Thursday, August 27, 2015

Something About Mary

LESSON LEARNED: Changing the spelling makes a difference!

For the past few weeks, I've been working on the family of Thaddeus Koechle who immigrated from Germany to America in the summer of 1851 with his wife and 5 children. But, there was something odd about the oldest child, Maria or Mary. She appeared to have been born about 2 years before Thaddeus and his wife, Katharina Kern, were married.

Thada Koechle, passenger #281, 05 July 1851, Ship Monmouth, New York, Passenger Lists,
 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010
(Maria, age 17, is 3rd on this list)
On the passenger list, their 'oldest child' was listed as Maria. But, in the 1860 census, the only other document I'd found which listed her, she was called Mary. That's pretty common as several of the children have their German name on the passenger list and a more Americanized version of their name after arriving in America. I chose to use the more Americanized versions of their names and had this daughter listed as Mary.

Last week, another Koechle descendant asked me why I had the family listed as Kaechle instead of Koechle. Basically, "Kaechle" is the spelling that was passed down in my family, though Koechle was the German spelling and the spelling used by the original immigrant family. But, since Kaechle is what I'd know all my life, I was using Kaechle.

After my distant cousin asked this question, though, I realized my mistake. So, I went into my Ancestry tree and changed the surnames of this family to Koechle / Kaechle. And, I added the original German spelling of the first names, including changing Mary to Maria / Mary.

As soon as I did this, I got a "shaky leaf" hint from Ancestry. What had they found? A birth/baptismal record for Maria Koechle!

I excitedly clicked on the link and this is what I found:

Name: Maria Koechle
Date of birth: September 6, 1834 (2 years before the marriage of Thaddeus & Katharina Kern)
Date of baptism: September 7, 1834
Father's name: Thaddeus Koechle (as expected)
Mother's name: Magdalena Riesterer (NOT Katharina Kern!)

So, it appeared that Thaddeus had a previous marriage!

After adding this information to my tree, the next hint that appeared was for the marriage record of Thaddeus Koechle and Magdalena Riesterer on October 21st, 1833, less than a year before the birth of their daughter, Maria.

Though I have not been able to locate a death record for Magdalena (Riesterer) Koechle, it is likely that she died while Maria was quite young. Thaddeus married his second wife, Katharina Kern, less than two years after the birth of Maria.

What are my next steps for Maria?

  1. Look at the original, microfilmed copy of the birth/baptismal record as Ancestry only had the indexed version. (I have ordered the FHL microfilm.) 
  2. Continue to search for hints as to what happened to Maria Koechle in America. The last record I've found for her is the 1860 census in which she is 26 years old and living with her father, step mother, and step siblings. It is unclear at this time as to whether she got married, died relatively young, or even moved away from her family.
My Line of Descent
  • Judas Thaddeus Koechle (1807-1880) m Katharina Kern (1811-1894)
  • Reinhard/Rheinhardt Koechle / Kaechle (1844-1900) m Mary Magdelena "Lena" Karbach (1848-1938)
  • Francis "Frank" R Kaechle (1868-1911) m Anna "Annie" Regina Adam (1867-1936)
  • Sherman Joseph Kaechle (1907-1987) m Ethel Evelyn Dickson (1915-2004)
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or contact me at


  1. How wonderful! Hope you find more wonderful and interesting things.

  2. Thanks, Jill! I don't usually concentrate on one family for an extended amount of time, and I'm starting to reap the benefits!

  3. Kara Meska (Kaechle)August 27, 2015 at 12:19 PM

    This is awesome! You're doing a great job!

  4. Thanks, Kara. Each new discovery is exciting! :)

  5. Congratulations on your find. Isn't fun when the lightbulb goes on and it leads to an incredible find. Happy continued hunting!

    1. Yes, it is exciting when the light bulb goes on! I had already suspected a prior marriage, but it was wonderful to find the proof. And, I do enjoy the hunt!


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