S03EP01: ‘The Benefactor’ with Denise Geelhart

We begin Series Three, with Andrew meeting American genealogist Denise Geelhart who’s just turned professional. Aside from family history, she also loves true crime so much that she even hosts a podcast called Murderous Roots. Andrew will be finding out about how she got hooked on family history, her love of DNA results, and why she researches some of the world’s most violent criminals.

Life Story – Joseph Haberstroh

Denise has chosen her German 3x Great Grandfather Joseph Haberstroh as the Life Story to share.

Joseph was born on 3rd March 1843, near the ruins of Lichteneck Castle in Hecklingen, just North of Freiberg im Breisgau, in Baden, Germany.

This story follows a young family emigrating from Germany during the 1848 German Revolution that saw hunger and economic instability. The family led by Andreas Haberstroh and his pregnant wife Maria, left Germany with Joseph and his 6 siblings (soon to be 7), and managed to make the huge 13,000km/8,000 mile journey from Germany, on to France, and then crossing to New Orleans in USA in 1850.

When the American Civil War begins, 18 year old Joseph enlists to fight with Company B of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery on the side of the Union, where he fought in the Siege of Vicksburg (1863).

Surviving the revolution, Joseph went on to marry but did not marry another Catholic woman, instead he married a Lutheran and became involved in the Lutheran church.

He built a property portfolio of various buildings in which he had renting tenants, and he donated the bell to the Shrine of St. Joseph at St Louis, which was likely forged by his brother-in-law, and that bell still rings out today. Alongside this legacy, his surname of Haberstroh which can be readily found to name places or buildings in the community. Remarkably, Denise is even set to receive two of the family’s old chairs that made it over from Germany.

It’s clear that Denise and her family have great pride in their German immigrant Revolutionary ancestor, and his legacy… even a very unusual handed-down cake recipe!

The Brick Wall – Nancy Romines

It’s a 2x Great Grandmother – Nancy Romines – who is standing as Denise’s research brick wall.

Denise knows that Nancy was born on 11th August 1851 in Tennessee, USA, possibly in Putnam County, but aside from that she knows little else about Nancy’s origins.

Based on her relatives earlier research, it’s believed that Nancy was the daughter of Thomas Romines and his wife Phoebe. Sadly, records in Tennessee, death records were not mandatory at the time of Thomas’s death, so she’s unable to find much more on him, other than he died in 1831 (thanks to a probate record) which completely throws out him being the father of Nancy.

Denise has also heard that either an Isaac or a George Romines might also have been the father, but she’s certain that there is a connection to one of the Romines men, as she has seen a DNA match that links back to Thomas Romines senior – the father of the reputed father of Nancy.

  • Was Nancy a real name or a nickname?
  • Was Nancy born to a younger sibling but informally adopted by an older relative?
  • Where did she go during the census years?

If you think that you might have a clue or a research idea that would help Denise to solve her brick wall, then you can contact her via her Twitter account @jayhawkmommy, via her podcast website, or via the email address that she gives in the episode. Alternatively, you can send a message via our contact form and we’ll pass that straight on to her.

As Denise jumps at Andrew’s offer of help, will it really get her closer to the truth?


Episode Credits:
Series Three, Episode One

  • Andrew Martin: Host and Producer
  • Denise Geelhart: Guest

2 thoughts on “S03EP01: ‘The Benefactor’ with Denise Geelhart

Add yours

  1. Good stories. Unfortunately, you have mixed up in the story of Joseph Haberstroh the American Revolution and the American Civil War (1861-1865). Loyalist? Perhaps you meant Union in MO and at Vicksburg.

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