Around the Town Thursday: Pirtle Winery

Welcome to another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  I’m very excited for today’s post, for two reasons: first and foremost, it’s a winery.  If that’s not enough there’s the second reason, it’s a winery in a church building.  Oh but it gets better!  The old church Pirtle Winery resides in is a Lutheran Evangelical Church that was built by German immigrants.  Being Lutheran I find that very humorous.  So for me, it just doesn’t get much better than that, LOL!  Until you get to the wine, that is.

Pirtle Winery has been open since 1978.  According to their About Us page, they’ve been family owned and operated since they opened.  What a great history to be able to claim.  Located in Weston, Missouri, they’re a must stop on the Missouri Wine Trail.

Their wine line up contains the expected red and white grape varieties, but it also contains some fruit varieties such as apple, blueberry and cherry chocolate.  An unexpected treat that you’ll find on their wine list is mead.  If you’ve never experienced mead, you should try it at least once.  What is mead?  The simple definition is that it’s a wine made of honey.  Here’s a good article on mead (courtesy of  While many wineries tend to stay away from mead, Pirtle embraces it.  There are currently three different types of mead listed for sale on Pirtle’s website.  While I’m not personally a mead fan, I highly recommend stopping by to try Pirtle’s mead (and other wines, of course).

When you stop in at Pirtle, allow yourself a little time to look around.  Pirtle has an indoor winegarden and wine bar (a new feature I haven’t seen yet) which can be enjoyed but if you’re there on a nice day, make it a point to buy a bottle of Pirtle wine, step outside to their vine-covered outdoor wine garden (located between the winery and press house), sit and enjoy the day and your wine.  You won’t regret the time spent there.

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Tombstone Tuesday: Augusta Christine (Altman) Froemke

Welcome back to Tombstone Tuesday!  After a break for a couple of weeks we’re back to visiting the Altman family in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery.  Today we’re looking at my great grand-aunt, Augusta Christine (Altman) Froemke.

Froemke family marker
Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota


Tombstone of Augusta Christine (Altman) Froemke
Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota

Augusta Christine was the fourth of thirteen children of Christian Gottlieb Altman and Christina Frederika Sofie (Kolbe) Altman.  She had five brothers (two older and three younger) and seven sisters (one older and six younger).

Augusta Christine was born 2 August 1868 in Waumadee, Buffalo, Wisconsin.  She married Carl August Froemke, Jr. on 4 July 1888 in Lisbon, Ransom, North Dakota.  Together they had thirteen children (seven boys and six girls).  She died 5 August 1947 in Shenford Township, Ransom, North Dakota.  She’s buried in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Carl August Froemke, Jr. and
Augusta Christine (Altman) Froemke

Augusta Christine (Altman) Froemke


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Genealogy Basics: Divorce Records

The last three weeks we’ve talked about birth, marriage and death records.  These three types of vital records are the records most genealogists think about when you say the words “vital records”.  But there’s a fourth type of vital record that isn’t immediately thought of: divorce records.  Obviously divorce records aren’t going to exist for every person and prior to the 1900s they’ll be virtually non-existent since divorce was rare.  In some places it was even illegal.

So what kind of information can you find in divorce records?

  • Husband’s name
  • Wife’s name
  • Marriage date
  • Divorce date
  • Current residence of husband
  • Current residence of wife
  • Property of husband and wife
  • Name(s) of child(ren)
  • Birth date(s) of child(ren)
  • Reasons for divorce

The information provided in the divorce records may vary from location to location and all the information in the above list may not be included in the records you find.

Divorces are handled by the court system so the location to contact to obtain these records will vary by location.  They may not be indexed so some searching may be required.

If you have some family information or situation in your genealogy that just doesn’t add up, consider the possibility that there may have been a divorce in your family.

My family had that situation with my second great-grandma Sarah (McKee) McCabe and second great-grandpa Chester Eaton McCabe.  After some digging my mother stumbled across another branch of the family we had no idea existed!  Initially we suspected Chester had run off and simply re-married.  We eventually discovered Chester and Sarah divorced, Chester met another woman and married her while Sarah came to Kansas City to be with her children in this area.  It was a fun mystery to solve and couldn’t have been solved without the help of some cousins and a Civil War pension file.  We don’t have the divorce documents yet but that’s definitely on my list of things to get.

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Follow Friday: Ascending the Stairs

TGIF!  I hope you’re as excited about the weekend as I am.  Friday means another edition of Follow Friday and today we’re looking at the blog Ascending the Stairs.  Rachelle’s blog chronicling her genealogy research is an interesting read and her post Just another clue, that will lead you to another clue and to another one made me smile, nod my head and giggle just a little because what she writes about the tiny morsels of data that genealogists find is true.  Those tiny morsels do keep one “engaged in the hunt, but never satisfies the immense hunger.”

