Monday, March 2, 2015

Tuesday's Tip - The Case of the Two Viola Vanias

When you've got someone in your family tree with the married name of Viola Vania you would think that if you found a death date for her that it would be your Viola Vania. I mean, how common could that name be? And if you found a Viola Vania in Algoma, Wisconsin where your Viola lived then you were good, right? Never assume anything, my dear Watson. Never.

Viola Cayemberg was the daughter of Gustav Joseph Cayemberg (he went by Joseph) and Virginia Wautlet. This is a branch of my husband's family that I don't have much on. The reason is that our reunions are based off Gustav's brother, Eli Cayemberg. Many (though not all) of the descendants of Eli and Florence seem to ignore moving beyond Eli or tracing those lateral lines. I don't. Cousins are a wonderful thing and they can help fill in holes and confirm data. Plus if we keep track of the cousins of Eli and Florence why not of Philippe and Catherine, Eli and Gustav's parents?

The Algoma Record Herald,
Thurs. 30APR1992, pg4
I found two different death dates for Viola from various sources on Ancestry and FindAGrave. One date was November 21, 1994 and the other was April 24, 1992. Seeing those two dates was a bit much. One is my husband's birthday and the other is mine (wrong years...I wish I was that young!). So I put both down for a bit of research when I went back to Wisconsin for Christmas. When I got there I pulled the microfilm for the The Algoma Record Herald and started with the earlier date...

"Viola Vania

Viola Vania, 92, 601 Navarino St., Algoma, died Friday, April 24, at Kewaunee Health Care Center.

The former Viola Buss was born May 9, 1899 in Milwaukee to August and Louise (Bloehmil) Buss. She moved to Algoma from Milwaukee in 1932. In 1919 she married Joseph Vania in Milwaukee. They owned and operated a bar in Algoma until 1947.

Survivors include nieces, Mrs. Mabel Murawski, Muskego, Mrs. Ethel Brauer, Algoma; and other nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, one brother and one sister.

Friends called from 3-8 p.m. Monday at the Wiesner-Massart Funeral Home, Algona, and after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the church. Funeral services were 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, the Rev. Brent Merten officiating. Burial was in Pilgrims Rest Cemetery, Milwaukee."

The Algoma Record Herald,
Thurs. 24NOV1994, pg7
Not my Viola. On to the next obituary hoping I wasn't going to get double-whammied and end up with no good result:

"Viola Vania

Mrs. John (Viola) Vania, 90, Algoma, died on Monday, Nov. 21 in the Algoma Long Term Care Unit.

The former Viola Cayemberg was born on August 2, 1904 at Rosiere. She graduated from the Rosiere Graded School. Her family later moved to Algoma. She married John Vania in Algoma on March 4, 1924 and they resided in Algoma until the time of their deaths.

She is survived by eight children, Gladys Krueger, James and Lloyd (Janet), Gloria (Jack) March, John (Pat), all of Algoma; Mae (Richard) Dreier, Concord, Calif.; Donna (Ernest) Walker and Raymond (Carol), Green Bay; 24 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and one sister, Ann Vania, Algoma. She was preceded in death by four sisters and one brother.

Friends called at the Schinderle Funeral Home from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and after 10 a.m. on Wednesday at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Algoma, until time of services. Parish vigil was at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Funeral services were on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at St. Mary's Church, with the Rev. Jim Massart officiating. Burial was in St. Mary's Cemetery."

Now this is my Viola! Lots of great information in here that I didn't previously have. I did have that Viola was one of seven children and a sister was Ann(a), so it looks like a sister also married a Vania, but I'll have to look into that one to be sure. At least now I know that all of her siblings, save one passed before November 21, 1994. That's helpful.

This research and discovery was important because we know that so many of the public trees we find are rife with errors. The errors are usually caused by inexperience and sloppiness. I know when I first started out I made a lot of mistakes. I learned and was open to the fact that I could be wrong. Accepting this possibility is an important part of becoming a better researcher and genealogist. Most people learn and evolve in their research, unless they can't acknowledge their faults. Even professional, paid researchers can get it wrong sometimes. If the best can be mistaken then anyone can. Only those that refuse to admit their shortcomings will continue down the wrong paths, and they'll hit more brick walls in their trees.

An obituary isn't confirmation of a connection. It's a secondary source of information provided by grieving relatives that can get things wrong, but it can help to establish proof and lend credibility to assumptions when combined with other primary and secondary sources. I already knew Viola Cayemberg was born on August 2, 1904 because I had previously pulled her birth record at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The birth date matching up perfectly strengthened both of these records  as well as the other census data I had collected.

Even if you're fairly certain that someone you found is the right person you need to check the records and confirm your research. Write it down in a research log and put your assumption/what you hope to find. If it turns out to be true you can happily and confidently put that person in your tree.

Until next time, have fun tending those roots!

(Viola Vania nee Cayemberg is my husband's first cousin twice removed)