Who was Rosamond Astor?

The SS Switzerland arrived at the Port of Philadelphia on August 24, 1892 carrying Rosalie Nahodil and her four children. For many years, the passenger list announcing her arrival would be the earliest record to be found for Rosalie, who is most commonly known as Rosamond. The difficulty in researching Rosalie stems from almost every document having a slightly different name. The ten variations of Rosamond’s first name include: Rose, Rosa, Rosia, Rosie, Rosalia, Rosalie, Rosamond, Rosamund, Rosemond, and Rosmond. Do you know which name was given to her at birth?

Death certificates and obituaries for Rosamond and many of her children provide an array of maiden names for Rosamond: Arusta, Astor, Austro, Austruia, and Estorkia (?).

Of the sources documenting snippets of Rosamond’s life, only one was provided by her. In 1906, Rosamond was the informant providing information for the death certificate of her daughter Francis. The name she provided as her maiden name was Rosa Estorkia (?). This is the only primary source record found with Rosamond’s name after she immigrated. To further complicate matters, on a number of death certificates where one of her children was the informant, “can’t say” was written in response to being asked for Rosamond’s maiden name.

Name and birthplace provided by Rosamond on death certificate.

Enough background, let’s get to the reason for this post.

Friends, family, fellow searchers…it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Rosamund Julianna Oesterreicher. Would you like another surprise? Then let me also introduce you to Rosamund’s parents, Franz Oesterreicher and Marie Brumbauer. Rosamund was born in 1860 and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. At the time of Rosamund’s birth and baptism, the family lived in Ruszkabánya, a commune in Western Romania. The baptism record shows that Franz was a shopkeeper, though it is unknown what type of shop.

Birth and baptism record for Rosamund Oesterreicher. Ancestry.com. Records are in Latin.

In late 1883, Rosamund and Rudolf Nahodil are found in Petroșani, Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania where the birth, baptism, and death of their son Antonius are among the records of the Roman Catholic Church.

A view of Petroșani, Transylvania. This community appears similar to the community of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, where they made their home in the U.S.

You may be asking yourself how Oesterreicher becomes Astor. I cannot provide an absolutely positive answer how the change occurred, but I can provide what I have found for you to interpret.

  • Oesterreicher is not only a surname that literally means “one from Austria,” but it is also the German word for Austria.
  • Although Rosamund arrived in the United States in 1892, the 1900 US Federal Census shows that she did not speak English.
  • As a final surprise, I am including an audio recording of what Rosamund’s name would have sounded like in her native German language. After listening to this, consider how Oesterreicher may be shortened upon arriving in America.
An audio introduction to Rosamund Oesterreicher by Jennifer Fidder.

Did these factors play a part in the variations in her maiden name? Was her maiden name Americanized? Did her English-speaking children not fully understand the pronunciation? Maybe she rarely mentioned her maiden name.

If you knew Rosamund (Oesterreicher) Nahodil and have memories that you would like to share, please email findingmydead@gmail.com. I would love to learn more about this woman from those who knew her directly.

I would like to give a special thank you to Jennifer Fidder for her kindness in making this post’s audio introduction to Rosamund for us.

What would you like to see?

Finding Your Dead – Yearts Sisters of Dauphin Co.

Four photos of the Yearts sisters, Annie, Ruth, and Mary, were among the contents of a box I picked up at an auction in Dauphin County. These young ladies were daughters of Daniel and Miranda (Bitzer) Yearts of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Please help me reunited these photos with the descendants of these women.

Annie C. B. Yearts     – b: Jan 1885 – m: Norman Schreffler

Ruth Naomi Yearts  – b: Aug 1890 – m: William Norman Hain

Mary Esther Yearts – b: May 1893 – m: Homer Eli Miller

 

Benjamin Franklin Derk: A Life Cut Short

Benjamin Franklin Derk was born on January 1, 1907 in the small village of Trevorton, nestled in central Pennsylvania’s coal region. Benjamin was the third child of Benjamin Franklin Derk (1879-1950) and Anna Laura Morgan, both born in Trevorton. Young Benjamin Franklin came from a family that appears to have favored this name as at least five of his relatives and ancestors also shared the popular family name. From a young age, Benjamin would be known as Frank; at times, he would go by Frank Morgan Derk, incorporating his mother’s maiden name along with his father’s surname (possibly to differentiate him from other relatives sharing his name).

From his boyhood, Frank excelled at both academic and athletic endeavors. During his years as a student in Trevorton schools, Frank participated in every sport available to him, and he captained the school’s baseball, basketball, and football teams during his high school years. Frank graduated as class valedictorian from Trevorton High School in 1925, having received a state certificate of commendation for his perfect attendance through twelve years of education. Frank’s high scholastic standing won him a scholarship to Dickinson Seminary in Williamsport, Pa. where he continued his educational career for one year before entering Penn State College for a pre-medical course; Frank aspired to become a physician and surgeon.

