“Three Ways to Get Something Done: 1)do it yourself, 2)employ someone to do it for you, or 3) forbid your children to do it!” Monte Crane

Getting something done–even if it is not correct or even useful or even interesting–is the pressure that is upon us all. In genealogy, as in life, getting something done correctly is the goal. This bit of philosophy introduces today’s Genealogy News Sheet.

I spoke at a family reunion over the weekend on Swiss research and the updated pedigree of the John Myers family. And as I was driving home with a glorious sunset before me (and waiting in lines of cars present at Raspberry Days in Garden City–sort of like riding through Long Island before the freeway system.)

Johannes Meier, born 8 Dec 1841, son of Johann Heinrich Meier and Barbara Hell, resided in Wattwil, St. Gallen, Switzerland in 1859 when he was confirmed. He, and two generations of his family going back in time, are recorded in the Wattwil Familienbuch dated 1850. He died, as John Myers, Sr., 8 May 1927. The Ovid (Idaho) obituaries say in Salt Lake City, Utah; family group sheets state Ovid, Bear Lake, Idaho. He was married in Salt Lake City in December 1870 and is listed on the Utah 1870 census as a single man. These facts are proven and documented.

John Myers’ gggrandfather–Jacob Meyer was born 12 May 1701Weis/Wiss, Wattwil. Jacob married Johanna Anna Emissegger 30 Apr 1720 in Hemberg, St Gallen. At the time of his marriage, Jacob was a resident of Schlatt/Schlott, Hemberg. The marriage record stated his father Jorg Meyer was dec’d–deceased. These facts, too, are proven and documented. As are the generations from John to Jacob: proven with exact documents and internal links from the Swiss parish registers.

This was the challenge: Jacob’s birth record stated he was the son of Jorg Meyer of Wiss and Elsbeth Zimmerman of Hansenberg. Who is the correct Jorg Meyer? Out of all the candidates, who is Jacob’s father? And who is Elsbeth?

Candidates for Jacob’s father:

Jorg Meyer, born 1657, son of Uli, who married Susanna Zimmerman, daughter of Gorius Zimmerman, 27 May 1685, Wattwil. They had three children recorded in the parish register. This Jorg died 14 May 1694, Schmidberg. This Susanna had a sister Elsbeth.

Jorg Meyer, chr 20 Mar 1662, son of Melchior of Schmidberg. In 2004, I thought this Jorg was the best candidate. John Myers’ grandfather Bernhard was a resident of Schmidberg.

Hanss Joerg Meyer chr 16 Mar 1659, son of Hanss Meyer and Anna Zuber. This man married, under the name of Hanss Meyer, Anna Abderholden 16 Jan 1689. Hanss Joerg and Jorg are not the same name. If they were, the clerk would not have to differentiate them in the records. Hanss Joerg does not show a son Jacob born in Wattwil; he has a son Jakob, born in Lichtensteig. And this lineage continues on back to Uli Meyer (grandfather) of Egerton and Jorg Meyer, father of Uli of Dietlesberg.

There are a few other Jorg Meyer entries of differing dates who do not remain in Wattwil nor do they appear in Hemberg. These are all documented too.

Who is the right Jorg? The right man is Jorg Meyer, son of Uli Meyer and his wife Anna Abderhalden. Jorg was born in Wattwil, he resided at Wiss when Jacob was born, he died in 1703 in Schlott, where his son Jacob was still a resident at the time of his marriage in 1720.

Other Researchers Working on Meyer Lineages:

What complicates this challenge are the many researchers who have been collecting the information from the parish registers and fitting the data together–incorrectly! These are the researchers:*

  1. Julius Billeter. Billeter was a Swiss citizen and a convert to the LDS Church. He lived in Switzerland most of his life and prepared genealogy sheets for LDS members so they could do the temple work for their dead ancestors. His files and notes are all microfilmed–although they are filmed in many different series. And for personal clients, the family groups sheets and pedigree charts he compiled became Archive sheets and they are filmed as many among millions. These sheets are difficult to find alphabetically, because you must examine every sheet.
  2. Jakob Wickli-Steinegger. Wickli was a genealogist who lived in the Toggenburg Valley which includes both Wattwil and Hemburg. He compiled hundreds of genealogies–first on family sheets, then cross-referenced by number to families before and after. These family sheets are microfilmed on 22 reels, FHL. They are handwritten with typed bride lists.
  3. Abraham Braegger Family Organization. These family members are extracting all the entries from Swiss parish registers where their Braeggers come from and compiling them on to family group sheets to submit for temple work. Different family members have sent us copies of their family sheets because they know we are researching the Meyer Family.
  4. Emil Looser. Looser resides in Wattwil and began sending information at the request of a family member. He has sent family sheets, descent pedigrees, and extracts from court documents.
  5. FamilySearch on the Internet. Family Search includes the International Genealogical Index with numerous entries from the Swiss records, but almost no controlled extraction. Controlled extraction for Switzerland is just getting underway, because the records were filmed so recently. The entries in the IGI are submitted by LDS members–some who have consulted the records and some who have only used what is already in the databases.

