Archive for category Genealogy

Johannes Evanglieus West, 1786 – 184?

My fourth great grandfather on my mother’s father’s side of the family was Johannes Evanglieus West (Wiest, Weist or Wust) He was born in Hechigen, Wurttemberg Germany, January 28, 1786. Around 1824, Johannes and his wife Susanna (Haugh) immigrated to the United States with their children, Ulrich, Aldinger, and Petrus. By the early 1840s they had settled in the Clarion County, Pennsylvania area.

According to an article written about Ulrich West in “A Century and a Half of Pittsburgh and Her People,” Johannes’ (John) death was caused as the result of an injury inflicted by an unruly horse. It seems that Johannes was a blacksmith. From Census records, I could tell that the death had to have occurred between 1840 and 1850. In the 1850 Census, Susanna is living in Washington, Clarion county, Pennsylvania her daughter Mary, who was born in Pennsylvania around 1833. would provide another document that would help to narrow down the death date to some degree. By hand searching the Pennsylvania Probate records, 1683 – 1994, for Clarion county, there is a record in the Register’s and Orphan’s Court record index 1840-1891 Mi-Z for a John West, orphan children listed as Peter and Mary, letters date February 2, 1846. No death date is listed for John West. The administrator, executor or guardian is listed as Christopher Sigworth (Seigworth). There is only a minor’s estate document number and page, no will information is listed. Although Familysearch has a lot of Pennsylvania documents available that you can manually search through, they do not have the minor’s estate documents.

johann west 1846

I searched for (Johnathan) Christopher Seigworth in the Clarion county area and found him, born around 1805-1808 in Germany, so I am pretty sure I have the correct John West and children. Peter didn’t get married until 1850, so that would leave him in the household during 1846. I lose track of Mary once her mother dies, post 1850 Census. Christopher Seigworth and Susanna West were living just 2 houses apart according to the Census.

Ulrich, my third great grandfather, would move to the Butler county area and die there in 1900. His brother Peter would move to Mckean county and die in 1904. I lose both Susanna and Mary after the 1850 Census. After 1850, either Susanna died or remarried and I haven’t found any documentation on a marriage for Mary.

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Sorting through Siffrin Genealogy

It started out as barely a name and has turned into 50 pages and 10 generations of Siffrin genealogy facts. To say I know a lot more about this line of my father’s family is a massive understatement.

The name has taken on multiple spelling variations from the mid-1700s until now. It seems the progression was something along the lines of Zeverii, Ziverii and Ziwerii became Siveri. From Siveri the spelling changed to Siverin or Siffering before becoming Siffrin. For some unknown reason, my great grandfather spelled the name Siffrinn. To keep my documentation straight in my family tree I have used the Siffrin spelling for all those members before my great grandfather and Siffrinn for those following. I have noted the difference in spelling with the Siffrin spelling.

I have traced the family back to Friedrichsthal, Saarland, Germany at the birth of my sixth great grandfather, Philipp (Siverin) Siffrin around 1745. The city of Friedrichsthal has its own interesting history. I am wondering, since having my DNA results returned showing Scandinavian roots, if this family actually came from Scandinavia. I have found Sievers listed as fourth cousins and they seem to be located in northern Germany. Could the family name actually originate in Norway or Sweden? Were there glassmakers in Norway and Sweden in the late 1700s?

Count Friedrich Ludwig of Nassau-Ottweiler inherited land from his father including Nassau and Ottweiler. The small town of Friedrichsthal was named after its founder and the glassworks was established in 1723. Coal mines from the area were used to fuel the furnaces of the glass factories. For the next couple hundred years the village would prosper.

Over the next 150 years my ancestors can be found in the Friedrichsthal area. It seems that most of them were glasmachers, not glasbläser (glassblowers). The difference between a glasmacher and a glasbläser, as I have been told, is that glasmachers make sheet or window glass, where glasbläser, create blown glass objects.

