Week 2: Challenge

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For this entry, I want to share about a challenge I’m experiencing in my research and what steps I can take to resolve it.

My maternal great-great-grandfather is one of my immigrating ancestors. Frederick Lehman and his wife Anna (photo above) left Switzerland with their two young daughters, Carrie and Annie, in the late 1800s and settled in Pittsburgh, PA.

While I have a wealth of information on them AFTER arriving in Pgh, there’s an uneasy silence of the time before.

Since people don’t immigrate direct to Pittsburgh, they must have arrived somewhere else, New York or Philadelphia most likely. So what took them to the ‘Burgh? And why?

Fred’s death certificate lists his father as “John” and mother as the ubiquitous “Unknown”. Anna’s indicates her father as “John Gerber” and mother is also the super helpful “Unknown”.

So who were their parents? How can I keep tracing this line further back?

The challenge I face is multi-faceted. First, I need to understand the time period. Second, I need to narrow down where to look for them (ie: find immigration/naturalization records). Third, I need to understand Swiss records. Fourth, I need to translate spidery German handwriting. But since I need that for my other side of the family, I’ll probably either learn or hire someone!

So my research question for this challenge is: “Who were the parents of Frederick Lehman and Anna Gerber?” The plan for the research is as follows:

  1. Review all current documents for Fred and Anna and extract all identifying data (ie: occupations), and any hints/clues to where in Switzerland they were from
  2. Research the time period to learn likely points of entry for them when they came to the US
  3. Locate immigration/naturalization records to solidify dates/locations if possible
  4. Attempt to locate birth, christening, marriage information for Fred/Anna, and birth/christening info for Carrie and Annie.

Perhaps as I work through this plan, my challenge will be solved and I’ll share the results in a future week!


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