Monday, December 28, 2015

The Behnke Family

Hannah Behnke Dauber about 1891
My grandfather was Clarence Dauber of Cleveland, Ohio. His mother Hannah Behnke married Henry Dauber in 1891. But Hannah died when Clarence was two years old in 1906. Two years later his father married Adelaide Behnke from Detroit, Michigan, who took over raising Clarence and his siblings. Adelaide was described as Hannah’s cousin but information passed down in our family neglected to say how they were related. Adelaide lived well into her 80s and from her our family knew a good bit about her parents and siblings in Detroit. But we knew almost nothing about Hannah or her life in Cleveland. We didn’t even know her parents’ names. However, Hannah and her family have become one of my most rewarding families to research. In the last few years I have discovered how Hannah and Adelaide were related, have been in touch with cousins I never knew existed and have traced Hannah’s family back through multiple generations into the 1700’s.

South Side of Rehberg's Church
Born on 26 November 1870 in the village of Rehberg, Hannah was baptized Johanna Caroline Wilhelmine Behnke. Today Rehberg is a part of the town of Woldegk, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. It is located about 50 miles south of the Baltic Sea in northeast Germany. Woldegk is known as the “City of Windmills” and windmills still dot the surrounding landscape. Hannah was baptized in Rehberg’s simple, half-timbered, Lutheran church on 18 December 1870.

When Hannah was nine years old her family emigrated from Rehberg to Cleveland. After traveling to Hamburg the family sailed on the ship Westphalia for 14 days to New York City before continuing on to Cleveland.

Hannah’s parents were Johann Carl August Behnke and Christiane Dorothea Caroline Beier. Her father went by the name Carl and later in Cleveland was called Charles. Her mother used the name Christiane and then the more Americanized Christina. Hannah had an older brother, Carl Friedrich Heinrich, and two older sisters, Wilhelmine Dorothea Friederike and Caroline Johanna Friederike. They went by the names Charles, Minnie and Lena.

Christina Beier, Hannah’s mother, only lived a few more years after the family settled in Cleveland and died when she was 46 years old. She was buried on 22 July 1884 in Woodland Cemetery. Carl Behnke, Hannah’s father, was an Arbeitsmann or workman in Rehberg and followed the same profession of laborer in Cleveland. He became a U.S. citizen on 25 October 1890 and lived to be 75 years old. He died on 23 July 1907 and is buried in Woodland Cemetery as well.

Hannah’s siblings lived out the remainder of their lives in Cleveland too. Charles married Hannah Kulow in 1885 and they had 10 children. He died in 1945. Minnie married Fred Wilk in 1885 and they had 7 children. She died in 1939. Lena married Fred Bohnsack in 1886 and they had 1 child. After he died she married William Funk in 1890 and they had 7 children. Lena died in 1949.

Carl Behnke, Hannah’s father, was the son of Johann Friederich Behnke and Sophie Christiane Kopperschmidt. Carl had three brothers and the youngest Ludwig who later called himself Louis emigrated to Detroit about 1866. He married Amelia Wurtzel in 1867 and they had 10 children. Their second child Adelaide Behnke became Clarence Dauber’s step-mother in 1908. So Hannah and Adelaide were indeed first cousins although Hannah was born in Rebherg and Adelaide was born in Detroit.
Clarence and Adelaide (Behnke) Dauber about 1914
Through DNA tests I have found some distant Behnke cousins too. I've been in touch with my 3rd cousin who is a great-granddaughter of Lena Behnke, my 3rd cousin once removed who is Ludwig Behnke’s great-granddaughter and a 4th cousin who is Ludwig Behnke’s 2nd great-grandson. It has been fun to trade emails with them and learn a bit more about my different Behnke lines.

Using German church records on microfilm I have also traced my family's Behnke line back into the 1700s. I had to learn to read old Gothic German handwriting but it was exciting to move back through the generations.

For more pictures of Hannah you can also check out my Pinterest page for her.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Worshiping with an Ancestor

Today I got to do something unique. I attended church with the congregation of an ancestor.  

Over two hundred years ago my 4th great-grandfather Adam Kreiligh immigrated to America. Eventually he ended up buying land in Upper Mahanoy Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.[1] Because Adam and his family were Lutherans they began attending Himmel Church which was about 5 miles away.[2] The church was just an old log building built along the banks of Scwaben Creek and served both the Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed congregations of German-speaking immigrants in the area.[3] Adam was an active member and participated in a resolution to build a new stone church. On 14 June 1817 he contributed $16 along with other members who gave what they could.[4] The new church was completed in 1818 and stood until 1903.[5]

Himmel Stone Church and Cemetery[6]

This stone church was “built in the old Pennsylvania style, with a one-story main room and gallery, an old-fashioned pigeon-box pulpit, and a seating capacity of four hundred.”[7] When $800 was left over it was used to purchase a pipe organ which became the only one for miles around.[8] Eighty years later the congregation outgrew the building. It was replaced in 1903 and then had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1959.[9]

When I found myself in the area I decided to attend a service at Himmel Church. It still serves both Lutheran and United Church of Christ (formerly Reformed) congregations. I thought I was visiting on a whim but as I sat in the pews I discovered my ancestor had brought me there for a reason. 198 years, almost to the day, after the historic congregation decided to build a more permanent church the current congregation was contemplating disbanding. With an aging and dwindling congregation, lack of member participation and an ever-increasing deficit the church was in crisis.

During the worship service a special congregational meeting was held to vote on closing. I knew there were many descendants of the founding congregation sitting around me as their families had stayed in the area. But I was the only Kreiligh descendant. Adam and his children moved to Rice Township, Sandusky County, Ohio, in 1834.[10] I think my 4th great-grandfather wanted one of his descendants to be in his church today. It certainly felt fitting that I was there. And it seemed like he was there with me during the emotional but tender service.

I was proud to be in my ancestor's church today. Especially when the congregation voted unanimously to continue and keep the church alive for future generations.

[1] Northumberland, Pennsylvania, Deeds, V: 359, Kreitigh to Kreitigh, 1 September 1823; Northumberland County Courthouse, Sunbury.  He bought the land on 31 May 1815 and in 1823 sold it to his son. Adam’s name is spelled three different ways in the deed: Kreitigh, Kreiligh and Kreider.
[2] “Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1774-1846: Schwaben Creek,” ( : accessed 27 Jun 2015), Adam Grehlich, communicant, 11 May 1816. Ibid, Ann Maria Kreiligh, baptism, 28 March 1819.
[3] Jack L. Pensyl, The Baptismal Records of Himmel’s Union Church, Rebuck, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1774-1846 (Northumberland County Historical Society, 1996), i.
[4] John H. Carter, “The Himmel Church” in The Northumberland County Historical Society Proceedings and Addresses VIII (1936): 97.
[5] Pensyl, The Baptismal Records of Himmel’s Union Church, i.
[6] Carter, “The Himmel Church” in The Northumberland County Historical Society Proceedings  VIII (1936): 66.
[7] Ibid, 82.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Pensyl, The Baptismal Records of Himmel’s Union Church, i.
[10] Sandusky, Ohio, Chancery Court, 6: 86, Michael Yeagley vs Jacob Krielich, 8 Jun 1847.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Remembering Five Family Members who Served in Four Wars

Pictured (left to right) are Rodney J. Guye, Grady F. Guye, Louis Guye Jr., 
James K. Ferguson and Louis R. Guye

This Memorial Day I was reminded of my father Grady Guye's military service. So I dug out this old photo and accompanying newspaper article.
This unusual photograph belongs to Elkins resident Grady Guye. It was taken during the summer of 1952 and shows five members of his family that severed in four different wars.
“My brother Rodney was home on leave that summer,” Guye said. “We were all sitting around talking when someone suggested we dig out our uniforms, put them on and have a picture taken while we were all home. The uniforms needed to be pressed because they were all in boxes at the time, but we put them on anyway.
“I’m glad we did because this is one of my most prized pictures. Rodney and I are the only ones left now. Dad, my uncle and my brothers were all proud to have served our country, as millions of others have over the years.
“My prayers are with our servicemen now serving in the Middle East and with their families, as well,” Guye said.
Rodney Guye, youngest brother in the family, served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War from October 1950 to August 1954. He was a fire controlman, third class, on the destroyer escort, the USS Blackwood.
Grady Guye, the oldest of the brothers, served with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II from December 1942 until February 1946. At his time of discharge, he was a post sgt./maj.
Louis Guye Jr. served in the U.S. Navy for four years during World War II, He served in the Armed Guard as a signalman and gunner on the USS Lewis L. Dysche, one of several ships under kamikaze attack for several days as they delivered troops to the Philippines.
James K. Ferguson, an uncle, served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. He was a corporal in Troup I of the 11th Calvary. Troop I later participated in the funeral services for President William McKinley at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 17, 1901 as part of the honor guard. Troop I and Troop L were the only mounted troops that participated in the marching column.
Louis Guye served in France with the U.S. Army 113th Engineers, Company E, during World War I (1917-1918).

Source: "Five Members of Same Family Serve in Four Different Wars," The Inter-Mountain, Elkins, W.Va., 2 March 1991, p. 11.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

How To Make Someone’s Day

Saturday at the NERGC Conference in Providence, R.I., I got to make someone very happy. At the conference’s Ancestors Road Show, where twenty minute consultations are provided, I volunteered to answer questions. Fortunately one of my appointments sent in her question the night before and I had a chance to do some research on her brick wall.

The questions was “Who were the parents of Anna Phillips born in New York City on 6 August 1849 to Henry and Leah (de Paris) Phillips?” There was nothing known about Anna’s early life. Her birth information and parents’ names were from her death certificate. She was not found in census records until after she married in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1868. And the records she was found in provided conflicting information about her parents’ origins.

1870 Census
Neither parent of foreign birth
1880 Census
Father born in England & Mother born in France
1900 Census
Father born in England & Mother born in England
Death Certificate
Father born in England & Mother born in New York City

Since Anna was born in New York City in 1849 I focused on finding her family in the 1850 census. However, no family was found with Henry and Leah Phillips as parents of a daughter named Anna.  I decided to turn to other sources that might help identify the family.

Manhattan kept a register of deaths for the years 1795-1865 that is available on microfilm from the FHL. (It is also available at NEHGS and probably other archives.) The original register included the deceased person’s name, age, date, place and reason of death as well as the cemetery and undertaker. FamilySearch’s database "New York, New York City MunicipalDeaths, 1795-1949" can be used as an index to this register. The database does contain death information from other collections but you can check the referenced microfilm number to identify the original source.

Searching this database found Leah Phillips’ death on 5 October 1851 at 86 Mott Street.[1]

Searching an 1850-51 New York City city directory did not show anyone named Phillips living on Mott Street. And a search for 86 Mott Street turned up only one person named Anna Busteed.[2]

Examining the 1850 census for anyone named Henry Phillips living in New York City produced 12 results. One of those results was for a Henry born in England with a birth year close to Leah’s.[3]
This could be the family! Although Leah is named Louisa the other details seem to fit the family. And Leah/Louisa appears to be living with a couple that could be her parents since her death certificate maiden name was de Paris.

Looking at the census image itself shows the family split between two census pages and living in what seems to be a two-family house.
Best of all look who is also at the address. Anna Busteed! This must be 86 Mott Street and therefore this Louisa Phillips is indeed Leah Phillips who will die there in 1851.

Armed with more information about the family it was easy to find Anna Phillips in the 1855 New York State Census living with her presumed grand parents.[4] 

Leah/Louisa Phillips is missing as expected since she died in 1851 but where is Henry Phillips? Checking the Manhattan death register again doesn't turn up Henry's death but did find Hannah Paris' death in 1857.[5]

The family was shrinking with Henry's supposed death and the death of Anna's presumed grandmother. There is still the 1860 census to find and maybe this will provide some information on Anna's move to Hartford, Connecticut. 

However, before the consultation was over I had one last record to share. The Paris family passenger arrival record in 1845 for David Paris, Mrs. Paris, Louise Paris and Infant Paris.[6]

In the end it was a very happy person at her consultation. She walked in the room hoping to learn a little something about her ancestor's life and walked out with another generation of ancestors including their immigration information.

[1] "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 April 2015), Leah Phillips, 05 Oct 1851; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 447554.
[2] John Doggett, The New York City Directory (New-York: John Doggett, 1850), 85; Hathi Trust (;view=1up;seq=97 : accessed 18 Apr 2015).
[3] "United States Census, 1850," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 April 2015), Henry Philips in household of David Paris, New York City, ward 14, New York, New York, United States; citing family 120, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[4] "New York, State Census, 1855," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 April 2015), David Paris, E.D. 2, Ward 8, New York City, New York, New York, United States; count clerk offices, New York; FHL microfilm 1,018,655.
[5] "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 April 2015), Hannah Paris, 21 Dec 1857; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 447560.
[6] "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 April 2015), David Paris, 1845; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm.