Friday, February 13, 2015

Finding Francis Xavier Millert

Known as Xavier Millert, my maternal great-great grandfather’s name made him difficult to find in records. Pronunciation, spelling and transcription errors are the main culprits in this brick wall.

Initial findings are relatively clear. In 1880, Xavier Miller lives with wife, Eliza, and children, Joseph, Catherine and Mary in Trenton, New Jersey. The last name is almost correct and the first names appear consistent with what is known about the family. Catherine’s name, however, is spelled Katherine in most other records. Katherine Millert is my great grandmother for whom I am named.
1880 US Census[1]
In 1870, the search for this family was more difficult until discovering Sophias Mallet living with his wife, Elizabeth, and son, Joseph, in Trenton. This appears to be a case of the census taker recording what he heard. I have seen other examples of Xaver/Xavier recorded as Sofer.
1870 US Census[2]
Difficulty in obtaining marriage and baptismal records prompted a search for immigration records where a transcription error presented a challenge. After many searches, I looked more closely at an entry for Hasert Millert and discovered that this was indeed Xavier Millert. A bonus to this discovery was finding his future wife’s name, Elisabeth Frankle, four lines above Xavier’s! They emigrated on the same ship from Bremen arriving in New York City on 13 January 1864. She was 22 years old from Schrosenthal and he was 29 years old from Steinade, Germany.[3] Did they meet en route? Did they know each other before boarding the ship for the United States?

Immigration of Xavier Millert and Elisabeth Frankle
With the surname Millert, I expected the search for Xavier to be relatively straight forward. Miller, Mellert, and Mallet are some of the misspellings encountered but it was the first name that proved more challenging. Imaginative spelling and pronunciation helped solve some mysteries about records for this family. While I continue the search for marriage and baptismal records, how Xavier and Elisabeth met may remain a mystery.

[1] 1880 U.S. census, Mercer County, New Jersey, Trenton, ED 103, p. 10, house 646, dwelling 89, family 97, household of Xavier Miller; digital images online, ( : 12 February 2015) citing FHL film 1254788 .
[2] 1870 U.S. census, Mercer County, New Jersey, Trenton, 3rd ward, p. 76, dwelling 877, family 641, household of Sophias Mallet; digital images online, ( :12 February 2015) citing NARA publication M593, roll 872.
[3] New York, Passenger List, 1820-1957," port of arrival: New York, New York, date of arrival: 13 January 1864, Elizabeth Frankle, line 225, Xavier Millert, line 229; online digital images, ( : 14 April 2014) citing NARA microfilm M237, 1820-1897, roll 237.

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