It never fails to impress me (but I am no longer surprised) how willing people are to help you when you ask nicely. I also want to pass along the truism that you can only do so much genealogy work on the internet. Eventually you need to get your hands (and shoes) dirty. Every time I have left my keyboard, I made spectacular discoveries and met equally wonderful friends and relatives. My recent trip East to see what I could find about my mother's family was no exception. Some of that is detailed in the Ecker section of this site. While I was looking for some Eckers, I stumbled on some wonderful new leads about the Insels for whom my research progress had been slowing. To shorten the story, I recovered the death certificates of my Great-Grandparents Johann Gustav Insel and his wife Alvina Clara Roemhild. I did not know the years of their deaths, but for the years 1900 through about 1935, the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton have all the deaths for a given year alphabetized so no index work is necessary. In a half-day I was able to recover 50 relevant certificates that would have taken many months or years to obtain through the mail (if at all). I also found Alvina Insel's Last Will and Testament. In truth, save for the date of death, the information was not earth shattering as it confirmed what I already knew. It was sad to see them die so very young (I am a good bit older now than both of them). However, the place of burial for both was given as "Lutheran Cemetery." I showed the image to one of the staffers in the archive for help in interpreting the apparent location of the Cemetery. She was fairly sure it referred to the Lutheran Cemetery on Long Island, a place she knew many German families used. It was easy to call the cemetery and confirm that there were not just two, but six burials in their plot. As a throwaway gift, that same archive staff member suggested the name of the Zion German Evangelical Church in Brooklyn that immigrants used. Knowing that Gustav and Alvina were married and lived in Brooklyn for the first few years of their married life was an "of course" moment. I confirmed the correctness of the cemetery, but additional footwork and a request did not find family in that church. (However, because I knew who married my Great-Grandparents, the minister at Zion told me where the old records for that church might be found.)
Here is what I found.
The cemetery itself is easy to get to and the staff were very helpful. There is a municipality called Middle Village, but the cemetery seems to be in Queens. It is at the last stop (Metropolitan Ave) of the M subway. The subway station is right across the street from the entrance to the cemetery grounds. The cemetery drove me by car to the plot to make sure I found it, but it is not far to walk over the hill behind the office. I post a map showing the location of the cemetery (the cemetery is where the "Q" is in Queens) and a subway map.
The cemetery itself looks in good condition and is still taking interments. That was a nice change from some old inner city cemeteries I had been visiting in Newark. Unfortunately, our plot was not in good repair. It was apparently never enrolled in a perpetual care program. (I would have thought however, that if a stone from an adjacent plot had fallen onto another, that at least it would have been righted!) Alas, some of the joy was of finding the site was diminished. There is one major stone that listed 3 members of the Roemhild family, a log-like stone with the name Lillie Allie, a small stone with the name Gustav Insel, and another larger stone that had fallen over such that I could not tell if it was a marker for Gustav and Alvina or something else. I had anticipated finding my Great Grandparents Gus and Alvina because they were registered there. I suspected I would find the grave of a previously unnamed child known not to have survived. I hoped to find evidence of Alvina's other family. I said some prayers for us, took some photos, and rushed back to the New York City Archives armed with new names and dates. Here is a timeline of who is there and their relationships.
Timeline of Interments: Lot 1168 Map 5, All Faiths Cemetery
|April 17, 1889||Purchase by Amanda Roemhild.||Wife of Gustav A. Roemhild||Not apparently buried on the site.|
|3/27/1889||Ferdinand Gustav Insel||1||Son Gus & Alvina Insel||3/28/1889|
|4/16/1899||Lillie Roemhild||24||Daughter of G. Roemhild and Amanda||4/18/1899|
|6/30/1899||Alexander Roemhild||22||Son of G. Roemhild||6/1/1899|
|8/2/1908||Gustav A. Roemhild||65||GG-Grandfather Roemhild- Husband of Amanda R.||8/7/1908|
|9/17/1917||Johann Gustav Insel||58||Son-in-law of G. Roemhild||9/20/1917|
|4/15/1918||Alvina (Roemhild) Insel||51||Daughter of G. Roemhild-
wife of J. Gustav Insel
It would appear that the plot was purchased by Amanda Roemhild at the time of the death of infant Ferdinand Gustav Insel. (The name Ferdinand is used on his death certificate, although he would have been called Gustav.) Recall that my GG-Grandfather's name was Ferdinand Insel so that it would appear that the child was named for his two grandfathers, if not his father. (The name Gustav was reused for my Grandfather who was born in 1895. This was a common custom in my German families for 300 years.) Next to die was Lillie Roemhild. I found her death certificate later that day. I assume that the marker "Lillie Allie" was placed for her before the larger family stone. It is noteworthy that Lillie's mother was named Amanda, but the mother of her older sister Alvina was Mary Francisca (Hackauf). This implies that the elder Roemhild was married more than once. (This is a confusing area. I have identified two wives of Gustav Roemhild but cannot figure out how an Amanda would have fit in.) Dying later that year was Alexander: I assume a brother to Lillie and Alvina. I could not find a death record for him. Next in the grave was the family patriarch, my Great-Great-Grandfather Gustav Adam Roemhild. Finally, in 1917 and 1918, my Great-Grandparents Insel were interred.
Since my visit, I arranged to have the site repaired. (See the photo above.) I obtained a plot map and asked for a record search for the burial details. I will provide those when they arrive. There is still room in this 10x10 foot plot for additional burials of descendants of plot co-owners Gus Insel and Amanda Roemhild. Note that the stones are now lined up to fill out the plot, but there are apparently no burials in the center two graves.
[After I wrote most of the above, the cemetery sent me the results of their record search. Infant Ferdinand Gustave had been interred temporarily elsewhere in the cemetery for a few weeks before the plot was purchased. It was his death that was the stimulus to buy the plot. A real stunner was the information the Gustav Roemhild died in Philadelphia! This is why I could not find his death certificate in NYC. Armed with this information, I was able to find him and his family in the Philadelphia census.
In 1880 he is living in Philadelphia, age 40, born Prussia, living with (?3d) Wife Fredericka, his three children, and three step children named Cook. Is a carver. In 1900 is still living in Philadelphia with Fredericka, age 59, born Sep 1840, married for 21 years. Is a wood turner. Immigrated 1854 at the age of 14.
Reconstructed sequence of marriages, children, and places: First known wife was Mary Francisca Hauckauf with whom he had Alvina in NY in 1866. By 1873, he was married to Amanda with whom he had Lillie in NY and Alexander in 1875 in Philadelphia. By 1879 he was already married for a third time to Fredericka in Phila where he lived until he died in 1908. ]
[Addendum 28 Nov 2009: I believe I found the death record for Mary Römhild in Philadelphia. The marriage to Frederika occurred shortly after as both parties had small children. I cannot see that there would have been time enough for a second marriage. This will need clarification. I will prepare a summary later.]
[Addendum 2 Dec 2010: Here is a map of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, and Gustav's passenger list of 1854.]
3/22/08; [Revised 4/5/08, 28 Nov 2009]