This week I had the good fortune to hear certified genealogist Lou-Jean Rehn speak to the Germanic Genealogical Society of Colorado. She offered a wonderful talk on searching for her German-speaking Swiss ancestors. One of her valuable pieces of advice was to continue mining your home sources for information. I decided to give it another try even though I thought I had already covered all this ground.
My mother-in-law happens to be visiting this week, and she attended the meeting with me. Lou-Jean’s urging inspired us to spend some time letting my mother-in-law reminisce about her German family and traditions while I avidly took notes. As a result, this week I have learned many interesting family anecdotes from the early twentieth century. I found out why the Walz family moved from Jordan to Mahnomen, MN (they lost all their money in a bad investment and had to start over) and how my husband’s grandparents met (she worked as a housekeeper for his uncle). I heard the sad story of the cousin who bled to death after shooting himself in the leg while trying to climb over a barbed wire fence.
I also learned that even though I thought we had copies of all pertinent family records for this family, we have overlooked some. Apparently, my mother-in-law has a family Bible that I have never seen. She also has a collection of family letters from pioneer days in Minnesota.
Next time I go to visit her, you can be sure I will be looking at these previously-unknown sources. Lou-Jean was right. Keep looking for records at home.