Lesson 2: Is Anybody Out There? Contacting distant relatives to find your family tree

Starting the New Year with a stack of old information seems a bit daunting to me, but then again, how can I really discover anything new unless I know where I’ve been?  My brother was kind enough to point me to some websites and applications that will convert my family files to html, so there’s something new to learn.  And our new video capture enables us to update those home movies to digital format, therefore I can pass memories of my grandparents’ voices along to the next generation.  Garageband lets me convert my Hooters cassette to mp3, oh, and that interview I made with my great-aunts won’t be lost forever, either.


Speaking of interviewing relatives, that’s the next step in compiling your family stories…

Attempt a family reunion, and make personal visits


Having an unusual surname is a benefit.  I’ve never found a lot of Zarfos, but Andersons are everywhere!  Locate other people with your name (and variant spellings) using phone books, city directories, and Internet.  Search facebook and other social network groups to see if there’s one pertaining to your family.


Dispatch a query letter, giving information about your line and see if that person knows of a common connection.

You'll want to remember how to write a 'real' letter, as the generation with the most pertinent information (for the most part) has no interest in computers.

Keep a copy of the letters you send, for it may be difficult from the reply to tell what you said in your request.  And it’s a good idea to keep a log-in/log-out of letters, including a notation as to when particular letters were answered.


Be responsive to the needs of the individual you’re are writing, and offer information you have that could be of help.  Pay the cost of copies of the materials you request, and it’s customary when writing for information to include a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for the response.

If you write others seeking information, remember your manners!  Because you’re asking them to help you, you need to make it easy for them to respond.  Ask direct questions.  Include as much information as necessary to identify the individual you are seeking, without including extraneous material.  “Just the facts, ma’am.”  A short, to-the-point letter with the name and birth/death dates of the ancestry line you’re seeking will be more likely to encourage response.  A letter that deals with a variety of subjects will be set aside as too overwhelming to answer.  Save those details for further communication.


Continuing with my own attempt to properly groom my own family tree, I continue with my paternal grandmother’s parents…

1 Charles Franklin “Chalk” LAUCKS


Birth:      26 Jun 1886, Lower Windsor twp, York Co, PA

Death:      13 Apr 1953, West Side Osteopathic Hospital, York, PA

Burial:      16 Apr 1953, Red Lion Cemetery, Gay St, York twp, York Co, PA

Occupation:      VP J C Winter Cigar Co, Red Lion, PA

Religion:      St Paul’s Evangelical United Brethren, 1st Ave Red Lion, PA

Father:      George LAUCKS

Mother:      Valera BULL


"Mr & Mrs Charles F LAUCKS presented the console of the great organ."


“Chas. Laucks, York Tobacco Figure, Dies

Vice President of J C Winter Co Retired from Active Business First of the Year

by George Alwood

Red Lion, Pa, April 18--Charles F Laucks, who retired from active business the first of the year, though retaining his title as vice president of J C Winter Co, died last Monday in the West Side Osteopathic Hospital in York after an illness of two weeks.  He was 66 years old.  Funeral services were held Thursday morning at the Burg Funeral Home, Red Lion, and interment was is the Red Lion Cemetery.

Mr Laucks was born June 26, 1886, in Lower Windsor Township and spent his entire adult life, with the exception of two years when in the grocery business, in the tobacco and cigar business.  His first venture in the cigar business was as a cigarmaker for the George McGuigan Cigar Co.  While working for this firm, he met and married Edna Eberly in 1907 and the happy union was blessed with eight children.

He became associated with Jacob Steavig in the old National Tobacco Co. a short while later and contined with this firm for fourteen years when he formed his own enterprise, the Laucks Tobacco Co.  This company manufactured scrap tobacco and processed leaf tobacco for the cigar manufacturers in and around York County.  He consolidated his business with the J C Winter Co, one of his principal accounts, in 1929 and became vice president of the company, which title he held until his death.

