Der Freie Demokrat

Der Freie Demokrat

Saturday, December 20, 2014

English or German language clippings? it's your choice.

Mrs. Catherine Dorothy Zach's death notice found in the Milwaukee Journal has been digitized into illegibility, but I checked a library microfilm and counted 50 words. The notice provides information about the arrangements, but only makes limited mention of the family: her daughters are identified by their husband's names.

The German language death notice (119 words) is not only more comprehensive but it's progessive too. It sets the scene for us -- during her long illness she was provided with the Last Rights -- and includes Mrs. Zach's maiden name (Golner), provides her daughter's given names separately from their husband's names, names her daughter-in-law and even references Mrs. Zach's siblings. It's a research and German-American cultural gem!

This is the family's paid death notice for Mrs. Zach; there was no separate obituary article written by the newspaper.

This difference between competing papers isn't always the case - it may even be found reversed - but it bears understanding by family researchers or anyone else doing research in Milwaukee. These differences may also be found in a comparison between the English language papers and Milwaukee's Polish language newspapers.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Castles of the 99%; long-gone home on Walnut Street

This classic early 20th C. flat located at 504-506 Walnut Street was advertised by the builder in the local German language papers. The home is gone now, but was located in the old German ghetto adjacent to the north edge of Milwaukee's current downtown. If the home survived through 1929 the address would've become 506-508 W. Walnut Street.There are very likely homes in the older parts of the city that were identical or similar to this one and remain today.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Milwaukee's Bock Bier festivals; a lost tradition!

You don't hear about an annual Bock Beer season in Milwaukee anymore.
The local German papers featured adverts. for the brew in late winter and into early spring.
(I'm not a beer fan, but as I understand it, back when city animal ordinances were more lax, enterprising home brewers would feed all the necessary ingredients to their goats and then collect the warm, foamy, golden, organic brew for annual festivities. If not properly filtered, drinking Bock beer could leave a prickly mustache ;-).

This advertisement for Best's Bierhalle special goat-brew dates from the 1850s.
More information can be found at:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Memorial for Anna Heinl

Two Milwaukee death notices for Anna Heinl: from a local German language daily paper and the other from an English language daily. The information is similar, but not identical. One is clearly a family memorial to their loved one. The other is a helpful, but perfunctory piece of information, and adequate for data collectors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'Bierseidel Pavillion' in Milwaukee? - if you build it, they will come!

After the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, a competition was held in Milwaukee for the design of an attraction to draw tourists (or beer drinkers) to Milwaukee. A prize of $100 was awarded for this three story beer stein which incorporates a feature some Milwaukeeans will recognize!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Unlikely sources for research training

PBS runs a lot of great programming that provides suitable training for researchers: nature programs, British mysteries, cops series, and many of the Masterpiece Theater offerings over the years (Chas. Dickens and Agatha Christie adaptions are very instructive).

The BBC's long running Last of the Summer Wine may help provide some perspective on the local genealogy community wherever you live.

Another good resource is Agatha Christie's The Body in the Library ...
"One does see so much evil in a village," murmured Miss Marple in an explanatory voice.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

a Father's Day reminiscence ...

Richard A. Rebholz, lake cottage
& day's catch, c. 1956
     Both my father and mother were not keenly interested in the family genealogy. But my father was a storehouse of knowledge about the City of Milwaukee's industrial neighborhoods and had many Rebholz family stories as well as those culled from the old codgers of my mother's Goelz and Quast family. There was the political shenanigans (that's Irish for Schadenfreude) behind the naming of Milwaukee's tiniest park Goelz Triangle at S. Whitnall, S. Howell and E. Ohio Sts. in the 1930s; the location of the Quast family grocery store at N. 7th & Wright Sts. now occupied by a freeway ramp; how his father and uncles learned to swim at one of the last of the swimming schools near the old North Avenue dam.
     I don't know if he had prior knowledge of my own discoveries of early Rebholz history, but like my mother, I bet his natural curiosity would've been piqued as I've unfolded even more family stories.