Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Bertha & John Doller - 1935, Buffalo, New York

Today I want to write about my husband’s side of the family.  I know quite a bit about the Hall side (his paternal side).  However, on his maternal side, there is less information.  Maybe it’s because the Hall side can be traced back to 1668 in Massachusetts. And, this particular line on his mother’s side only goes back to the late 1800’s when they immigrated from Germany.  I don’t know.  But, I do know that I’d like to learn more about this part of the family.   

My husband’s mother, Dorothy Beatrice Fink and her siblings were all born in Erie County, New York.  Three of them in Buffalo and one in Ebenezer.  

Going back one more generation are Dorothy Fink’s parents Henry August Fink & Freada Emma Meta Doller, both born in Buffalo, Erie, New York.

Let’s concentrate on Freada’s parents.  They are John Doller & Bertha A. Keller.  They are my husband’s great grandparents on his mother’s side.

Copy of DOLLAR_Bertha_withFreada&nieces-nephews
Bertha Keller Doller with her nieces & nephews and her daughter, Freada (standing far right)

Here is the family view for John & Bertha, from my Legacy database. 
Doller-John_family view

You can clearly see that I have information on them, but nothing on their parents and two children that are unknown.  

What type of sources do I have for this couple?

Here is what I have for Bertha Keller Doller and I can tell you that I have the same sources for John Doller.

Doller_Mrs John_sources for her

1.  How do I rate these sources?  Not very well.
2.  Am I confident in the information?  Sort of.
3.  Do I need more?  Absolutely!

Census records can certainly be wonderful sources for information.  If you get information that matches up (or closely matches) from census to census, then you have a fair idea that the information is correct or close to correct.  HOWEVER, the data on the census is only as good as the person who gave it to the enumerator and only as good as what the enumerator wrote.  Since we don’t know who in the household (or even if someone in the household) gave the information to the enumerator, we have to be cautious.  I consider census data to be a lead for me to gather real evidence of events, such as births, marriages, divorces, deaths etc.

Let’s look at the other source for this couple – “Info taken from hand written document written by Delphine Fink Long.”  While I know it may not be standard practice for citing a Master Source, it’s a method I use when I have something like a handwritten document that gives me names & dates.  At least that way I am noting/sourcing where my information came from, until I can get verifying data.  By the way, Delphine Fink Long is the granddaughter of John & Bertha.

And lastly for the marriage of John Doller & Bertha Keller, I have noted that it is a “guess based on the age of first child and date of immigration to the U.S.”  Again, it’s not a “real” source, but tells me where the information came from and gives me a starting point.  And, now that I am re reading that statement.  I don't really know if Irven Doller, Sr., was a first child or not, since so many of the children died. 


Here is a list of the documents I need for this couple.
  • Birth records from Germany, possibly from a church parish or government record.
  • Immigration records.  How about a passenger record?  I haven’t found one yet, but I’m still looking.  The 1900 census gives an immigration date of 1890 and lists John Doller as “na” meaning naturalized.  Naturalization papers can give parents names, exact places of birth and many other vital facts.  FYI – I have never obtained a naturalization record for any of my ancestors.  Do I want to?  Yes.
  • Marriage record.   This couple probably married in Germany, since their son, Irven Doller, Sr. was born there in 1885.  I don’t know where and when the other children were born, except for Freada, who was born in Buffalo, New York.
  • Death certificates.  New York is not known for having very many online records and has pretty much been a black hole for me on many ancestors.  However, I have just recently read about thousands more New York records coming online.  I am anxious for that.  The only other way I can obtain records is by getting microfilm from the FHL (Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah) and having it sent to our local FHC (Family History Center), or checking with our local center to see if they might already have the films on file.
Here are the burial records I obtained from the cemetery and pictures of John & Bertha’s headstone.  

DOLLER_Bertha & John headstone photo taken by Phyllis Meyer_Buffalo Cemetery_Buffalo NY
Headstone for John & Bertha Doller - courtesy of Sandra Hudson

DOLLER_John & Bertha_burial cards from cemetery in BuffaloNY_enhanced
Burial cards for John & Bertha Doller - courtesy of Buffalo Cemetery, Cheektowaga, Erie, New York
What have I learned today from reviewing this couple?

I always like to ask myself that question.  Here is what I’ve learned today in just a very quick review of this couple, my husband’s great grandparents.
  • That I need to go back to sites I have searched before, such as Ancestry.com or Family Search and see if new records have come online.
  • That I should go to the FHL catalog and find out which microfilms contain the naturalization and/or death records I need.  Once I know the numbers, I can call or visit our local family history center.
  • That in reviewing the 1900 census I had missed the notation that Bertha was the mother of 6 children, and only 2 were living when the census was taken.  If you look at the family view of this couple, I only have 5 children for them. 
  • Look again for passenger records for this couple.  I’ll use Ancestry.com and Steve Morse’s site.  His site is a combination of several sites for passenger records.
  • Look into obtaining naturalization records for John Doller.  Was Bertha also naturalized?  For this I’ll need to go to the National Archives & Records Administration site (NARA).  I’ll also check with the FHL catalog to see what they have.
I’m sure there are more things to do, and things I’ve missed. I will continue to review once I publish this post.

TIP:  Going over your information for either a couple or just one person, can certainly shed new light on where you are in your research.  It can give you new ideas and take you in directions you may have missed when you last visited.  Making a list of what you need to do is also a useful tool.

ATTENTION ANY DOLLER, KELLER OR FINK DESCENDANTS –  If you read this post and would like to share/exchange with me, I am greatly interested.  

Happy hunting and wish me luck,

Michigan girl,

Copyright ©  2014   Diane Gould Hall


  1. Yes, you can look again for passenger lists, but what you really need to do is figure out what church they went to in Buffalo. I am assuming they were Lutheran or Ev. Lutheran. If so, you have a good chance that the church records will give their village of origin. If they were Catholic then it is less likely that the information will be available. Archives.com has a very large collection of Evangelical Lutheran Church Records digitized online. Using maps & city directories you should be able to come up with where they likely went to church.

  2. Ann - Thank you for the tip. I have to admit I had not thought about that.....yet. This is one more reason I enjoy writing my blog or sharing on genealogy Facebook groups. Other researchers so often have valuable input and another viewpoint. I'll let you know what I locate.

  3. Hi my name is Jenny Doller.My husband is Stephen Doller
    His father was also Stephen Doller and I think his grandpa too.Dont know much about the Doller side as he passed away when my husband was 6 months old.I would Love to know more and hopefully we would be related.I know Doller is not a common name.

    1. Hello. I don’t know if you'll see this reply. I would be happy to assist you with your Doller research. Please get back in touch with me. The Doller family I'm referencing came from Germany and in fact the name was Talarowski. Johann Talarowski changed the family name to Doller.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Julie, pleased to meet you. I would love to correspond with you. Perhaps we could share family information or photos with one another?
      Please get back in touch and share your email if you’d be willing.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.