Sunday, February 28, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Online Map Collections

Week 8: Discover online map collections. Historical maps are wonderful tools for historical research. Fortunately for genealogists, many map collections are located online. Some of the more prominent collections are the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress, the David Rumsey Map Collection, and the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin. Take some time to browse each of these collections. You may also want to check the library web site of your local university (or one near your ancestral home) to see what maps they have online. If you have a genealogy blog, write about any special maps you find during this activity.

Figuring that a lot of folks doing this challenge would be looking at the collections Amy suggested, I decided to focus on online map collections of local universities. Unfortunately, my university doesn't have such a collection (I should know, I'm in charge of our physical maps), but the nearby University of Texas at Arlington does. Cartographic Connections was a grant-funded project in 2000 to put over 70 mostly-Texas maps from the university's extensive collection online, with tips for teachers on how to use 46 of the maps in the classroom. The virtual library is searchable with tips and sample searches available.

Another great resource is the Portal to Texas History, based at the University of North Texas in Denton. They have over 1350 maps in their growing digital collections, and a number of educator resources. Finally, there is the Texas TIDES (Teaching, Images, and Digital Experiences) project based at Stephen F. Austin State University in Huntsville. They have about 100 maps in their digital collections, and numerous lesson plans using these and other primary source documents.

[52 Weeks to Better Genealogy was developed by my friend Amy of We Tree and is hosted by]

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Dienes Hat Store, Chicago, ABT 1888

This is the Dienes Hat Store in Chicago that I referred to in my previous post. According to the 1888 Chicago voter registration, my great-great grandfather, Fred Dienes, was living at what was then 287 Division Street. He had been living in that precinct in Cook County for 10 years, which corresponds with the last Springfield, Illinois, city directory where I found him (in 1878). On the 1880 census, the Dienes family was residing a couple blocks away at what was then 193 N. Sedgwick Street, all on Chicago's Near North Side.

I believe the photo shows Fred and his wife Regina Matheis Dienes in front of their hat store, and the family probably lived just above it. You can see "287" on the banner above the store, to the left and right of "Dienes Hat Store." The young girl in the photograph may be my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Camilla Dienes Massmann, born in 1877, although it could also be her sister Clara (born 1874) or even Amelia (born 1867) or Paulina (born 1865), depending on just when the photo was taken--which would have been somewhere between 1878, when the family moved to Chicago from Springfield, and 1896, when Fred Dienes died.

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Online Mapping Tools

Week 7: Play with Google Maps. This is a helpful tool for determining the locations of addresses in your family history. Where your ancestral homestead once stood may now be a warehouse, parking lot or field. Perhaps the house is still there. When you input addresses into Google Maps, don't forget to use Satellite View and Street View options for perspectives that put you right where your ancestors once stood. If you've used this tool before, take some time to play with it again. Push all the buttons, click all the links, and devise new ways it can help with your personal genealogy research. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experiences with Google Maps, or suggest similar easy (and free) tools that have helped in your own research.

I first started playing with Google Maps about a year ago. I was trying to match up a picture of the Dienes hat store in what I then thought was downtown Springfield, Illinois, to current buildings there. Supposedly my great-great-grandfather, Fred Dienes, sold a hat to Abraham Lincoln. Since I already had a Google account (obviously, since I'm using Blogger), it was easy to use the My Maps feature to tag and save various locations.

View Springfield, Illinois in a larger map
Turns out I was wrong about the photo--it's actually of the Chicago hat store after the Dienes family moved there around 1878. Since I have a lot of ancestors and current family in the Evanston and North Chicago areas too, today I started a map there as well. This is rather challenging, as street names were changed frequently in Chicago, and houses were renumbered there in 1909 and in Evanston in 1893.

It's fun to check the street views as well. Most of the original buildings are gone, but the house where my Pape great-grandparents lived from at least 1882 to at least 1920 was apparently still standing in 2007.

I also started mapping the places in Germany where my ancestors are from (and some current distant cousins live). Alas, street views are not available for the small towns I'm mapping. I've spent entirely too much time messing with these three maps over the last few days, but I expect it will be quite helpful in my research.