Around 1882, my great great grandparents and their family immigrated to the United States from Germany. They settled in Norristown which is near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At that time my great great grandfather can be found in a Norristown Directory listed as a glassblower. I don’t know if the same distinction was made in the states between glassblowers and glassmakers like there was in the German glass industry. Grandfather Ludwig would die in Norristown in 1888. My Grandmother Lena (Caroline) would marry his brother William in Norristown two years later and remain in the Norristown area until 1900.

From Norristown some of the family would move on to Kane, Pennsylvania and continue to work in the glass industry.

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DNA Puzzles

I am European. Not like that is a big surprise to me. My very pale, very sun unfriendly skin has reminded me of that every summer for as long as I can remember. The tanning gene skipped me completely, even though my mother can tan and quickly.

I sent off my DNA kit just shortly after Christmas to see what details I may not know about how European I really am. From the results did hold a surprise. Seventy-five percent of my ethnicity estimate was as I thought it would be. From the chart I see 30% Great Britain and 11% Europe East. These people I know very well although I would have guessed the Europe East would have been greater with all of the German ancestors that I have. Two of my great grands were of German ancestry, the West and Siffrin branches. My Belgian ancestors, Defruytier and Van Houtte, also fall in the Europe East classification, although also display under Great Britain.

For Great Britain I have the Oakley and Davis branches. The third section, placing last in the top four is my Irish ethnicity. Of the great grands represented by the Collins branch. One generation further into the great great grands more of the Irish branches are visible, Taylor, Collins, McKim and Donegan.

If you had asked me just days ago, I would have told you that I was, German, English, Belgian and Irish. What I found out was that I am 27% Scandinavian. Primary locations for Scandinavia are Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The secondary locations include Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium Finland and the Baltic States. Although the secondary locations cover many of the areas that I know my ancestors lived, it more surprised me that Scandinavian would be my second highest marker.

I am relatively sure of my ancestors 6 generations back, at the 7th and 8th generation I start losing detail on some branches although others blaze on back into the 1600s. So far from the results I don’t have any cousin matches. I think the things that surprised me most about that is my Stewart/Stuart branch that supposedly goes back to Ireland and Scotland. I would have thought that someone from that line would have already had DNA completed and cousin matches would have shown up. Also, my Burgess line is another that I thought would have shown matches, as wide spread as that family is and as far back as it is claimed to have been documented.

I t will be interesting to see what happens as more DNA results are gathered and my results become updated what the findings will turn out to be.

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Another Taste Into My Past

On my first trip to Europe, I visited Paris, France. My grandfather was born in France, his parents were born in Belgium. The family hopped back and forth across the line between the two countries as work was available. Although I don’t consider myself any more than a brief dash of French, I managed to find several dishes in France that were worth adding to my family favorites.

Although this recipe is a bit lengthy to prepare, it is so very worth the time. The French really know how to do a ham and cheese sandwich. My very first taste of a Croque Monsieur was at a sitting outside at a bistro table at a small restaurant near Sacre Coeur. La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, Sacred Heart Church, is favorite location, and I made a special trip back to see it again this past October when in Paris. This time I climbed the stairs up towards the beautiful white church, passing the antique double decker carousel at the bottom.

I had two things that I knew I wanted to do, buy another painting from Behras and have a Croque Monsieur for lunch. I had lunch under the tent at Au Cadet De Gascogne that is surrounded by painters. Wedged into a long table, elbow to elbow with other travelers, I watched the world go by and lunched on my sandwich and wine. It was as I had remembered it from before, warm and cheesy on the top with the salty taste of the ham to follow.

I found Behras right where I had left him in 2010. He was working on a painting and had sold his last two before I got there. I said hello and he told me that he remembered me from my previous trip and purchase. He must not get a lot of short redheads that buy paintings! He gave me his email address on a piece of card board to contact him about a painting and I headed back towards Sacre Coeur for one last look.

Croque Monsieur

French Ham And Cheese Sandwich

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups milk

A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste

6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups grated)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)

8 slices of French or Italian loaf bread

12 ounces ham, sliced

Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400°degrees.

Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.

Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want. You can also use an electric toaster to toast bread.

(Alternatively, you can assemble the sandwiches as follows in step four and grill them on a skillet, finishing them in the broiler with the bechamel sauce.)

Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.

Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on a broiling pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.

