Monday, January 16, 2017

Military Monday: Roster of the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Company

Editor's Note: this is another in a series of posts about re-creating my father's WWII military history.

Hello out there to the descendants of the 142 soldiers (if my count is accurate) who are named on this roster for the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Company (417th MPEG Co) dated 11 January 1944.  This post is for you.

This valuable roster was part of the military documents I obtained during my visit to the National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland in May 2016.  The documents tell the history of the 417th MPEG Co during World War II. I’ll write about that soon but I was anxious to release the roster first.   

Be sure to cross-check your ancestor's name on this roster with the names on the Company photo. I was able to recognize my father in that photo.  I hope you're fortunate enough to do the same.  My father's name and serial number are highlighted in yellow on the roster.

Like the post with the Company photo, I’m hoping the families of the soldiers named on this roster (click images to enlarge) will contact me and share what they know about the 417th MPEG Co.  Please leave a comment below or send me an email: write2medenise@gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!  

417th Military Police Escort Guard Company
Roster 11 January 1944, pg 1
Obtained from NARA College Park by Denise Hibsch Richmond

417th Military Police Escort Guard Company
Roster 11 January 1944, pg 2
Obtained from NARA College Park by Denise Hibsch Richmond

TRANSCRIPTION OF 1944 ROSTER
INTO SEARCHABLE FORMAT

417th MILITARY POLICE ESCORT GUARD COMPANY
11 January 1944
(Date)
COMPANY ROSTER
Gullet, Cecil
Lynn, James E.
Miller, James S.
Captain
Second Lt.
Second Lt.
0-493486  
0–496792
0-1169253
Co Cmdr
Co Off.
Co Off.

FIRST SERGEANT
Dunlap, Fred L.

STAFF SERGEANTS
Evans, Jesse N.
Shields, Charles A., Jr.

SERGEANTS
Gardiner, Vernon C.
Jontow, Bernhard L.
Jordahl, Vernon J.
Tucker, Walter D.
Warden, Homer F.

CORPORALS
Arnold, Floren D.
Blitzblau, Sheldon S.
Charon, Albert W.
Evans, Wade L.
Goodwin, Daniel J.
Hauser, William T.
Lavery, Thomas E.
Malone, Herman C.
McBride, Jess L.
Nagel, Philip L.
Newsome, Oscar E., Sr.
Stender, Ralph R.  
Wells, Lloyd J.

TECHNICIANS 5th GRADE
Brooks, Woodrow W.
Collins, Michael G.
Kramer, Charles T.
Long, Jesse E.
Pitz, Ferdinand F.

PRIVATES FIRST CLASS
Angell, Victor C.
Armstrong, Jewell A.
Ash, Joseph A.  
Baker, William E.
Barnes, Edward R.
Basye, John C.
Bauer, Harley O.
Berry, Helsey L.
Birge, Ernest E.
Blair, Harold E.
Bradshaw, Johnnie B.
Clarkson, James V.
Cook, Charles H.
Cundiff, T.B. (I O)
Dahlberg, John F.
Erickson, Gordon O.
Fleming, Raymond W.
Gregston, Wayne I.
Guerrero, Jose F.
Hermansen, Marlen R.
Irey, Jack A.
Kelly, Le Roy
Kirk, Robert
LaClair, Laurence R.
Larsen, Ola W., Jr. 
Massey, Joseph Z.
Miller, Fred
Moraitis, John W.
Murphy, Paul P., Jr.
Nessly, William F.
Noe, Donald K.
Osinski, Arthur A.
Owens, Elias
Pinianski, Basil W.
Pomerantz, Daniel D.
Poulton, La Marr W.
Provonsha, Joseph A.
Ragsdale, Samuel B.
Ramerman, Elmer B. 
Reed, Lawrence E.
Rhoad, Luther B. 
Robb, Alden M.
Schneider, Herman J.
Shipman, Virgil J.
Slifer, Harry R.
Stanko, Paul, Jr.
Smith, James G.
Smock, Arthur C.
Spies, Alvin V.
Verkuyl, Donald A.
Vogel, William G.
Volek, John B.
Walker, Walter J., Jr.
Walton, Raymond K.
Williard, Alvin C.
Wilson, Aubrey W.
Wolovnik Sidney  
Yingling, John A.

PRIVATES
Adelson, Robert L.
Akers, Edison A. 
Anderson, Ivan T.
Arnold, Pedro L.
Bautista, Frank
Bradshaw, Jackson P.
Buckler, Arthur
Burt, Jack W.
Carpenter, Henry J.
Cook, Harold H.
Dalton, John S., Jr.
Doers, William H.
Doyle, Sylvester E.
Gammon, Robert L.
Gatavaski, Albert M.
Gottfried, Sam
Handwerker, Louis
Hibsch, Robert M.
Jacobsen, Grant
Kramer, Nathan NMI
Jensen, Donald H.
Jiminez, Alex N.
Lehman, James T.
Litot, George E.
Marvin, Leon
Messner, Roy E., Jr.
Metter, Robert J.
Moyher, Andrew F.
Mykleby, James E.
Otto, John G.
Pfeifer, Frank B.
Piekarski, Kazimir
Rameriz, Paul
Ray, Chester J.
Rhodehamel, Elmer R.
Richardson, Orville E.
Roberts, Richard A.
Rukavina, Steve M.
Russell, Lloyd R.
Shurtliff David C.
Slapnik, Albert
Smith, Emerson
Smith, Warren E.
Souder, Edward B.
Stanard, Kenneth
Stewart, Elbie
Talmadge, Raymond B. 
Wallman, Leon
West, John E.
Wheat, Paul L.
Whelan, Edwin J.
White, Elbert E


35175543


39908922
33262252


39280667
12182183
37320467
38000973
34141956


391228*4
32656932
39908871
39199345 
39557885
39461866
33182409
6268567
35477549
6665097
34448283
39199249
39280717


35156*86
39280676
33310083
39908863
39908919


39908920
39408991
39199319
39038741
33479301
39555970
39555734
39461872
39693067
36440867
39122831
39199350
39557717
39038706
39908925
39038743
34202208
39693101
39555750
39908799
39615665
39279101 
39199305
39199356
39908823
39908857
39199340
36311606
33551654
39199356
39555752
36555225
33460749
13055917
33577508
39908766
39908449
39461415
39199308
39122354
33497084
39908758
39038570
39198931
37246942
33675026
39908432
35578270
39199234
39693119
39615679
33152412
33409702
33085945
33076055
39199296
39279337
33015430


32972994
33250665
39908875
39556021
32699190
33387686
32728699
39908865
33302668
39908797
39908793
39122875
36235847
39199346
31065759
32162433
32712582
39280776
39908909
36627653
36294353
18103065
39557871
35537651
39199261
36555294
39038751
20307013
36815015
32701442
37338045
32725790
6953633
39557702
15055273
34368248
39408743
39615995
39557179
39908386
3961*981
36318197
39038737
32485916
36563632
35210273
32701940
32518738
35528117
39693120
32707416
34680199



 Author's Notes
1,  *asterisk added by Author to signify undecipherable symbol in the serial number
2.  "Page 27" and "Page 28" on roster image added for Author's use 
3.  "Declassified Authority" notation required by NARA on all images of documents


Monday, January 9, 2017

Military Monday: 417th Military Escort Group Co Photo


Editor's Note: this is another in a series of posts about re-creating my father's WWII military history.

My father, Robert M. Hibsch, kept several papers from his days in the Army during World War II (WWII) which I have now. He served as a military policeman with the 417th Military Police Escort Guard (MPEG) Company.  The 417th MPEG Company was located at camps in England: Bourton-on-the-Hill, Truro, and Galmpton, and Cherbourg, France.[1]

The picture shown here was found in his papers.  It’s not the original photo; it’s on regular 8½” x 11” white paper that has faded.  Unfortunately, there is no date or location. Someone hand printed the names of the soldiers in order in which they appear. The “author” must have known the identity of the soldiers and was probably in the photo himself

My father is in this picture which makes it very valuable.

Challenge to family: can you find him without looking at the names row by row?