“Chalk,” as he was affectionately known by his host of friends, was an extremely active business man throughout his career and displayed a keen interest in civic and religious organizations in his community.  He was a charter member of the Sr. O U A M Lodge, No 649 Lodge F & A M [Free & Accepted Masons]; Royal Arch Chapter No 25, York; Gethsemanee Commandery Knights Templar, York; No 30 Tall Cedars of Zembo Mosque, Harrisburg; Shrine Club of York County, Lions Club, Red Lion; I O O F, Red Lion; Jenny Wade Rebeccah Lodge, Red Lion; St Paul’s E U B Church and the Sunday School Class taught by W L Arnold.  He was formerly fire chief for the local fire department for many years and was a devoted member of the Izaac Walton League.

Mr Laucks is survived by four sons, Foster M, Otto, Gerald J and J Kenneth Laucks; three daughters, Mrs K T Steigleman; Mrs Luther Smith and Mrs Jay Zarfos; two brothers, Luther and William Laucks, and ten grandchildren.  Mrs Charles F Laucks, his wife, passed away ten months ago.”


Spouse:      Edna Blanche EBERLY

Birth:      22 Feb 1890

Death:      21 May 1952, York Hospital, York PA

Father:      EBERLY

Mother:      Emma J BESHORE

Marriage:      27 Jun 1907


Children:      Eva Arlene (1908-1991)

                              Foster Martin (1910-1959)

                              Luther Otto “Tod” (1912-1975)

                              James Kenneth “Kenny” (1914-1983)

                              Charles Amon (1916-1945)

                              Geraldine Josephine “Sity” (1919-1999)

                              Gerald Joseph “Joe” (1919-1987)

                              Ina Justine (1924-1969)


1.1a Eva Arlene LAUCKS*


Birth:      30 Sep 1908

Death:      23 Aug 1991

Burial:      Mt Rose Cemetery

Education:      Red Lion High School 1925; Albright College 1929


“Anna E Ziegler Sails on the Bremen

Well Known Vocal Teacher, Accompanied by Two of Her Pupils, Plans to Remain Abroad About a Year--Will Gather Data for Guild of Vocal Teachers and New York Singing Teachers’ Association.

Anna E Ziegler, president and founder of the Guild of Vocal Teachers, sailed for Europe recently on the Bremen, to remain abroad for a year.  Her trip, as has already been announced in the MUSICAL COURIER, is endorsed by the Guild and the New York Singing Teachers’ Association.  While abroad Mme Ziegler has made plans to visit Germany, England, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria, in all of which countries she will gather data regarding the activities of musical organizations, which will be of interest and value to the Guild and the Singing Teachers’ Association.

When interviewed prior to sailing, Mme Ziegler spoke of her thirty-five years of experience as teacher, and also of her hopes and aspirations for the future work of the Guild.

“You perhaps do not know,” she said, “that when I first conceived the idea of the Guild I sent out a call in the MUSICAL COURIER, making the plea that singing should be taught scientifically instead of emotionally.  So many responses were received from prominent musicians that I formed the Guild, and since that time its influence has been steadily growing.  The objects of the Guild and the Association are similar, both organizations aiming to establish a standard of vocal instruction for building and developing the voice upon natural principles, such as were employed by the old Italian masters and are recognized today by the medical profession as beneficial to the preservation of the vocal apparatus; to encourage and effect cooperation among teachers of singing for the promotion of their interests and for the establishing and maintaining of such standard, and to grant certificaytes of proficiency to teachers of singing who measure up to it.

“We are fortunate,” continued Mme Ziegler, “in having Melanie Guttman-Rice as chairman of the committee of prominent vocal teachers who will prepare the Guild course for next summer.  Those who pass the examinations at the conclusion of the course will be given certificates of endorsement by the Guild.”

While Mme Ziegler is in Europe Hilda Grace Gelling, one of New York’s well known vocal teachers, will act as president of the Guild.  At the last meeting of the organization before Mme Ziegler’s sailing the vote was unanimous that the election of officers should be postponed until her return to America.

