John Carr AB Seaman

Have you ever watched one of those historical British shows where they look up the famous military personnel of the day in a book and find out all about them?  Or perhaps you have seen where they look up the history of a specific ship?

Well, I got to do something of that sort recently.  Last I checked in on John Edwin Carr was about 4 years ago, and I speculated that, based on family stories, he was in the merchant marines.  And I saw that there are records – I just didn’t know where they were or how to access them.

So when I ran across the Crew List Index Project, I got a little excited. Especially when I saw that they started indexing at 1881 – right in line with the time period before my great-grandfather shows up in the US.


Last Name:   Carr
First Name:   John
Voyage Year:   1881
Vessel Name:   Hibernian
Official No.:   33526


Using the ship’s number (33526), I found that this John worked on the Hibernian 6 times in 1881 (okay, the last time, it doesn’t look like he actually made the journey).

Frankly, there is no way to verify that this is MY John Carr yet.  Except for the fact that his age changes every few months (seriously, we need to talk about that) and he puts his birthplace as Liverpool, which is what I had always been told growing up. To me, these are two clues that indicate this could be our guy.

Supposedly there is a way to track the career of the seafarer.  AND, I believe there were some certifications he may have had as an AB Seaman (able-bodied).

Other online indexes are also providing info about this John Carr:

England & Wales Merchant Navy Crew Lists 1861-1913 Transcription

This index on shows John Carr,  born in 1845 in Liverpool, working on the ship called the City of Chester (#69272) during 1878.

And another entry shows John Carr, born in 1845 in Liverpool, working on the Western Chief (# 53060) from October 1865 to October 1866.

That is what I will be working on next…

  1. Watts, Christopher T., and Michael J. Watts. My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman: How can I find out more about Him? London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1986. (FHL book 942 U37w. BYU Harold B Lee library book CS 432 .M46 W38 1986.) This guide explains contents of a variety of records as they relate to the merchant seaman, including Lloyd’s Marine Collection.
    • (requested via Interlibrary Loan on Feb 22)
  2. And a source for general info and leads to other sites: The Family Search wiki page relating to the British Merchant Marine


More German Russian families – Häberle

This post is to fill in the logic I used in making the connections on the Häberle genealogy.

Similar to some of the other German Russian lines I have researched, there were lots of clues but not always plenty of documentation as I moved along in my research.

As I mentioned in my Rieger entry, I was anxious to push both the Rieger and Häberle lines back.  I wasn’t too lucky with the Rieger line, as I was never able to make concrete connections between our Johannes Rieger who married Catharina Häberle and the rest of the Rieger/Rieker families.

But Catharina Häberle’s line wasn’t as complicated simply because the last name wasn’t as common.

In Catharina’s death records, she is listed as born in Grossliebenthal in approximately 1822, a bit late for us to be able to connect her to the Häberle family in the 1816 census.  Except that there is only one Häberle family in Grossliebenthal – that of Andreas Häberle.

Still, the question isn’t final.  The family of Andreas Häberle and his second wife, Barbara, includes a young child of 3 in 1816, so it is completely possible that Catharina is his child. But, it could also be true that Catharina is the child of Andreas’ oldest son from his first marriage, Matthäus, who, 24 and unmarried in 1816, could easily be married with children by 1822.

To determine which family Catharina belonged to, I made a diagram of the Häberle descendants and noticed that there was a clear gap in years between when Andreas’ children (by his second marriage) were married – in the 1830’s – and the marriages of the next group of Häberle’s – in the 1850’s and 1860’s.  Because of this clear gap, I consider Catharina to be the daughter of Matthäus Häberle and the granddaughter of Andreas Häberle.