Challenge to descendants:  is your father or other relative in this photo?  I’m posting it and transcribing the names printed on it in hopes that the descendants of these soldiers can share information about the 417th MPEG Company.  Please contact me!

417th Military Police Escort Company Photo
Source: Personal Collection of Denise Hibsch Richmond
Click image to enlarge

FRONT ROW:
Otto, D.J. Goodwin, Kramer, Vogel, Armstrong, McBride, Newsom, Lavery, Stender, Houser, Jordahl, Warden, Gardiner, Tucker, Jontow, Butzblau, F.D. Arnold, Charon, Clarkson, Birge, Collins, W Evans, Noe, Doers, H. Cook.

SECOND ROW:
Gatavaski, Angell, Massey, Myklesy, Wallman, Marvin, Jacobsen, Walker, Rhoad, Stanard, Adelson, Rukavina, Kramer, Gottfried, Capt. Gullett, W.E. Smith, Lt. Lynn, Rhodehammel, 1st Sgt. Dunlap, Barnes, Russell, Fleming, Guerrero, Doyle, Ragsdale, Provonsha, Berry, Pinianski, J.P. Bradshaw, Akers, Jimenez, Dalton, Shipman, Larsen.

THIRD ROW:
Rameriz, Pfiefer, Anderson, Dahlberg, Erickson, Nessly, Buckler, Rammerman, Handwerker, Souder, Baker, Roberts, Kirk, Spies, Brooks, Long, Pitz, Volek, LaClair, Smook [Smock], Whelan, Hibsch, P. Arnold, Slapnik, C.H. Cook, Burt, Poulton, Stanko, Messner, Stewart, Schneider, Gregston [Grecston].

BACK ROW:
Osinski, Talmadge, J.B. Bradshaw, Piekarski, Robb, Ray, Gammon, Blair, Ash, Pomerantz, J.G. Smith, Wilson, Condiff, Murphy, Jensen, Shurtliff, F. Miller, White, Richardson, Verkuyl, Bauer, E. Smith, Walton, West, Metter, Moyher, Malone.


[1] Miller, James S.. 1st Lt, FA Commanding, HISTORY OF THE 417th MPEG COMPANY FROM 1 FEB 1944-1 FEB 1945, 19 June 1945, p. 8 of 28, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917, Record Group 407, National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. Note: file obtained by Denise Hibsch Richmond contained 28 sheets of loose papers and personally numbered in order of appearance 1- 28.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Grandma Hibsch's Bible Verse Book

Don't you just love it when discoveries show up unexpectedly? For me this time it didn't happen in a library but in my own home.

A box of photos had been sitting in my home "genealogy space" for months.  The assortment included family and work-related pictures.  Somewhat organized by me a long while ago.  Recently I was going through the box again removing all Halloween pictures from my former office.  I had promised to send a co-worker all the pictures in which he appeared.

What fun going down memory lane reflecting on the very creative people that I worked with! Ok, enough of that I said to myself.  About a dozen pictures featured my friend Jim so into a padded envelope they went and were mailed.

As the sorting continued, I came across a small book that I didn't know I had.  The envelope in which I found it included photos and documents my father gave me several years ago.  Maybe he had the book all along and that's why I don't recall receiving it.  And why oh why did I not look inside the envelope upon receipt?

The book was  called "Bible Forget me nots". The cover is slightly padded in a silk-like fabric.  The condition seems quite good, no stains are evident.  Look at those dainty blue flowers.


Cover of "Bible Forget me nots"


Copyright 1898
The DeWolfe, Fiske and Company of Boston, Massachusetts published the book in 1898, the year before Ethel May Kendall Hibsch, my grandmother, was born.  Each of its 31 pages have short selections from the Bible.  The book was intended for children.  Only one edition was published.  Ten WorldCat member libraries have a copy, the nearest to me being The Huntington Library in San Marino, Los Ageles, California.

