Sunday, August 30, 2009

1900 Census

Since I was very familiar using censuses, I began searching the Detroit census returns. Knowing that the family arrived in 1890, I started with the 1900 census and found them listed as Colbe. This "misspelling" was not a surprise to me. My entire married life I have dealt with people wanting to spell Kolbe as Colby (like Colby cheese.) After all, that's how it sounds. By the way, Colby cheese is named for Colby, Wisconsin where it was developed in 1874.

In 1900 William, age 65 and Pauline, age 62 and 6 of their children lived at 251 Wabash Avenue. Everyone was born in Germany. William's occupation was listed as a baker. The children, ranging in ages 18-29, all had occupations in the bakery industry, except Emil who was a druggist. It is noted that everyone could speak English except Pauline.

Another daughter named Hedwig (Hattie), age 31, (also born in Germany) lived with her husband William Hackenberger at 553 E. Antoine St. and their 4 children: Emil, Madie, Hattie, and Frank. William's occupation was listed as a feedman. According to the census, Hedwig and William were married about 1889 and their son Emil was born in September 1889 in Michigan. Hedwig's year of immigration to the U.S. was listed as 1888 and William's as 1869. This leads to several unanswered questions:
  • Did Hedwig come to the U.S. before the rest of her family?
  • Where did Hedwig and William get married?
So here is what I knew about the Kolbe Family members:
William was born February 1835 and Pauline was born December 1837; they were married about 1864. William emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1891 and had filed his first naturalization papers. Their children's names and birth information:

Ida - August 1870 (daughter)
Herman - November 1872 (son)
Paul - April 1875 (son)
Emil - February 1876 (son)
Berthold - November 1878 (son, although listed as Bertha, a daughter in this census)
Hedwig (Hattie) - March 1879 (daughter)
Emma - July 1882 (daughter)

The census indicated Pauline had given birth to 9 children and 7 were currently living. That added a mystery to solve-when were those other 2 children born and where did they die? I also knew that census information may be inaccurate, so I would keep an open mind when doing future research.

Next time: 1910 Census

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting Serious

I started getting serious about tackling the German genealogy learning curve. So I pulled out those old scribbled notes I made while talking to my father-in-law. Then I contacted some of my husband's cousins and discovered that they had in fact, done some research on their Kolbe line. Yeah! So now I knew a little more than George's recollection.

I also asked my mother-in-law, Theresa, if she knew anything about George's grandparents and aunts and uncles. She had a little information, but as far as she knew, no documented family tree existed.

So I jumped into the German research, not realizing how exciting and challenging it would be!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Father-In-Law's Recollections

George's (my father-in-law) recollections included:

His father, Emil Kolbe, was born in Schoenwalde, Germany and came to the United States (Detroit, Michigan) in 1890 with his whole family. He became a pharmacist and owned his own drugstore in Detroit where he and his wife, Lillian Landrie, raised their 5 sons: William, Carl, George, Joseph, and Victor. A few years before Emil died, he was shot during a robbery of his drugstore.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any information from George about his grandparents or aunts and uncles. He also mentioned something about, "that area of Germany being Poland now" but I didn't think it was relevant, so I didn't explore that very important detail which would have saved me a lot of time later.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reluctant Genealogist

I know, I know. You are probably thinking, "A reluctant genealogist?" Yes it's true. There were several reasons I was reluctant to research my husband's genealogy:
  • I'd never done any German research and didn't want to tackle the German genealogy learning curve.
  • I knew none of his family's folklore because I obviously didn't grow up in his family.
  • The only German words I knew were guten tag (hello), auf wiedersehen (goodbye), danke schoen (thank you), gesundheit (bless you), and dummkopf (fool; idiot).
Several years before my father-in-law, George Kolbe, passed away I briefly questioned him about his roots. Unfortunately I didn't ask many detailed questions. That is really a shame because now that I am doing German research, I sure would like to be able to ask him those questions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beginnings - "What about Dad's side of the tree?"

A few years ago, I started researching my husband's German genealogy. My own family tree had been the target of my research efforts since I was in high school. After hitting many "brick walls" I felt the desire to search something new so it made sense to look into his genealogy. After all, my children might someday ask, "What about Dad's side of the tree?"