How to find the Ancestral Village

For many years the Herman’s German village of origin was unknown. His father, Joseph’s military record was consistent in stating he was from Koln, Germany. A search for records of Joseph’s birth in Koln produced nothing. It appeared that saying he was from Koln was like someone saying they were from Dallas, when in actuality the town was in the general vicinity.
However, this quest all ended one day while working on another project in the same county in which Joseph Steinbeigle married Elizabeth Wallwork; Bibb County, Alabama. The marriage records were examined and while searching, a female appeared with the name of Francis Steinbuchel. Immediately, I was at full attention because this was the original spelling of our family name and Francis was the name of Joseph’s mother. I knew she had to be related so set out in earnest to learn everything I could about Francis Steinbuchel who married John Funken 31 December 1893 in Bibb County, Alabama. I tracked the family to Illinois; the same county where the Steinbeigle’s eventually settled, but Francis disappeared. I searched and searched for her and finally decided to get some sleep since it was, at that time, the wee hours of the morning. As I laid my head down, the thought came, “she went back to Germany.” I sat up bolt right, ran to the computer and began looking at passenger lists. Yes, she did, indeed, go back to Germany with all of her children and returned shortly after. The advantage of finding an ancestor on a ship passenger list in the 1900s is that the last place of residence is named as well as the place of birth. The entry for Francis included all of this information! She was born in Borbeck, Rhineland. Unfortunately, the Family History Library did not have microfilm for this village so a letter was written to the local record holder in Borbeck for a search of the birth and marriage records of Herman’s grandparents, Conrad Steinbuchel and Francisca Koch. Within a month, precious birth and marriage records were received into my hands. The village of origin of the Steinbuchel family had finally been found!
The genealogical research message from this is: ALWAYS check the records in which your ancestor is found for similar surnames. When I originally found the marriage record for Joseph Steinbeigle and Elizabeth Wallwork in Bibb County, Alabama, it was years and years ago before I knew much about genealogical research. I did not check for possible relatives in the area. As it turned out, this “possible” relative was a sister to Joseph and she led us to the home village in Germany.