Go back to the data you already have

As a genealogist you sometimes have already more information for a person at hand than you realize.

I had this entry from the 1900 Mecklenburg-Schwerin cencus for while in my files.


The birth name was matching, as was the date of birth. But unfortunately, the first and married name wasn’t my 3x grandmother’s. I was looking for a Henrica Elisabeth Dorothea Schmidt née Petrowsky.

I actually thought, this woman might be her twin. I had the feeling that this lady somehow fits into my family, but I could never really tie the knots.

So, I stored this entry and went on with researching other parts of the family.

After a while I had some free time (oh what luxury for a family researcher!!) and decided to check on some of my loose ends, including this one.  I checked for the parish of the mentioned place Bockholt and found its respective church records online. They covered the years 1876-1918. So, I did what every good genealogist does from time to time. I locked the doors, switched off the door bell and the phone and digged deep down into the church books.

And 2 cups of coffee later, there it was!! I found a marriage entry from 1894 for a divorced Henriette Elisabeth Dorothea Schmidt née Petrowsky, born June 10, 1845 with Wilhelm Johann Christian Ludwig Düse. Wait a second, divorced?? In 1894??

But there is this column called “previous wedlock”. And there I see what happened. It looks like my 3x grandfather just left his wife and disappeared. They have been divorced due to his “malicious abandonment”. Even the date of the divorce was mentioned. Unfortunately, divorce records are just stored for 30 years in Germany. As are registers for vanished people.

I went on checking the church books and found confirmation and/or wedding dates for her four children. FOUR?? I only knew of my greatgrandfather.

I hope you can see why I cannot stretch enough the importance of re-reading the data you already have. Put them into new perspectives. Look in the parishes left and right. 

With one morning screening every entry of the churchbooks I found totally new lines, tied some loose ends… and found new ones ;)