DerkBF_1926 DickinsonSeminary

The Dart: 1926 – Dickinson Seminary, Williamsport, Pa.

Continuing the same high scholarly standards at Penn State that Frank had demonstrated through his previous thirteen years of schooling, Frank earned election into pre-medical honors fraternity Alpha Pi Mu, Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, and had been active in Penn State athletics. Upon Frank’s graduation from Penn State in June 1929, he returned to Trevorton to spend a couple days visiting family and friends. Following this short visit, Frank left for Philadelphia for an appointment with the dean of Jefferson Medical College to enroll as a medical student. Of the more than 2,000 men and women vying for enrollment with the next class, Frank was among the 160 who received enrollment for the upcoming fall term.

Immediately following his trip to Philadelphia, Frank proceeded to Lake Wallenpaupack, in the Pocono Mountains, to begin his summer work as a counselor at Camp Pocono, a Boy Scout camp. Frank, along with college friend Sam Curry, were at the start of their second year working at this camp; both were licensed American Red Cross lifeguards, expert swimmers, and swimming instructors. On June 29, 1929, a few days after their arrival at camp, Frank and Sam rigged sails to a canoe and set out for an enjoyable sail around Lake Wallenpaupack, which is 18 miles long and 3 miles wide. A short time after beginning their adventure, winds picked up and they were presented with waves reaching 5 to 6 feet in height. After managing the sails for some time, a sudden powerful wind caused their craft to capsize and throw them from the vessel. Quickly grabbing on to the overturned craft, they realized they would have to swim for shore, which was a mile and a half in either direction. The young men took off with Sam in the lead and Frank, being the stronger swimmer, following behind. Sam turned to check on Frank when they were about seventy-five feet from shore, Frank responded that he was alright. When Sam finally reached the beach, he turned to greet Frank, but he was no where in sight. Sam waited, but Frank did not surface. Being in a somewhat remote part of the lake, Sam ran a quarter-mile before finding a boat house in which he was able to summon men to man a boat to search for his friend. And search they did. Campers, counselors, locals, professional divers as far away as New York, residents of Shamokin and Trevorton, and family and friends all searched for Frank. Although the organized search for Frank’s remains were abandoned by July 8, a general watch was maintained and on the morning of July 15, 1929, the recovery was made by local pioneer resident Joseph Spindler. The Derk family finally had mental relief as they would now be able to bury Frank’s mortal remains with proper religious services. Born Benjamin Franklin Derk, Frank Morgan Derk was buried on July 18, 1929 in the family lot at Odd Fellows Cemetery, Coal Township, Pa.

 

*The life of Benjamin Franklin Derk was pieced together from records accessed through Ancestry.com, as well as news articles published in the Mount Carmel Item and Shamokin News-Dispatch.

2015 in Review

2015 was a bad year for this blog as I did not post a single entry. This was, however, a great year for finding my dead with finding the burial locations of my 4x great-grandparents, Peter and Margaret (Schaeffer) Wetzel, being the highlight of the year.

Seeing time and time again where people are having difficulties finding their people buried in a particular Coal Township, PA cemetery, I decided that I wanted to photograph and record the GPS coordinates of all tombstones in this cemetery and make sure that everyone had a Find-A-Grave memorial with this information. I began this project during the summer and by late-fall had completed one of the smaller sections, which totaled almost 600 graves. This project was partly inspired by fellow Find-A-Graver, Robert David Miller, who has done the same in multiple location cemeteries and who’s data was a great help to me when I traveled multiple hours knowing that I would not have to blindly wonder around cemeteries hoping to find my ancestors.

2016 Goals

I want to do so many things in 2016 but know that so much will fall by the way-side as life continues and priorities will have to be made with the house and my grandmother being at the top of the list. My top five six genealogical goals for 2016 are, in no particular order:

  1. Determine if and how the US Nahodil’s are related; this includes all variant spellings, Nahadil, Nochodil, etc. If you are a Nahodil descendant, please leave me a message or send me an email as I would love to connect.
  2. Continue with the cemetery project that I started in 2015 with photographing and recording the GPS locations of all tombstones in a local cemetery.
  3. Figure out what I am going to do now that Ancestry.com has discontinued its Family Tree Maker software and will cease supporting it at the end of the year. I have almost 20 years of data in this desktop software that I will now need to migrate to different software; this would be a perfect time for me to also clean up my facts and sources. I have already purchase Magic Roots and Legacy but do not like either as they do not have the capabilities that I require.
  4. Delve deeper into the world of genealogical DNA testing. I have been involved with AncestryDNA for a few years now but find it limiting. I would like to get involved with testing through FamilyTreeDNA; this is more detailed and requires more knowledge of DNA than I currently have. I hope this avenue may be able to help prove or disprove some of the family stories about my Nahodil ancestors.
  5. Consistently maintain and update this blog on a weekly basis. Writing does not come naturally to me so it seems to take so long to produce even a few short paragraphs. I really have to hand it to all the other bloggers about there that publish frequently and with such interesting posts that keep you coming back for more.
  6. Begin gathering and organizing all the paperwork needed for my DAR application.

