February 26th, 2011

This Week in Genealogy

Great-Uncle Elmer and his lovely daughter continue to be a source of awe and astonishment. I wish Elmer had been my grandfather. He's way cooler than either of mine was. But family is ever thus. Also, with her help I now have a pretty good idea what happened to all of the descendants of that grandmother siblings.

R. called his dad and talked to him a little, getting more names. This allowed me to definitively identify some of his family in the Canadian census so that's cool, altho the American side continues to confuse me.

I stumbled across another Abbenhouse, with a marriage certificate witnessed by my great-grandfather Abbenhouse and my great-grandmother's brother Poldervaart. No way in hell is that a coincidence, but that branch of the family seemed to be missing records in Genlias. After a wild goose chase to the Amsterdam Stadsarchief, I realized I really ought to be looking in the Gelderland Archief, which turns out not to have a separately searchable database -- but which has not yet entered anything other than marriage records and a few death records into genlias. In sum, the mysterious C. Ph. Abbenhouse left no dribbles in genlias for me to find, because he was neither married nor died in the Netherlands.

Weirdly, as I was trying to piece all this together, I stumbled across a Jennie Abbenhouse that I initially mis-identified as another hypothetical sibling (or cousin or other kin). It didn't dawn on me until after I looked at some really screwed up dates that I was actually looking at Mother Abbenhouse. You _really_ have to wonder about a woman born in 1848, leaving behind a married daughter, to follow her two sons to the US in the very early 1900s. But she did, and she lived into her 80s (her husband substantially predeceased her). Can't have been much fun for her over here, tho. I have left a message with my cousin who was raised by an Abbenhouse daughter (her grandmother) in hopes she's got some stories to pass along. It's weirdly like trying to listen hard and hopefully hear an echo of some sound made long ago. Mother Abbenhouse died right around the time her son she was living with (my great grandfather) was getting a divorce. Doesn't there have to be some family legend lying around about that? Perhaps this is the kind of thing that is mercifully forgotten 80 years later.

Wonderfully, the sons of C. Ph. Abbenhouse are still alive, nearly a hundred each, and each have had numerous descendants some of whom I found on facebook. So, yet another branch of the family found. One of them regularly writes letters to the editor at the Seattle Times.

Oh, and as a result of my husband's Quebecois ancestry, I'm stuck deciphering cursive baptismal and marriage records. In French, obviously. It's a weird sort of miracle that by the time I started this project, I had at least _some_ facility in all the languages I have needed to be able to read.

Seattle Times Archives for the win!

I was excited recently to discover that my paternal grandmother's paternal grandmother (<-- not a joke and even accurate) actually came to the United States (no, I still haven't found the boat). I discovered this quite accidentally. Here is the approximate chain of events.

(1) I learn that my paternal grandmother's _father_ was a total dick, so much of a total dick that shortly after my grandmother and her twin sisters married, their mother turfed him out. Given that this was sometime in the late 1920s or possibly the first year or so of the 1930s, quite surprising. Because of this, even tho I have a highly detailed and well-sourced genealogy for my paternal grandmother's _mother_, the details on her father are utterly lacking. No birthdate, even. My cousin told me about the dickishness.

(2) I became frustrated at some other part of the tree I was working on, and decided to find out if that particular great-grandfather remarried. My thinking was, it all happened in Washington state so I had good odds of finding a remarriage. Also, I had a mystery alternative wife name for him that I was curious about. Off I went to Washington State's Digital Archives to find Henry's marriage records. And there were _three_ of them. Wow. I filled all that information in and didn't think too much more about it. (Yes, it did solve the mystery alternative spouse issue.)

(3) In the course of looking at Henry's marriages, and trying to find out if I got them all, I stumble across a marriage involving CPH Abbenhouse. When I look at the record, it is signed by Henry and by Henry's then-brother-in-law Pieter. This can't be a coincidence. Who is CPh?

(4) I fail utterly to find any indication of C (I'm assuming Cornelis) P (I'm assuming Pieter, and wrong) H (I'm assuming Hendrik, wrong again, it's Ph for Philip) in genlias. I find out Amsterdam isn't in genlias and try the Stadsarchief. I fail. I double check where the Abbenhouses come from, realize it's Gelderland, try _that_ archive, fail again, but discover that only the marriage records are in genlias and a few death records. So I no longer expect to see CPh in genlias. Still, he could be a cousin or something.

(5) I find out that CPh says he's headed to Bow on his ship entry. That's promising.

(6) I find a death record for Cornelis, but none for his wife. I find numerous possible offspring and contact what I believe to be a granddaughter (yup) on facebook. She agrees we are likely related. I still, however, have no certainty about the nature of the relationship between Cornelis and Henry.

(7) I return to the Fount of All Relevant Wisdom (after pipl, of course), the Washington Digital Archives and start looking at every Abbenhouse I can find. I learn that Mother Abbenhouse came over, and died here. That's looking pretty promising for the boys being brothers.

And (drum roll please), then I turned to the Seattle Times archive. I discovered so many hilariously sordid entries when searching for my mother's brothers that I thought, what the heck, let's see what I can find for these relatives. In addition to a very respectable bunch of articles about a principal at the super cool Surrey Downs and Ardmore, I found Ruth's obiturary. Very nice: I now have proof of the four boys (which I was reasonably certain of, based on the fb interaction). And then, for the win, the obituary for Mother Abbenhouse, my paternal grandmother's paternal grandmother:

Seattle Times obituary 7 Nov 1932

ABBENHOUSE -- At 1714 13th Ave., November 5, 1932, Janna Abbenhouse, aged 84 years, beloved mother of C. Phil and Henry Abbenhouse, Seattle, and Heintje Grimm, Holland. Funeral services Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Home Undertaking Co.

How unbelievably cool is _that_? Heintje is a diminuative; I have her marriage record and some records for her children's births from genlias.