Sunday, May 3, 2015

Church Record Sunday - Elise's Confirmation

This is a picture of my grandmother Elise Gegenheimer after her Confirmation in 1933. She is outside of the Evangelische Kirche in Stein, Germany (currently Königsbach-Stein, Baden-Württemburg). Her Confirmation Verse was Lamentations 3:25 ...

"The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him."

I can remember my grandmother telling me about this verse, and she kept it marked in her Bible.

Elise is in the front row on the left in this picture. It was customary for all of the children to wear black for confirmation, but I am not sure of the reason. They look so somber on this happy occasion! Even after they moved to the United States, my mother had to wear a dark navy dress for her Confirmation. 

My grandmother is holding what looks like a small branch or sprig of some plant and it appears that those in the front row are holding one as well. I do not know what this is ... another thing that I wished I had asked my Oma!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Workday Wednesday - Art's Business Trip

These are the two sides of a postcard that I found in my Cubbage family collection. My grandfather, Art Cubbage, sent this to my grandmother, Agnes Speck Cubbage, in 1963. It appears that he was on a business trip in Chicago and was sent as "pictorial proof that I am working hard!"

At this time, my grandfather was working in sales for Simmons-Boardman Publishing, specifically for Railway Age magazine where he traveled to various conventions and trade shows.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Boston Burying Grounds

We spent a wonderful Easter weekend in Boston. The boys had fun exploring the historic sights, enjoyed walking the Freedom Trail, and loved Fenway Park!

My favorite part of the weekend was walking through the old burying grounds. I have yet to find any tombstones in my family that are earlier than the mid-1800s, and I have no known New England ancestors. So I LOVED the incredible tombstones that we saw ... and my family was so very patient while I took lots of pictures. The first two are from King's Chapel Burying Ground.

The gravestone art and symbols are incredible. The rest of the pictures are from Granary Burying Ground.

I only wished that I had some ancestors to search for in these beautiful burying grounds!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday's Child - Alma Mary Speck

Alma Mary Speck was the daughter of Frank Speck and Elisabeth Linneman Speck and would have been the younger sister of my grandmother, Agnes Speck. Alma was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania and died just one day later. The cause of death was "premature infant" and she was buried that same day at Grandview Cemetery in Monessen.

I never knew of Alma until the Pennsylvania death certificates from 1906-1963 were made available on As most of us did when these records were released, I searched for my surnames that had lived in Pennsylvania to see if I could find death certificates for collateral relatives or ancestors whose date of death was unknown. Through these searches I have found several children that died young between census years, and had no other records of their short lives.

I asked my father about Alma and he was not aware that Frank and Elizabeth had another child. We visited Grandview Cemetery in 2007 and found the tombstone for Alma's father, Frank Speck, but did not see anything for Alma. She many have been buried in another location or did not have a headstone.

Besides finding another ancestor, I was able to learn a few more things about the Speck family from this record. They were living at 223 Alliquipa Street at the time of her death. In addition, the name Alma Mary may provide some clues for family names. Their other children seem to have been named after family members ... Agnes (Frank's mother) Elizabeth (Elizabeth and her mother Elizabeth Barbara) and Frank (Frank) Rudolph (Elizabeth's two brothers who died as children). I know the names of Elizabeth's siblings and parents, so Mary may be from her side (Maria was Elizabeth's middle name and her grandmother's name). Alma could possibly be from Frank's side of the family, as I do not know much about his family or where they were from in Germany. Maybe Alma was Frank's sister or grandmother??  Another possible clue to add to the mysterious Speck family.



Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1963, No. 73103, Alma Mary Speck, 1 July 1916; digital image, ( : accessed 30 March 2015); citing Pennsylvania (state). Death certificates, 1906-1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sentimental Sunday - Happy Easter!

"Art & Agnes, Easter 1938"

This is a photo from my Cubbage family collection of my grandparents on Easter Sunday in 1938. Art Cubbage and Agnes Speck were probably dating at this time and were married a year later. This was most likely In Monessen, Pennsylvania where they were both living at the time.

The pictures below appear to be taken at the same time, but have nothing written on the back. The unknown couple must have been friend with Art and Agnes and can be found in other pictures with them from the late 1930s. 


I love the face that my grandfather was making in this picture. Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Same Tombstone 30 Years Apart

Several years ago I scanned the slide collections of my parents and grandparents. I didn't notice this one at the time. That's me checking out the tombstone of my second great-grandparents, James and Barbara (Black) Cubbage at Rockdale Cemetery in Penn Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.

Fast forward exactly 30 years ... I am back there on beautiful fall day with my father, brother and sister on a Cubbage family history road trip. I wish I could say that my interest in genealogy and my family history started way back when ... but maybe the seed was planted on that trip out to Pennsylvania almost 40 years ago!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday's Faces from the Past - Wedding Day!

Fifty years. It's hard to fathom, yet not too hard to believe. Fifty years ago today, my parents were married at New Providence Presbyterian Church in New Providence, New Jersey. They had met in the church youth group a few years earlier.

My mother, the only daughter of Adolf Haberkern and Elise Gegenheimer, got ready at her parents' house in New Providence. 

It was a windy March day ... just look at the bridesmaids' veils!

I LOVE this picture of my grandmother, Agnes Speck, hugging her son after the wedding. The bride is kissing her new father-in-law, Art Cubbage. Looking on is Agnes' mother, Elizabeth Linneman. 

 They look so young! Well they were only in their early 20's.

The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in Jamaica before returning to New Jersey.

The next fifty years brought them three children ...

... two son-in-laws, one daughter-in-law, and six grandchildren!

They have ridden the waves of life's ups and downs over fifty years. We are looking forward to celebrating this summer! Happy 50th Anniversary Dad and Mom!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Funny - 1933 Editorial

Oh, how times have changed (thankfully!). I found this little nugget in The Gazette, a publication of Monessen High School in Monessen, Pennsylvania. So in honor of Women's History Month and Pi Day (a little late), I thought I'd post this for some laughs. I wonder which high school student wrote this ... and wish that he could see what his female descendants are doing today!

An interesting side-note about how I found a few pages from this high school publication. I was searching in The Monessen Daily Independent on (you know how I love old newspapers) for any articles about my grandmother, Agnes Speck who graduated in 1933.
I found that there are a few issues between 1933 and 1935 that have the first page of The Gazette and then the remaining pages of the issue are from The Monessen Daily Independent. I'm not sure where the glitch, happened, but it I was able to find a mention of my grandmother in one of the issues!



"Editorial," The Gazette (Monessen High School, Monessen, PA), 22 March 1933, p. 1, col. 6; digital images, ( : accessed 20 March 2015) [indexed as The Monessen Daily Independent].

Monday, March 16, 2015

Amanuesis Monday - Affidavit from Amos Conner

Amanuesis Monday is a daily blogging prompt from which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Amanuensis Monday is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvania Dutch.

Click on images for a larger view.

General Affidavit 
State of Pennsylvania
County of Allegheny
In the matter of claim for Orig. ? of Chas. Schwank #694362
Personally came before me Clerk of Court in and for aforesaid County and State, Amos Conner of McKeesport Allegheny County Pennsylvania.
a person of lawful age, who, being duly sworn, declare in relation to the aforesaid case as follows:

Mr lemon sir is appears that you and the government wishes to know a bout mr swenks condishion. i will tell you what i know – i have noing him for sixteen years. We are brotherinlaws By maring sisters in the first place he is a badley used up man with rheumatism he has been botherd with rheumatism ever since i know him in his back he hesent been able to do a hard days work for sixteen years  that is as far back as i know if he dos work hard or run or lift he is of [?] for days with the panes in his back the first hard work i ever new him to do was last winter and he had to give up his job on acount of his back  he wood set up for nights and bath and saltes then he wood go to [?] this wood releave him for a time but that\ cant cure him  he is that bad be times that he cant tie his own shoes and when down he has hard work rising to a strate position  it wood be imposibel for me to give date or year for he has been that way every year and the older he gets the wors he is  i have lived too hundreds from him and have worked with him and for him  he dos contract work i am working for mr swenk now and that gives me all the better chance to no his case thorley with out eney dout.

