25 February 2017

Breaking Through My Brick Wall

One of my most frustrating brick walls has been my 2x great-grandfather Dietrich Heinrich Hasemeyer. I knew he was born in Germany, went to Illinois, then on to Colorado (where he married my 2x great-grandmother), and died in Utah. But I didn't know much about his family, where he came from, or how/when he came to America.

You would think there would be a record of his coming to America, since it would have been around 1880. His Naturalization papers don't give any specifics, just a signed oath of allegiance. I just couldn't figure it out.

Then I remembered that his obituary mentioned his family. His obituary in Utah, 1925, stated that he had 3 brothers living in Illinois. This was the key.

One thing I like about Ancestry.com is the ability to make multiple trees, private ones, and it gives record hints even when the person has no death date listed (potentially living people). I made a Hasemeyer tree just for this investigation.

I looked up the 1920 census and found everyone named Hasemeyer (and other various spellings of the name), and put them all into a tree together. I knew many would not actually be related, but this was just to help keep track of/find other records for them.

I discovered that 3 of the Hasemeyer men I found were brothers, living in the same county in Illinois in 1920. And they all had birth records in Germany, that were searchable! They had the same parents (that's how I know they were brothers and not just people with the same last name).

From there I looked up the parents, to find all the children they had in those German records. Low and behold, they had a son named Heinrich Diedrich Ferdinand Haesemeier, with the exact same birth day as my Dietrich Heinrich Hasemeyer! I know that (in this family at least) the people went by their 2nd given name rather than their 1st given name, so Heinrich Diedrich would have gone by Diedrich/Dietrich most of the time. I had found my family!

All I had left to do was copy the information for my newly found family members from my private Hasemeyer tree onto my regular tree, and attach the sources.

All the other Hasemeyers in Illinois were totally wrong to be my family, the years and places didn't add up at all.

It pays to look up the FAN club of your ancestor and not just the person you are actually looking for (FAN stands for Family, Associates, and Neighbors). Now I am climbing this branch of the tree, finding cousins and grandparents, and so excited to finally break through that brick wall.

Update Mar 11:
I have a DNA match with another Hasemeyer, confirming that I found the right Hasemeyer family!

I saw that I had 2 matches through AncestryDNA with the name Hasemeyer in their family trees. One was related to my known Hasemeyer ancestor, and the other had a private tree. I messaged them, and they responded, confirming that they are directly descended from my ancestors brother. Looks like I have a new cousin (3rd cousin once removed for those who want to know)!