Monday, April 10, 2017

TIPS: Working with German Newspaper Articles

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently found an article about one of my relatives from a 1916 German newspaper. I found the article on Chronicling America by searching for the surname: Kaechle. But, since I don't read German, I struggled with both transcribing and translating this article. In the process, I came across some tips I'd love to share:

Tip #1: Determine the Font

The initial "P" and "kk" in this word are difficult to read.

While many of the letters in this German newspaper article were easy to recognize, some were more challenging. For example, the above word looks like "Barffonzerte." The initial letter "P" and the "kk" do not look like are English P and kk. This word, "Parkkonzerte," translates to park concerts.

This font is calles Mars Fraktur Normal

After struggling trying to read the article, I finally found a font that helped me transcribed some difficult letters: Mars Fraktur. Again, the "s" at the end of Mars and the "k" in Fraktur do not look like our English letters. However, after printing out a copy of this font, I was able to transcribe the article letter by letter.

The Mars Fraktur font I printed off, though I cannot find the site now

Tip #2: Look on the Page for Related Articles

After finding the article that you are interested, look at the rest of the page. In fact, this tip doesn't just apply to German articles, as I have had success with this tip using English newspapers, too.

In this case, before I found the Mars Fraktur font, I was working on the article that mentioned Jerome Kaechle but I was having trouble decoding some of the letters. I decided to try to read some of the other headlines and create a letter by letter key. The article right above the article mentioning Jerome and the fire had this headline: "Driven from their beds by fire." At that point, I realized the article I had been translating, which even had its own heading, was just a part of a longer article! Reading the entire article gave me more details of this fire that my relative experienced.

Tip #3: Look for a Related Story in English Newspapers

50 Persons Flee for Safety in Big Fire, Lansing State Journal,
Lansing, Michigan, 4 August 1916, page 5, column 5,
digital image,, (
accessed 7 April 2017. 

With such a large fire, I assumed there would have been an article in English newspapers. Using, I did not find an article by searching for Kaechle. However, I did find an article by narrowing the year to 1916 and searching for one of the addresses mentioned in the article: 512 Ashland. Although this article had less information, it did include facts that were not in the German article. For instance, this article stated that "None waited to don their clothes, but began fleeing into the street in scant attire." And, "Many jumped from windows when they saw the stairway in flames."

Tip #4: Use the PDF Option and Paste Into Google Translate

This tip comes from my dad. When using Chronicling America, use the "pdf" option. After clicking on "pdf," copy and paste into Google Translate. You will need to make some corrections, but this is a wonderful start to getting an article translated. And, it will save a lot of time!

Tip #5: Ask for Help on Facebook's "Genealogy Translations" Group

Facebook's "Genealogy Translations" group has wonderful members who are always ready to help. And, they're fast! If you choose to post to the group, make sure you read the "rules for posting" first.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Incredible Fire Story Found in German Newspaper

I cannot read German. But, thanks to technology, I can still search German newspapers to find stories of my German relatives.

I recently found my first German newspaper story about Jerome Kaechle who was my great grandfather's younger brother. The article, which I found on Chronicling America, was in the Detroiter Abend-Post on August 4th, 1916.

After seeing his name, I painstakingly worked with Google Translate to translate the article. I also sent the article to my dad and shared it on the Genealogy Translations group on Facebook. Combining all of our work, I was able to come up with this composite translation:

Durch Feuer aus Betten getrieben [Driven by Fire from beds],
Detroiter Abend-Post, Detroit, Michigan, 4 August 1916,
page 8, column, 3, digital image, Chronicling America,
(, accessed 1 April 2017. 

Driven from their beds by fire
3 houses and 4 sheds burned down this morning
Several people forced to jump out of windows

The three two-storied houses 512 to 520 Ashland Avenue and four sheds were destroyed by fire at 1 a. m. today, the cause of the fire is not yet known for certain. It caused damage of approximately $8,000 to $10,000. The residents of the houses, some 40 people, had to hurry out onto the street in their night clothes, as the fire spread really quickly, several had to jump out of windows, and two were carried out by neighbors having been overcome by smoke.

The fire was discovered simultaneously by several neighbors, and Mrs Ausher, of 551 Ashland Ave raised the alarm, but the fire was burning fiercely when the fire brigade arrived. The families of Arthur Kretschmer, Frank Donahue and Frank Hart lived at no 512 and were woken by the neighbors' warning. The house was already in flames, and without having time to dress, they had to rush out to the street.

