A genealogical brick wall… torn down in a few days

As I promised in my previous post, I’m excited to share what I uncovered during my trip to Salt Lake City last month. I was thrilled to finally break down this “genealogical brick wall” after so many years. Let’s start at the beginning…

My great-grandfather, George Weil, was born in 1889 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Conrad and Louisa (nee Metz) Weil. He had several siblings close to his age. His mother, Louisa, died when he was 9 years old. At this point, he and three of his siblings were sent to an orphan’s home where they were educated and grew up. When he was an adult, George and his sister Marie searched for their parents, trying to find out what happened to their father and discover more about their German heritage. Through the years, his son and grandson searched occasionally for information about Conrad and Louisa, and recently I also took up the search.

I had pieced together Conrad and Louisa’s life in America, and I knew that they came from Germany and married in Pittsburgh, but I didn’t have any idea where in Germany they came from. My major breakthrough was finding their names together on a ship’s passenger list. I was able to find this record only because it was recently digitized, indexed, and made searchable through Ancestry… my great-grandfather and father wouldn’t have been able to find this record, even a few years ago. The passenger list (below) gave all kinds of wonderful tidbits, but most importantly, it named their previous residence… Maulbach, Germany! Bingo! 

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Louisa Metz and Conrad Weihl arrived in New York in Nov 1884, immigrating through Castle Garden. They traveled on a ship called the General Werder. I still don’t know who their travel companion is. Image source: Ancestry.com

I researched which records were available in Maulbach. It’s a very small town (even today!) in Hesse near central Germany. Luckily, the Family History Library had their church records on microfilm in Salt Lake City. I hoped that Louisa and Conrad were born and raised in Maulbach. During my trip to SLC, I started to look through these church records. Within minutes I found what I was looking for… Louisa’s baptism record (below), complete with her father’s signature!

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The baptism record for my great-grandmother, Louisa Metz, where I discovered her parents’ names! Image scanned from: Family History Library microfilm
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This was my view for three of the days of my trip. I found so many long-lost relatives here!

The baptism record lists her parents, Johannes Metz and Anna Margaretha Friedrich. Over the next few days, I found her siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, great-grandparents and more! I’ve added 41 names and three generations to her family tree. I am still translating records that I copied there, and adding information to the family tree. With the help of research done by my father and great-grandfather, combined with modern technology, and then some old-fashioned hard work in front of a microfilm machine… one brick wall was completely demolished!

Unfortunately, I am still a little stuck on Conrad’s origins. I was not able to find Conrad Weihl in any of the church records in Maulbach. There are Weihls that live in the town, so it’s possible he was staying with relatives when he met Louisa and they decided to move to America together. The search for his family continues!

 

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