"He Once Was Lost, but NOW He's Found"

the AMAZING (and GRACEful) Story of Lawrence LANGGUTH

Some background first - When my Momma was about 7 or so (1916-ish), she was sent to live with her Gramma, Maggie DORR WESSLING - Momma's mother believed that only "Good German Catholic nuns" could "properly" prepare little Marguerite for her First Communion. So Momma lived with Maggie in Roxbury during the week, and went home to Wellesley on the weekends.

Eighty years later, my Momma STILL remembered a LOT about living at her Gramma's house. She remembered a "Lizzie SCHAFF" who visited a lot (only Momma pronounced "SCHAFF" the "Boston Way" - as if it has an "R" in it!). Momma ALSO remembered a birthday party, held at Maggie's house in Roxbury, where one of the guests was a boy her age named "Lawrence LANGGUTH" -Momma recalled that Lawrence "wore a white suit", and was "littler than me". She had no idea that the dapper young Lawrence and his mother, Elizabeth SCHAFF LANGGUTH were kin-folk!. (See The Mother Ring for more details!)

Having solved "The Mystery of the Mother Ring", Miss Marge Marple faced a NEW mystery - whatever became of Lawrence LANGGUTH? It took her THREE YEARS of digging, including several trips to Boston and LOTS of help from on-line buddies, but she DID find him!

Here's the details:

First, Miss Marge checked the Social Security Index to Death Benefits - no Lawrence LANGGUTH. THAT meant he was either ALIVE (as of 1994), or died before 1963, or SS benefits weren't paid, or he didn't have a Social Security number, or any combination of the above!!!

She then checked the 1920 Census - there was Lawrence, with his father, Charles LANGGUTH, his mother Lizzie and a sister, Dorothy. NOW she had an approximate birth-year!

Miss Marge started examining the Boston City Directories - "our Lawrence" should have appeared in BCDs starting in 1930 (when he'd be about 20 years of age). She checked the 1930 and 1935 BCDs (ordered on microfilm from Salt Lake City), and then the REST of the BCDs at the Boston Public Library. Not a Lawrence LANGGUTH anywhere!

Ever the "high-tech" sort, Miss Marge then used the "People-Finder" Search Engines on the Web, and sent email to any and all LANGGUTHs with Internet addresses. Those folks were kind enough to write back; none of them had "Boston connections". A search of Boston Public Library's Index to Obituaries in the Boston Globe turned up - can you guess? - NO LAWRENCE!!! Next stop for Miss Marge was the Suffolk County Courthouse, and a check of Probate Records - again, NO LAWRENCE. A quick trip over to the Middlesex County Courthouse - nothing there either!

A pattern was developing here - the famous Miss Marge Marple was beginning to get a bit DISCOURAGED; she was even considering taking up KNITTING as a hobby!

Then a REAL break-through! Miss Marge received a copy of the Centennial History of Holy Trinity Church (1944) - and in the "Religious Role of Honor" she found the name "Lawrence C. LANGGUTH S.J."

WOW! "Our Lawrence" was a JESUIT!!! But how to access Jesuit records??? That's where Miss Marge's online buddies came to her rescue. She posted a question to one of the genealogy Mailing Lists; folks suggested that she check The Catholic Directory for the address of the New England Province of the Jesuit Order. By Golly! she was able to find a copy of the 1996 Directory at a local Catholic Church!

But Miss Marge found MORE than just the address of the New England Jesuits - she was thumbing through the lists of priests in the Archdiocese of Boston (to see if she "knew anyone") - when - YOU GUESSED IT! There was "our Lawrence"s name. AND address. AND phone number.

Of course, she wasn't going to wait for "snail mail" - soon as she got home, she called and actually SPOKE with Father Lawrence LANGGUTH! Now, he doesn't remember the white suit OR Momma's birthday party, but he DOES remember visiting a lot of WESSLINGs when he was a kid. He didn't realize how he was related to these folks, but he does NOW! Of course Miss Marge and I promised him a "fat envelope FULL of information about more relatives than he ever knew he had"!

So, Gentle Reader, that's how Miss Marge Marple solved yet another mystery - but be reassured, she is NOT resting on her laurels (or on any OTHER Body Part for that matter!). There is always "The Search for Lester MURPHY"...

Remember, let me know if YOU have ties with the German Catholic community in Boston!

Marge Reid--[email protected]

This page was updated 4 January 1999.

copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999 - Margaret V Reid