Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Googling for Mölster data

Nope, I didn't misspell Molster (I did there - it should have the two dots over the o since it is Norwegian) - note that Google asked me "did you mean to search for: Molester family?" Because I posted a note on Genea-Musings back in April 2006 about the Mölster farm near Voss in Norway, I got an email the other day from a fellow in Ohio.

He wrote:

"Steve Shaffer here - an historian from Southern Ohio. I am writing you in regards to the Portsmouth (Ohio) Indian's Head Rock - a historic boulder recovered from the Ohio River late last summer, which is inscribed with many names of pioneer families from Portsmouth. One prominent name on the rock is "C. Molster." The rock is the center of a dispute between Ohio and Kentucky, recently featured on the front page of the New York Times. The city of Portsmouth wants to keep and display the rock, while some in Kentucky insist it is their property and should be returned to the river. This thinking I will not even try to explain. All of the Molsters are gone from Portsmouth, but I am trying to locate some of the ancestors, as they should have a voice in saving the rock from being returned to oblivion. I'm a historian, not a genealogist, so I thought you might be able to provide some advice in tracking these people down. Any pearls of wisdom you can drop will be most appreciated. We're fighting hard to keep this piece of local history out of the river. Thanks in advance."

The New York Times article is here. My correspondent, Steve Shaffer, is quoted quite a bit and there is video of him and the Rock.

I was going outta town the next day, but I invested about 30 minutes trying to find out something about "C. Molster." Here is what I found in my short search:

"What an interesting problem. Unfortunately, I'm leaving town early on Sunday and I can't pursue it in any depth. I was able to go on www.ancestry.com and find a few things. First, I found that there was a Cornelius Molster, age 19, in Portsmouth Ohio in the 1860 census. Then I used Cornelius and Molster to search books and newspapers and I found several items. I have attached three pages (they are graphics .png files):

1) Page 281 of a Scioto County, Ohio history book - the biography of Cornelius Molster is at the bottom of the page in the RH column.
2) Page 282 - the continuation of Cornelius' biography.
3) A newspaper page from the Portsmouth Times in 1894 that lists the pioneers of the town. Cornelius and Henry Molster are listed.

You should be able to find the book at a local library if you want more information about the pioneers other than Corny Molster. I didn't find any mention of the Rock, but I'm sure if I look further I would!

So tell me - how in the world did you pick me to do this exercise? Was it that I mentioned Molster in Norway in a blog post? Or on my genealogy web site? Inquiring minds want to know!!"

I'm not sure they were the requested "pearls of wisdom," but Steve wrote back the next day, saying:

"Sincere thanks for your interest and the information you passed along. I found that five of the surnames carved on the rock were listed as members of the Scioto Co. Pioneer Association. I'm going to contact the Scioto Co. Genealogical Society (just discovered their existence today) to see if I might get that group involved. How I found you - I was surfing and first found the Molsters in Norway blog, which led me to your site. You are welcome to do a posting and I recommend you use the New York Times Tues. Feb. 11th article as your source."

Steve kindly permitted me to use this correspondence as blog information.

Steve is a local historian, and because I took a little time to be curious and helpful he learned something about genealogy and historical resources both online and in repositories.

I learned something about some local history. You know, each community has stories like this one that stirs local, and even national, interest in years past and preservation of artifacts. Some of these stories, and organizations dedicated to preservation or history and artifacts, might make excellent programs at a local genealogical society meeting.

There is a good lesson here - if you blog about something concerning a surname or a place name there is a good chance that someone will contact you out of the blue on a peripheral issue due to a Google match.

So now I'm curious if Cornelius Molster was descended from Norwegian immigrants from the Mölster farm that sits just above Voss in western Norway. My post about our 1999 "Genealogy Vacation in Norway" describes the farm - it's nowe a "living history museum" and one of Linda's ancestral families emigrated from that farm in 1855. I wonder what else I can find out about Corny Molster?

UPDATED 6 PM: Thanks to John Newmark for providing a link to the HTML codes for letters with diacritical marks! Excellent. ö is now in the name of Mölster!

1 comment:

Bill said...

Iam a living decendant of the Molster family of Scioto County Ohio.First they are from Holland leaving Amsterdam and arrived in Philadelphia Pa on Oct.9,1823 on board the ship "Philadelphia".There are several different spellings of the name American-Molster Dutch-Moulster or Molesteeg.They helped develop early steel industry in southern Ohio.Cornelius John Molster was the grandson of John Moulster of Oldur Holland who was born in 1780-died in 1836 at Maysville Ky.Cornelius was born 1802-died in 1888.