Archive for November, 2008

Upcoming Research

November 26, 2008

Despite the failure of DNA finding our Wrann/Paulmann ancestral home there still may be some other avenues that lead us there. Two that I’m currently working on are:

1. Marie Paulmann Hayes’ death certificate – My Great Great Grandmother Marie was first married to Ferdinand Gustav Wrann in the early 1880’s and after his death in 1895 she married William Joseph Hayes. Curiously I have not been able to locate a death certificate for her. Thanks to information from two (recently found!) Hayes cousins I’ve learned that she died in Broad Channel, Queens, NY and that it happened on September 2, 1942. What’s bizarre is that her death certificate does not show up in either the NYC Death Index or the NY State Death Index. Because she died in Queens it absolutely should be in the NYC Index but it’s not. It’s possible (though rare) that for some reason her Death Certificate was not indexed but does still exist. I’ve ordered a reel of microfilm from the Family History Library in Utah with every Queens, NY Death Certificate from Aug – Oct 1942 on it. It should be delivered to my local genealogy library in a few weeks. Once it arrives I can go through each certificate HOPING it’s in there. A death certificate from 1942 could have her parents names as well as the specific town she was from in Germany. …but only if the informant knew that information themselves. I’m guessing the informant on her death certificate was either her daughter Lillian or her son Gustav as they lived closest to her when she died.

2. Gustav Wrann’s Pre Marriage Investigation File – This could be interesting..but it’s a longshot. I stumbled upon the possibility of this by accident. While trying to find the previously mentioned Hayes cousins I was on the phone with the church that my Great Great Uncle William R. Hayes was married at. The clerk I spoke to read me the information from the church record of his marriage. She asked if I wanted to know where and when the bride and groom had been baptized. “Huh?”. Because this information was not included on the standard Catholic Church Marriage Certificate I had no idea that such information was required and recorded. This gave me an idea…my Great Grandfather Gustav and his wife Florence were married at St. John The Martyr’s church in NYC. I already have their City and Church marriage certificates but wanted to find out about their baptisms. Especially Gustavs because family lore says he was not baptized when he was a child and had to be before he could get married at St. Johns. Perhaps his delayed baptismal record would indicate a town in Germany his parents were from. Well…the church clerk found their marriage entry in the dusty old book from 1911 however she was surprised to find their was no entry for EITHER of my Great Great Grandparents baptisms. She said this was VERY odd that it wasn’t recorded. She then told me that in the basement were the old papers for pre-marriage investigations. Apparently these were files kept with information on the couple that would include baptismal information and possibly…family history. The clerk told me she wouldn’t be going into the basement alone and that it would take some time to locate the papers…if they exist. This could yield some results…we’ll see….


DNA Result – UPDATE!

November 26, 2008

Well…..I received the results of the DNA test for the Wrann we found out in Indiana. Unfortunately it’s not even close. Nowhere near being a match to my own.

To recap – currently we don’t know where exactly our Wrann’s came from. All we know is that on all the official documents that have surfaced to date they indicated “Germany”. Germany back in the 1800’s could mean Germany, Prussia, Austria etc… We found a Wrann in his 80’s living in Indiana who isn’t related to any Wrann we are aware of whose father was born in Klagenfurt, Austria. If this gentleman and myself shared a male ancestor going back through history then our Y DNA tests would match. I took mine a year ago and he took his a month ago. The results are so different that there’s no way we are related.

Pretty disappointing because had we been related I could have researched his family line until I found an intersect with our own (which would have been in the early 1800’s).

Back to the paper trail….

Wrann DNA

November 14, 2008

For the past few years I’ve been hearing about DNA tests and how they can be of value to genealogists…especially when they’re trying to prove a relationship.

Without getting too technical, the Y Chromosome is passed virtually unchanged from father to son. What this means is I have the same Y-DNA as my father, his father, his father’s father, his father’s father’s father and on back as far as you can imagine. This also means that my Y-DNA is the same as my Great Great Grandfather Ferdinand Gustav Wrann’s as well as any Wrann male grandparents, cousins, uncles and male siblings he might have had. Since a major brickwall in us figuring out where our Wrann-cestors (too cheesey?) came from in Germany begins at Ferdinand I thought maybe DNA would eventually help us break through.

About a year ago I had my Y-DNA tested via The markers that make up my Y-DNA are stored in a database there and if anyone gets a Y test through them and the results match mine I’ll receive an email with a link to a form I could use to contact that person. Since the Y-DNA is passed only along the male line then logically only someone with a Wrann (or someone who had a Wrann for a father) surname would match mine. To date there are no matched amongst the thousands of Y-DNA tests they have done.

Outside of the people directly related to my Grandfather Willard I’ve never bumped into a Wrann I didn’t know. We’ve always considered the surname to be fairly rare. We have of course found other Wrann’s online – some from Austria, some from Germany, some from Chile, Australia, the UK…and a few in the United States with no known connection to us.

Last year my father contacted one of these United States Wranns who seems completely unrelated to our branch of Wranns. In the interest of privacy I won’t post his first name here but I will tell you he’s in his 80’s, fought in WWII and seems to be a genuinely nice guy. His father immigrated to the U.S. from Austria in the 1920’s and documents indicate he was born in a town called Klagenfurt. If somewhere down the line this man and myself share a common male ancestor then a DNA test would prove the relationship. Because we know specifically where his father was born then if we are connected I could research records from that area and eventually we would discover where Ferdinand Gustav and this man were related. My father paid for the test, Mr. Wrann took it and the lab received the test kit back on November 3. The test results typically take about two weeks to be completed and we’re anxiously awaiting the results.

If any family members want to see the results of my own test send me an email at and I’ll send you a .pdf file.

1889: The Birth Of Walter Wrann

November 14, 2008

On October 4, 1889 Walter Harry Wrann was born. The fourth child to be born to my great great grandparents Ferdinand Gustav Wrann and Marie Paulmann, Walter would be the final child the couple would have together.

Based on later Federal Census data we knew Walter was born in Pennsylvania but why the Wrann’s moved there from NYC is not known. They didn’t stay long in PA and would soon move back to Manhattan.

At the time of his birth Philadelphia did not hold Birth Certificates but instead kept the records in a ledger. Following is an image taken from a microfilm copy of the Birth Registration for Walter. Click on the image to enlarge it.


The information contained in the ledger is as follows:

Date Of Birth: Oct 4

Name Of Child: Walter H. Wrann

Sex: Male

Color: White

Ward: 16

Place Of Birth: 401 No 4

Name Of Parents: Gustav + Maria Wrann

Occupation Of Father: Cigar Maker

Name Of Physician: Matilda Ullrich

Residence Of Physician: 709 St. John’s’

Unfortunately this document does not indicate the birth place of his parents…something we are still trying to pinpoint to this day.

Walter would one day marry and have a son and later grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Walter’s son was my Grandfather Willard’s cousin and it seems the two lost touch with each other long before I was born. A few years ago I managed to track down Walter’s granddaughter and she and her sister have since attended a Wrann gathering and keep in touch via email! Re-establishing a connection between my grandfather’s Wrann family and her father’s Wrann family has certainly been one of my proudest moments since becoming involved in this research.