Miriam recently challenged genea-bloggers to write about their brickwall ancestors. In my case, I don’t have brickwalls so much as avenues of research I have not yet pursued. One of my goals for 2009 was to find some missing details in my Bavarian ancestors. In the case of my great-grandfather, Joseph Bergmeister, I can document his ancestry back to the 1600’s, and I’m still going backward once I find time to get back to the family history library. I was fortunate that the church records exist for the towns of Puch, Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, and surrounding towns. But, my research is far from complete – even though I can provide death dates for Joseph’s paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, and even his 2nd great-grandparents, I have no idea when his parents died. But, I do have some clues from my research. Here I present my research plan and ask readers to examine my evidence, logic, and path forward, and offer a critique or advice to set me on the right path.
Goal: Find death records for Joseph Bergmeister and Ursula Dallmeier Bergmeister Goetz
Facts: Joseph Bergmeister and Ursula Dallmeier were married on 10 May 1871 in Vohburg a.d. Donau. He was a flour merchant, born on 9 Feb 1843 in Puch as the son of Jakob Bergmeister, a miller born in Puch, and Anna née Daniel, born in Niederscheyern. Ursula Dallmeier was born in Aichach on 17 Mar 1847, the daughter of innkeeper Joseph Dallmeier from Aichach and Ursula née Eulinger. The date of the secular marriage was 11 Apr 1871, and it occurred in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm. [Source: marriage record from Kath. Stadtpfarramt, Vohburg a.d. Donau, obtained 11 Dec 1995]
Joseph and Ursula went on to have at least 4 children:
1) Hillaury Bergmeister, b. 12 January 1870 [Source: her marriage and death record, birth record not yet found]
2) Maria Bergmeister, b 17 November 1871. It is unknown if Maria survived infancy. [Source: Vohburg parish register, FHL film 1271862]
3) Joseph Bergmeister, b. 12 February 1873 (my great-grandfather) [Source: Vohburg parish register, FHL film 1271862]
4) Ignaz Bergmeister, b. 23 April 1876 [Source: New York City marriage record in 1907 and WWI draft card in 1918; birth records not yet searched]
Clues: In November 1897, their son Joseph gets married in Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm (for more details, see The Bergmeister Family page). There is an important clue in the marriage record. It records the bachelor Joseph as the son of the “deceased flour merchant Joseph Bergmeister of Munich and Ursula Dallmeier (who later married a Goetz), residing in Regensburg.” [Source: Marriage record for Joseph Bergmeister and Maria Echerer, Standesamt Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm, obtained 04 Nov 1993.]
The re-marriage of Ursula to Mr. Goetz (whose first name was later identified as Herman in their son’s marriage record) did not come as a complete surprise, because my grandmother had an “uncle” Julius Goetz. More research revealed at least two more children of Ursula Bergmeister Goetz, half-siblings to the Bergmeister children. They are:
1) Herman Goetz, born 14 May 1885 [Source: Marriage license 1913, WW I Draft card 1918]
2) Julius Andreas Elias Goetz, born 09 Nov 1886 in Regensburg [Source: Declaration of Intention 1908, Naturalization 1911, WW I Draft card 1917]
On the marriage record for Julius in 1919, the license lists the “residence of father” as “Germany” and “residence of mother” as “dead”. [Source: Clerk of Orphans' Court, Philadelphia, Marriage License #1919-415062.] The marriage license for Herman in 1913 is a different format and does not ask about parents.
Based on the above facts, I can make reasonable assumptions about the approximate time and place of the deaths of Joseph Bergmeister and Ursula Goetz.
Assumptions – Death of Joseph Bergmeister
Estimated years: 1876 – 1884 – based on the birth of his youngest identified son, Ignaz, and his wife’s first child in her re-marriage.
Estimated place: Munich – based on his son Joseph’s marriage record.
Alternate place: Regensburg – based on the location of his wife’s re-marriage
Negative search: Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm
Assumptions – Death of Ursula Dallmeier Bergmeister Goetz
Estimated years: 1897 – 1919 – based on the fact that she was still alive at the time of son Joseph’s marriage and she was not by the time of Julius’. It is noted, however, that Julius immigrated in 1902 at the age of 16 – perhaps she died in that year.
Estimated place: Regensburg – based on her residence at the time of Joseph’s marriage and her Goetz sons’ birthplace.
Next step – where do I search for these death records?
Unfortunately, the FHL does not have church records on microfilm for such large cities as München (Munich) or Regensburg. In each instance, I would have to write to either the civil or the episcopal archive. I am not sure if the lack of a date will be problematic – the ranges are too broad. Although I have written to the archives in the past to get some of this information, it has been so long that I am not even sure which office to write to, or if they can perform such a search without a more specific date. I could either make an attempt with a letter, or I can find a researcher in Bavaria to investigate further.
More clues – I may be able to narrow down the years by searching additional records (none of which are available either online or through the Family History Center) including:
- Census records – After Germany was united in 1871, a census was conducted every five years between 1880 and 1910. I am not sure where to obtain this information.
- City directories – Both Munich and Regensburg are large cities. If city directories exist, they may help pinpoint not only the year of death (especially for Joseph), but also a potential parish to find a church record.
- Marriage record of Ursula Bergmeister and Herman Goetz – it is possible that the record of Ursula’s second marriage may reveal more about her husband Joseph’s death.
Any comments on my research to date, the assumptions, or where to go next will be greatly appreciated. The following is a map that outlines the German locations noted above.