The birthplace of my immigrant German ancestor, John Shanely, was an unsolved mystery until I uncovered clues at the Archives/Library of the Ohio Historical Society.
Not knowing the German spelling of his surname, I tried all possible spellings but failed to find him in the International Genealogical Index, ships’ lists, and other standard sources. It wasn’t until I discovered the Cincinnati Land Office and tax duplicate records at the OHS Archives/Library that I began to make some progress.
The staff brought me volumes showing the 1818 purchase of 176 acres I knew he owned in Champaign County. His name was recorded as “John Scheinly.” Studying the details in beautiful handwriting in the oversized volume, I felt his urgent desire for a better life in this country, for according to the Centennial Biographical History of Champaign County (available at the Archives), he had survived the March to Moscow under Napoleon in 1812-1813.
The microfilmed tax records showed many spellings between 1823 and 1838: “Sheinley,” “Sheinly,” “Shaneley,” “Shienle,” and “Shienly.” A deed from 1837 called him “Sheanly.” But no matter what spelling I checked in the various resources, I made no progress.
Then I searched for his wife, Catharine Haisch. The census stated place of birth as Wuerttemberg. No other resources had any listing. In the census, I discovered her brother, John Haisch, then found him in Rosedale cemetery with the Shanelys. Finding his obituaries in two newspapers at the OHS Archives, I learned that he emigrated in 1817. Not long after, a cousin found in the newest volume of the Wuerttemberg Immigration Index a Johannes Haisch, emigrating in 1817 from Steinenbronn, Germany. I decided to look more closely at Steinenbronn, but I still found no matches in the Mormon church records. Discouraged, I suspended my research for several years.
Then in November, 2010, on a whim, I searched the Internet for “Johannes Schienle” and found a link to Genealogy.net and the “Ortsfamilenbuch Steinenbronn.” I found in the index a Johannes Schienle whose birth date was one day different from the date I had, clicked on the name, and up came a page listing my immigrant grandparents and links to data for four generations before them!
I finally solved the mystery, but only by having used tiny, powerful treasures that redirected my research—clues found in the wealth of resources available at the OHS Archives.