6 Days with my Konzen cousins: Day 4 – A Visit with Vernon

We started our 4th day with a Starbucks run and then a wild journey up one of Dubuque’s bluffs and through some alleys (thanks to the excellent navigation skills of the GPS) to the massive Mount Calvary Cemetery.  The three of us split up to take on the cemetery and we still didn’t come near finishing the cemetery – or even a quarter of it – before we had to leave!

We found Vincent Hansen (grandson of Angela Susanna Konzen Hansen) and his wife Helen Breitbach, Francis Hansen (Grandson of Angela Susanna Konzen Hansen) and his wife Margareta Schroeder, Lucille Link (Vernon’s mom and Angela Susanna Konzen Hansen’s great granddaughter) and her husband Arnold Auderer, John Louis Breitbach (Great grandson of Johann Ries [1794-1867]) and his sister Velma Breitbach Hentges Curran, Wilfred J. Konzen (Great grandson of Theodore Konzen [1823-1905]) and his wife Goldie.

Vincent Hansen (Angela Susanna Konzen Hansen's grandson) and his wife Helen Breitbach

Vincent Hansen (Angela Susanna Konzen Hansen’s grandson) and his wife Helen Breitbach

Wilfred Konzen (Great grandson of Theodore Konzen) and his wife Goldie

Wilfred Konzen (Great grandson of Theodore Konzen) and his wife Goldie

Then the three of us journeyed back down the bluff and up the next to Vernon’s house.  We had lunch together and discussed family history and connections.  Vernon showed us the many genealogy books he’s written on different branches of his family.  His dedication to family research was amazing along with his organization.  He had notebooks full of research and binders of obituaries organized.

After our time with Vernon; Michelle, Sandy, and I traveled down some winding roads to five more cemeteries.  We went to Holy Cross in Holy Cross, Holy Trinity in Luxemburg, St. Boniface in New Vienna, Sts. Peter and Paul in Petersburg, and St. Francis Xavier in Dyersville.  A few Konzen extended family members that we found in Holy Cross were: Anthony Konzen (Theodore & Marie DeMuth Konzen’s son) and his wife Josephine Blankenheim; Anthony Clemens (Son of Kathryn Konzen and grandson of Theodore & Marie DeMuth Konzen) and his wife Laverne Tobin; Elizabeth Clemens Ungs (Daughter of Kathryn Konzen) and her husband Henry Ungs; Joseph Konzen (Anthony & Josephine Blankenheim Konzen’s son) and his wife Lorraine Schmitt; Mathias Konzen (Son of Theodore & Marie DeMuth Konzen) and his wife Katherine Schmitt; Mathias (John & Margaretha Conrad Jaeger’s son, grandson of Anton & Catherine Konzen Meyer) and his wife Marcella Habel; Michael and Catherine Thielen Schmitt (Parents of Katherine Schmitt who married Mathias Konzen); Victor Konzen (Anthony & Josephine Blankenheim Konzen’s son); and Peter Konzen (1789-abt 1863) and his wife Theresa Wolff (1795-1871), their son Theodore Konzen (1823-1905) and his wife Marie DeMuth (1830-1895), and their children Elisabetha Konzen (1852-1864), Charles Konzen (1859-1864), Maria Konzen (1855-1866), and Theodore Konzen (born abt 1862).

Peter Konzen and his wife Theresa Wolff, my great great great grandparents.

Peter Konzen and his wife Theresa Wolff, my great great great grandparents.

Children of Theodore Konzen & Marie DeMuth: Elisabeth, Charles, Maria, & Theodore Konzen.

Children of Theodore Konzen & Marie DeMuth: Elisabeth, Charles, Maria, & Theodore Konzen.

In Holy Cross, I realized how incredible it really was to be visiting my great great great grandparents’ graves (Peter & Theresa Konzen) and being somewhere my 3x great grandparents actually lived.  Holy Cross is a cute little town in the rolling countryside outside of Dubuque.  Inside the Holy Cross Church, there’s a stained glass window that Theodore and Marie Konzen donated money for to the church – which even increased my feelings about visiting Holy Cross.

Mr & Mrs Theodore Konzen's Window inside the Holy Cross Catholic Church

Mr & Mrs Theodore Konzen’s window inside the Holy Cross Catholic Church

We made the quick trip from Holy Cross to Luxemburg’s Holy Trinity Cemetery, where we found many gravestones of people who were born in Mettendorf, Luxembourg.  Mettendorf is now in Germany (the result of over 100 years of border changes) and it is only four and a half miles away from Kruchten, Germany, where Peter Konzen & Theresa Wolff were married and had their children (Johan Mathias, Margaretha, Theodore, Joannes, Anton, and Maria).  Judging from the cemetery, Luxemburg, Iowa, was aptly named, such a large number of Luxembourg immigrants are buried there! One of the Luxembourgers buried there was Michael Kohnen (maybe some relation?), his gravestone says he was born in Niederfeulen, Luxembourg, which is about 29.7 kilometers from Kruchten, Germany.

Some Konzen relatives that we found in Luxemburg were: Johann & Susanna Greiner Maiers (Grandparents of Mathias Maiers, Theresa Konzen’s husband), John & Susanna Lacafe Ries (Grandparents of Anna Gilbert who married Peter Kout, son of Margaretha Konzen Kout), John H & Mary Maiers, John N & Marie Ries Maiers (She is the daughter of Johann & Susanna Lacafe Ries.  They are the parents of Mathias Maiers, husband of Theresa Konzen), Johann & Katherine Heiderscheit Ries (He is the son of Johann & Susanna Lacafe Ries.  They are the parents of Josephine Cecelia Ries who married Theodore John Konzen) and their daughter Kathryn Ries, Theresa Konzen Duster (Daughter of Theodore Konzen and wife of Anton Duster).

Theresa Konzen Duster's headstone. It says she was born in Kruchten - if only we'd seen that a long time ago!