Durch Feuer aus Betten getrieben [Driven by Fire from beds],
Detroiter Abend-PostDetroit, Michigan, 4 August 1916,
page 8, column, 3, digital image, Chronicling America,
(, accessed 1 April 2017.

It spread quickly

Even before the alarm had been raised, the flames had taken hold of the house of Karl Duppernell, 518, and that of Jerome Kaechle, 520 Ashland Ave, and when the fire brigade arrived it was not possible to save either of the houses, and the teams could only stop the further spread of the fire. Frank Donahue lived on the top floor of one of the houses; his wife is ill in hospital, and when Kretschmer ran into the house to warn him, Donahue was lying on a bed, overcome by smoke, and had suffered slight burns. Kretscmer carried the unconscious man onto the street, where he soon recovered. Kaechle was also almost overcome by smoke, when he was found and rescued.

The Hart family had only moved in two days earlier, and had furnished their home completely new: everything was destroyed by the fire. Hart works nights at Chalmers car factory, and wasn't home at the time of the blaze. Arthur Bartell, who lived in a room in one of the houses, ran back in to save $150, and was almost overcome by smoke. Everyone who had been made homeless by the fire found accommodation with neighbors.

[Special thanks to my father and volunteer Anne Callanan for their help with this translation!]

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Meeting a "New" Cousin and Solving a Family Photo Mystery

One of the best parts of doing genealogy is meeting "new" cousins! I recently had the opportunity to spend a day with my new-found cousin, Terry. who is my 3rd cousin once removed. My 3rd great grandparents, Joachim and Henriette (Bünger) Peters, who I recently traced back to Germany, are our common ancestors.

My cousin, Terry, and I at Clayton Library
Houston - March 2017
We met at Clayton Library in Houston and she brought a pile of photos and documents to share. We had a wonderful time discussing our family and getting to know each other. And, now I have a lot of new information to go through!

One of the photos Terry shared was this "mystery" photo. Terry's father, who is still living, wrote the following note on the back: 

Some Peters went to Oklahoma. One had a cotton gin. Grandpa Peters (Eckard) [who is Joachim's son] had 3 brothers:
  • Bill - Ashton [Sumner County, Kansas]
  • Henry [Oklahoma]
  • Charles [Oklahoma]
This photo is of one of them [either Henry or Charles]

The 4 sons of Charles Peters. Photo in the Stewart family collection
Probably from Beulah (Peters) Brewer's collection.

Charles Peters (1847-1910) is my great, great grandfather. I would LOVE for this mystery photo to be of him and his family! But, the above photo shows his four sons, and I don't believe they look like the two young men in the other photo. [Besides these four sons, Charles also had two daughters who lived to adulthood.]

When I started researching this morning, I believed that Henry Peters and his wife, Hattie, had 2 sons and 3 daughters. But, after several hours of research, I have determined that they had 3 sons and 5 daughters. However, only 2 sons and 4 daughters survived to adulthood. So, I believe this is a photo of Henry, Hattie, and their 6 grown children.

A photo my dad, JRS, posted on FindAGrave shows three of Henry's children, along with one of their spouses, as older adults. From this photo, I believe we can determine that the taller young man in the "mystery" photo is Albert Roy Peters and the shorter man is Edwin Eugene "Ted" Peters. 

Estimated date of early 1910s based on youngest childrens' ages, Cora's 1910 marriage date, and clothing
Here is the "mystery" photo again. I am fairly certain this is the family of Henry J Peters, son of Joachim Peters. The family consists of:
  • Henry J Peters (1852-1931)
  • "Hattie" (Clifton) Peters (1857-1929) 
  • Hugo Peters (1877-1878) died as infant
  • Cora May (Peters) Pickett (1880-1957) married Robert Pickett (1877-1953) [likely seated next to her mother wearing a wedding ring in the photo]
  • Jennie Lynn Peters (1884-1886) died as toddler
  • Albert Roy Peters (1887-1968) never married [taller young man in photo]
  • Pearl Elsie (Peters) King (1893-1955) married Glen H King (1888-1976)
  • Myrtle Lillian Peters (1893-1973) never married
  • Edwin Eugene "Ted" Peters (1895-1966) married Clara Elizabeth King (1898-1984) [shorter young man in photo]
  • Hattie Isabell (Peters) Porter (1897-1978) married Earl Brown Porter (1897-1945)

The 1828 Will of Peter Close's Relict: Catharine Elizabeth Close

Yesterday, I shared the 1810 will of my 5th great grandfather , Peter Close of Armagh, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Peter's wife, Catha...