Mme Ziegler has taken with her to Europe two of her pupils, one of them a contralto, Ethel Birckhead, of White Plains, NY, and the other a soprano, Eva Laucks, a young singer for whom her teacher predicts a brilliant future.  In fact, Mme Ziegler was so enthusiastic over the qualifications of Miss Laucks that she likened the quality of the voice to that of Mme Rethberg, the great artist whom the Guild has taken as a model for their teaching.  Mme Ziegler declared that Miss Laucks has not only the voice but also the characteristics to insure a successful career, namely, perseverance, love of work, eagerness to learn and strict obedience.  She believes that in giving advice teachers should not judge merely by the voice but rather by what the student has in addition to the voice and what she can accomplish with her equiptment.  If all these things are taken into consideration and the pupil then fails, she is of the opinion that the teacher is to blame.

In conclusion, Mme Ziegler said that in the near future she hopes to give up teaching and devote her entire time to the work of the Guild of Vocal Teachers.  In May and June of 1930 she plans to undertake a lecture tour to make the work of the Guild known more extensively throughout the country--in other words, to bring to fruition the idea which she has had for many years, to make the movement national.     G.N.


[Also on p.9, this paragraph underlined:

“Paul Althouse sailed on August 27 on the S.S.America for Europe.  He goes directly to Berlin to start a comprehesively booked tour of that country and elsewhere on the continent.  He will make both concert and operatic appearances.”


from "the Gilberts of the Conajohela Valley", Melvin L Gilbert, 1980, p.438

Eva Arlene Laucks, daughter of Charles F and Edna B (Eberly) Laucks, was born 30. Sept 1908.  Eva graduated from Albright College in June 1929.  After the graduation she sailed on the maiden voyage of the "Bremen" for a year of study in Europe, majoring in soprano voice.  Eva made her debut on 12 Mar 1930, singing soprano in the opera "Don Juan" by Mozart in the opera house in Dresden, Germany.

After returning to the USA, she sang in the second quartette at Riverside Church, New York City.

On 14 June 1930 in St Paul's Evangelical Church, Red Lion, Eva married Elwood Jonathan McGuigan, born 14 June 1906...principal of North York school, etc...


from Saechs. Staatsoper Dresden; Histor. Archiv/Frau Euler; Theaterplatz 2; D-01067 Dresden, Germany; tel. +49 (351) 4911-849

Apryl Anderson 9 Feb 00

No Eva Laucks or Laux on record.  "Don Juan" was not performed on the 12 Mar 1930, she did not sing on that night, and when DJ was performed she was not in it.  DJ has no chorus, so she wasn't in that either.  Nor did she sing in the Dresden Philharmonic.

BUT Tim Richards suggests that she may have stepped in for someone, or performed in a matinee, therefore her name would be not printed in the program...


“Red Lion native Eva Laucks Steigelman, a York resident, was honored on her 80th birthday by 75 family and friends.  A singer, she performed in Germany, New York and Philadelphia and with a number of church choirs under the name of Eva Laux.  She and her husband, Dr K T Steigelman, are the parents of two children, grandparents of five and great-grandparents of two.”


“Eva Laucks Steigelman


Eva A Loucks Steigelman of York died of natural causes at 6:05 am Friday at Memorial Hospital.  She was 82.

She was an active member of St Matthew Lutheran Church, a 1925 graduate of Red Lion High School and a 1929 graduate of Albright College.

She studied voice with Madam Rethberg in Germany and made her operatic debut in Dresden, Germany.  She had been a soloist at the First Methodist Church, West Philadelphia, the First Church of Christ Scientist, York, and St Matthew Lutheran Church.

She was a member and past president of the Woman’s Club of York.  She served on the boards of Planned Parenthood, the YWCA, and the United Way of York County.  She also served as a Gray Lady at York County Hospital and Home, and she had been a Red Cross volunteer at the Coatesville Veterans Hospital.

She was born in Red Lion, daughter of the late Charles and Edna Eberly Laucks.

She leaves her husband, Dr K T Steigelman; a son, K L Steigelman, North Wales, Montgomery County; a daughter, Delores M Shearer, York; five grandchildren; two great-grandsons; and a sister, Geraldine Zarfos, Red Lion.

Viewing is scheduled from 10 to 11 am tomorrow at St Matthew Lutheran Church, 839 W Market St.

The service is set for 11 am tomorrow at the church, with her pastor, the Rev Dr E Gordon Ross, officiating.

Burial is to be in Mount Rose Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the donor’s favorite charity.

The Etzweiler Funeral Home Inc, 1111 E Market St, is in charge of arrangements.”


Spouse:      K T STEIGLEMAN


Children:      Carol Jamison

                              Kenneard Laucks (Living)

                              Douglas (1944-1944)


Other spouses:      Elwood Jonathan McGUIGAN


1.1b Eva Arlene LAUCKS*(See above)



Spouse:      Elwood Jonathan McGUIGAN


Children:      DeLores Cora Lillian (Living)


Other spouses:      K T STEIGLEMAN

1.2 Foster Martin LAUCKS


Birth:      16 Dec 1910

Death:      9 Apr 1959, 730 S Main St, Red Lion, York Co, PA

Burial:      red Lion Cemetery, Gay St, York twp, York Co, PA

Occupation:      VP director J C Winter & Co, Inc., Red Lion

Religion:      St Paul’s Evangelical United Brethren Church, 1st Ave, Red Lion, PA


“Foster M Laucks Dies At Red Lion

Well-known businessman an active church and lodge member succumbs at 48.

  Red Lion--Foster M Laucks, well-known local businessman here for 25 years and active in church and lodge affairs, died yesterday at 7:40 am at his residence, 730 South Main street, after a four-year illness.  He was 48.

  Mr Laucks was vice-president and director of J C Winter and Company, Inc, local cigar manufactures, where he began employment as a salesman in 1934.  He worked as a salesman throughout Pennsylvania before becoming vice-president in 1949.

  Husband of Mrs Carrie E Miller Laucks, he was a member of St Paul’s EUB church and Sunday school, having formerly served as a Sunday School teacher.  He was a son of the late Charles F and Edna Eberly Laucks.

  A 32nd degree mason, Mr Laucks was affiliated with Red Lion Lodge 649, F and AM; Scottish Rite club, here; Harrisburg consistory, and York Forest 30, Tall Cedars of Lebanon.

  Surviving, in addition to his wife, are:  A son, F Michael Laucks, at home; three sisters, Mrs Kennard T Steigelman, 826 West Market street, York; Mrs Jay Zarfos, Dallastown RD 1, and Mrs Luther J Smith, Windsor RD 1, and three brothers, L Otto Laucks, 863 West Broadway; Gerald J Laucks, 720 South Pine...(continued on page thirty-eight)...”


Spouse:      Carrie Estella MILLER

1.3 Luther Otto “Tod” LAUCKS


Birth:      20 Jan 1912

Death:      25 Aug 1975, Lebanon Veterans Hospital

Burial:      red Lion Cemetery, Gay St, York twp, York Co, PA

Occupation:      tobacco salesman

Education:      Red Lion High School

Religion:      Grace United Methodist Church, Windsor, York Co, PA


“LAUCKS--On Aug 25, 1975, at 3:45 pm, at Lebanon Veterans Hospital, Luther Otto “Tod” Laucks, husband of Valeska Meads Laucks, 263 E Broadway, Red Lion, aged 63 years, 7 months, 5 days.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral services on Thursday, Aug 28, at 11 am, from the Olewiler and Heffner Funeral Home Inc, 145 E Broadway, Red Lion.  Interment in Red Lion Cemetery.  American Legion Post 543 will present flags.

Family requests no viewing Wednesday evening but may call at the funeral home Thursday from 9 am until time of service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Diabetic Fund.”


“Luther O Laucks

Red Lion--Luther Otto “Tod” Laucks, 63, husband of mrs Valeska Meads Laucks, 263 E Broadway, died at 3:45 pm Monday at Lebanon Veterans Administration Hospital, after being in ill health for several years.

A former tobacco salesman, Mr Laucks was a son of the late Charles and Edna Eberly Laucks, and belonged to Bethany United Methodist Church and its Sunday school.

He was a first sergeant in the Army during World War II.  His memberships included Red Lion Post 543, American Legion.

Surviving also are:  Two sisters, Mrs Eva Steigelman, York; Mrs Geraldine Zarfos, Red Lion, and two brothers, J Kenneth Laucks Sr, Windsor RD 1, and Gerald J Laucks, Red Lion.

