‘Unusual’ Names Help


One of the lessons I have learned over the years to get through ‘brickwalls’ in my research is to look to ‘unusual’ names for an answer. ‘Unusual’ or unique names will typically narrow the search through databases to records that aid in going around those ‘brickwalls’ when going through them isn’t working. Using this technique in addition to researching ‘laterally’ in a family through a sibling, have been research lifesavers for me.

Such is the case in researching my wife Ellen’s ancestors prior to their time in Canada. Ellen’s second great grandfather, Rev. Jacob Wagner, immigrated to the United States with his parents Heinrich and Anna Maria Wagner (nee Eckhard), along with his older sister Elizabeth, in 1832. The family settled in Lyons, Wayne County, New York State. Although I know much of Jacob’s life as a ‘preacher’ in the Evangelical Association, little was known about the remainder of his family’s life in Lyons. Until I noticed that his sister, Elizabeth, about whom little was known (pictured above right), had married Frederick (Friedrich) Nusbickel in 1843.

Frederick, as further research indicated, also had immigrated from Germany and had arrived in the United States in 1839. The family story has it that Frederick found employment on a farm and saved his full wages, living off the means provided to him in an ‘immigrants trunk’ his father had given to him. Eventually, his saved wages allowed Frederick to purchase land in Rose, New York for he and his wife Elizabeth to settle and raise a family on.

Finding Nusbickel records is much easier than finding Wagner records. In U. S. Federal Census records, Frederick can be seen making his living farming in Rose, New York but by 1880, he and his son, Frederick (Jr.) had opened a hardware business in Lyons.

Frederick and Elizabeth had four children that I know of: Mary b. 1847; Frederick b. 1849; Elizabeth b. 1851; and, Catherine b. 1855. The senior Elizabeth Nusbickel passed away in 1896 and Frederick (Sr.) died a year later, in 1897. Little would have possibly been known about Ellen’s second great grandaunt had she married someone named Smith or Jones.

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