Then comes the next question – who was Matthäus’ wife?   Between the years of 1816 and 1833, there are no marriage records available.  But we’re in luck because Matthäus’ youngest child is born in 1835.  Of course, this woman, the mother of the youngest child, could be a second wife.  Unfortunately, I can’t prove that one way or the other.  So at this point, I’m working under the assumption that Anna Maria Schäberle was the mother of all of Matthäus’ children – most of which I can still only somewhat speculate were his based on the timing of births and marriages as mentioned with my above discussion of Catharina.

Now, with a Häberle and a Schäberle married to each other, you’re thinking that I’m making this up! But actually, there was a man named Johann Martin Schäberle who immigrated to Russia in 1816.  He must’ve been late for the census because his name does not appear in any town lists but he is listed in the immigration index as headed for Grossliebenthal.  This may be a project for another day.

No death records have been found for either Andreas or his son Matthäus Häberle.  However, in the immigration index, Andreas’ origins are listed!! Andreas is shown as a “Taglöhner” from Röthenbach, Alpirsbach, Freudenstadt, Württemberg.  He (or his family of 3) left in 1803 and emigrated to Grossliebenthal.

The records of Röthenbach, Alpirsbach, Freudenstadt, Württemberg contain the records of Matthäus’ birth and the births, marriages and deaths of Matthäus’ father Andreas, Andreas’ father Hans Martin, Martin’s father Andreas, Andreas’ father Hans Jacob and Jacob’s father, Michael Haberlin. This takes the family back before 1700.  Most of the spouses came from out of town, which I’m trying to track down in upcoming projects as well.

But wait, there’s more…

As you have probably noticed, once I hit a stopping point with a paternal line, I circle back to see what I can learn about the women’s lines who have married in.

Initially, I didn’t have any luck with the Zirgus/Kirgis, Schäberle or Schillinger families.  But I was able to find out more about Christina Winter, wife of Hans Martin Häberle.

From one of her children’s birth records, I was able to decipher the town name of Reinerzau.  Actually, it looked more like Xeinergau, but there is no town with that name!!

I hopped onto the Internet and searched the surrounding town names for something ending in -gau and that’s how I located Reinerzau.

It didn’t take me long to find Christina Winter.  I started looking for her birthday around the year of her husband’s birth and, it turns out, she was almost the exact same age.

The next bit of excitement had me looking for some Latin phrasebooks, however, because in the  marriage record of Reinerzau, we find the marriage record of Hans Jorg Winter and Barbara Pfau (Christina’s parents) .  But at the end, in Latin, it states, “sponsus habuit parentem illegittimum” Interestingly, this phrase means that the groom was an illegitimate child.  Further reading shows that his family is from another nearby town, Ehlenbogen, also near Alpirsbach.  Sure enough, in the Ehlenbogen church records, you find one illegitimate child named Hans Jerg, son of Christine Schwaab and a soldier named Hans Jerg Winter.

Further research takes these lines (for the Pfau family) back to Jacob Pfau, born about 1574 – the father of 10 children. Not much else could be found on the Winter or Schwaab lines.

Other family lines that marry into the Pfau family include Fritz, Wassner, Heinzelman, Schwenkin, and Werner.




Taking the German Russians back to Germany

So my German Russian family tree has been spelled out on the other entries, but here’s a summary – we’ve got Mehlhoff’s marrying Leno’s and Krause’s marrying Otto’s. Other surnames that married into these lines include Rieger, Schopp, Lang, Haeberle, Nathan, Lorenz, Wiederrich, Ganthner, Schmelzler, Spielhaag, Bechtold, Heck, Hinsz, Maier,  Schell, Reitz, and Ohlhaueser.

Some of these, I’ve been able to trace back to Germany, while others remain “stranded” in Hungary, Prussia, Poland or even still in Russia.

One of my goals over the next few years is to spend a little time on each of these lines to see what leads I can track down.