I also played around a little with MapQuest. I prefer this tool when I need directions as I think they are superior to those in Google Maps. Also, their satellite imagery is more up-to-date, at least for the town I live in. In Google Maps, our small subdivision is under construction, so it's 2003-2005, while in MapQuest, it's from 2007-2009. Street views are not available for my small, non-suburban town with either tool. MapQuest also has a personal mapping feature (called My Places), but it requires setting up an AOL account, which I didn't want to do just now.

[52 Weeks to Better Genealogy was developed by my friend Amy of We Tree and is hosted by]

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: John Pape Family, circa 1910

This beautiful photograph is one I obtained from my newly-discovered second cousin Bill. He has graciously shared a number of photographs and images of items his grandmother, my great aunt, saved years ago.

This is a portrait of Bill's paternal grandmother, Martha Pape Bleidt, my paternal grandfather, Paul Robert Pape, and their siblings and parents, John and Gertrude Kramer Pape. Click on it to enlarge it and see more of the lovely details.

Originally from Westphalia, Germany, John emigrated around 1880 and Gertrude in 1885. They married in 1888. In 1899, John is listed in The Evanston [IL] City Directory as a partner in Singer [sic, actually Senge] & Pape dry goods, so apparently the family is doing well.

Standing are:
Martha (baptized Martha Elizabeth) born 19 OCT 1890,
Rhea aka Mary/Marie/Maria (baptized Mariam Gertrude) born 8 SEP 1892,
Lee aka Leo (baptized Leon Henry) born 27 DEC 1893,
Clara (baptized Clara Martha) born 12 AUG 1889, and
Paul Robert (baptized Paul Jacob) born 1 JULY 1896.

Seated are:
John born 25 OCT 1851,
Dick (aka Richard aka Otto (baptized Otto Joseph) born 29 OCT 1898,
Walter F. (I think this stands for Francis) born 2 AUG 1900, and
Gertrude born 9 JAN 1859.

Walter, the youngest, looks to be about 10 in this picture, so I am guessing it was taken around 1910.

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Theresia and Mary A. Matheis - Wives #1 and #2 (of 3)

While searching for more information on the Matheis orphans, I came across this tombstone at FindAGrave (photo courtesy BJJ at The inscription (that which is legible in this photograph) reads:
Hier Ruht
Theresia Matheis
Gest 14 Juli 1875
in Ihrem 27 Jahre

Mary A. Matheis
Geb 21 Dez 1843
Gest 4 Dez 1881
A rough translation from German:
Here Rests
Theresia Matheis
Died 14 July 1875
in her 27th year

Mary A. Matheis
Born 21 Dec 1843
Died 4 Dec 1881

I was able to figure out pretty quickly who Mary A. Matheis was, from an online family history for Leonard Matheis, brother of my great-great-grandmother Regina Matheis Pape. According to that website, Leonard married Mary Ann Reisch on January 10, 1881 in Springfield, Illinois. Kate Dienes, Regina's oldest daughter, was the bridesmaid. Leonard and Mary Ann had a daughter, Theresa (whose name shows up in various documents as Theresia), born November 27, 1881 (not 1882 as in the website). Sadly, Mary Ann died shortly afterward. Leonard married her cousin, Rosa Reisch, on January 23, 1883, in Springfield.

But who was this Theresia Matheis, buried in the same plot as Mary Ann Matheis, who died July 14, 1875, at the age of 27? She wasn't mentioned in this online family history.

Turns out my mother had the answer all along. She has an unpublished manuscript by George Madden, a Matheis descendant, on descendants of Francis Xavier Mattheis (Leonard's grandfather in Germany). His paper is well-documented and references a Sangamon County, Illinois marriage record for a Leonhard Mathis and a Theresa Sprook on October 26, 1874. (My searches on for a marriage between a Leonard Matheis and a Theresia in or before 1875 didn't bring up any results initially, probably because of the different spellings). I found a Teresa Separk of the right age working as a domestic servant in a Springfield household in 1870 that may (or may not) be her. Sadly she too died, less than nine months after marriage.

So, Leonard Matheis' first and second wives share a gravestone at Calvary Cemetery, also known as the German Catholic Cemetery, in Springfield. Leonard died in 1930 and Rosa died in 1935 and they are buried there as well. The cemetery is adjacent to Oak Ridge Cemetery, where Illinois Governor William Bissell and his widow Elizabeth (see my previous post) are buried, as well as Abraham Lincoln and his family.

