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Research Plan for Johannes Zittel

In the ON Templates Section of the Surname notebooks, there is a template for a Research Plan. (A special thank you to Christine Sisko Clause for letting me borrow heavily from her original template to create mine all those years ago.) It’s rather fancy-pants and I have used it on occasion. I like using it when I am trying to solve just one problem for a person or family group. If it’s more complicated, I end using the Initial Research Page that I described in my last post. I filled out a Research Plan for you as an example using the research I did for the death date and place for Johannes Zittel.

This is what the Blank Research Plan template looks like: Blank Research Plan PDF

Blank Research Plan Template



On to the plan… Trees online at Ancestry had John Zittel’s death on 8 Oct 1847 and burial in St. John’s Cemetery in Sheldon, New York. But a change to the memorial I had attached to his death put that information in doubt. I did some digging and found my answers.

The template for a Blank Research Plan has some basic instructions and several different tables grouped together to complete the plan. Always start with what you know and give details from the sources you may already have acquired. I filled out the first table in the Research Plan with what I knew, the new, conflicting information and sources (documents) I got the information from.

Partial Johannes Zittel Research Plan

The example above shows the information I originally had and where I got it from as supporting the original conclusion. The next two lines (last line not shown in image above), detail the known conflicting information about Johannes Zittel’s death date. [As a side note: Originally the trees on Ancestry showed Johannes Zittel having the given name of “John” probably because of this memorial that is now in question. However, as I have researched more on this family in the last few months, I have discovered his given name to be Johannes.]



The next three tables are for your Research Question, Clues / Hypothesis and Tasks / Places to Look (for new information).

Another portion of Johannes Zittel Research Plan

In my Research Plan, I wrote the specific information I was looking for as a Research Question. Then I detailed some thoughts about where to look for more records and other thoughts I had before I hypothesized that Johannes may have actually died in Cleebourg, France:

  • Given that his wife and several children traveled without him to New York.
  • The fact that I did not see him living close to family members in the 1840 US Census in Sheldon, New York.
  • There are no other apparent records for Johannes in what was then Genesee County, New York.

However, I did search methodically through the records as I outlined in my Clues / Hypothesis table rather than jumping right into the Cleebourg death records just to make sure I had not missed him.



Given that the conclusion is fairly straight forward, I am not going to analyze the new sources (documents) using a Source Description Template nor did I use the table for the Research Log that is included on the Research Plan template. I just put images of the sources (documents) at the bottom of the page with their source citations. (For the most part, at least.)

Conclusion Johannes Zittel Research Plan



Johannes Zittel died on 5 Jan 1819 in Cleebourg, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France according to the death record I found there. To corroborate that this was indeed the right Johannes Zittel — the one married to Margaretha Motz — I then looked for their marriage record. The parents listed on the death record and marriage record for Johannes are the same so I concluded that the death record was his. A PDF of the completed Research Plan is here.

Cleebourg 1819 death record1

Death Record

Cleebourg 1798 marriage record2

Marriage Record



No, I cannot read French nor German. Google Translate and I are becoming fast friends. Regarding the marriage record, I am trusting the person who listed the marriage date over at for Johannes Zittel’s profile. The year is correct judging by the volume I found the marriage record in, but I do not see at the top of the record where it says “vingt thermidor” which is the date of the French Republic Calendar for 7 August 17983. I am going to have someone who has more experience translating French and German records confirm the date for me.

Date calculation



My original reason for using the Research Plan in a more formal way for that genealogical problem was to document my conclusions and turn it into a PDF that could be attached to Johannes Zittel’s profile in my Ancestry tree. Because the death information is pretty straight forward, I am going to add the information with a PDF of the death record from the Bas-Rhin Archives and the citation to his profile instead. Which I am going to attempt to go do right after I upload this blog post, because I have a tendency to skip that part while chasing after more bright shiny objects and falling down numerous other rabbit holes, etc.

