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Friday, June 27, 2014


I have read a lot of family history and genealogy books but this one is really a template
extraordinaire on:


The book is excellent as a sample of how to write a family history that people will want to read. Dawn brings her ancestor to life in their stories.  What a great job!  Read more about it on Dawn Parrett Thurston's blog.

A Book is Born! The Parrett Migration

by Memoir Mentor on June 12, 2014
When I was a bride in my twenties (many years ago), my husband and I stopped at a farm in Locust Grove, Iowa, on a cross-country trip to the East Coast. The farm was owned by Ken and Lois Parrett, distant cousins of mine I had never heard of until that day. They took me on a tour of the area and showed me land my ancestors once owned and cemeteries where they were buried. That visit turned out to be Dawn Thurston, The Parrett Migrationone of those turning points that send your life in a new trajectory. I wanted to know more about these Parretts, whose name I’d carried since my birth. Over the years, between raising children and being busy with a thousand other projects, I occasionally set aside research time to visit genealogy libraries and communicate with distant cousins and various record keepers. It wasn’t until the last decade that my research took on an added focus. I was intent on writing a book that brought my paternal family to life.
And so it happened: I published my family history in late May and, book by book, readers are becoming acquainted with the Parretts–a family that had largely had been lost to history.
The five generations of Parretts profiled in my history left few records behind. As I became better acquainted with the eras in which they lived–America’s colonial and frontier periods–I began to realize that they took part in significant events in American history, including the major migration periods that spread the country’s borders ever westward. That realization gave me the theme that drove my story–and its title, The Parrett Migration: Their Story is America’s Story.
It’s been interesting to hear comments from readers. They tell me, “My ancestors were involved in these events, too.” Or, “I could write a similar story about my people.” It’s true. I suspect nearly anyone who reads my book will see their family’s story in the Parrett story. (And they should write their own version, shaping it to their family’s particular circumstances.)
My book was a challenge on many levels. Could I bring to life seemingly obscure people and tell an interesting story about them? Could I incorporate the writing techniques I stress in my classes? (I felt nervous about that one, for I knew I had strict judges!) Could I do justice to five generations without being too superficial? Could I finish such a mammoth undertaking?
I did finish, so I overcame at least one challenge. The jury’s still out about the others. However it’s ultimately judged by readers, I hope the book will stand as a sincere effort to honor my family and preserve their story for future generations.
To learn more about the book, go to and purchase it at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gertrude FERMAZIN Becker Finney

Yeh!  After 10 years of research and the help of a cousin I finally figured out who Loretta Lillian Becker Rutherford was. I have her social security information and she listed her mother as Fermazin and father as Herman J Becker.

In 1920 Census Herman and Gertrude are living in St. Louis Missouri with three children:
Loretta, Juliette, and Gertrude.  I found Gertrude and Herman coming from Russia/Posen.

I found Herman Schoen's son Herman Jr her nephew living in Butte, Californa.

My cousin whom I met on the internet sent me her Family Tree listing:
Walter, Gertrude, and Hedwig Fermazin as her relatives.  Hedwig Fermazin married Herman Schoen.
She said Gertrude was married to an Arthur  Finney. She never mentioned Becker so will have to check that one out.

Hedwig's sister Gertrude (Trudy Anne) married Herman Becker and lived in St Louis Missouri. Don't know if Herman Becker died or they were divorced but in the 1930 Census Gertrude Finney is listed with a spouse as Finney and two daughters, Juliette and Gertrude living with them.

My deduction is Gertrude Fermazin Finney is the same as Gertrude Fermazin Becker.

1940 Gertrude FERMAZIN Finney

1930  Gertrude FERMAZIN Finney

1920  Gertrude FERMAZIN Becker

Source: Census Records.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Brick Walls: Research at the Aurora, Illinois Historical Society

After all of this still have to keep looking and looking and looking. Research is an on going life long pursuit.

Subject: Re: research

June 24, 2014

Hello Nancy:

Here is the information you asked for.  The total cost will be $13.71.  I
have also commented on each of the points you made in your original
request so you know exactly what we do/do not have.  As I said before we
do not have files or films of the Aurora newspapers - just scattered
clippings and a few (very few) whole papers.  You need to contact the
Aurora Public library for this or, if you live in Illinois, your local
reference librarian can order the films from the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library (Illinois State Historical Society) to be used at
your library.  It may be possible to get these if you live out of state,
but check with your librarian to be sure.

1)   We do not have marriage notices for Wilhelmina Plucker/Charles
Fermazin or for Augusta Fermazin/August Giese.  The Illinois State
Archives (hereafter ISA) marriage database gives the marriage date for
Wilhelmina and Charles as July 16, 1885, not August 16 as you stated.

