I Just Want the Answers to My Question


Sometimes it is tempting to say “I just want an answer to my question. I don’t want to research other records at all. Just tell me how to answer my question.”

The problem with genealogy research is that sometimes one record does not answer the question of interest and that other records are needed to establish context which helps the researcher frame their search for the “record that answers the question.”

Such it is with the arrival of the family of Henry Trautvetter in the United States. The German immigrant family appears in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1860 with their sons, a daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, a child of unknown origin, and a farm laborer. The census makes no mention of their arrival and the birth of the grandchildren in Illinois does allow for an approximation of the arrival of at least the son who is the father of those children. (Note: the relationships among the Trautvetters in the enumeration are known from other records–not this census entry).

Henry does not naturalize and is dead by the 1870 census enumeration. A complete search for information on his brothers Michael and Adam located a reference to Henry in Campbell County, Kentucky, where Henry apparently spent at least some time. Adam’s live in the 1850s is better documented than Henry’s.

Adam apparently arrives in Campbell County, Kentucky, in the summer of 1850. Based upon documents located during that time frame, Adam knew where he was headed when he arrived in the United States.

  • In July of 1850 Adam arrives on the Marianne, landing in Baltimore. ( He is listed as John Adam Trautvetter, aged 57.) It’s probably the right guy as the name, age, and location of origin matches.
  • On 5 September 1850, Adam (as  57-year old “Item Troutfeather”) is enumerated in Campbell County, Kentucky’s Second District, living in the household of Michael and Margaret Trautvetter.
  • On 6 November 1850, Adam and Henry Trautvetter, styled as “of Campbell County, Kentucky,” purchase thirty acres on four mile creek (Campbell County Deed Book V, p 442). No relationship between the two is given in the deed.

Michael Trautvetter had lived in Campbell County for at least a few years, having purchased property there on 9 August 1845 (Deed Book  Q, page 194). This is the earliest documented reference to a member of this Trautvetter family living in the United States.

The information helps to establish a time frame for when Henry immigrated. It is possible that he arrived by himself and sent for his family later. There is no evidence indicating Barbara and the sons are in the United States until 1860

The current goal is to locate immigration information on Henry, his wife Barbara, and their sons Adam, George, and Christian. Their daughter, Ernestine (Trautvetter) Mathes (wife of George Mathes), immigrated in July of 1853 arriving in Baltimore with the family of her uncle George Trautvetter. By 1860 Henry, Barbara and their sons were living in Hancock County, Illinois, where other members of the family (except Michael who was still in Kentucky) were also living. Michael remained in Campbell County until the mid-1860s, but eventually settled in Hancock County, Illinois, as well.

Why work on setting the time frame?

Because Henry was easily located performing simple searches of passenger lists on his name. Broader name-based searches may be necessary. Those searches may result in an unmanageable number of hits if the time frame is too large.

And researching the family in an exhaustive manner may result in a record that helps me more than I would expect.

And as I write this, I realize that I’ve not searched for declarations of intention or naturalization for the Trautvetters in Campbell County, Kentucky. Those records may help as well.



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