Further declare that i havnt no interest in said case, and am not concerned for its protection.
                                                                                          [Amos Conner]

Sworn and subscribed 17 September 1889.
                                                                                          [DK. McGunnegle]
                                                                                          [Clerk of Courts]

This affidavit is from the pension file of my second great-grandfather, Charles G. Schwenk. I have been re-reading and analyzing the records of this 85+ page packet and have gleaned an amazing amount of information about Charles ... his service in the Civil War, injuries and life after the war, his wife (and marriage) and their children.

This affidavit was submitted a few months after Charles' initial filing for an invalid pension. Amos Conner was married to Jane "Jennie" Burd, sister of Charles' wife Marian Burd. This particular affidavit gave a clear picture of how much the rheumatism had affected Charles' life, and his difficulty performing even simple tasks such as tying his shoes.

I will post more of my finds from Charles' pension records ... records that tell about the life of Charles Schwenk, as well as the new information that I found in the packet.



Affidavit of Amos Conner; Charles G. Schwenk (Pvt. Co. A and 1st Sgt. Co. C, 82nd Pennsylvania Inf., Civil War) Civil War pension file, no. 694362, certificate no. 454879; Case Files of Approved Pension Applications ...,1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Church Record Sunday - German Baptismal Record

Elise, Adolf and my mother in Germany, 1952

My grandparents, Adolf Haberkern and Elise Gegenheimer, along with their daughter, left Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1952. In the many papers and memorabilia that belonged to them, are several church records from Germany. Many of the documents are dated from the fall of 1957, but for events that happened much earlier. I do not know if my grandparents had gone back to Germany at that time or if they asked a family member to obtain the records. The certificates are all typed, presumably copied from the church record books.

My grandparents' citizenship papers are dated November 1957 and I wonder if they had requested these records from Germany as a part of the naturalization process. Below is a record that they obtained for my grandfather's grandfather.

Extract from the Birth and Baptismal Register

The Evangelical Parish: Stein near Pforzheim

Year 1869  Book --  Reg. No. 82  Page 512

Last and First Name: Haberkern, Jacob Friedrich
born: 13 Oktober 1869 in Stein
baptized: 21 October 1869 in Stein

Last and First Name: Haberkern, Christian
Profession: Weaver in Stein
[religion or church]: Protestant

Maiden and First Name: Jäger, Christine
[religion or church]: Protestant

Other Information
(about about the producer, grandparents, godparents): Godparents: Friedrich Haberkern, goldworker and his wife Christine, nee Sauter - Ernst Kaucher, farmer and his wife Elisabetha, nee Sauter - Christ. Huf, farmer and his wife Luise, nee Jäger

This record is for the birth and baptism of my second great grandfather. It records Jacob's parents' names, as well as the names of his Godparents. While the record does not list relationships, the Godparents include both of the parents' surnames. I'm happy that I found these with the other records. I don't know how long the Haberkern family was in Stein, so this adds another generation. I'll post more of these records soon!



Evangelische Kirche Stein (Königsbach-Stein, Baden Württemburg, Germany), "Auszug aus dem Geburts und Taufregister" [Extract from the Birth and Baptismal Register], (privately held, [address for private use] NJ, 2014), Jacob Friedrich Haberkern baptismal certificate (1869), issued 1957, citing Reg. no. 82, p.512.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mappy Monday - A Fun German Website

I've always loved maps. All maps ... vacation planning maps, Google Earth, city street maps, even subway maps! So I was thrilled to find this fun surname map on the German genealogy website

There is a "Karten zum namen" or "map for names" page that appears to use phone book records and then map the frequency of a surname by district or city. While this may not be the most accurate source of information for researching my ancestors, I was able to find some interesting current geographical areas for surnames.

I started with my paternal great-grandfather's surname of SPECK, which was not very helpful as it is a more common surname (as well as SPECHT, which I also searched). Below is the map that was generated for SPECK:

When I searched for my maternal grandmother's GEGENHEIMER surname, I found a more interesting picture:

The website has the following (translated) information below the map:

"Statistics: Figures on the surname 'Gegenheimer'
In Germany there are 163 phone book entries with the surname Gegenheimer and approximately 434 persons with this name.
They live in 32 cities and counties. Most occurrences are in Karlsruhe, namely the 73rd
Other counties / cities with lots of occurrences are Enz (22), Karlsruhe (10), Pforzheim (8), Alzey-Worms (7) Berlin (4), Böblingen (3), Stuttgart (3), Lahn-Dill circle (2) and Mannheim with 2 entries.
Stefan Gegenheimer occurs in Germany most often. Ruth and Anke are the next often found first name, followed by Luis, Rainer, Adolf and Werner."