Theresa Konzen Duster’s headstone. It says she was born in Kruchten – if only we’d seen that a long time ago!

At St. Boniface Cemetery in New Vienna, we found Elmer Ries (Son of Katherine Konzen & Thomas John Ries), Jacob Aloysius Elenz (Son of Matthias Elenz & Paulina Orth), Louis Kronlage (Mabel M Ries’s husband), Clemens Bockenstedt (Grandfather of Rose Henrietta Klostermann who married Anthony Leopold Konzen) & his wife Mary Ann Wiegmann, Paul Pitz (Grandson of John Pitz & Mary Kirkas) & his wife Leonetta K Ries (Daughter of Thomas John Ries & Katherine Theresa Konzen), Thomas John Ries (Grandson of Johann Ries & Susanna Lacafe) & his wife Katherine Theresa Konzen (Theodore Konzen & Marie DeMuth’s granddaughter).

Katherine Konzen & Thomas John Ries's son Elmer.

Katherine Konzen & Thomas John Ries’s son Elmer.

Thomas John Ries & his wife Katherine Theresa Konzen. Katherine was the daughter of Mathias Konzen & Katherine Schmitt and Thomas was the son of Michael Ries & Josephine Conrad.

Thomas John Ries & his wife Katherine Theresa Konzen. Katherine was the daughter of Mathias Konzen & Katherine Schmitt and Thomas was the son of Michael Ries & Josephine Conrad.

There weren’t many direct relatives of the Konzens in Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Petersburg, but we found some of Sandy’s relatives and a large Putz family. I found Pitz spelled as Putz in some records, so maybe these Putzes are Pitz relatives. Everett Klostermann (Son of John Joseph Klostermann & Catherine Nurre) & his wife Bernice and Nathan Maiers (John B Maiers & Mary Pasker’s son) & his wife Laurine were buried in the cemetery.

Nathan & Laurine Maiers

Nathan & Laurine Maiers

At St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in Dyersville, we found the graves of Lloyd Konzen (Theodore Konzen & Marie DeMuth’s great grandson) & his wife Mary Smith; Kenneth Kramer (Grandson of Frank Henrich Kramer & Mary Hendricks), his wife Arlene Kennicker, and their son Paul Kramer; Anthony Konzen (Grandson of Theodore Konzen & Marie DeMuth), his wife Rose Klostermann, and their son Lester Konzen.

Lloyd Konzen & his wife Mary Smith were buried in St. Francis Xavier.

Lloyd Konzen’s wife Mary Smith was buried in St. Francis Xavier.

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6 Days with my Konzen cousins: Day 3 – Another Konzen Lost & an Angel Found

On our third day in Chickasaw, we started at the Chickasaw County Courthouse in New Hampton.  We wanted to look for birth, marriage, death, land, and probate records at the courthouse, but because of time constraints and the abundance of records for Konzens, Pitzes, and Rieses there was no way we could’ve gotten all of those records even if we had the whole day to spend there.  But thanks to the wonderful help of the county recorder’s office, we still managed to come away with copies of dozens of records.  We’d sent Sandy to another office to search for wills and probate records and she found some for John G. Konzen (Mathias’s son) along with some of our other relatives.  However, that office closed early on a Friday so we had to return on Monday morning and take the microfiche of the records to the New Hampton Library to make copies.

New Hampton County Courthouse built in 1929

After the courthouse, we took on the New Hampton’s St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery and we also did a drive through of Graceland Cemetery/New Hampton City Cemetery.  At St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, some of the people we found were:

Alfred & Caroline Roths

Alfred M. Roths (grandson of Peter Pitz [1836-1885] who was the brother of Catherine Pitz Konzen my great great grandmother) and his wife Caroline.

Lavern J Roths (son of Alfred M. Roths).

Reynold P Ries (grandson of Michael M Ries [1833-1911] from Johann Ries’s first wife) & his wife Adeline.

Elmer J & Hazel M Pitz

Elmer J Pitz (grandson of Joannes Pitz [1842-1925] who was the brother of Catherine Pitz Konzen) & his wife Hazel.

Gregory H Pitz (Elmer J Pitz’s brother) & his wife Lorraine.

Lawrence Joseph Leichtman (great grandson of Mary Konzen & Casper Leichtman).

Lloyd M & Marie V Leichtman

Lloyd M Leichtman (father of Lawrence Joseph Leichtman and grandson of Mary Konzen & Casper Leichtman) & his wife Marie.

Robert Gilbert (great grandson of Peter Pitz [1836-1885]).

Le Roy, Alma, and their daughter Emily Sue Gilbert

Le Roy Gilbert (great grandson of Johann Ries’s [1794-1867]), his wife Alma, and their daughter Emily Sue.

John Peter Pitz Jr. (son of Joannes Pitz [1842-1925], the brother of Catherine Pitz Konzen), his wife Josephine Walentiny, & their son Gallus V Pitz.

Paul Pitz (son of Joannes Pitz [1842-1925], the brother of Catherine Pitz Konzen) & his wife Mary Wermen.

Peter Blankenheim

Peter Blankenheim (father of Josephine Blankenheim [1876-1968] who married Anthony Konzen) and his wife Louisa.

After we finished with St. Mary’s Cemetery, we took a quick drive through Graceland City Cemetery searching for possible relatives.  Sandy or Michelle barreled out of the car when ever someone would shout out “Found one!”  I took pictures from the car and pretended to leave the girls a few times – since jumping in and out of a car at a cemetery wasn’t exciting enough : )

Sylvester & Verna Leichtman’s headstone

In Graceland we found, Sylvester Leichtman (son of Mary Konzen & Casper Leichtman) & his wife Verna.

After our cemetery drive through, we picked up some copies at the courthouse and headed towards Dubuque.  We stopped in Farley at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery and despite all of our searching, we couldn’t find Michelle’s great great grandpa Mathias/Mathew Konzen and his wife Katherine Schmitt.  Well, Michelle and I searched.  For most of our time at the cemetery, Sandy was actually bonding with an angel.

