Research Quandaries Notebook

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 and will be presenting the information to others to view. I filled one out when I was researching the death date for a Zittel ancestor. Trees online at Ancestry have his death and burial in Sheldon, New York. But a change to his memorial put that information in doubt. I did some digging and found my answers. I detailed it in a Research Plan that I turned into a PDF to attach to his Ancestry profile. I’ll save for show-and-tell in another post.

What happens when I am doing research in most cases is everything is gathered onto a page at the top of the Section for the person or family group where I am doing research. I call the page Initial Research. Everything I find gets cited and linked to that page and I make notes to myself about my findings. Sometimes it begins to be a bit of a jumbled mess, and sometimes I can take it and rearrange it in chronological order so I can create a Timeline as the next step in my research. (I find timelines extremely helpful to show me what I know and what I still need to find out.) There have been a few times when I got a little carried away and just kept on adding research to the Initial Research page and all the details where getting lost and confusing. I have started to break down the Initial Research pages into smaller chunks of research starting with one main objective and a conclusion. I will then start a new page if I need to do more research.

I decided to do show-and-tell with one of the easier genealogical conundrums I’ve been working on. This one was solved when I broke through a brickwall for one of my paternal 3rd-great-grandfathers. [Easier isn’t the right word to use in the last sentence…] This brickwall has been standing for a long time. [A less involved conclusion to the genealogical conundrum might be better wording. Easier sounds better than “a less involved conclusion to the genealogical conundrum” though.] (Yes, I am talking to myself in my blog post. I’ve been locked away in my room for far too long!)

The day after I sent CousinB the information I had gathered for her Zittel line, I woke up with an epiphany on how to try to find the place in France that my Buisch line came from. From there, I was hoping to find a marriage record that would lead me to my 3x-great-grandmother’s maiden name.

A little back story:

When I first started researching in 1993, I concentrated on my dad’s lines. His (supposed) father’s line was from England and his mother’s line was from France. Back then you had to order films in to be viewed at your local family history library. You paid a fee to rent or purchase a copy for the library, waited for it to come in and then studied the heck out it to find everyone and everything you could — especially if you were just renting it. If you didn’t know where in the censuses to start searching, you used the Soundex Index films to give you some clues as to where to start your searches. (More Soundex info here.) From my Soundex search I found there were several Buisch families in the Lyons, Wayne, New York area. I never could connect my line to the families in Lyons. Years later a clue in the 1870 census marriage schedule about my great-grandfather’s marriage would lead me to Buffalo, Erie, New York where I finally found my family line.

Basic information from mid-February 2020:

I had managed to track my 3rd-great-grandparents through most of the Buffalo censuses and city directories. I had the ship manifest from their arrival here in the U.S from Havre. I had naturalization records confirming the family was from France. Buisch was sometimes spelled as Buesch, Büsch or Busch and Bisch or Bish (how it sounds when pronounced). I knew researchers on the Buisch line in Lyons, Wayne, New York had figured out where that line emigrated from. They came from Kutzenhausen, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France. When I woke up that morning, I had the thought that even though I was never able to match my line to the families in Lyons, perhaps they met up some way in the same area in France.

Getting started on the Initial Research page — always start with what you know:

George Henry Buisch was born about 1778 in Alsace, France. He married Catherine Barbara (LNU) before 1815. He passed away in 1844 in Buffalo, Erie, New York.

Catherine Barbara (LNU) was born about 1789 in Alsace, France. She passed away between 1875 and 1880 probably in Buffalo, Erie, New York. I originally thought her given name might be Barbara Catherine.

George, who sometimes went by Henry, and Barbara, who rarely used the name Catherine, emigrated with five children all born in Alsace, France:

  1. Barbara, born about 1815
  2. Elizabeth, born about 1819
  3. Henry, born about 1823
  4. George, born about 1827
  5. Phillip, born about 1830

I copied — not moved — over the Sections for George Henry Buisch and Catherine Barbara Unknown from the Buisch Surname notebook to the Research Quandaries notebook. I did not need all the details from their lives, just the basics to start researching in French records. At the start of my research in the Research Quandaries notebook, my Initial Research page looked something like what you see above. I included the information about the Lyons Buisch family originating in Kutzenhausen.



Initial Research Page

A side note about the image above: I usually get rid of the red squiggle under uncommon words, names, place names, etc., that show up on pages in OneNote. A right-click with the cursor on the word will bring up the spell checker. You can choose to Ignore spelling or Add to Dictionary. If the word is a place name, first name or surname that will be seen often in my genealogy notebooks, I use the Add to Dictionary option. Otherwise I just click to ignore the spelling because I don’t like seeing all those red squiggly lines on my pages.



The Bas-Rhin Archives has ten-year indexed record books of births, marriages and deaths for the local communes. The ten-year indexes at the Bas-Rhin Archives for Kutzenhausen cover the years 1813 through 1932. I started searching for the youngest children first in the Kutenhausen records.

Kutzenhausen Birth Index

I looked first in the index for the years 1823-18321. Not even a matching name.

Kutzenhausen Birth Index

Next I looked in the index for the years 1813-18222. There were matching names (Henry and George), but the birth years were off. Just to cross all my T’s and dot all my I’s, I looked at the birth register for Henry’s birth in 1816. His parents are George Henry Bisch and Salome Eyer. I also looked up the birth of George born in 1820. His parents are the same couple. This is one of the Buisch lines that ended up in Lyons, New York. The second George Bisch, born in 1821, was born to Frederick and Dorothee Bisch. No match there either.


