A Few Missing Pond Crossers that May Stay Missing

Between approximately 1850 and 1883, twenty-two of my maternal ancestors “crossed the pond.” They left from Ostfriesland, in the north of Germany, and settled basically in two areas:

  • in and relatively near Golden, Adams County, Illinois
  • in Hancock County, Illinois’ Bear Creek and Prairie Townships

They all sailed from Bremen and most arrived in New York City’s Castle Garden.

There are two couples for whom I cannot find on a manifest entry:

  • Gerd Harms Behrens and Trientje Ulferts (Claassen) Behrens. Gerd was born in Ihlowerfehn in 1789 and Trientje was born in Weene in 1794. They were in the United States by 1860 when they were enumerated in the federal census in Adams County, Illinois. Trientje is buried in the South Prairie Cemetery near Golden, Adams County, Illinois.
  • Hinrich Mueller and Geske Catharine (Husmann) Mueller. Hinrich was born around 1799 and Geske was born around 1801. They were in the United States by 1860 when they were enumerated in Brown County, Illinois (living in Pea Ridge Township near the border with Adams County). Both are burned in Becam Cemetery in Pea Ridge Township.

Both couples immigrated after all (or most) of their children were grown. That’s the only thing they have in common. The partial difficulty with Hinrich and Geske is that their last name is extremely common.

The question for me is: how long do I keep looking and how many times do I try to find them?

While I realize that every record has the potential to reveal new information, the time spent matters as well. What also matters is how likely their manifest entry is to reveal significantly new information to me. Both couples have been located in records in the United States where their residence is fairly well-documented. Their specific origins in Europe are known as are the names of their children.

The passenger list entry has a chance of telling me something new about them, but the chance of that, to be perfectly honest, is slight. I’ve documented a significant amount of their lives already as best I can. I’m not certain it’s worth spending what could be hours locating the name of the ship and the date on which they arrived in the United States.

Sometimes one just has to stop and move on to something else. It’s often about balancing time with the likelihood of potential return.


6 thoughts on “A Few Missing Pond Crossers that May Stay Missing

  1. I think, too, that the manifests may not have survived. I suspect that to be true on a couple of my ancestors’ family members.

  2. I had read at an early point in my family history search that departure records from Hamburg were destroyed en masse because it was embarrassing on the world scene the enormous numbers of Germans fleeing the country. I cannot recall all the particulars of that, but in poking around just now about Bremen departures, I found this link on Family Search that might be of interest to you though I can’t imagine you’re not familiar with it. And so my apologies as well.

  3. New records are becoming available all the time. A periodic search can turn up new info. Even though I don’t spend a lot of searching certain people, from time to time I like to go back and try again. Sometimes — though rarely — I hit pay dirt.

    • I do that too occasionally. A period “retry” isn’t a bad idea. What I should do is make a list of people I’d like to find in certain things but just can’t and then every so often when I need a break from something else, give it another go.

  4. Is it also possible that they arrived at another port, Boston or Baltimore? I found a missing great grandmother whose entire family arrived at Ellis Island, but for some unknown reason she arrived at Boston, even though her immediate destination was NYC.

    • Yes it is. I’ve actually searched for them at any port of arrival in the US–at least on the Eastern part of the US. NYC, New Orleans, or Baltimore are where most of my Midwesterners landed, but I’ve not limited searches to those ports for these people.

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