These are all “compiled sources.” Some are based on the parish registers and some are not. They all have the potential for errors as the lineages are built. Every family group sheet and pedigree chart, every one is a compiled source. Even the ones compiled by Arlene H. Eakle.

So what makes these Arlene Eakle’s charts different?

Each family group sheet and pedigree compiled by me is accompanied by photocopies of the original record entries themselves. You can see exactly what internal links (see below) the parish clerk included in the entries that connect the names, and thus, the ancestors correctly. You don’t have to take my word for it. I also research the places of residence to ensure that they are located where the charts say the ancestors lived. Maps, with the places highlighted, are attached to the charts. You can see for yourselves what the records say.

Swiss Genealogy Research Considerations:

  1. Microfilming in the Swiss Records is fairly recent. Early research efforts in the family were based on handwritten and typed abstracts obtained from Switzerland by correspondence using genealogists resident in Switzerland. Analysis of the data was careful and thorough. These data ended with Jacob and Anna and their children born in Wattwil. Jacob’s birth was estimated 1712, based on the birth dates of his kids.
  2. Swiss parish registers include “internal links” written in by the parish clerk. He needed to keep each family and their correct members uniquely described so they could be identified. The Swiss are very tidy–and their vital records, the responsibility of the church, were tidy by decree. These links include the use of maiden surnames for all females: a) When a woman married she did not assume her husband’s name–she was the daughter of her father and the wife of her husband. She retained her maiden name in all of the records. b) Persons were identified by their village or hamlet of birth or residence (sometimes both) within the parish. Jorg was of Wiss and Elsbeth was of Hansenberg. c) If the father is named and he is dead, the record puts dec’d after his identity–so the word may not appear next to his name. If his residence is listed and his occupation is listed, and his own father and/or mother are listed, dec’d will appear after all of those words–without punctuation. So it is often missed by the reader, as the eye scans the entries. You have to read the entries in their entirety.
  3. When people move from parish to parish, the clerk usually makes a notation somewhere in his records of these moves into and out of the parish. One of the most common records to find these notes recorded is the “familienbuch” where the clerk also records the whole family–father, mother, and all the kids–on the same page. (Remember what Larry Jensen says about parish register research–be sure to identify the whole family in which the ancestor fits.) In the register the clerk enters marriages of the children and deaths of infants and second marriages of the parents and moves to other parishes. The familienbuch includes a summary of the family known to the clerk. It is “as if” you could interview the clerk about your family today. This record needs to be used along with the register. Fewer mistakes occur in a lineage where both records are compared with each other.
  4. The given name pool of the Swiss is small and the same names are repeated in almost every family every generation. Careful reading of the registers, watching for the internal links is essential. Sometimes it is necessary to read the original register through more than once to ensure that you do have the correct entries.

Who is Elsbeth? Elsbeth Zimmerman is the daughter of David Zimmerman of Shlott, Hemburg and his wife Elsbeth. Since her birth was not registered in Wattwil, all of the other researchers missed her and felt the clerk of that parish had erred. They concluded that Susanna had to be Jacob’s mother.
* In defense of all of these researchers, they sincerely mean well in their work and they have tried to fit the many candidates together right. If you start with the wrong ancestor, you will connect the lineage incorrectly, regardless of your skills in reading the records and matching the family members you climb the wrong family tree. These records often show which candidates are not the ancestral families. And they keep subsequent researchers from making the same mistakes.

We stand on the shoulders of those who have researched before us. And that gives us an edge in our own work. Another way of getting genealogy things done. Your genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle PS I just couldn’t replace Keara sooner than today. Please excuse me.

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One Response to “Three Ways to Get Something Done: 1)do it yourself, 2)employ someone to do it for you, or 3) forbid your children to do it!” Monte Crane

  1. Beth Breinholt says:

    Hi, I am trying to locate a member of the Abraham Braegger Family organization. Can you help me? I noticed that you mentioned them in your blog. I am specifically looking for someone related to the Kellers, but i will talk to anyone. Thanks!

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