Wednesday, October 7, 2015

One Memory, My Best Genealogy Day, Correct That to Read, Man’s Best

Copyright 2015, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

One of Man’s lineages has an extremely interesting pattern of immigration. The Gehrke clan, left “Germany” and landed in Lihue Hawaii. Years later they moved to Alameda County California and then moved once again to Michigan. This clan was the subject of my first family history book.

For our 25th wedding anniversary Man and I saved for a few years and booked a trip to Hawaii. About six months before departure, Inki hit the island of Kauai and pretty much damaged every building on the island. We were very disappointed as we wanted to visit there, some of his cousins still lived there, one daughter of the immigrant family lived all of her life on the island.  She died there and is buried on Kauai.

Just a few weeks before we departed on our trip, Kauai was re-opened for tourists. We changed our plans, added a week to the vacation. We were thrilled to meet up with a cousin, who has now departed this earth.

But, the magic of this trip was in the 1.5 hours I managed to find to research in Honolulu at the Hawaii State Archives, in the Kekauluohi Building, Iolani Palace Grounds, 364 S. King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii.

At that time many of the finding aids in the research center were of the 3 X 5 card catalog type. The staff pointed out the most likely document sets to search. Man and I both searched, and in short order we had found at least one document that needed to be brought up from the storage area. So, we waited.  The wait was worth it, isn't th is a fun document??

Man was getting antsy, research is not his forte, even tho he is very good at indexes and city directories. He started wandering around. In this research center, there was a long wall of books. A very long wall. I am guessing it was 100 feet, more or less. I remember it being quite tall too, maybe to the ceiling, 8 feet? Many books stored there.

Man wandered over to the books. I have no idea why, but, he did. He studied some titles, just looking. And, at some point, magic and serendipity took over. He reached up, pulled one, just ONE, book down, brought it over to me, asking, “Do you think this would help?”

Seriously, a non-researcher picking one book out of hundreds, and he wants to know if it would help in the study of his great-grandparents? It is almost laughable.

Except - -

It was the one book in all of the world that would solve the question, where in Germany?

See, there was this little issue. We had the name of the town Man’s grandfather was born in, Hammerstein. There was another little issue. There used to be FIVE Hammersteins in Germany. And, we had not one clue which one was the birthplace.

The book was a master’s thesis by one Bernhard Hormann, “The Germans in Hawaii”. With the clues there, the Lutheran Church records from Lihue, Hawaii, family tradition and a bit more research we had our answer. The Hammerstein was now Czarne Poland.

Once again, miracles, magic and serendipity mixed with many (MANY) hours of hard core research and the answer has been found.

All due to Man’s restlessness and one small master’s thesis stored on a very huge wall of books. And to think we only had 1.5 hours to research. Really, a miracle.

* Another fun document we have on Carl Gehrke during the years he lived and worked in Lihue Hawaii, is this November 1891 Pay Roll sheet.

** Note:  Both the Pay Roll sheet and the Certificate of Special Rights of Citizenship were originally published in a "little" (sarcasm intended) work on the Gehrke family.  The notes trimmed in black were done by hand.  Printed information, trimmed by craft scissors, double sided sticky taped to the black construction paper, also trimmed by craft scissors, again double sided sticky taped to a photo copy of the record.  Scanned by the printer into the book.  

***The Pay Roll page has been digitally edited for this format, in the book, the entire page was shown.

**** Certificate of Special Rights of Citizenship, courtesy  of the Hawaiian Archives.

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