His minister, the Rev Lyle Bundy, will officiate at funeral services at 11 am Thursday at the Olewiler and Heffner Funeral Home Inc., 145 E Broadway.  Burial will be in Red Lion Cemetery.”


Spouse:      Valeska Irene MEADS

Marriage:      24 Apr 1942

1.4 James Kenneth “Kenny” LAUCKS


Birth:      4 Jan 1914

Death:      12 Jul 1983

Burial:      14 Jul 1983, Windsor Cemetery, York Co, PA

Occupation:      Rural Mail Carrier for Windsor Post Office

Education:      Red Lion High School

Religion:      Grace United Methodist Church, Windsor, York Co, PA


“J Kenneth Laucks Sr

Windsor--J Kenneth Laucks Sr, 69, of Windsor RD 1, who had been a rural mail carrier for the Windsor Post Office, died at 8 am Tuesday, July 12, 1983, at Memorial Hospital, York.  He was the husband of Vera R (Hivner) Laucks.

The service will be 2 pm Thursday at the Burg Funeral Home, 134 W Broadway, Red Lion.  Burial will be in the Windsor Cemetery.  Viewing will ve from 1 to 2 pm Thursday at the funeral home.  Memorials may be made to Emanuel United Methodist Church, Windsor, 17366.

Born in Red Lion, son of the late Charles F and Edna Mae (Bashore) Laucks, he had operated the Windsor Restaurant for several years and a service station on West Broadway, Red Lion.

He was a part-time accountant and income tax consultant, a former director of the former First National Bank of Windsor and formerly served on the advisory board of the Windsor Branch of Drovers and Mechanics Bank.

A World War II veteran, he was a member of Grace United Methodist Church and Sunday School, a charter member and former president of Windsor Lions Club, a member of American Legion Post 543 and the Rural Mail Carriers Association.

Mr Laucks also is survived by five children, J Kenneth Laucks, Jr, Red Lion; Linda Schmuck, Dallastown RD; Lorna FM Streavig, Dallastown; Lana R Lutz, Stewartstown RD, and Bradley D Laucks, at home; nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren; two sisters, Eva Steigelman, York and Geraldine Zarfos, Dallastown, and a brother, Gerald Laucks, Red Lion.

Officiating will be his pastor, the Rev Milton Killebrew, of the Windsor Area Larger United Methodist Parish.”


Spouse:      Vera Ruth HIVNER

Marriage:      2 Jan 1937


Children:      Lorna F M

                              Lana R

                              James Kenneth Jr (Living)

                              Linda (Living)

                              Bradley Dean (Living)

1.5 Charles Amon LAUCKS


Birth:      28 Jan 1916

Death:      22 Jun 1945, Okinawa, Japan

Burial:      Red Lion Cemetery, Gay St, York twp, York Co, PA

Occupation:      J C Winter Cigar Co, Red Lion, PA

Education:      Red Lion High School 1937; Albright College 1941

Religion:      St Paul’s Evangelical United Brethren, 1st Ave, Red Lion, PA


“Killed on Okinawa

Sergeant Charles A Loucks, who was reported killed on the islands of Okinawa on June 22, was born Jan 23, 1916, the son of Mr and Mrs Charles L Laucks, North Charles street.  He was a member of the Young Men’s Bible class of St Paul’s Evangelical church and was the tenth of that church to make the supreme sacrifice in the present war.  He entered the U S Marine Corps in July of 1943 and received his training at Parris Island, NC and Quantico, Va.  Just before leaving the States in April of this year to fight the Japanese he was advanced from corporal to sergeant.  Before entering the Marine corps he was employed by the J C Winter company.  No further details of his death have been received by his parents.”

