19 September 2015

The Grandparents are Out of Control! And, Having Way Too Much Fun!!

Now Grandma has gone from not playing nice to stirring up trouble . . . ALL AROUND! I’ve recently been researching the genealogy of a dear friend’s family and apparently the Grandmas - mine and theirs - have been talking, because . . . you guessed it, their Great Grandma has recently been mischievous and isn’t placing nice either! clip_image001 It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya!

And, just why is it the Grandmas? What, Grandpa can’t have any fun?! Ahhh, because elusive maiden names make the game Hide and Seek that much more challenging. And, if you throw adoption and illegitimacy in . . . a hoot!! UGH! Arrrgh!

Guess the after-life is too sedate for some. What better way to get things going, than to stir and mix things up down here. Ummm . . . thanks. 

Okay, in the 21 June 2015 post, Grandma isn't Playing Nice!, I describe how I’ve been pulled and torn from the research I was doing on a paternal line and forced to pay attention to and focus on a maternal line – the Grandmas apparently felt they were being neglected or . . . something.

A brief recap . . .

In June, a ‘'shaky leaf” appeared – a death certificate - for my Great Grandmother Eva (nee RAMER) STARR I didn’t think that I’d spend too much time on it, as I had first-hand knowledge about Eva; I’d spend more time with the records and Eva later when I had finished my current research on the paternal line that I was focused and working on. Yeah . . . Eva, and it turns out, her mother, Louisa MILHEIM, had different ideas. Eva and Louisa were demanding a little attention be paid to them. There was a puzzle; a mystery on that branch of the family tree and apparently they felt that it was time that I paid some attention to it and focus my efforts on solving it.

So, since my last post, the family history mystery has been my focus. I have been browsing images – 3,305, but who’s counting? – of the U.S. Federal Census records for Lehigh County, Pennsylvania for 1880 and 1900; collecting ALL instances of MILHEIM, RAMER and PFAFF and variant spellings of the same. After which, I then spent time reviewing and comparing each enumeration of these families, and, each person within the family to see if I could find a clue; a solution to the puzzle. I took notes . . .

I first formed the question(s) that I was specifically trying to answer. Who was Eva? Eva MILHEIM? Eva RAMER? Eva PFAFF? I knew that Eva was Louisa MILHEIM’s daughter, but was she Oscar RAMER’s daughter? Was she Oscar’s step-daughter? Adopted daughter? Or, had Eva been previously married before marrying my Great Grandfather William STARR?

I also formed an initial “working theory or hypothesis, actually two . . .
  • Eva E RAMER and Eva PFAFF are two different persons
  • Eva MILHEIM was previously married to a PFAFF
Knowing the questions I was specifically trying to answer helped me keep my review of the records focused. I made notes on each family and individual as I reviewed the census records that I had collected. Names of everyone in the household, their age and approximate years of birth; their relationship to the Head of Household; their marital status, etc. Then compared that information to what I knew about my Great Grandmother, Eva and my Great Great Grandparents, Oscar RAMER and Louisa (nee MILHEIM). Did the family or individual have enough “in common” with what I knew to warrant further investigation or could I rule them out, outright?

As I went through the census records for all of the families with the surnames of MILHEIM, RAMER and PFAFF living within Lehigh County and taking a look back at what information I had already, I realized that I hadn’t gone after all of the “low-hanging” fruit, so to speak; the birth, marriage, death, obituaries, etc., etc. for the parents of Eva and Louisa.  Remember, I was going to work on this branch of the family tree . . . later.  I needed to do this before I went any further so that I’d have a better knowledge of their history and ultimately Eva’s. I was able to find records on Oscar, Charles, Louisa and Eva that led to the knowledge that I’d have to broaden my search to include Carbon County; Carbon and Lehigh Counties border each other. While all of the families of interest were predominately from Lehigh County, the MILHEIMs, according to the records, resided, at various times, in either Lehigh or Carbon County.

So, going image by image through Carbon County census records for 1880 and 1900 are in my near future; I’ll be “collecting” MILHEIM families, but, if I run across the other surnames of interest – RAMER or PFAFF – I’ll “collect” them too. 

Here’s a look of what I’ve found, to date . . . Marriage License: OSCAR RAMER and LOUISA MILHEIM1

  1. Are you both single: Both single
  2. relationship by blood or marriage, if any: No
  3. Age of the man: 23
  4. Age of the woman: 23
  5. Birthplace of the man: Berks County
  6. Birthplace of the woman: Parryville, Carbon County
  7. Residence of the man: Whitehall Township, Lehigh County
  8. Residence of the woman: Whitehall Township, Lehigh County
  9. Parent's name - man: Eli REMER
  10. Parent's name - woman: Charles MILHEIM
  11. Guardian's Name - man:
  12. Guardian's Name - woman:
  13. Name of Parents or guardians who give consent of minors:
  14. Date of death of man's former wife, if any:
  15. Date of death of woman's former husband, if any:
  16. Date of divorce of man at any time; cause, where and by whom divorced:
  17. Date of divorce of woman at any time; cause, where and by whom divorced:
  18. Color of parties: White
  19. Occupation of man: Laborer
  20. Occupation of woman: Housework
*The questions are the focus here; to see the application in it entirety, click on the image or the hyperlink (below the image) for a larger view’'. My notes: Man:
  1. Name: Oscar REMER
  2. Marital status @ time of application: Single
  3. Parent’s Name: Eli REMER
  4. Date of Death of Former Wife, if any: (blank)
  5. Date of Divorce of Man at any time . . . : (blank)
  1. Name: Louisa MILHEIM
  2. Marital status @ time of application: Single
  3. Birthplace of Woman: Parryville, Carbon County
  4. Parent’s Name: Charles MILHEIM
  5. Date of Death of Former Husband, if any: (blank)
  6. Date of Divorce of Woman at any time . . .: (blank)
All is as I pretty much knew it to be; the one thing I had not previously noted - remember I had not yet focused my research on this family line – was that Louisa had been born in Carbon County.

