This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


This is post number 2500. When I did post 1000, it was on my father's 100th birthday so I posted about him. I do not know what the significance of today's date is, but I thought I would write a little about genealogical research, something that has occupied a lot of my time in the past few weeks.

I got interested in family history in 2014 and using the Internet (mostly,, and traced my family tree as far as I could. is a free site but anyone can alter the tree you have built. is a paid site that one can access from the Rensselaer Library. From the library you can view and search the records but you cannot build a tree.

My 2014 family tree had some large gaps in it because I did not know the married names of many of the women. In early July of this year I received a message from a distant relative who had a question about something I had put on a findagrave memorial. In constructing her family tree on, she had used resources at the Minnesota Historical Society to find newspaper reports of deaths of ancestors and other long-dead relatives. These reports often contained names and locations of family members and thus opened up doors that would otherwise remain closed.

My great, great grandfather was born in 1830 and emigrated to the United States in 1880. When he died, he had 80 grandchildren. One of his grandchildren was my grandfather. Tracing the descendants down to my generation resulted in a huge family tree--many hundreds of people that I can find. Among them were seven nuns--four Benedictines and three Dominicans. What I found most surprising, however, is that two of his descendants died in the Vietnam War.

Gene William Goeden was my mother's second cousin (or my second cousin once removed). He was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and a pilot. One account says that he was on a search and rescue mission looking for a downed pilot when he was killed in a mid-air collusion during foggy weather. Neither his plane nor body were recovered. He has two cenotaph memorials on This one in Oregon allows one to trace his ancestry back to Jacob Schmitz. There is another in Hawaii in the Courts of the Missing.

James Anthony Koch was my third cousin. (Of our eight great great grandfathers, we shared one. The same is true of our great great grandmothers.) He was a private in the U.S. Army and was killed by small arms fire on February 22, 1968. His memorial on is here.
I doubt if James and Gene knew of one another or even knew of each other--they were as closely related to each other as I am to them.

James had a brother who moved to Columbus, Indiana and died there in 2011, the only member of the family tree (other than me) that I have found in Indiana. Very few of the members of this family moved east of Chicago. When they moved out of Minnesota, most went west.

I had many relatives who served in WWII but have found none that died in that conflict. (My mother's half second cousin wrote a book about his war experiences.) I was surprised to find two who died in Vietnam. (As for my military experience, the military did not want me; I was classified 4-F because of severe myopia.)

It took about two years to get to post 1000 and then over 6 years to get to 2500. (I did not notice when I hit 2000.) In the early years of this blog I often posted multiple times a day and each post had only one topic. Now I try not to post more than once a day and most posts have multiple topics. If I ever get to 3000, it will be three or four years from now.

For those of you who have never done any genealogical research, you should give it a try. You might find it a lot more interesting that you expect and who knows what you will find in your family tree.

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