Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Found:  Four Gerner Siblings

Sometimes I imagine that my ancestors are playing hide-n-seek with me  but they play by different rules than I remember as a child.  And sometimes I feel like my ancestors help or hinder the results of my research.  Mostly hinder, but just recently, four siblings in one generation of my elusive Gerner ancestors are coming out of hiding, helping to break down a brick wall.  Finally! 

Frederick Gerner is my great-grandfather.  Round-about research and vague memories of his youngest daughter led me to people who were probably his parents, Christian and Elizabeth, in census records from 1860 to 1880.  Those records gave me a list of children that corresponded with the vague memories of Fred's youngest daughter.  So I set off to find Fred's siblings as adults in the hopes of learning more about their parents.

Census records gave me
  • Emma, born about 1847 
  • Frederick, born about 1849
  • Isabell / Elisabeth / Lizzie, born about 1851
  • Charles, born about 1853
  • Christian, born about 1854, and
  • John, born about 1856

To date, I've learned that
  1. Emma married Alfred Vensel in 1869 in Fairview Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  She and Afred had one son, John, and three daughters, Laura, Maude, and Ida.  They stayed close to home, living in Fairview Township, Chicora, and Butler.  Alfred was a carpenter who committed suicide at the age of 59, on April 5, 1906.  Emma was already blind at the time.  Emma passed away at the age of 76 on December 7, 1922. 
  2. Frederick - well, there have been plenty of posts about him already, but the briefest information is that he married Elvira Bartley and died on March 26, 1926.
  3. Charles married Eva D. Adams in 1881.  They had at least five children:  Francis, Bertha, Mary, Dale, and Ada.  Charles worked as an oil producer.  He died at the age of 77 on June 12, 1929.  
  4. Christian was born on July 12, 1854, in Clarion County, Pennsylvania (according to his marriage record).  He married Amanda Daubenspeck on October 22, 1886.  For a while they lived in S. Washington Borough, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  They had two sons:  Maurice L., born in 1890, and Russell D., born in 1892.  Sometime after 1900, the family moved to McKim District, West Virginia, and by 1920 were living in Anaheim, Orange County, California.  Christian worked as an oil pumper/producer for 43 years, last working in 1918.  He died at the age of 81 on October 9, 1935, in Anaheim.
Lizzie and John are still in hiding, being very unhelpful.  Lizzie was a witness to the marriage of her brother Frederick and his wife, Elvira, in July, 1872.  She remained single until at least the 1880 census when she was 29 years old.  But I've been unable to find more information about her.  Did she marry?  Did she die young?  John may have married Maggie Sarver in July, 1883.  I have more research for both Lizzie and John. 

I began researching Fred's siblings because his death certificate named only his father.  I hoped that the death records of his siblings would give the name of their mother, too.  And they did!  Emma's, Charles's, and Christian's death certificates all name their father as Christian Gerner and their mother as Mary E. Stahl (or variant spelling/misspelling, Sthal).  If the E. doesn't stand for Elizabeth, I'm way off base with this research, but there are so many other indications that this is my Fred's family that I have little doubt.

I've found four siblings but I'll continue to search for more information about them and their parents.  I'd like to obtain a copy of Christian's obituary (assuming there is one) but I haven't found an online source for a 1935 Anaheim newspaper.  I continue to wish for a will for the senior Christian Gerner and some death information for his wife, Elizabeth or Mary E.  But for now, I'm happy with the progress I've made.  If these ancestors are playing hide and seek, I think I'm beginning to win a round or two.



  1. Good searching...I am waiting, impatiently I might add, to the publication of the PA death certificates. Since virtually all of my ancestors were in PA it will be quite exciting for me.

  2. It's always gratifying to make a discovery like this. Especially after long research! Thanks for a fine post!

  3. How exciting! I find the more I research, the better I get at finding "new" rules to follow. When I can't get from A to B, sometimes I can go through C or D to get to B.


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