Description of Family Tree Research
For My German & Norwegian Lines

by Martha Jane (Schliesser) Hicks

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    My German ancestry reflects quality research from several sources. Several times a year, I hire an excellent professional German genealogist and historian, Jens Müller (formerly Müller-Koppe) of Møssingen (formerly Bremen), Germany, to do research on my maternal lines from northwest Germany. Most of his research has been with German Lutheran church records, but occasionally civil records too. Other relatives and I have done research with microfilmed German church records for several lines from Württemberg. Some of the early ancestral information that connects to the Shumaker ancestry came from very well-documented publications. Also, the following people have shared German research findings with me and deserve much credit: Charles Edward Steffler, Charles B. Goodwin, Joycelyn H. Spellman, and Regis J. Zagrocki. On my direct paternal side, we were fortunate to have had a relative in Wain, Germany, Emil Schliesser (born 1911), who was a Lutheran minister. He had access to German church records and charted the direct Schliesser ancestry back to the 1600s.

    My Norwegian research has been a long and gratifying adventure. In the mid-1990s, the only thing I knew about my great grandmother, Alice M. (Lee) Schliesser, is that she was of Norwegian descent and had been born on November 21, 1879, in Ada, Minnesota. I started by writing a letter to the pastor of a Lutheran church in the town where she was born. I hoped this had been the church that served the Norwegian community in the 1800s. The church secretary replied with good news. The old church records included my great grandmother's baptismal record and other records of her family. I obtained her parents' names (Knute Gulliksen Lee/Lien and Synneva Olsdatter Børsheim/Burshem), their places of birth, and even her grandfathers' names. This was extremely helpful information that allowed me to continue my research, headed in the right direction. As it turned out, my immigrant Norwegian ancestors were: Ole Olsen Børsheim & Seborg Tostensdatter Jørstad, and Knute Gulliksen Lien & Berit Knudsdatter Østrem. For a period of several years, I focused intensively on these families using microfilmed Norwegian and American church records and civil records. To get started with this research, I had generous help from Alden Lien, Karen Kuhlman, Betty Rockswold, and Jan Edvardsen.

    From 1999-2002, I (Martha Hicks) endeavored to make a virtually complete record of the Børsheim (Borsheim/Burshem) branch. I was able to find nearly every available record for the families of Ole Olsen Borsheim (1815-1868) and Seborg Tostensdatter Jorstad (1820-abt.1865)... including their ancestors and descendants. Both Ole and Seborg were widowed shortly after immigration, and my research extended to their prior spouses and children. I left no stone unturned in my search to find information and verify the data for them. I located all of their baptismal records in microfilmed church records. In the course of this research, I was able to correct wrong birth dates attributed to both Ole and Seborg. Ole's birth date had been listed by another source as 1817. This was a mix-up with his maternal cousin, Ole Olsen, of the Opheim farm, who died in infancy. I emailed those I found who listed this incorrect date to let them know the correct date. (One cause for the mix-up might be that Ole spent about a year working for his uncle on the Opheim farm, prior to immigration. During that time, he was temporarily associated with the Opheim name.) I was also able to correct Seborg's birth date. Her grave stone lists her birth year incorrectly as 1819, but her baptismal record clearly lists the date as January 28, 1820 (and her baptism took place the following month). Although, Seborg's family moved to additional farms during her childhood, she and one brother were born on the Jørstad farm. Norwegians used a patronymic naming system along with the name of their current farm of residence. Therefore, most Norwegians did not use the same farm name throughout their lives. In my records, I chose to list each person with the farm name/surname in effect at the time of their birth (and made note of later farms where they resided). Therefore, I chose to list Seborg's maiden name as Jørstad.

    I (Martha Hicks) estimated Seborg's death date as "about 1865" based on the following evidence: First of all, it is known that she died before Ole. He died as a widower in 1868. The Big Canoe church records list Seborg as a baptismal sponsor (godmother) for her grandchildren in 1864, giving an indication of when she was last known to be alive. However, she does not appear in the church's death records that were started in 1866. This leads me (Martha Hicks) to conclude that she died between late 1864 and the end of 1865. Thus, I have estimated Seborg's death date to be about 1865.

    For this family, in addition to church records, I (Martha Hicks) also acquired data from bydeboks (Norwegian books), passenger lists, American vital records, state and federal censuses, cemetery records, probate records, etc. I have amassed a huge amount of Norwegian ancestral information, along with a large registry of the descendants. The descendant data was most focused on the branches Ole and Seborg's youngest son and daughter, Tosten (aka Thomas) and Synneva (aka Susan). These descendants comprise the Schliesser and Burshem branches. For the Burshems, I gathered most of the data by making phone calls to individual family members in each branch.

    More recently, as time permits during the past couple of years, I have focused on the Spiegel and Goho families of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Some of the research results are not yet posted on my website.

    I maintain detailed source data in my main (offline) database. It is a massive-sized file and contains some private notes, which I have not uploaded to the internet.

    Martha J. (Schliesser) Hicks

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    The Schliesser - Hicks Family Tree by Martha Jane (Schliesser) Hicks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
    Based on a work at