Now, here’s an interesting read . . . Oscar and Louisa’s wedding announcement2

From the "Allentown Democrat" (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
Wednesday, 8 June 1892; page 2


Transcribed 13 September 2015

“On Tuesday evening of last week a good-looking young couple came to the residence of Squire James B Snyder, at Mickleysville, Whitehall tsp., and informed him that they had come to be matrimonially spliced, and being always ready to execute such jobs be forthwith proceeded to make the twain one by uniting them in wedlock's bonds after the most approved fashion. They were Mr. Oscar REMER, of near Mickley's and Miss Louisa MILLHEIM, of Hokendauqua. It is said that after having spoken the mystic words which united the couple the Squire saluted the bride in a most gallant and graceful manner. Those who witnessed the performance of the ceremony say that Mr. Snyder did the job in an admirable manner - this having been only one of many of the kind during his magisterial career of over 15 years - though he has not had one for some time. He hopes however that the matrimonial fever may quickly break out and take root like the measles, and that his friends will not forget that he is always ready to serve them in the best way.

The wedding we are however sorry to say, having been an enforced one, the case being one of bail or jail, was not followed by happy after results. After the ceremony the bride and groom took a wedding trip to East Whitehall, where Oscar lives. They walked. After passing greetings with the old folks they ambled back to Louisa's home in Hokendauqua, and there Oscar left his bride at 3 o'clock in the morning. She expected to see him next day, but in the early gray dawn of the morning he had skipped. He hasn't turned up yet, and people don't believe he will. Louisa is desperate over the loss of her husband and the ridicule of the community. She is 22 years of age, and Oscar 20.”

 My notes:
  1. Marriage date: 31 May 1892
  2. Squire James B Snyder both signed the wedding license and performed the wedding ceremony
  3. An “enforced” marriage?  Bail or Jail?
  4. Oscar is said to have “skipped”
  5. Oscar was just 20 years of age; Louisa 22
Hmmm . . . interesting . . .

Oh!  OH!  A shotgun wedding?! 

The marriage took place three (3) years and four (4) months after Eva’s birth, 24 January 1889; Louisa would have been approximately 19 and Oscar about 17 at the time of her birth.
Bail or jail?  Were the two umm, you know . . . 3-1/2 years ago and just getting around (umm, being forced by the lawmen) to making things right?  A black sheep?  Yes!!  Black sheep generate records; lots of records!!!  Well, usually.Fingers crossed

Oscar skipped?  Well, it wasn’t for long.  Oscar and Louisa were married until her death in 1934 (42 years); Oscar never remarried.  And, they raised five children; Eva and four other siblings.  But, inquiring minds want to know . . . where did Oscar “skip” to?  How long before he returned to Louisa?  More courthouse records?  Did the “Allentown Democrat” run further stories on this . . . juicy “affair?” 

Oh, this should be fun!!!

A review of the records . . .

1870 U.S. Federal Census3
Franklin Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania
Post Office: Parryville
1870 - US Federal Census - Charles Milheim

My notes:
  1. Living within the MILHEIM household: Charles, aged 30; Mary, aged 27; James, aged 15; George, aged 13; Milton, aged 11;  and Louisa, age 1
  2. Approximate birth years: Charles, 1840; Mary, 1843; James, 1855; George, 1857; Milton, 1859; and Louisa, 1869
  3. The 1870 census does not specify who the Head of Household is; nor does the enumerator indicate the relationship between each household member
  4. According to Louisa’s death certificate her parents were Charles MILHEIM and Mary HAND; neighbors of the MILHEIM family in 1870 are William and Lucinda HAND and their children; are they relatives of Mary?
The location, names and ages fit with what I’ve known. 

1880 U.S. Federal Census4
Lower Macungie, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
1880 - US Federal Census - Charles Milheim

My notes:
  1. The surname MUHLHEIM is a variant of MILHEIM
  2. Living within the MUHLHEIM household: Charles, aged 47; Mary, aged 50; Louisa, aged 11; and Willis, aged 9
  3. Approximate birth years: Charles, 1833; Mary, 1830; Louisa, 1869; and Willis, 1871
  4. James, George and Milton are now out of the household; Willis was born after the 1870 census
  5. Charles and Mary’s ages are off; 7 and 23 years respectively.  But, Louisa’s age is spot on. 
  6. While the 1880 census did have a column for “Relationship” to the Head of Household, the column is not filled in for anyone enumerated (see image above).  However, the index provides that information (image below).  Where did the indexer get their information?
1880 - US Federal Census Index - Charles Milheim
The location and names. with the exception of Willis who was born after the 1870 census, are as I would have expected.  The ages of Charles and Mary are off; I will keep this in mind as I continue researching and reviewing the records.

