One researcher's story suggests secrets for finding your own German ancestors.
Some people spend years researching their German roots without enjoying the kind of success Harold (Hal) Sterwerf had in just five months: He traced his family back 150 years to the ancestor who started it all by coming over from Germany.
It helped that Sterwerf could find so many clues right in his heavily German hometown of Cincinnati. It really helped that he hit on the importance of checking variant spellings, especially with German names. And, yes, it helped that he just plain got lucky. Nonetheless, Sterwerf's discoveries show how checking (and later rechecking) sources, chasing leads and names that seem like long shots, and simply using common sense can take you a long way toward unpuzzling your family's German history.