Monthly Archives: March 2011

Genealogy Season is Here!

I am officially on Spring Break, which means it is GENEALOGY TIME!  I’ve been craving some good old fashioned genealogy time for a while now, so this break from my school schedule is a very welcomed break.

My focus for the rest of today will be on my Keppler line.  Here is how my Kepplers come into my family tree:


Like the above family tree? Well it is a new widget released by WikiTree, a free family tree building website with unique privacy controls. The widgets were just released this week and allow for a family tree or pedigree chart to be embedded into a blog post or webpage. These widgets make it so easy to visually display your family tree – and I can’t wait to start using this for my Surname Saturday posts.

Note: I am biased about this because I work for WikiTree as a WikiTree Evangelist – which means that I manage WikiTree’s social media presence, try to get others to write about WikiTree, answer questions, and overall, share my love of WikiTree with others. WikiTree is truly unique because of the privacy controls and collaborative environment.

What genealogy activities do you have planned for the week?

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Keppler Passenger List Mystery Solved?

In the last year, I have made serious efforts to jump into my German lines.  German Genealogy has long intimidated and terrified me, and while I’ve half-heartedly attempted to get over this fear in the past (by attending lectures, reading books, asking questions, etc), this time I am actually jumping in.

But the first step to jumping in requires actually getting some U.S. research done on my German ancestors – something I’ve avoided over the years because eventually, I’d get to the German part and have to actually jump the pond.  I haven’t jumped the pond just yet, but I am getting closer to doing so.

My great grandmother, Marie Keppler married my great grandfather, Maxamillian Doerflinger on September 17, 1902 in Butte, Silver Bow, Montana.  From the newspaper articles I’ve read, it sounds like it was a fun occasion.

Marie Keppler’s parents, Anton and Rosalie Keppler.

With the help of a distant cousin that I found through research, I was able to find Anton Keppler listed in New Haven, Connecticut city directories from 1883 to 1892.  Sometime between 1892 and 1895, Anton moved to Butte, Silver Bow, Montana because in 1895, he is listed on the Butte city directory.  He is again listed in the Butte city directory in 1896, but in 1898, the city directory lists him as having passed away – and even gives the date he passed away and his age.

I know that Anton was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Butte, Montana and I’m waiting for a lovely volunteer from FindaGrave to take the photo for me.  (Volunteers are awesome!).

Before I go any further, let me tell you what I know about this family:

Anton Keppler, born abt 1847 in Germany and he married Rosalie, born in March 1845.  While in Germany, the couple had four children: William A. Keppler (Dec 1873), Adolph Keppler (Mar 1875), Marie Keppler (Apr 1876), and Annie Keppler (Sept 1880).  Once in New Haven, Connecticut, the couple had Anton Keppler (7 Mar 1884) and Frank Keppler (May 1886).

So based on where their children were born, my hypothesis is that Anton and Rosalie immigrated to the United States between late 1880 to early 1884.  With this information in mind, I began a search on Ancestry.com.  I began my search by using Anton as the main person, but I wasn’t finding anything.  I then started searching for Rosalie and look what I found:

Possible Passenger List for Anton and Rosalie Keppler

Source: “Hamburg Passenger Lists,” digital images, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com : accessed and dowloaded 12 March 2011), Ship Name: Frisia, Departure Date: 27 Apr 1881, Port of Departure: Hamburg, Port of Arrival: New York, J Keppler and Rosalie Keppler.

The above image of of the Hamburg Passenger Lists database on Ancestry.com.  It shows the lists compiled during departure from Hamburg, Germany.  Here are the people I’m looking at:

  • J A Keppeler
  • Rosalie Keppeler
  • Wilh Keppeler
  • Ad Keppeler
  • Ernest Keppeler
  • Otto Keppeler
My heart began to race as I saw this.  Could this J Keppeler be my ancestor?  His age matched up with Anton Keppler’s.  The ages for Rosalie, Wilh, and Ad were about correct.  But if this is my family, then where are the two Keppler daughters, Marie and Annie?  And who are the two extra boys, Ernest and Otto?  It seemed I was left with more questions than answers.
So I started going through my old research notes and I noticed two things:
  • According to family stories, my great-grandmother Marie Keppler came to this country separately from her parents.  According to these stories, she came here and lived with an “Aunt Annie”.  Looking at the 1910 Census for Marie, I noticed that she listed her immigration year as 1889, which is different than the year her brother’s listed.  Could this family story be true?  Could “Aunt Annie” actually be Marie’s sister Annie?
  • The above passenger list says that the family is from Stuttgart.  Family stories also say that the family is from Stuttgart.
  • While searching for Rosalie’s death certificate, I found a Keppler death certificate that I couldn’t fit into my tree.  The death certificate was for a 20 year old Ernest Kepler, who died on 19 Aug 1898.  There was little information contained on the certificate – no parental information or information about an informant.  Could this be the Ernest Keppeler listed on the above passenger list?
With a little further Ancestry.com searching, I found a New York Passenger List:
Possible New York Passenger List for Anton and Rosalie Keppler
This passenger list shows the arrival of the Keppeler family into New York on 11 May 1881.
While I haven’t confirmed that this is the passenger list for my Keppler family, I would say that I am 90% sure that it is.  My gut just tells me that I’ve finally found it.
In order to confirm my gut feeling, I am going to need to find the following:
  • What about Marie and Annie?  Were they left behind in Germany for a few years and then brought to the United States?  If that is the case, then why?  Why bring the sons but not the daughters?
  • Is the Ernest Kepler in the death certificate I found the same Ernest Keppler as listed on the passenger lists?
  • Who in the world is Otto?
Do you have anything to add?  Did you catch something I missed?  Please let me know!  I love the research advice!
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To Research Or Not To Research?