Well, off to play cards with my little old grandma.

52 Ancestors: #1 George Rudolph Nahodil

 

I was reading through my normal blogs yesterday when something caught my eye…”52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”.  So I headed over to Amy Johnson Crow’s site at http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/challenge-52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/ to read more about her challenge for 2014.  One blog post for a specific ancestor each week… I should be able to swing once a week even with the upcoming move.

 

Since my Pop was always my favorite, it seems fitting that he should be my number 1 post.  My grandfather, George Rudolph Nahodil, was an amazing man.  He was a family man.  He was a hard working man.  He was a caring man.  He was a funny man.

 

Rudy, as George was known by his entire life, had a great sense of humor.  I imagine it must have started as a young boy as he listed his occupation as an “Actor” on his World War II enlistment record in 1942 when he was just 19 years of age (or so he claimed); Rudy’s actual occupation was as a laborer in the anthracite coal mines of central Pennsylvania.

George Rudolph Nahodil - a sampling of the ears

George Rudolph Nahodil – a sampling of the ears

The Nahodil family was blessed with big, beautiful (uh, did I really just say that?) ears.  The ears of the earlier generations were so distinctive that you could pick a Nahodil our in a crowd without even knowing him.  While my actor grandfather was overseas in the military, he must have spent his downtime perfecting his signature move known as the ear wiggle.  He loved to perform this move for us kids, especially when other adults were around but not looking…we broke out in giggle fits every time.  We all wanted to learn this skill and spent a great deal of time practicing but nobody has ever done it as well as Rudy; I’ll turn 40 next week and still catch myself “practicing”.

 

Rudy was the consummate joker and all people and places were fair game.  Dragging his leg behind him as a zombie might was not uncommon while out shopping with the kids and other adults.  This was hysterical when I was a child but I now I cannot help but think of how mortified his wife must have been…still makes me chuckle.

Rudy - This was not Halloween.

Just another day in the Nahodil home.

1 year anniversary – recap and look ahead to 2014

 

I can’t believe it has been one year since I first posted to this blog.  After reading other genealogy blogs for a few years I thought that this would be a nice and easy way to possible connect with other relatives.  I figured that this would be a great way to keep my ancestors alive while making the information freely available to others and I hoped to connect with new cousins.  Was I sadly mistaken…I have come to accept that I am not a writer nor a story-teller.  In my quest to push on, I found that it took me many hours to write each post.  A quarter of the way through 2013 I made the decision to move to the area from which my ancestors’ came.  The long distance house search and frequent trips upstate lead to many things being put on the back burner, that included this site.  I am happy to say I have found a house and plan to make the move in a couple of months, provided that no issues pop up.

 

While writing does not come naturally or easy for me, I plan to continue this blog in 2014.  I have set a more realistic goal for myself  to write once a week about a relative who has an anniversary that week.  I really enjoyed the theme of Ancestor’s Anniversaries that I did last year and plan to take that approach in the coming year.

 

Back in June I received the AncestryDNA results for myself and an older Wetzel cousin.  I continue to be amazed at how many people I share DNA with.  Unfortunately, many of my closer connections do not have a public tree or their tree is lacking enough information to determine how we may be related.  I have contacted a few “cousins” but this was one of those areas that I slacked on last year.  I think contacting one DNA match a month is an achievable goal of 2014.

 

After receiving my AncestryDNA results I was contacted by a fairly close “cousin” who ask how we were related.  As soon as I looked at his tree I knew that the connection was through my paternal side which I knew nothing about.  Through 14 years of researching my family tree, my paternal side remained blank.  After receiving this inquiry, I entered the name of my father and his parents.  Long story short…it appears that I have an Aunt out there who has a very well developed family tree on Ancestry.com and has included many pictures.  Even though I never knew them, it is nice to see what my ancestors looked like.

 

2013 was a great year in that I met or connected with so many great people, many of these connections came as an unexpected surprise.  In the beginning of the years I was contacted by a trio of Lynn descendants who were wonderful to connect with and meet as we pooled our information and resources to pass on our family history.  After sending emails back and forth for the previous year, I had the pleasure to speak with Thelma (Strausser) Rothman’s granddaughter on the phone.  October brought the surprise of the year in the form of a message from Rose Nahodil’s grandson, who is the son of her eldest daughter.  Though it was slightly saddening to find that Rose left her young daughters, it was wonderful to find that they are alive and well and have had good lives.  November was another fabulous month as I visited my 3rd cousin and met her family.  This is a group that I am related through two different branches of my tree as they are descended from both my Nahodil and Strausser lines.  Once again, I found myself surrounded by a great group of people who were thoughtful in sharing their stories and pictures.

 

If you run across my site, please feel free to leave a comment to say hi or anything else you like.  I love meeting cousins and hope to meet many more once I move where a majority of them live or have lived.

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