1900 U. S. Federal Census - Charles MILLHIME5
Hokendauqua Village, Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
Family: MILLHIME 1900 - US Federal Census - Charles Milheim

My notes:
  1. The surname MILLHIME is a variant of MILHEIM
  2. Living within the MILLHIME household: Charles, aged 63 (Head of Household); Mary, aged  71 (wife); William, aged 30 (son); Eva PAFF, aged 11 (granddaughter)
  3. Charles and Mary, as of the 1900 census, had been married 32 years; marriage year?  Approximately 1868
  4. William, the son, enumerated here as aged 30, however, the birth year given (on the image) is 1879.  I believe his age to be accurate, however the year of birth is inaccurate.  In the 1880 census, Willis [William] was enumerated as being nine years of age, placing his birth year at approximately 1871.  It is my belief that Willis / William are one and the same.  His age is consistent
  5. Eva PAFF is 11 years old in the 1900 census, consistent with an 1868 birth year.  And, also consistent with the information I either had or have gathered to this point.   However, that is all the actual census record states; it does not provide further information.  So, I am unsure just were the transcriber of this record got their information.  Just how is it that they know that Eva is William’s daughter?  And, too, why then would her surname be different from that of her father’s?  Eva is definitely part of the family, that much is consistent; also consistent is that I still don’t know why and where the PAFF (PFAFF) surname fits in. (see below image)6
  6. Note that Louisa is no longer in the household; she married Oscar REMER in 1892
1900 - US Federal Census Record - Eva Paff
South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
Family: RAMER
 1900 - US Federal Census - Oscar Ramer

My notes: 
  1. Living within the RAMER household: Oscar, aged 30; Lo[vebair], aged 31; Mamsie, aged 8; Mary A., aged 9 months
  2. I believe Lo[vebair] is Louisa; I don’t fault the indexer on this one, it certainly does look like Lovebair on the image, however, everything else is consistent with what I know about Louisa
  3. Oscar and Louisa have been married eight (8) years.
  4. Mamsie is eight (8) old; hmmm, was she the “cause” that necessitated Ocar’s and Louisa’s “bail or jail” marriage?
  5. Daughter, Mary A, presumably named after Louisa’s mother, Mary A(nee HAND) MILHEIM
1910 U.S. Federal Census - Oscar and Louisa RAMER8
Coplay Borough, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
Family: RAMER
1910 - US Federal Census - Oscar Ramer

My notes:
  1. Living within the RAMER household: Oscar, aged 41; Louisa, aged 40; Eva, aged 20; Oscar, aged 4; David, aged 2; Elias, aged 69
  2. Relation to Head of Household: Oscar, Head; Louisa, Wife; Eva, Daughter; Oscar, Son; David, Son; Elias, Father
  3. Census records that Oscar and Louisa have been married 18 years and that has been their only marriage; neither previously married.  Consistent with the 1892 marriage license
  4. Eva is in the RAMER household and enumerated as “daughter”
On 15 January 1898, and again on 2 January 1915, Charles MILLHIME  received written questions from the Department of the Interior Commissioner.  Charles was asked to answer each questionnaire and return them to the Department of Interior for inclusion in his Civil War pension file.  The letter dated, 2 January 1915, specifically indicates that his “responses are for future use, and that they may be of great value to his widow or children.
The following questions were asked . . .
15 January 18989:
4 May 1898 - DOI Questionaire - Civil War Pension - Charles Milheim

Are you married? If so, please state your wife’s full name and her maiden name:
Answer: Mary MILLHIME; Maiden Name: Mary Haines

, where and by whom were you married?
Answer: By Rev A Bartholemew, at Parryville, Carbon Ct, Pennsylvania on the first day of year 1868

What record of marriage exists?
Answer: Bible record and certificate

Were you previously married? If so, please state the name of your former wife and the date and place of her death or divorce:
Answer: No

Have you any children living? If so, please state their names and the dates of their birth:
Answer: Louisa MILLHIME, 13 May 1869
              William MILLHIME, 13 December 1870

Signature: Charles MILLHIME
Date of reply: 4 May 1898

My notes:
  1. These questions came thirty-three (33) years after the Civil War 
  2. Mary’s maiden name; Haines?  Another new surname?
  3. Charles and Mary were married at Parryville, Carbon County, Pennsylvania; this is consistent with what information I had
  4. Marriage record(s)?  Bible record and certificate.  This is an 1868 marriage, I assume that the certificate would have been issued by Rev Bartholemew and the church?  And, wouldn’t I like to find the Bible record.
  5. Children: Louisa MILLHIME.  MILLHIME not PAFF (PFAFF).  And, William vice Willis

2 January 191510
2 January 1915 - DOI Questionaire - Civil War Pension - Charles Milheim

Date and place of birth?
Answer: 5 July 1836; Bushkill Township, Pennsylvania

The name of organization in which you served?
Answer: Co E 28th Pennsylvania Knapp’s Battery

What was your post office at enlistment?
Answer: Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania

State your wife’s full name and her maiden name.
Answer: I am a widower

When, where, and by whom were you married?
Answer: ---------

Is there any official or church record of your marriage?
Answer: ---------

If so, where?
Answer: --------

Were you previously married?  If so, state the name of your former wife, the date of the marriage, and the date and place of her death or divorce.  If there was more than one previous marriage, let your answer include all former wives.
Answer: Yes – Mary Ann HAND – 1 January 1866 – Died 12 April 1903 at Coplay, Pennsylvania

If your present wife was married before her marriage to you, state the name of her former husband, the date of such marriage and the date and place of his death or divorce, and state whether he ever rendered any military or naval service, and, if so, give name of the organization in which he served.  If she was married more than once before her marriage to you, let your answer include all former husbands.
Answer: ----------

Are you now living with your wife, or has there been a separation?
Answer: ---------

State the names and dates of birth of all your children, living or dead.
Answer: Louisa RAMER – born 13 May 1870 – living
              William MILLHIME – born 13 December 1871 – living

Signed: Charles (his mark) MILLHIME
Date: 26 April 1915
Catasauqua, Pennsylvania

My notes:
  1. These questions came fifty (50) years after the Civil War
  2. Charles’ place of birth? Bushkill Township
  3. Post office at enlistment? Mauch Chunk
  4. Wife’s full and maiden names?  Charles states that he is a widower; indeed he is . . . twice.  His first wife Mary Ann died in 1903, he stated a few questions down.  And his second wife, Mary Jane, died in 1914 – just one year ago
  5. Children?  Louisa RAMER, DOB: 13 May 1870; living
                     William MILLHIME, DOB: 13 December 1871; living
  6. Charles was living, as of 26 April 1915, in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania
All consistent with the information I’d gathered. And, what does the subject of this family history mystery have to say on the matter?  Not much; as noted, it was her daughter, my grandmother, Catherine Louise (nee STARR) KRIEBEL, that stirred the winds of mystery with the information she provided for Eva’s death certificate.  In addition to what I’ve discussed here to this point, I have only found one additional document that records Eva with the PFAFF surname . . .

Mr George W E STARR to M Eva E PFAFF } No. 23301
1.Are you both single? Yes
2.Relationship by blood or marriage, if any: No
3.Age of man: 24 years
4.Age of woman: 22 years
5.Birthplace of the man: Pottsvill, PA
6.Birthplace of the woman: Hokendauqua, PA
7.Residence of the man: 11 N 4th Street, Allentown, PA
8.Residence of the woman: West Coplay, PA
9.Parents' name - man: Harry E and Katie E STARR
10.Parents' name - woman: George and Louisa PFAFF
11.Guardian's name - man:
12.Guardian's name - woman:
13.Name of the parents or guardians who give consent of minors:
14.Date of death of man's former wife, if any: 14 June 1910
15.Date of death of woman's former husband, if any:
16.Date of divorce of man at any time / Cause, where and by whom divorced:
17.Color of parties: white
18.Occupation of man: clerk
19.Occupation of woman: cigar maker
*The questions are the focus here; to see the application in it entirety, click on the image or the hyperlink (below the image) for a larger view’'.
My notes: 
  1. Woman’s name: Eva E PFAFF
  2. Eva is 22 years of age; consistent with an 1889 birth year
  3. Eva’s birthplace: Hokendauqua; consistent with the information I had
  4. Eva’s parents: George and Louisa PFAFF
So, have I been able to answer any of my questions?  Do I know who Eva is?  Let’s review . . . The questions I was trying to answer specifically were:
  1. Who was Eva?  Eva MILHEIM?  Eva RAMER?  Eva PFAFF?
  2. Was Eva, Oscar RAMER’s daughter?  Step-daughter?  Adopted daughter?
  3. Had Eva been previously married before marrying my Great Grandfather William STARR?
And, what about my initial hypotheses? 
  • Were Eva RAMER and Eva PFAFF two different persons? 
  • Was Eva previously married?
A reasonably exhaustive search?  No, I’m just getting started; there is a lot more research required.  While I am not ready to write an extensive proof argument making the case for Eva PFAFF, I believe that the specific questions and hypotheses I started with here have been answered / addressed to this point; here’s why.

Eva PFAFF and Eva RAMER are one and the same.

Who was Eva?  It is my belief that Eva was not Oscar RAMER’s daughter.  Eva was born three years and four months prior to Louisa MILHEIM’s and Oscar RAMER’s marriage.  Census records; Eva’s marriage license, and her death certificate reflect this.  Eva’s marriage license also provides her maiden name as PFAFF and the names of her parents as George and Louisa PFAFF. The records – census and marriage license, in particular - also document a familial relationship between mother (Louisa) and daughter (Eva) and Oscar RAMER.

While the census records and death certificate are secondary (secondhand) sources – the information did not come directly from Eva – I believe that by virtue of Eva’s date of birth and the date of her mother’s (Louisa) marriage, three years and four months later to Oscar RAMER, the “evidence” supports my conclusion above.  The marriage license is however, a primary (firsthand) source; that is, Eva would have provided her full maiden name and the names of her parents.  And, she also states that she had not been previously married nor had she been divorced.  Again lending acceptance to PFAFF being her maiden name.

The marriage license for Oscar RAMER and Louisa MILHEIM also would lend credence to this.  However, there is a “conflict;” when Louisa was asked about death or divorce of a former husband(s), she provided no information, suggesting that Oscar was her first . . . okay, okay, her first husband.  Yet, her daughter Eva on her marriage license provided the names of her parents as George and Louisa PFAFF, leaving the researcher to reasonably infer that George and Louisa had, at one time, been married – they shared the PFAFF surname.

