The partial answer to what happened to the eight children of Erasmus and Anna Catharina Trautvetter lies in a probate case file buried in the Hancock County, Illinois, courthouse. It is a thousand miles away from where Erasmus and Anna lived their lives in the 18th and 19th centuries but was where five of their children would find their final resting places.
Church records indicate that Erasmus and Anna Catharina (Gross) Trautvetter of Wohlmuthausen, Thuringia, Germany, had the following children:
- Johann Heinrich Trautvetter–Born 25 November 1791 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
- Johann Adam Trautvetter–Born 06 February 1794 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
- Johann Michael Trautvetter–Born 26 January 1796 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
- Johann Georg Trautvetter–Born 15 July 1798 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
- Elisabeth Margretha Trautvetter–Born 26 January 1801 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
- Ernestine Trautvetter–Born 10 April 1804 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
- Wilhelmine Trautvetter–Born 26 September 1808 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
- Elisabeth Magdalene–Born 02 February 1811 Dorf Allendorf (Bad Salzungen)
The entry for Erasmus’ death in 1841 in the records of the church at Wohlmuthausen indicated that he was survived by four sons and four daughters. The entry in the same records when Anna Catharina died in 1823 said the same thing. The eight children listed for them in the baptismal records were apparently living at the father’s death in 1841.
There’s nothing until 1871 that has the potential to mention all the children again. That’s when one of the older brothers died without leaving any descendants.
The intestate probate case for Michael Trautvetter in Hancock County, Illinois, indicated that he was survived by the following siblings (or their descendants) on 18 July 1871:
- George Trautvetter
- Henry Trautvetter (deceased, but left a wife and children)
- Mina Kraft (formerly Trautvetter)
- Ernestine Hess (deceased, but left three children)
Adam Trautvetter is not listed and is known to have predeceased Michael in Hancock County, Illinois, and (according to his own will) left no children. That leaves Elisabeth Margaretha and Elisabeth Magdalene unaccounted for. What happened to them?
If one assumes the probate record is complete and exact and that no heirs living overseas were “overlooked” (which they shouldn’t have been), then Elisabeth Margaretha and Elisabeth Magdalene predeceased Michael and left no descendants.
Not knowing where they were would not have been an excuse for failure to include them. Ernestine’s son Valentine is mentioned. He could not be located and his share of Michael’s estate was deposited with the county treasurer. The same should have been done for any other heirs that were known about but that could not be located. No details are given about Ernestine because she is deceased. What mattered is that she had children. When and where she died is not germane to the settlement of Michael’s estate. The fact that she is dead and left descendants is.
Here is what is known about the two “missing” daughters:
Nothing is known about Elisabeth Margretha other than her date and place of birth. Elisabeth Magdalene was born in 1811 in Dorf Allendorf and married Johannes Gerlach in 1835 in Wohlmuthausen. Johannes was born there in 1809 and that is where their two children (Elizabeth Margaretha in 1835 and Johann Michael in 1839) were born. There is no other information on the Gerlachs in the records at Wohlmuthausen.
If the probate for Michael is correct then both of them died before Michael and did not leave surviving issue.
There are no death entries for any of the Trautvetter siblings in the church records at Wohlmuthausen. All four sons immigrated to the United States. Wilhelmine immigrated as well. All of them died in Hancock County, Illinois. It is not known whether Ernestine immigrated to the United States, but her three children who lived to adulthood did. It is possible that the two “missing sisters” did as well and died before Michael.
At this point my conclusion that they died before Michael is based upon the fact that they are not mentioned as heirs in his intestate probate case. That record is what my conclusion is based upon and any statement about their death time frame should include a reference to the documents in Michael’s estate that indicate by whom he was survived.
The partial answer to what happened to Erasmus’ and Anna Catharina’s children was in a record a thousand miles from where either of them lived and possibly in a country several of them never saw.