So I didn’t find any promising leads with the children’s names and birth years in either the 1813-1822 index or the 1823-1832 index. Yep, I was kinda bummed. I thought I’d had such a great idea when I woke up. According to Wikipedia, there are 514 communes in Bas-Rhin. Even if I narrowed it down to the arrondissment of Wissembourg — where Kutzenhausen is located — there were still 68 possibilities. Too many to search through individually. But then I thought… what if I could search at for the Buisch surname only in Bas-Rhin, France and narrow down the search even more? I searched using the German spelling of the surname, Büsch and searched records only in Bas-Rhin, France.

Family Search image

Well, well. Preuschdorf looks promising, yes?


Open source map Alsace, France

Oh, look. Preuschdorf is right next to Kutzenhausen on the map. Even better.



With cautious optimism I went back to the Bas-Rhin Archives to search the Preuschdorf records. The Bas-Rhin Archives have the Preuschdorf ten-year indexes online from 1793 through 1932 with only one volume missing. Again I started with the ten-year index for births, marriages and deaths looking for the birth of the youngest son first — so the 1823-1832 BMD index3.

Preuschdorf Birth Index

There are births for a Phillip in 1830 and a George in 1827 that look promising. I added those to my Initial Research page. There was no 1823 birth for Henry though. Next a look at the 1813-1822 BMD index.4 & 5

Preuschdorf Birth Index

Preuschdorf Birth Index

There are birth entries for the other three children, and except for Henry, the birth years are close enough matches to the dates I have that I was pretty sure I had found my family! I should mention that the only record I had at the time for Henry Buisch’s age is the ship’s manifest where it is unclear what the number written for his age is supposed to be. The second number is written over and difficult to make out. I guessed that his age in 1834 was eleven, estimating his birth year as 1823, based on the scribbled notation on that ship manifest. He was actually two years older. I added those children into a chart on the Initial Research page. Now all I had to do was look at the individual births in the yearly birth registers to double check the parents’ names and look for a marriage record for the parents. (Also needed to do a genealogy happy dance!)



Updated Initial Research page

Here is the chart I added at the bottom of the Initial Research page for the births of the children from the ship’s manifest where I added in the source citations. After I found the marriage record for George Henry Büsch and Catherine Barbara Cuntz, I realized there might be other children born to them. I made a note to search through the  decennial indexes again to search for children’s births in the gaps between their marriage and the birth of Barbara and the gaps in the years between Barbara and Elizabeth and George Henry and George’s births. There is information on the marriage record about the death of George Henry’s mother, Marie Margaret Pfeiffer and the death of Catherine Barbara’s father, George Heinrich Cuntz. These are things that will be noted on a new Initial Research page for the George Henry Buisch Section. This original Initial Research page now becomes Research Concluded 10 April 2020. I made a new note at the top of the page about what I was researching. You can see a PDF of the completed page here. (When I was checking the link to the PDF after I posted this blog, I realized I should have added some more information at the top of the page about where this PDF came from in case it gets copied to someone’s Ancestry tree or some such further down the line… So don’t forget to do that!)



New Initial Research page

You’ll notice that the original Buisch Research Section is no more since I transferred the concluded research information to George Henry Buisch’s Section. I started a new Section for George Henry Cuntz to copy some of the research over to him on an Initial Research page. That’s what you are seeing above. There is information on the marriage record about the death of Catherine Barbara Cuntz’s father, George Henry Cuntz and I have information about her siblings from pages sent to me from Cousin TS. I kept the Section for Catherine Barbara Cuntz for now. She outlived her husband by more than 30 years and there are other records for her in Buffalo that I want to search through to see if I can narrow down the death date for her son, George Henry Buisch, my 2x-great-grandfather.



The reason I decided to start new Initial Research pages rather than keep a running page of research was to keep the information more like you would see in a Research Report rather than a Research Log. I want the research page to have an initial research objective that is not too broad and something that is quantifiable so I know when my research can be concluded. I didn’t want my research pages to end up a long, confusing jumble of information. As witnessed by some of my blog posts, I tend to ramble and things can become a bit confusing so that is a distinct possibility! (LOL)

Until next time,


1 “Kutzenhausen Decennial Birth, Marriage, Death Index 1823-1832” database with images, Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin ( : accessed 9 April 2020), image 1 of 31 > Births for surname Bisch.

2 “Kutzenhausen Decennial Birth, Marriage, Death Index 1813-1822” database with images, Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin ( : accessed 9 April 2020), image 2 of 24 > Births for surname Bisch.

3 “Preuschdorf Decennial Birth, Marriage, Death Index 1823-1832” database with images, Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin : accessed 9 April 2020), image 2 of 18 > Births for surname Büsch

4 “Preuschdorf Decennial Birth, Marriage, Death Index 1813-1822” database with images, Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin ( : accessed 9 April 2020), image 1 of 13 > Births for surname Bisch.

5 “Preuschdorf Decennial Birth, Marriage, Death Index 1813-1822” database with images, Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin ( : accessed 9 April 2020), image 2 of 13 > Births for surname Bisch.

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Cuntz Closed Cold Case.” My Family History Files, 17 April 2020 ( : [access date]).

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


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.

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.


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A bit about me

Erin Williamson Klein
New York to Nevada
Started my research in 1993

Following the GPS!

Sourced Database Statistics:

2 of 2 people identified as parents
4 of 4 people identified as grandparents
8 of 8 people identified as great-grandparents
16 of 16 people identified as 2x great-parents
30 of 32 people identified as 3x great-grandparents
44 of 64 people identified as 4x great-grandparents
52 of 128 people identified as 5x great-grandparents
32 of 256 people identified as 6x great-grandparents
14 of 512 people identified as 7x great-grandparents
8 of 1024 people identified as 8x great-grandparents

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50,404 of 50,000 words written about my ancestors.