And, there are the questionnaires that Louisa’s father, Charles MILLHIME, completed for inclusion in his Civil War pension file.  Both the 1898 and the 1915 questionnaires asked for the names of his children and their dates of birth.  Charles’ answers clearly indicate on both that Louisa is his daughter and provides her maiden name, MILLHIME; her date of birth, 13 May 1869/70; and her married name, RAMER.  Charles does not, in any portion of his 87-page pension file, provide any other information on his daughter Louisa, that would suggest or indicate that she had been previously married.

Where do I go from here?  
  1. Lehigh County, Pennsylvania Courthouse records . . . a) Marriage records?  Is there an existing record of a PFAFF / MILHEIM marriage?  Assuming, of course, that there was a marriage.  b). What can I find out about Oscar’s and Louisa’s shotgun wedding?  Specifically, what records were created and what might they tell me about my Great Great Grandmother Louisa and her daughter, my Great Grandmother, Eva?  Would this have been handled in a civil or criminal court?
  2. Church records?  If no marriage record for PFAFF / MILHEIM exists at the county level, are there church records?
  3. Carbon County, Pennsylvania census records – document the MILHEIMs in the area
  4. Birth / Baptism records for Eva PFAFF – are there any?
  5. Who is George PFAFF?  Eva named George PFAFF as her father on her marriage license.  I have found several articles and obituaries and census records for a number of PFAFFs in Lehigh County, but I have not been able to find George
  6. Wills and Probates?  For Charles MILHEIM; Louisa (nee MILHEIM) RAMER and Oscar RAMER – are there any? 
What about my dear friend’s grandma?  Well, Louisa – yes, that is their great grandma’s name – has caused a family history mystery of her own.  Does anyone think that it’s coincidental that both grandmas have the given name Louisa? . . . Anyone?!

So, if you’re keeping track, the Grandmas’ after-life shenanigans have now, again, added to my “to-do” list . . . the following mysteries are waiting to be solved.  Thanks, Grandma!
  1. Documenting my Great Grandmother Eva PFAFF (Maternal side)
  2. Grand Uncle George BEARDSELL; did he marry? (paternal side)
  3. Great Grandma Louisa and her family history mystery (Dear Friend’s genealogy)


1Marriage License, "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885 - 1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VF43-NG5 :, "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-21138-18219-66?cc=1589502 : accessed 5 September 2015), 004839066 > image 637 of 914; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.

2"Squire Snyder Ties A Hymeneal Knot," The Allentown Democrat, 8 June 1892, online image (http://www.newspapers.com/clip/3065840/8_june1892_wedding_announcement/ : accessed 22 August 2015), page 2. http://www.newspapers.com/, Allentown Democrat, Allentown, Pennsylvania, online image (http://www.newspapers.com/clip/3065840/8_june1892_wedding_announcement/).

3Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data - 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: Franklin, Carbon, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1320; Page: 81A; Image: 165; Family History Library Film: 552819.

4Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.  All use is subject to the limited), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Lower Macungie, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1147; Family History Film: 1255147; Page: 428C; Enumeration District: 197; Image: 0319.

5Ancestry.com, 1900 United States Federal Census (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.Original data - United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 18), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1900; Census Place: Whitehall, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1430; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0093; FHL microfilm: 1241430.

6Year: 1900; Census Place: Whitehall, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1430; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0093; FHL microfilm: 1241430 Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

7Ancestry.com, 1900 United States Federal Census (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.Original data - United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 18), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1900; Census Place: South Whitehall, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1429; Page: 22B; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1241429.

8Ancestry.com, 1910 United States Federal Census (Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.Original data - Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Was), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1910; Census Place: Coplay, Lehigh, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1364; Page: 25A; Enumeration District: 0168; Image: 801; FHL microfilm: 1375377.

9Charles Milheim (Pvt, Knapps Indpt Batty, E Co.,  Vol, Civil War), pension file no. 436351, soldier's certificate no. 709178, Full Pension File, 1890 - 1916, National Archives, Washington, DC


11Marriage License, "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885 - 1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VF43-NG5 :, "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-21138-18219-66?cc=1589502 : accessed 5 September 2015), 004839066 > image 637 of 914; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.

21 June 2015

Grandma isn’t Playing Nice! . . . On Either Side

Okay, here’s the deal, we were all new once . . . right?

When I initially started “collecting” family stories and information in the “dark-ages” before computers and digitization - before I had discretionary funds to send for records or travel to archives - I pretty much knew the present-day and not too distant past stories and details of the living and the recently deceased family members - I had grown up with them, visited them and knew where they lived and worked. 

So, in 2003, when I started tracing their genealogy and family history in earnest, I documented what I knew and started a tree sapling on Ancestry.com.  And, I made the decision early on, that because I had the most information on my mother’s paternal ancestors, I would document what I knew on them, but would not linger - I’d come back to them later.  What I really wanted to get to and discover was the genealogy and family history of my other three grandparents; I didn’t know much beyond them.

I started with the basics, I had birth and death certificates and U.S. Army Discharge papers for my Dad’s Dad; a death certificate for both my mother’s Mom and Grandmother and for her Dad; and, I also had the obituary clipping for my Dad’s Mom.  And, of course, their family stories – the stories I had grown up listening to.  I entered the basic details gleaned from these documents and stories into each one of their profiles and then set about collecting the basic records to document and substantiate their lives and the details that I had.

