Sunday’s Obituary – Anton Hablawetz

This Sunday’s obituary is for my 2nd great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz.  I wish I knew what paper the obituary had been published in, but up to this point, I’ve not been able to determine that.  The obituary was published on May 21, 1909.  Apparently, the obituary was written by Rev. J.H. Crouse, as it was written in the first person by the individual whom Anton had asked to “preach his funeral.”

Anton Hablawetz Obituary

The obituary is to say the least, a touching tribute to a man who was apparently quiet, kind and very hardworking.

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Surname Saturday – Paessler

Herman Julius Paessler – date unknown

The Paessler family name is one of my “primary” surnames that I actually know the least about.  My great grandmother, Clara Augusta Paessler, was the daughter of Herman Julius Paessler and the entire family came to the United States sometime prior to Clara’s birth.  I have yet to find any immigration records short of one possible note on a passenger log that matches Clara’s mother, Theresa, as far as birthdate and a possible misspelling of the surname (Passler vs. Paessler).  Beyond that, this is one of my genealogical brick walls…and probably the one that I am most enthusiastic about breaking down.

Surname: Paessler

Variations: Not many known to date… Passler, Paesler and Pasler are the possibilities I have seen so far.

Origins:  I have confirmed that my great great grandfather, Herman Julius Paessler, was born in 1839 in Altenburg, Saxony Germany near the Czech border.  Beyond that, I have not been able to trace the name back any further.  The only records I can find of the family up to this point, are of them living in Wyandot county in Ohio, so at this point, I am working under the assumption that this was where they first immigrated to.

Challenges:  The Paessler surname will be the one that most likely is my first “international” research effort since it is one of two that are the closest to me as far as immigration into the United States.

Genealogy DNA Testing

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot lately about genealogy and DNA testing.  The idea is that we can utilize modern DNA tests to help trace where our families are from (ethnicity, region, etc.), make new connections on our family tree through DNA matches with others, and in some cases, help to confirm lineage.  If you would like a full explanation of what the tests can provide and , here is a great article that explains the process very well.

There are several companies that are offering this testing, and a variety of levels of the tests apparently.  The three big ones that I have seen so far are:

Ancestry.com – Ancestry offers a test for $99 for members and non-members alike

FamilyTree University offers
another great article on DNA and
genealogy

FamilyTree DNA – This site has the widest variety of offerings out of the three I have looked at so far
23andMe – This site offers not only ancestral testing, but apparently a health related test

I haven’t done any of the tests from any of these sites, and I will freely admit that I am still looking at incredible marriage of modern technology and genealogy!  The implications of what DNA testing and sampling could do for modern genealogy is absolutely staggering.  I do, however, have to admit that I am somewhat skeptical of the full usefulness of the testing primarily out of concern for the scientific reliability of the results and the size of the DNA database that results are being compared to.

I’m curious to hear what experience others have had with DNA testing and genealogy.  Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Genealogy, Family History and Family Stories

Last week, several thousand genealogists from around the country attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be one of them, but I was able to watch some of the live streaming sessions.  The overall theme of the conference was story telling which has really gotten me thinking more about my genealogy research and how I approach it.

Up to this point, I admit that my work has been mostly a “factual” research – names, dates, places, events, etc.  I have run across and recorded a few stories of my ancestors’ lives, but those stories have been few and far between.  The sessions at RootsTech have made me re-evaluate what I am doing and I am looking much more seriously at putting together the stories of not only my ancestors’ lives, but also my own. 

I have read some amazing posts over the past week that have highlighted resources for storytelling and taking all of the “facts” to weave together the narrative and I can’t wait to dive in and start using some of these.  As I undertake this narrative project along with my other research, you can expect to eventually see more stories here on the blog.  I don’t promise that there will be any significant results quickly because as with any project, I’m first sitting down to set my goals and organize my methodology.  Hopefully, within the next few weeks, I will be able to start sharing some of these results.