Sandy’s Angel

We found James Konzen (Theodore Konzen’s [1823-1905] son Mathias’s grandson) and his wife Lois.

Clarence Konzen (James Konzen’s brother).

John & Hilda Conrad

John Conrad (Catherine Konzen Meyer’s daughter Anna’s grandson) and his wife Hilda.

Frank, Elizabeth, & baby Konzen

Frank Konzen (Theodore Konzen’s [1823-1905] grandson), his wife Elizabeth, and their baby.

At the end of our search through Farley, we finally gave up on finding Mathias/Mathew Konzen and his wife.  Later we realized that his grave had not sunk or disappeared, but they were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.  So he’s one Konzen that isn’t really lost!

6 Days with my Konzen cousins: Day 2 – “If you can’t find a grave, keep calm and start digging”

Our second day in Chickasaw county was much more complicated than we expected it to be.  We started our day at Calvary Cemetery (also known as St. Joseph’s) in New Hampton.  There we found my great great grandparents (also Sandy’s great great grandparents) John Konzen and Katherine Pitz Konzen and we also found Katherine’s brother John Pitz (1842-1925), Mary Konzen and Casper F. Leichtman, Emma A. Konzen and William J. Smith, and their families.

John Konzen was born in Jun 1825 in Kruchten, Germany, and he died in Jan 1885 presumably in Chickasaw, Iowa.

Katherine Pitz Konzen was born May 1828 in Mettendorf, Germany, and she died in 16 Jan 1917 in New Hampton, Chickasaw, Iowa.

Katherine Pitz & John Konzen’s headstone

Mary Konzen Leichtman was born 14 May 1862 in Chickasaw, Iowa, and she died 25 Oct 1936 in Chickasaw, Iowa.

Mary Konzen Leichtman’s headstone

Casper F. Leichtman was born 27 Mar 1860 in Iowa, and he died 28 Jun 1941 in New Hampton, Chickasaw, Iowa.

Casper F. Leichtman’s headstone

From Calvary Cemetery, we headed to Alta Vista’s Union and Calvary cemeteries.  In Alta Vista Union we found some Joachims, but nobody directly related to us.  At Alta Vista Calvary, we found some goats that must be descended from goats that our ancestors owned : ) and some Roethlers, Kramers, Hentges, and Mishaks.  We all realized during that morning that camera batteries don’t last long at all when you take pictures of hundreds of graves!

Then we moved on to Ries central – St. Mary’s Catholic cemetery in North Washington.  From North Washington we headed back to New Hampton for lunch and then out to Lawler for Lawler Cemetery or Utica Township Cemetery, also known as “the cemetery on diagonal road”.  The cemetery was supposed to be on the 1800 block of the road, but we spotted it on the 1900 block and I veered off the road like we were never going to see it again (only hardcore genealogists  – or hardcore Konzens – drive like crazy people to cemeteries).  According to Iowa’s WPA graves and Chickasaw County Genealogical Society’s cemetery indexes, Mathias Konzen’s son John Konzen is buried in Lawler Cemetery so we were seeking his grave and maybe his wife’s.

Lawler Cemetery – not in mint condition

Once we managed to open the gate to the cemetery, we started exploring the fairly sparse cemetery for John Konzen.  The ground was kind of bumpy and there was a large open area between a few graves where we decided the cemetery could definitely expand with many more graves.  We found some recent graves and some very old graves, but we didn’t find any graves with familiar names let alone John’s grave.  The three of us weren’t sure what to make of this and we had to look over some of the graves again before we finally decided that we must have the wrong cemetery.  Maybe the cemetery we were at was a private cemetery – after all it didn’t have a sign – and there was another cemetery on the diagonal road that was actually on the 1800 block and not at the corner of the 1900 block and the 1800 block.

Michelle, Sandy, and I jumped back into the car and continued down the road, once we got to about the 1400 block we agreed the cemetery couldn’t be any farther and we turned around to head back toward Lawler.  We kept an eye out for the cemetery, but we didn’t see any new ones.  Once we returned to Lawler, Sandy asked at City Hall if they knew where Lawler Cemetery was, they had no idea, but directed us to a private cemetery (we weren’t willing to trek through somebody’s field to it).  They also told us that the courthouse in New Hampton would probably know the location of our cemetery.  While Sandy was asking questions she managed to ask some guys talking on the street if they knew any Pitzes – and of course they knew where some lived.  We decided to pursue the cemetery instead of chasing after long-lost relatives.

The three of us headed out to Little Turkey in case that was the Lawler cemetery that John was buried in.  The first cemetery in Little Turkey that we stumbled upon was an abandoned Methodist cemetery and the grass was so high that we didn’t want to search through it.  A little farther down the road was Little Turkey’s St. Mary’s Cemetery.  And John wasn’t there either, so we went back to New Hampton to dig through the library obituaries again and to look through the Chickasaw Genealogy cemetery books again.  And there it was, John Konzen buried in Lawler Cemetery, “the cemetery on diagonal road”.

I found the phone number for a member of Chickasaw Genealogy and called her and quizzed her about John.  She told me that the cemetery we found was Lawler Cemetery and once she looked through her records she informed me that she hadn’t been able to find his grave when she was at the cemetery in 1999.  What does the mean?  She continued to tell me that the cemetery had been neglected and basically abandoned at that time and the grass had been above her knees.  So I asked if the fact that John had been at the cemetery when they indexed it in the ’80s, but wasn’t there when she’d gone through the cemetery in 1999, did that mean that his grave had been moved?  She replied, “It probably sunk.”  What?  Apparently it’s very common in Chickasaw County (I don’t know about anywhere else) for graves to sink.