And I completely understand finding information that isn’t cited.  My maternal grandfather, bless his heart, was a fantastic genealogist.  Careful with his work and tireless in his research efforts, he provided our family with some great information.  Unfortunately none of it is cited and not all the supporting documents were collected so those of us working on this genealogy now are retracing Grandpa’s work.

Back to Rachelle’s blog, I found her posts to be well written, with very little rambling (genealogists don’t ramble, do they? LOL) and interesting post subjects.  I especially like how she periodically posts about her Genealogical Resolutions.  And having never been on a genealogical research trip, Rachelle’s posts about Texas on a Wing and a Prayer and Genealogy Trip Planning – Success! really helped to open my eyes about planning versus execution of a research trip.

Take a few minutes today and go check out Rachelle’s blog.  It’s well worth your time.

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Genealogy Basics: Death Certificates

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve talked about birth records and marriage records, which can be used in your genealogy.  Today I want to talk about death records.

Before getting started I want to rewind to last week’s post about marriage records.  In that post I neglected to mention a valuable piece of information.  If you’re searching for a marriage record by the bride’s last name and you’re unable to locate it, consider the possibility she may have been married before and didn’t use her maiden name on her new marriage license application.  This happened to be the case with my grandparents’ marriage record.  It was a good thing I was able to provide the names of both the bride and groom when I requested the record copy because my grandmother used her last name from her previous marriage (Woods), not her actual maiden name (Brown).

Edward Bell Conwell, Jr. and Edith M. (Brown) Woods’ marriage license

Now, back to the intended subject of this post: death certificates.  Now, keep in mind that prior to 1900, many states had incomplete vital records.  Most birth, marriage and death records were kept by churches prior to when standardization occurred in the U.S.  A good resource to refer to when trying to determine if you’ll find birth or death records in the state you’re looking at is the ProGenealogist website.  You can pretty much assume the East coast states are going to have earlier standardized records than the Midwest or West coast states, simply because of when the states and state governments were formed.

So what type of information can you find on a death certificate?

  • Name of deceased
  • Age of deceased
  • Date of death of deceased
  • Place of death of deceased
  • Time of death
  • Cause of death
  • Place of burial
  • Date of birth of deceased (if known)
  • Place of birth of deceased (if known)
  • Name of parents (if known)
  • Birth locations of parents (if known)
  • Spouse’s name (if spouse is a wife it may include the maiden name)
  • Current residence
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Name of physician or medical examiner
  • Name of informant and relationship to the deceased

Let’s take a look at an actual death certificate.  We’ll be using my great-grandfather’s death certificate as an example:

Death certificate for my great-grandfather, Edward Bell Conwell, Sr.

This death certificate is a veritable gold mine of information.  It shows most of the information on the bulleted list above.  The only thing I don’t see on the certificate that is listed above is the place of birth of his parents.  In addition I can tell that he only resided in Kansas City, Missouri for 6 months and the time between the claimed onset of the cause of death and his actual death was 2 months.  This would lead me to believe he moved from his prior residence to the place of death for health reasons.  I happen to know the place of death was the house my grandparents owned at the time, so he died while living with his son.

Something that stuck out at me on this death certificate was the answer to his marital status at the time of his death.

The answer itself is not odd.  Great-grandma Zella died two years before in 1948.  What’s interesting to me is that is looks like the number two is listed in that box with his widowed status.  I’m possibly reading too much into that because I’ve never heard of great-grandpa having been married before he was married to great-grandma Zella, but stranger things have happened.  I also double checked the family history book my grandparents made for me when I was a child and nothing is listed there for a second wife so I suspect it may have just been a notation of some sort but I’ve added it to my list of things to ask the parental unit in the future with the hope that she’ll know for sure (just in case I’m wrong).

The other thing that was included with the scan of this death certificate was the statement by licensed embalmer.  However, as you can see it wasn’t actually completely filled out.  I wonder if they chose to not embalm him or if the embalmer just didn’t bother to fill out the appropriate blanks on the form?

Statement of licensed embalmer from Edward Bell Conwell, Sr.’s death certificate


Great-grandpa Edward Bell Conwell, Sr.

Typically death records are some of the first records genealogists will try and locate.  This is because it’s usually the most recent record of the research subject and can contain a great deal of information.  But genealogists should always make an effort to verify the information provided on the death certificate before assuming it’s correct because the information being provided isn’t being provided by the subject of the record but by a person who knew the deceased and that person may not have all the information or completely accurate information.

It’s also important to remember that information included on death certificates may vary by location so the information you would find on a Kansas death certificate may very well be different than the information you would find on a New York death certificate.

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