Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Research Results Based on Hints in an Obituary

When I found an obituary for Sophia Meinzen Kropp, the supposed sister of my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen, I listed every possible hint in that obituary.  And then I researched based on the hints.  This post is a compilation of the results of that research.

Below are the results of following those hints.  

Hint 1)  died on September 6, 1920

Hint 2)  celebrated her 78th birthday on Saturday, September 4, 1920
  • Ohio death certificate gives birth date of September 4, 1842, which can be used to calculate her age (of 78)

Hint 3)  born in Germany 

Hint 4)  married Carl Kropp in Germany in 1861  
  • church record for Carl's death gives marriage date of September 14, 1863
  • Carl's obituary recorded that he married "Sophie Minsinger" in Germany but does not give a date

Hint 5)  immigrated from Germany to the U.S. in 1887 

Hint 6)  settled in Steubenville/Jefferson County upon arrival
  • Carl's obituary states that after arriving in 1887 they settled in "this city" (Steubenville).
  • Several of the children's obituaries (links below) suggest that they came directly to Steubenville but don't specifically state it.
  • I've no other information to substantiate this but it's possible that city directories may list Sophie and Carl.

Hint 7)  husband Carl Kropp died about 15 years ago (therefore about 1905) 
  • Carl appeared in the 1900 U.S. Census living with his wife, daughter Sophie, and son-in-law John Spahn
  • He is absent from the 1910 U.S. Census 
  • The name "Carl Kropt" appears in Jefferson County Probate Court death records with date of death as May 30, 1905.
  • His obituary appeared in The Steubenville Daily Gazette on Wednesday, May 31, 1905, giving a death date of May 30, 1905.
  • church record gives date of death as May 30, 1905

Hint 7)  Sophie was a member of Zion Lutheran Church
  • Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, now Zion United Christ Church, did not produce a membership record for Sophie nor have a record pertaining to her death. 

Hint 8)  She was survived by daughters Mrs. John Spahn and Mrs. Minnie Schuette, and son William Kropp, all of Steubenville
  • the 1900 U.S. Census notes that she was the mother of 6 children, 4 living
  • Carl's 1905 obituary lists four living children (Minnie, wife of Henry Shutti; William, Henry and Sophie, wife of John Spahn)
  • in the 1900 U. S. Census she was living with daughter Sophia and son-in-law John Spahn (She was listed as mother.)
  • in the 1910 U.S. Census she was listed as mother-in-law, living with Sophie and John Spahn
  • in the 1920 U.S. Census she was listed as grandmother, living with Sophie and John Spahn
  • informant on Ohio death certificate was Mrs. John Spahn but no relationship was noted.
  • Known Child #1  Minnie Kropp Schuette.  Minnie's obituary notes that she was born in Hanover, Germany, and is the daughter of Carl and Sophia "Meingen" Kropp who were also born in Germany.
  • Known Child #2  William Henry Kropp.  William's Ohio death certificate notes that he was born in Germany and that his mother was Sophia Meinsen Kropp, also born in Germany.
  • Known Child #3  Henry Kropp.  Henry's Ohio death certificate notes that he was born in Germany and was the son of Carl Kropp and Sophie "Don't Know."
  • Known Child #4  Sophia Kropp (Mrs. John) Spahn. 

Hint 9  Survived by brother Henry Meinzen
  • Henry Meinzen's daughter Isabelle Meinzen's wedding announcement lists as attendees Mr. and Mrs. Carl Cropp, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schuette, Mr. and Mrs. John Spahn, and Messrs. Henry and Will Kropp, but does not note a relationship.
  • I've yet to find any information that confirms this sibling relationship.

I think it's worthwhile to research hints in an obituary.  One may find a wealth of genealogical information.  None of my research on Sophia Meinzen Kropp makes a direct connection between her and my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen but if I had been searching to find more about Sophia without trying to make a connection to a sibling these searches produced great results.  In fact, Sophia's death certificate lists her father's name, and her husband's church record notes his parents' names and the location of his birth.  You never know what you'll find.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Good detective work...what program do you use for your research?

  2. Research for the newspapers I meant to say.

    1. Thanks, Claudia. For Steubenville I generally have to go to the Ohio Archives Library and search individual pages. Steubenville had about four or five different newspapers depending on the years I'm searching. The ones I use most are The Steubenville Herald (both daily and weekly) and The Steubenville Gazette (both daily and weekly). Sometimes I find a hint about an event online which may give a date. That makes it easier to search.


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