Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Diehls Have It!

I have always endorsed my sister Caron as the family expert in genealogy and I have happily accompanied her overseas a few times to meet our “shoe string relatives”. The thing that struck me the most when seeing and meeting our great aunties of the Diehl family of Butzbach, Germany, was how much they looked like my U.S. born grandmother, her sisters and brother and their descents who were born with the Diehl name: The pure white hair, the small to average statue, the bushy eyebrows of the men (!).

Butzbach family reunion 2007 
Great Aunties Elisabeth and Hilda Diehl, in front of their nephew Alfred and his wife Inge

Sarasota, Florida balcony - prior to 2005
My father Aaron (mother was a Diehl) with his cousins Grace (Diehl) Riegler and Don Diehl

In looking back and knowing many current members, it is also interesting to note that there are several academics, artists, artisans and other entrepenurial and creative types in the family.

Finally, seemingly, the world is getting smaller. The Diehl family that can trace it roots to the 1400s and the Roman-era market town outside of Frankfurt, has spread to Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and the U.S. with other countries and ethnicities represented in the current greatly extended family. I am glad to have met these interesting new relatives and hope all my "some kind of cousins" continue to stay in touch.

I look forward to meeting more family members in the future as my sister continues her research and finds the keys to unlock other doors with DNA tests and new contacts for other branches of the family! With a little luck, Caron and I will be able to make a few more trips to "The Old Country". 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Genealogy: Collecting dead relatives and sometimes a live cousin!

Since I was a young girl, I knew my great-grandfather’s name was Adolph Diehl.  I knew he was born in Norway and came to Chicago in the late 1880s where he married my great-grandmother Marie Westby.  I knew of their 9 children because many of them were still alive and living in the Chicago area.

It was later that I learned that Diehl was actually a German surname.  So why did my Norwegian grandfather have a German name?  I will say that it made searching records a bit easier – Diehls from Germany were not of my line.  It also made it harder – most Diehls were from Germany!

I started using computers in the early 1990s to keep track of my family tree.  Once the Internet gained popularity, I made use of it.  I found the Norwegian Census on-line for 1865 and there I found my Diehls in Kristiania (Oslo today)!
Census year: 1865
Municipality: Kristiania
Municipality number: 0301
Street: Toldbodgaden
Town quarter: Vor Frelsers Menighed

Family Status
Birth place
Adolph Diehl 
Darmstadt  (Germany)
Marie Diehl

Wilhelm Diehl

Carl Diehl  

Fredrik Diehl

Sophie Diehl   

Siegward Diehl


Conrad Diehl 


This discovery was the first crack in this “brickwall” for me.  It ultimately led to finding cousins in Finland, Sweden, and Germany.  I also found other Diehl family members that emigrated to the United States.  You can see some of them on the Family Diehl web site!

I would like to invite other Diehl cousins to post their memories and early discoveries on this blog.   How did you get started researching the family history?  Share your memories and pictures of the older generations.

Painting of Adolph Diehl, owned by Donald Diehl
Believed to have been painted from a photograph