First things first: Happy Birthday, Mom!!! xoxo
Some time ago I wrote about Mom’s grandmother, Clara Waldeck Mulder, and her family in “I Uncovered a Stunning Clue in My Search.” I explained that I had had difficulty discovering any information about Clara’s mother. Her name was Alvena, and I had a photo with her in it, but her last name seemed to lead to a dead-end–as they say in specific genealogy jargon, I’d hit a brick wall. Heh.
My mitochondrial DNA comes to me from her: Alvena to Clara to my grandmother Edna to my mother (who turns XX years old today) to me.
Alvena married Gottfried (Godfrey) Waldeck, and they had perhaps ten children. Clara was the youngest. Eventually I found that Alvena’s maiden name was Noffke, and I discovered on Ancestry that there are lots of descendents of Alvena and Godfrey throughout southern Michigan.
I have made contact with two people who share this ancestry. The female relative and I have DNA hits on both Ancestry and 23andme. She is from this Waldeck/Noffke branch. I also “met” a man with the last name Noffke and we are actually related in the same way, except that his dad was adopted so when he takes the DNA test, his results won’t help us narrow in on anything.
When I found the female relative, she gave me a copy of the minutes from years of family reunions. This report documents births, deaths, etc. I felt at that time that I was closer to finding out more about the Noffkes and to discovering where the Waldecks and the Noffkes came from.
We’ve always been told they were from Germany, although some documents I’ve read online say “Prussia.”
But what now?
The concept of “Germany” could mean different things to different people in the 19th century, when the family emigrated. My 23andme report shows that I have at least one Polish gene. Could it be from that branch of the family?
How can I locate the area of Europe, even the town or village, that my ancestors came from?
I do have the names of Alvena’s parents. They are Ludwig (Louis) and Dora Couch. Couch doesn’t sound like a German name to me. It seems to be an English name. But where could that come from?
Brick walls are crazy-making.