Inscription page
And here's the page of two treasures.  I almost missed the page that makes this book most valuable to me because they were stuck together.  Look at that - a handwritten note from Grandma Hibsch:

Dear Denise, This book
was given to me by my
Mother, your great-grand-
mother Kendall. Please keep
it always.
Grandma Hibsch

Can you see the top of the page?  Click the image for a better view.  In pencil, in the handwriting of my then 10 year old Grandma Hibsch was her inscription:

from Mamma
December 25, 1909

First Day of Bible Verses
Did 10 year old Ethel have a favorite Bible verse? Unfortunately, none of the 31 daily selections had a mark signaling any significance to her.

From her girlhood days my Grandma Hibsch valued everything with the family name on it.

Her foresight is my fortune.
  
Moral of the story - clean out your box of photos.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Military Monday: Order to Report for Induction 1943

Editor's Note: this is another in a series of posts about re-creating my father's WWII military history.
The 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor is December 7, 2016.  That tragic event inspired this post - I wondered what my father was doing the year it happened and until he was drafted.

1941 was a notable year for my father, Robert M. Hibsch.  He graduated from Covina High School[1] in June and turned 18 years old on December 7th. Within five days, he likely registered for the draft.

And Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.  Within days, Congress and President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany.  The United States had entered World War II.

Yep, quite a year.

Robert enrolled in the Chaffey College[2] Machine Shop program[3] after graduation.  I’m not sure where he worked in 1941 but in 1942 he worked for Thompson Products, Inc., in Bell[4].  He was a Machine Operator and operated a plane grinder, bench lathe, radiac saw, drill press and punch press.

During this time, he also looked after his grandmother, Ida May Brown Kendall, who was living at the family-built “shack” in Seal Beach, Orange, California.

Then on January 21, 1943 he received the proverbial letter from Uncle Sam.  It was titled “Order to Report for Induction”.  I’m fortunate to have his original letter which is shown below and transcribed.





                                 ______________________________________________

Prepare in Duplicate

Local Board No. 193       91                                                              Jan. 21st. 1943
Los Angeles County        037,                 (Selective Service System seal)
Date stamped Jan 21, 1943  193
109 E. Main Street
Puente, California
(LOCAL BOARD DATE STAMP WITH CODE)

ORDER TO REPORT FOR INDUCTION

The President of the United States,

To Robert Martin Hibsch
Order No. 11927-V

Greeting:
    Having submitted yourself to a local board composed of your neighbors for the purpose of determining your availability for training and service in the armed forces of the United States, you are hereby notified that you have now been selected for training and service in the land or naval forces.

    You will, therefore, report to the local board named above at 109 E. Main St, Puente, Calif. at 7:30 a.m. on the 1st day of February, 1943.

    This local board will furnish transportation to an induction station of the service for which you have been selected. You will there be examined, and, if excepted for training and service, you will then be inducted into the stated branch of the service.
    Persons reporting to the induction station in some instances may be rejected for physical or other reasons. It is well to keep this in mind in arranging your affairs, to prevent any undue hardship if you are rejected at the induction station. If you are employed, you should advise your employer of this notice and of the possibility that you may not be excepted at the induction station. Your employer can then be prepared to replace you if you are excepted, or to continue your employment if you are rejected.
    Willful failure to report promptly to this local board at the hour and on the day named in this notice is a violation of the Initial CAPS selective training and service act of 1940, as amended, and subjects the violator to fine and imprisonment.
    If you are so far removed from your own local board that reporting in compliance with this order will be a serious hardship and you desire to report to a local board in the area of which you are now located, go immediately to that local board and make written request for transfer of your delivery for induction, taking this order with you.

[Signed by] Member or clerk of the local board
[signature illegible]

U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1942   16-18271-4

DSS Form 150
   (Revised 7-13-42)
___________________________________________________________
Sources

[1] Covina High School, Covina, Los Angeles, California


[2] Chaffey College is a community college in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, California


[3] Army of the United States, Separation Qualification Record, Civilian Education, WD AGO Form 100, 1 Jul 1945

[4] In 1941, Thompson Products, Inc. in Bell, Los Angeles, California produced and sold aircraft engine bolts and miscellaneous engine and fuselage parts. Source:  Case 10383, National Labor Relations Board V. Thompson Products, Inc., Brief For The National Labor Relations Board (1943-06-12), page 2

Monday, November 28, 2016

Military Monday: Finding Military Records at NARA

Editor's Note  this is the first of multiple posts about  re-creating my father's WWII military history beginning with my visit to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland in May 2016

Researching has been a lot more fun the last couple of years because I joined forces (pun intended) with my brother Dean, an Air Force guy.  We have some Army records related to our father’s World War II (WWII) service.  Dean knew the purpose of the records and deciphered the military lingo on them faster than me such as unit name and alpha/numeric abbreviations.  He was particularly interested our father’s unit history – the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Company stationed mostly in the European Theater. Dean’s internet search yielded scant results which meant that we needed to tap into repositories that held military records.

I knew that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) was one key resource for WWII records.  Luckily, my husband and I were going to Washington, D.C. in May 2016 for a vacation so naturally we made time to go to NARA.

Pre-Visit Planning
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of reading the NARA D.C. website thoroughly.  Read it to learn whether the records you seek are at NARA D.C. or one of its regional offices, to find your Record Group(s) for your topic and read it to learn what to expect as a visitor.

I must admit I got lost in the sea of links on the NARA website in my search for WWII unit history records.  I did learn however, that military records were housed at Archives II in College Park, Maryland, about a 45-minute ride from Archives I (D.C.) via the free shuttle.  The records could only be viewed at Archives II, not loaned elsewhere.

Did NARA have any records related to my subject?  Fortunately, in the months leading up to our D.C. vacation, I met two NARA archivists who suggested I send an email to archives2reference@nara.gov with my father’s name, the designation of his unit, the dates of service, and indicate my interest in doing onsite research.  I was told that the response should verify whether records existed and if so, the citations for record retrieval.  Following is my email inquiry:

Dear Archivist,
I'm interested in researching my father's unit records.  I will be visiting DC beginning May 24th and can come to the College Park office via the Archives I/II shuttle.  Following is his information:

Name: Robert Martin Hibsch
Unit: 417th Military Police Escort Company
Rank/occupation:  Pfc/Military Policeman
Date of Active Service Start:  8 Feb 1943
Date of Separation:  4 Feb 1946
Date of departure for Europe: 19 Jan 1944
Date of departure for US:  8 Jan 1946

Texas:  he also guarded Italian prisoners of war (POWs) held in Texas after he returned to the US in 1946.   I don’t have dates or a location though but would like to research these records also.

I would be most grateful if you could tell me what records are available and how to access them.

Thank you.
Regards

Eleven calendar days later a thorough response by email arrived.  Records existed – yeah!  I now had the Record Group numbers for the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Company and a referral for finding aids for the POW camp near Hereford, Texas. I printed the email and put it in my carry-on bag.

Lessons Learned –  contact NARA well in advance of your visit so the archivists have plenty of time to respond to your request.  Bring a printed copy of the response with you to show the onsite archivist and to make notes on.

Arrival at NARA D.C.
Photo by Denise Hibsch Richmond from pedicab ride
(Click on any image to enlarge)
We took a taxi from our hotel to NARA D.C.  Taxis can only drop passengers on one side of the building for the public tours entrance.  Researchers enter on the other side so we walked around the block.  We passed through security and went to the reception desk to ask about catching the shuttle to Archives II.  It turned out that we already walked past the shuttle stop and we didn’t need any badge or other identification to board.

Lesson Learned – check with NARA in advance about boarding the shuttle as the policies may change.  Had I thought to do so, we could have saved about a half hour.

Arrival at Archives II
We went through security…again.  Did I mention that the process rivals TSA?  But leave your shoes on.  Then we were directed to a registration office where we each completed forms, showed our picture ID, had our pictures taken and then received our official NARA ID badge to wear at any NARA location.

I also had to present the materials I wanted to take into the research room.  These consisted of my initial inquiry, the email response and the POW camp information. The receptionist stamped each piece of paper on the back.  I intentionally brought very little paper with me although I generally bring more hardcopy materials on research visits.  If other documents related to my father’s service were needed, I could access them from Dropbox on my phone.

