Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Distracted by Maryland's Online Indices

I've always considered myself to be organized and a planner, but some days I'm easily distracted. Does this happen to you, too? Over the weekend, I found some new family facts by browsing Maryland's online vital record indices. But I can't even remember how I ended up there...

I was researching a lead in the hopes it would shed some light on my 2nd great-grandfather's German town of origin. Two brothers with the same unusual surname as my ancestor arrived in the U.S. from Frankfurt in the late 1920s and settled in New York and then New Jersey. That was more than 70 years after the arrival of my ancestor, but the lead looked promising.

How I got from there to Maryland is a mystery to me! I somehow stumbled upon the Maryland State Archives website and saw it had links to scanned indices for vital records. I don't have many family connections to Maryland, but I remembered that my 2nd great-aunt had a brother-in-law who lived in Maryland starting in the 1860s. I couldn't help but see what I could find about Franz "Frank" Nehren. Was it important to my family research? No. Could I resist this temptation? NO.

Since the indices aren't searchable, I had to use some logic to narrow down the years and county that I needed to browse. I started by looking for his marriage. All I knew was that Franz married a woman named Lizetta and that their first child was born in Maryland in 1865. By 1870, the Nehren family was living in Baltimore.

I used the Baltimore City marriage index for males for 1851-1885 and clicked on the link for the surnames "Moore to Owens." I was excited to see that it wasn't just a list of the couples' names and date of marriage. The file contained scans of cards with a little more detail than I expected, like this one below:

Interestingly, the marriage I wanted (below) was mostly blank! It didn't even show the marriage date. However, it did provide me with one fact I didn't have yet: the bride's maiden name.
Baltimore City marriage record of Franz Nehren & Lisette Gardner, 1863
Next, I decided to look for Franz's death. A Baltimore city directory showed that Elizabeth Nehren was a widow by 1885. The last city directory that mentioned Franz as living seemed to be 1883. Although the Archives website is a little confusing in places, I found my way to the online Baltimore City Death Index for 1875-1972. I scrolled down to the letter 'N' and clicked on the link for 1875-1888. Franz H. Nehren died on Dec 5, 1883, and the index provides the certificate number, volume, and page in case I want to order a copy.

Franz was only 41 when he died, so it's possible that Lisette remarried. I couldn't find her in the death indices under Nehren. If she did remarry, I would need the surname of her second husband to make it easier to locate her marriage since the female index isn't online.

Sometimes it's fun to get distracted! Please post a comment if you've ever found anything interesting when your research got side-tracked.

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