I have written many times about my great-grandmother, Theresa Huber Huck. I never met her but she must have been one courageous lady. A widow with five children ranging in age from 6 to 16, Theresa in 1879 immigrated with her children to Cincinnati from Germany. My grandmother, Sophie, was the middle child and was 10 years old when they made the ocean journey.
Not many stories were handed down to me from the Huck side of the family, so when I started my genealogy quest I knew very little about the Hucks. Over the years, I did extensive research on my grandmother and great-grandmother, always looking for a village of origin in Germany. I collected and analyzed the passenger list, census, marriage (civil and church), death (civil and church), cemetery, newspaper, deeds and court records. The records were consistent: Theresa and Sophie Huck came from Baden, Germany. But where in Baden?
Today, Baden is a part of the state of Wurttemberg-Baden. During the time the Hucks lived there, it was known as the Grandduchy of Baden. There also is a large city in Baden called Baden-Baden. Which Baden were they referring to in the records? For more than twenty years, I searched without success for the village name. To find records for the family, it was essential to find the specific village so the church and other local records could be located. Baden is a large area, I would need more information before I could begin searching German records.
Many times when we research, our focus is only on the direct line of descent. That approach to research is limiting. It is important to extend research to include siblings of direct ancestors or collateral line research.
After completing the research on my grandmother and great-grandmother, the next step was to do similar searches for my grandmother's siblings. This is where I found my answer. And the answer was in an unusual place.
In the course of researching the collateral lines of the Huck family, I contacted some distant cousins, the Baumgartners. Theophile "Theo" Baumgartner married Catherine Huck (sister of my grandmother, Sophie). Catherine died at the age of 40, five days after giving birth to her fifth child. Theo then married Catherine's niece, Elizabeth Hagmeir, which means I am related to the Baumgartners several ways.
The records available for Catherine were the usual census, marriage, death, and cemetery. None of them recorded an exact place of birth, just Germany or Baden, Germany. Then, during one of my visits to Cincinnati, I arranged a meeting with my Baumgartner cousins to share photographs and research.
Theo Baumgartner loved to travel and he sent at least one postcard every day to his family when on a trip. Cousin Betty had a large box of these postcards. The postcards piqued my interest and I began to read a few of them knowing that there were way too many to read in just a few hours. The cousins told me not to bother with the postcards, since they were just chatty tidbits from Theo's travels and didn't contain genealogical information. I picked a handful of these postcards from the middle of the box to read. Within those five cards was a postcard that Theo sent on June 25, 1925. The postcard read "I am in Mother Hucks old home town right now." I felt a chill run down my spine. Could this be the long sought after village name? But, oh no, he didn't say the name of the place. I turned the postcard over looking for more writing but there was none. I checked the postcards dated the day before and the day after, but there was no mention of Mother Huck or her hometown. What a disappointment.
I noted that the postmark on the card was from Steinbach, Germany. Again, the adrenaline started to flow. We consulted a map and found that Steinbach was a small village outside the town of Baden-Baden in Baden, Germany.
The rest, as they say, is history. The Family History Library had the church films for Steinbach, and in those records were the Hucks and Hubers. Among the records were baptismal registers for Theresa and her children, and marriage records that took me back several generations.
Postcards are small and are not usually thought of as records that contain family history information. But any source, no matter how small or insignificant appearing, might hold the solution to a genealogy mystery. They might even contain a treasure trove of information if the time is taken to examine these artifacts and documents for clues.
I would like to take credit for finding the village name, but I don't think I found that name because of research skills. Was it luck? Maybe. However, I believe that Theresa sent me a postcard from heaven.