Friday, December 9, 2011

Jurgen Goth - Short Biography

Jurgen Christian Goth, Mecklenburg Exodus

The underdeveloped and unenlightened principality of Mecklenburg saw large numbers of its population flee during the 19th Century. Some came to Dane County, Wisconsin including two sets of my Great-Great Grandparents. One was David Hermann and family and the other was Jurgen Goth and his wife, Maria Fredericka Grandt. It seems unlikely that the two families knew each other in Germany but two of David's children would marry two of Jurgen's children, creating a strong family connection in America.


Jurgen Goth and Marie Fredericka Grandt

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frederick "Fritz" Ostenberg - Short Biography

Frederick Ostenberg, German Immigrant

A number of my German immigrants came to southern Wisconsin around the middle of the 19th Century. One of the first to arrive was Frederick Ostenberg from Elberfeld, Kingdom of Prussia. Frederick was born in 1816 and was the son of Heinrich Dietrich Ostenberg (b.1785, d.1860?) and Elizabeth Strackbein (b.1790, d.?). Elberfeld is a village in eastern Germany in an area historically known as the Rhineland. By the time Frederick was born, the Rhineland was under the control of Prussia which, by then, had become the most powerful of the German Principalities. Heinrich and Elizabeth reportedly had five children of which two would come to America and three would stay in Germany. To date, no other information about the life of the Ostenbergs in Elberfeld has been found.


Both the Frederick (section 9) and Charles (section 16 & 17) Ostenberg
farms can be seen in this partial 1873 map of the Town of Blue Mounds,
Wisconsin. Also, in the upper left corner is an advertisement for
"C. Ostenberg, Dealer in Dry Goods, Groceries, etc."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ralph Holcomb - Short Biography

Ralph Elliot Holcomb - Supreme Sacrifice

The reality is, I don’t know much about Ralph Holcomb. I am including this with the short biographies but the article is really about his funeral. He died in 1919 as a casualty of the First World War. Ralph Elliot Holcomb was born on October 9th, 1898 to Reuben T. Holcomb and Amber Fessenden. His parents were in Monticello, Wisconsin for a couple of years and then moved to Monroe. Reuben served as the elected Clerk of Court for Green County beginning in 1896 so it might be assumed that Ralph was born in Monroe. The Holcombs built a house on the 800 block of West Russell Street in the 1890’s (now the 900 block of 10th Street). At that time, they were living at the edge of town on Monroe’s northwest side. The house still stands today, though it has been substantially altered.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Six Zweifel Brothers (3) - Mary Zweifel

Part 3 - The Next Generation
If you missed Part 2 of the story, go here . . .
If you missed Part 1 of the story, go here . . .

By the 1880's the five surviving Zweifel brothers were all married and raising families in the Town of New Glarus and the Town of Washington in Green County, Wisconsin. They came to America in 1853 and 1854 as part of a wave of Swiss settlers from Canton Glarus, Switzerland. When they arrived, they found a community of immigrants that were very familiar to them. These were German speaking farmers, many of whom they probably knew from the "old country." The brothers put down roots in southern Wisconsin. Two of them went off to fight in the Civil War and both survived. One brother died young but the rest acquired large farms and raised large families.

A Birds-Eye View of New Glarus in 1891.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Six Zweifel Brothers (2) - New Glarus

Part 2 - Becoming Americans
If you missed Part 1 of the story, go here . . .

In the middle of the 19th Century, six brothers, the sons of Johann Heinrich and Ursula would join the growing migration from Canton Glarus, Switzerland to New Glarus, Wisconsin. There is still some speculation as to the exact date or dates the brothers came over and what ship or ships they might have traveled on. What we do know is that all, except one, were recorded in the church records at New Glarus by 1854 and all seemed to settle in the town of New Glarus or the Town of Washington in northern Green County, Wisconsin.

A typical Wisconsin pioneer log house. The Zweifel
brothers may have encountered and lived in houses
similar to these when they first arrived.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Six Zweifel Brothers (1) - Glarus

Part 1 - From Switzerland

One of my ancestral lines is the Zweifel family from Linthal in Canton Glarus, Switzerland. When my Great Great Grandfather, Frederick Roth, came to America in about 1880, he would be settling in an area already populated by many from his home land. Soon he was married to Maria (or Mary) Zweifel. While he had just arrived in this new land, she was born here and grew-up in post Civil War America.

In 1853 and 1854, six brothers, at least one of which had a family, came to the United States and settled in New Glarus, Wisconsin. They hailed from "old" Glarus, a province in Switzerland and were part of a greater migration that created a "Swiss Colony" in America. These Swiss immigrants had many similarities to other European groups that came over but the way they did it, as an organized operation, was not so common.


The Port of Le Havre, France in 1841. Le Havre was an important emigration
port for Germans coming to America. Over 1/2 million German immigrants
sailed from Le Havre in the 19th Century with most landing in New York.
Some of the Zweifel brothers came through Le Havre.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Apollas Holcombe - Short Biography

Apollas Holcombe - Patriot and Pioneer

Apollas Holcombe was born in 1791 in Salmon Brook, Granby, Connecticut. He was one of six known children, all boys, of Micha Holcombe and Hannah Hayes. Micha, a Revolutionary War veteran, was the son of Joseph Holcombe and descendant of a puritan colonist named Thomas Holcombe who came to the new world around 1630.

Apollas Holcombe was born in Granby, Connecticut. Originally called Salmon Brook, this
was the home of five generations in this line of the Holcombe family. Located in north
central Connecticut, the area between the branches of the small stream called Salmon
Brook is still home to many Holcombe descendants from other lines of the family.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Big Peterson Family Reunion

Finding New Sources, the Website Helps!

I do not get a lot of comments or even that much traffic to this site but that does not mean that having the website has not paid-off. In fact, I have received a number of high quality contacts who stumbled onto this blog and realized a connection. The most significant of these has been on the Peterson/Moe side of my family. A few months ago, not long after I posted: Peterson - Moe . . . What's in a Name?, I was contacted by three different individuals on that side of the family, including one from Norway. That was really exciting for me.


Peterson, Moe and others families gather at Wisconsin Dells in 2011.
They brought with them a wealth of resources to share.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lars P. Moe - Short Biography

Lars Moe, Minnesota Pioneer

Lars Moe was born on July 14, 1844 in Norway. He came to America in 1864 with his Parents, Peter Olsen Moe and Anna Augundsdatter Lad and a number of siblings. They first went to Black Earth, Wisconsin and then settled on section one in the northeast corner of Town of Blue Mounds.

Lars and Ingeri about 1890

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wilderman Family (2) - Colonists & Pioneers

Part 2 - West, Into the Frontier
Find Part 1 of the story here . . .

Note, this post has been revised. The original 2-Part Wilderman Family series has been updated and more information has been added. The series has been expanded to 3 Parts with most of the new information found in Part 3.

In 1751 Jacob Wilderman and Johann Meyer left their small village in Baden, Germany and came to Colonial America. Among the 20 or so in their party were Johann's wife and four children, including daughter Elizabetha, who would later become Jacob's wife. They lived in Pennsylvania and Maryland. This was the home to many of the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers who came to the new world from the Rhine Valley in southern Germany. Jacob and Elizabetha's oldest son George grew up in this colonial environment and came of age right during the American Revolution.
Maryland about 1780; Baltimore and Ann Arundal Counties are in the upper center of the map.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wilderman Family (1) - Colonists & Pioneers

Part 1 - German Colonist is the New Word

Note, this post has been revised. The original 2-Part Wilderman Family series has been updated and more information has been added. The series has been expanded to 3 Parts with most of the new information found in Part 3.

There is a lot of German ancestry in my blood, on both my mom and dad's side of the family. They are from many different parts of Germany and most settled in the Midwest in the middle of the 19th Century. The Kahl, Ostenberg and Bilse families were in Blue Mounds; the Goth family in Middleton, the Hermann family in Verona; the Goldner family in Chicago (possibly via Michigan); and the Pazel and Ebersold families, also in Chicago. These are typical of the ethnic Europeans that came to American in waves from the 1840s right through to the first World War. There is, however, another German family in my ancestry that came to America much earlier. They arrived before the country existed and settled in the British Colonies in the middle of the 18th century.

Friday, May 27, 2011

David Hermann - Arrived 1862 (1)

Note, this post has been revised. The original David Hermann article has been updated and more information has been added. Because of its length, it has also been split into two parts. There is some new information in the report below, but most of the new stuff is in Part 2.


Part 1 - Mecklenburg "the old country"

My Mom's Great Grandfather, Friedrich David Julius Hermann, who went by the name David, came to America and settled in Dane County, Wisconsin in the summer of 1862. I did not know of him prior to starting my family research and I don't think my mom did either. His story is a typical immigrant saga and he arrived around the same time as a number of my northern European ancestors.

What makes David's story interesting is that a good deal of information is available about him and his family, including some information about the generations that preceded him. This is due, in large part, to the research by other family members. There names are Gary and Ron Goth and they performed extensive research on the Goth family. The Goth family also came to Dane County, Wisconsin in the early 1860s. It turns out that there were two marriages between the Hermann and Goth families in Wisconsin. The researchers, Ron and Gary, descended from one of those marriages and I descended from the other.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Peterson - Moe . . . What's in a Name?

Did my great-great grandfather, Ole Peterson, ever have the last name Moe and how is "Moe" a Norwegian name anyway? Don't all Norwegian names end with son . . . like Peterson, Olsen, Johnson, etc? Ole Peterson's father was Peter Olsen Moe so why wasn't Ole also named Moe? For the answer to these and other questions, read on.

The naming of individuals and families in Norway prior to the 20th century seems to hearken back to a more primitive time when one was named after their father rather than carrying a common "family" name. In that system, names change every generation. At first, this can be very confusing but in actuality, the Norwegian naming process is fairly straight-forward once you get use to its particular quirky-ness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ode to the Genealogist

"No evil-minded person ever felt any interest in his ancestors, or made any efforts to rescue their History from oblivion."
That is a pretty powerful and somewhat provocative statement! The quote is part of a tribute to the genealogist I came across a few years ago. I re-read it recently and decided to share it with whoever might look at this blog. The tribute was in the introduction to a book about the Buell Family. This was (is) an ancient family that settled in New England as part of the Puritan migration in the 1630's. The book is typical of the family histories and genealogies written by a family researcher (or other party) in the late 19th century. In this case, the book was compiled by Albert Welles, the President of the American College for Genealogy Registry, Family History and Heraldry and was published by the society in New York in 1881.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Goldners of Chicago - Finding a Lost Family 2

PART 2 – Three C's (Chicago, Census and Cemeteries)
Find Part 1 of this story here . . .

Chicago is a wonderland and when I first moved here, I spend a lot of time exploring the city. I would walk the neighborhoods I lived near, explore the loop and surrounding areas, drive the boulevards and visit some of the nearer suburbs (older towns that were once farther away from the city). I sometimes thought about the Goldners and my great-grandfather, where they might have lived, the parts of the city they inhabited. This was before I had begun my family search and I wasn’t sure how to find anything more. I didn’t know much about genealogy, there was no internet and although my grandfather was still alive, he was in South Carolina and had left Chicago as a young boy some 70 years earlier. I seemed to have very few resources available to me . . . or at least that is what I thought. But I was wrong, some clues did exist.


Goldner / Ebersold / Roth residence and Cemetery locations
on the south Side of Chicago (current map)

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Goldners of Chicago - Finding a Lost Family 1

PART 1 – Connections


Louis Goldner, the father of Louise
Goldner; photo probably taken
in Oak Park, Illinois.
The Goldners of Chicago are one of the lines in my family. Although I consider every ancestor important, this line has some particular interest for me because my great-grandmother (Louise Goldner) was very special to my father and played an important role in his life. Even so, I didn’t really know that much about the family, beyond that. After I came to Chicago to live, I started to become more interested in finding out more. Sometime in the mid-90’s the search began, albeit in a fairly modest way. I should preface this report by stating that I do not know of anyone with the name Goldner (my relations) that still reside in Chicago. There are probably some family members, distant cousins perhaps, with other surnames still around but, as of yet, I have not connected with any of them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Discoveries are Delightful

My genealogy research is pretty casual these days. A couple of years ago I was really gung-ho and eating up the information as fast as I could find it. You might say I was in serious discovery mode. Things started off slow, floundered for a few years, then the flood gates broke open and I went crazy. At some point you start running out of information . . . or at least information that is easy to find. So now it has become slower. There are certainly many things I could do to fill-in some of the missing information, close some of the gaps and get more detail but right now, I am content to sit back and take it slow. Too many other things going on that are consuming my time. But I still find new discoveries delightful and when I find one, I still get that tingly feeling from head to toe.