Monday, February 27, 2012

Mystery Monday - Finding Mary Kurtz

How do you find someone when the only clue you have is incorrect?

Of course, you don't know the clue is incorrect until you have exhausted multiple avenues of research and come up with nothing.  You keep looking, because that is all you have to go on, but you start to review clues which are close, because you start to suspect there is an error.

This situation happened to me while I was researching my great grand aunt, Mary Kurtz.  She was one of August and Minnie Kurtz's 11 living children in 1900.  August and Minnie had two children who were born in Germany and made the trip with them to the US and 9 more born in Fayette County, PA.

Minnie's obit listed Mary as Mrs Mary Biber.  Only problem.  No mention of any Biber family or wedding in Fayette County that I could find.  Another clue from Minnie's obituary was that Mary and her husband lived in Pittsburgh.  I had assumed that Mary Kurtz had met Mr. Biber near home and they had married in her home town, which is usually the traditional scenario.  Months of on again off again searching with no results.

In my searches of and, I found dozens of Mary Kurtz's in Pennsylvania. None of them appeared to be the one I was looking for.  I had searched for Mary Kurtz and for Mary Biber.  Finally, found a family in Pittsburgh named Biber, but they seemed to be from France.  It didn't look like a fit.

Beaver - Kurtz Wedding
I am not sure when, but recently has added some new marriage documents from Pennsylvania counties.  I found a marriage record from Mary Kurtz and Adam Beaver.  Not really close, but it was worth 30 seconds of my time to check out.  In addition, I had been wondered if "Biber" would have been pronounced with a long "i" sound like tiger or with an long "e" sound like a bee.

The official county record was interesting.  It showed that Mary Kurtz was from Connelsville, PA (where my Mary Kurtz would have lived) and Adam Beaver of Pittsburgh, PA.  I decided to try entering "Adam Beaver" as Mary Kurtz's husband in my record and do a search and see if anything came up.  As it turns out "Beaver" must get confused for "Bieber" from the German, because caught it as a potential mispronunciation.  It brought up a Pittsburgh church record which showed the same wedding, but gave Adam's name as "Beiber" instead of "Beaver".  I could easily see how "Biber" and "Bieber" could have gotten mixed up on the obituary.  

The evidence seemed to be adding up, but I wasn't 100% convinced.  
Adam Bieber Naturalization
I was able to find a naturalization record for Adam Bieber.  Adam's naturalization record detailed the name of his wife and where she was born.  I had uncovered in my research of Mary's brother, Julius Henry Kurtz, where he was born.  I outline my research in the post "Julius Henry Kurtz, The Key to My German Ancestry".  So if Mary was born in the same place....I could feel pretty confident that I had, indeed, found August and Minnie's "missing" daughter, Mary Kurtz.

Julius Henry was born in Essen, Germany and, you guessed it, so was Mary Kurtz Bieber.

Now you may be asking, now that I have found that Mary married Adam I distantly related to the newly famous young teenage heartthrob, Justin Bieber.  

The answer.....I have no idea :-)

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