Saturday, July 2, 2011

One Less Brick in the Wall

Last weekend our genealogy discussion group went on a field trip to the Baltimore County Genealogical Society in Maryland. What a treat to venture out with fellow family history enthusiasts!

The ride down was full of lively chatter about black sheep ancestors, brick walls, and cemetery stories. The type of conversation that only the truly devoted genealogy researcher would not find strange.

Arriving at our destination we were greeted by a volunteer who proceeded to give a tour of the facility. The shelves were filled with church records, cemetery listings, microfilm collection, and family group sheets.

You could tell each member of our group was mentally planning their method of attack while traveling around the room. At various locations eyes would light with glee in anticipation of finding that one elusive gem.

The fact that my mother's ancestors were from Baltimore City did not give great expectation of locating useful information. The volunteer then directed me to several shelves with city records the society collected over the years.

Located on the shelf was the German Lutheran Church collection. In an earlier post I wrote about finding my great-grandfather Charles Wakefield's wedding announcement. The article stated a pastor from Zion German Lutheran Church performed the ceremony.

The first title I chose from the shelf was Trinity German Lutheran Church records, 1853-1877: Baltimore, Maryland by Gary B. Ruppert. Flipping to the back of the book I was excited to see the Wakefield surname listed.

With great anticipation I turned to that page and discovered the following record.

click on record for better viewing

The sixth line of the page listed a record of baptism for Karl Wakefield. His parents were recorded as Heinrich Wakefield and Els. Jud. Comparing the facts from the page with known information about the family had my heart racing.

My mother related that her grandfather was originally named Karl Frank Wakefield. He later Americanized the name to Charles Frank. My great-great-grandmother was originally named Elizabeth Jud, which later became Judd. The date of baptism fits since my great-grandfather was born October 26, 1868.

This brings us to the most extraordinary item garnered from the record. We have searched for over a decade for any possible reference to my great-great- grandfather Henry Wakefield. There we find him listed as Heinrich! So now we know that our ancestor had a German given name along with his English surname.

Located on an out-of-the-way shelf was the first concrete clue to our most difficult family line. Another brick tumbled out of the wall.

The moral of this story is never leave a stone unturned. You never know what ancestor lurks below!


  1. WOW Deb that is so cool. I just love reading your posts, you do such a great job with them.

  2. I'm sure happy for you. This was a wonderful experience and learning opportunity! Thank you for sharing such an interesting post about it!

  3. This is so true - so many times I've found something important when I really did not expect to find anything. Congratulations on a great find!

  4. What a find - congratulations!

  5. Woohoo, Deb! Great find, Congratulations!

  6. Congratulations on a great find! This sounds like a cool trip. It's great to do research with other people who "get it."