Isn’t that what genealogy should really be all about – telling our family history?  History as it is written in text books and commercial books is more than just names, dates and places – it is about the narrative of those facts.  It’s time for me to start making my family history research about the same thing so that future generations can see more than just the data.  First stop….my own personal life story (or some of them).  This should be fun!

Those Places Thursday – Wilmington No. 13 School House

Wilmington Township School House No. 13

I know it may seem a bit odd to feature an old one room school house in a “Those Places Thursday” post, but that one room school house actually has an interesting family connection.  The old school house stood at the corner of State Road 1 and County Road 44 in DeKalb County.  I can remember driving by the old shell of a building at least once a week as a young child, and then once I was Jr. High and Sr. High School, I passed it every day on my way to school.  I had always heard my father refer to it as the “Hablawetz School,” but I never understood why.

1880 Land ownership Map – Wilmington Township

When I started my genealogy research in my 20s, I finally asked why the school was known as the Hablawetz School.  My father explained that the old Wilmington Township No. 13 school house was called that because my great great  grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, had donated the land for the school house and built it himself.  As you can see from the 1880 plat map shown here, Anton owned the northeast 1/8th of Section 36 and the northwest 1/8th of Section 35 in Wilmington township.  Anton had donated (as seen on the map) a small section of his farmland to build the school.  In today’s society, it may not seem like a lot of land that was donated, but when you put it in context, it was a huge sacrifice for the community from an Austrian immigrant who had only moved to the county a few years prior.  

A biography that I found of Anton in a published history of DeKalb County states that when Anton bought the land, it was wooded and uncleared and he cleared it all for farmland by hand.  Imagine spending days and weeks cutting down trees, pulling out stumps, clearing rocks and brush and finally having your land ready to farm and then giving away part of it for the betterment of the community!  As you can see from the map, Anton’s farm house stood just across the road a bit from the school house.

Both the one room brick school house and the old farm house are gone now.  Both were torn down for more “modern” structures.  I drive by occasionally and see the mound of dirt where the school house once stood, and realize that this monument to the generosity of one Austrian immigrant is long gone and left only for the memories of those who paid attention to it.  I have a few pictures, and have been able to find a few pieces of records from classes that went to the school, but that is about all that remains.  Somewhere, the stone that was over the door of the school is supposed to be preserved and may someday be used in the construction of another school in the local district, but if it isn’t, I’m hoping to obtain one very heavy piece of family history!

Wednesday’s Child – Lillie Washler (1883-1887)

Lillie Washler (18 Feb 1883 – 24 Oct 1887)

Lillie Washler was, for a brief time, my grand aunt.  She was born in 1883, and a passed away just four short years later in 1887.  The cause of Lillie’s death is still somewhat of a mystery to me at this point.  In the official records that I have been able to find, there is no mention of her birth or death.  The only real clue that I have to her death is that one of my aunts remembers a story that Lillie “died from drinking out of a horse trough.”   To this point, my best guess is that young Lillie contracted some sort of disease from drinking contaminated water.  However, as we all know, stories get distorted with time, and it is quite possible that Lillie actually drowned in said horse trough, or her death had absolutely nothing to do with the story.

Lillie’s story, and the story of her older sister, Leonora, who was born and died before Lillie ever came along, are both goals that I have in my research.  One day, hopefully, I will be able to tell the stories of my grand aunts who lived such short lives.

Tombstone for Lillie Washler

Mistakes of a Rookie Blogger

Wow, did I ever just make what is probably a huge rookie blogger mistake!  I realized that my posts were getting numerous enough that I was suffering from not doing something on my blog that I should have done from the beginning – attaching labels to my posts so I could sort through them.  Sooooo…me being a rookie, I thought I would just go back in and add tags to the previous posts and that would be that.  OUCH, was I ever wrong.  Apparently, in that process, I managed to update posts so that they no longer appear with their original publication date or in the order they were originally posted.

I apologize to any readers that this caused problems for, and I thoroughly have egg on my face.  Mark this one up as a lesson learned!