For example, I was able to research the Schmelzler line and found their hometown in Germany – Gomaringen. I found this city name on Johann Lorenz’ wife’s death record (listed as her birthplace). Sure enough, upon reviewing the records of the town, I found her birth record – Magdalena Schmaelzlir, born April 14, 1778 to Johann George Schmaelzlir and Magdalena (last name unreadable).   I didn’t find additional information about them.  So now perhaps it’s time to check the records of surrounding villages.  Will I find their ancestors or more children?

The Lorenz family is listed by his death records as from Allenfeld, Pfalz.  I have made some inquiries there already.  Can I find more?

My efforts at finding the Schopp’s in the town of Neuplattendorf, Sachsen-Anhalt, proved fruitless.  Are there more leads if I can trace them more carefully backwards from their stay in Tscherwenke, Hungary?

The Leno family is listed as potentially being from Scherwinga, Hungary. In the last efforts I made, I hadn’t located that village yet.  Perhaps there is more info on the Internet available for that search now?

The Ganthner family was identified as being from Schwezeretz, Poland.  Also, no idea where that is as of today.

Are there any further records for the “Warschauer Umsiedler”?  I need to see if anyone else is researching this group of people.  Perhaps I can then find leads on the Otto family. There is the Nathan family – also “Warschauer Umsiedler” – to consider as well.

There are also the Reitz, Schell and Ohlhaeuser families.  It’s time to spend more time on them to see what information we can put together on these relatively newly found branches of the family.

And as far as the Mehlhoff line goes – it seems well traced.  So perhaps now it’s time to track down the wife’s lines.  Is there more to learn about the Wiederrich’s and families that married into their line?  The Rott, Newinger and Bucher families?

The Haeberle line was the last “gold mine” find I made before the original newsletter came to an end.  Are there loose ends on that line?  Of course! What are the next steps in researching the Schaeberle, Zirgus, Schillinger, Ganser, Winter, Schwaab, Pfau, Wessner, Heinzelman, and Werner families? Some of these are actually already traced back into the 16th century!

Can I get the Krause family back one more generation?  is there a connection between Martin and Michael Krause? How about the Heck family?  Where did they come from? Where is Grugetz or Grupetz, Poland?

As you can see, there are plenty of things to track down still.


A Carr researching an Otto

Is it wrong that my last name is Carr and I’m related to ancestors named Otto?

When I started my Otto research, I was working on the Jacob and Katherine (Bechtold) Otto line in the Dakota’s. Although they lived outside of the settlements during the 1880’s, this couple descended from the Otto’s and Bechtold’s in Neuburg, Grossliebental and Altfreudental areas of the German settlements in the Ukraine.

With the help of the St. Petersburg records, I was able to connect Jacob Otto to the original Otto ancestor in that area, Gottlieb Otto.  He is listed as a “Warschauer Umsiedler” or Transplant from Warsaw.  This does not mean specifically the city of Warsaw, but rather the general area or the duchy of Warsaw.

The connection with Gottlieb is a little tricky.  There is no birth record available for our Jacob (born in 1828 and married in 1850).  As luck would have it, Gottlieb Otto settled in an area that was hit with an epidemic in 1814 that wiped out most of the town!  Only two of their sons survived – Karl and Christian.  Both had sons named Jacob, but Karl’s son Jacob was born in 1845.  So our Jacob – married in 1850 –  must have been Christian’s son!

The Bechtold line can be traced as well.  Katherine’s father, Johann can be connected with the original immigrant, Konrad Bechtold, who is listed on his death record as being born in Torschau, Hungary, a large Donau German settlement.


Location of Torschau

Bessarabian ancestors – Krause

Starting in 1997, the Krause research we were doing was gathering information about the immigrant family and trying to identify more about their starting point in Russia.  I remember knowing that they were from Odessa.  Of course, then I learned that Odessa was just the big city near where they lived.

As the immigration, naturalization and passenger records came to light, we were able to find the Krause’s in a brief sojourn between their Russian starting point and their eventual landing spots in the Dakota’s and Wisconsin.

