Organized Genealogy Research: Matching Up Two Theresas

By Diane Haddad


My new favorite genealogy accomplishment is figuring out whether the Theresa Seeger Kolbeck whose 1937 death announcement I found by chance in a newspaper index on the Kenton County Public Library website was the sister of my great-great-grandfather, German immigrant Heinrich Arnold (“H.A.”) Seeger.

All I had on H.A.’s sister was her baptismal record from Steinfeld, Germany, with her date of birth and parents’ names.

A little research into the local Theresa—actually Mary Theresa—uncovered a death certificate with her birthday as Feb. 18, 1849 (three days after H.A.’s sister’s birthday) in Germany. She and her husband Herman Henrich Kolbeck immigrated May 16, 1873, and settled in Covington, Ky. The 1900 census reported they’d been married 27 years, putting their marriage in 1873.

Following tips Drew Smith will share in our Genealogy Organization Tips and Strategies webinar on May 19, I planned out some steps:

  1. From previous research in Steinfeld, Germany, marriage records, I knew they usually name the parents. I added a to-do list item to view the records covering 1873 at my local FamilySearch Center. So many folks around here have roots in that part of Germany that the film is in the permanent collection of my FamilySearch Center. Getting out to research requires all kinds of scheduling acrobatics for me, so I knew it’d be awhile before I could visit.
  2. I looked up the Kolbecks in other databases on the Kenton County library website. and found church record index entries for the baptisms of several children. The library has the records on microfilm, so I ordered digital copies through its fee-based request service.A few were the Kolbecks’ children, with Theresa’s maiden name as variants close to (but not exactly) Seeger. One baptism had a sponsor Frances Säge. Frances was the name of H.A.’s wife. Other baptisms were the children of another Kolbeck couple, with Theresa a sponsor in one.
  3. Also from the Kenton County library, I ordered a copies of two newspaper death announcements for Theresa. Neither named her parents or birthplace in Germany.

Finally the stars aligned and I could get to the FamilySearch Center to view the Steinfeld church records. Within 15 minutes, I found Theresa’s and Herman Henrich’s April 23, 1873, marriage record. Theresa’s parents had the same names as on her baptismal record, and the same names as H.A.’s parents.

Yay! I could add all those Kolbecks into my family tree.

Drew Smith recommends organizing your genealogy research around goals, and I have two new ones for this family:

  1. Figure out whether Theresa and Herman Henry were cousins. You probably noticed that Theresa’s mother was born a Kolbeck.
  2. Figure out if and how that other Kolbeck couple in the Covington, Ky., baptismal records was related to Herman Henrich. That family later moved to Ford County, Kan.

Our Genealogy Organization Tips and Strategies webinar on May 19 will help you manage your research process, so you can take a focused approach to solving genealogy problems. Learn more about this online event in Family Tree Shop.