Photo Corner: WWI Internees at Alexandra Palace, London, England

Friedrich Jakob Hähn, while interned in WW1 at Alexandra Palace, London, between 1915 - 1919I thought this photograph was interesting and with the coming 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, appropriate. Thanks for sharing it Hilary! Click on the image to enlarge it.

I thought this photo might be of interest?  On the right, seated at rear, is my German great-grandfather Friedrich Jakob Hähn, while interned in WW1 at Alexandra Palace, London, between 1915 – 1919.

He was born 1875 in Gehlweiler, Hunsruck, Rhineland, Germany.  This mountainous region is the location of the seminal German TV series “The Heimat”, which featured the 16th century bridge at Gehlweiler in early episodes.  1890s onwards, Friedrich and his younger brothers Peter, Adam and Heinrich successively emigrated from Weiler bei Monzingen, where the family cultivated vineyards and their father was a miller, to London where twenty years earlier numerous of his mother Eva Wermann’s siblings and their children, and her own mother had moved.

Many of them became extremely successful bakers in north London: my great-grandfather’s shop premises existed in Newington Green Road, Islington, until 1969.  But, in 1915 this halted when Enemy Aliens, non-naturalised Germans, were interned, in Friedrich’s case for four years until 1919.  Contrary to the rosy picture painted of an internees life in an episode of BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” which explored the German ancestry of British entertainer Julian Clary, life in Alexandra Palace was reportedly harsh: my grandfather remembered taking food for his father as the camp commander seemed intent on keeping the men in his charge on very low rations.  We don’t know who the other Germans are in the photo, but they all look rather stricken. 

Best wishes,
Hilary Hähn, West Sussex, UK

St. Paul’s R.C. Church (Brooklyn, NY) Records Posted at Ancestry

StPauls004.jpgAnyone who’s been reading my columns for a while will probably recall that many of my ancestors were Irish immigrants who settled in Brooklyn, New York. So it won’t surprise you when I say that I’m hard pressed to get my work done today since I discovered that Ancestry has posted two volumes of baptism and marriage registers that span the years 1837 through 1900. Some of you may even remember me mentioning the first volume in my columns over the years. We’ve made quite a few breakthroughs on my family lines using that book and I’ve been very anxious to dive into volume 2! They are the work of the late James Reilly and my mom and I (and hopefully many of you!) will forever be in his debt for his hard work, without which we’d probably be at a standstill on some lines.

Here’s an excerpt from his introduction:

St. Paul’s Church was the focal point of Irish immigrants to the City of Brooklyn during the Great Irish Famine years of 1845-51 and the early years of the new Diocese of Brooklyn founded in 1853. Since the City of Brooklyn did not require residents to report births and marriages until 1866, St. Paul’s sacramental registers serve for that era as the sole documentation of these events for many new arrivals. Some immigrants believed that baptism fulfilled both their religious and civil obligations; consequently many births went unrecorded. Marriages too went unrecorded in some cases.

On April 8, 1934 Brooklyn was incorporated as a City. With its increasing population overflowing into the southern part of the newly created City, farms and hills were turning into suburbs, in turn to be changed into closely packed residential (tenement) areas.

The unfinished foundation of the new Brooklyn City Hall lay between St. James Church, the first Catholic church in Brooklyn and on Long Island, and the proposed new church for the people living on the southwest side of Fulton Street. The new edifice would be called St. Paul’s and would rise on a large field at the corner of present-day Congress and Court Streets. The land for the church was donated in September 1836 by Cornelius Heeney, a generous Catholic merchant and philanthropist who had taken up residence in Brooklyn after the disastrous New York City fire of 1835. Dedication of the completed church building took place on January 21, 1838 with the Bishop of the Diocese of New York, the Most Reverend John DuBois, presiding.

The registers are both searchable and browseable and are a great resource.

Click here to search the Brooklyn, New York Catholic Church Baptism Records, 1837-1900

Click here to search the Brooklyn, New York Catholic Church Marriage Records, 1839-1900

New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo1.gifPosted this week:

Weekly Planner: Investigate Politicians in the Family Tree

By this time in the election cycle, many of us have had our fill of politicians. However, if you’re a family historian with a public servant lurking somewhere in your tree, you may find that their service left you with some genealogical gems. Seek out biographical materials, local histories, and newspapers to learn as much as you can about him or her. Even if he or she wasn’t a direct ancestor, the politician in your family tree may hold the keys to unlocking your history.

Saving Your Family Treasures: A Directory of Past Columns, by Maureen Taylor

If you missed the Webinar I recently presented on Ancestry, you can still listen to me talk about simple, common sense tips to help you save those items you got from Great-aunt Phyllis. The webinar is archived in the Ancestry Learning Center.    

Back before there were webinars, an Ancestry 24/7 Family History Circle blog, and the Ancestry Weekly Journal, there was the Ancestry Daily News newsletter. In that newsletter, I wrote a series of articles under the title, “Saving Your Family Treasures.” While the blog no longer uses topical titles, I still occasionally write about ways to preserve all that “stuff” you’ve inherited or collected. The response to each one of these columns was overwhelming. It proved that if you’re interested in family history, you’re also involved in trying to save it for the next generation.

I’ve collected selected columns here so that you can read my articles and also see the comments posted by others. Remember if you have a preservation-related question send it to me at You might see your question and its answer mentioned in this very spot.

General Advice

  • A Case of Mistaken Identity
    Learn more about the true meaning of the often used and misused term “archival” and what all those terms on product packaging really mean. 
  • Protected from the Elements: Storing Family Heirlooms at Home
    If you’ve often wondered about where to keep all these valuable family treasures then this article is for you. What’s good and what’s not in home storage is full of valuable tips.
  • One Step at a Time
    Here’s a step-by-step approach for preserving family heirlooms. 
  • Four Destructive Habits
    If you know someone who’s still laminating photos and news clippings please show them this article. Hopefully it will change their mind about using lamination as a preservation method.


The focus of this piece is my attempt to learn more about an aunt’s gift of a small handmade item. You can use these techniques to learn more about almost any type of artifact in your collection.

Elections: Eighteenth Century Virginia Style, by Michael John Neill

Ever wonder why they don’t allow alcohol and electioneering at a polling place? That’s because it can get out of hand, like it did in Orange County, Virginia, more than 200 years ago. As the November elections approach, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what things were like when only landowners were allowed to vote. It was not quite as dignified and genteel as one might think.

My ancestor John Rucker brought more than just himself to the election for the Virginia House in 1741. It took six months, but the orneriness of him and several others got the results thrown out. The scene is outlined in government journals, which appear in edited form (Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1742-47, pp. 50-51).

In the report dated, Friday, 4 June 1742, a Mr. Thomas-Wright Belfield filed a petition complaining,

“That as soon as the Poll was opened [a group of men] throng’d into the Court-house in a riotous Manner, and made such a Disturbance, that the Sheriff and Candidates were obliged to go out of the Court-house, ’til the House was clear’d . . .

“And that the said Mr [Thomas] Chew, whilst he was on the Bench, called for a Bowl of Punch, and had it brought to him; upon which, the Sheriff stay’d the Poll, and said he would not have any Punch drank on the Bench, but wou’d have a fair Election; to which Mr Chew replied, he would have Punch, and drink it, and that the Sheriff should not hinder him. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: The Arkansas Online Archives, from George G. Morgan

The Arkansas History Commission maintains a terrific Web-based index to its extensive state archive. Included are a huge collection of photographs, in addition to thorough indices of federal census records for Arkansas, manuscripts, newspapers (with a searchable city or county index of publications and time periods for which issues are available), state government records, county records (with a searchable index), military records (searchable by surname), maps, books and pamphlets, and church and cemetery records. If you are planning a research trip or simply plan to write to inquire about records, this site is a well conceived place to begin your preparations.