2)   Charles Fermazin does not appear in ant pre-1885 city directory.  The
only Fermazin entry in that time period is: "Mrs. Caroline Fermazin, res.
34 Second Ave."

3)   We have no notice for the wedding shower of Nancy Fermazin/Terry Kruse.

4)   We do not have an obituary for Friederich Fermazin.  I could also not
find a burial in the cemetery records we have nor could I find his death
date in the ISA death index.  I also could not locate a probate record for

5)   No information found on Caroline fermazin regarding date or place of
death or burial.

6)   I did locate an obituary for August Plucker.  It is undated but the
ISA death index shows August Ludwig Plucker died 3 August 1912 in Aurora. 
We do not have an obit for Augusta.  She died June 16, 1910 per the ISA
death index.  I did make a copy of the Riverside cemetery book pages
showing the Pluckers.

7)   We have no articles on Mary Fermazin's garden.

8)   We do not have an obituary on Ludwig Hansen.  The book we have of
Lincoln Highway cemetery shown a Ludwig Hansen died 7 March 1957.  He was
born 21 August 1878 and buried on 9 March 1957 Sect. MAB, lot 46, grave 4.
We also have a probate file on this person.

I will mail your copies, including a copy of this letter today.  If there
is anything further I can do, just ask.

researcher, AHS

Reinhart Fermazin

Reinhart Fermazin

 AWOL! Adventurer. Good Character. Handsome.  Forger. Naturalized Citizen. Homesteader. Industrious. Motorman. These attributes describe my great-great-uncle Reinhart Fermazin.
   My dad fondly remembered his uncle Reinhart who came to visit dad, Lola, Grandma and Grandpa when he was in town. Reinhart used to bring his wives, Lillian who died in 1930 and later Anna.  Lillian was the quiet one. Very pretty, dressed in her Sunday best with a hat and gloves, she would sit in the corner of the living room not saying anything except that she was glad to be back home. Aunt Lillian would don an apron at meal-time and help Grandma set the table. Anna, came to the house a few times with Reinhart but dad said he did not care for her. She was short, about 5 feet tall, pretty with long blonde hair but “she didn’t help do anything, just sat there interrupting the stories Grandpa and Uncle were telling." Maybe this was because she never lived on the homestead or farmed. Anna was a Chicago girl of Slavic ancestry and had a thick non-German accent. According to dad, no one could understand her anyway. Dad said he wished Anna would stay home.
 What dad recalled most was sitting on the floor next to Reinhart listening to the yarns he told about his sharpshooter days in the Philippines and farming in Minnesota and South Dakota. From 1906 to 1913 before he was married, Grandpa went to South Dakota every fall to help harvest the crops. The first year, the homestead brought in a big crop but the following year there was nothing much harvested as the grasshoppers and potato bugs ate it all.
Dad possessed one old picture of Reinhart dressed in his baggy pants with suspenders working in the cornfields with a pony next to him. Reinhart was more like a brother than an uncle to Grandpa because they were so close in age. Grandpa was eleven years younger than Reinhart. Grandma said that Reinhart and Grandpa looked alike when they were younger. Both had blonde hair so white that they nicknamed Grandpa, Whitey. Both were 5’8” tall and had blue eyes and fair skin.
   Reinhart, who was born on January 28, 1875 in Godziwy, Schubin, Posen, Prussia immigrated to America as an infant with his mother Carolina Hartwig and his sister Bertha. They joined his father, Friedrich and sister Amelia in Aurora, Illinois, a small German community along the Fox River.
   It seems Reinhart’s life was uneventful as a child but more adventuresome as an adult. In 1898, Reinhart enlisted in the Spanish American War in Evanston, Wyoming, which was not too far from where he was living in Minnesota. Uncle Reinhart’s military service occurred in Fort San Felipe, Manila, Philippine Islands, for about one year as part of the First Wyoming Volunteer Infantry Battalion, Company H.  He was a rifleman sharpshooter during his tour of duty. During his time in Manila, he was absent from his post without permission of his commanding officer and served three times in the brig with ten days of hard labor and court martialed. In his final month of duty Uncle Reinhart was reported “in confinement” or in other words, in the brig.  On July 28, 1899 he was discharged at Manila.  Inexplicidly, given his court martials and infractions, he mustered out at the Presidio in San Francisco with “service honorable and faithful, character good.
    Prior to serving in the Spanish American War, Minnesota, was his home where he farmed with his brother Karl.  At age 18 when living in Minnesota, Reinhart was arrested for forging a payroll check but jumped bail and was never prosecuted. His brother, Karl paid the fines. He returned to Aurora, Illinois, still single where he lived in a boarding house and worked as a farm laborer.  There he obtained his citizenship.
   In 1903, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he married his first wife, Sharlot Wittelsbach. Married only a short time, Sharlot died of consumption a year later. Two years after Sharlot’s death Reinhart married Lillian  of Chicago. This marriage lasted until 1930, when Lillian died from complications of multiple sclerosis.
