married to my husband, for 37 years and we raised two
We’re both in a transition period as we are starting up a
travel business selling cruises. My interests include
writing, which I’m getting to do lots of now that I’m
“writing the Family Stories,” photography, and beachcombing
whenever I can do it. I like to think I’ve enjoyed hours
and hours of rearranging beaches all over. I even love
walking on beaches in the winter and taking snapshots.
you started in doing genealogical research?
My genealogical research
started just prior to the opening of the Ellis Island
records. I knew that my Dad’s family was from
Hungary and my Mom’s family was from Bohemia.
Unfortunately, I never thought to ask questions when those
who could have answered them were still here—a trait I share
with so many who are sorry they waited so long!
(I think that most of us can
identify with that!) I’ve been at this project for
about five years. My interest really started when I found
my father’s birth and baptismal certificates hidden away in
a metal box with an assortment of papers. I found the name
of the town of Glogovat and soon learned that most books in
my local library did not have maps that were old enough to
show this little town. Then I started searching on Google
and quickly found Peter Schmidt’s Village of Glogowatz
site. I was amazed at what he and others had put
together. I located the listing of Dave Dreyer’s Manifest
Records including people arriving from the town of
Glogowatz—the first name on the list was someone who was
traveling to College Point. From that moment on—I was
“hooked on genealogy.” I confess I did not have to struggle
through the searching that many others did—in a way, much of
it was done for me. Just about the time I connected with
Peter Schmidt he was completing the job of having the
Glogowatz church records photographed and transferred to
CD—lucky me—once I received my CDs, I started reading and
recording trying to put order in names that I had never
heard before. My husband soon learned where he would find
me—at my computer reading these records—he even coined a new
term for my new-found hobby! Glogowatzing!
When asked what kind of software she might be using, Susan
I tried using a family tree
program to record my Glogowatzing but just didn’t have the
patience to really learn to use it. Instead, I’ve used
Excel spreadsheets to record all the people I have
found—listing the birth records and then using the program
to sort by parent’s names.
was asked of all her ancestors, who had made the biggest
impression on her. She responded:
I would have to say that I
have two ancestors who have made an impression on me—they
would be both of my grandmothers—my Paternal Grandmother,
Sophie Sander nee Reichert, and my Maternal Grandmother. They both were strong
women—something I never quite realized while they were
living—another example of taking people and times for
granted, unfortunately. Since this is about our Banat
ancestors, I will concentrate on my Paternal Grandmother.
My grandmother’s father died when she was about six years
old. Within a few years, her mother remarried and Granny
and her brother were sent to live and work on other farms.
At the age of 7 or 8, Granny had a job feeding chickens
among other chores. It was her employer who encouraged her
to leave Glogowatz before she was “attached” to anything.
He loaned my grandparents the money for the trip . . . all
of which was paid back through their hard work. She was
the first to find work by helping another woman with
laundry. She told her new employer that she had a baby (my
dad)—this woman said that’s fine, bring him along and he can
play with my son, Joseph, who is about the same age. And
they became life-long friends! My grandmother moved away
from College Point in 1946 with my aunt.
My aunt and her daughter, my
cousin, have been the ones to really teach me about my
Granny. They were the “keepers of the stories and the
photographs” that have helped me learn what a strong woman
my Granny was! Granny’s maiden name was Reichert and she
was always so proud to be a Reichert. I heard all the
stories of hard work and the fun of dances, horseback
riding, and walking across a frozen river to attend a dance
only to be frightened on the way home when they heard the
ice start to crack and groan. Granny was the one who told
me my “best” color was green and how I would never find
anyone to marry me if I didn’t learn to cook and sew.
Granny was a tiny woman with a soft voice and long, long
hair which she tied up in a bun. Her pictures look as if
she didn’t change from the time she came to America until
the time she died. As my cousin and I discover the German
words and gather information about Glogowatz, my cousin says
she can almost hear Granny’s voice as she told her about
this place where she grew up—Glogowatz—almost as if Granny
were teaching us how to find our way to Glogowatz.
what has been your most remarkable find in your roots research?
Has your world opened in that you have found living relatives
you didn’t know existed?
As I read the Ellis Island
records I discovered that many of the people who were my
father’s friends in College Point were actually cousins.
