Friday, February 1, 2008

The Lazy Genealogist

Well, I got back from Salt Lake City yesterday. I had so much fun! The first day we started at 7:30 a.m. with a lunch break, visited 2 scrapbook stores and back to the library until closing at 9 p.m. I found most of my information that day. The second day, I spent nearly the entire day on the international floor. This is what I found out---I only liked it when it was easy--the first day! On that second day, I had to scroll through 1000's of feet of microfiche to (maybe) find a birth certificate (never found a single one). After an hour of that, I said s***w this s**t and went back to the computer. Although I got some stuff, I found that since my family were recent immigrants, it's hard to get good information---and it's all in a foreign language. I couldn't find information about the places in Italy where our ancestors came from, but was given some information on a couple of Catholic Churches to write to for christening, marriage and death records. Since the letters have to be written in Italian, they gave me a book of all the words I need to translate. I think I'm too lazy to do it. I did get the name and a picture of the boat they came on and some records from Ellis Island. That was cool. This was for the Preli/Pagella side. Mostly they were farmers. I didn't get a single new thing to add to the family tree on the second day, so that was a bit discouraging.

On the Zimmermann side, I did a little better as the Zimmermann's immigrated in the early 1800's. That put them in more US records. Once I tried to trace them back to Germany, it was impossible as it turns out that the name Zimmermann is like Smith or Jones. Again, I was given some places to write to along with the German translation guide. Maybe I can get Mindy to handle that for me. The most interesting thing I discovered was that Grandpa Zimmermann's mother's name was Amelia Bollenhagen. She was born in MO as were her parents. But I hit a dead end as she grew up along with her little brother in St. Joseph's orphanage (she was 8, he 4). Kind of sad to not know what happened. Of course, since everything was a big secret back then, her parents names were not listed--just where they were born. I might try to delve into that little further sometime when I'm in St. Louis as that seems like such an unusual name. But one thing I did find out---beer drinking is in the genes! Many of the Zimmermann's were brewmasters and brewery workers. Figures.

On both sides, we come from a long line of Catholics. There's a reason I'll explain later as to why I think this is relevant.

Butch had already done some work on his side of the family and traced the Eads' back to 1700's with forefather's names like Isaac and Abraham and a few Bibles thrown in for good measure. I researched his Irish side---Donnelly's. I could only get back to the mid 1800's with that as once I had to go back to Ireland, I found that the Donnelly's were also like the Smiths and Jones. Bridget will be happy to know that a great-great-great grandmother was a Bridget Donnelly--I couldn't find her maiden name. At least I could figure out that these Donnelly's came over about the time of the Irish potato famine.

So the breakdown is this: I'm 50% German and 50% Italian. Butch is 50% Austrian, 25% Irish and 25% English. That makes our girls: 25% German, 25% Italian, 25% Austrian, 12.5% Irish and 12.5% English. I might not be so good at math, but, by golly, I learned my percentages!!

My friend, Pam fared much better than I. The first thing she discovered is that someone---a very distant cousin that she's never heard of---already researched her side. All she had to do was print out the information. Seems like her family must have come over with Christopher Columbus as she had information going back to the 1500's. They've been in TN for a very long time. One thing that she came across was a lot of divorces all down the line. That's where I think the relevance of our family being from a long line of Catholics---not a single divorce.

I also learned that the records currently available only go to the 1920 census. Because of the privacy act, more recent information cannot be revealed yet. The 1940 census records are due to come out about 2010.

I plan to give everyone copies of what I've found. But, you will need to email me if you want it so I'll know how many to make.

This was so interesting and totally worth the trip. I'm pumped for my St. Louis trip at the end of the month. I'm going to visit Calvary cemetery and find all the grave stones and death records that I can. Anyone want to take off work and come with me? It'll be an adventure! We can get some 'rubbings' too!



  1. Wow!!! Sounds interesting. I don't know if I'd have the patience to look through all that. I can't believe there is another Bridget in the family! Can't wait to hear what you find when you come to St. Louis.

  2. Count me in for the findings. And I am so glad you are doing the work as it is mind-boggling to me and totally not something I would spend time to do!


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