This lady then told me that they’d done restoration at a few cemeteries, but they hadn’t gotten around to Lawler Cemetery yet.  How do they do this restoration?  Well, this couple walks around with a big metal stick and they poke it in the ground until they find a headstone.  Yep, that’s really how they do it!  I was expecting her to tell me that they use radar equipment or a metal detector or something, but they just really use a metal rod.  I was floored by that whole conversation and when I told Sandy and Michelle everything that the lady had told me, they couldn’t believe it either.

At the Lawler Cemetery, we probably stood right on top of John’s grave when we were talking about how many more graves they could fit into the cemetery.  Maybe that’s why the ground was so uneven?  Then we started thinking that maybe my great great grandfather John’s children Katherine and Theresa are also buried next to Frank and Ellen at Reilly Ridge, but that there graves maybe sank.  Who knows?

So my new plan is to get a big stick and start poking around for graves and then digging them up.  Just as soon as I can get back to Iowa…  It infuriated me when we were in Iowa and it still makes me angry now that the caretakers of these graveyards allowed any graves to sink.  You’d think they’d be able to stop the process with much less money and effort if they did something as soon the graves started to sink.

I’ve always thought we should exhume my great great grandfather John Konzen and maybe Angela Susanna or Catherine Konzen and do DNA testing to see how they are related to each other.  So Michelle and Paula always tease me about wanting to do exhumation and now I’m the “exhumation expert” thanks to Michelle : )  It’s very ironic that I now have some graves that need to be dug up.  If you ever drive by a graveyard in Iowa and you see someone walking around with a big metal stick, I guess you’ll know what they are doing – and I could be the person with the stick!

6 Days with my Konzen Cousins: Day 1

I met up with Sandy Sedam and Michelle Huss at the Cedar Rapids airport.  Sandy and I are both great great grandchildren of Joannes/John Konzen and Katherine Pitz Konzen and great great great grandchildren of Peter Konzen and Theresa Wolff Konzen, but Peter and Theresa are Michelle’s fourth great grandparents and Theodore Konzen and Maria Demuth Konzen are her great great great grandparents.  The three of us headed out to Chickasaw county in a Ford Focus that wasn’t nearly large enough for our suitcases and cemetery supplies (doesn’t that sound scary?).

In Chickasaw, we decided Reilly Ridge Cemetery (also known as St. Ignatius Sacred Heart Cemetery) would be our first cemetery to mark off our list, but on our way from New Hampton we ended up stopping at the Jericho Lutheran Cemetery and taking pictures (we’ll call that a practice).  As far we know, we aren’t related to anyone buried at the cemetery, but we’ll eventually put the gravestone pictures that we took there up on Find a Grave.

What St. Ignatius Sacred Heart Church at Reilly Ridge looked like before it burned down.

Then down a gravel road, we went to Reilly Ridge.  From the Iowa WPA graves index we knew that John & Katherine Konzen were buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery (also known as St. Joseph’s Cemetery) in New Hampton, but we were hoping that their kids who died in childhood were buried at Reilly Ridge.  Sandy had heard a rumor that Frank Konzen was buried in Reilly Ridge, so before our trip I wrote to Reilly Ridge and I received a reply from Jack Sabelka, one of the cemetery directors.  Jack sent me a partial map of the cemetery showing the Konzen plot, but no records of who is buried in the plot.  At Reilly Ridge, we wandered around for a bit (because of course I left the map in the car) before one of us finally stumbled upon Frank Konzen and then Ellen Konzen, but no Katherine or Theresa Konzen which is confusing.  It’s a little odd for someone to be buried in a different cemetery than their children (who died during childhood) are buried, but is much stranger for them to have only two of their kids buried together.  At the time, we didn’t think about this too much, believing that we’d probably find Katherine and Theresa together somewhere else.

Frank Konzen, son of John Konzen & Katherine Pitz

Ellen Konzen, daughter of John Konzen & Katherine Pitz

New information we learned about the Konzens at Reilly Ridge:

-Frank Konzen was born 5 Aug 1874 and he died 12 May 1875, he was nine months and seven days old.

-Ellen Konzen was born Nov 1866 and she died in 1872 (this is our best guess from the stone’s condition).

Then we headed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery in Lawler for Mathias & Sophia Konzen and Margaretha Konzen Kout & her family’s graves.  At the back of the cemetery, the Konzens and the Kouts are buried right next to each other.  Margaretha & Mathias Kout’s son Peter Kout and his wife Anna Gilbert and some of their kids are also right next to Margaretha and Mathias Kout.

Mathias Konzen & Sophia Conrad Konzen’s memorial

(Johan) Mathias Konzen was born Jun 1818 in Kruchten, Germany, and he died 10 Oct 1900 in Lawler, Chickasaw, Iowa.

Sophia Conrad Konzen was born 4 Nov 1832 in Bundenbach, Germany, and she died 13 Sep 1905 in Lawler, Chickasaw, Iowa.

Margaretha Konzen & Mathias Kout’s memorial

Mathias Kout was born 24 Jul 1822 in Kruchten, Germany, and he died 27 Feb 1906 in Chickasaw, Iowa.

Margaretha Konzen Kout was born 30 Aug 1820 in Kruchten, Germany, and she died 26 Dec 1898 in Stapleton, Chickasaw, Iowa.

Peter Kout’s gravestone

Peter Kout was born 14 Mar 1851 in Kruchten, Germany, and he died 9 Dec 1918 in Lawler, Chickasaw, Iowa.

Anna Gilbert Kout’s gravestone

Anna Gilbert Kout was born 19 Feb 1862 in Chickasaw, Iowa, and she died 29 Mar 1931 in Chickasaw, Iowa.

Infant son of Peter Kout & Anna Gilbert Kout

Peter Kout & Anna Gilbert Kout had an infant son that died 6 Dec 1894.

John Almon Kout’s headstone

John Almon Kout, son of Peter & Anna Kout was born 29 Oct 1901 in Stapleton, Chickasaw, Iowa, and he died 26 Mar 1902 in Chickasaw, Iowa.