When my Granny would visit us when I was a teenager, she
would always go to visit someone named “Donde Weisenburger”—at
least that’s what I thought I heard. Now I know this woman
was really Tante Weisenburger—Granny’s half sister. I’ve
learned that I attended St. Fidelis grammar school with a
second cousin—neither of us was even aware we were cousins.
My newfound cousin, George, said there were other Reicherts
in town but we weren’t related. Wrong! They were cousins
too—we’ll never know why the family somehow became
disconnected. Maybe it was just the hard work of living
and raising a family.
some really memorable experiences resulting from your family
Some of the things that have
happened have been “spine-tingling” too. Early on, I
joined a mailing list where people were researching some of
my family surnames: Reichert, Schlee and Weisenburger. I
connected with two women who had discovered they were
cousins. One of them, Erika Schulko, was trying to find
the Weisenburger family who had helped her family so many
years ago by mailing packages to them—packages of clothing,
etc. that even as a child she knew made a big difference in
their lives. But she had no way of finding them and had
almost given up hope. She wrote me this story and I
forwarded this e-mail to my cousin in Florida because I knew
she and my aunt kept in contact with a Theresa Weisenburger.
Roberta then forwarded this same e-mail to another woman who
is a Weisenburger descendant. Arlene read Erika’s story . .
. and realized it was her family who had sent those packages
so many years ago. She remembered helping her own
grandmother wash and iron the clothing and wrap those
packages. A few months later, Erika came to New York to
meet Arlene and the rest of the family—cousins reunited
through the “miracle of e-mail and the internet.”
year ago, I was surfing around the internet and re-visited the
HOG Glogowatz site. I started scanning through
their collection of pictures and found one labeled—Family
Reichert, about 1910. Of course, the name Reichert caught
my eye! I looked at the picture with interest and then left
a message in the guest book hoping someone could give me the
names of the people in the photograph. The next morning I
received an e-mail from Erwin Kilzheimer of Sindelfingen,
Germany. He gave me the names of the people and I quickly
realized I was looking at a photograph of my Granny’s aunt
and uncle, Ferencs Reichert and Magdalena Dumelle and their
children. Erwin has since connected me with several of
the descendants of this family. Ever since then we have
been exchanging pictures and information and just keeping in
touch in general. Another touching story here too. One
of my new-found cousins has told me how happy this has made
her. It made me realize how much we take for granted.
When our ancestors came to America they left behind a life
and a family—some of whom they never saw again. My cousin
who is 75 told me how distraught her father was when he lost
contact with his younger brother. The brother who came to
America died in the 1950s. Since his children did not speak
German, the families lost touch with one another. She says
connecting with me and my family makes her feel as if the
link that was broken so long ago has now been mended. We
both like to think that our families are “dancing in heaven”
as they see us get to know one another.
were confined to only one tip you might give a fellow
researcher, what would it be?
One tip—actually that’s not a
hard one! You may think at first that you’ve learned all
you can from a particular piece of information. But don’t
stop. Go back . . . especially after you’ve done more
research. You may find things that you overlooked. Or it
might be that since you have learned more about your family
history, information that didn’t appear to be important at
first now falls right into place. My best example would be
the picture of the Reichert Family I found at the HOG
Glogowatz site. I know I had seen the picture before but
it meant very little to me at the time. I remember thinking
“what a sweet little baby”. Several years later, after
collecting so much family data from the Glogowatz site, I
knew the names of quite a few of my ancestors. When Erwin
gave me the names of the people in the photograph, I
recognized immediately that they were family! If I hadn’t
gone back, I’d have missed out on meeting my Reichert Family
who now live in Sindelfingen.
Another tip that is related
to the first one—never stop asking questions! And remember
that direct questions don’t always get you the best
answers. Many times the older members of your family have
memories that “have yet to be tapped.” A direct question
is answered with “I don’t remember.” Instead, share with
them what you have learned . . . and you just might trigger
a memory for them. You’ll hear a story you’ve never heard
before and they will enjoy re-living a special time in their
lives or a special memory about their parents that had
somehow been “lost in time.”
came to a close but Susan wanted to add just a bit more . .
One last comment. I am very
grateful for all the friends I have made while
researching—especially all those who have shared their
memories on the DVHH list. Sometimes I find others on the
internet who are researching similar names, etc. and I send
an e-mail to someone I don’t even know and am pleasantly
surprised when they take time from their busy lives to
respond. We may not have made a direct connection, but
we’ve had an opportunity to share something of interest to
both of us.