Saturday, April 08, 2006

Monroe County, Illinois Church Records

My latest genealogy project is to put my transcriptions from original church records on-line, with a focus on Esther Kraus's ancestors and the Eckert, Krauss/Kraus, Lepp, Stumpf, Wehinger, and Wenkel families. Many other related families are also found in these records.

You can access the records here. Just follow the link to the church of interest.

So far, I have completed the following: There are scans from the original record microfilms for many of the entries. Extracts from the baptism records of both St. Paul's in Columbia and St. Paul's in Waterloo are next on the agenda.

In addition to my transcribed records, I've compiled other online resources, including histories, photos and record indices, for St. Paul's Evangelical (Columbia), St. Paul's Evangelical (Waterloo), Zoar Evangelical (New Hanover), Immaculate Conception (Columbia), and Zion Evangelical (Millstadt, St. Clair County). Esther's ancestors (or their siblings) recorded baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and deaths at each of these churches.

Corrections and comments are always welcome.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

East St. Louis-Columbia and Waterloo Railway Souvenir

Esther Clara Kraus was born in Columbia, Illinois in 1905. Her family had first settled in Columbia in the 1850s. Esther lived in Columbia until her marriage to Neil Mabry in 1925.

The Monroe County GenWeb site has a neat scan: The East St. Louis - Columbia and Waterloo Railway Official Time Table and Souvenir.

The timetable (jpg), published in 1913, shows that one could travel from East St. Louis to Columbia in a mere 52 minutes. The "Railway" appears to use overhead electric lines that I associate with streetcars rather than railroads.

Every town along the route was given a glowing description:
[Columbia] is the subject of attention of all visitors on account of its cleanliness, its large per cent of property owners, its well kept lawns, its painted dwellings, its good streets, its granitoid sidewalks, and it s many ohte rcommendable improvements. Its population is largely German of the best class, and whose thrift and general intelligence have made the city one of the best along the lines of railway above mentioned.
The other fine qualities of the town are listed, including that it is "free of malaria".

There are several pages with description and photos of Columbia (all jpg files):
page 17 - page 19 - page 21

It gives a nice picture of Columbia when Esther was a girl.

Related Links
American Car Company
Map of the East St. Louis "electric railway system at its peak", list of transit routes, and timeline of East St. Louis transit history.
Map of the Columbia-East St. Louis area (google maps)

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy New Year!

May everyone have a happy and healthy 2006.

1952 New Year's photo of Esther (Kraus) Mabry, her mother Katie (Wenkel) Kraus, and her two daughters, Jacqueline and Nadine.

Happy New Year Mom and Aunt Nadine!


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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Views of the Old Country: Thuringen, home of the Wenkel Family

Dorothea Maria Hupe was the daughter of Johann Friedrich Hupe, a medical officer in Ebeleben. On August 9, 1795, she married Johann Friedrich Wenkel and they had at least ten children there, including our ancestor, Johann "Conrad" Christoph Wenkel.

Ebeleben is in the Kyffhäuserkreis (Kyffhäuser region) of Thuringen, Germany, in the Hainleite hills, south of the Harz Mountains*.

Pictures of Ebeleben
History of Ebeleben (German) and German Wikipedia article on Ebeleben with map.
Kyffhäuser District tourism page (English).

Move to Amt Lohra/Großwenden

In about 1819, the Wenkel family moved 15 miles north to Amt Lohra, in the neighboring district of Nordhausen. Both Johann Friedrich and his son Conrad were brick makers there.

In 1822, Conrad Wenkel married Henriette Bierwirth, in the neighboring town of Großwenden. Henriette was the daughter of Friedrich Bierwirth, one time mayor of Großwenden, and farm owner. Our ancestor Wilhelm Conrad Wenkel was born in Amt Lohra in 1832.

Both Amt Lohra and Großwenden were part of the lands ruled by the Duke of Lohra (Grafen von Lare (Lohra)) in the 11th and 12th century. His castle, Burg Lohra, can be visited today. The towns of Großwenden was so-named because it was "wendische" (Slavic) settlement in the Middle Ages (Groß means "large").

• About Grosslohra (including the former villages of Amt Lohra, Grosswenden, Kleinwenden, Friedrichslohra, Münichslohra and Burg Lohra) from the Nordhausen district official web site (German, with pictures).

• German Wikipedia article on Großlohra, with map.

Leaving Thuringia

In 1846, the Wenkel family sailed to America on the Ship Iris.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

World War I Draft Registration

In 1917 and 1918, all males born between 1872 and 1900 were required to register for the draft. The draft registration cards are a great source of genealogical information, with registrant's home address, occupation and physical description.

Esther's dad, Friedrich "Fred" Kraus, had to register:

Name: Fred Kraus
Address: Columbia, Monroe County, Illinois
Birth: December 21, 1874, Native Born
Occupation: blacksmith, working for sel, Columbia, Illinois
Nearest relative: Katherine Kraus (wife)
Description: Medium height, medium build, black eyes, dark hair

Fred's younger brothers also registered (older brother John died in 1907):

Name: George Krauss
Address: Columbia, Monroe County, Illinois
Birth: December 30, 1878, Native born
Occupation: car repairer, Missouri Pacific Ry., in Dupo, St. Clair Co., Illinois
Nearest relative: Mrs. Louisa Harres (sister) of Columbia, ILlinois
Description: Medium height, medium build, brown eyes, dark hair

Name: Henry Krauss
Address: Columbia, Monroe County, Illinois
Birth: October 3, 1883, native born
Occupation: Blacksmith, working for self
Nearest relative: Mrs. Elizabeth Payne (sister), of Columbia, Illinois
Description: Medium height, medium build, brown eyes, dark hair

Name: William Krauss
Address: Dupo, St. Clair County, Illinois
Birth: April 5, 1889, born Columbia, ILlinois
Occupation: Car Inspector 23, Terminal RR Addn. GL? in Dupo, Illinois
Description: Medium height, stout build, black eyes, black hair

Bill was the only Krauss brother to actually serve during "the World War". He was a Private in the 113 Engrs. 38the Division.

Esther had no uncles on her mother's side of the family.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Our Ancestral Villages and Towns

Genealogy and How suggests that a little research on the literal meaning of German town names can provide some insight as to how our ancestors lived in the "old country." From what I've learned about our own ancestors' homes, it is often not as simple as looking up words in a German-English dictionary. While some names are based on a local geographic feature, others are named after early inhabitants, or are based on the old Roman town names. Most have become distorted over the centuries.

Below is a summary of some of the information I've found. Note that the linked English translations are very crude.

Becherbach: Krauss family
Becher: This probably refers to the "Pechbrennern" (pitch burners) that were used there.
Bach: brook

The Becherbach area has been inhabited since neolithic times. Roman roads criss-cross the region. Today it is in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.

Official Becherbach website
Becherbach Wikipedia entry (English translation)
For more information about the Krauss family start here.

Bregenz: Einsle family
Bregenz is a town in Austrian Alpine state of Vorarlberg. The area has been settled for thousands of years. The city of "Brigantium" was founded by the Romans in 15 BC. The name Bregenz is derived from the Roman name.

Official Bregenz site
Brengenz Wikipedia entry (English translation)
Bregenz photo album
Start here for more information about the Einsle family.

Dornbirn: Wehinger Family
Dornbirn is a town in western Austria in the Alpine state of Vorarlberg. The name Dornbirn is derived from "torrin puirron", meaning the "settlement of Torro" after the name of a resident farmer. The the first recorded use of the name was in 895.

Official Dornbirn web site
Dornbirn Wikipedia entry (English translation)
Dornbirn Photo Album
Start here for more information about the Wehinger family.

Ebeleben: Wenkel family
Ebeleben was first settled between the 4th and 6th century, and the first documented use of the name was in 1198 (Duke Fridericus de Eveleiben). The meaning of the name is unclear.
Ebeleben is in the German state of Thuringia.

Official Ebeleben site (click the links under "Geschichte" for pictures).
Wikipedia entry for Ebeleben (English translation
Start here for more information about the Wenkel family. (See also Bierwirth.)

Grosswenden or Großwenden: Bierwirth family
Gross or Groß: large.
Wenden: in this case it refers to the old German word for "Slavs" (English translation). The towns of Grosswenden and Kleinwenden were founded during the Middle Ages by Slavs who had migrated west. Today Großwenden and nearby Klein(small)wenden are part of the greater municipality of Großlohra in the German state of Thuringia.

Wikipedia article about Großlohra and its castle. (English translation)
Großwenden Evangelical (Protestant) Church Information
Start here for more information about the Bierwirth family. (See also Wenkel)

Gross-Zimmern: Stumpf family
Gross or Groß: large or greater
Zimmern: literally rooms, but the derivation is slightly different

Official Groß-Zimmern website
Groß-Zimmern Wikipedia entry (English translation)
Start here for information about the Stumpf family.

The town was first mentioned in 1250, when the Abbey of Fulda Groß-Zimmern gave the fiefdom of the deceased George von Zimmern to the counts Diether und Eberhard von Katzenellenbogen. The 13th century name "Cymmern Superior" developed into Groß-Zimmern (also called over the centuries "Obernzimmern", "Zummern", "Zymern", "Zymmern", "Großen Zymern", "Oberzimmern" und "Großen Zimbern").Groß-Zimmern is in the present-day state of Hessen in Germany.

Michelbach: Eckert family
Michel: Michael
Bach: brook
There are several Michelbachs in Germany. Our Eckert family was probably from the village of Michelbach that lies outside of Fränkisch-Crumbach in the Odenwald (Oden Forest) in the state of Hessen, Germany.

Official Fränkisch-Crumbach website.(Map showing Michelbach).
Odenwald Wikipedia entry (English translation)
Fränkisch-Crumbach Wikipedia entry (Enlish translation)
Start here for more information about the Eckert family.

Nierstein: Leip Family
Nier: ? One interpretation of the name is "stone house of Naro".
Stein: rock or stone

Nierstein lies in the wine growing region along the Rhine river in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz.Romans founded the town of Bauconica on this site almost 2000 years ago. The name Nierstein was first recorded in 882 ("Nerinstein" in a confirmation record).

Official Nierstein website
Nierstein Wikipedia entry (English translation)
Nierstein History Association (click on map)
Nierstein photos
Start here for information about the Leip family.

Oppenheim: Lepp Family
Oppen: probably after a Frankish nobleman named "Obbo"
Heim: home

Oppenheim lies in the wine growing region along the Rhine river, adjacent to the town of Nierstein (see above). By the 4th century there was a Roman settlement on the site. In about 510 a Frankish nobleman, probably named "Obbo" established a manor (Hofgut) around which the village of Oppenheim grew.

Official Oppenheim website (click on map)
Oppenheim Wikipedia entry (English translation)
Oppenheim photos
Start here for information about the Lepp family.

Schönborn: Jaeger family
Schön or Schoen: beautiful
Born: spring or fount

Schönborn is near the village of Becherbach in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.

Official Schönborn website
Schönborn Wikipedia entry (English translation)
For more information about the Jaeger family start here.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Web Site Update: Web Family Cards

To make navigating through Esther Kraus's ancestors even easier, I've used my genealogy program, Reunion, to generate web cards. You can start with Lee and work your way back to his earliest known ancestor.

I've put a handy link in the sidebar, so you can access the webcards page even after this post has been archived.

Give the web cards a try, and let me know if you have any problem viewing or navigating them.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

View of the "old country": Webcam Dornbirn Marktplatz

Our Wehinger ancestors lived in the Marktplatz (market square) area of Dornbirn, Austria for hundreds of years (from the 1630s to at least the 1830s). According to the official Dornbirn web site:
The centre of Dornbirn, the “Marktplatz” (market square), is one of the most interesting and amusing places in Vorarlberg. Three and a half centuries of different architectural styles can be found here alongside each other, from the baroque “Rote Haus” typical of the Rhine valley, the Neo-Classical parish church of St Martin, the old-style German Luger-Haus and art nouveau facades, to the Bank-Quader built in the 1960s and the reproduction of old local house types like “Hirschen-Haus”. (Sehenwertes Dornbirn)
Now you can see it for yourself, with the Dornbirn Marktplatz Webcam. (just remember that it's is about 9 hours later than California time).

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Evangelical St. Paul's Cemetery Photos

Esther (Kraus) Mabry was a member of St. Paul's Evangelical Church (now UCC) in Columbia, Illinois, as were were her parents, grandparents and even several of her great+ grandparents. Most of her ancestors were buried in the Evangelical St. Paul cemetery.

Several volunteers, particularly Judy Lindquist (a cousin on the Wenkel side), have photographed gravestones in Evangelical St. Paul cemetery, and shared them with their fellow genealogists on the Evangelical St. Paul Cemetery Page.

Esther's Parents
Fred Kraus (1874-1928) and Katherine (Wenkel) Kraus (1879-1964)

Esther's Grandparents
• Daniel and Margaretha (Eckert) Krauss (not pictured)
John Wenkel (1853-1918) and Margareth Sophia (Lepp) Wenkel (1857-1949)

Esther's Great grandparents
Daniel Krauss, Sr. (1817-1887) and Catherine (Jaeger) Krauss (1815-1882)

•(Margaretha (Eckert) Krauss's parents are not known)

William Wenkel (1831-1905) : buried with his third wife Christina (Schuckhardt) Wenkel
Catherine (Stumpf) Wenkel (1835-1862)

William Lepp (1828-1912) and Paulina (Wehinger) Lepp (1832-1906)

Esther's Great-great-grandparents

Conrad Wenkel (1800-1858) and Henriette (Bierwirth) Wenkel (1804-1881)

• Esther's Krauss, Jaeger, Eckert, and Wehinger great grandparents did not emigrate to America.

