MY BEGINNINGS

AS THE

SAEMANN-NICKEL FAMILY GENEALOGIST


Our family website is something I could have started years ago, but I had to walk on the yellow brick road for several miles before I had the courage to begin. And so for now, you won’t see much, but I expect this site to grow every month!

In 1978, shortly after the birth of my youngest child, an uncle on my dad’s side asked me to type a genealogic directory of the family, and then in 1980, another manuscript of his sister’s memories of their mother. I had been editing, formatting, and typescripting manuscripts for scholarly publications since 1972, so it seemed quite natural that I was chosen for to prepare his directory. On this, my mother’s side, my Aunt Charlotte became acquainted with my work and asked me to type up the lineage chart of our Sheldon line on which she had been working for some years. By 1982 I had swallowed the genealogy bait “hook, line, and sinker”. We all loved hearing the family stories as we grew up, but the more historical facts of the family history that I was getting into awakened in me a much stronger desire to learn more.

Prior to my own efforts, my Aunt Charlotte had done most of the work in her family’s genealogy. She never told me what initially interested her in doing it but I am forever indebted to her for the inspiration to begin my own journey. It must have been she who told her 1st cousin, Mary Turman, about me. They didn’t know each other well, but had met once or twice. One day in 1982, I received a letter from Mary. She was planning a cross-country genealogy trip, and asked if she could come by and visit me. She had already met cousin Jim in southern California, and they had exchanged all their photos. Mary showed up and stayed a week, while we busied ourselves sharing our respective genealogic information. All I had at that time was the Sheldon material I was working on for Aunt Charlotte and some photographs that I had started collecting, copies from my mother’s and Aunt Charlotte’s collections, and a set that I had recently received from cousin Jim. From that visit on, Mary and I collaborated in all phases of Nickel-Burch research through the mail and on two more visits from her. Our major quest in the Nickel-Burch research was to locate and identify the Burch line.


By 1987, I had already been researching this side of my family for five years. While raising small children, running my husband’s business and my own home typesetting business, it was certainly a spare time pursuit, but I often made time in the quiet hours between 5 and 7 to work at it. On a visit to Chicago in 1987, Aunt Charlotte brought a huge box containing everything to do with our genealogy. We set up a large table and a tape recorder and talked for hours. She let me take all the materials home for as long as I needed them. It was on this visit that she passed me the “baton” as family genealogist.

When I began doing my own research twenty years ago this spring, I went into it full-tilt. Hundreds of letters to Massachusetts, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, California seeking out documents — birth, marriage, census, death, will, and cemetery records, land records, newspaper accounts. Where simple document searches ended, we hired professional researchers to dig deeper. They got tired of me at my public Inter-Library Loan. Whenever possible, I visited major genealogy libraries. I got familiar enough with life in the libraries, that I’d always go with my research kit: rolls of dimes and quarters, notebook, magnifying glass, post-it notes, scotch tape, stapler, paper clips, and a candy bar for lunch for non-stop research; my research hours too precious to waste on a lunch break. No notebook computers in those “early” days. Every visit “home” I would dedicate a day or two at Chicago’s Newberry Library, and on the way back to Montana, I’d stop in Madison, Wisconsin. Besides a good visit with my brother and his family, I could do a couple of days’ research at the State Historical Library. My kids remember spending whole days playing around in the fountain out in front. They’d check in with me every hour--back and forth from the fountain plaza to my perch in the 4th floor stacks. “Mom , are you almost done?” In ‘94 a visit to DC included some research at the Library of Congress and the National Archives. I solicited photographs from people’s picture albums – “please may I have a ‘copy negative’ of that picture?” We hired a professional restorer to do work on several very old photographs. We had over 100 photos “copy-negged” and put into protective sleeves which all are now archived in my files.

We know more about the major paternal families. A female’s family is called a lateral line, as opposed to direct, and for some of those families, we will have, say, the emigrant and one more generation, maybe two, and then our research on that family ends. When a woman married into a family, she took her husband’s name and genealogically, her family’s importance to the ancestry ended there, more or less. She blended, however, into her husband’s family, and brought with her the strengths and weaknesses of her own ancestry, and became a part of the foundation for her own descendants.


A research trip could easily yield hundreds of xerox copies and pages of notes; a packet from a librarian could keep me busy for a week. Organizing files became paramount, and what used to be my file system in a cardboard box now grew to office-quality file cabinets. I had a great desire to share everything with others, but how to put it all together? Still, at times it’s been suggested that I have all this good stuff on the family, but keep a jealous guardianship over it. I really have wanted to share it, but haven’t known quite what to do with it all. There is so much!! I have two legal-sized file drawers stuffed full of files, as well as books, and the photo collection. With everyone having access to the internet, either directly or through someone they know, and the resources being “out there” for genealogists to “do their thing” on the Net, this seems a perfect medium for me to disseminate the vast amount of what I have compiled, as well as to tell the family’s story. And to this end, I commit this Family Website.

All my work in getting our family history compiled and into a form that you can print out and have for your own, is a labor of love from me to you and your descendants, and anyone else who can benefit from knowledge, however little, of our families.









Official Website of the
Saemann-Nickel and Related Families

This is the "My Beginnings" Page

Joann Saemann
West Jordan, UT
Presentation © 2009 Joann Saemann
Updated - 23 February 2015







Graphic, burning candle
This candle was lit on September 11th, 2001, in memory of
those who perished at the hands of terrorists.
Keep it burning for our children.






Creations by Dawn, logo


This website was begun on Geocities. This logo was designed
by Nanny's Victorian Graphics - no longer on the internet.