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From Germany to Buffalo & Cincinnati: Albert, Betz, Glunz, Jauch, Schmidt, Sess

St. Peters (interior); photo courtesy of Karen Kolb

St. Peters German Evangelical Church Records - Buffalo NY 1847 - 1854

A Volunteer-based Work in Progress
Created: 19 July 2002 | Last updated: 1 August 2003

While researching the FHL microfilm copies of Buffalo church records in search of my ancestors, I was sorely disappointed with the quality of the films of the St. Peters German Evangelical Church Records (FHL 1381672). The microfilm role that I received had been developed in the negative (white handwriting on a black background), and the images were so small that even the highest magnification film reader was not sufficient for me to decipher most of the lines of text-- at least in the first 127 pages, after which it became easier to read. [Update: If you receive this copy, request another copy; by sheer accident, I discovered that some copies of this film are NOT in the negative. Be sure to request a POSITIVE copy of the microfilm. The film quality is still bad, but slightly easier to read.]

Over the course of several visits to my local FHL, I printed out (switching from negative to positive exposure) the first 127 pages of these records, so I could read them on paper, under decent light, at my leisure. As I did so, I began taking notes on what I found, of course, then it occurred to me that I probably would not be the only one having this difficulty, and why not create an index and put it online?

What follows are the first 127 pages of these records, covering 1849-1854 (except Death, which only go through 1853). I entered them into spreadsheet software and have converted them into HTML tables. If you use Internet Explorer® and have MS Excel®, you should be able to copy the HTML table data and paste it into a blank worksheet and the table will convert nicely to Excel®. Once you've done this, you can sort by any column you wish in an effort to find your ancestors. You can also request a copy of the full Excel® spreadsheet from me. Under no circumstances may this information be sold or added to a commercial compilation of records (like a CD). I have copyrighted the indices, although I give permission for their noncommercial use.

The following is not original source data and should not be treated as such. Like many of the indices available online, this is an effort to help you find your ancestors and find out where to turn for obtaining a copy of the original source data. Think of it like a soundex to the census. But a human being entered this data, and humans make mistakes. This data is offered to assist you, but do not count it as original source material. If you find your ancestor in one of the files below, order the FHL microfilm at your local center and print out a copy of the page. Here's a link to the Family Search page for this film (FHL# 1381672).

Some things to know:

  1. I have broken the records up by Births, Marriages and Deaths although in the original record, they alternate each year. I did this in great part because each set of records has a different set of "columns". I also figured it would ease research.

  2. The first few images of the St. Peters church records do not appear to be in exact order. One might even surmise that there were some loose pages thrown into the original book, and that they were filmed first, but perhaps not in order. For example, the very first page of records that appear on the film appears to be a Supplement for marriages in 1848-1849. And for several images, I could not make out page numbers on the actual film. If anyone knows more about this, or can help me decipher the numbering and titles of the first few images, please contact me.

  3. I tried to keep to what was written. For example, the original recorder (and there appear to be two different sets of handwriting, alternating, during this period) often used abbreviations-- "Heinr." for "Heinrich". I kept the abbreviation.

  4. If I altered the contents of the record in any way, I put the alteration in square brackets [ ] and then added a comment in the Comments column. For example, many of the baptism records do not include the maiden name of the mother. If I knew the maiden name-- either because I am researching that line or because the names of the parents clearly match a marriage record elsewhere in the records-- I added the maiden name to the appropriate column, [bracketed], then explained what I did in the Comments column.

  5. I created columns for each piece of information.
    Baptisms: Page #, Record #, Baptism Date, Child's first name, Birthdate, Father first name, Father last name, Mother first name, Mother maiden name, Sponsors. I did not break down the sponsors names in Baptisms.
    Marriages: Page #, Record #, Marriage date, Husband-First name, Husband-Last name, Wife-First name, Wife-Last name, Witness1 First Name, Witness1 Last Name, Witness2 Last Name, Witness2 First Name
    Deaths: Page #, Record #, Death Date, Deceased-First name, Deceased-Last name (taken from parents name if unmarried or child), Birthdate (when given), Birthplace (usually blank), Parents (Last name first for sorting purposes), Spouse (last name first for sorting purposes), Age at Death (if provided).

  6. I added a "percentage of certainty" column. While completely subjective, I wanted to convey the level of certainty that I, as a transcriber, felt about my ability to decipher the filmed handwritten records into printed text. You will see very few "100%"s. In fact, the only ones you will see initially are for records with which I am personally familiar and have confirmed through additional source material. A "90%" is my sense of high certainty, but I would increase this to 100% only if confirmed by other researchers. If I had a difficult time deciphering something, I gave it a lower percentage rating. I also put question marks in the text where I simply could not make out the handwriting. If there are multiple question marks, it means there were multiple illegible characters there. In some cases I put multiple options in the name field.

  7. I added a Comments column where I, as transcriber, could make notes about the quality of the transcription, or some other information about the text. If other volunteer transcribers want to step forward to help clean up this data, this column would be for them to add their comments as well, such as "upgraded from 80% to 90% by Harry Smith on 15 Aug 2002." etc.

  8. I added a column called "Researcher" where those people researching that particular record, and who are willing to be contacted by email, may add their contact information. I am seeking advice on how to automate this so that an email can be delivered to me that will contain in its subject header enough information about the particular record that I (or other volunteers) can easily find and update the correct record.

  9. Some pages in the original include numbered records, many do not. When the records on a given page were not numbered, I added record numbers solely for the purposes of providing assistance in locating the original record. When I have done this, I have noted as such in the Comments column, at the top of each page with unnumbered records.

  10. I have modified email addresses to diminish spam.

And now for my request. It is my desire that other researchers will help clean up this data, to point out errors, to confirm or deny my efforts at transcription. Some of you are far more familiar with these church records than I am, with far more experience deciphering the old handwriting. The genealogy community would be greatful for your time in making the following records more accurate than they are now. You do not need to know HTML. Knowing Excel® or other spreadsheet programs would be helpful, but not imperative. But if you have your own copies of certain pages, please consider comparing them to what I have here, and pointing out any errors. Please contact me if you're willing to spend some time on these pages. Thank you.

Jillaine Smith

Please note the file sizes; the baptisms files are especially large. I apologize for that; it's the cost of being able to provide Excel® data easily and quickly via the Web...

1848-1852 1853-1854
ADDED 28 Jan 2003
  • Marriages 1848-1852 (452k)
  • Baptisms 1848-1852 (704k)
  • Deaths 1848-1852 (183k)
  • Marriages 1853-1854 (357k)
  • Baptisms 1853-54 (828k)
  • Deaths 1853 (160k)

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