Tapping into a New Source

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been spending some time at the Golda Meir Library on the campus of The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  For whatever reason, the library was chosen to archive all or most of Milwaukee’s vital records.  Some of these records can be found on Ancestry.com, but are very incomplete.   From what I’ve seen, the records at UWM seem to be very comprehensive.  The collection also includes Probate records which I have never seen before.

One of the things I like is that these records are held in a corner of the library’s basement.  It’s pretty rare to even see another person and it really allows me to focus on what I’m doing.

Some of my finds include finding the middle names of my great aunt and uncle, finding and copying the death record for my Great Great Grandfather (Friedrich Rathkamp), finding the birth records for the siblings of my Great Grandfather Willliam J. Rathkamp, and finding the probate records (estate settlements) for Friedrich and Dorothea Rathkamp.

I still haven’t found the marriage record for William J. Rathkamp and his wife Olive Hassell.  Olive was born in Michigan, so I suppose it’s possible they were married there.  This is a key record for me, because I still don’t know for sure who her parents were.  William was also married earlier to Sophie Hartmann.  I know she died in 1906, but I couldn’t find her death record.

The probate records were kind of a special find to me.  Over the years, I’ve collected so much information on Fritz and Dora, but have never found anything “personal” from either of them.  There’s been nothing passed on from them to me, I have no pictures, etc.  In these records though, I got to see each of their signatures.

I’m looking forward to spending more time down there.

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