Nana & her twin brother, Joe
Nana & her twin brother, Joe

1.6 Geraldine Josephine “Sity” LAUCKS


Birth:      25 Jul 1919, Red Lion, York Co, PA

Death:      4 Mar 1999, at home 801 East Main St, Dallastown, York twp, York Co, PA

Burial:      7 Mar 1999, Red Lion Cemetery, Gay St, York twp, York Co, PA

Occupation:      wife & mother

Education:      Red Lion High School class of 1937

Religion:      St Paul’s Evangelical United Brethren/Methodist, First Ave, Red Lion, York Co, PA since 1929; member of the choir, youth fellowship advisor, Stephen ministry caregiver


More about Nana Zarfos here.

1.7 Gerald Joseph “Joe” LAUCKS


Birth:      25 Jul 1919

Death:      1987

Burial:      Red Lion Cemetery, Gay St, York twp, York Co, PA

Occupation:      agent of Metropolitan Insurance Co; fireman on PA railroad; Salesman for McCormick Tea Co; J C Winter Cigar Co.

Education:      Red Lion High School; Albright College

Religion:      St Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1st Ave, Red Lion, PA


Gerald J Laucks:

Army veteran

Red Lion--Gerald J “Joe” Laucks, 68, of 720 S Pine St, died at 5:30 pm Wednesday at Memorial Hospital.

He was the husband of Betty J Roddy Laucks.

Mr Laucks retired as an agent from the Metropolitan Insurance Company after 27 years of employment.  He was a member of the Red Lion Masonic Lodge 649 and the Red Lion Fire Co.  He was a graduate of Red Lion High School and Albright College, a member of St Paul’s United Methodist Church and a driver for Meals on Wheels.  He was an Eagle Scout with Troop 28, St Paul’s United Methodist Church.

He was a fireman on the Pennsylvania Railroad and he was a salesman with the McCormick Tea Co, Baltimore, and a salesman with the former J C Winter Tobacco Co, Red Lion.

He served with the US Army Air Corps during World War II in Africa and Italy with the 319th bomb group of the 440th squadron.

Mr Laucks is the son of the late Charles F and Edna Eberly Laucks.  Survivors include:

A son--Gary Laucks, 1895 Filbert St, York.

Three daughters--Joette Allphin, 297 Olde Field Drive, York; Gerdith Schmucker, Doylestown, Bucks County; and Amy Jo Ficiak, Philadelphia.

Six grandchildren.

Two sisters--Geraldine “Sity” Zarfos, Dallastown RD 1, and Eva Steigleman, York.

Visitation will be 12:30 to 2 pm at the St Paul’s United Methodist Church, Red Lion.

Funeral will be 2 pm at the church.  His pastor, the Rev Edward H Yarnell, will officiate.  Burial will be in the Red Lion Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, York County Council, 320 E Philadelphia St, York, PA 17403, or to the Greater York Area Chapter, American Diabetes Association, PO Box 3326, York PA 17402.

The Burg Funeral Home, 134 W Broadway, is in charge of arrangements.”


Spouse:      Betty Jean RODDY

Marriage:      11 Sep 1950


Children:      Joette Louise (Living)

                              Geridith Jean (Living)

                              Gary Charles (Living)

                              Amy Jo (Living)

1.8 Ina Justine LAUCKS


Birth:      13 Nov 1924

Death:      23 Jul 1969, St Luke’s Hospital, Jacksonville, FL

Burial:      Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville, FL


Spouse:      Luther Jot SMITH


Children:      Jot Amon (Living)



[More family history here.]


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Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Sabrina FOUNTAIN (Wednesday, 06 January 2010 19:00)

    i was wondering how you go about finding infos on your ancestors in the states. Here, its pretty easy as we have access to birth, marriage and death certificates,we just have to ask the Mairies, we have tons of websites where people upload their trees and share their finds...
    But for the states, other than census, i dont really know where to start looking! I want to do some searching on my husband's dad side but dont really know where to start! especially from over here!
    Anyway, i love genealogy, i love the feeling when you just find a date or a name that allows you to go one more generation... Passionnant! Great pictures!

  • #2

    Kimberly S Burg Grim (Monday, 10 May 2010 20:33)

    Hello! I love your site! So many wonderful photos and information. As you can see I am a Burg and related in some crazy, distant way. My great-great grandmother was Lydia Gilbert. I have been working on my tree for quite some time and your info was very helpful. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to compare any notes. Kimmyndavid@comcast.net