Thursday, July 12, 2012

Third wife's the charm: Friedrich Stutzmann probate proceedings

I've been knee-deep in Raynor genealogy, using the Queens County probate records that are now online at FamilySearch.org, but today I decided to switch it up and take a look at my father's side of the family. I found a bunch of names in the index for Queens, Kings AND New York counties, though the actual records are not yet online (I know, I'm getting greedy) but I did find the index AND probate proceedings for my third great grandfather, Friedrich Stutzmann, who died Jan. 14, 1906 in Ridgewood Heights, Queens County. Now, my third great grandmother, Mathilde Rau, was Friedrich's first wife, and died very young in 1880 from yellow fever. With small children to raise, Friedrich married again, this time to Rosalie Goess/Goesz, who also died fairly young sometime in the 1890s. Looking at his probate proceedings today, I see that, who is requesting letters of administration for his estate, is his WIDOW Augusta. So great great great granddaddy Fred had a third wife that apparently nobody recorded, not even Schlegel's. I went to the Italian Genealogy Group's website, italiangen.org, as I usually do when I'm looking for New York City vital records, and there it is - on May 8, 1901, a Fred Stutzmann married an Auguste Sander.

Looking back, I realize I saw Friedrich with a wife Augusta in the 1905 New York State census, but for some reason, I assumed it was a mistake - that Friedrich's daughter-in-law, also Augusta, had mistakenly been listed as his wife. Because that sometimes happens. So today was twofold productive - the discovery of a third wife I never knew about (even if you're not related to them, second/third/beyond spouses can help you find family in future census records/directories/newspaper articles etc) AND I relearned the valuable lesson to NEVER assume in your research - if you see something that looks like a mistake, check it out. Maybe it is, or maybe it's brand new information.

Here endeth the lesson.

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