Friday, May 10, 2013

A Little Research at the Family History Center

In attempting to trace Joanne's great grandfather, Frederic Schmidt, back to his home in Wurttemberg, Germany; I had ordered a microfilm for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I received notification a couple days ago that it had arrived at the San Diego Family History Center.  I have good evidence that he arrived in New York City aboard the Probus on January 18, 1848 sailing from La Havre, France.  I discovered that information by searching the Castle Garden Immigration Index.  There were a lot of Frederick Schmidt's (the second most common German surname); but I was fortunate in that they listed his occupation--butcher.  There obviously could have been more than one Frederic Schmidt butcher; but the time frame and departure port all fit very nicely with the information I have.  However, I am trying to identify the village or city he came from and/or his parents names.  The Castle Garden (which was the New York immigration processing facility prior to Ellis Island) records also indicated he came from Wurttemberg; but that is equivalent to one of our states and I need a more specific location. 

In researching La Havre, I learned that the records of emigrants from that port via passenger ships do not cover 1848; but that there were some records of 1848 for passengers who traveled via cargo ships during the 1846-1852 time frame.  That was the microfilm I ordered.  Unfortunately, I didn't find any information about Joanne's great grandfather.  It appeared to me that most of the people listed had French sounding names.  When one finishes reviewing some microfilm, however, there is often a feeling that you aren't totally sure you didn't miss something.  For starters, the records were handwritten except for the column headings (of which there were at least 15), then the column headings were in French (quite naturally), and thirdly the microfilm wasn't real easy to read, even on the most magnified and brightest settings. 

I didn't think there was a very high probability of finding Frederic in the records; but in trying to "leave no stone unturned", I needed to try. 

Land Record for Christian Richards
Fortunately, my other task while at the library proved more fruitful.  In my previous research I had run across a notation that there was a record of Christian Richards having sold land in Virginia in 1782.  He and his family had arrived in the Shenandoah Valley about 1768 from Pennsylvania.  When Christian and his family came to Pennsylvania from Switzerland in 1750, the surname was variously spelled Ritschard/Ritschhart(d).  After arriving here the spelling evolved primarily into Ritchhart and Richhart.  There is some speculation the family used the Anglicized spelling "Richard" in Virginia, because the locals were know to be somewhat anti-German.  Christian fought for the Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War and the spelling in those records is the same--Richard.  Sure enough the library had a copy of The Annals of Southwest Virginia by Lewis Preston Summers and on page 496 I found that on Dec 3, 1782 Christian Richards was the Grantee of 138 acres on Terry's Creek.  By using Google Maps, I discovered that Terry's Creek is about 20 miles south of Clifton Forge, east of I-81 in Botetourt County, Virginia.  Interestingly, the book had an index; but didn't list Christian.  Fortunately, in my notes from the other source, I had included the page number.  Now all I have to do is make a couple entries in my Family Tree Maker Program to document my findings.
I was looking for a couple more books; but the library didn't have them.  Will have to check in World Cat and find the closest library that has them.