Sunday, November 10, 2013

My G4 Grandfather Christian Ritschart's Hauss Buch (House Book)

My G4 Grandfather Christian Ritschart's Hauss Buch (House Book)

I first became interested in genealogy in 1993 when I received a letter in the mail promoting a new book with the title "Richhart Ritchhart Ritschard--A Swiss-German Family From 1500 Until 1993" by Bettye Richhart.  Page 15 of the book was titled "Hauss Buch" (House Book), which was a record started by Christian Ritschhart on 7 April 1750, the year the family emigrated from Switzerland to Pennsylvania.

The following information about the book was provided on that page:  "A partial translation can be found at the Pennsylvania Historical Society.  The translation was done by George R. Seiffert of Philidelphia, date unknown.  The complete book can be found on film #468306, Item 3 at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah."  

The book contained excerpts from the book that provided pertinent names and dates of births, deaths, marriages and other key family events.  At the time I thought it would be great if I could have the original Hauss Buch"; but I discarded that thought since the book was in the hands of the Pennsylvania Historical Society (PHS) and there were other descendants with as much right to the book as me.   I did, however, want a copy of the book and a few years later sent to the Pennsylvania Historical Society for a copy.  The following are the first three pages:


 I was a little disappointed that the cover wasn't in color like you would expect a bible or record book to be.  

Title Page

 Although I appreciated the translation, as the original would have been in German; I also expected to receive a copy of the original pages as written in German. However, I was still happy to receive the information and that Christian had been so accommodating as to have kept the record.

Typical Transcribed Page 
The notes pertaining to Christian I and II on the above page were mine, as there was a transition from father to son in recording the family events. There were three pages of the transcribed writings, covering 12 pages of the original book.  

Two years ago, while on a trip back East to do Genealogical research; I stopped in Philadelphia and visited the Pennsylvania Historical Society in hopes of getting to view the original "Hauss Buch."  I didn't even need to look up the call number as the "Gen Ri5" was on the cover of the copy that I received.  Much to my dismay, however, when the document was delivered, it looked exactly like what was sent to me as a copy.  They didn't hold the original document--just the translation!  I asked if there was any way to determine if the original copy still existed and/or where it might be.  They did check a couple sources; but said there was no record pertaining to the original document.

Unfortunately, the translation has no date on it, nor did the PHS have any record of when they received the translation.  I have been unsuccessful in searching for George Seiffert, the transcriber.    

I would hope that the original still exists somewhere; but haven't had any luck it finding it.  My consolation is that I, at least, have the translation.  My visit to PHS also revealed that there were an additional two pages of transcriptions, covering 8 pages of the original document, that had not been sent to me when I originally requested a copy of the book.  Just another example that repositories do make mistakes.