Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Poor planning, but fruitful research on Rev. Henry Giesey

recreated deleted post from 13 Jan 2012

In 2007, we made a trip to Berlin, Somerset County, Pennsylvania to see what we could learn about Rev. Henry Geise, who arrived in America in 1776, reportedly with the Hessian troops hired by England to fight against the colonists in the American Revolution.  Henry Giesy was the 5th great-grandfather of our grandchildren (Brianna, Alex, Spencer, and John).

New to on-site genealogy trips our planning was pretty poor.  We arrived and got set up in the RV park then I made the initial call to the Berlin Area Historical Society (Genealogy Building) telling them that I would like to visit and I was interested in Henry Geise.  I was informed that the office would only be open another hour and wouldn't be open again during the days we were slated to be in town.  However, they were wonderful and told me they would pull what they had, and if I rushed over I could pick up all the information.  Talk about panic.  We arrived about 20 minutes before the office was due to close, but as promised they had a big stack of photocopies of information for us.

They also gave us directions to the cemetery and told us to go over to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the secretary would give us a tour of the modern day church that Rev. Geise served for about 35 years back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The original church no longer exists. Here's more about the Berlin Reformed Church as it was known when our forefather served there.

By the time we drove the couple of blocks to the church, the secretary had been told of our impending arrival.  Even though it was her lunch hour she took us on a tour of the church and gave us some general history.  In the basement she showed us pictures of all the previous ministers of the church including one of Rev. Henry Geise -- again poor planning on our part -- we didn't have a camera with us, so we didn't get to photograph the picture.

Original Henry Geisey Headstone

Henry and his wives (Anna Marie Baker and Margaret Young Wise) were originally buried in the Reformed Cemetery in Berlin, Pennsylvania.  Later, they were moved to the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Berlin, and as one of the founding fathers he was honored with a new headstone. http://files.usgwarchives.org/pa/somerset/cemeteries/wpa/index/index-g-gi.txt

New Headstone

There is quite a bit written about the Rev. Henry Geise, and I will be sharing more about him in the months to come.

We learned a lot about planning our genealogical research trips, since that first trip.  We now know to do all our background research ahead of time, so that we know what we don't know and have specific research trip goals.  We also learned that we need to call ahead and schedule our visit with the people we want to meet with and tell them what we are looking for.  Take cameras, notebooks, change for copy machines - in other words--have a plan. Here's a great web site with suggestions for incorporating a vacation with some family research - Family History Travel.

The real surprise was how much we still learned and how accommodating and generous the wonderful people in Berlin, Pennsylvania were in helping us on such short notice.

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