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Genealogy Generosity and Gratitude

There is much in my life that I am grateful for — family, friends, everyone’s health and the fact that at least one person in all five of my family’s households currently has an income. But during this stressful time of uncertainty, I need to do more to keep my mind occupied with something rather than letting it drift. My mind wants to take the easy way out from all the news stories — getting lost in the latest book by a favorite author or binge-watching Netflix. I want to be a little more productive than I have been for the last five years, you know? I have my little patio garden. I have my gazillion quilting projects. However, when I’m working out a genealogical puzzle, it occupies my mind even when I’m not actively researching. The puzzle sits there taking up space in my brain. Even when I’m not actively engaged in researching the puzzle, ideas pop in and out, I make notes and plans, I research some more and on it goes, helping me steer clear of the disturbing and dire dirge in the news and fruitless fretting.

About a year ago in March or April, I received a message at Ancestry from a DNA match wanting to know if I knew anything about her direct ancestor, Jacob Zittel. At the time, there was no way I could focus enough to work out how we might be related through our Zittel lines. It was one thing to occasionally go online and check through Ancestry hints and attach a few sources here and there. But to do focused research over several days, sifting though sources and their details to make sense of the clues? Not happening. My caregiver duties were overwhelming me.

Towards the end of 2019, things were settling down more and more in my caregiver roles, so I started to spend a little more time on family history. In the last six months, these are some of the genealogical things that have happened that I am grateful for:

  • In November 2019, I had a breakthrough when I found an indexed record for the baptism of the sister of my great-grandfather, Henry G. Buisch. It names her parents, including her mother’s maiden name. I already knew the maiden name, but it was further proof that Margaret was Henry’s older sister and a Buisch, not a Bamberg. This is the only record I have for her existence except for an occasional census entry where she is enumerated as either Margaret Buisch or Margaret Bamberg. The church record was indexed and went online in October 2019. (There may have been a genealogical happy dance that was executed on that day…) I am grateful to the indexers.
  • In December, I heard from another Bamberg researcher who had copies of death certificates for Henry’s mom and step-father. The Bamberg Bramble is still under investigation and is going to take some time to sort out, but it was nice of my cousin to share his sources with me to further that research. I am grateful.
  • In February 2020, I decided to look into the Jacob Zittel inquiry from my DNA CousinB that was still sitting in my message inbox on Ancestry. I figured it would be fairly easy to find some New York records for Jacob. The Zittels are from Cleebourg in the Alsace region of France and I wanted to try to my hand at looking at French records online at the Bas-Rhin Archives as well. My searches were largely successful (we still don’t have Jacob’s death date) and I complied a bunch of sources for Jacob and his family. I am grateful there are records online in far off places.
  • After I sent all I had found about the Jacob Zittels — Senior and Junior — to CousinB in mid-February, I woke up the next morning with an epiphany on how to proceed to figure out where in France my Buisch line (3x-great-grandparents) came from. I planned to use the information about another Buisch line that settled in New York that my line didn’t connect to but perhaps they did in France. (Why hadn’t I thought of this before?) The unseen genealogical-powers-that-be must have decided I’d earned enough points helping CousinB with the Zittels to warrant a double brickwall breakthrough. I not only found out where in France they were from, but managed to find a marriage record that gave me my 3x-great-grandmother’s maiden name and the bride and groom’s parents’ names. (There was definitely a genealogical happy dance executed on that day!)
  • Several days after I ecstatically typed in the maiden name of my 3x-great-grandmother at Ancestry, another DNA cousin (CousinTS) got in touch with me. He had copies from a series of books available on film in their entirety only in several places; the Family History Library in Salt Lake City being the main one. CousinTS shared his copies with me that included details that took my 3x-great-grandmother’s paternal line back four(!!) more generations. And again, I am grateful.

One last thing… don’t give up hope that your DNA matches may never respond to queries. They just might surprise you someday out of the blue.

Until next time,


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Intro to my Research Quandaries notebook

View on OneDrive

Research Quandaries Notebook


Let’s just dive right into the notebook. The Research Quandaries notebook you can see on OneDrive is not how mine currently looks. (Of course!) In the blank notebook, I have set up the first few Sections after the Inbox to show you examples of how to use those Sections as set up under the Section Group for each Quandary grouping. Clear as mud? Thought so…

The Sections titled Research Notes and Sources are actually found in each Research Quandary Section Group in the blank notebook. I added in a few example pages to show how you could use those Sections while doing research.

