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.