Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Family Kolberg/Colberg, Part Three


My research was moving along well. I had received photos, documents and information from 4 of my grandmother's cousins and based on this information had learned that my Kolberg ancestors had been from Klein Tuchen in Bütow, Pommern. Now I was ready to move on with the research.

I had decided that I didn't want to just trace my direct line back but wanted to expand my research to encompass as many descendants of the 5 Kolberg brothers as I could. In the back of my mind was to also, one day, try to find information on the remaining 2 brothers who had remained in Germany. But that was a dream at this time.

To begin expanding my research, I checked out all the telephone books in Berrien County for names and addresses for everyone with the surname Kolberg. Along with the family members I already knew, I amassed quite a list of names.

I then created a form letter, along with a self-created family history sheet, and began a mammoth letter writing project. At the time I had an IBM Selectric typewriter and spent much time typing individually addressed letters to each of the names on my list. In the letter, I explained that I was the granddaughter of Ella Kolberg Kijak and that I was researching our mutual Kolberg family and would appreciate their completing the enclosed form. My grandmother had been well known in the community and within the large Kolberg family and I knew that most of these people would have been familiar with her.

I was not disappointed. Over the course of the next 2 years I had responses from probably 85% of the names that I had written. Some went so far as to send me more addresses and my list on the Kolberg family grew. As these forms came in as well, I typed the data into my LDS family history sheets, placed the sheets in a huge binder divided by family groups and my information expanded.

Many family members also sent me photos to add to my research and I xeroxed these (not as good as today's scanning) and returned the originals to their owners. I wrote to the various states for copies of death and marriage certificates and made many trips back to St. Joe to obtain data in the County records as well as researching the 1900 Berrien County, MI census. I visited the local cemeteries, took photos of the gravestones and joined the local genealogical society. I was moving along gathering a sizeable amount of information on my family.

I was pleased that many relatives also expressed an interest in knowing whether I would be preparing a book on the family. I had given that some thought and didn't really know where to begin but after seeing the magnitude of responses I had to my letters, I decided to give it a shot.

How did I go about doing that?

This was 1979, and after much thought, I decided to xerox all the family group sheets, add photos in the appropriate sequence, add in some basic family documents such as census records and death certificates and compile an index of all the names.

I decided to divide the book into 7 sections with 1 section for each of the 7 Kolberg brothers, have an Acknowledgment and Prelude and end with the Index. I assembled the original as I wanted the finished product to be and numbered all the pages. It was then time for the assembly line production.

I will say that the xeroxing of the mammoth amount of material took more hours, days and weeks than I had anticipated. My employer at the time graciously allowed me to do the xeroxing (on my own time, of course) using the company Xerox machine as long as I supplied my own paper. I decided to make 100 sets of this book as I had estimated that I had perhaps 70 relatives that had already requested such a book IF and WHEN I ever compiled one. I thought that once these books was out to these cousins that more would be interested. I was most definitely NOT disappointed.

Once I had all the 100 sets prepared, it was time for the collating. What a project! Picture piles of paper that are 100 deep spread across counters, tables, furniture, appliances in the basement of my home and continual walking back and forth to collate what became a 401 page book. I had to punch holes in these volumes and had purchased Acco hard stock covers with a clamp inside to use to hold the finished product.

BUT, wait! Before this project could be completed, the indexing needed to be done. I now laugh when I think about this, what with the advent of computers and software programs which will index for a person automatically, but readers let me tell you that I indexed this mammoth book on 3 x 5 index cards, all spread across the basement floor. Each name in the book was placed on an index card with the appropriate page number on it and then the cards were divided by the letters of the alphabet and 26 piles were made from which I had to alphabetize each pile by name. This then became a 10 page index of double columns to end the book.

Here are some samples from the book as I completed it in early 1980.

Following the completion of my book I sent letters out to all the Kolberg cousins whose addresses I had. Not only did the expected 70 copies sell but more as well. I did donate one copy to the "LDS Library Acquisitions Area" in Salt Lake City as well as a copy to the "Berrien County Genealogical Society". I had maintained a copy for myself but all 100 copies were sold and I ended up selling my own copy and for years did not even have a copy to maintain for my records.

Through the 25+ years following the publication of my book I was able to expand my data, cross the ocean to Germany, take the family back four more generations, update data that I had received via word of mouth or from old letters with additional, and sometimes corrected, information based on records I received from the churches and archives in Germany and Poland and even expanded my knowledge of the two brothers who had remained in Germany.

My information is now in my Family Tree Maker program, backed up on two separate external hard drives and the search continues.

The cost for my book in 1980 was $15 per copy. We could certainly not produce a quality family history book now for that price!!

Coming next...Part Four...First efforts at research in German archives.

Above documents personal collection of Cheryl Schulte


Joan said...

What I liked best about this post --- a lady with a vision and she just does it!!!

P.S. I know those projects that just take on a life of their own, in the basement, up the stairs, thru the kitchen, into the dining room -- to say nothing of the spare bedroom.

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Joan. This was a big project for its time; now there would be easier ways to pull it off I am sure.