The majority of the time I have a reasonable idea how a relative met their spouse. Once in a while I do not. How John S. Driesbach met Sophia Dirks before their 1896 marriage was something of a question for me.
They were married at the Lutheran Church in Coatsburg, Illinois, where Sophia had been confirmed and where he family attended. Her residence was listed as Coatsburg, Illinois. John’s address was listed as Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. While the counties are adjacent there is a distance between Carthage and Coatsburg. It would have been a distance for him to travel and he certainly would not have gone there for supplies or two do business, etc.
Sophia Dirks was an Ostfriesen by heritage (her parents were immigrants from that German region) and most of her siblings married other children of that heritage or other members of the nearby German community. While Driesbach is a surname of Germanic origin, he was not a member of one of the local families.
So how did he meet Sophia?
While I’m not certain, there’s a clue in the 1900 census enumeration for John and Sophia. It is four years after their marriage and they are living in Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois, and enumerated on the same census page as Sophia’s sister, Anna (Dirks) Goldenstein and her family. Rural Bear Creek Township (especially the northern portions of it) certainly are close enough to warrant a “Carthage” address. It is also known that the Goldensteins lived in Bear Creek Township continuously from the very late 1880s until the early 1900s. Is it possible that Driesbach met Sophia Dirks through them?
I’m certainly not going to state it as fact because I do not know it.
What brought Driesbach to the Carthage area is not known. It’s also not on my list of research plans. While that might seem like I’m not researching him completely, there are reasons:
- John’s reason for coming to Carthage is not germane to my research. His wife is my actual relative, her ancestral origins are known, her parents have been well documented in the United States and my only connection to him is through his marriage to her.
- John is not a member of the larger Ostfriesen community. If he were, I might consider researching him a little more fully-simply because I am related to many of the Ostfriesens who settled near Carthage and many of those families have connections in their ancestral homeland in addition to the ones they created here.
- And…one only has so much time.
Finding the Driesbachs near the Goldensteins served as a good reminder. Ancestral neighbors in the census should always be checked–even when you think you know everything about a family.