Reminder . . . this was before I had learned to really focus on each word and line of a document.  Before I had learned the benefits of transcribing a document – even if it was clearly written and easily read – to ensure that I paid attention to every small detail.  Before I knew to create a timeline for each family member so that I could see potential gaps in their lives, the missing vital statistics and details of their lives, and to note any conflicting information.  Before I knew to really focus on what documents I had and which ones were missing.  Before I knew to both pay attention to source information – where that information came from and who provided it – and, to cite – document – the source.  And, before I had discovered the Barefoot Genealogist, Crista Cowan, and her tutorials on the Ancestry YouTube channel and all the tips and tricks I’d learn from her.  Before I learned to document “negative” research – search results that didn’t yield any further information; new information; or that completely debunked the information I had – so that I wouldn’t “climb” the wrong family tree.  Before I learned about blogs and online webinars where I’d continue to learn how to document my family’s history and genealogy.  Before I started blogging and getting my family’s story online and connecting with “cousins.”  And, before the added dividend of really focusing on the details – the facts, ma’am, just the facts – when creating a blog post on the family member or line that I was currently working.

After, creating the online sapling, I used the initial physical documents to record what I knew about each “leaf” and then I started collecting census records, obituaries, birth and death certificates that I didn’t already have for each family member.  Which brings us to today’s post . . .

My maternal Grandmother, Catherine Louise (STARR) Kriebel’s parents were Eva E RAMER and William E STARR Sr.  And, my Great Grandmother, Eva RAMER’s parents were Oscar RAMER and Louisa MILHEIM.  I knew this because . . .

  1. My mother and her siblings knew each of them and they knew where each of them lived and worked – they had grown up with them and visited them
  2. I knew my Grandmother, Catherine (STARR) Kriebel, I knew her siblings, I knew the house she grew up in.  I visited there often as a child – her brother, Robert STARR lived there with his wife and with his Mother – my Grandmother’s mother – Eva E (RAMER) Starr 
  3. I had the physical copy of the obituary for my Grandmother, Catherine STARR; the physical copy of the death certificate for my Great Grandmother, Eva E (RAMER) Starr; the death certificate (found online) for my Great Great Grandmother, Louisa MILHEIM and a copy (found online) of the marriage license for Louisa MILHEIM and Oscar RAMER 
  4. I had US Census records for each ancestor and their family unit from their birth through 1940

And, each of of these substantiated what I already knew – names, dates of birth, marriage, death and residence.  Nothing was amiss.  Or . . . was there?

I didn’t have my Grandmother Catherine (STARR) Kriebel’s birth certificate, I ordered it and waited.  Now, I knew that Catherine’s parents were William E STARR and Eva E RAMER, but when I received the copy of her birth certificate via US Postal Service, it was very generic – provided the child’s name, date and place of birth and parent’s names.  The certificate read . . .

Name:  Catherine Louise STARR

Date of Birth: 1 December 1912
Place of Birth:  Allentown, Lehigh, Pennsylvania

Father: William E STARR
Mother: Eva Pfaff

Well, that isn’t right, my Great Grandmother’s name was Eva E RAMER.  Must have received this in error.  Trash!  And, I moved on.  Yes, now, I am hanging my head in shame, but remember, I was just getting started and I hadn’t yet learned.  We’ll return to this in a bit.

Next I spoke to and “interviewed” my Mother’s cousin Marty.  Marty is Robert STARR’s daughter, and Robert is the half-brother of my Grandmother, Catherine, the son of my Great Grandfather William E STARR and his first wife, Ethel Lynda Kline, and the step-grandson of my Great Great Grandparent’s Louisa MILHEIM and Oscar RAMER.  She was able to provide very few additional details, but I did learn when her father, Robert, passed away – my family had been living overseas at the time and we weren’t aware – sadly, after the death of my Grandmother in 1975 and the busyness of daily living, our families didn’t stay in touch. 

I went looking for Robert’s obituary.

Robert’s obituary was published 6 June 1992 in The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) and named his parents . . .

“William E and Eva E (MILHEIM) STARR”

Wait, that isn’t right!  Where did that come from?  Eva E RAMER and William E STARR are the biological parents of my Grandmother, Catherine, but, William E STARR and Ethel Lynda Kline are the parent’s of my Grandmother’s half-brothers, William E STARR, Jr and Robert STARR.  Okay, by this point, I had learned that I needed to “sure-up” my research if there was a discrepancy.  Everything else in the obituary was consistent with what I knew from first-hand knowledge of growing up with my Grand Uncle.  I made note of the discrepancy and did not yet attach the obituary to Robert’s profile.  I next moved to census records, marriage license(s), death certificates, etc. and set about the task of documenting my family – confirming what I knew, but, with the added task of “proving” or “disproving” the names of Robert’s parents.

Locating the marriage license for William E STARR and Ethel Lynda Kline, the census records for William and Ethel  and Ethel’s death certificate, I was able to “prove” to my satisfaction that both William E, Jr and Robert C STARR were the sons of William E STARR and Ethel Lynda Kline.  Eva E RAMER was their step-mother.  And, I moved on. (we’ll take a look at these documents shortly)

Okay, that research was pretty much all completed back in 2003/4.  In the following years I continued to learn how to research; how to organize my notes; how to create a timeline; how to pay close attention to everything, but particularly to the oddities; how to make note of those oddities, discrepancies, outright errors and “negative” search results; how I should transcribe every document, which in turn helps me focus on all the details; how to do F A N Research; how to create a blog; how to document my searches, so that I didn’t keep searching for those records that I had already found, or, didn’t; how to cite my sources; I learned the basic principals of the Genealogical Proof Standards (GPS); and, I learned research strategies – for me, that meant focusing on one family and surname at a time – to doggedly pursue each leaf and branch, locating “low-hanging” fruit – birth, marriage, census and death records – to include obituaries -  and then diving deeper and locating military records, wills and probate records; land deeds, etc. 