• Wilhelm Lepp's father died in Oppenheim, Germany. His mother, Johanna (Leip) (Lepp) Reitz probably died between 1850 and 1860 in Waterloo, Monroe County, Illinois. She is probably buried there.

• George Stumpf (1801-1875) and Elisabeth (Keim) Stumpf (1801-1853) are buried New Hanover Cemetery (only George's grave is pictured)

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Did Daniel Krauss serve in the Civil War?

The Krauss family emigrated from Germany in about 1861, first settling in Whitewater, Wisconsin.
“Shortly after their arrival in this country, the family’s oldest son, Daniel, entered the service as a blacksmith shoeing horses for the Union Army in the St. Louis area. Here he re-established connections with the Kuehner family* of Columbia, old friends of his parents. In time, they and young Daniel influenced his parents to leave Wisconsin and migrate to Illinois.” (from The KRAUSS Family of Columbia, Illinois and Descendants of the Second Daughter, Caroline, 1964 by Florence Young Barnes).
There was some irony in this, because one probable reason the Krauss family left Germany was the continuing political unrest and the liklihood their sons would be pressed into the military.

The question is, can we find any evidence of Daniel's service during the Civil War?

The short answer is that no clear evidence that Daniel was in the military has been found. There were enlisted men that worked as military blacksmiths. However, it is possible that Daniel was pressed into service as a civilian, thus was never officially in the military. So what information is out there?

1. The only Daniel Krauss (or Kraus, Krauss, Krause, Krausz, Krans) that is listed in the searchable Civil War records is probably not related. It is unclear whether Daniel began serving the army in Wisconsin, or if he traveled to the St. Louis area first.

• A Daniel Krauss enlisted in the 26th Infantry Regiment of Missouri Volunteers (company G). Daniel was an 18 year old resident of St. Louis when he enlisted on November 23, 1861. No occupation is listed. In 1861 our Daniel would have been 21, so it's unlikely this was the same person.

• A John D. Krauss (note that Daniel's father's full name was Johann Daniel) served in the 5th Regiment of the Missouri Infantry Volunteers, Company A. This regiment was formed in St. Louis. No additional details about John's service are known. According to the Civil War pension application files, he was married to a woman named Jacobina, so he was definitely not our Daniel.

2. If Daniel did serve during the Civil War, he could have been in the same unit as Louis Kuehner. Unfortunately, we don't know if Louis Kuehner was a civil war veteran either. In 1860 he and his family* were living in Columbia, Monroe County, Illinois. Some Monroe County men traveled to St. Louis to enlist, so it isn't unreasonable that Louis did so as well. (note that there was a different Louis Kuehner of approximately the same age that lived in St. Louis). Louis was 30 years old in 1861.

• A "Louis Kuerner" enlisted as a private in the 43rd Illinois Infantry, Company H. At that time he was a resident of St. Louis. Many of the other members of this unit resided in Monroe County at the time they enlisted.

• A "Louis Kuhner" enlisted in Company G of the 13th Enrolled Missouri Militia. Louis enlisted September 25, 1884 in St. Louis and was relieved from duty October 31 of that year (he was AWOL October 22 - November 2).

Unfortunately from this sketchy information, we cannot conclude that either Daniel or Louis were enlisted during the Civil War. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Daniel did not serve in the capacity of an unenlisted blacksmith, either. The question remains open. (Daniel did work as a blacksmith his entire life in Columbia).

* We know that the Kuehners were more than "old friends"; Louis' wife Catharine (nee Maurer) was Daniel's cousin. See the post about the Krauss family in Becherbach for more details.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (maintained by the National Park Service)
Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865
Missouri Soldiers Database: War of 1812 - World War I
Missouri's Union Provost Marshal Papers: 1861 - 1866 (not a database of soldiers, rather "thousands of pages of documents detailing the way the provost marshal affected the lives of Missouri citizens who came into contact with the Union Army.")
Missouri Militias
Database of Illinois Civil War Veterans
Database of Illinois Civil War Veterans of Missouri Units
Civil War Soldiers buried in Monroe County, Illinois
German Americans in the Civil War

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