of Covington Sacramental Records at the Kenton Co. Library

I can personally tell you how incredible the Genealogy Dept is at the Kenton Co. library.  I spend many, many hours there.  The archivist for the Covington Diocese is also very helpful.  If you have Catholic ancestors who lived in Covington, you're in luck.

Diocese of Covington Archive Office

Archdiocese of St. Louis

Still other dioceses (e.g. the Diocese of Duluth) and archdioceses require that you contact the individual parish concerning the records you need.

Archdiocese of New York

I also have to include a couple of wonderful German archivists.  The office in Meppen is incredibly helpful and very quick to respond to inquiries.  I've never had a language problem when I've asked a question or requested records (I don't speak German).

Catholic Archive Office in Meppen, Germany

And the archive office for the Münster diocese found my ancestors' sacramental records from Dinklage.

Münster Diocese Archive Office

Depending on where your Catholic ancestors lived, you may hit pay dirt and can't believe your good luck with all the details you learn about your family. Or you may become so frustrated with the lack of help from the archive office that you literally cry.  Been there, done that, and am still doing it.

Good luck finding your family.  Remember that Googling is your friend.  And don't hesitate to send emails asking for help, records, etc.  What's the worst that can happen?  Maybe the person will delete it.  But you might just luck out and get some incredible information.