Archive | December, 2012

A little intro to William (the saga begins…)

24 Dec

Without making a long story longer, our family has been doing genealogy and family history for decades. My cousins are particularly good at this stuff. So, finding new info, in any form, is kind of exciting for me. I just wanted to share how I came upon some new information, in the hope that other genealogy-minded people might benefit. I loved reading “how-to” genealogy posts. So that’s what this is…

Dr. William Ziesel was born in Philadelphia in 1866. He is my great-great-grandfather. His wife, Marie Schuck is my great-great-grandmother. They had three children that lived to adulthood, one of which is my great-grandmother on my maternal side.

I’d read once, in my Nana’s personal history, that her parents had divorced when she was young. I haven’t thought much of it; no one I know has discussed the subject. Not that anything was off-limits…I guess we just haven’t gotten around to it. Or no one knew much about the situation.

So I was thinking about doing a little family history work, and the Ziesel family came to mind. And one of the first thoughts I had was about William’s second wife. What ever happened to her?

A quick check of my Nana’s personal history gave me a name: Irene. No last name, and no other information other than that my Nana liked her. I looked in a few typical online places ( and didn’t find anything obvious. Remember, I’m a novice genealogist, so things have to be pretty obvious for me to find them…

googled William Ziesel. There’s actually a lot online regarding him since he published a pamphlet/book about gum disease (which I haven’t read and probably won’t read) that can be found online. After following a few google matches, I happened upon a book called, “Who’s Who in Philadelphia” the 1920 edition. No big deal; it lists his book and children and practice. But wait! His wife is listed. And it wasn’t Marie. This wife’s name is Evelyn Irene Lee. That must be the “Irene” mentioned in Nana’s personal history!

So there we have it. I didn’t know much about her, only that she was married to g-g-grandpa and had a full name. I still couldn’t find much about her in the census records, but at least I had a name. I added the name to my research notes.

Here was another coincidental moment: I was watching a family history training video (that I was finding only mildly entertaining, at best) that mentioned “Google Books”. On a whim, I looked up William Ziesel and found a hit. He was mentioned in a completely obscure, unreadable, super-uber-boring book about court cases in New Jersey in the summer of 1922. The title? New Jersey Equity Reports, vol. 93. What a page-turner this must be…

But, the wonderful thing is that there is a case in the book called “Ziesel v. Ziesel” where William is trying to get the courts to overturn a financial court decision between him and his ex-wife (my g-g-grandmother). The details of the case don’t matter to you, but here is the line that got me: “They were divorced in Pennsylvania December 21st, 1914”. So now I had a divorce date (which I didn’t have before). Then the real bomb…Check this out…

Another child!!?

I knew he was married again, to Evelyn Irene Lee, but I didn’t know they were divorced and I had no idea that their marriage produced a daughter!

Then it hit me. In the Who’s Who book there was an odd name listed, which I overlooked or didn’t think about because I didn’t recognize it. Here it is:

Married Evelyn Irene 
Lee. Father of Carl Stanley, Ruth Marie, 
Edward Loeling, Eleanor M...

Since I’d never heard of a fourth living child, I must not have thought much of this. But there she is, Eleanor M, my new family member!

A few census searches found Evelyn Irene Ziesel living with her daughter, Eleanor Ziesel. Now here’s another kicker: Evelyn had older children still living with her from a previous marriage. Those children’s last name was “Peden“, and some sleuthing, I found that their father’s name was James Peden and that he had past away, leaving Evelyn a widow.

So there you go. That’s how a few “lucky” breaks helped me find new family members. Now I just have to figure out his third wife’s info…(that’s another story)

What is “Discovering William”? (and why would you care?)

24 Dec

In a nutshell, this blog is about what William taught me about family history and genealogy…

Better said, some weeks ago (after a multi-year break) two things happened that rekindled my interest in genealogy. First, my younger brother brought up some genealogical information he had discovered. Though we haven’t thoroughly documented this information, if it is correct, it is info we’ve been searching for over the course of decades. That got me thinking…

Secondly, I was sitting there in bed one morning, and for some reason I was thinking about a related family (genealogically speaking) and, out of curiosity, decided to see what info I could dig up on them. The head of the family was William Ziesel, and you can find that story here.

As I’ve dug back into genealogy, I’ve learned some things about the research and effort required, and this blog is where I’m going to share it.

Disclaimer #1: I’m not an expert. I’m a sharer.

Disclaimer #2: This isn’t a blog dedicated to William Ziesel and his family research, though I’ll be using him (at least at the start) to illustrate some things.

Ok…here’s an update from the “About” page I just realized was there..

Don’t let the title of this blog fool you…this isn’t a blog about William Ziesel. Well, it is, but it isn’t. Here’s a better explanation:

My efforts to dig up a little info on my great-great-grandfather have proven to be good training. And, as I discover things, I’m passing them along. I’m certainly no professional genealogist, and I’m not even an expert in anything. But I’m learning and having some success. Maybe that will be the most helpful thing. If you are like me, maybe you just need an ordinary person like you to walk you through various steps of research.

I was talking to a friend about family history some weeks ago and he made a solid observation. It is easy to find information on why one should do genealogy. There’s plenty of motivational information around. What he wanted was someone to sit down with him, right at the computer, and walk him through how to do research.

Now, to be sure, I love the professional genealogists. Are you kidding me? I couldn’t do any of my research without their efforts. They’re great! I just don’t happen to be one.

So, that’s what this blog is. This is how I’m finding information, doing research, storing data, organizing data, etc. You can just watch me do it, step by step. If it is helpful, great. If not…

PS…I guess it kind of is a blog about William. I mean, if you’re in my family and are looking for info on William, there’s going to be a boatload here, along with other family lines. So…