Victoria Susanna Kout’s headstone

Victoria Susanna Kout, daughter of Peter & Anna Gilbert Kout, was born 2 Sep 1900 in Stapleton, Chickasaw, Iowa, and she died 1 Oct 1900 in Chickasaw, Iowa.

Henry Joseph Kout’s headstone

Henry Joseph Kout was born 27 Aug 1897 in Chickasaw, Iowa, and he died 19 Oct 1901 in Chickasaw, Iowa.

The Kout & Lensing plots

Margaret J. Kout Lensing’s gravestone

Margaret Kout Lensing was born 27 Sep 1892 in Lawler, Chickasaw, Iowa, and she died 10 Dec 1918 in Utica, Chickasaw, Iowa.

George Peter Kout, son of Hubert & Mary Meyer Kout

George Peter Kout, son of Hubert & Mary Agnes Meyer Kout, was born 6 Mar 1887 in New Hampton, Chickasaw, Iowa, and he died 22 May 1890 in Chickasaw, Iowa.

After our visit to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we drove down Brush Street (across from the cemetery) to Pitts Street.

Even though the street name wasn’t spelled correctly – hey, it maybe was named after one of our Pitzes and not that annoying Dr. Pitts – we took pictures in front of the sign while some locals watched and some guy shouted at us.  That sent us scrambling back into our rental car and continuing down Brush Street to Lawler’s most visited tourist attraction E. Konzen Street.

E. Konzen Street and me. I was plotting how to take the E. Konzen Street sign back to Montana with me.

Mathias Konzen, according to his obituary, once owned all of the land occupied by the town of Lawler (that was in 1900, odds are Lawler hasn’t grown much since then).  In the 1892 plat map of Lawler, the area just beyond E. Konzen Street was called the Konzen addition.  Mathias & Sophia also once lived on E. Konzen Street.

Ready to escape the heat, the three of us headed back to New Hampton and the library’s genealogy section.  Pure heaven!  Their obituary files allowed Michelle & I to look up many obits that we didn’t have – or even knew existed – while Sandy searched through church records and cemetery indexes.  If your family lived in Chickasaw or Dubuque counties before 1900, odds are Sandy or Michelle are related to you!  And while we were in Iowa, Sandy and Michelle realized that they are related in more ways than just through the Konzens.

After a ton of research, we finally drug ourselves to Klunders Kafe – delicious! – where we told the waitress what we were doing in New Hampton and she told us that Paul Pitz comes to the cafe a lot (of course he does).

Elizabeth Konzen

Theodore Konzen and Catherine Schuler had eight children (Anna Maria’s a new addition) – that we know of – Anna Maria (1781), Peter (1782), Wilhelm (1783), Elizabeth (1787), Peter (1789), Joannes (1794), Marie (1795), and Wilhelm (1797).  Peter (1789) is my great great great grandfather and we’ve always had high hopes for where Wilhelm (1797) might lead us, but a while ago Paula found a German genealogy site with a family tree for their sister Elizabeth.  According to the site, Elizabeth married Mathias Michels in Sirzenich, Germany, on October 26, 1809.  Sirzenich is part of the Trierweiler, Germany, parish so I ordered microfilm 0560647.

That microfilm contains a large range of baptism, marriage, and death records for Trierweiler parish so I was able to trace Elizabeth and Mathias’s descendants into the 1880s.  Elizabeth and Mathias’s children were Catharina (born 23 Sep 1810), Johann (3 Apr 1813), Anna Maria (9 Apr 1815), Mathias (22 Jul 1817), Catharina (22 Feb 1820), Bernard (17 Feb 1824), Anna Maria (17 Jan 1825), and Lucia (1829).  Catharina Michels (22 Feb 1820) married Joannes Braun on 21 Jan 1833.  Catharina & Joannes’s children were Elisabeth (20 Jan 1835), Maria & Margaretha (18 Feb 1841), Anna Maria, and Matthias (13 Jul 1848).

Anna Maria Michels married Theodore Schilz (13 Feb 1842) and Anna Catharina Michels married Joanne Ernzen (15 Feb 1848).  Mathias Michels married Catharina Harz (18 Jan 1849) and Anna Maria Michels married Matthias Horsch (18 Jan 1849).  Lucia Michels married Michaele Elsen (1 Sep 1852) and Joannes Michels married Margaretha Schilz (12 Mar 1853).

There are a couple of very cool things (besides all of the genealogical info) that I found in these records.  First of all, we know that Catharina Schuler Konzen was still alive in 1810 according to her granddaughter and god-daughter Catharina’s baptism record.  In Anna Maria Michels’s (17 Jan 1825) baptism record, her godfather is Wilhelm Konzen of Ollingen.  We’re hoping this Wilhelm is Elizabeth’s brother and there is a Ollingen, Germany, and a Dillingen, Luxembourg, that we’re searching for him in.

Also, Elizabeth’s daughter Catharina’s (1810) daughter Margaretha Braun was named after Elizabeth’s brother Peter’s (my great great great grandfather) daughter Margaretha Konzen (could you follow that?).  Margaretha and Catharina were first cousins and I love knowing that they were close enough that Margaretha was Catharina’s daughter’s godmother.  Another interesting fact is that Elizabeth’s grandson Mathias Braun married a Margaretha Kuhn who may be related to our Konzens since Kuhn is a common variation of Konzen.

Elizabeth Konzen lived to be 91 years old and she died 26 Mar 1878 in Trierweiler, Germany.

I’m working on making a family tree page for Elizabeth’s family.

Searching for what happened to ‘Bad’ Peter

Sometime this summer, I noticed that both Mathias Konzen and his brother John Konzen (my great great grandfather) had sons named Peter.  Mathias’s son was Peter Henry Konzen (1857-1935) and John’s son was Peter H Konzen (1872-?).  At the time, I dismissed this as not very weird at all since I’ve seen much stranger things in the Konzen’s genealogy.

