Serendipity and ancestors who want to be found: Meta Tiedemann Ricklefs

Genealogy is about facts and about all the things about a person that we can prove. In my experience, however, there's an almost eerie cosmic connection factor that comes into play when an ancestor wants to be found. I don't know how to explain it, so let me tell you a little story about one of my experiences at the National Genealogical Society's family history conference this past week...

Any of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that I recently put out a call for help in deciphering the handwriting on the marriage certificate for my third great grandmother, Meta Tiedemann Ricklefs, where her hometown was listed. If you recall, it looked a little something like this:

After careful consideration, I settled on the beginning of the word being "Mittels" and the end of the word being "ohe" or "ahe." The middle was a mystery, and I couldn't find anything even remotely similar to the spelling of this word anywhere near Hanover. So as I do when I get frustrated, I put it asided and moved on to something else. Well, during one of our breaks at the conference, Cousin April and I started wandering around the exhibition hall. She stopped to look at some books at one vendor and I noticed that on one shelf were books that listed place names in specific regions in Germany. On a whim, I picked up Hanover and started flipping through. And wouldn't you know it, there it was.


Actually, I knew that was it before I could even picture in my head how it was spelled on the marriage certificate - had there been a "t" in it? Was I imagining things? I used my handy-dandy Android phone to pull up the image I had posted on Ancestry, pulled April over to have her be my second set of eyes, and there it was, plain as day and so obvious I couldn't believe I couldn't figure it out before. I used another book on German parishes at that same vendor to look up where this town might have been located in Hanover and it was listed in there, too, located in southern Hanover in the Protestant parish of Lamstedt. This jived with other records I had seen and suspected were related to my Meta but which I was certain were about her. A quick Google search also showed me that this town still exists; you can see it on Google maps.

So now I have a civil region to look for records in as well as a church parish region to look for records in - all because April stopped at one of many book vendors at this thing and I got bored and decided to look up the first thing that popped into my head. It was amazing and a total "a-ha!" moment for me this past week. That feeling of wonder and discovery and of putting together the pieces of a puzzle and of success, that's just one of the best things about doing this - I didn't know how I was ever going to solve that. It was just so exciting and opens a new door for me to continue through on tracing that line.

So, one mystery down, a million more to go! :)