In all honesty, I am still learning about record collections that I haven’t yet explored – why I continue to watch Crista Cowan and other genealogy webinars and why I read a number of blogs.  There is a lot, A LOT of information and educational materials* out there – I cannot encourage you enough to avail yourself of it.  And, most of it, if not all, is in easy to understand (read NOT collegiate) language.  And, that is PERFECT for me.

*To learn more about F A N Research, Citing your Sources and the Genealogical Proof Standards (GPS), click on the hyperlinks (red print).

Since 2004 I have been focused on documenting the BEARSELL, LEARN and LINDSEY - my Dad’s paternal line - families with occasional short forays into the collateral lines, using the F A N Research strategy to help find and document the elusive direct-line ancestors.  Until . . . recently.

Over the past year, the State of Pennsylvania and Ancestry.com have worked together and have recently digitized Pennsylvania’s 1906 – 1963 death certificates.  In doing so, a lot of “shaky leaf” hints have been appearing and distracting my attention.  I’m usually able to stay focused, I don’t, as a rule, tend to get distracted for long.  If my focus on the family / line that I am working on is diverted, it is usually only a brief distraction – one long enough to review the hint and decide whether it is something to keep or can be discarded.  I then refocus my attention to the name / line that I had previously been working.  However . . .

Two weeks ago, a “shaky leaf” hint appeared for my Great Grandmother, Eva E RAMER – the Pennsylvania death certificate.  Okay, I’ll take a look, I don’t expect to find any new information, I’ll just verify that it is her death certificate and I’ll review – in depth - all her source documents when I focus on the RAMER line.  But, wait!  . . .

  1. That doesn’t look like the hard-copy certificate I have
  2. Her parents are listed as George MILHEIM and Louisa PFAFF

Well, that isn’t right.  Eva’s parents were Oscar RAMER and Louisa MILHEIM. 

MILHEIM is right, but it was Eva’s Mother’s maiden name. Who’s George? My Great Great Grandmother’s – Louisa – Father’s name was Charles MILHEIM.  And, PFAFF?  Wait!  PFAFF?  I’ve seen that before.  Oh, I remember, the copy of the birth certificate for my Grandmother – Catherine Louise STARR – that I initially ordered and subsequently threw away, had Eva PFAFF listed as the Mother of my Grandmother.  And, did I mention, that I had on another occasion attempted to obtain another copy of my Grandmother’s birth certificate?  Yes, and when it arrived, it had the same – I assumed – error and . . . you guessed it, I threw it away too. Nope, I hadn’t yet learned.

But, this time, PFAFF had my attention.  Everything else on my Great Grandmother’s death certificate was correct - home address; city and state; date and place of birth; date and place of death; and spouse’s name.  The informant?  My Grandmother, Catherine Louise (STARR) Kriebel and her physical address was also correct.

I knew this information to be correct because I knew my Grandmother and where she lived – I visited her there often – and while I didn’t know either of my Great Grandparents, I did know where they had lived and died – my Grand Uncle Bob (Robert E STARR) and his wife, Ann, lived there – and I visited them often.  So, back to my original question, where did George MILHEIM and Eva PFAFF come from? 

It’s 2015 and by now I had learned the lessons mentioned above.  So much for briefly looking over the hint and “storing” it for when I began work in earnest on the RAMERs.  I couldn’t just put it aside, I needed to, at the very least, research why the PFAFF surname kept appearing – three times is more than a coincidence.  What was I missing?

I went back and looked at the document I had on Eva’s death – remember, I thought, or, perhaps more accurately, assumed, it was a copy of her death certificate.  When I looked at it, I now realized it was a copy of the Local Registrar’s Certification of Death.1  And, it did not include the names of her parent’s.  Nor did it note her maiden name.

5 January 1959 - Registrar's Certificate of Death - Eva Ramer

The document provides my Great      Grandmother’s name as Eva Elizabeth STARR and the place of death as 548 Noble Street, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  It also provides her date of birth, 24 January 1889 and her date of death as, 5 January 1959.  This is all accurate.  Eva’s step-son and my Grandmother Catherine’s half-brother, Robert and his wife lived in the home he was raised in.  The home, for which the address is provided on the certification of death.  And, as I’ve said, I visited there many times.


5 January 1959 - Death Certificate  - Eva Ramer

The death certificate2 provides the place of death and the deceased’s usual residence (where deceased lived) as 548 Noble Street, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  The document also provided Eva’s . . .

  • Full Name:  Eva Elizabeth STARR
  • Full Name of Spouse:  William E STARR
  • Date of Birth: 24 January 1889
  • Date of Death: 5 January 1959
  • Father’s Name: Geo MILHEIM
  • Mother’s Maiden Name: Louisa PFAFF
  • Informant:  Mrs. Wilmer KRIEBEL of Schwenksville, Pennsylvania

Mrs. Wilmer KRIEBEL is my Grandmother, Catherine STARR.  She was married to Wilmer, my Grandfather.