   In the fall of 1908, Reinhart obtained a 160-acre homestead in Lemmon, Perkin County, South Dakota. The Homestead Act allowed "any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such" the right to claim 160 acres of land, a quarter-section, for free. The claimant need only pay a small filing fee and live on and improve the land for five years. If he so chose, the homesteader could buy the land for $1.25 an acre after six months. Lemmon, South Dakota was a growing and prosperous town in Perkin, County. This was due to the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad being surveyed which would make the area desirable to export crops. The population in 1908, was1,350 people.
   He and Lillian moved onto the land March 30, 1909. By April, with the help of their neighbors, the Fermazin’s built a 12 x 16 foot sod house with a lumber floor and roof, three windows, one door and a cellar 5 ft by 6 ft under the house within the first month of living there. He drilled a "well 27 feet deep on the property and built a chicken coop and a sod barn with a pole roof covered with hay. He planted about 70 trees, Ash and Box elders on six acres, fenced it off with two wires and posts two rods apart. The value of the improvements was $ 300.00. During the first year, he broke soil and planted corn and potatoes, harvesting 15 bushels of corn and 25 bushels of potatoes. 
   It seems while a homesteader and tending the land the Federal Government, disputed Reinhaet's intentions. They accused him of illegally removing minerals from the land. On March 30, 1909, Reinhart testified in his affidavit that “I have not heretofore perfected or abandoned an entry under the homestead of the United States.” Witnesses verified that Reinhart was present on the land continuously farming and not removing gold or coal. In his sworn statement on June 10, 1910, William Wells affirmed he knew Reinhart since 1903. He swore:  “From my personal knowledge I have seen the Claimant and the land every day that he has been home. I should say on the average of once a week. I join Claimant on the east and our homes are only ten rods apart.”[ Another homesteader, Charles W. Carver testified on June 29, 1910, that, “I have seen the Claimant and the land on the average of twice a week, I live two miles from the Claimant and the land.” According to further testimony by the witnesses, Reinhart “went away in July 1909 to earn money to support his family and returned in September. During this time his wife remained on the claim. In January 1910 Reinhart left to purchase household goods and farm machinery, and returned in April 1910 with his wife being on the claim all the time.” The sworn statements were accepted and Reinhart was proved innocent of all charges.
   Life was rough on the homestead. Homes were made of sod, decorations sparse. Sod farmers improvised using: muslin and canvas to cover ceilings to catch bugs that fell onto the kitchen table and beds, oiled paper for windows to allow light in and keep the bugs out, and cheesecloth for screens. Catalogs, newspapers and occasional personal letters were used as wallpaper.  In the spring wild flowers, decorated the environment growing out of the thick sod roof and windows. Women worked hard and long hours, moving the beds outside in the daytime so that they could cook and set the table for meals. They canned and made candles. Hot coals had to be carried to the cellars to keep the foods from freezing in the winter. The women made many trips back and forth from the cellars to bring items in for meals. Settlers did not have time or materials to fence the garden so many gardens were destroyed by wild animals. Grasshoppers and potato bugs were very common and ruined many crops. Life was harsh, maybe too harsh for Lillian and Reinhart, as he sold or abandoned the homestead in 1919.
  By 1920, Reinhart and Lillian moved back to Chicago where he obtained work as a motorman for the Chicago Surface Railway Company (streetcars). Whitman’s Big Little Book: Believe It for Not (Chicago 1933) featured Reinhart as the only person to name all of the streets in Chicago from memory.
I suspect that Lillian never adjusted to frontier life since she was used to living in the city with many urban amenities including lighting and plumbing. This may have precipitated the return to Chicago.
    In 1931at the age of 56, after Lillian’s death and 24 years of marriage, the handsome Reinhart married a young single woman, 21 years old, named Anna. They lived in Chicago for the remainder of his life. Reinhart never had any children. He did indeed live an adventuresome life, AWOL in the armed services, suspected AWOL on his homestead and skirting the law on a few occasions. He was a fascinating guy! You can only help but love him. He is one person, among many ancestors, I would have liked to know.

     Reinhart Fermazin passed away on November 13,1939 at the age of 64 years old with his wife Anna at
his side.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Well more brick walls

In examining Ancestry DNA I found I matched with Hartwigs. Possibly my Charles FERMAZIN's mother was Caroline Hartwig and not Justine Braun.

What mysteries we find. Waiting for more films from Family Search. to review marriages for Friedrich FERMAZIN.

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