A search of “Nebraska Homestead Land Records” on the History Nebraska website for the last name of Goldenstein brought up three entries, two of which were of particular interest: Focke Goldenstein.

Liebold (probably Siebold, but the name is not in my family and all so I didn’t bother to look) was a distance from the Fockes, so his entry was not of interest to me. The entry for Focke Goldenstein in section 12 of township 11 Range 25 west was known to me as I have that completed application file. It’s my great-great-grandfather and his homestead was in western Dawson County, Nebraska.

I expected to see his entry. It’s Focke T. Goldenstein who was of particular interest to me.

The “Tract Books Index Search Results” indicated where Focke T.’s claim was located. It did not indicate whether Focke T. completed his claim or not. My suspicion was that Focke T. did not complete his claim as his name does not appear in the Bureau of Land Management federal land patent database nor does it appear in the database of Nebraska homestead claims on Ancestry.com.

The Bureau of Land Management tract books are online at FamilySearch for the state of Nebraska and following the process outlined in an earlier blog post, I found Focke T.’s entry.

It confirmed that his claim was cancelled. Focke T. started his claim on 4 December 1883 and it was cancelled 8 February 1888. Another claim on the same property was filed the same day, suggesting (but not providing evidence of) Focke T. abandoning his claim. Just because the claim was started in 1883 and cancelled in 1888 does not mean that Focke T. was living there between 1883-1888. It seems probable that he left sometime in 1887 based upon the cancellation date, but it is possible that he left earlier. A review of the claims for the same parcel of Focke T indicated that several claims made there were not completed–not just Focke T’s.

The question is: who was Focke T. Goldenstein?

The Focke Goldenstein who completed his homestead claim in Dawson County, Nebraska, was born in Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany, in 1857. He and his wife, Anna (Dirks) Goldenstein, were living on their homestead claim near Gothenburg, Nebraska, during the 1881-1889 time period.

Their claims were relatively close together.

Focke T. Goldenstein’s incomplete claim location. The square represents an entire section (one square mile or 640 acres) and his claim was for one-fourth of that.

Focke Goldenstein’s completed claim location. The square represents an entire section (one square mile or 640 acres) and his claim was for one-fourth of that.

Their claims were approximately 12-13 miles from each other. Were they aware of each other given their unusual name? Were they related?

The related question may be easier to answer. Focke Goldenstein had a nephew with the same name, but he would have been a mere child in the 1880s. Focke Goldenstein did not have any uncles with that name. That last name is part of the problem.

Focke Goldenstein’s father, Johann Goldenstein (1814-1891 born in Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany) was not born a Goldenstein. His actual name was Johann Lucken Jurgens Ehmen Goldentsein. Ehmen was his actual surname and his “middle name” of Jurgens was actually a patronym derived from his father’s first name of Jurgen. All of Johann’s siblings used the surname of Ehmen. Johann took the surname of Goldenstein around the time he purchased an inn/tavern in Wrisse. None of Johann’s siblings used the surname of Goldenstein. The only Goldenstein relatives Johann (and Focke) had were the descendants of Johann.

So who is Focke T?

I’m not certain. But an excellent place to start will be to obtain the incomplete homestead application of Focke T. Goldenstein. If he was an immigrant, which I suspect he was, there should be naturalization information on him in the file. There may be additional information in his file depending upon how long he was on his claim before it was cancelled.

We’ve requested that file from the National Archives using information from the tract book.

Stay tuned.

The “Nebraska Homestead Land Records” on the History Nebraska website includes incomplete homestead entries. These entry files are at the National Archives and can be as informative as completed claims (especially for immigrants). A significant number of homestead claims were cancelled. These claims are not at the Bureau of Land Management site, but they do appear in the tract books.




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