Tracing our family roots back to an ancestral village is one of the biggest accomplishments many genealogists aspire to do. This may be easy if that information is already known by relatives or other genealogists. If not, however, this discovery may be quite difficult (if not virtually impossible) to make for many (unless it’s in the British Isles). With my particular case, I did not even know their true country of origin! Different sources said it was either Germany, Austria, or Bohemia.
In the previous story I explained how I found my grandpa’s sister, and that she was able to confirm much of the information I already found. I had confirmed without a doubt that Thomas Hiebel was my 3rd great grandfather, and had suspicions that his father was Joseph Hiebel. She not only confirmed this, but also told me the date of the family’s immigration. This would be the first step in leading me to discover my ancestral villages and tracing my roots back to the 1600s.
What was the problem? How did I solve it? What did this lead me to next?
- The Problem:
Hiebel Immigration: As I stated in the intro, finding an ancestral village can potentially be next to impossible unless this information is already known. I knew that my maternal grandfather was from Samos, Greece and that my paternal grandmother’s parents were from Glasgow, Scotland. I didn’t know where my Hiebel ancestors came from because my 3rd and 4th great grandfathers were the ones who immigrated.
Location/Records: Another issue was that I did not even have a country of origin. Records for Thomas and Joseph said their place of birth was either Germany, Austria, Bohemia, or Bavaria. This led me to conclude that it must be near the border of 2 or possibly all 3 countries, however there are not many online records available for these countries. This would make finding the location a needle in a haystack; if not entirely impossible.
Spelling Variations: One of the many reasons I had not discovered the Hiebel immigration record or ancestral village of Thomas and Joseph was due to the surname spelling. I did not know the original spelling of my surname, and was dead set that Hiebel was the original spelling of my surname as there are people living in various locations around Europe with the Hiebel surname in the present day.
- How I Solved It:
Immigration Papers: The reason I did not find the immigration papers of Thomas and Joseph was because I did not know the original spelling of the surname. My grandpa’s sister told me that the family immigrated on July 13th, 1861, and that the spelling of the surname on the immigration papers was Hübel. I searched ancestry.com and found the immigration paper immediately!
Unfortunately, there weren’t any clues that led to a country of origin on this document. They emigrated from Bremen, Germany, which was the largest emigration port for Germany and many surrounding countries. No country of origin was listed, and the Bremen emigration records were destroyed so there would be no chance finding it there either.
Hübl: Whenever I hit a brick wall in my research, I tend to check other family trees online. While other family trees can often be inaccurate (as I have stressed in the past); they can also be a great way to find new information (provided that information is accurate). Now that the immigration papers gave me the spelling Hübel, I decided to search for a Joseph Hübel born in 1823 in hopes of finding a birthplace and parents. Sure enough, I found a tree on Familysearch.com with a Joseph Hübl born on June 26th 1823 in Klein Schneiderhof, Bohemia, Austria!
- What Next?
On Hiebels in Bohemia Part 2; I will discuss how I connected with the user who submitted this tree and how I was able to confirm that this Joseph was in fact my 4th great grandfather. This would lead to us working together to trace my family roots further back than I could possibly imagine, and eventually this individual became my best friend in the genealogy community!
Immigration record for the Hiebel family on July 13th, 1861