Kim Cattrall’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are (U.S. version) struck home with me.  As the story of Kim’s grandfather unfolded, including the discovery that he started another family, I became anxious to know whether she would contact the other family.  She chose not to and I completely understand why.

For most of my life, I have known that my mom was adopted and who the identity of her biological mother.  When I got interested in genealogy, I asked my mom about her biological dad.  She told me the little information she knew but asked me to not do further research or try to contact him or his family until she had passed away.  Now that she has passed away, I am a bit conflicted on whether I want to research who her biological father was.  To be honest, I’m not even sure if I could find him with the little information I have.  Part of me is curious about who this man was and whether he even knew my mom existed.  But another part of me feels like his identity doesn’t really matter because all he really did was give me his DNA, rather than have a direct impact on the life of my mom.  But some could argue that his absence affected her life.  To research this man or not to research this man?  Let me give you some back story to help you better understand my perspective:

The Back Story:

*Note: I will not disclose the name of my mom’s biological mother, even though she passed away in 2009.  She will instead be referred to as ‘Biological Mom X”.

Biological Mom X discovers that she is pregnant with my mom.  She was living in Seattle, Washington at the time.

Biological Mom X’s sister, Margaret (Harney) Doerflinger is living in Santa Monica, California with her husband, Max Doerflinger and their 5 children.

Biological Mom X moves to Santa Monica for the majority of her pregnancy and creates a private agreement with Margaret and Max – they agreed to adopt my mom, Sharon, and never disclose who Sharon’s biological parents are.

My mom always knew that she was adopted, but while she was growing up, she had no idea who her biological parents were.  When my mom was a teenager, she was finally told the truth about who her biological mother was.  She was shocked to learn that the woman she had been raised to think was her aunt, was actually her mother.

My mom was always very adamant about her parents being the people who raised her rather than the people who gave her DNA.  She felt honored to be “given” the Doerflinger last name – so much so, that when she got married, she kept her last name and when I was born, she gave me her last name.

But even still, I believe my mom was always yearning for acknowledgement from Biological Mom X – but that never happened.  It was made strictly clear to never mention or acknowledge Biological Mom X as anything other than an aunt.  I’d imagine this was because Biological Mom X felt ashamed to have a baby out-of-wedlock in a time where that was unacceptable.  I don’t think she wanted a mother-daughter relationship with Biological Mom X since she already had that relationship with the woman who raised her.

All I Know… is Not Much

All I have about who the biological father of my mom is a name, nickname, occupation, and that he was married with two sons who were possibly teenagers.   That is all I know.  I have no idea where he lived exactly (although I can make a guess that it was near where Biological Mom X lived in late 1958 when my mom was conceived).  If he was married, I have no idea what his wife’s name was or who his kids were.  I don’t even know if the information I have is correct.  I have a feeling that there is at least more than one grain of truth in this information – but where the truth is, I don’t know.

To Research or Not to Research?

I don’t even know if I feel comfortable researching my mom’s biological father.  It almost feels like a slap in the face to the man who chose to go through the parental duties and love my mom as any parent loves their child.  I don’t want to turn my back on the man who will forever in my eyes be my grandfather – no matter what DNA says.

But I also can’t help but have this looming curiosity about my mom’s biological father.  The first thing that comes to mind is learning more about his health because that could have an impact on my own health.  But I also wonder about what he looked like and what kind of person he was.  Did my mom have his incredible blue eyes?  Was he tall?  Was he stubborn?  Was he smart?  Did he have siblings?  Did he have other children?  Did he even know my mom existed?

So I guess my question is still unanswered.  To research or not to research?

What are your thoughts?  Please share them below in the comments section or feel free to shoot me an email.

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