Monday, January 7, 2013

Chasing Down Original Sources for My Spengler Families - I Love Digital Microfilm!

I was reviewing my sources for some of my ancestral families in my RootsMagic database over the weekend, and found a whole set of York County, Pennsylvania families that had specific birth, baptism, marriage and death dates, but had no sources attached (and no media either).

I knew that I had obtained the vital record information for the King and Spangler families from published books and manuscripts way back in the late 1980s, and that they were probably in one of the notebooks hiding in my 40 linear feet of bookcases.  Fortunately, I had to move only one pile to get to the Spangler/King notebook and found the photocopied pages that held the records.

Here is the cover page for the Spangler book:

I created a master source for this book in RootsMagic as:

Edward W. Spangler, The Annals of the Families of Caspar, Henry, Baltzer and George Spengler Who Settled in York County Respectively in 1729, 1732, 1732 and 1751, with Biographical and Historical Sketches, and Memorabilia of Contemporaneous Local Events (York, Penn. : n.p., 1896).

I found the information about the family of my third great-grandparents, John Daniel and Elizabeth (King) Spangler on pages 191 to 192 (two images):

Great!!  Look at the names, dates, places, and spouses.  That is essentially all I have for this family, except for U.S. census records and Daniel's probate records.  I happily added the source citations for all of that information over the weekend.  My second great-grandmother, Rebecca Spangler, is listed with the (wrong) name of her husband (it shoulda been David J.) and the names of 3 children (Edward should be Edgar...).  It does mention San Diego, which is where David, Rebecca, Austin and Edgar ended up.

There is much more information about the earlier Spangler generations in this book, but I'm just going to concentrate on my Daniel Spangler family.

But I realized that this is a Derivative Source, and all of that name, date, and place data is Secondary Information, albeit most of it is Direct Evidence.

So I asked myself "Randy, these dates must have come from some record, where might you find Original Source information?"

The obvious answer was "from some family records, like a Bible or letter, or from church records."  The Spangler book was written in 1896, so some of the information about the Daniel Spangler family was probably provided by a family correspondence with the author.  I was most interested in finding the birth records and marriage record for Daniel Spangler and Elizabeth King. first thought was that there are probably microfilms for York County, Pennsylvania church records available from the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City.  I can add that to the already lengthy list of To-Do items for the FSL when I go to RootsTech in March.  Here is the top of the FamilySearch Catalog page for Pennsylvania, York, York > Church Records:

Oops, 48 different items in the catalog!!!  I need to know which church they might have attended.  I need to read the Spangler book again to see if it mentions the church...the sketch for Daniel's grandfather, Baltzer Spangler, mentions the German Reformed Church, so that may be the first resource I check for Spangler family entries.

Hmmm, I recall that recently put a historical record collection for Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 online.  I hurried onto Ancestry to see if they have the birth and marriage records of my John Daniel Spangler and his wife, Elizabeth King.  After some searching using wild cards, I finally found Daniel Spengler's birth and baptism record in the York Trinity Reformed Church records.  I found the typescript for the birth and baptism records of Daniel Spengler, born 9 October 1781 and baptized 20 October 1781, parents are Rudi Spengler and wife.  Here is the image of the typescript:

A source citation for this page and the Daniel Spengler entry is:

Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, digital images, ( : accessed 7 January 2013), York County, York town, "Trinity Reformed Church (United Church of Christ)" typescript, unnumbered page, image 37, Daniel Spengler baptism entry, 20 October 1791.

That's good...but it's still a Derivative Source, isn't it?

I went searching for Elizabeth King's birth and baptism record and easily found it in this same church book:

The Source Citation for this record is:

Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, digital images, ( : accessed 7 January 2013), York County, York town, "Trinity Reformed Church (United Church of Christ)" typescript, unnumbered page, image 55, Elizabeth Konig baptism entry, 2 May 1796.

When I searched for Eli* K*nig, there was a second entry with the same date, so I checked that too, and saw:

Aha, there's the handwritten church book in German!  It's for Elisabet Konig, daughter of Jacob and Catherine.  That is the Original Source!  The source citation for it is:

Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, digital images, ( : accessed 7 January 2013), York County, York town, "Trinity United Church of Christ" manuscript, unnumbered page, 1796, image 37, Elisabet Konig baptism entry, 2 May 1796.

I then went back and found the Daniel Spengler entry in this book (page by page, just like using microfilm!):

The source citation for this page, the Original Source record, is:

Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, digital images, ( accessed 7 January 2013), York County, York town, "Trinity United Church of Christ" manuscript, unnumbered page, 1781, image 27, Daniel Spengler baptism entry, 20 October 1781.

The entry is shown below:

It is in German, of course, and very difficult to transliterate...but I'm pretty sure that the first date is 20 October (baptism) and the second date is 9 October (birth), that the first line has Rudy Spengler's name in it, and the child's name in the last line is certainly Daniel.

I have tried to find how this entry was indexed, and have had no luck doing so!  Using no name, specifying a birth year of 1781 and a birth place of York County, Pennsylvania provides 308 matches, none of which link to the page above.

I also found the marriage record for Daniel Spengler and Elizabeth Koenig on 12 March 1815 in the two church books noted above.

Unfortunately, Daniel and Elizabeth moved their family to Virginia after their marriage, and then to Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and the York church books don't have the birth/baptism entries for their children.  But I was able to add many entries for the children of Rudolph and Catherine (Ruth) Spengler to my database.

I am keeping all three sources in my database because I hate to delete sources, and they make excellent examples of Derivative vs. Original.  Those three sources are where I found the records, and if I check the FSC microfilms, or actually see the church book at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, I will source those items also.

I think that the original handwritten German records are on the FHL US/CAN microfilm 387,945 for:

Church records, 1744-1853 [First Reformed Church]

The notes say:

"Microfilm of original records and of photocopy (262 leaves) of original records from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia as part of their Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, no. Y2R."

I wondered why called this specific item the "Trinity United Church of Christ" collection.  The first page of this item is the permission page provided by the Trinity United Church of Christ, although the first handwritten page doesn't say that.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


  1. Randy, this is a good example of tracking through a somewhat badly arranged and variably indexed collection. The name of the church might be in the Historical Society's calendar of what documents are in which microfilm group. I have not seen signs that has done any re-indexing of this material (and if what they've been doing to the Drouin collection is any example, they should leave it completely alone). I have seen several instances where the source-institution is given a modern name, such as calling records for a church from the 1880s being from a "United Methodist Church" which did not exist by that name until 1964.

    As you suggest, it is always a good idea to try to establish whether a document was part of a record that had a title at the front of the manuscript.

  2. Rather than ordering film from the Family History Library or waiting until you are in Salt Lake City, the research firm Rootsonomy provides lookups of books, magazines, fiche, or film at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and will email you the results within a couple days. Facebook users can send the request by going to: and clicking the button "Request Research or a Lookup".

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  3. I am struggling to learn just what is "in" this collection in order to learn what might not be included.

    My searches are striking out over and over again, even for records I have previously located in published materials like F. Edward Wright's volumes of _Berks County Church Records of the 18th Century._

    The Ancestry database description (link above) refers me on for more information, saying, "For more information about church and town records in Pennsylvania, visit the Historical Society of Pennsylvania website." Today that link/home page is a big news item announcing the collection on Ancestry. I'm still browsing the many pages of the site to learn if there is a collection description there published.

    Still jealous and a bit frustrated. --GeneJ