Thursday, December 31, 2015

Unpuzzling a Baptismal Record

Recently we came across this baptismal record from 1885 in an archival box in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. It looks like Josezf Karl [?] Wilhelm is the name of the child, the son of Johann Wilhelm, born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1885. The day of the month was 12, but the name of the month was not easily interpreted. After determining that Sohn is the German word for son, we could match the old German lettering of the first letter of the month, which appeared to be an “S.”  Since the only month that begins with the letter “S” is September, it seemed very possible that Josezf Wilhelm was born on September 12, 1885.  A search at for the surname Wilhelm, with a birth date of 1885, and father’s first name as Johann or John, retrieved this birth record.

This record has the same date as the baptismal record, and the same parents, so most likely the infant who was christened Josezf Karl [?] Wilhelm is the same infant which was listed as John Charles Wilhelm in Erie County, Ohio birth records. In looking at Erie County marriage records, for a groom with the surname of Wilhelm, and a birthdate of 1885, this record for the marriage of Charles F.Wilhelm and Marguerite Zimmerman was retrieved.

The parents of Charles F. Wilhelm were listed as John Wilhelm and Anna Hein, the same parents that were on the birth record of John Charles WilhelmMilitary records at Ancestry Library Edition showed that Charles F. Wilhelm, with a birth date of September 12, 1885, filled out draft registration cards for World War I and World War II. The employer of Charles F. Wilhelm on both cards was listed as the U.S. Post Office in Sandusky, Ohio. In Mr. Wilhelm’s early years, the Post Office was located at Columbus Avenue and Market Street. 

By the mid-1920s, the Post Office had been relocated to the corner of Jackson and Washington Streets in downtown Sandusky.

The Social Security Death Index lists the death of a Charles Wilhelm, born on September 12, 1885, as August of 1972. An obituary for Charles F. Wilhelm appeared in the August 21, 1972 issue of the Sandusky Register. The article stated that Mr. Wilhelm had enjoyed a long career at the Post Office, where he rose to the position of Superintendent of Mails in 1943. He died at the Classic Care South Nursing Home, after a lengthy illness. He was survived by his spouse, the former Emma Marguerite Zimmerman, a brother, and several nieces and nephews. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio.

Though there were many discrepancies in the first name and middle name of Mr. Wilhelm, all the records consistently showed the birth date of September 12, 1885, and the parents’ names as John and Anna Wilhelm. Don’t get discouraged when you find that records for the same individual have conflicting information. Search for as many vital and military and church records as you can, and compare the details, focusing on the facts that remain the same in each.  Unpuzzling this baptismal record turned into a genealogical adventure. Mr. Wilhelm’s baptismal record is housed in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, which can be seen from the former U.S. Post Office where he spent so many hours during his long career.

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