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A Taste of the Past

I have been lucky enough to be able to get in touch with my heritage by visiting the places that my ancestors came from. Work has taken me to Europe twice so far and allowed me to not only see where they lived, but, on the first trip, meet not so distant relatives.

One of my favorite parts of visiting is returning home with favorite new recipes. On my first trip to Brussels, Belgium, my cousins introduced me to Belgian Beef Stew. When we sat down in the restaurant they ordered for me, beer and stew. What was sat before me was a wonderful mix of tender beef in a heavenly sauce with a bit of onion and carrots. All of this topped off with a cold Belgian beer and the best French fries ever, crispy on the outside, soft, warm and tender on the inside. The aroma was heavenly and I dug straight in. When I returned from my travels, I went straight into researching that wonderful meal.

The cubed beef had been slow cooked in beer for several hours, rendering it moist and tender. The flavor of the sauce was dependent on the richness of the beer, plus mustard slathered on bread that flavored and thickened the sauce the last part of cooking time. I don’t know if my Belgian great-grandmother had this on her favorites to cook list, but it sure is on mine. Recipes from her were never handed down through the family.

I purchased a couple of Belgian cookbooks and searched on line for a recipe that would match the flavor of that first experience. It was called Carbonade Flamandes, French for Vlaamse Stoverij, stew from Flanders. This is the recipe that I have been using to make this hearty meal.

Vlaamse Stoverij

1 ¼ lbs. stewing beef or chuck steak (we use chuck roast), cubed

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

4 tbsp. butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

11 ½ oz. bottle dark Belgian beer (the darker the beer the better the broth, enough to cover the beef)

Bouquet garni (6 parsley sprigs, 2 bay leaves, and 2-3 sprigs of thyme tided together with kitchen string)

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

4 large carrots chopped

2 slices of rustic bread – white, dark brown, or spice cake)

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper

Generously season the beef cubes with salt and pepper, then coat in flour.

Heat a large, heavy cast iron kettle (oven safe) that has a tight-fitting lid. Melt the butter and the oil over medium to high heat. Add the cubed beef in batches and brown over fairly high heat for about 4 minutes to seal. As each batch browns, remove cubes from the pan and place them on a plate.

Add the onion to the fat remaining in the pan and cook gently for 6-8 minutes, until translucent, then add the garlic and fry for 3 minutes more. Return beef to kettle.

Return the meat to the kettle and stir well to combine with the onions.

Pour in the beer and bring the mixture to just below boiling point. Add the bouquet garni, vinegar and brown sugar. Cover the pan and place in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 ½ hours or until the meat has become tender.

Add carrots to the meat and spread the bread thickly with mustard and place it on top of the stew, mustard-side down. Replace the lid and return to the oven for 30-60 minutes more. The bread will absorb some of the pan juices and dissolve to thicken the stew. (I found I had to stir it into the stew)

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bouquet garni and stir in the parsley. Serve with fries, potato puree or breads, also good on egg noodles or rice.

A comment from a Flanders native on a blog site called the original beef-in-beer stew, Gentse Stoverij, Stew from Gent. It is a poor man’s dish of beef, white bread and stale beer. His recipe was cooked on the stove top, not oven and included beef liver, a pound and a half of old white bread and a gallon of beer.

From personal experience, the darker the beer the better the sauce, so go for a dark rich lager. While in Brussels, this past October, I talked some of my coworkers into trying the local stew. It didn’t take much nudging once I mentioned that the beef was cooked for hours in beer. It was interesting for me to taste the difference in this version over my first experience, although slightly different in flavor, was just as good.

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Deyo, Oakley Connections

Zachariah Deyoe was born September 24, 1774. On February 13, 1799 (or February 12 1800), Zachariah married Phebe Oakley at the Schaghticoke Dutch Reformed Church. Phebe Oakley was born around 1784 and died in 1825.

The website that had this information caught my eye because my third great grandfather’s name was Zachariah Deyo Oakley. Zachariah was born in Renesselaer county, New York, the same place as the location of the Schaghticoke Church.