Examples of my pull requests
About 45 minutes later (camera problems) we went to store our stuff in a locker. These were the items I couldn’t bring into the research room:  small wired notebook, pocket folder that my papers were in and my purse.  I was permitted to bring the loose, stamped papers, a pen/pencil, my phone and my seat cushion.

Lessons Learned – read the NARA website about planning a visit before visiting your NARA location of choice.  Arrive early.  Re-evaluate the paper you want to bring into the research room.  Paper-stamping takes time and you know you’ll be watching the clock for the pull-times!  Use the locker to retrieve other materials during the day.

Archives II Research Room
Badge, check.  Locker key, check. Papers for the research room, check.

But there was another checkpoint before getting on the elevator.  Before we could pass through the turnstile to get to the elevator, a security guard checked our badges and the papers for the official stamp on each page.  Then we got the go-ahead.

But there was another checkpoint when we entered the research room.  The receptionist repeated what the guard did at the turnstile. Then we got the go-ahead.

Now.  To the Consultation Room.

Archivist Eric greeted us on the Military Records side of the room.  We sat at a table where I briefly described my research goal and showed him my initial inquiry with my father’s service details and the responses.  We chatted for a bit – he said he was thrilled that the response was so detailed that he could immediately write a records pull request for the 11am pull.  (We were too late for the 10am pull.)  Then he looked at a couple binders on the bookshelves in the room, described their content and we concluded the information was worthy of review as was the POW information I brought.  He completed two more pull requests – for the 1pm and 2pm pulls. (One request per pull.)

Example of my pull request attached to the file box
Eric showed me where the records would be delivered and identified a table where we could sit and review the files.  Too bad I didn’t take a picture of the room.  The room was large, mostly filled with square tables literally marked for four workspaces.  No encroaching!  Microfilm readers and computers were at one end.  Happily, room noise was at library-level.

I claimed the first set of files and a staff member stronger than me pushed the cart to my table.  One box at a time, I retrieved the files with single sheets of papers, some handwritten, most typed.  I started scanning with my ScannerPro app on my smartphone.  This continued as each set of files became available.  I was only there for the day so no reading, just scanning.  Until I came to the roster for the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Company, 11 Jan 1944, page 2: Hibsch, Robert M. Sweet since finding my father’s name was not expected!

Yours truly holding the roster with my father's name

I scanned about 50 pages which are still being analyzed. My brother and I have learned more about the unit history and of course, have more questions.  We’ve created a timeline of our father’s service including the dates and locations mentioned in the files.  Key events during WWII will be added as they correspond to the unit’s history providing a greater perspective of his participation in the war.  

Lessons Learned – arrive early. Know the pull times and frequency rules which are followed. If you can return the next day or so, your pulled files can be held for three days, five on request. Bring a charger which I didn’t do.  Outlets are available at each workspace.  A public cafeteria is onsite with reasonable prices and extensive offerings.

Leaving Archives II
I finished scanning all files, returned them and thanked Eric for his assistance.  Before we left the research room, all the papers I brought in were re-inspected for the official stamp.  They were inserted into a bag that was locked.  We were then able to leave the research room.  Downstairs at the turnstile we waited in line with other researchers and employees leaving for the day.  Here, the security guard inspected everybody’s bags; he unlocked our bag, verified the stamped contents, gave them back to me and kept the bag.  No more checkpoints.  We unloaded the locker and headed for the waiting shuttle.

The last shuttle of the day.  Already full of NARA employees.  Whew, we got a seat!  The last seat was taken by someone running from the building.  The shuttle left at 5:05pm.

Lesson Learned – if you’re using the shuttle, beware, the last one fills fast with employees so be early.

Epilogue
This post was written rather humorously and admittedly we rolled our eyes as the security redundancies multiplied.  But NARA holds precious historic documents and more.  Security means that those treasures will be there for us and not leave the building in the hands of an unscrupulous person.  Security is a researcher’s friend and with planning, a negligible annoyance.

Oh, I also sent a thank you email to Eric and the archivist who responded to my initial inquiry.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Thanksgiving 1944 France

You just never know what treasures you'll find when looking through a box of photos.  I was looking for Halloween photos of all things when I came across a few WWII-related documents my father kept and I forgot I had. 

