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I thought I would tell you how I traced my ancestors back to their home countries. Perhaps there will be a trick or two I can help you with? The surnames I have traced back:
  • Archer

  • This line was relatively easy. I was able to find from the census and death/obit records that Horace Archer was from Maine. I also found his parents names. Then searching the Internet I found the Archer's had already been traced back to England by other researchers.
  • Carroll

  • I have not successfully traced this line back yet. All I know is that Catherine Carroll's fathers name was Joseph. According to her son's death certificate she is from County Kerry.


  • Coleman

  • I found the Bridget (Holland) Coleman's gravestone/cemetery records said she was from the parish of Askeaton. These records had been transcribed and available on the Internet for Rice county Minnesota. I then wrote to the Limerick Archives in Ireland which was a government funded research center and they found some church records for me. I was able to find marriage records from St. Mary's church in Askeaton, Limerick Co, Ireland. Last I looked they were now closed due to a lack of funding.
  • Duffy

  • This line had been researched by another person - Dean and Lori Mooney of Illinois. They kindly shared their information with me.
  • Gerber

  • This was the first line I researched myself. There really was no information at all on this family. I looked at all the normal records as well as talking to relatives. No luck. I then found Joseph Arth and Agatha Gerber (husband and wife) listed on a transcribed ships list on the Internet. Also listed was my direct ancestor Peter Gerber. Agatha was listed with her maiden name of Gerber. This ships list said all the people were from Belgium. So I looked there for a while with no luck. Then someone on a Belgium mail list told me this was a mistake in the transcription. Someone pointed me to an old German language newspaper series called the Luxembourger Gazette. These are indexed and I found several Gerber's mentioned in the index. One of the articles was about the 50th wedding anniversary for Joseph Arth and Agatha Gerber. In this article it said the family was from Prum Germany. I found someone on a mail list that was kind enough to go to the local government agency and found death records that said the family was from Clausen Luxembourg and Bombogen Germany before that.
  • Gilbert

  • Other then they are from Norway I don't know anything else. Brickwall!
  • Grosc/Gross/Grohs

  • All we knew for a long time was that Johann had died in Tweelbake, Oldenburg, Germany. Recently I was given a family group sheet that listed the town of Partenheim as his town of origin. I ordered the films and found the family there. From those records it appears the family came from the town of Partenheim and previously to that Biebelsheim (spelled Bebilsheim in the church records). Some of the family moved to Bruchhausen before immigrating to the US in 1870.
  • Kees

  • Other people had researched this family and it was known they were from Kirchweiler Germany. I order the LDS films to confirm it. Supposedly there is still a dairy farm in the Kees family there.
  • Knaeble

  • The Knaeble family in Minnesota ran a funeral home. Fortunately the family had written history of where the family was from. So all I had to do was order the LDS films to confirm it. Other researchers had done this research too!
  • Lahiff

  • I do not know for sure where this family is from but I believe they are from Limerick City, Limerick County Ireland. I found a death record of one of their children that said the mother was from "County Clare" and the father Patrick Lahiff was from Limerick. Not Limerick County like the mother was listed - just Limerick. So I am hoping that means the city of Limerick. I wrote to the Limerick Archives and they found two Patick Lahiff's both with a mother's name of Bridget and father John. It was known the other family went to Australia so I'm assuming the other one is mine.


  • Lefevre

  • Old family records say they are from Strassbourg. The records of Strassbourg do not confirm that. So most likely they are from a town nearby. We know the mothers name is Mary Ann. We found that from Pennsylvania land records in which she had bought land with her son. We also found the father's name as Joseph. This was from a family journal that a descendent of the Thall line had (Caroline LeFevre Thall sister to my Margaretta). Joseph is known to have been wounded at the Battle of Waterloo. Supposedly the family is related to Marshall LeFevre but I can not find proof of that. It is also said that Margaretta served in the Queen of France's court and the family still has the ear rings. There were several other French families that settled in the same town of Dushore PA. Another researcher saw an article in a genealogy about one of these families. Their story said their family was from Seltz France. So I ordered the films for Seltz and found the family and births. It turns out the father's name is NOT Joseph but was Charles Louis LeFevre. His records in this town point to his town of birth as Paris. This is not proven yet though. We still have not found when they came to the US or the ship.
  • McGinnis

  • His Massachusetts naturalization records said he was from Westmeath Ireland. I wrote for records back there and they found he was born in Castlepollard parish, Westmeath, Ireland.
  • Mooney

  • This line had been researched by another person - Dean and Lori Mooney of Illinois. They kindly shared their information with me. Mooney's are from Newtown townland, Kinnity, King's County Ireland
  • Preisen

  • I found this family from the U.S. census. On the 1880 census it said the family was from Pittsburgh Germany. I did not find a Pittsburgh Germany so I wondered if it was a phonetic spelling. In other words the census taker thought they said Pittsburgh. At my local LDS center they helped me by showing me a book of German towns. So we looked through it for any town that might have sounded like Pittsburgh. We found a town called Bitburg. I order the LDS films for this town and they were on this film! This line felt like total luck!


  • Sexton

  • William Sexton is my ancestor. He had a brother Edward Sexton from Pittsburgh PA. It is not known where in Ireland they are from yet but they had some kind of relationship with other Sexton's in Pittsburgh and Wabasha Minnesota. One of these other Sextons are from the area of New Castle, Limerick County Ireland. I believe William is from there also.
  • Sweeney

  • Frances Sweeney was listed as being from Belfast Ireland. I can not find any proof of that. Most likely Belfast was her port of departure. Her father's name was listed as Samuel. On several of her children's census records they list their mother as from Northern Ireland.
  • Tenisons

  • My mother-in-law immigrated from Latvia so my information on this family comes from her and her cousin Edgars. I was able to travel back there with her and did some records lookup there too. I was able to add back another generation that way.
  • Zarins

  • My mother-in-law immigrated from Latvia so my information on this family comes from her and her cousin Edgars. I was able to travel back there with her and did some records lookup there too. I was able to add back another generation that way.

So in summary I found ancestors from:

  1. US Census clues
  2. Death Certificate of children
  3. Naturalization Records
  4. Old Newspaper - Luxembourger Gazette
  5. Other Researchers
  6. Living Family Members
  7. Clustering - tracing neighbors