Sunday, June 19, 2005

Illinois Man Makes Genealogy Look Too Easy

From The Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat of June 19, 2005:

Genealogy can be interrupted by war and van breakdowns



EUGENE Hausmann, a Belleville architect, had a lot of coincidences and luck while tracking down German relatives in trips to the old country in 1999 and 2001.


"I'm not what people would call a serious genealogist. I don't have copies of every document I ever looked at," he said.

But he was able to track down the Hausmann and Fellner families, relatives who stayed behind when others emigrated from a group of little villages north of Nuremberg in the Bavarian region of Germany.

Hausmann said he studied German for a while before going but struggled with the language over there. He said he couldn't understand all of what a priest was saying at a church service, but caught enough to know he was talking about the people from America who had come home.

One family Hausmann visited pulled out a picture of him and some of his family in front of St. Luke's Catholic Church in Belleville.


Hausman said when he discovered a bed and breakfast owned by Adolf Fellner, he had to stay there, but he didn't know at first whether they were related.

"They didn't know and they weren't terribly excited to find out," he said. It turns out they were related.

Hausman tried to visit a nearby castle, built in 965 A.D., where local records were kept but a van breakdown stopped him.

He and his traveling companions knocked on a stranger's door who helped out. They became friends and corresponded.

Two years later, when Hausman went back, his new friend had done the research on the Fellner family and had another surprise. He had been able to find a lease signed by a long-ago Fellner relative.


"I had a lot of sheer coincidence and luck," Hausman said. "But I managed to get enough information for a nice little booklet for my family."

Read the whole story
Imagine what he might find if he did take genealogy seriously.

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