Tracking down an ancestor who came from Germany (town unknown)

+4 votes
I've got a German ancestor who remains elusive. I'm wondering where to look next.

I've found Berthald Kistner and his wife Ida Klein in the 1990 US Census. They were living in St. Louis, MO with the last three of their children. I've also seen records from the 1880 US Census giving the names of the older children. The 1900 Census says Berthald and Ida were born in Germany, though it doesn't say where. Searching emigration data implies knowing where they emigrated from. The census data also gives approximate birth dates of August 1842 for him and March 1845 for her. They came to Missouri about 1868.

I went to Family Search and its search tool of German Births and Baptisms. It can find thousands of Kistners, but comes up empty for Berthald. The search found lots of matches for Ida Klein, but I have no way of knowing which is the right one.

Where do I look next?
in Genealogy Help by Paul Kinney G2G6 Mach 1 (12.7k points)

4 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer

Try Castle Garden, maybe you can find some more likely people, if you get the ship and the port they emigrated from that could help further. If it is Hamburg you may need access to Ancestry to look at the Hamburg ship lists. They often list the last place of residence. If it's Bremen you are most likely out of luck as those lists were almost completely destroyed.

BTW, the name should be Berthold, Berthald is probably a transcription error, it is not a German name.

by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (551k points)
selected by Pip Sheppard
+5 votes
If you have exact date birth of both,month day year,we have a good chance

of finding them.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (921k points)
Alas, all I know is what I got from the census, which doesn't include the day of the month.
Is this his obituary?  22 Nov 1910 in St Louis, Missouri?  It lists an exact age at death. 68 years 3 months 13 days.  Using the calculators to determine birth date, you may be able to do a more refined search at ancestry in the German birth records.

This Berthold Kistner has a death certificate that lists the birth day at Aug 9, 1842 but does not give names of parents or anything other than broad location as Germany.
It very well could be his obituary and death certificate. My records don't include a death date the names of wife and children match.

So, I'm taking notes of how to do this. You tried (which requires a fee) and Missouri Secretary of State. Thanks.

Alas, no way yet to jump back to Germany.
If there is a clipping on the page for, you should be able to read it without a subscription.

The Missouri death certificate archives are free for anyone to search.  They start at 1910.

Here is where to search those archives.  You should be able to find Ida's death in 1933.

Here are some clues on Ida.

She was apparently the sister of a Matthew Klein.  His obituary is quite detailed.  He was from Waldbrechsweier in Baden, Germany.

According to that obituary, they  had a brother Bernard Klein.  This is his death report.  That death certificate lists their father as a Michael Klein.

The birth location for Matthew Klein and the father listed for Bernard Klein may help you narrow the Ida Kleins born in Germany.  I found Bernard Klein's obit in 1911.  He's also from the same town as Matthew.

And here's the death certificate for their sister Helena (Klein) Mueller. (it is apparently Mueller, not Miller as listed in the Matthew Klein obit).  Lists M. Klein as father, "don't know" for mother.
Wow! A treasure of riches! Thank you!

Yes, I've been able to read the clippings from as linked in these replies. My comment about the fees was to say without paying it I cannot do any searching on my own.
+1 vote

married Aug 27 1868.Find on marriages,Ancestry,com.On Berthold Kistner

Find A Grave 69131242,born Aug 9 1842.This tombstone looks it is very

by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (921k points)
This seems to conflict with the find above where the obituary of Matthew Klein refers to his sister as Mrs. Berthold Kistner.

Thanks for the Find a Grave mention. Yes, that monument does look new.
+1 vote
Look 1860 Census,St Clair Illinois,last name spelled Koesterer,his father

Philip,Mother Agnes,Berthold age 17 Born Baden,6 other siblings.all other

children born USA,Would have immigrated abt 1844-1848

Find on Ancestry.Com ,There living Freeburg Illinois.Oddly abt 5 miles from

where i was born.For miles around still a farming area.I was born in Belleville.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (921k points)
I'm not a member of Ancestry to verify the rest of the family tree. Even so, I'm pretty sure Berthold Koesterer is a different person from Berthold Kistner even though both may have been born in 1842 and likely both in Baden.

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