Until the next time,


1 “Cleebourg Death Register – 1819” database with images, Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin ( : accessed 1 May 2020, image 2 of 9 > No. 1 > 5 Jan 1819 > Entry for Johannes Zittel.

2 “Cleebourg Marriage Register – Year VI” database with images, Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin ( : accessed 1 May 2020, image 3 of 5 > Entry for marriage of Johannes Zittel and Catherina Margaretha Motz.

3 “The Republican Calendar” date converter app. ( : accessed 2 May 2020); converted > 7 August 1798 Gregorian calendar to French Republic calendar date of 20 thermidor an VI.

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Research Plan for Johannes Zittel.” My Family History, 2 May 2020 ( : [access date]).

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


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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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Gen Do-Over: Cycle 2 Week 2

research-workflow-apr2015If you would like to view in PDF, it’s here

Following up on my post for Cycle 2 Week 1, here is my new workflow chart. Or should it be work flowchart? (Whatever.) It is a simplified version of the chart I originally posted here during the first cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over. This one uses the names of the pages in OneNote that I enter data into. It has all the elements that I am trying to capture in OneNote listed on it:

  1. A Research Plan with Research Log
  2. Source Description Page that is where I describe the source, cite it, paste a JPG of source, link to the source on my hard drive and transcribe it.
  3. Source Log (A listing of all the sources I have for an individual or family group to help with writing proof statements if I need to examine other sources and as a resource to see what other sources I might need.)
  4. Family Group Records
  5. Timelines
  6. Proof Statements

This is mostly for my own reference as it relates to the final version of my Chronological Surname Notebook that I am using to document my family history. I am putting everything in OneNote as a way to leave something behind that others can build on and to be able to easily share it with others in PDF or printed form.

Cycle 2 Week 2 Topics:

  1. Setting Research Goals
  2. Conducting Self Interview
  3. Conducting Family Interviews

Because this is my second time through the 13 weeks, I didn’t have much to do for Week 2. Last time through, I had decided I wouldn’t be able to conduct many family interviews for the current line I am working on as there wasn’t anyone left in the previous generations and opted not to do them. Same thing for this cycle. I did my self-interview in the form of a Timeline created in MSWord. I use Timelines to list life events in chronological order for my ancestors. A Timeline helps to show where there are gaps and conflicting information and where sources are needed. Those items can be used to set research goals and/or make a research plan. (I’ll post an Ancestry video by Anne Mitchell at the end of the post that was helpful to me in learning to create timelines if you are interested.)


My research goals for the first cycle through the Genealogy Do-Over were to prove my birth, marriage, divorce and birth of my 4 children; my parents’ birth and marriage; father’s death and siblings’ births and deaths. There were a few documents in my files and my mom’s files that were missing so I added obtaining them to my To-Do List in OneNote. My research goals this time through the Genealogy Do-Over are to concentrate on my father’s parents.

Research Goals Cycle 2 Week 2:

  1. Prove birth date and parents’ names for Raymond Curtis Williamson
  2. Prove birth date and parents’ names for Grace Rose Buisch
  3. Prove marriage date of Ray and Grace
  4. Prove death date for Raymond Williamson
  5. Prove death date for Grace Williamson

This is the first page of my grandfather’s timeline embedded into a page in OneNote.


As you can see, there is a discrepancy in the records I have for the year of his birth.  I have written for a copy of his birth certificate and I have a theory about why his birth year is one year later on his draft registration that I will include in my Proof Statement. For my grandmother, birth records were not being kept for that time period in Batavia, New York. I will contemplate some ideas for a work-around in my Research Plan.

I’m not going to get ahead of myself here though, because tracking and conducting research are next week’s topics!


Creating Timelines: A 15 minute tutorial by Anne Mitchell (AKA: Ancestry Anne)


Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Gen Do-Over: Cycle 2 Week 2.” My Family History Files, 14 April 2015 ( : [access date]).

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