Wednesday, July 14, 2010

There you are, Sophia Ricklefs! That rumbling sound you hear is another brick wall being knocked down with a giant sledgehammer

So I've been telling my friend Sam lately about my interest in genealogy - gushing more like it. I blame him, because unlike my other friends who just tune me out, he actually pretends to be interested. And not only does he pretend to be interested but seeing how passionate I am about it, he's been pushing me to pursue a career as a professional genealogist. So today he sent me several links about websites and Youtube channels and New York metro genealogy associations and whatnot. The Youtube channel he sent me was the Genealogy Guy. I clicked on a video at random. Well, I'm guessing not at random - I'm pretty sure the universe, or maybe someone in my family, was guiding me. The video was about a project being conducted by our good friends the Mormons to make original copies of all sorts of genealogical records available online, and so far, for free. God bless those Mormons - if they didn't have to keep all their family lines straight, we might still be in the genealogy stone age. The best part about this is it's on their website, www.familysearch.org. I am on that site all the time, all the fricking time, and I never knew this project existed. From the home page, you go to the section "What's New" and click on the link "see prototype for searching millions of records." I haven't explored it thoroughly yet. I only just discovered it about 10 minutes ago but the results were already so exciting that I had to post and share about it.

I typed in "Meta Ricklefs," just because she was the first name to come to my head. The typical, Ancestry.com fare came up - 1900 census, 1920 census. But then I saw 1905 New York Census...1892 New York census...both with original images available. I had never seen those censuses before. 1905 didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, though the fact that it's there is amazing. 1892 was a whole other ballgame.

The 1890 U.S. census, as we all know, was mostly destroyed in a fire. For those of us living today, 1880-1920 is an important period for us...that's when many of our families came over. That's when many of our grandparents and great grandparents and even great great grandparents, for whom we have later census records or military records or whatnot, were born. So the loss of the 1890 census is a huge loss in genealogy research. Well, the 1892 New York census was taken only 2 years later. (Duh). It doesn't have much information beyond name, age, and place of birth. What it does have, in regards to my research, is a person I've only seen in other people's records and who I had no idea had even come over to America - Sophia Ricklefs.

Now, I had looked up Meta (Tiedemann) Ricklefs, who was living with her husband, John, and their kids John, Meta (my great great grandmother), and Olga. And right below 4 month old Olga is listed Sophia Ricklefs, 57, born in Germany. Now, no family relations are given, but I know from John and Meta's marriage record that John's mother's name is Sophie or Sophia. The age puts her at the right age to be his mom. If she was living here, that means she might have died here, and there could be a death record for her. There could be a passenger manifest record of her. I mean, I can't wait to go and check. 10 minutes and I've already opened new research avenues. It's amazing, how you can be standing still, banging your head against a wall over and over and just when you're about to give up, you bang one more time, and that's what knocks a hole in it.

So, new Ricklefs avenues to pursue, and I haven't even looked up anybody else in my tree yet. I can't wait to see what I discover...so thank you, Sam, for being such an annoying, pushy bastard :)

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