Geo-Genealogy as a Problem-Solving Tool: The Case of a 19th-Century Female Teenage Immigrant

J. H. (“Jay”) Fonkert, CG
Oct 8, 2020
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Speaker's Introduction
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9m 53s
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Evidence for Maiden Name
11m 11s
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Case Closed?
11m 51s
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What about Julius?
13m 06s
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Find and Access Records
11m 02s
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Questions / answers
3m 25s

About this webinar

Evidence for the home-country origins of 19th-century immigrants can be hard to find. This lecture illustrates how 3-D genealogy (associations, geography, and time), including an expansive geographical search in American records can produce a tight geographical focus in home-county records, leading to the birth family of a single, teenage girl who landed at New Orleans in 1845. Enjoy a research cruise up and down the Mississippi to gather clues leading to Dena’s German birthplace. Presented as part of the Joy Reisinger Memorial Lecture Series, and sponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

About the speaker

About the speaker

J. H. (“Jay”) Fonkert researches Dutch Zorgdragers, English Tidballs, and Kentucky Fawkners from his home in Roseville, Minnesota. He is past-president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society and co-managing editor of Minnesota Genea
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    A lot of good research tips & techniqurs.

    A lot of information in a short time frame – I didn’t digest it all. But I believe it’s a great case study.

    A lot of new things for me to consider in my research, great presenter also.

    A wonderful and thoughtful lecture case-study – I learned so much here about digging into the FamilySearch Wiki, and many records/maps in Germany. Appreciated Jay’s presentation style and handout as well! Excellent.

    Absolutely fascinating!!!

    Always enjoy the BCG webinars and the Reisinger series. This presentation was awesome. Talk about reasonably exhaustive research! Think about thinking inside the box with geo-genealogy. Terrific way to spend an hour of genealogy instruction.

    Brilliant webinar with a good eye for a detailed search strategy.

    Case studies–The best types of webinar. Well done.

    Clear and detailed. I like that.

    Excellent case study! Loved to here more of his research

    Excellent webinar! It gave me more avenues to pursue in my research. Thank you very much!

    Excellent work and makes me want to try geogeneaology

    EXCELLENT! a new way of researching.

    Excellent! I have German ancestors so this Presentation provided me with some helpful clues! Thank you!

    Excellent! Thanks!

    Extremely helpful for thinking outside the box for alternate spellings and other records! Thank you!


    Fascinating and extremely helpful!

    Fascinating case but way too much information to absorb in an hour!

    Fascinating case study–I have done a bit of geo-searching with Irish ancestors, which was much easier than this. I now appreciate my Irish/English/Scottish heritage a bit more.

    Fascinating interplay of spelling variation, immigration, cluster and FAN research, maps and foreign records. A complex case study with lots to juggle. Not my geographical area of interest but I learned a lot from the case study and approach.

    Fascinating! Great hint on deciphering handwriting.

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Good info Thanks

    good presentation. I don’t have German ancestry, but I gained value in the maps presentation.

    Great applications of a number of research tools…in addition to GeoGenealogy! Appreciate the “walk-thru” of actually using geography in a complex research project! Lots of good hints and advice on tracking down ancestral records!

    Great case study!

    Great examples of solving a complex case

    Great examples!

    Great geo research example and extensive thought starters for more Germany research.

    GREAT!! showing us his process was great! I really learned a lot versus just telling us how to do research. Please more like this one.

    He gave me additional ideas to help search for my german and Czech ancestors in the ‘old country’

    Thx much

    I appreciate the detailed search explained by this presenter. It opens windows in my research that I didn’t know were there. Thank You

    I have ancestors from Germany, so I really appreciate the information!

    I have German Ancestors, so that part of the presentation was an unexpected surprise!

    I have German ancestry so this was very interesting to me.

    I liked the resources for extra help.

    I really appreciated the 3-D diagram, and how the instructor linked the three dimensions using his ancestor as an example. I especially appreciated him telling us to be forgiving of the spelling of names, and to beware of the spellings of names in indexes and other transcribed materials online.

    I was amazed at the number of places you could find information.

    I will be referring attendees of my upcoming webinar on translation of foreign genealogical documents to this session for those who have ancestors in Germany.

    I’d rate it a 10 if I could! Amazing case study and valuable resources

    Interesting concept.

    It was interesting to see this approach to genealogy which I never thought about. I also picked up some other websites to try when doing my own German research.

    Jay always has interesting ways of looking at things.

    Jay was very enlightening and his methodology should help me find my 2nd great grandparents from Lower Saxony born about 1818.

    laid out well – kudos

    Late tuning in. Can’t wait listen to the entire presentation later. The portion I listen to was terrific. Thank you!

    Love a good case study, though I don’t have any known German ancestors.

    Loved hearing and seeing all thoughts and search processes on finding a brick wall ancestor.

    Nice combination of assorted research techniques.

    Not doing German research, but found it very interesting.

    One of the BEST!!!

    Probably the best I have heard!

    Really interesting case study; geographic breadth needed in US to find clues was eye-opening. Map and coordinate resources were helpful.

    Simple explanations and processes are the best, the way he did it. One step at a time

    So glad screenshots were included – nice presentation

    So interesting the way Jay used maps and geography and census records and church records! I’ll have to watch again to make note of those websites I had not encountered before.

    So well presented. Thanks so much for the geography lesson.

    So, so interesting and very worth watching!

    Some good tools, and process of proof.

    Spellbinding! I was amazed and inspired to not give up so easily.

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Thank you for the very interesting case study.

    Thank you so much, Jay! Beautiful research and wonderful delivering of your research tale!

    Is there any chance you have posted a listing of your recommended websites to maps, German church records, etc.?

    Thank you, it’s been several years since I’ve had the opportunity to attend one of Jay’s sessions at a conference, and he did not disappoint. An interesting and challenging case study tied together with a geography focus and many, many resources — some familiar and others new that I plan to try with my own genealogy. The personal ending was very powerful – that type of connection is one of the things I love most about researching our family history.

    Thanks so much, especially for the German tips.

    That was a FANTASTIC case study!! Wonderful. My head is spinning, but I’m going to go back and tackle my mystery woman from Ireland. Thanks.

    The suggestions were helpful and gave different ideas for searching.

    there was a lot of good information on places to look for information, how to look, and how to get help if you need it. I am going to listen again and probably a couple of times ad there was a lot to absorb and put into practice.

    This is a new area for me. I’m glad to know about the many resources for German maps.

    This was an excellent and captivating case study. It was so touching. I also had some tears… such a spiritual yet factual journey. Ironic… Thank you. So many resources packed in… just great.

    This was so helpful to see Jay’s process in finding information about the German emigrants to America, tracing them, associates, and families forward and backward in time and location.

    This was so helpful with examples of the many ways to work with name variations. I think this is probably the best organized case study I’ve seen; everything progressed fluidly and nothing digressed. Excellent!

    This was very good & thorough. My only suggestion is that it should be about 15 mina longer.

    This was very informative and introduced me to new sources in Germany. Very, Very useful information. Thank you.

    Tinking in the box instead of outside is a good idea not usually considered.

    Very complex and interesting.

    Very good geoname thank you.

    Very helpful – lots of resources and techniques to help research my husband’s pre-Civil War St. Louis German immigrant families.

    Very helpful and useful

    very helpful in finding and following clues

    Very impressed with the presentation which has given me a good deal on using v the technique and various resources.

    Very informative case study.

    Very interesting

    very interesting and helpful. I shall watch again

    Very interesting demonstration of pulling sources together to find an answer!

    Very methodical, good advice.

    Very useful resources and links.

    Very well done and helpful presentation! Thank you!

    Very well presented and organized

    Well done case study.

    Well paced, easy to follow, excellent presentation

    What a fantastic case study! I’d like to hire Jay Fonkert to get my Germans back across the pond.

    With German ancestors I really appreciated the step-by-step for locating them geographically!


    Wonderful research examples and thought-provoking suggestions for approach. There was quite a bit to digest in an hour. I may have to go watch this a second time to follow all of the threads of Dina’s brothers.

    Would love to find his contact in Germany and get some help. Have been searching for documents for 42 years in Wallenrod Germany and heed help.

    Wow – fantastic! I loved the process he used and explained, and the info on German resarch was incredible!

    WOW! This was so fascinating. I never thought to research this way. Thank you so much for the explanation that was easy to follow even if I am not researching Germany. I have so many great ideas!

    Wow! Wonderful presentation by Mr. Fonkret. He gave me a lot of information that should be helpful with tracing my German line.

    Wow, so informative.


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