Louise Seewer turned out to be an interesting ancestor to research. I began looking at her because I was at a loss as to whom I should write about next. Being the left-brained person that I am, I printed a fan chart of my ancestors and marked off all of the ones about whom I had already written. I then picked the next person closest to me on the chart, thinking that person would theoretically be easiest to research. Louise Seewer was the lucky winner.
I began as I always do, by looking to see what records I already had for her. I had Grandma’s pedigree chart, a few census, a marriage record, and a printout of her FindAGrave.com memorial. From all of this, I knew that Louise was born in Switzerland on October 26, 1879.1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,11,12 Her parents were Johann Jakob and Lucia (Gander) Seewer.1,2,9,11,12 She came to America in 1881.1,2,4,5,6,7,8 Louise married Edward Von Allmen on October 29, 1902 in Louisville, Kentucky.3 They had eight children: Louise Marie, John Edward, Theodore Adrian, Frederick, Victor Emmanuel, Robert Alfred, Margaret Elizabeth, and Lena Mae.5,6,7,8,9,11 Louise died on September 22, 1949.9,11,12
Edward and Louise (Seewer) Von Allmen, 1902.
Louise (Seewer) and Edward Von Allmen, circa 1930. Photo courtesy of Douser on FindAGrave.com.
A former neighbor of the Von Allmens told me that she remembers “old Mrs. Von Allmen” delivering milk from their dairy farm. I began to get curious about her, so I examined the census more carefully. In 1910, 1930, and 1940, her occupation is “none.” However, in 1920, she is listed as a farmer. I thought about how unusual it is to see any occupations for females other than “none,” “housekeeper,” “servant,” “teacher,” “nurse,” or “seamstress.” I looked into it and it turns out that it really isn’t all that unusual for 1920.
At this point, I tried to find Louise in the 1900 Census. She wasn’t married yet and she was no longer living with her parents. I found a Louisa Seever living in the household of Laf Joseph in Louisville, Kentucky.4 Her occupation was “servant.” As Louise married in Louisville in 1902, I believe this is her.
While I was looking for her in the census, I accidentally stumbled upon her immigration record! I had looked for it before, when I researched her father, and couldn’t find it. I had been looking for Johann Seewer. It was under Jacob Sever. Soundex just couldn’t pick it up. When I looked for Louise, I looked under both Seewer and Seever. That’s when it turned up.
Louise came over with her parents in April of 1881 on the S.S. Labrador. She was listed as an infant.1,2,10
S.S. Labrador Passenger List, April 1881
Image from Ships of Our Ancestors by Michael J. Anuta, 1983.
I love the ancestors that lead to breakthroughs. These are the days that make it all worthwhile.
As I sat down to write about Louise, I realized I had no documentation to confirm her death date. I only had the pedigree chart and FindAGrave.com. Not good enough. I managed to find an obituary and a death record for Louise, with conflicting information.
The obituary, which appeared in the New Albany Tribune on Thursday, September 22, 1949, says that she “died at 5 a.m. Thursday,” meaning that morning, the 22nd.11 The death record says that she died at 5:00 am on September 23, 1949.12 So, either the paper miraculously reported her death a day early, the coroner pronounced her dead a day after she actually died, or whoever was writing the record had his days mixed up. I’m guessing the latter, though she lived out in the county and the second option is feasible.
Louise died on September 22nd, but September 23rd is the commonly accepted date of death. Why? Because vital records are more official than newspaper articles. After all, we all know newspapers get things wrong sometimes. But in all truth, vital records can be, and often are, wrong too. It’s on us to figure out what really happened. This is a case in point why one source document just isn’t enough.
- “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVSK-TTLJ : accessed 13 September 2015), Louise Sever, 1881; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm .
- “United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KD75-TCL : accessed 13 September 2015), Louise Sever, 13 Apr 1881; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Labrador, departed from Havre, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.
- “Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F43W-8XC : accessed 15 July 2015), Edward Von Allmen and Louise Sewer, 29 Oct 1902; citing Louisville, Kentucky, reference ; FHL microfilm 826,072.
- Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Year: 1900; Census Place: Louisville Ward 5, Jefferson, Kentucky; Roll: 530; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0056; FHL microfilm: 1240530.
- Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Year: 1910; Census Place: Albermarle, Jefferson, Kentucky; Roll: T624_483; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 0026; FHL microfilm: 1374496.
- Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1920; Census Place: New Albany, Floyd, Indiana; Roll: T625_429; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 62; Image: 15.
- Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Year: 1930; Census Place: Lafayette, Floyd, Indiana; Roll: 587; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0006; Image:626.0; FHL microfilm: 2340322.
- Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Year: 1940; Census Place: Lafayette, Floyd, Indiana; Roll: T627_1043; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 22-6.
- “Louise Seewer Von Allmen (1879 – 1949).”FindAGrave.com. N.p., 21 Jan. 2010. Web. 27 May 2011. Memorial# 46948695.
- Anuta, Michael J. Ships of Our Ancestors. Menominee, MI: Ships of Our Ancestors, 1983. Print. p.158.
- “Deaths (Obituaries)” New Albany Tribune 22 September 1949, Thursday ed.: 1. Print. column 3. Accessed 22 Sep. 2015, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.
- Floyd County Health Department. Microfilm. Floyd County, Indiana Deaths (1943-1950): book H-11, p.62. Retrieved 22 Sep 2015 from Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.