Your Quick Tips, 19 May 2008

Truth in the Family Story
In the “Ancestry Weekly Journal” of May 5th, you wrote about hyperinflation in Germany due to the country being hit with billions of dollars in war reparations in the 1920s.

My mom had always said her Uncle Hugo and his family went back to Germany after WWI to make a better life. The family story was that Uncle Hugo thought they could live less expensively there. According to my mother, they ended up broke and had to work on the boat to earn passage back to the States. Was this a family fable? Ancestry brought answers.

My Grand-uncle Hugo Fischer was sixteen in May 1891 when he immigrated to the U.S. with his mother and three siblings.

When Ancestry added the U.S. Passport database not long ago, I found an application, from 1920, for Hugo, his wife Regina, and their children, Elisabeth and Herman C. 

The passport was to be sent to Hugo Fischer in Bedford, Ohio and included great photos of the family. However, the passport stated that they were traveling for one year to Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland to “settle an estate and visit relatives.” Not a mention of Germany. What happened to the family story?

Again Ancestry answered, with my search of the New York passenger lists. On board the “George Washington” arriving in New York City, 07 April 1923 from Bremerhaven (page 135 out of 135, under “List of Aliens Employed on the Vessel as Members of Crew”), I found Hugo:

“. . . Fischer, Hugo; Asst Steward; hired: 3/27/23 in B’haven; Paid off in NYC . . .”

I found the other family members arriving on other ships in the weeks and months that followed. So it turned out that Grand-uncle Hugo did work his way back to the U.S. and “The Year Was 1923” gave a clear illustration of the reason. Thanks.

Cari Thomas

Incorrect Birth Dates on Death Records
I just wanted to make a comment about birthdates on death certificates. In my husband’s family, the birth years are all listed incorrectly on their death records. His aunts were very vain and even after one sister’s death they put down incorrect birthdates so that people would think she was younger than she was. It totally confuses the family historian. Fortunately, the census lists them in correct birth order with their correct ages.

Janet Kinsella

WorldCat Tip
I have used WorldCat ( to get the publication information that I failed to write down when I was researching.
Cherie Brumfield

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: . Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!

Quick Tips may be reprinted, with credit to the submitter, in other Ancestry publications, so if you do not want your tip included in a publication other than the “Ancestry Weekly Journal,” please state so clearly in your message.

One thought on “Your Quick Tips, 19 May 2008

  1. Back in the 1940s, one of my college history professors shared with us that he had been in Germany in the early 1920s and that every time he exchanged any American dollars for Deutsche Marks, he took a big bag with him. He said he had actually seen people take a small wheelbarrow into the bank when they wrote a check for very much cash. That seemed almost unreal to me at the time and, later, when I was an exchange student in graduate school in Germany the rate of exchange was 4 Marks 20 for one American dollar. Jennie Vertrees

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *