Family history moments: 40-year quest

Before I was baptized almost 40 years ago, I began researching my family history. It was a labor of love, almost a compulsion, to find my ancestors, and over the years I amassed thousands of names.

But the line on which I had the most difficulty was my own surname, Lovenbury. I had traced the line back to the early 1700s in Berkshire near London.

Then, in 1990, I discovered that a distant relative in England, Norman Jones, was working on the same line and hit the same walls I had encountered. Together, we determined to solve the mystery.

His research had turned up the fact that there was a Lovenbury family in Keynsham near Bath, England, whose records also went back to the 1700s.

It was Norman who put the pieces together. What did Keynsham, have in common with our ancestral parishes of Bosley and Bisham? The answer was brass! The people were brass workers.

Further research on both sides of the Atlantic showed that the brassmakers in all three parishes had been recruited from the same town in Germany: Stolberg near Aachen. In 1700, it was the brass-making center of Europe.

My first letter to Stolberg hit pay dirt. The first line of the response read, "Dear Sir, I have found your ancestors." It was from Winfried Janus, an even more distant relative, who "happened to be in the Stolberg archives" when my letter arrived.

Within months I had a list of every Lovenberg (German spelling for Lovenbury) in a large area between Aachen and Cologne, from 1550 to 1750, as well as the genealogies of all lines which married into mine.

Winfried's research uncovered more and more references to Lovenbergs as far back as 1200, yielding enough information to construct genealogical lines from 1500 back to the first person to ever bear the name.

I am convinced that the information is out there on everyone's ancestors if they will only put out the effort to find it. The key to family history is patience, perseverance and prayer. "With God, all things are possible," even if it takes 40 years. — Kirk P. Lovenbury, Winchester (Va.) Ward

Illustration by Alex Nabaum

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