My Favorite Genealogy Story: Just a scrap of paper

My Favorite Genealogy Story: Just a scrap of paper

I’m a genealogist and loving it.  This is one of my favorite stories.


The following story is from the Archives of the Everton Genealogical Helper as told by Rozella Parrow in September 2000.

Please don’t overlook that small scrap of paper in your grandmother’s dresser drawer. It could contain the clue you need to continue your genealogical research.

This is my experience with a small piece of paper found while I was going through my maternal grandmother’s belongings.

In 1880, when she was two years old, my grandmother, Catherine (Wagner) Boruta, immigrated to the United States with her parents, Henri and Regina (Steffgen) Wagner, and her younger sister. I knew the sister had died aboard ship and was buried at sea, but I had no name or date of birth for her. That is, until a paper was found in 1983 – over 100 years later. The date of August 1880 on the document has led me to believe my great grandparents may have requested this record of baptism for their two daughters before they left Germany. Since they were Catholic, they would have needed the records of baptism later for the girls’ first communions or marriages.

But this isn’t the end of the story! The baptismal transcript gave the name of the parish as Salmrohr. I sent a copy of this to a cousin who is also researching the family. On her trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, it enabled her to pinpoint her research in the correct parish, and she was able to trace the family back another generation on the Wagner line, and another generation on the Steffgen line, as well as provide many dates and names of additional children in the families.

All this new information came from clues on one little piece of paper, folded and treasured for over 100 years!