Tracy's Tree House
The Genealogical Research of Tracy Reinhardt 
commencing in 1970 and continuing to this day

Happy Holidays, Genealogy Style


My Publications

In 1970 I found myself at a Tupperware party.  I had just moved into the rural neighborhood, about 6 miles northeast of Eden, WI, and one of my neighbors thought to invite me, so that I could meet my new neighbors.

As a somewhat timid person, the presence of total strangers was a little daunting for me the entire evening, but I muddled through.  At various times during the evening, I was asked about my origins, and even though I grew up on a farm just outside of Fond du Lac, (6 miles northwest of Eden) I could remember that my grandfather had been born on a farm near Eden, and so I used that little fact to make a connection with my new neighbors.

I did not actually know where my grandfather's farm was, but I knew it was near Eden..

The many questions that night about my family spurred me to start asking questions of my parents.  I had just had my first child, and suddenly I had a very important reason to know about my ancestors. 

My family is full of great story-tellers, including my own father.  Every family reunion gathering of dad and his siblings, brought more and more stories that I wanted to preserve for my son.   And since he was too young to understand them, and my memory was not good enough to last forever, I knew that I had to start writing down all those wonderful tales of the Irish.

Pretty soon I found myself asking 'who is Aunt Kate?' .......'How many brothers and sisters did grandma have?'............and then came the realization that I needed a score card, to keep track of everybody.   That's when I really started a serious persuit of my ancestry.  I wanted to find all that I could, to learn what my ancestors were like.

As my own aunts and uncles learned of my pursuits, they assisted in every way possible.   I soon discovered that they all had the same yearning for two missing pieces of information ...........they all wanted to know when their Grandpa Cornelius Mahoney had died, and they all wanted to know when their Grandma (Elizabeth Hegner Reinhardt) had died. I soon realized how saddened my aunts were, not knowing when two of their own grandparents had died.
Grandpa Mahoney had been killed in a railroad accident in Fond du Lac, and they knew it had happened in the same year as the San Francisco earthquake.  So after four trips to the Fond du Lac library, reading all the old newspapers of 1906,  I  found what I had been looking for.......the accident article entitled 'Tragedy At North Fond du Lac'.

But my next quest was not as easy.    No one had a clue as to where or when Elizabeth Hegner Reinhardt had died.  Some relatives said she died in childbirth, when my grandpa was born.   Others said she had a later child, and the child died with her.   Some said it was twins.  One aunt said that the baby who died was named Eugene.  But I could find nothing.   I did not pursue this too dilligently, because I was busy raising my own family, but it was always in the back of my mind.  And at every reunion, they always asked about my progress.

My husband and I moved away three years later, and eventually I found myself in central Wisconsin, 2 1/2 hours away from all my main research county of Fond du Lac.

In 1980, when the opportunity came to move back to Fond du Lac, I renewed my research efforts to find the death record of my gt-grandmother.   I re-joined the local genealogical society, and signed up to assist in a church survey that the society was conducting of churches in the county.   When one little Catholic Church in Dotyville mentioned that it might allow one person access to their records, if they would help publish a church history, I jumped at the opportunity.  I only lived a little ways from the church, so it was handy.  I have received so much assistance and guidance from others along the course of my 15 years of research, that this was a chance to return the favor for someone else.

When I went to the rectory, the priest there was hesitant.  As he explained his ideas of a church history, he cautioned me that it would not be so easy.   All of the early record books were written in Latin. He then pulled out the old register to show me the old Latin script.

Even though the book was facing the priest and away from me, and the Latin words I was trying to look at were upside down, I immediately noticed the name REINHARDT jumping out at me!   It was the baptismal record for my own grandfather.   I could not believe it!     And if he was baptised there, then his mother probably was buried from there.     At last I had made a breakthrough.   Father very kindly offered to let me take the book home for several days to research.   I tried very hard not to let him see how badly I was shaking.  At that moment, he could have asked me for a sizable donation to the church, and I would have put the farm up for sale!!!

I do not know how I made the 5 mile journey home that evening.  The tears wouldn't stop.   I had found the answer to that final family mystery.......I had found the record of my gt-grandmothers death.   Yes, Elizabeth Hegner Reinhardt died in childbirth.  And yes, there was a baby named Eugene, who only lived several weeks. 

I was overjoyed to discover that in a matter of a few more months, we would be able to commerate the 100th anniversary of her death.........and she died on my youngest daughter's birthdate....Sept 25.

This discovery spurred me to try to locate the farm that she lived on.   If we were always told that grandpa was born on a farm near Eden, where was the Dotyville connection?
I realized that I had never checked out the 1874 plat map of Fond du Lac county, so I headed for the library one day.    I checked out the farms in the Dotyville area, widening my search until I found what I was looking for.   There, in the township of Empire, section 36 (exactly half-way between Eden and Dotyville) was an 80 farm owned by "G. Rhinehart."

Imagine my shock as I realized the full implications of my discovery.  The farmhouse my grandmother Reinhardt had died in 100 years earlier,  was the very same farmhouse where I had attended a Tupperware party in 1970, and the start of all my genealogy.