|Index record of my great-great grandfather's baptism in Lippe|
Sunday afternoon, I was supposed to go to my first genealogy workshop, given by the Germanic Genealogy Society. We got whalloped with more than a foot of snow, starting Sunday morning, so the workshop was canceled. The workshop was going to focus on Northern Germanic regions, so my plan was to research my great-great grandfather, William Conrad Buss, the most recent immigrant on my mother's side of the family. Once I heard the workshop was canceled, I decided to devote the day to learning more on my own about how to do research on immigrant ancestors prior to their arrival in the United States.
As always, I turned to the greatest resource we have for our family history, my great grandfather Fred Buss's life history.
Last spring I found a passenger record for Wilh. Busse, age 26, in November of 1853, occupation Peasant, town of origin, Meinberg. Given the chronology Fred describes after his father's arrival (working 2 years for a man in Illinois before buying a farm and going back to St. Louis to get married), 1853 makes more sense.
Now I will write the history of my father. He was born in 1827, October 12, in Lippe Detmold, a little country that now belongs to Germany. His seven brothers and sisters and his mother died before he was two years old and his father was a drunkard. His aunt raised him until he was nine years old and then his aunt died. From that time on he made his own living but did not get any schooling. He herded cows for his board. The cows were led with a rope along roads and fences and in corners and some times he had to lead three or four at the same time by tying their heads together. What spare time he had at night he would make baskets from willows to trade for clothes and wooden shoes. When he got big enough to take a man's place he hired out by the year for fifteen or twenty dollars a year except for about six weeks when he would go to Holland to mow hay by hand and there he earned as much in six weeks as he got the rest of the year at home. It took about four or five days to go to Holland on foot. The last three years he was in Germany he worked for one man by the name of Munie for twenty-five dollars a year and saved enough money to come to the United States on a sailing ship. He also saved the tips he got for helping pull others out of the mud that hauled freight on a wagon. He was nine weeks on the water from Bramer harbor [Bremen] to New Orleans. He had a long sick spell on the ocean with a three-day's nose bleed but he was well and strong when he got to St. Louis in the fall of 1851 the year he got to the United States.
Meinberg is now Horn-Bad Meinberg, in the county of Lippe, in North Rhine Westphalia. Before WWI, Lippe was a Principality, and afterward, the prince abdicated and it became a German Free State. After WWII it became absorbed into the federal state of North Rhine Westphalia.
So yesterday, I was printing maps and searching for more information on Meinberg when I came across a 1911 German gazetteer that described Meinberg. One of the things I discovered was the name of the parish for the area, and I found the parish website, along with the genealogy of the membership going back in some cases to the 16th century. While I found a few people named Busse, none were born around the time that would have matched Wilhelm's close family members. So I did a little searching online to find out more about the German parish system and I found this on about.com:
The Family History Library:
The Family History Library has microfilmed the civil registration records of many towns throughout Germany up to about 1876, as well as copies of records sent to many of the various state archives. Check the Family History Library Catalog to learn what records and time periods are available.
I'm not a huge fan of FamilySearch for a couple of reasons, but once in awhile it comes through for me in big ways, so there I went. I entered Wilhelm Busse and a date range of 1825 to 1850 to see what I would get. I got more hits than was helpful, so I thought I might as well stick in his middle name. That's when I got the record shown on top.
It one of those "Oh my god!" moments. I looked at the baptismal date, 12 Oct 1827, and was sure the year was correct, but somehow I had in my head that he was born in August. Nope. That's his birthday, all right.
What was incredibly helpful was seeing the location: Brake Lippe. Lippe had a history of multiple princes and as different lines died out, the little areas they each controlled would be handed over to one of the other lines. The biggest city in Brake Lippe was Lemgo, about 12 miles north of Meinberg.
Since then, I've found a brother, Johann Friedrich, probably his oldest sibling, and I know his parents' names: Friedrich Jobst Busse and Louise Florentine Dreves. I wasn't able to find a marriage record for his parents, or his other siblings' birth records, or death records for any of them, but I may have found his mother's birth record (for Florentine Louise Dreve) and her parents' names (Philip Dreve and Elisabeth Krueger). If the record I found for her is really hers, she was just a couple weeks shy of 16 when she had her first child. Which means that she died before the age of 30, having given birth to 8 children. I can't even contemplate what her life was like.
My plan is to order the microfilm so that I can see the original documents myself. I'm hoping I can find more missing family members in that roll of film, and maybe even find the death records of all his siblings.
An exciting weekend!