Sunday, February 12, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Boniface in Buffalo, New York

Some people have all the luck! Wanting to discover more of her ethnic heritage, my friend & co-worker asked me about a month ago if I would look up her mother’s parents and see what I could find. She gave me their names: Jacob John Reinhardt and Florence Margaret Dehn. Right away I guessed that she had German origins but a quick search online revealed nothing. I couldn’t find the family listed in the resources at So I went back to my friend and said, “I need a little more information.” She called her mother who was able to tell her only one other thing from memory: Jacob was born December 2, 1882 in Buffalo, NY. With that small piece of additional information, I was able to put together a basic family line back to Jacob’s great-grandfather!
Key to this search was church records. Here’s how it went:
I did a google search and found Jacob and his wife Florence buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Corfu (Genesee County), New York. I also verified his birth date from a still-active Social Security Death Index.

Next I tried and hit pay dirt! I found a baptism record showing John Jacob Reinhardt born 2 December 1882 in Buffalo, New York. He was the son of Jacob Reinhardt and Theresa Robert. Another baptism listed a Jacob Reinhardt born 2 March 1859 son of Daniel Reinhardt and Anna Maria Kreher. Did I have our first Jacob’s parents already? Sure enough, a marriage record on the same website showed Jacob Reinhardt and Theresa Roberts were married on 7 August 1878 in Buffalo. Jacob’s parents were listed on this marriage record as Daniel Reinhardt and Maria Kraeher. The only drawback I had was not being able to find what church these records originated from. Even tracking down the citation for batch & sheet numbers got me nowhere.

I gathered some census records that helped to verify these connections and provided some more family details, including the fact that Daniel Reinhardt was born in 1828 in Wurtemburg, Germany and his wife Anna Kreher was born in August of 1832 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. Then I found Daniel & Anna Reinhardt at Find-A-Grave.

Daniel died 17 May 1909 and was buried in the United German & French Cemetery in Cheektowaga, New York (just outside of Buffalo). I sent an email to the contributor, but received a reply stating that they were not related to this family. Next I searched for more information on the cemetery and found a website for the Mount Calvary Cemetery Group. This website provided an on-line genealogy request form for records. I emailed a request for information on Daniel Reinhardt on January 1, 2012.

A website of Cheektowaga Cemetery listings provided me with a brief history mentioning the church parishes affiliated with the cemetery:

The original 15 acres were purchased in 1859 by delegates of six initial parishes :
St. Louis, St. Michael's, the former St. Peter's, St. Mary's, the former St. Boniface, and St. Ann's, all located in Buffalo.

This website also provided a link to an old cemetery map from the Schwert Family website.

Yesterday, I received a reply back from the cemetery regarding my request for information on Daniel Reinhardt. The office graciously provided me with a pdf file showing a copy of Daniel’s burial record and lot card which included fourteen burials. All of the burials were for either the Reinhardt or Kreher family. Listed on the Daniel's burial record was the key I was looking for: Daniel was buried from the St. Boniface church!

A google search for St. Boniface revealed that this parish closed in 1993 and directed me again to the Schwert Family website where I found scans of many of the original ledger pages from the church’s baptism, marriage and death records. I was able to check these records against the lot card I had and found most of the death entries in the church’s records. The one most interesting was for Jacob Kraeher who died 29 July 1877. The death record listed him as age 92 years, 4 months.
Could this have been Anna Kreher Reinhardt’s father and Daniel Reinhardt’s father-in-law? I felt it could be entirely possible, as I did find Jacob Kreher of Buffalo age 66 in the 1850 census with a 17-year-old Anna. This Anna would have been the right age for Daniel’s wife. Focusing on the Kreher surname and looking for marriage records in Buffalo, NY on the website yielded pay dirt once again: Daniel Reinhard married Anna Maria Kreher on 29 July 1852. Her parents are listed as Jacob Kreher and Barbara Fruehwein. His parents were listed as George Reinhard & Margaret Spengler. A scan of this original record could also be found at the Schwert Family website.
Although this has nothing to do with my family, I've enjoyed this search nonetheless!

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