Discovering New Cousins

Usually when I conduct my genealogy research, I discover relatives in Ruth’s family. Why? Because my family has been thoroughly researched by Cousins Roy Stern and Gary Ridolf along with the invaluable assistance of Manfred Schmidt in Germany. This work involves mostly my patriline, ancestors of my father. Now that I have started working on the matriline – my mother’s ancestors, I have made some interesting discoveries. First, I have Dutch ancestry. Second, I have cousins living in Iowa and Nebraska. And third, there is a WW2 war bride in my family history.

My Second Great Grandfather Isaac Schoenfeld was born in the German village of Wachenbuchen in 1816. In 1840, he married Hennel Reinhard and proceeded to have six children, including Gustav Schoenfeld, my Great Grandfather. One of Gustav’s siblings, named Minna, was born in 1854. She married Julius Mendel Mueller at a place and time unknown to me. However, and this is where it gets interesting, there were three children from this marriage all born in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The time period is the 1880’s. A wild guess is that Julius and Minna sought better economic conditions in Holland than Germany. In any case, Julius did well. On the birth certificate of his first child he is mentioned as a worker in a mattress factory. Upon the birth of child #2, he is a supervisor in the factory. By the time child #3 is born, he runs the factory. Child #3 has a name, Johanna, born in 1889. She marries Karl Hauser.and has one daughter Irene, born in 1920 in Mannheim, Germany. I am not sure how we now go from the Netherlands back to Germany but I am sure that Germany was in the midst of a terrible inflation in the 1920’s, so this move is counter intuitive. Trying to decipher the “story” of relatives during the Holocaust is always difficult. Irene is 13 when Hitler comes to power. In 1946 at age 26, she becomes the war bride of John William Ebert from Hancock, Iowa. Johanna and Karl, her parents, also survive the war. I’m sure there is a story there, but I just don’t know it.

Later in 1946 John and Irene move to Hancock, Iowa, have two sons Fred and Ken. Irene passes away in 1998. Johanna and Karl move to Hancock in 1948 and stay until 1960 when they move back to Germany. After Karl dies, Johanna moves back to Hancock to stay.

I am in touch with Fred and Ken who are my third cousins. They are assembling family data for me so I can add some third cousins once removed to the family tree. Will we ever visit Fred and Ken and their families in Nebraska and Iowa? Perhaps. It sure is closer than Germany.


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