Friday, October 29, 2010

99th Edition Carnival of Genealogy, Religious Rites Can Tell A Life Story

Copyright 2010, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

This Carnival of Genealogy, hosted by Jasia of Creative Gene has a challenge of: 

Baptisms/Christenings, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, church weddings, anointings, ordinations, etc. Organized religion played a large part in many of our family histories. Virtually all religions have their rites/ceremonies. Has your family participated in any of these rites?

In my years of research I have either been elated or deflated at the religious records found for the ancestors of Man and Moi.  For many of my ancestral lines there are few records, there were quite a few Baptists and other Protestants.  Those of you who have ancestors with those religions will agree with me, those religions and their lack of records can be deflating.  Oh, there are records here and there, but for the most part my ancestors are not included in them.  (Hear the huge SIGH of a discouraged Carol?)

On the other hand, many of Man's ancestral lines are of the Lutheran religion. I have to say, I have found the Lutheran's to be extremely family research oriented. I am pretty sure they did not keep those records for the benefit of family researchers (OK, Carol is being a tad bit sarcastic here, LOL), however, this family researcher LOVES Lutheran records!

Using Lutheran records I have been able to trace generations of Man's clan back in Germany, well over 100 years worth of Ruthigs, Molder/Molters, Creutzens, Hirsches, Wagners, Warners, Jungs and many others, all one church.  Using Lutheran records I have been able to track an ancestor's life events, baptism, confirmation, marriage, children, and death and burial. 

Today's images and story concerns one of Man's aunts, and all but one of her life events took place via the same church, Calvary Lutheran Church, Lincoln Park, Wayne County, Michigan, where the Gehrke clan has worshipped, baptized, confirmed, married and buried many family members.

Frieda's baptism took place at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pigeon/Linkville, Huron County, Michigan.  It was written in the Old German handwriting, the translation is loose, but gives us the basic details.

Above, Frieda's Confirmation certificate, from the Calvary Ev. Luthern Church, Pastor, Walter O. Kleinhaus.  Confirmation for a Lutheran is a major milestone, as it marks the entry into a person's religious adulthood, it is a personal public profession of his or her faith.  It has been celebrated and continues to be.  Many families have parties to celebrate the rite. 

Right, photo of Frieda about the same time, it is my opinion that this photo was taken the day of her confirmation.

Above, Frieda married Emmett Bell on 04 February 1939, note she was married by the same pastor, Walter O. Kleinhaus.  It is not totally clear if they were married in the church building.

In September of 1941 Frieda gave birth to her one and only child, Patricia Mildred Bell.  Patricia was baptised at Calvary reportedly in October 1941, the date has not been verified.

In early October of 1941 Frieda died, her funeral was held at Calvary, and once again Walter O. Klienhaus officiated at this Gehrke family event, as revealed in her obituary, newspaper source unknown:

"Services for Mrs. Frieda Bell, who died Sunday in the Highland Park General Hospital at the age of 26, were held at 1:30 P.M. Wednesday from the Nixon Funeral Chapel, and at 2 P.M. from the Calvary Lutheran Church with the Rev. W.O. Kleinhaus officiating. Burial was in Glen Eden cemetery. Surviving are her husband, Emmett, of Highland Park; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gehrke, of 4040 Agnes Avenue, Lincoln Park; one daughter, Patricia, three weeks; four sisters, Mildred Gehrke and Mrs. Martha Maitland, of Lincoln Park, Mrs. Hilda deHilster, and Mrs. Hedwig Pariseau, of Hazel Park; and a brother, Arthur."

Church records, when found can fill out your family tree.  The trick is, of course, to locate the correct church and verify where those records are held.  I found records for the German Ruthig family through the Latter Day Saints.  The Gehrke clan lived in Lihue Kauai Hawaii for a number of years, the Lihue Lutheran Church records have also been filmed by the LDS.  I found many baptism records there, as well as a few death records.  The pastor from Lihue recorded cause of death and some other interesting tidbits of data that family researchers cherish.  Michigan church records were examined, one church even loaned me a photocopy of the entire set of records - - I had a field day, it was great fun!

Yes, our family did participate in their religious rites, and as you can see, for some ancestors and families that participation is well recorded and tells us much about their life stories.  Now, if we could get some of the Protestant churches to do "do-overs", and create lots and lots of records for me to review.  Ahhh, the dreamer I am!

*Thanks to fM for the poster.


IrishEyesJG said...

Oh my goodness; I love this. What a beautiful tribute to Frieda. It is as though her life is right in front of us in just a few beautiful documents and a photograph. Thank You Carol for sharing this. Cheers! Jennifer

Brenda said...

After trying to research a couple of ancestors from the Baptist faith, I appreciate my Lutheran ancestors so much more. Wonderful post, Carol.

Nolichucky Roots said...

A too short life beautifully documented and remembered. Bless the Lutherans. Really well done, Carol.

hummer said...

Boy Have I been behind. Great post. I love finding where my family worshiped too. Especially if there is a letter in which they express their faith.

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Very good, Carol! What a tribute to her and thank you for sharing! Inquiring minds would like to know, what did she die of, just one month after giving birth?

J.M. said...

Lovely post, with lovely images. Yes, some faiths do have more records and it's only by draw of luck that our ancestors were (or weren't) part of those faiths. Ah, if only we could have do-overs...