Shown here is a wonderful piece of history - a Thanksgiving menu in 1944 France.  The menu was typed on a regular piece of paper with what appeared to be hand-drawn artwork around the borders and a turkey in the center.  It's possible that the original paper only had a typed menu on it and someone decorated it, named and dated it.

Attached to the menu with "scotch" tape was the roster for the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Company.  My father's company.  His name appeared in the right-hand column - Robert M. Hibsch.

Questions
  • Is this menu authentic?
  • Why were these two documents attached to each other?  Did my father attach them?  Maybe to signify who ate this meal?
  • Was my father in France in November 1944?  Why would he keep the menu if he wasn't?
  • What is the significance of the dashes next to names on the roster?
I recently obtained some files about the history of the 417th Military Police Escort Guard Company from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.  I think it's about time to move the review of those files higher on my to-do list! 

The menu looks pretty yummy except for the creamed corn.  No can do on that.    






Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My First Visit to the Family History Library

Last April, I went to Mecca for genealogists: the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The world’s largest genealogical library.  Drool.

My badge
My husband Scott and I were among the 38 members from the South Orange County California Genealogical Society (my home society), who came for a week of research and group activities.  This was the Society’s second annual trip to the FHL. It was loads of fun.

It’s all in the Prep
Prep is everything for any research trip no matter where you’re going or how much time you’ll spend there.  My group’s fearless leader, David Flint, held advance-planning meetings to help us get our research organized and start researching the minute we entered the library.  I was a believer.  My research plan was going to be a thing of beauty that would keep me busy all week.

Binder, tech bag, water,
microfilm, notebook
I decided to organize my materials in a 1” binder.  I learned from a previous research trip to a library that I didn’t like relying totally on digital or cloud-based materials – I want paper.  The binder turned out to be just the right size to hold what I needed and not tip over the airline luggage scale.

What surnames/families should I research?  After considering David’s suggestions, I decided to concentrate primarily on Eisenman (just starting research in Germany; Hübsch (just starting research in Prussia) and Hutson (brickwall for this “the disappearing dude” in U.S. records).  If time permitted, I’d look for Brown and Clark (both brickwalls in U.S. records).

Next, I updated the data in my Legacy Family Tree genealogy software program.  Missing, incomplete or weak data became a To-Do item in my software program.  Then I spent hours scouring the FamilySearch.org Catalog for more records and books to look for at the FHL. These too were added to the To-Do List.

My binder was full with these research materials:
  • Pedigree Charts, Family Group Sheets, and To-Do Lists by surname, all printed from Legacy Family Tree
  • Timeline for ancestors
  • German-English lists in German Gothic and Frakturs script:  common words, the alphabet and family names and locations.  Knowing what the alphabet looked like in German wasn’t enough. I also needed to know what the words birth, marriage and death looked like as well as names such as Andreas Eisenman and Johann Ernst Hübsch.
Arrival
The Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, next door to the FHL, was home for the week.  I was literally 90 seconds from Mecca. What a commute!

Temple Square was abloom in April
We arrived a day before the rest of the group to sightsee.  The four hour City Grand Tour of Salt Lake City history picked up at the hotel.   It included the State Capital (gorgeous), Heritage Park, historic mansions and a no-host lunch at Lionsgate Pantry, part of Brigham Young’s house.  Period food was served – we had the delicious chicken pot pie.  Good tour and guide, highly rcommend it.  The temperature was 45ish and windy.  NOT my kind of weather.  Also, I was huffing and puffing because of the 4,300’ elevation of the city so walking to other nearby sites was crossed off the list.  Grr.  Happily though, we went to the library instead.  I downloaded a few books (two in German, uh-oh) to my USB drive. The books were downloadable only at the FHL so this task was at the top of my To-Do List.  I also bought a $2 copy card.  I was ready for the week of research.

Game On
Before I hit the aisles and aisles of books and microfilm, I needed to get oriented to the FHL.  Sure, general information was available on the website but the floor experts identified the extras, like the gems in a small bookcase along a wall or behind the information desk.  The stuff I needed.  David Flint arranged an orientation on each floor just for our group.  I attended each one.  My ancestors were waiting for me to find them so I needed to know what was where.

