Hearing from a possible relative is thrilling. This is how the message begins:
“Hi Ann, Hearing from a newfound family member is always exciting! . . . You and I would be 2nd cousins by marriage.”
Our possible common ancestor was Conrad/us Kirs/ner, father of my great-grandmother, Catherine Barbara Kischner. Catherine’s children knew her as “Kate”. This photograph of Kate was taken shortly before her death, on Dec. 28, 1910. She was living with her daughter, Anna Landes, in Niagara Falls, NY. My granddad, Frank C. Mesle, Sr., owned the house next door.Kate may have been born June 16, 1850/7.
Our family history, and the 1910 U.S. Census, are consistent that she was born in Germany. Sources at Ancestry.com, including my newly connected second cousin, disagree, and believe she was born in Glogon, Austria-Hungary.
Glogon (now Glogonj) is currently part of Serbia. Between the mid-1800’s and the present, Glogon has been part of Austria-Hungary, Hungary, Yugoslavia and, now, Serbia. It is strategically located between what was, in the 1700 and 1800’s, a buffer area between Christian Austria-Hungary and the Moslem world. Apparently settlers were given free land to entice them to move there to provide a buffer between the two cultures. It was certainly a bad bargain. They lived a difficult life at best. Apparently death rarely resulted from old age, but instead from disease, starvation or warfare. By the late 1800’s there was a massive exodus from Glogon to other areas of Europe and to the U.S.
Selfishly, for me, my probable link to Glogon helps explain my DNA test results, that indicates I have DNA markers for Southern Europe and, perhaps, the Caucasus, near the Black Sea. Obviously Glogon is located far closer to Italy than to the country I had believed to be her home, Germany.
Kate received a series of letters from her family between 1896 and 1911. All were addressed from Germany. Each includes some tidbit of news pertinent to the family history. They are as follows:
Letter from C. Kirsch (probably her brother) dated Jan. 22, 1897 from Ludwigshafen (at the Rhein), to the Kaisers German Consulate in Toronto, Canada: He identifies Barbara Kirsch as his sister, states his father’s third wife “died last year” and that his father, who is very weak, will be 76 in March. He states that of the “brothers and sisters there are , besides myself: a sister, Elise Fromhold, a widow, who lives in Neckargemund. Elise was Conrad’s daughter by his first wife, as was Kate. A brother Frederick Kirsch, was a teacher in Sonborn, Elberfeld, of the second wife.
Letter from C. Kirsch dated July 16, 1901, from Ludwigshafen to Barbara Mesle, born Kirsch, in Niagara Falls, NY: He explained he was sending Barbara her 1/4 share of her father’s estate, 2000 marks, ($478.16). He identified his eldest daughter as Lenchen, and his son as Fredrick.
Letter from Elisa Fromhold dated July 29, 1907, from Neckargemund: It is addressed to “Dear Sister” and identified her daughter, Marin, as nurse in Mannheim, another child as Jungfer, who lived in Durtheim (Durbheim?).
Letter from Elise Fromhold dated August 1, 1911, from Neckargemund: It is addressed “Dear Aunt”(?) and was received by the family several months after Barbara’s death. It identified the author’s children, Dina, Karl, Uncle Konrad and Uncle Friedrich. I assume, but do not know, that this is from a daughter of Catherine’s sister, also Elisa/e.
The correspondence from a possible cousin, who I have never met, is exciting. She identified another brother of Kate’s, Josephus Kirschner, born September 8, 1855, in Glogon. He has long been identified on the margins of my notes as a possible relative. Her ability to give me what may well be another piece of my great-grandmother’s history assists me, piece by piece, to trace the history of my family.
Have a great week.
Frederick is also the name of one of Kate’s sons