You might do broad searches at or Ancestry and copy and paste the results in the Research Notes Section to start. If you need to do a little research about what resources are available in the area you are searching (especially if it is a new area for you), you could add that information to the Research Notes section as well.

Once you start doing research and will need to keep links handy, use the Sources Section. See Bas-Rhin Sources and New York Sources Sections for examples.

Generally, I use the Inbox for sending information to OneNote that I clip when I am online. Sometimes you come across a record that is relevant to several people or families — marriage records, passenger lists, etc. I stick this in the Inbox and then sort it by copying it to the relevant people Sections later.



My Research Quandaries notebook front section actually looks like this:

There is a Research Notes Section there because almost every immigrant family on my father’s side settled in New York. So the Naturalization Records link I have showing above, for example, pertains to the Zittel, Bamberg, Dermeyer and Jansen quandaries that I am working on. Rather than have it linked four times — once for each Section Group — I just have it in that first part of my notebook.

You can see I rename every Research Quandary Section Group for whatever surname I am working on, i.e.: Zittel, Bamberg, Cuntz, Dermeyer, Jansen. I use a number in Section Group names to keep them in the order I want them in, otherwise the default order is alphabetical.

I have a Section for Ancestry’s ThruLines™ because I am searching for clues to my mom’s paternity. Every time I check ThruLines™ I make a screenshot of any changes that show up. A change to someone’s tree on Ancestry could make changes to mom’s ThruLines.™ When I check it on occasion, I make screenshots of changes I’ve noticed and add them to that Section so I have a record of something that could change again overnight.



The very first Section after the Inbox in my notebook is a table with all my Direct Line Ancestors listed — the ones that have DNA connections or reliable sources. I try not add anyone to my direct lines any more unless there is DNA evidence and/or record sources that make sense. The table is helping me keep track of important steps in the process of adding family groups to my (previously imploded) family tree and Surname notebooks.



Notebook comparisons

I’m hoping that seeing these two screen clips side-by-side will help you see the differences between the blank Research Quandaries notebook and my Research Quandaries notebook rather than me drawing arrows and using circles to explain it all. The difference between the two notebooks shown above is partly due to the one on the left being a screen clip of the blank notebook from OneDrive and the one on the right being a screen clip from my Research Quandaries notebook open in the OneNote app on my laptop.

On the left, the blank notebook has a 01 Research Quandary Section Group. The front portion of that Section Group includes an Inbox, Research Notes, Sources 1 and Sources 2 Section. Inside the 01 Research Quandary Section Group itself are two other Section Groups — 01 Family Group and 02 Family Group. Each of those Section Groups has an Inbox and Sections for the people you are researching. They are just like a Surname notebook section except that I haven’t added in all the templates to each person’s section. You can do that as needed.

On the right, in My Research Quandaries notebook is the Zittel Zygology Section Group. You can see that I had to make three Family Groups in the Zittel Zygology quandary. Members of the Zittel, Hausauer and Ottman families emigrated together to Sheldon, New York in 1833. (Other members of each family came as well at different times and settled in different areas of New York, but that is a quandary for another time…) I have the Hausauer Family Group opened so you can see that the sections are labeled, just like in a Surname notebook, with the names of ancestors and family members.


As you can imagine (or maybe you have firsthand experience?), trying to work with three family groups of multiple generations at once in a Surname notebook could result in a bit of a mess. Having this special place to make a mess and then clean it all up before entering everything into a Surname notebook, a genealogy program or an online tree makes my genealogy research so much easier.

Until next time,


Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Intro to my Research Quandaries notebook.” My Family History Files, 10 April 2020. ( : [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.

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Going a little quackers during the quarantine?