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Matheis Mystery Monday

In an earlier post I talked about my Matheis ancestors and their journey from Germany to St. Clair County, Illinois. By August 1855, the four Matheis children (the oldest being my great-great-grandmother Regina, about to turn 18) had been orphaned and put under the guardianship of a Peter Diehl. However, the children are no longer with Diehl on the 1860 census. Where are they?

Well, Regina is now age 22 and married with her first child. She appears as "Rachel Dennis" as a cook in the household of Elizabeth Bissell in Springfield, Illinois. I know this is her because she is listed as born in Bavaria, her daughter "Kate Dennis," age 1, is with her, as well as her youngest brother, "V[alentine] Mathias," age 12, a servant in the household.

However, I have not been able (so far) to find Regina's husband, Frederick Dienes (the correct spelling of the last name) on the 1860 census, nor her other siblings Catherine Matheis (she did not marry until 1865) or Leonard Matheis. I suspect they are all in Springfield under misspelled names, and I will probably have to page through all 235 pages of its census (or even more pages if they are somewhere else in Sangamon County) to find them. All but Leonard show up in Springfield in the 1870 census, and Leonard is married in Springfield in 1874.

What we can't figure out is exactly how the Matheis kids got to Springfield from St. Clair County, Illinois. The county seat of the latter is Belleville. What's really interesting is that Elizabeth Bissell, whose household Regina, Kate, and Valentine are in, is the widow of Illinois Governor William Henry Bissell, who died in office on March 15, 1860 (the census was taken on July 13). Like the Matheis kids, the Bissells were Catholics, and were from Belleville, the seat of St. Clair County. Bissell served in the United States Congress from March 4, 1849 to March 3, 1855, returning to Belleville shortly thereafter. He was elected governor in 1856 and would have moved to Springfield in time for his inauguration on January 12, 1857. Could the Matheis kids have somehow met the Bissells in Belleville, possibly through the Catholic Church, and begun working for the family or other Belleville friends who might also have moved to Springfield to work for the new governor?

Am I somehow connected to yet another governor?

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Jacob Pape & Elizabeth Gierse

These are great-great-grandparents on my paternal side, Jacob Pape and his wife Elizabeth Gierse. This appears to have been taken somewhere later in their lives, probably well after my great-grandfather, John Pape, was born in 1851. Perhaps John brought the photograph with him when he emigrated from Bodefeld in Westphalia, Germany, to the United States in 1880. Or perhaps Jacob and Elizabeth mailed it to him in America sometime after that.*

Right now I don't know anything more about Jacob and Elizabeth, other than their names, and the fact that they lived their lives in Germany. Notice that they are holding hands in the picture. I do like that.

This picture was e-mailed to me by my second cousin Bill. Bill discovered me through, when he was trying to learn about his father's family. Bill's father, Jack Bleidt, died when Bill was six, and his paternal grandmother, Martha Pape Bleidt, died when Bill was 14.

While I never met Jack, he and my dad, Fred Pape, were close. They were first cousins born only nine days apart, and they were even in first grade together. Today, Dad in Texas and Bill in Illinois are talking, and Dad is sharing some memories of the father Bill did not get much of a chance to know.

I did meet "Aunt Martha," who (sadly) outlived her spouse and both her children, as well as her parents and all six of her siblings. I remember after my grandfather Paul Pape, her brother, passed away in 1970, Aunt Martha and Dad went through some photographs Grandpa had, and she was able to identify many of the people in them. My parents have many of those photographs framed and hanging on their walls today.

Aunt Martha was a saver (like me), and so far Bill has shared 473 images of photographs and other items Aunt Martha (and perhaps Jack) saved over the years. There are some wonderful pictures in this collection that I've never seen before. Thanks to Bill, I'll be sharing them in future posts. This connection has made the membership fee totally worthwhile.

[*ETA: Bill tells me that "Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Pape" and "From Emma Pape Childs" are written on the back of this photo. Who is Emma Pape Childs? So far, I've found her, husband August S. Childs, and five children in the 1930 census in a Chicago suburb, and I know she was born around 1883. I don't know who her parents are or how she is related yet.]

