Saturday, January 26, 2008

Recent Brickwall

Recently I received a brick wall on a family from the Cleveland area. Here is the information as I got it and some of the suggestions I gave for further research.

For over 5 years, I have been searching for the birth place of my husband's grandfather, Leopold Lucht.
Leopold was born somewhere in Prussia on 7 Jan 1859. He emigrated to the US, arriving at the port of New York on 21 Mar 1881. He settled in Cleveland, Ohio and married Emilie Potratz there on 1 October 1882. Leopold and Emilie had 13 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood (all are now deceased).
He was an early settler of the Brooklyn area and a pioneer teamster who helped develop much of that section of the county. He was in the excavation, grading and hauling business in his early years, and with his team of horses, he did much of the grading of Brookside Park. His community was known as Brighton when he first moved there, 60 years before his death in 1952. He eventually joined the old Cleveland Railway Company and worked for 25 years as a mechanic. He was one of the founders of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, and the first services were held at his home on Roanoke. Later, he became a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church. Leopold passed away on 25 Sep 1952, at the age of 93.
Leopold supposedly told a few family members that he was from "Sitno, near Danzig", but no one is sure of the spelling or the exact location of this Sitno. Leopold's naturalization papers say "Sitnau" or "Sitnar" (not sure of the writing)
I have done everything I can think of to find his place of birth, as my goal is to continue research in Europe. Besides his naturalization papers, I've reviewed Lutheran church records and civil records for his marriage, and that of his brother Henry and sister Otillie, both of whom also immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio. I have also reviewed Baptism records for most of his children (Immanuel and St. Mark's), his ship passenger list, 1907 Voter Registration, death, cemetery, funeral home records, his death notice and obituary, and census entries for 1900 – 1930. The naturalization papers give the only written clue to his birth village or town. All of the other records simply state "Prussia" or "Germany".
There are many places in today's Poland that are named or sound like "Sitno". Recently I paid for professional research in LDS microfilm for two villages that I considered to be good possibilities. The first one was closest to Danzig/Gdansk (between Kartuzy and Zukowo) but no Lucht surnames were found there at all. My researcher then went on to check the Sitno near Vandsburg (Flatow/Zlotow) and found Lucht, Gutknecht and Potratz surnames – all of which tie into this family, but he did not find Leopold’s family. I felt strongly about that area because, even though Leopold married in Cleveland, his wife's family was from Vandsburg and his sister married a "Tesmer" from Vandsburg. I was told that his sister, Otillie, was engaged in Prussia, so I figured that if her future spouse was from that area, she couldn't have lived very far away from it. But since no records were found for this particular Lucht family, I guess I was wrong.
2. The first thing to do when doing a check for those folks that come from the same place of origin. (Germany, Prussia, Poland) Next would be using the first item and then age group. Try to follow people that seem to be in the same age group as your relative. Check a couple successive decades to determine patterns of living next to each other in the Census. Finally locate death certificates, naturalization records and obits for those individuals to determine if they give better information of where they came from.

5. All the readers of the German newspapers tended to be immigrants. As a result the news covered in the papers appealed to this group. You will find much information of daily lives and information about the areas that they came from in Europe. It would be well worth your time to check this out. I am sure the event of the church opening was covered and may offer clues. Obits tended to be better than the local English paper.

Concerning the hiring of a professional genealogist you get a much better bang for your buck if you have narrowed down to a small area where they can from. Just to let you know the $400 dollar charge is fair for the amount of the preliminary work that the professional has to do with the search.

Hopefully this gives some ideas on your own research. Please let me know if you have any further questions or ideas. Have a great Saturday.
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