One day, I skimmed some news articles on Ancestry about Peter H Konzen and I didn’t really read the full extent of them, but I saw that his wife was granted a divorce from him.  That still wasn’t anywhere near weird enough for me to look deeper into Peter H Konzen’s history.  Around this time period, I found some great information on Peter Henry Konzen’s life (at this website http://www.minnesotalegalhistoryproject.org/assets/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20Kittson%20Cnty.pdf).  It turns out that Mathias’s son Peter Henry seems to have been an all-around good guy, he was a lawyer, mayor, and judge.

Soon after this, Paula found a bunch of newspaper articles on Peter H Konzen who was also a lawyer.  And we discovered that John’s son Peter H wasn’t an all-around good guy like his cousin Peter Henry.  In fact, Peter Henry was probably very glad that he moved to Minnesota from Chickasaw County, Iowa, and I bet he wanted to change his name a time or two.  Peter H was the ultimate bad Peter.  As my great aunt Kay Konzen Anderson says, “he was always a schemer.”

According to a newspaper article that Paula found, bad Peter “a real estate dealer and justice of peace at New Hampton, started for Chicago Sept. 26 [,1903] and has not been heard of since.”  On October 15, 1903, the Evening Gazette published an article entitled “Was Iowan Murdered by Chicago Thugs?”  The article states “Chicago, Oct. 15 – Murdered for the purposes of robbery is believed to have been the fate of P. H. Konzen, a wealthy justice of the peace of New Hampton, Iowa, who disappeared on his way to this city during Centennial week.  The police were asked today to solve the mystery surrounding his disappearance.  Konzen, who is 35 years of age, left his home September 29, and came to Chicago to attend the centennial celebration, after which he intended to sell here a large piece of land in South Dakota.  His friends believed that he made the sale and received in payment a large amount of money, for which he was held up and probably murdered.”

The Elgin Echo reported on Nov. 12, 1903, in a piece called “Lost in Chicago” that “Five weeks after the disappearance of P. H. Konzen from New Hampton a trace was secured last week.  One was from Chamberlain, S. D., reporting the deposit of a deed to lands in Brule Co., S. D., which deed was sent from Chicago, Ill., Sept. 29th, 1903.  Another trace was from letters found on Adams street bridge in Chicago on the morning of Sept. 29th.  This came in a letter from Valparaiso, Ind.  This shows that Mr. Konzen did go to Chicago as he intended to do when he left home; but Chicago is a pretty large hole in which to hunt a lost man.”

Right now you’re probably wondering why we call him bad Peter…

In the Jan. 21, 1904, issue of The Nashua Reporter it was written that “A telegram to a party here brought the news of the safety of P.H. Konzen but does not give the location of the man nor any facts relative to his disappearance.  We are glad he is found and hope there will be some reasonable explanation of the seeming cruel abandonment of a loving wife and chidren.  We always liked P.H. Konzen and still persist in the belief that this last matter will be explained.”

The Nashua Reporter reported in the Feb. 18, 1904, issue that “W.L. Darrow accompanied Mrs. P.H. Konzen to Marshalltown Sunday where Mrs. Konzen was notified she would meet her husband and fix up their business matters.  For some reason Mr. Konzen failed to keep the appointment but informed them that he would be there very soon.  Both Mr. D. and Mrs. K. are still, at this writing, in Marshalltown and but little is known about the matter at this time.  Later: A telephone message from Mr. Darrow informs us that he has met Konzen and will be home Thursday.  No facts as to any settlement of business has yet been received.”

In an article entitled “Konzen a Wife Deserter” The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette reports “New Hampton, Iowa, Feb. 19 [,1904] – A meeting between Mrs. P. H. Konzen and her husband, the New Hampton business man, who left here on September 29, and who was for a time thought to be dead, took place a few days ago at Marshalltown.  [It] now develops that Mr. Konzen has been at Vaiparaiso, Indiana, at school ever since he left here.  He shaved off his mustache and entered the school under the name of Carl Meyer and all of the evidence which tended to show that he might have been killed was manufactured by him and it was through the alleged transfer of Dakota land that his brother John discovered his whereabouts.  The details of the meeting between husband and wife are not known.  It is sufficient to say that Mr. Konzen refused to be reconciled to live with his wife, that he transferred his property here to her and that she will have the custody of the children.  The curtain now goes down on this affair.”

According to the Dec. 21, 1905, issue of the Nashua Reporter, Elizabeth Leichtman Konzen was granted a divorce from P.H. Konzen.

It seems hard to imagine how a 31 year old man could pass himself off as a student – or why he’d want to do so – but that’s just bad Peter for you.  Last month, I visited my great aunt Kay Konzen Anderson and I asked her about the Konzen side of her family because I’ve never heard any stories about my great grandfather’s family.  Kay told me that she didn’t know that her dad had a brother named Peter until she was about ten years old and she asked her mother about the man in a picture that they had in her house.  Her mother (Ella Kuske Konzen) told her that he was John Charles’s brother Peter and since John Charles no longer considered Peter his brother, he wouldn’t talk about him.  Then Ella told Kay this story of Peter (which contradicts the newspaper accounts a bit).

According to Kay, bad Peter’s wife Elizabeth Leichtman Konzen (her brother Casper was married to bad Peter’s sister Mary) was waiting at the hospital for Peter to pick her up after the birth of their last child and he never showed up.  When she got home, he’d left a note saying he didn’t want to be married anymore and that he’d set up an account of money for her so she wouldn’t have to work and he’d disappeared.  My interpretation of this and the newspaper accounts is that Peter probably “left for Chicago” soon after the birth of their last child (their daughter Bessie was born Aug 4, 1903 and he disappeared in September 1903).  Then when Peter was found he told Elizabeth he didn’t want to be married anymore and gave her money when they met in Marshalltown or she got the money from him when they divorced.