Between 1904 and 1909, the Krause and Zerbe blended family lived in Bukowitz, Schwetz, West Prussia. In fact, that is where August marries Caroline Otto, John marries Bertha Pumplum and Emanuel marries Marie Buechler. I’ve never been able to determine why they chose to stop in Bukowitz.  Was it near their families’ place of stay prior to the time in Russia?

Historical location of Bessarabia.

Historical location of Bessarabia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the release of the German church records stored in St. Petersburg, I was able to track down the Krause family in Alt Elft, Bessarabia (now a part of Romania). While specific records were hard to track down, the Alt Elft Familienbuch proved to be a treasure trove, providing us with more details about Johann Krause (who died back in Russia).

The Familienbuch of 1883-1903 shows entries for the Krause family as late as 1898 while previous research of the birth records indicated that they may have left the area as early as 1892 (when all the birth records switch over to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, the Krause families info doesn’t appear).

Additional research in the Familienbuch allowed me to trace the Krause family back one more generation – to Martin Krause in Kloestitz, Bessarabia.  Recent searches have indicated that Martin is the son of Michael Krause of Paris, Bessarabia – but I’m trying to get more details on that.  Paris is in the same area as Alt Elft.  Of course, Michael Krause shows up in that time period in two other families – are they all the same man?

That’s what I’m working on now…

More German Russian families – Leno

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have had some luck in tracing the Leno ancestry.  Not a lot, mind you.  The name isn’t very common, but has still proved elusive when trying to trace the family back to its German roots.

But one of the puzzles involving Leno’s seems to be resolved – at least, to my satisfaction.

The puzzle I refer to is the link between our Gottlieb Leno and the emigrant ancestor Johann Peter Leno.

For many years, it was believed that there was only one Jakob Leno that linked these two people. Which, although potentially feasible, seemed unlikely to me.  Johann Peter Leno, after all, was born in 1773 and Gottlieb in 1856.  Johann Peter would have to have fathered a child very late in life to make this connection.  Or so my thoughts ran…

From the Peterstal records located in the St. Petersburg records, it is obvious that there are two Jakob Leno’s, one, the son of Johann Peter Leno, who would’ve been born before their arrival in Russia, and the second one, born during their sojourn in Russia.

Even better proof is the listing for Gottlieb Leno’s birth, that indicates that his father was Jakob Jr. That means that Jakob’s father is also Jacob – listed in the family book of Peterstal as born in 1801 prior to their arrival. Even better evidence is that fact that Jakob and Heinrich Jakob (or Jakob Jr.) are listed separately in the Familienbuch of Peterstal.

While some of the dates for the Leno family come from family records, I haven’t been able to find any further contradictions that would make me question the pedigree as indicated above.

The next task was to figure out where the Leno’s came from.

Here is their entry in the 1816 census for Peterstal:

From Karl Stumpp: 1816 Peterstal Revision List: Arrived in 1815, Johann Leno 43, wife Margaretha 38, children Jakob 14, Katharina 12, Adam 9, Peter 6, Christian 1/4

The next important clue is that Dr. Karl Stumpp indicates that many of the settlers in Peterstal arrived via Hungary.

In reviewing death records to find the early Leno family members birthplaces, I came up short.  I found the birthplace of Catherine Becker who married Jacob Leno – she died when she was 75 and she was born in Scherwinga, Hungary.  Peter Leno’s wife Catharina Schock was from Czervenka (she died in 1837). But none of the other early male Leno’s died when the records were being kept regarding their origins.

There is a mention of the Leno family on the Grossliebental District Odessa Russia Regional Interest Group website though there are no accessible source material in the links that include the name.  The name may simply appear on the site because so many families from that area did come through Hungary.

More German Russian families – Rieger and Lang

Tracing the female lines of my German Russian ancestry has been difficult. (I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me!)

I have some relatively good info on the Leno family – perhaps because Adam Mehlhoff married Katherine Leno here in the US and some family history has been preserved. Even then, there has been some piecing together and speculation based on dates and estimates. (See later entry).