I have located church records that go back almost 300 years for my Gegenheimer ancestors in the small village of Ittersbach. Ittersbach is in Karlsruhe, which is one of the red areas above, indicating that there are still many Gegenheimers in that area.

I found other similar maps for other surnames, but the most fascinating was the following map for the surname of my paternal second great-grandmother NILKOWSKI:

"Statistics: Figures on the surname 'Nilkowski'
In Germany, there are 11 phone book entries with the surname Nilkowski and approximately 29 persons with this name.
They live in 3 cities and counties. Most occurrences are in Dortmund, namely. 8
Other counties / cities with lots of occurrences are Unna (2) and Solingen with 1 entries.
Corina Nilkowski occurs in Germany most often. Alexandra and Klaus Dieter are the next often found first name, followed by Peter, Uwe, Christa, Angelika and Michael."

There are very few NILKOWSKI hits, which is not surprising as it does not sounds like a German surname. Through her German marriage record, I have learned that in 1865 Elisabeth Barbara Nilkowski was born in Muensterberg, in the district of Marienburg, which is in current-day Poland. 

Elisabeth was living in Gelsenkirchen at the time of her marriage in 1886, but her parents were still in the region of Braunswalde (also now Poland). I have wondered why a young unmarried woman would be living so far from home and wonder if possibly she lived with another family member. Dortmund, the region in red, is only about 20 miles from Gelsenkirchen. Could these few Nilkowskis in Germany be related to her? 

This website also has options to search for surnames in a few other countries including Poland, Great Britain, France, Argentina, Spain and others. I did have some problems getting results with several of these countries, but had success searching in Poland. 

Again, while this is nothing more than information pulled from a phone book, it was interesting to look at the distribution of current day surnames as compared to where I have any records for those ancestors.



Gelsenkirchen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, Marriage Record no. 195, Christian Fasel-Elisabeth Barbara Nilkowski, 1886; Institut für Stadtgeschichte [Institute for Urban History], Gelsenkirchen.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Funny - Burd Marries Buzzard

This one was too funny to pass up. My BURD ancestors are often recorded as BIRD in many records, so when I stumbled upon a record for a BURD who married a BUZZARD I had to chuckle!

Mary E. Burd married S.E. Buzzard in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania in 1892. Mary is my first cousin 3 times removed that I found when searching Pennsylvania marriage records for collateral Burd ancestors. Happy Friday!



"Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1885-1950," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 February 2015), S.E. Buzzard and Mary E. Burd, 7 January 1892.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Madness Monday - "Drank Deadly Poison"

This is another photocopied clipping that I found in my father's family files. Like many of the items in this folder, there is no mention of the source, date, or who has the original clipping. This is the second suicide that I have found in researching my father's family (you can read about the other suicide here).

I believe that this article is about my second great grand uncle Robert Burd, the oldest son of Alex Burd and Main Bingham. Robert Burd was born around 1848 in Edinburgh, Scotland and was living in Harrison Township in 1880 with his wife Nancy and their children. By 1900, Nancy was widowed and still living in Harrison Township. The article states that Robert  was 50 years old, so this would have been around 1898 or 1899.

I located a probate record for my ancestor Robert Burd, who died on 5 June 1899 in Harrison Township. He died intestate and the Allegheny County Proceedings Index lists a "Record of Death" in the RD Docket, which is not available online with the other probate records on FamilySearch. Another item for my "to-research" list for me next trip to Allegheny County!



"Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2015); Allegheny County Estate Index 1788-1971, Surname B, First Name K-Z, entry for Robert Burd, 5 June 1899.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Dead Silence

photo by author © 2015

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. I was walking with my family through the cemetery after church to a reception the social center. My husband chuckled and said "dead silence" as he pointed out this headstone. I had never noticed this headstone, but now smile whenever I walk past it!