Hmm, Grandma isn’t playing nice!

Next I looked at the marriage license3 for my Great Great Grandparents Louisa MILHEIM  and Oscar RAMER.  It provides the . . .  

31 May 1892 - Marriage License - Oscar Ramer

  • Man’s Name: Oscar REMER (variant of RAMER)
  • Woman’s Name: Louisa MILHEIM
  • Age of Man: 23
  • Age of Woman: 23
  • Residence of Man: Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
  • Residence of Woman: Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
  • Parents’ Name – Man: Eli REMER
  • Parents’ Name – Woman: Charles MILHEIM

Nothing amiss here; all what I had grown up hearing around the dinner table.

What I initially find made me realize that I’d need to employ the F A N (Family / Friends, Associates, and Neighbors) research method and go through both the 1880 and 1900 US Federal Census for Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.  I will need to document the RAMERs, MILHEIMs, and PFAFFs prior to Eva’s birth.  What this means is, I will need to “collect” all families with these surnames and save them in my ancestry “shoebox” and then, I’ll need to go through ALL of the townships and enumeration districts within the county, page by page.  I know that I’ll have to compare each individual within a family and each family in order to sort this out.  And, I also know that I’ll have to pay close attention to the neighbors as well.  And, too, I need to go back over the census records that I had previously saved back in 2003/4.

And, collecting all instances of these surnames within the townships and enumeration districts of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania is what I have been doing, as time permitted, these past two weeks. For statistical purposes, the 1880 US Federal Census for Lehigh County, Pennsylvania had 31 townships, 56 enumeration districts and 1,385 images.  And, the 1900 US Federal Census for Lehigh County, Pennsylvania had 36 townships, 67 enumeration districts and 1,920 images.  FUN!!

Having gone through all 3,305 images of the 1880 and 1900 US Federal Census records for Lehigh County, Pennsylvania and collecting all instances of the RAMER, MILHEIM and PFAFF surnames – including variant spellings – I am now ready to review and dissect each and figure this mystery out.  Thanks Grandma!!

I will return soon and share what I’ve learned.


Will my real Great Grandmother, Eva E. . . RAMER. . . MILHEIM . . . PFAFF please stand up!

PS:  I hope that I am not the only one that learns the hard way.

PPS: And, my paternal Grandma?  Well, she isn’t playing nice either!  She was the informant on her brother’s death certificate and, she said that he was married.  Ummm, no he wasn’t. . . NEVER!  Sigh, that will have to wait until I’ve sorted through this.


Copyright © 2015 Tracy L Meyers



1Norristown, Pennsylvania, Certification of Death, no. 545557 (1959), Eva Elizabeth Starr; Norristown Local Registrar of Vital Statistics, Cherry Street

2Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, Death Certificate 6852 (1959), Eva Elizabeth Starr; ancestry.com, online

3Pennsylvania County Marriages 1855 - 1950 Index and Images (Family Search), "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885 - 1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VF43-NG5 :, Date License acquired: 31 May 1892 / Date of Marriage: 31 May 1892. FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VF4V-782).

17 April 2015

Two Left Feet

Or, how a family story told over and over again becomes “fact.”

Twenty-eight years ago, my husband and I were united in marriage and just like most weddings in the U.S., a father/daughter dance was planned.  But . . .

Okay, a little background, for as long as I could remember; knee-hi to a grasshopper, my mother always said that my Dad was born with two left feet.  Okay, okay, I know that, that is a colloquialism, and that it is oft quoted in the context of someone not knowing how to dance.  But, my mother stated this as fact throughout my 23 years, and, it was Mom saying this, so it had to be true.  Daddy never said differently and no one in either Mom’s family or Dad’s ever refuted that assertion.  And, because in all my 23 years I had never seen my father dance, I believed her.

So, now it’s my wedding day and I am sick; everyone assuring me that my nerves would settle and that smelling salts were available if needed.  All I wanted to do in the hour or so before the wedding was throttle the folks that were saying that.  Seriously, it isn’t nerves; I’m sick.  I have a fever of 101, I haven’t been able to keep anything down for the past two days!  As it turns out, the day after the wedding I was diagnosed with bronchitis, which I suffered with for the next six weeks.  It was horrible.  And, the wedding video clearly captures the concern of both the Maid of Honor and Best Man who weren’t sure I’d make it through the ceremony. 

So, when the time came for the father/daughter dance at the reception, I wasn’t too concerned.  First, father/daughter dances are typically tame and I had followed tradition and picked out a slow dance.  So, I figured that my stomach and its limited contents would be safe from upheaval.  And, too, my dad had two left feet, so I surely didn’t have anything to worry about, right?

Not so much.  My Dad twirled me around the dance floor like a seasoned ballroom dancer; my head spinning, which did little to help with the my nausea!  Daddy, eventually noticed my gray parlor and asked if I was okay?  All I could say was, I didn’t think you could dance; Mommy always said that you were born with two left feet.  Daddy thought for a moment, as he continued to twirl me about the room, and then looked me straight in the eye and said. . .

“Well, honey, your Mommy lied!”

Turns out, for this genealogist, that this story is a great example of how a family story can take hold and become “fact.”

What family stories did you grow up hearing and . . . believing, and have since discovered that weren’t factual?

Copyright © 2015 Tracy L Meyers