Parkland Press

Monday, November 18, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY ELSA KERSCHNER Among the people attending a genealogical study group at the Weisenberg-Lowhill Historical Society headquarters were Jeff Donat, Justine Bachman, Debi Zettlemoyer and Donald Breininger. PRESS PHOTO BY ELSA KERSCHNER Among the people attending a genealogical study group at the Weisenberg-Lowhill Historical Society headquarters were Jeff Donat, Justine Bachman, Debi Zettlemoyer and Donald Breininger.

Genealogical searches unlock family histories

Thursday, April 3, 2014 by ELSA KERSCHNER ekerschner@tnonline.com in Local News

A small group attended the first meeting of a genealogical class at the Weisenberg-Lowhill Historical Society headquarters in Werleys Corner at the former Zimmerman Hotel.

Meetings are not limited to members of the historical society or to those who are seriously looking into genealogy.

Sites for locating genealogical information were discussed including cemeteries, libraries and websites.

Debi Zettlemoyer uses a Family Tree Maker and familysearch.org and Allentown Library has a connection to Ancestor. com.

Even experienced researchers can find new things by bouncing what information they have off others.

"Getting together with friends to work on your own genealogical information can be fun," Zettlemoyer said.

Anyone who has tried genealogical research and not gotten very far is invited to attend the class for assistance.

Donald Breininger said he was out looking at his grandparents' graves when he looked up and behind them was a tombstone for Peter Frey.

Breininger said Frey's tombstone was there all along but when he looked for it he could not see it.

"All those years I looked for it but didn't really see it," he said.

Lewis Donat, a cousin of Jeff Donat's father, translated German deeds into English and donated them to the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society.

Jeff Donat said his research took him to Ulster County, N.Y., where he wanted to visit a cemetery.

No one could help him find it until a woman directed him to a trail.

"Keep going on the trail," she told him. "Do not turn back. It will come out at the cemetery."

The trail was little more than a footpath but eventually opened into the cemetery.

Donat said he is bothered by how many census records are inaccurate, but many were handwritten at a time when spelling was poor.

Dates are wrong, he explained, such as for the man who recorded a birth and the event was put down as the date of the filing, not the actual birth.

Nancy Handwerk started studying two years ago and found her mother's family easy enough but her father's side was more difficult. Finally, she found something directing her to the Indianland Cemetery where she found more than expected.

For her summer project, she plans to check records in Carbon County.

"I find myself thinking of these people as real people, not just names," she said.

Zettlemoyer traveled to England and gained an understanding of her ancestors' lives in the mines.

That was probably the reason they settled in Schuylkill County when they came to this country.

Justine Bachman said it was so brave for many immigrants to leave family behind and come to America not knowing what they would face.

Breininger has given presentations about his research into the Werley-Bittner families and of a visit to Germany where the family came from.

The next class will be 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 12. Come for an hour or bring lunch and stay for the day.