Sometimes it takes a while to figure things out.
For years I had known that Julius Biermann was the administrator of the 1860-1870 era estate settlement of Michael Trautvetter in Hancock County, Illinois. Michael died without any descendants and his intestate probate was key in understanding the sibling relationship between members of that family who settled in Hancock County, Illinois, in the 1850s. Probate papers made it clear that Michael was one of several siblings (including):
- Michael–the deceased whose estate was being settled
- Henry–who lived near Hamilton, Hancock County, Illinois
- Wilhelmina Kraft–who lived in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois
- George–who lived in Rocky Run Township, Hancock County
- and Ernestine–who predeceased Michael and left her own children
One thing that never made sense to me was the administrator: Julius Bierman. He was another German immigrant and was a young farmer living between Hamilton and Nauvoo at the time of his appointment. It always struck me as odd that a “non-Trautvetter” was appointed administrator of the estate and that the appointment was someone who was not a justice of the peace, clerk, attorney, or some other person with a similar background.
The bondsmen on his administrator’s bond also were curious–they were Trautvetters. Christ Troutfetter (who used that spelling) was a son of Henry and John Herbert is probably the man of that name who was married to one of Michael Trautvetter’s nieces. But who was Bierman?
Bierman’s wife’s maiden name was Senf or Serf–which meant nothing to me.
It was years ago when I made the discovery of Bierman and his wife’s maiden name and, when I could not figure him out, I put it aside. Other records on the Trautvetter family allowed me to trace them into Germany and time spent obsessing on the administrator did not seem like time well spent.
I hired a researcher in Germany to locate records on the Trautvetter family. He obtained records on the Trautvetter siblings as listed above and their children when those records could be located.
And then I discovered who John Bierman was.
Actually John Bierman was not the connection at all. It was his wife, Anna Senf.
Anna Senf was born in Wohlmuthausen, Thuringen, Germany on 13 Oct 1838 to Johann Valentine Senf and Wilhelmine Trautvetter. The Wilhelmina Kraft listed as a sister of Michael Trautvetter in his intestate probate case had been married before to Johann Valentine Senf. It was with Senf that she had all her children.
I had assumed (without even realizing it) that Wilhelmina had only married once–to Mr. Kraft.
John Biermann was related after all. He was related to Michael Trautvetter in the same way the bondsman was–the husband of a niece.
Lessons and reminders:
- Never assume that a person was married only once.
- Remember that bondsmen are bondsmen for people they know and trust–and that sometimes they are relatives.
- In-laws may appear in records more than you think.
- Go back and research a little more those people you’ve put on the back burner.