My great grandmother Katherina Schober VonNeiderhauser Bahler:

  • Was widowed (with 6 children)
  • Then married Johannes Bahler
  • Had one child with Johannes in Wattenvil, Switzerland
  • Then immigrated to the United States in 1880s.
  • Four children later she is gone because I can find no records of where she died.

How could I locate a death record for Katherina?

  • 1
    What is the last record that you have for Katherina? I think it would be particularly useful to include that in your question, as well as more details about her timeline? Do you have a death record for Johannes? If so, does it mention Katherina or whether he was a widower?
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 0:13
  • 2
    When was Katherina born? In what state(s) were the 4 US-born children born and what date was the last? Where were surviving family members living in 1900? (FamilySearch has a likely John Bahler, widowed, living in San Bernardino CA in 1910 in household of son Gottleib Neiderhauson [sic]).
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 11:34

2 Answers 2


When you are stuck, it is helpful to start fresh and review all the information you have, looking at it in ways you haven't considered before.

  1. Assemble all the information you already know (as you've done in writing the question). Make a timeline and work from the 'last seen' date forward in small increments, or work outward from other known facts to fill in gaps in the timeline. Note which sources each bit of data comes from, so you can see how you 'know' all the things you know.
  2. Start a list of sources you already have, and a list of which sources you'd like to look for. Mine is a spreadsheet which is based on the one Crista Cowan demonstrates in her video Genealogy Source Checklists.
  3. bgwhiehle asks: " In what state(s) were the 4 US-born children born and what date was the last? Where were surviving family members living in 1900?" Census records of birthplaces may not be 100% accurate, because except for a few years (1911 in England and Wales, or 1940 in the United States), we don't know who talked to the census taker. But they can be useful clues to where the family might have lived. If you can establish the birthplaces of all the children, that will tell you where the mother was at the time of their birth. It may not be her primary residence, because sometimes women are with family members for a birth and not at home. But taken as a group, this information can help you determine migration patterns for a family.
  4. To get ideas of what record groups might yield useful information, consult checklists such as the article Sources of Genealogical Information on RootsWeb or the United States Record Selection Table on FamilySearch.
  5. Start a Research Log to keep track of what record groups you'd like to search, and enter the records you plan to look for and the purpose for searching those records before you start your search. This makes it easier to fill out the rest of the log as you search.
  6. Consider consulting the work of local historical societies, local genealogical societies, or people doing One-Place Studies in the areas where your family lived, or of people doing One-Name Studies on your surnames. They may have seen records that would lead you to the right person. Have you looked for local histories, websites, or bloggers who are posting information about this geographical area?
  7. Are you searching all accessible forms of the record sets which are available to you? Indexing errors may prevent you from finding a record on one site, but you may be able to find the record you're looking for on another site.
  8. Look at records and record sets in combination to get the most out of the information in the records.
  9. Use FAN Research (family plus friends, associates, and neighbors) wherever possible to distinguish same-name individuals. See QuickLesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle. Elizabeth Shown Mills' Quicksheets The Historical Biographer's Guide to the Research Process, The Historical Biographer’s Guide to Individual Problem Analysis, and The Historical Biographer’s Guide to Cluster Research (the FAN Principle) can point us to research possibilities and methods of analysis we've missed.
  10. And -- possibly the most important tip of all -- keep notes in your log of the places you've searched and how you have conducted your search. Do you have a list of variant spellings to search for? In my research, I have many variants for my Bahler family: Baler, Boeler, Boehler, Poehler, and so on. For anyone researching German immigrant families in the USA, I highly recommend James M. Beidler's two guide books The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide and Trace Your German Roots Online. In the first book, Beidler gives good advice on how to work up a list of wildcard searches to look for surname variants.

  11. Work in small steps, working from the known to the unknown, building on the information you already have. Sometimes it's necessary to make a huge leap because we can't find anything else -- but to get around the missing 1890 census, it's better to start from the 1880 Census and the 1900 Census (using the census record for all family members you can find) and working towards 1890 from both sides in small steps.

Whether you keep a formal research log or a research journal, or both, be sure to write down some kind of summary of where you've searched and what you found -- including negative searches -- so you can review what you've already done. Don't be afraid to write out detailed notes about what you were thinking when you looked at a document -- this makes it easier to go back later and pick up where you left off.


To find a death record (in whatever form it might have been recorded), you need 3 key pieces of information: name of deceased, place of death, date of death.

You have Katherina's given name and since she died before her husband, a surname (Bahler) (NB variant spellings). From the information in your query, she probably died in the 1890s, somewhere in the USA, likely in her early 50s. (Age at death or birthdate helps to distinguish between people of similar names).

You need to narrow down the date and determine at least a county of residence as a starting point to search for death or burial records (see my comment to the query, above). Most states did not mandate death certificates until the 20th century. However, many counties did track deaths. And churches kept burial records for their members.

Without defining date and location, random searches in national databases will be a waste of time as you probably can't be sure that a match is the right person or that the collection is complete for early dates and error-free.

Without a jurisdiction, you are looking for a needle in a field of haystacks. Without a jurisdiction, even we can't tell you what records may have been generated or where they may have been archived.

[Note: the original poster has not not returned to G&FH.SE since leaving the query. I had hoped that I would at least get some additional details before responding].

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