This is the first entry of what I have dubbed my  GenJournal, a weekly summary of what I have accomplished, watched, researched, listened to, discovered, etc. in the Genealogy field. This week, I took a break from entering the seemingly never ending string of royal/notable ancestors branching off from Charlemagne into my Ancestry.com family tree and turned my focus a little closer to home.

After hearing from a Gademer family cousin match on MyHeritage.com last week, I went back to my Gademer and Kestler lines to see if I could find any more useful records that would help to clear up our connection.

Catherine (or maybe Katharina) Gademer was born 11/28/1832 in Leinach, Germany and married Michael Joseph Kestler. He was born 10/28/1828 in possibly Esleben, Germany (his obituary says Eslevia, but the match informed me that “The dialect in the Lower Franconia turned a ‘Esleben’ to Eslevia on American documents.”) to Adam Kestler and Katherine Prozeller. He married Catherine around 1853 and they immigrated to Apple Creek, Wayne, Ohio around 1867. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go back further than Catherine on this Gademer line so I wasn’t much help to this cousin match. Apparently, Katharina Gademer was a pretty common name for Leinach, Germany around that time. There is some potential evidence that Michael Kestler’s surname could have been Hessler in Germany. The cousin match had found records at the Diocese Archive in Würzburgof of a:

HESSLER, Michael Joseph
born 5 Jan 1859 
bap 6 Jan 1859 in Leinach/Sulzfeld

to

HESSLER, Michael, Büttnergeselle / Cooper Apprentice of Esleben/Werneck
and
GADEMER, Katharina, Dienstmagd /Servant of Leinach, House Nr. 13

My Michael Kestler and Catherine Gademer did have a son named Joseph Michael born in Germany in 1859, though the date I found was slightly different- 10/4/1859. I went back and checked my matches on Ancestry and 4 distant cousins did have the surname of Hessler in their tree. Not proof, but it’s something. It is highly possible that these are the same people, especially considering that Michael Kestler’s obituary lists him as a cooper.

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Also, can more obituaries be like this?! The amount of information in this one column is staggering.

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This week, I also tried out the Leeds method of DNA clustering. This method focuses on 2nd and 3rd cousins using Ancestry.com (though you can use other sites), but I went rogue and moved on to the 4th cousins. Dana Leeds does state that you can add in 4th cousins, but she suggests adding them to the already created columns you made for the 2nd and 3rd cousins. I tried this, but I added in a few distant cousins as well whose exact relationship to me I could pinpoint. While most of the information could be apparent just by looking at your matches sans spreadsheet, I like the Leeds method because I’m visual and it did help focus my attention. I also liked her method of then writing down the matching surnames and figuring out the connection that way.

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I unearthed the probate record of my 2nd great grandmother, Ella Kerr Robertson (married name: Ella R. Frederick). What an amazing document. It gave me an opportunity to see my great-grandfather (Ella’s son-in-law and Executor of her will), Martin A. Brown‘s, signature for the first time,

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but not only that, it gave me insight into what was important to her and her heirs:

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Ella was born May 25, 1853 in Island Creek, Jefferson, Ohio where she would live her whole life. She married Ross P. Frederick, a farmer also with deep Ohio roots, and they had 4 daughters together: Mary Amanda (my great-grandmother) born in 1887, Sadie Lyle (her middle name reflecting Ella’s illustrious Lyle roots of which my grandfather and his family were always very proud of) born 1889, Alethea born in 1892, and Wilma Robertson born in 1896.

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Ella Kerr Robertson

The picture referenced in the will of Mary and Sadie may have been this one below, but it doesn’t mention Alethea so perhaps not:

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From Left: My great-grandmother Mary, and her sisters Alethea, and Sadie probably around 1895 since Wilma is absent.

…but my favorite part of the document is Item V, which mentions the items bequeathed to Ella’s grandsons by Mary: George and Lyle, the latter being my grandfather Harold Lyle Brown, always known within the family as Lyle. He would have been about 6 years old when Ella’s will was written on June 11, 1926. I imagine he missed his grandmother very much, but being a child who grew up during the Great Depression, I can imagine what a treasure that feather bed must have been.

By the time Ella’s will was written, her daughter Sadie Lyle Frederick (McMillan) was dead, having passed away early in her life at the age of 32 (in 1922). She left behind one son, Frederick Taggart McMillan, only 6 years old at the time of his mother’s death, 10 at the time the will was written, and 13 at the time of Ella’s death in 1929. Ella took him into special consideration when formulating her will and made sure that he was provided for with a trust.

My great-grandmother Mary ended up inheriting Ella’s farm in Jefferson County, Ohio as well as all of the above items in Item IV, upon the condition that, should she choose not to live there, the home would be sold and the proceeds would go to Ella’s sister in Massillon, into the trust for her grandson Frederick, and the rest between her 3 surviving daughters to “share and share alike” (I love that term).  According to census records from 1920, 1930, and 1940, it appears that Mary and husband Martin A. Brown remained in the home they owned at 2221 Shunk Avenue in Alliance, Ohio so they most likely sold the property (I will have to do some more research into this).

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I added a few Oberholtzer branches to my family tree, most notably my 8th great-grandparents, Jacob Oberholtzer Sr. and Deborah Krey as well as her parents, my 9th great-grandparents John Krey and Sytge Opdegraf. John Krey was born in Krisheim, Germany (date of birth unknown), but was living in Germantown, Pennsylvania by 1702. He was one of the first settlers of Germantown. He had first been married to a woman named Helena and had 4 children with her before marrying Holland-born Sytge Opdegraf. John’s marriage to the Dutch girl was originally frowned upon by John’s brothers, but after meeting her and witnessing her kind, generous nature they quickly changed their minds. John and Sytge would have 4 children together, one of which was my 8th great grandmother Deborah Krey. At some point, though I’m not sure if it was pre or post John, Sytge would marry Hubert Cassell and have 5 children with him.

Deborah Krey would marry Jacob Oberholtzer, born about 1686 in either Switzerland or Germany, around 1710. They had (at least) 4 children together, one of whom was my 7th great grandmother Anna Oberholtzer. On November 13, 1729 Jacob purchased 180 acres of land in Salford (now Franconia), Montgomery County, Pennsylvania where the family would live. Deborah died around 1742 and Jacob around 1756, most likely in Pennsylvania.

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Finally, I bit the bullet and started the application process (one of my 2019 resolutions!) to become a member of the DAR and am now waiting to be contacted…

I hope you had as successful a week as I had. If you are reading this and notice we have an ancestor or surname in common, please reach out to me! I am always happy to meet a cousin. Until next week, may your DNA matches be many and your hunting be happy!

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Some Sources Used:

Ancestry.com. Some account of Jacob Oberholtzer who settled, about 1719, in Franconia Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Original data: Loomis, Elisha S.. Some account of Jacob Oberholtzer who settled, about 1719, in Franconia Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania : and of some his descendants in America. Cleveland, Ohio: unknown, 1931.