Let’s do some genealogy! We’ll also suspend reality and pretend that it hasn’t been five years since I’ve written a blog post… Well, I have written a few in my head but was too busy being a caregiver to people in two separate households to get them posted. On the research side of things, there simply wasn’t enough time to spend long hours doing research over the last five years. I tried to quench1 my thirst for research in small bits. In the end, it didn’t do much to satisfy my need to research, fall down rabbit holes and chase after bright shiny objects. I’m afraid I didn’t do much real research at all. Then in 2017, there was the DNA testing that imploded my tree — a tree that I had spent 25 years researching! It left me with less than half of my original tree and only two surname notebooks. It’s still heart-wrenching to think about at times. A long story that I will save for another post. Let’s keep this upbeat, shall we?

In the last six months, I’ve been able to spend some quality time doing research. I soon realized that there was a need for a separate notebook just for research quandaries.2 My brand new surname notebook was quickly becoming quite messy. A quagmire3 was developing. I didn’t like it. And so, the Research Quandaries OneNote notebook was born. Now the question remains, how best to do screen shots? Screen shots using OneNote 2016 would be best because the Sections are shown across the top of the notebook and pages down the left-hand side making it easier to show how things are organized. However support for that version is going away later this year, leaving us with OneNote for Win10. Let me just say, it’s not my favorite version. Hmm, another quandary… (Side note: I just read in the MS blog that support for ON2016 is ongoing until October 2023 which solves my quandary.)

Too many “q” words for you? Sorry, it can’t be helped. One of my caregiver jobs was for a quilting friend who has a fondness for alliteration. It’s rubbed off on me over the last five years.

Hoping this link to the notebook on OneDrive works… READ THIS FIRST

View on OneDrive

Research Quandaries Notebook

I’ll use my research to explain how the Research Quandaries notebook is set up, and how I am using it for research before putting all the gathered sources and information into my Surname notebooks. Here is what is in the queue in the Research Quandaries notebook:

1) Zittel Zygology4: Helping two DNA cousin-matches (CousinB and CousinTD) connect their Zittel lines to mine.

2) Bamberg Bramble: The quagmire that has resulted in Ancestry trees because three John A. Bambergs emigrated from Bavaria to Buffalo, New York in 1847. Two of them had sons named John A. Bamberg. And, if I am remembering correctly, three had wives named Margaret. It’s enough to make you want to down a Bramble on the rocks!5 (Not that I’ve ever had one. Therefore, I really cannot attest to its effectiveness in calming the nerves or helping to reason out quandaries. However, I will mention that large quantities of alcohol are rarely a good solution to any problem. Just saying.)

3) Cuntz – A Closed Cold Case: How I managed to tumble down a brick wall for my 3rd-great-grandmother which resulted in a DNA cousin-match (CousinTS) contacting me with help carrying that line back generations. I’ll explain how I gathered together the information in my research notebook and then added it to my Buisch Surname notebook.

4) Dermeyer Debacle6: This one needs a picture to explain…

I’m afraid I can’t even wrap my head around what this ThruLines™ image implies. LOL It looks to me that ThruLines™ is suggesting one set of 4th-great-grandparents produced offspring that married, which resulted in the birth of one of my 2nd-great-grandparents. Uhm, no. Just no.

5) Jansen Jumble7: This one needs a table to explain…

Christina Jansen birth place

If sources show Christina Jansen’s place of birth leaning strongly towards Prussia/Germany, why are Ancestry trees filling up with sources linked to a Christina Jansen born in the Netherlands?? I think this is a fire that needs to be quashed8 before it spreads much further.

Perhaps I should have opened with a quirky humor alert? Nah, that wouldn’t have been any fun. I am picturing the eye rolls and laughing to myself.

Until next time,


1 Quench: (verb) 1. satisfy (one’s thirst) by drinking. 2. extinguish (a fire).

2 Quandary: (noun) 1. a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.

3 Quagmire: (noun) 1. a soft boggy area of land that gives way underfoot. 2. an awkward, complex, or hazardous situation.

4 Zygology: (noun) 1. the science of fastening things together.

5 Bramble cocktail: Dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, crème de mûre, and crushed ice. Finish off the cocktail with fresh fruit, such as blackberries or cranberries and a slice of lemon.

6 Debacle: (noun) 1. a sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco.

7 Jumble: (noun) 1. an untidy collection or pile of things. 2. mix up in a confused or untidy way.

8 Quashed: (verb) 1. reject or void, especially by legal procedure. 2. Put an end to; suppress.

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Going a little quackers during the quarantine?” My Family History Files, 7 April 2020 ( [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.