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National Genealogical Society

January 2023

2023 January President’s Letter
This is part 8 of the story I began in my June 2022 president’s letter. My term as President may be over in March 2023. Between now and then, I intend to show how I got to the answer in part 9 or 10- my final letter as president of FHSA.
To reiterate the research question for those following this series:
Who was my mother’s paternal grandmother?
My mother never talked about her parents or grandparents. She told me and my siblings that her parents died before she and my father were married. So, no help from my mother regarding the identity of her grandparents. Of course, I had no reason to doubt what she said. We did think it odd that she never talked about her family life or childhood.
She did tell us her maiden name because years ago, your mother’s maiden name was requested and used for various records.   Growing up, we got to know and visited my mother’s only sister who was married and lived with her husband and daughter in Easton, Pennsylvania.  In the year 2000 while attending my mother’s sister’s funeral, I met a woman who introduced herself as my mother’s sister! Huh?? My mother had passed away twenty years earlier. We never knew about any other sisters, let alone someone who was still alive. It was then that I learned that my mother’s birth name was not the name we knew as her maiden name.  Of course, all this new knowledge was very strange to me and my siblings, but I was not involved in solving this puzzling information until years later when I started genealogy research.
My research started with the correct surname of my mother, and I sent to Pennsylvania and New Jersey Vital records looking for my mother’s birth certificate to determine her parents’ names. New Jersey had her birth record, and her mother and father were listed. Since my research question is trying to solve the name of my mother’s paternal grandmother, I will concentrate on her father’s side of the family.
Charles F. (Jr.) was my mother’s father born in 1892. Charles F. (Sr.) is my mother’s paternal grandfather born in 1860 and died in 1901.  Jennie L. is my mother’s paternal grandmother born in 1871 and died in 1936. They were married in November 1892 according to county records and a newspaper announcement.  The county courthouse record indicates her name as Jennie LAIER. These are the first records I found that starts the journey of conflicting names. The newspaper marriage announcement lists her name as Jennie LAUR. Her mother was listed as Emma MILLER.
Intriguing isn’t it! Family research when you have no or bad information to start with is an example of what a detective or private investigator must deal with every day. I will end here for this installment. Stay tuned for next month’s letter.
Best wishes for a healthy, happy new year to all.
Katie Gertz