Then, according to my aunt Kay, Peter ran off with a nun (maybe she was a teacher at the school he was attending during his disappearance)!  But, he refused to marry her and they lived together for a while.  Then he married again and lived in Wisconsin and he had some more kids and up and left his wife one day when his kids were teenagers.  Before Kay told me about bad Peter, I didn’t know that he married a second time and I haven’t, yet, been able to find Peter and his second family.  I really have no trace of him after his divorce was granted in 1905.
Kay told me that she’d found out about bad Peter’s second family one day when one of his daughters (my guess is that it was Mamie) was in a nursing home in Minneapolis and she called Kay and asked her to come see her.  Kay went to visit the woman (who was her first cousin) and she said when she walked into her room there was a picture of Kay’s dad (John Charles) on the woman’s dresser.  This threw Kay off, but the woman said that her mother had destroyed all of their pictures of bad Peter so she had no pictures of her father.  She asked Kay to tell her about Peter, but Kay didn’t know much about him since her dad wouldn’t talk about him.  After she told Kay about bad Peter’s second family, she showed her pictures of the second family and apparently one of bad Peter’s sons looked almost exactly like my grandfather Kermit Konzen.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how bad Peter’s story ends, but hopefully one day I’ll find out – if for no other reason than because I can’t keep myself from trying to solve a mystery.

Catherine Konzen Meyer

Catherine Konzen’s birth and baptism record.

We believe Catherine Konzen Meyer to be the daughter of Nicolas Konzen and Anne Marie Dockendorf.  We’re hoping to find information linking Nicholas Konzen to our other Konzens (Theodore Konzen and Catherine Scholer’s descendants) somehow.

The Mystery of Angela Susanna Konzen

Peter Hansen & Angela Susanna Konzen’s Marriage Application – Angela is listed as Susanna Konzen on her marriage application, but, as far as we know, that’s the only time she didn’t go by Angela.

According to Vernon Auderer’s book on the Konzens, Angela Susanna was born in Rollingen, Germany (this is actually Ralingen, Germany) and her husband Peter Hansen was born in Oberbettingen, Germany.  Since Vernon wrote that all of the Konzens (Theodore, John, Catherine, and Angela Susanna) were probably from Rollingen, I’m guessing that Vernon came to this conclusion because Catherine’s gravestone says that she was born in Rollingen, so he must have assumed that they were all from there.  That was a great assumption at the time, but now we’ve proved that Theodore, John, Mathias, and Margaretha were from Kruchten, Germany.

I ordered a microfilm of Ralingen parish records and in it I found a lot of Kons/Konz/Konzens.  There was a Nicolas Konzen who had daughters named Susanna (born Jan. 27, 1819), Angela (Feb. 1, 1825), and Catherine (Feb. 6, 1830).  Nicolas and his wife Anne Marie Dockendorf also had five sons, Wilhelm (Jan. 29, 1821), Theodore (Nov. 13, 1822), Nicolas (Oct. 1, 1827), Christopher (Aug. 9, 1832), and Henry (Feb. 8, 1835).

Our Angela Susanna was born, according to Vernon, in February of 1822 (various census records state that she was born in 1820, 1824, 1823, and February of 1822).  However, at this time giving accurate dates of birth (or really an information) to census takers wasn’t as important as it is today.  Also, Angela Susanna and her family probably had a thick German accent which probably made it hard to understand any information they gave the census taker.  So it’s hard to tell if Angela Susanna would be Angela or Susanna of Ralingen, but my guess is that she was Angela since she was born on Feb. 1, 1825.

This is based on the fact that there is a census record stating she was born in February and none of the censuses I’ve found her in state that she was born before 1820.  I’d expect to see that if Angela had been born in 1819.  We’re not sure why she would’ve gone by Susanna (especially if that was her sister’s name) on her marriage record, but maybe she started using Susanna as her middle name after her sister Susanna died (if she did die young or before Angela).  Maybe we’ll know someday.

Angela Konzen’s birth

I’ve also written a letter to Ralingen asking for a copy of their family book, hopefully we’ll hear back from them soon.  It also seems very likely that the Ralingen family of Konzens are related to our Kruchten/Lellig Konzens because the names Theodore and Wilhelm are also names of some people in our family during that time period.  And because what are the chances of two (or more) different Konzen families arriving in the same county in Iowa at around the same time?  It really seems that they have to be related somehow…

*Note – after more research we realized that we are 99.9% certain that Angela Susanna Konzen is not the daughter of Nicolas Konzen & Anne Maria Dockendorf of Ralingen.  We don’t know if Angela Susanna is or is not a Konzen (yes, there’s been a little debate about that), but we have been unable – so far – to find a family for her.

The Luxembourg Konzens

Since finding the Konzens in Lellig, Luxembourg, the three of us have only come up with more questions about the Konzens.  Such as are Catherine and Angela Susanna the children of Peter’s brother Wilhelm (born 1797)?  If so, where were they born and who was their mother and when did they come to the US?  We haven’t been able to find any records of their immigration (other than estimates that they gave census makers).

I’ll explain more about the Angela Susanna and Catherine mystery in my next posts, but I wrote a letter to the Catholic churches in Lellig and Herborn, Luxembourg, asking for more information about the Konzens and their descendants and ancestors.  I haven’t received a response from either of them, yet, but I’m still hopeful.  I’ve also ordered in a bunch more microfilms of records (civil and parish) in Lellig and Herborn in hopes of finding Angela Susanna and Catherine or Wilhelm and his family.  So far (and I have a bunch of films to still look through) we’ve only found some random Konzens and Kons – and they could be related, but since the records we’ve found them in don’t give any details about them except their name and the date of the event (birth, marriage, or death).

However, we have found some more information on Elisabeth Konzen (daughter of Theodore Konzen & Catherine Scholer and sister of Peter Konzen).  Paula – who is the queen of web searches – found a link for Elisabeth on a German genealogy site http://gedbas.genealogy.net/datenblatt.jsp?nr=1029977294.  There’s a family tree entered for Elisabeth on the site and it says that she married Matthias Michels, had eight kids, and then died in Trierweiler, Germany.  The site continues to list descendants of most of Elisabeth’s children.  I’ll be adding this to the blog’s family tree (once I finish with our Konzens) and hopefully we’ll make contact with Elisabeth’s descendants one day.

