Monday, February 1, 2010

One More Rung on the ProGen Ladder

Today was the January chat for my ProGen 3 peer group. The topic was evidence analysis. The assignment was to collect and analyze the records you have for an upcoming proof argument. It's a future assignment. All we had to do this time was list the records, talk about their validity, credibility, etc. This was a good lesson for separating the puzzle pieces and analyzing each one.

My records have to do with a research issue I plan on using for my own proof argument down the road.

My great-grandmother's death certificate says she was born in 1892 in Chicago, Illinois, and that her father was H. H. Baerecke, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My issue: trying to find the identity of H. H.

I have found documentation of a Harry Baerecke that fits this age range and location. I have numerous city directories that show Harry Baerecke/Barecke/Barrecke in Milwaukee and/or Chicago. Harry is never in both directories at the same time, except for 1891, the year he supposedly got married. I have a marriage date (1891) and death date (1896) by index only. I have a couple newspaper clippings about an H. Baerecke. The occupations in both Chicago and Milwaukee records say "electrician" or something related.

Here's the deal: in my own research, I feel very strongly that my H.H. and this Harry are the same person. So much so that I dropped the cash for his father's military pension file. Harry isn't in it because he died before the document was filed. He's not listed as living descendant of Max. BUT he's listed in the 1897 Milwaukee directory as deceased, and part of the Clara Baerecke house. Clara is the daughter of Max.

Here's the other deal: for a proof argument, these records are weak sauce. Hunches and gut feelings don't fly. There is a gap between my H.H. Baerecke and the Harry Baerecke in all the records. The 70 year-old baby book I have that says H.H. is Harry Baerecke won't cut it, because the lady that filled it out never met the Baerecke family. I need more, better, stronger information and some vital records would help, too. This is one of those cases where the 1890 census--if it was available--would have really come in handy.

I'm still trying to get marriage and death records for Harry. The films are on order. Apparently Harry is buried in the Baerecke family plot in Milwaukee, but the person that told me that says the cemetery is not in a good area. Sooooo.....I need to find someone who doesn't mind an inner-city adventure and is willing to take a picture for me.

I don't know if I will have a case for my proof argument. I have a lot of indirect evidence, which is like a bunch of puzzle pieces that fit together nicely along the outside, but the whole center portion is still missing.

And that, folks, is the status of my ProGen day.


  1. Wisconsin has a state census in 1885 and 1895. They are at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. What does the marriage record of your great-grandmother say for parents? Is there a probate for your great-great-grandfather?

  2. Thanks for the info. I'll have to look into the state censuses. Do you know if I can access them online?

    I don't have a marriage record for my great-grandmother because I have no idea where in the country she was married. Her stepfather was a railroad man, always moving. Her husband was a lawyer who traveled often. Who knows where they met. I have a hunch it was MO or OK, but that's it.

    As for my great-great grandfather, he was flat broke. It didn't cross my mind, but I should check the probate records anyway. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Which cemetery is he in? I live in Milwaukee, and depending on which one he's buried in, I might be able to look for the grave (when the snow melts, anyway...which might not be long as it's been a pretty mild winter so far).

    I'm just getting back into my research after a very loooooong break, so a little cemetery stomping sounds like fun to me.

  4. I never think in online terms, but I went to the pilot project at and it seems to be there. I'm confused by what's done and what's not on that site.

  5. Reading about your problem and searches is like having a lesson. It gives us things to think about in our own research.