Friday, August 13, 2010

Genealogy Vacation Trip 2010

Last December, I wrote about our 2008 genealogy quest to find ancestral graves and our hope that in 2010 we could resume these adventures following Ellen's recovery from her 2009 neurosurgery. Well, yesterday was the day and what a genealogy bonanza it turned out to be!

Ellen's German roots in Canada are only a little more than an hour's drive from our home so it is perhaps odd that we hadn't taken greater advantage of the location proximity. The Kitchener, Waterloo region is famous for its German heritage, hosting an annual, world renowned 'Oktoberfest.' My research has uncovered that Ellen's ancestors were among the first German settlers in the area, in fact, her second great grandaunt, Catherine Hailer Breithaupt is said to be the first person of German heritage to have been born in the area.

Planning for our genealogy 'day trip' was supported by two important online tools: the Find A Grave website helped me confirm that family members were buried in the city of Kitchener's Mount Hope Cemetery and the University of Waterloo's website told me that they were holding the "Wagner Hailer family fonds," the genealogy source documents that Ellen's Uncle Gordon Wagner had collected in the years he conducted his family history research.

Our first stop was at the Williamsburg Cemetery office in Kitchener as they hold the cemetery records for the Mount Hope cemetery. In addition to providing us with the plot numbers for various family members, they provided a cemetery walking tour map and helped us determine the locations of the family plots. The map provides three walking tour routes through different cemetery sections and points out the locations of the graves of prominent individuals, several of which were Ellen's ancestors!

With our maps and guided by our GPS unit, it was on to Mount Hope cemetery where to our amazement we discovered what 'prominent' meant. The cemetery is located on Moore Avenue in Kitchener, Ontario, just off of Breithaupt Street (our first clue!). Among many, our most amazing finds was what I described as a 'gated community' within the cemetery containing the graves of Ellen's great great grandparents, Jacob and Margaret Hailer Wagner along with members of the Breithaupt, Goetz, Devitt and Anthes families. This large corner section of the cemetery has an iron fence with concrete, monogrammed concrete posts surrounding it (as seen in the photo above). The earliest internment appears to be that of Jacob Wagner, Ellen's second great grandfather, in 1858 (photo below).

Among other notable graves - that of Ellen's great grandfather, the Rev. Louis Henry Wagner who officiated at many Breithaupt weddings and the Hon. Louis Orville Breithaupt, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (photos below).

Next post: the Wagner Hailer family fonds.

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