But the mother and grandmother of Adam Mehlhoff prove more difficult, but for different reasons.


The name Eva Riegert was how I was first introduced to Adam Mehlhoff’s mother.  She died when Adam was just a few years old.  No records of her death have been found, unfortunately.

But in trying to connect her with the families in that area, it wasn’t hard to determine that there were some spelling and pronunciation challenges muddying the water.

By this, I mean that in the dialect of the German Russians, the three names (or at least spellings) Rieger, Rieker and Rueger would all have been pronounced in a very similar fashion.  Which is probably why we see all three versions on the church records of the time. Here are some illustrations using people we know for sure are related:

Friedrich and Eva Mehlhoff had two children: Johann and Adam. They were married in 1876 and her name appears as Rieker.jmehlhoffbirth1

In the 1876 birth record for their son Johann, Eva’s maiden name is spelled Rueger (and one of the godparents was a Rueger as well). Her full name appears as Eva Margaretha Rueger.

In fact, there are a handful of Rueger entries in Bergdorf in the 1880’s. The names Rieker and Rieger, however, are much more common.

In the 1879 birth record for their son Adam, Eva’s maiden name is now listed as Rieger (with one godparent by the name of Rieger).

amehlhoff5Putting the Rieger/Rieker family together is a bit speculative.  So let me share here the logic I used to identify Eva’s family.

One of the first clues that allowed us to narrow down the field in our search for Eva was the mention of her parent’s names in a Mehlhoff collection:  Johann Rieker and Catharine Eberly. The collection was titled “Memories of the Past 1770-1998” by Esther Leno.

In trying to find that Rieker and Eberly family, it was pretty easy to make the connection to a German spelling.  Especially after finding a marriage record for Johann Rieger and Catharina Haeberle in 1850 in Glueckstal.

When I corresponded with the Rieger family, they acknowledged that there was an obvious gap in their line.  After the 1850 marriage, there were no children until 1858. Highly unusual. It’s not hard to guess that there were some children, (perhaps that didn’t survive?) in that time period. They list the children as Adam, Johann, Friedrich, Philipp, Dorothea, Matthias and Christine (between 1858 and 1870).

Here is a link I found to the Rieger family’s genealogy online.  There are some details I haven’t seen before that perhaps can help us learn more, namely, they list the town of Seidemenvichi/Seidemenucha and (interestingly) Johann’s oldest daughter is named Eva.

Their sporadic appearance in the Church records makes it very difficult to tie them back to the one Rieker immigrant (another Johann) whose emigration trail is documented!

But to verify how she fit in, the family of Johann Rieger and Catharina Haeberle were located in Bergdof and the connection between our Eva and that family needed to be established.

One solid clue is that, for Eva’s two children, there are Rieger godparents:  Adam Rieger and Johann Rieger.  According to the Rieger family, they are the two oldest children of Johann and Catharina.  There is no other reason to have included these fellows unless they were relatives! Other godparents are Johann Mehlhoff (mentioned both times and he is Friedrich’s older brother) and Barbara Lehr and Katharina Lehr.

Okay, so perhaps my logic starts to fall apart when I realize that I don’t know why these Lehr women are included.

The last part of my logic puzzle is whether there were a lot of Adam and Johann Rieker’s living in 1870/1880 Glueckstal area. As indicated, there is a connection between Eva and Johann and Adam Rueger in the church records. There are no other mentions of Adam Rieker or Rieger though there are 2 Johannes Rieker’s in Bergdorf in the 1880’s.

My conclusion – Eva is related to the Rueger family – Johann and Catharine (Haeberle) Rieker/Rieger.

Unfortunately, following similar logic and strategies are to no avail with Barbara Lang.  Even though she came to the US and lived here for a time, her last name was so common that it has been too difficult to determine how she connects with the other Lang families of the town she lived in.