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Surname Saturday: MATHEIS

Valentine (appropriate this weekend!) Matheis, a great-great-great-grandfather on my father's side, came to the United States from Bavaria, Germany, on the ship Harmonie, which sailed from Le Havre, France and arrived in New Orleans on November 7, 1848. The ship's manifest shows a Mathis [sic] family with Valentine, age 40, Catherine [Rheinhold], age 40, Leonard [aka John], 3, and Valentine, 1/4. The next family listed on the manifest was a Katzenmeyer family, Shely, 55, Levita or Sevita, 22, Wilhelm, 16, Joseph, 9, Barbera,8, Regine, 10, and Catherine, 3. Regine [Regina] and Catherine are actually Matheis kids, probably becoming friends with little Barbera Katzenmeyer on the 55-day voyage and being mistakenly listed as part of her family.

Unfortunately Valentine's wife Catherine died, apparently in 1849, as the 1850 census lists Valentine as a widower. He and the four children are living with fellow German cabinet-maker John Egly, his wife Anna, and their children Peter, Celia, and Detleff, in Centreville Township, St. Clair County, Illinois.

Sadly, Valentine passed away in 1854. St. Clair County records showed that, in Belleville on August 13, 1855, "Regina Matheis, Catherine Matheis, Leonard Matheis & Valentine Matheis, his minor heirs," were put under the guardianship of a Peter Diehl. Regina, my great-great-grandmother, born August 17, 1837 in Bavaria, would have been just about to turn 18.

Peter Diehl and his family are still living in St. Clair County on the 1860 census, but the Matheis kids are now gone. Where are they? Stay tuned to find out...

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Online Databases

Week 6: Online databases at your public library. Search your library’s web site and see if your card grants you access to online databases. Libraries (even small ones) often have wonderful online tools including genealogy databases, historical newspapers and more! Take some time and play with these little perks that come with a library card. You just may get some help in your own genealogy research and gain some free research tools to boot. If you don’t know how to access online library databases or you’re not sure if your branch has them, ask a librarian for guidance. If you have a blog, discuss which databases (if any) to which your library subscribes.

As an academic librarian at a state university that is part of a large statewide university system, I have access to lots and lots of databases. However, I decided to take my friend Amy's challenge to heart and see what my local public library has to offer.

I knew from their website that Hood County Library has access to the TexShare databases, but I wasn't sure exactly how to get into them. Someday (at least ten years from now, though), I will be retired and will no longer have access to my university databases, so it's good to know how.

TexShare is a cooperative program among academic, public, and four clinical medicine libraries in Texas. Besides facilitating interlibrary loans and reciprocal borrowing (allowing registered users of participating libraries to directly borrow materials, within limits, from other participating libraries with a TexShare card), the program saves participating libraries by purchasing statewide access to 50 databases. These databases, which cost the state about seven million dollars, would cost the 694 participating libraries over $101 million if they purchased individual subscriptions. Many of these smaller, more rural libraries could not afford these databases otherwise.

I figured that the databases might only be accessible from within the library, so I stopped there on my way home from work last Tuesday. I logged into a public access computer with my library card number and last name, but I did not see any link to the databases. I asked at the circulation desk and was given a bookmark with the URL and a login and password.

The databases include Heritage Quest Online and Texas Digital Sanborn Maps, as well as WorldCat with the FirstSearch interface I am more familiar with. Bridge to TexShare for Small/Rural Libraries provides search tips, FAQs, tutorials and annotated lists to help users, including a genealogy pathfinder. The Library of Texas metasearch "allows you to find information within a group of libraries, online collections of journal articles and other information collections with a single search. Materials from the TexShare Databases are included." If you choose to search all the collections in an advanced search, that's 232 sources!

I found that I can also access these databases from home with the URL, login, and password I was given; a pleasant surprise.

[52 Weeks to Better Genealogy was developed by my friend Amy of We Tree and is hosted by]

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Smile for the Camera: Valentine

If I had to write my memoir in six words: We were meant to be together.

First met 1979, together since 2006.

© Amanda Pape - 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wordless Wedding Wednesday: The Family Tree Grows

Congratulations to our nephew and his bride!