My ancestors are in this microfilm drawer
As hopeful as I was to have success from the get-go, all that I thought of at the end of day one at the FHL was the lesson my first genealogy teacher, Glenda Gardner Lloyd, taught me:  negative results are good too.  In other words, I didn’t find anything about my search target,  2nd great-grandfather Ernest Hübsch.  The German experts I consulted at the library said there was only one microfilm in which my family might be mentioned. Nope, not there.  (I’ve since learned that the Polish Archives may be a better source.)  For hours, I searched using a digital microfilm reader on my own after getting a few lessons from mission staff.  On the bright side, I didn’t get motion sick which was remarkable since I forgot to take the meds.

One of many stacks of books reviewed
The rest of the week was more fruitful.  Book heaven, aka the 3rd floor, had aisle after aisle of books even with the FHL’s huge, ongoing book digitization project.  The shelves had real books to hold, touch, turn the page, smell the dust...and happily download if it was already digitized!

Findings
In composing this post, I inventoried my findings at the library for the first time.  Mentally I knew but listing the information by category and surname revealed the comprehensiveness of my findings.  I'd say the research trip was quite successful.  Here's what I found:

  • Clark, Ogle, Swearingen and Van Pelt of Adams Co., Ohio: deaths, deeds, marriages
  • Eisenman of Fillmore Co., Minnesota and Germany: baptisms, plat book
  • Hübsch of Calumet Co., Wisconsin and Prussia: church records book, county/town histories, plat book and map, newspapers

The Happy Dance prize went to the baptismal records found for siblings Valentin and Catharina Eisenman born in Baden-Württemberg, Germany in 1762 and 1764 respectively.  This was by far the oldest record I have found.  Wow!  The discovery almost didn’t happen on this research trip.  When I discovered the information about my Eisenman ancestors might be on microfilm, I was about to give up and defer to a hired researcher.  You see, operating a regular microfilm reader on my own was physically impossible.  Not so fast said a mission staff member who was advising me on the microfilm.  He stood and scoured the room.  Within moments I was introduced to Sister Ludema. She cheerfully took on the task to help me.  We exchanged some information about ourselves and then we began.
Sister Ludema (r), Denise Hibsch Richmond
 and Valentin Eisenman baptism record 
Sister Ludema threaded the film into the reel spindle and rotated the knob to advance the film.  She didn’t know German and I knew “ein bisschen”. (Did I mention that the film was in German?)  Luckily, my research binder had examples of the Eisenman names in German script as well as the words for birth, marriage, death, etc.  We closely studied how the letters were formed.  As the search began, we happily breathed a sigh of relief because the quality of the microfilm was good and the handwriting clear, not heavily Gothic.  Search and search.  Rotate and rotate that knob.  And there it was.  Two baptismal records for the Eisenman children.  Wowzers!  One of the German experts was nearby and offered a basic translation of the record.  Next, Sister Ludema made a copy of the records.  I couldn’t thank her enough for spending nearly 3 hours with me. Shall we dance!

It's Not all about the Research
We didn't starve during the trip.  Many of us participated in the group meals.  We shared research successes.  We got to know each other better.  The camaraderie was high.  Besides the research, these were the other advantages for going with a group.  Let's visit.

  • Lunch with the group at the Church Office Building cafeteria (we had passes; good food, reasonably-priced, noisy seating area)
  • Evening banquet and speaker Luana Darby
  • Lunch at the Garden Restaurant on the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith building.  Beautiful view of the mountains.  Afterwards, we met some members of our group for a complimentary, sepia-tone photo at the local Family History Center.  We posed in front of a replica of New York Harbor as if we were newly-arrived immigrants.  My Hübsch ancestors arrived there in 1872 from Prussia.
  • Evening wine and cheese party with the group at the hotel
  • Dinner with the group at a restaurant/brewhouse
  • Farewell breakfast at the hotel
  • Many meals on our own at nearby eateries often happily joined by others 

I'm already reserved for the 2017 research trip.
New arrivals in New York Harbor