Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Additions to my Pedigree

For a frame of reference, this was my pedigree BEFORE I spent a week collecting data at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Well, my time is up in Salt Lake City. Time to pack my computer, my notes, and my clothes into a suitcase and fly back to Charlotte, NC.

Before I left for SLC a week ago, I told my family and friends that if could not find even one more person to add to my pedigree, it would be OK- the trip would still be worth it. I just wanted to see this world famous collection of genealogical data at the Mormon's Family History Library; to see what the Library had to offer. I was very impressed and pleased, and moreover, I did climb up a few more branches on my family tree.

Also, I had the opportunity to see changes that are happening at the Library. For example, the Library catalogue is searched by going to FamilySearch(dot)org on the Internet. The "face" of that website is being changed, though I confess I still go back to the old face to perform my searches.

So, I found a lot of new information and pushed back one of my maternal ancestral lines about three generations. I say "about" because I have not had a chance to analyze the new data. I have been sitting in front of the microfilm readers from dawn until way past dusk and feeding nickles into the photocopy machine.

But briefly, follow the bottom line of my mother's branch in the pedigree above. Note that my great, great grandparents were Ludwig Gutgsell and Margarethe Kessler. I obtained their birth dates and places from the death entry of their daughter, Marie, nee. Gutgsell. Her death entry was recorded in the parish record of a catholic church in Burglen, Canton Thurgau, Switzerland, but that's another story. This week, I found the marriage entry (performed on 17 Nov 1847) of Marie's parents on a microfilm of the civil marriage registrations for the commune (village) of Kaysersburg, arrondisement (county) of Colmar, Department of Haut Rhin, in Alsace, which was in French territory at the time. The Germans occupied Alsace from about 1871, until the end of WW I, and then it was returned to France. So, Marie's parents were married by their French names: Louis and Marguerite. I just love the details of genealogical research.

The information didn't stop there, there were many genealogical details in the full-page, marriage entry in this civil record. More research in the microfilm section revealed the marriage entry for the parents of Louis Gutgsell. Louis' father, Andre Gutgsell married Madelaine Scherrer on 28 Jan 1824, in Kaysersburg. I also found some of Andre's siblings. THEN, I discovered that Andre's parents, Leo Gutgsell and Marie Ann Madar, were married in Kayserberg. Finally, the parents of Leo were Joseph Gutgsell and Elizabeth Wachen. If I recall correctly, Andre Gutgsell's marriage entry included the names of his parents and grandparents.

Incidentally, while perusing the microfilms of data from this region of Alsace, I noted another prominent surname, "G'sell". At first I thought it was an abbreviation for my ancestral surname, Gutgsell, but after looking at several family relationships in the records, I do not believe G'sell is equivalent to Gutgsell. Furthermore, Gutgsell seemed to be spelled variously as Guthgsell, Guttgsell, and GutheGsell. To further confound the issue, many times the names of individuals were not captalized.

So, how many generations did I uncover? I believe I am back to my 5X great grandparents on the Gutgsell line. Not a bad effort for a week's research at the largest depository of genealogical data in the world.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Miracle of the Sea Gulls, Salt Lake City

From Life's Journey II

Image: Click to enlarge. Note the sculptures of Sea Gulls on the roof of this trolley station in down town Salt Lake City, Utah, near Temple Square. One of the birds is silhouetted against the snow-capped mountain in the distance.

For those of you who are old enough, do you remember the TV series, "Death Valley Days" which appeared in the 1960s. The episode opened with a man standing up behind a desk and announcing, "Hello folks, this is the old Ranger". Then he proceeded to introduce the audience to a true tale of the old West. The setting of each story was somewhere near Death Valley on the border between California and Nevada. The show was sponsored by "Twenty- Mule Team Borax." a laundry detergent which was made from a mineral mined near Death Valley. The musical theme was the sound of bugles playing like they do when the cavalry is coming.

One episode really stuck in my mind and still does. It was the true story about an event that occurred during the first year that the Mormon pioneers settled in an area that would eventually become Salt Lake City. As it goes, the Mormons were getting ready to make their first crop harvest. Suddenly, thousands of crickets descended on the fields of ripened grain and proceeded to devour the only food that would be available to the pioneers. Certainly they would starve over the Winter. Then just as suddenly as the crickets appeared, thousands of Sea Gulls flew in and devoured the crickets, thus saving the harvest and the Mormon families.

In honor of the Sea Gulls and their miraculous appearance in the desert, these sculptures of the bird are attached to the roof of the tram station near Temple Square. A little more research about the story revealed the location of perhaps the first and maybe only monument dedicated to Birds in America. Come to think of it, I know of no such other. Incidentally, the California Gull is the State Bird of Utah.

The image below presents the Gull monument which has been placed in front of the Assembly Hall on the grounds of Temple Square. By the way, the Assembly Hall is a meeting place for community events. It was constructed from granite blocks left over after the building of the Mormon Temple.

From Life's Journey II