I’ve ordered microfilms of parish records for Trierweiler in hopes of finding more information on the Konzens – even if it’s just records for Elisabeth’s kids and their families.

Another stop on the Konzen family line – Lellig, Luxembourg

According to parish records in Kruchten, Germany, Peter Konzen (1789-about 1863) was born in Lellig.  The three of us discovered that Lellig, Luxembourg, is approximately 30 kilometers or 17 miles from Kruchten – which obviously would’ve taken much longer to travel in the 1800s.  Michelle ordered a microfilm of Lellig parish records for the years 1682-1793 and in the film she found Peter Konzen and his parents and siblings.

Peter Konzen’s parents are Theodore Konzen and Catherine Schuler/Scholer/Scholersch and they were married in Lellig on January 28, 1778.

Theodore Konzen & Catherine Schuler’s marriage record. Very roughly translated it says “January 28, 1778, the assistant of God to join…from the Wm. Excellmi my bishop a myriad…gaze of our married sacrament… For the clan proclamation from the honorable adolescents Theodore Konzen from Herborn and Catherine Scholer from Lellig. Witnesses required son my…domestic the above-named here.”

Theodore and Catherine had seven children that we’ve found in parish records so far.  The first child was Wilhelm Konzen was born March 17, 1783 in Lellig and then Peter Konzen born November 15, 1784 in Manternach, Luxembourg (a town next to Lellig).  Next, Elisabeth Konzen was born January 21, 1787 in Lellig and our Peter Konzen was born on April 28, 1789 in Lellig.

The birth and baptism record of Peter Konzen (the future husband of Theresa Wolff). It reads something like “In Lellig, on the twenty-eighth day of the month of April, 1789, at the fifth hour in the morning, Peter Konzen was born and baptized at the ninth hour of the same morning. Peter’s the legitimate son of Theodore Konzen and Catherine Schuler married from Lellig. Peter Gleil from Herborn was the godfather and Gertrude Schuler from Lellig was the godmother. They subscribed to my Father good faith in this act. The godfather, on this very day, and the godmother were duly questioned by me and they said that they didn’t know how to write, Father. Signatures. M. Doye, pastor in Manternach.”

On January 14, 1794, Joannes Konzen was born in Lellig and he died on July 7, 1796 in Lellig.  A baby girl (her name looks like Marie on the record) Konzen was born on July 8, 1795, in Lellig and she died there on the same day.  Then another Wilhelm Konzen was born on April 23, 1797 in Lellig.  We’re assuming that the first Peter (born in 1784) and the first Wilhelm (born in 1783) both died before 1789 and 1797, respectively.  It would explain why Catherine and Theodore named two of their children Peter and Wilhelm since it was a common practice to name during that time period to name children after one of their recently deceased children.

This Lellig information combined with the Kruchten records and family group sheets has led us to believe that Angela Susanna and Catherine Konzen were children of Wilhelm (born in 1797).  We’re hoping to find some proof of that soon!

Here are the rest of the Lellig and Manternach birth and death records:

Wilhelm Konzen – “In Lellig, March 17, 1783, Wilhelm Konzen was born about the night of the tenth day and the following day he was baptized. He was the legitimate son of Theodore Konzen and Catherine Scholer married from the Lellig. Godparents are Wilhelm Michels of Mertert and Anna Maria Aeyl of Herborn. Had it not been for their act of faith…, Father, godfather and godmother…none, their notes with me right on the day and year above.”
Peter Konzen – “In Manternach, November 15, 1784, about nine in the morning Peter Konzen was born and baptized on the same day. The legitimate son of Theodore Konzen and Catherine Scholer, married of Lellig. Godparents were Peter Roos and Elizabeth Scholer from Lellig,..knowing my faith whereof this act the father subscribed to a godfather, however, and a godmother ignore the sign and had defended an insignificant…manual. Nicholas Kolf, chaplain in Manternach.”
Elisabeth Konzen – “In Lellig, January 21, 1787, Elisabeth Konzen was born and baptized on the same day. The legitimate daughter of Theodore Konzen and Catherine Schuler, married, of Lellig. The godparents were Wilhelm Michels from Morton and Elizabeth Geiger, the right of faith.”
Joannes Konzen – “In Lellig, this fourteenth day of the month January of the year 1794 was born the fourth hour of the morning and was baptized John at the same at four o’clock in the morning. The legitimate son of Theodore Konzen and Catherine Scholersch married in Lellig. Godfather is John Ferriday from Herborn and godmother is Maria Scholersch from Mertert, in their faith in the father. And the godfather this act stated in their notes the godmother, but I asked them…not to know to write a sign before his father.”
Baby Girl Konzen (her name appears to be Marie) – “In Lellig, on the eighth day of the month of July, 1795, about the seventh hour of the morning, born by midwives baptized Marie and died after birth the legitimate daughter of Theodore Konzen and Catharina Schuler married from Lellig. Mestor Mart Doye, pastor in Manternach.”
Joannes Konzen – “In Lellig, on the seventh of July, 1796, died at the fifth hour in the morning, John Konzen living two years old, legitimate son of Theodore Konzen, a farmer from Lellig, and his wife Catherine Scholer. Mart Doye, Pastor in Manternach.”
Wilhelm Konzen – “In Lellig, this twenty-third day of the month of April of the year 1797, the fourth hour of the morning born early in the morning and the same day baptized Wilhelm the legitimate son of Theodore Konzen et Catherine Schuler from Lellig. Godfather Wilhelm Michels from Mertert and godmother Angela Hubert from Manternach, their faith in the Father and…in this act written below. But,…the godmother doesn’t know how to write, so she’ll make her mark.”