Friday, December 28, 2012

Follow Friday: The Register of Swiss Surnames

I recently learned from a post by Wolf Seelentag that the Register of Swiss Surnames is available online. This is an extremely important resource for Swiss genealogical research and the very first place to check when starting out on a name.  A search engine, guidelines and a table of abbreviations are presented in English (here) and in German, French, Italian and Romansh, Switzerland’s four official languages.

In the early days of our Swiss research I got look-ups or used the three-volume set at the library of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Titled Swiss Surnames: a Complete Register, it was edited by Emil Meier and published by Picton Press in 1995. Its original German name is Familiennamenbuch der Schweiz. This is a list of all surnames with Swiss citizenship in 1962 for each community in which citizenship was held. When you don’t know the community from which your Swiss family originated, finding records is nearly futile.

We first learned that our Hoffman immigrants came from Oetwil am See in Canton Zurich. Church records there included members of the family because they did live there. However, they were always noted as “von Oberglatt” (of Oberglatt) the community in which they were citizens – even though our branch hadn’t lived there since about 1750. If you look for Hoffmann or Hofmann in Canton Zurich, you will find that HOFFMANN (2 Fs) is listed for Oberglatt from before 1800. Our immigrants included the widowed mother of seven. Her maiden name was Homberger. The listing for Egg, a community just north of Oetwil am See was one of the places that name appeared before 1800. Her father was a citizen of Egg (remember that’s German and sounds a little like “eck” not that thing you scrambled for breakfast). Her mother’s family were the ones who were citizens of Oetwil am See. Their surname was Muschg. A potential problem with the list shows here. Older church records show the family as citizens in that location, but the register does not have them as citizens before 1800. The reason is that eventually all the descendants I could trace were daughters and the family surnames changed to that of the husbands. In other words, the name “daughtered out.”

It is a big advantage to have this list so handy now. If you have, or may have, Swiss family to research, be sure to check their surnames in the register.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Aunt Elsie in North Carolina

Dick spent so much time working on the index to the 1940 U.S. census that he is quite comfortable working with it. He remembers his Aunt Elsie and her husband Art Makk visiting when they moved from North Carolina to Arizona. It seemed likely they lived in North Carolina at the time of the 1940 census. He found them in Guilford County in the piedmont city of Greensboro.
Art & Elsie after their move to Arizona
Arthur J. Makk gave his occupation as sign painter which is what he did, but in reality he was an artist designing signs. Both Art and Elsie are listed with a birthplace of Ohio. Elsie Elizabeth Hoffman was apparently born in Brooklyn, Ohio, even though her parents lived in Tennessee. Her mother must have stayed with her cousin Elizabeth Hückmann for the birth of her first child 4 April 1901. There is no Cuyahoga County record of the birth, but family records seem to be reliable.

Art is the first family member we have found who was also recorded in the supplemental questions at the bottom of the page. Since Elsie's line is marked with the circled x, she gave the information to the enumerator. She did not give accurate birthplaces for Art and his parents. His 1930 census entry when he was living with his mother showed both of them born in "Hungary." If you click on the image below you'll be able to read all the information on the Makk household.
This is what the entire page looks like:
1940 U. S. Census, Guilford County, North Carolina, population schedule, Morehead Township, Greensboro, enumeration district (ED) 41-48, sheet 14B, dwelling 243, Arthur J. Makk household; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 September 2012), NARA digital publication T627, roll 2920.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

1940: Colorado Roses

John Hoffman's oldest daughter, Maggie (Margaret K.) moved with her children Clarence and Alma Rose and her second husband Frank Rush from Illinois to Colorado. They lived in farm country of eastern Colorado, first in Lamar, Prowers County by 1913, then in McClave Township, Bent County by 1920. Maggie died there in 1924. Colorado was one of the first states in the 1940 U.S. census to be searchable on the website. Maggie's family was there.

Her son, Clarence John Rose, served in World War I and after became an electrical engineer. About 1929 he married Mary M. Spangler. In 1930 they lived in Iowa where their sons James Allen and Lawrence J. Rose were born. In 1935-36 Clarence worked for Otis Elevator in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The 1940 census finds them in Denver where they remained. Clarence was a salesman for an elevator company. James A. and Lawrence J. were nine and seven respectively. Their address was 2844 Dahlia St., a three-bedroom house in the Park Hill District built in 1925.

In 1930 Frank Rush lived with his stepdaughter Alma and her husband Hugh Jenkins and children Margaret Rose Jenkins and Hugh L. Jenkins, Jr. in rural Prowers County. Hugh, Alma and Hugh, Jr. were still on the farm in 1940. They had survived the dust bowl and depression years there. Their daughter Margaret lived in nearby Lamar with her husband Cleo Thompson and his parents. Cleo was a grocery store clerk. I still regret finding Margaret (known as Marge) almost too late. She and Ruth Whalen had a nice phone conversation catching up on the many years since they had corresponded as children. Marge died soon after, her daughter notifying both Ruth and me. Ruth had happy memories of her and we wished we could have had more time getting to know her.

1940 U. S. Census, Denver County, Colorado, population schedule, Tract 41, Denver, Election District Z, enumeration district (ED) 16-298A, page 310 (stamped), sheet 62A, dwelling 48, Clarence J. Rose household; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 April 2012).

1940 U. S. Census, Prowers County, Colorado, population schedule, Election District 6, enumeration district (ED) 50-9, page 146 (stamped), sheet 8A, dwelling 138, Hugh L. Jenkins household; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 April 2012).

1940 U. S. Census, Prowers County, Colorado, population schedule, Ward 1, Lamar, Election Precinct 1, enumeration district (ED) 50-1, page 52 (stamped), sheet 11A, dwelling 252, Elmer Thompson household; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 April 2012).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

1940: Hoffman’s Derinda Farm in the U.S. Census

The 1940 U.S. census was released to the public on April 2nd. There still isn’t a complete index to it, but rural areas like Derinda Township in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, have a small number of pages that are easy to read through. The Hoffman farm family was counted on 12 April 1940. The household begins on the third sheet and continues onto the fourth.[i] The pages list many familiar names: Wurster, Endriss, Teichler, Dittmar, Krug, and Klopf.

Youngest in the family, John Hoffman (age 60) was the primary force in the family and was listed as head of household and person supplying the information. Next is oldest brother Henry (66) who only is listed as a laborer while William (64) is a brother and Minnie (62) is a sister and housekeeper. All were born in Illinois and lived in the same house five years earlier in 1935. The farm is reported with a value of only $1000 (perhaps that is just the house?) All reported fifth as the highest grade completed in school. None of them were on one of the two lines in each page for which supplemental questions were asked. Click on the image to see a larger version of some of the information.
Combined parts of the two census pages, left side

Missing from the family are brothers Charles and Fred. Fred died in 1934 and Charles had for many years lived in Rockford, Illinois. He will be easier to find in the 1940 census once the index for Illinois is completed.

[i] 1940 U. S. Census, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, population schedule, Derinda Township, enumeration district (ED) 43-5, sheets 2A-B, dwelling 28, John Hoffman household; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2012).