I have searched to find if there are any connections between Phebe Oakley and Zachariah Deyo Oakley to cause Zachariah’s father John I. Oakley to possibly name his after Zachariah Deyo. John was born about 1786 and died in Schroon Lake, Essex county, New York on February 24, 1859. John married twice, first to Phebe Newville, who bore him 6 children and died in 1834.

John would then marry Temperance Lane in 1837. He would precede her in death in 1859 and her in 1877.

I wonder if Phebe Oakly could possibly have been John Oakley’s sister.

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German Genealogy Gems

I decided to tackle the Eberhard side of the family using the German records on With all of the searching and found information on Caroline Eberhard Siffrinn, I am pretty sure that Louis Eberhard and Louise Rusche were her parents. The spelling of the names on German records fluctuated greatly and it took multiple tries to bring up birth/christening information on Caroline’s siblings. One of the searches that helped the most was by using the Evangelisch, Langendreer, Westfalen, Prussia location information in the residence field and as few letters as possible plus wildcards in the name fields.

I found Louis Eberhard’s full name listed as Henrich Ludwig Eberhard, married to Louise Rusche on June 26, 1827 in Evangelisch, Langendreer, Westfalen, Prussia. Louise’s first name could also be found spelled Luise.

The first child I found for Louis and Louise is Wilhelm Ludwig Eberhard, born April 18, 1828. Wilhelm Ludwig married Lissette Katthage on December 5. 1857, in Evangelisch, Lagendreer, Westfalen, Prussia. They had 3 children, Maria Louise Hulda, Emilie, and Laura Wilhelmine.

The next child that I found is Frederich Wilhelm, born May 4, 1830 and married to Juliane Schaefer, February 2, 1856 in Evangelisch, Lagendreer, Westfalen, Prussia.

The third child found is Gustav Henrich, born January 30, 1833, married to Amalie Bergmann on October 29, 1860 in Evangelisch, Lagendreer, Westfalen, Prussia.

The fourth child found is Wilhelm Theodor, born Jul 28, 1835, married to Elise Sophie Seidenstuekker on October 29, 1860 in Evangelisch, Lagendreer, Westfalen, Prussia.

Child number five is August Adolph, born January 20, 1838. August Adolph married Maria Sophie Lisette Bottermann on November 22, 1863 in Evangelisch, Lagendreer, Westfalen, Prussia. They had three children, Effriede Clara, Louise, and Julie Mathilde.

Child number six is Wilhelmine Caroline, born April 12, 1840. I have not found a marriage record for Wilhelmine Caroline.

The seventh child found is Philip Adolph, born March 1843. I also have not found a marriage record for Philip Adolph.

Child number eight is Sophia Caroline, born Jan 10 1846. Sophia Caroline married Johann Philipp Schaum on May 15, 1860 in Evangelisch, Lagendreer, Westfalen, Prussia.

The last child is my second great grandmother, Caroline “Lena” Eberhard, born July 5, 1848. According to one of the U.S. census records, Caroline claimed to have been married 3 times. I know that one was my second great grandfather Louis (Ludwig) and the second to his brother William (Wilhelm) but the third I could never determine. From the recent records found, I have a Gustav Albert Schilling married to Caroline Eberhard on September 28, 1868 in Evangelisch, Witten, Westfalen, Prussia. This is four years prior to her marriage to my second great grandfather.

I decided to search on the birth of children to the couple Gustav Albert and Caroline and found two records. Those listed were, Adolph Wilhelm Schilling and Emma Caroline Schilling, born 1871 and 1869 respectively. Caroline had claimed to have 12 children on one of the census records. I have only been able to locate 9 of those. Two of those children were born before her marriage to Louis Siffrinn, one of the two was Emma (listed as Siffrinn) born in 1869. There is a possibility that the missing children were from a previous marriage.

It is still unclear if Gustav Adolph was her first marriage, and if her children born prior to 1872 were Louis Siffrinn’s children, which is possible or from another relationship. I can’t find a death or divorce record for Gustav Adolph to help clarify that relationship either. There is another Caroline SIffrinn, from the same location, different parents, born in June of the same year that could be the wife of Gustav Adolph instead of my Caroline. I am left with more questions than answers, again.

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