Sunday, January 18, 2009

Social Networking

I've been doing genealogy research for a while now. And as I've mentioned before, there are all kinds of angles to it, history, demography, geography, etc. Now we can add Social Networking as a genealogy tool.
At the end of November, my daughter helped me get set up on Facebook, LinkedIn and this whole blogging thing.

Since then I've made contact with a boatload of Kleyleins around the world. Kleylein is a fairly unusual name, relatively
speaking (that's a genealogy joke). As a boy, I hated how different it was but as a genealogist, it is absolutely wonderful. Any Kleylein I run into can usually trace their ancestry to Unterrodach (or Oberrodach) in Bavaria and chances are pretty good that we're related. You can see where the town is by finding the little red dot I've made on the map of Germany. Notice that it is very near the old border of East Germany.

This is the little town my grandfather Peter Kleylein emmigrated from back in 1889. It's in Oberfranken near the Frankenwald Nature Preserve in an area that looks very much like central Pennsylvania. As a matter of fact, when we visited Germany we commented that the area there looks a lot like Pennsylvania, but with castles.

is apparently a very old name, so old it doesn't conform to modern German spelling rules which would have it appear as Kleilein. Some of my German colleagues have even intimated that perhaps it is not a German name so I made fun of
their heritage too.

Some of the families in town actually changed the spelling to Kleilein and there are still both spellings in town and around the world. As a matter of fact, there were so many Kleyleins that they hyphenated their last names to tell one another apart. There are names like Kleylein-Sohn, Kleylein-Feuerstein, and my family Kleylein-Weltdicker although many have dropped the hyphenated second name when they move somewhere where there is only one Kleylein family.

Now between Facebook and LinkedIn, I've found other Kleyleins in Germany of course, but also Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Argentina, Australia and in the US. How about that! Now the families who grew up around the river Rodach who are the descendants of the Flößers (rafters) who cut down the trees, lashed them together and floated on them to the sawmills are in every corner of the earth and we can find each other because of the Internet.

Just a few years ago, I could do a search on 'Kleylein' and get 25 hits. I just Googled 'Kleylein' a minute ago and got 21,000 hits and another 51,000 for Kleilein. So, we have plenty of raw information now, we just need a super-meta-knowledge-base to correlate it for us. In the mean time, I'll just keep working through the list one Kleylein at a time. I'm glad it's not Smith.

No comments: