I am having trouble locating a reliable birth record for a person in my tree. According to the 1900 census record, a certain Mollie Goetz/Getz was born in Feb 1881 in Illinois.

"United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MS3V-BWZ : accessed 10 Oct 2012), Mollie Getz in household of Julius Mildner, ED 434 Precinct 17 Chicago city Ward 14, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing sheet 2B, family 32, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240262.

Her parents were married in Van Buren, Michigan on 18 May 1880.

"Michigan, Marriages, 1822-1995," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FZMM-HZD : accessed 10 Oct 2012), Henry Gotz and Nattalia Falkensbein, 18 May 1880.

(In the census she is shown as a niece of Julius Mildner; I have from other sources that Julius's wife Helen was a sister of Natalie Falkenstein.)

However, I have not been able to find a reliable birth record for Mollie either in Michigan or in Illinois. Obviously, I don't have a 1890 census to check where the family was at the time, but a person matching the name and occupation of the 1900 census entry (Henry Goetz, cutter) is listed in the 1882 Chicago city directory on Ancestry.com.

Henry Goetz, cutter, in the 1882 Chicago City Directory

I have checked the Illinois birth index and the Michigan birth index, both of which cover the right date range, and found nothing probable. I have tried all sorts of variations of spelling for the Goetz name and for Mollie, and tried searching on dates alone. Nothing comes up.

What should I try next?


2 Answers 2


I would begin by researching any siblings to try and determine their place of birth. This can help you with the timeline and might narrow down the possibilities for Mollie. Perhaps they were also born in the same location.

I would also try to research any available immigration information on the parents, since according to the 1900 Federal Census both parents were born in Germany. Perhaps their arrival information will contain additional clues.

And don't forget to research her aunt and uncle with whom she was living in 1900. If her aunt was her mother's sister, then perhaps there will be something to glean from the aunt's timeline.

  • Yeah, I've done much of what you suggest. There is am indication of three other surviving siblings in the census record, but I can find no trace of them. My guess is that Mollie was the youngest, and the only one born in the US. The other three were probably born in Germany and may have stayed there. There is also some uncertainty as to Mollie Goetz's mother's age, as different sources have quite different values for it, the range being about 10 years. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 18:55

If Mollie married, then in many states the place of birth is asked when applying for a license. Frequently the person would give a specific place in response to the question even though a state or country would satisfy the letter of the law in most states. Not having a BC in that era was not uncommon due to home births assisted by midwives. If the family belonged to a church then there may be a christening record available. As they were from Germany they were probably Lutheran or Catholic. Some Germans were members of other groups like the Brethren. All kept detailed records.

  • Mollie married, and I have the record "Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920," index and images, FamilySearch (familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N74P-59J : accessed 19 Oct 2012), Otto H. Nicolai and Mollie Goetz, 21 Jun 1905. There is no mention of place of birth in this record. Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 16:22
  • The link to Mollie's marriage record on FamilySearch has only the indexed data and no images (despite logging in, index only). If the image has the name of the person who married them, that could be cross-checked against local church histories for clues to church membership and possible church records.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 23:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.