Sometimes just a few years in our ancestor’s lives can shed the most details on their entire life and their entire family. I’m starting to think that I need to concentrate more on the first few years one of my immigrant families was in the United States.
Three documents really helped me on my 19th century immigrant Trautvetter family:
- the declaration of intention for John George Trautvetter in Hancock County, Illinois in 1855
- the passenger manifest for John George and his family arriving in Baltimore in 1853
- the intestate probate settlement for John George’s brother Michael which confirmed the sibling relationship between contemporary Trautvetters in Hancock County, Illinois
I was fortunate Trautvetter’s declaration of intention is extant and that his brother died intestate with no descendants. I’ve been fortunate to locate records on the family in Germany and to track down roughly two-thirds of the family into the early 20th century era. However there are a few branches of the family who remain mysteries and whose existence is only documented by a mention in the estate settlement of Michael Trautvetter.
Michael’s estate does not mention the residence of many of his heirs–just whether or not they are alive or dead. The only heir whose residence is mentioned is his niece Wilhelmina Rothweiler of St. Louis. Michael’s estate was settled in the 1860-1870 era and my initial attempts to locate family members concentrated on the 1870 and later censuses.
That was a mistake–or at least misdirected. It was time to do a little thinking. John George Trautvetter came from the following family of siblings:
- John George Trautvetter, born in 1798, immigrated in 1853–settled almost immediately in Hancock County, Illinois. He returned to Germany in about 1869 where he died. His family remained in Hancock County, Illinois. Four children:
- George Adolph
- Theodore Frederick
- John Michael
- Anna Elizabeth
- Adam Trautvetter, settled in the 1850s in Hancock County. Died before Michael. Never married.
- Michael Trautvetter, died in 1869 in Hancock County. No children.
- Henry Trautvetter, died 1869/1870, probably in Hancock County. Three children who left descendants:
- Christian Troutfetter
- Adam Trautvetter
- Ernestine Mathis
- Wilhelmina Kraft. Died in 1870s in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.
- Ernestine Hess. Died before Michael Trautvetter. May or may not have immigrated. Three children:
- Wilhelmina Rothweiler–of St. Louis, Missouri.
- William Hess
- Valentine Hess
Michael, Adam, Henry, and Ernestine Mathis are known to have spent time in Campbell County, Kentucky, before settling in Hancock County. Michael also spent time in St. Louis with Wilhelmina Rothweiler as well. I’ve researched rather extensively for these people in Illinois, but the St. Louis and Campbell County connections need to be explored further.
One thing I’ve never really done is tried to find all of them in passenger manifests. Only two family groups have been located far: those of John George Trautvetter and Ernestine Mathis. I looked diligently for John George because he’s my direct line. Ernestine was located because she and her husband were on the same boat as John George. None of the others have been located.
And that could be part of my problem. With the exception of Ernestine (Trautvetter) Hess (who may have never left Germany), all the individuals were immigrants. Counting spouses, that’s eleven people I have not located in passenger lists.
And there may be some answers resting in those records.