Kermit Konzen: 100 Years

Kermit at 1 1/2 years old

Kermit at 1 1/2 years old

Today would have been my grandpa Konzen’s 100th birthday.  He’s been dead for 20 years, but today our family is celebrating him.  My grandpa Kermit John Konzen was born on 27 Jun 1915 in Montevideo, Chippewa, Minnesota, to John Charles Konzen and Ella Pauline Kuske.  Kermit was John and Ella’s first child and at the time of his birth John was 45 years old and Ella was 25 years old.

After his birth, Kermit didn’t seem to thrive and he almost died before his first birthday.  A wet nurse was hired for him, but he didn’t get better and instead he turned brown and wrinkly.  They discovered that the wet nurse didn’t have enough milk for him and she was adding water to it before giving it to the family.  They found another wet nurse and my grandpa started to get better.  My great grandma would be push him in the baby buggy and people would look in to see the baby and be startled by how bad he looked. Kermit’s younger sister Kay was born in 1920 and his younger brother Karl was born in 1922.

John owned a furniture store in Montevideo and he was one of the wealthiest men in town until the Depression.  My grandpa was the only one of his siblings old enough to remember how their life was before the Depression.  During his childhood, his mother Ella nearly died from scarlet fever, but she survived and endured a long recovery.

SCAN1194

My grandparents Yvonne Sumner and Kermit Konzen circa 1939.

Kermit went to work for Red Owl grocery store in Montevideo and that’s how he met my grandma Yvonne Marcella Sumner.  She worked at an attorney’s office on the same street as the Red Owl and she would walk by the grocery store to and from work.  My great aunt Kay says Kermit was a little shy, but he always found a reason to wash the windows of the store when Yvonne would be walking down the street.  Yvonne was from the nearby town of Dawson. They fell in love and eloped in the fall of 1939.  For their honeymoon, they drove to Yellowstone National Park together.

Martha Elstad Gustavson, Sheldon Sumner, Olga Elstad Sumner, Virginia Sumner Coats holding Karol Konzen, Karl Konzen, Yvonne Sumner Konzen, Ella Kuske Konzen, John Konzen, and Kermit Konzen  in 1940.

Martha Elstad Gustavson, Sheldon Sumner, Olga Elstad Sumner, Virginia Sumner Coats holding Karol Konzen, Karl Konzen, Yvonne Sumner Konzen, Ella Kuske Konzen, John Konzen, and Kermit Konzen on August 25, 1940 in Minnesota.

My grandparents moved to Wheaton, Minnesota, after their honeymoon and Kermit worked as a manager at a grocery store.  My aunt Karol was born in Big Stone, Minnesota, and my aunt Karen was born in Douglas, Minnesota.  They lived in Alexandria for a little bit and then my grandparents moved to Billings, Montana, and Kermit worked at Sawyer’s grocery store.

Soon afterward, Kermit and Yvonne moved farther west to Bozeman, Montana, where Kermit worked at Sawyer’s.  Their son John (named after his grandfather) was born in Bozeman. The family moved back to Billings and the rest of their nine children – yes, nine – were born there:  David, Janet, Janice, Konstance, Kathy, and Randall.  Kermit started working at the Carter Oil refinery – now the Exxon Oil refinery.  He was an operator and eventually he became the chief operator.

Kermit working at the oil refinery in the 1970s.

Kermit (left) working at the oil refinery in the 1970s.

My grandpa had always been fascinated by the Battle of the Little Bighorn, American Indians, and Montana.  My great aunt Kay says that when he was a kid he’d tell his friends that the portrait of an American Indian chief hanging in their stairway was his father.  When my mom was a child he took his kids to the battlefield and he’d tell the tale of the battle in full detail.  After he retired, my grandpa was able to pursue his passion for history.

Grandpa called himself an “interested student” of General George Armstrong Custer.  He worked on the 1984 and 1985 archaeological digs at the Battle of the Little Bighorn site, he helped create a map of historical interest points for the Billings Gazette, he was interviewed by Time magazine about the battle, and he collected artifacts and memorabilia.  Spending time at his home was like visiting a museum.  I don’t know anybody else whose grandparents had arrowheads, bullets, and a piece of hardtack (the less desirable version of a saltine cracker) on the wall in their stairway.

SCAN0087

Kermit Konzen, on the far left, with some fellow historians.

Grandpa always seemed so full of life so it’s hard for me to remember that he’s been dead for so long.  When I was a baby, he had a stroke while visiting his sister in Minnesota.  Eventually the doctors discovered he had a brain tumor as large as a medium-sized lemon.  They removed the brain tumor, but they couldn’t get every piece of it.  Grandpa had to learn to talk and walk again, but it couldn’t keep him down for long and he always had plenty of time for his grandchildren.

He died about 7 years later on 5 Mar 1995, less than 4 months before his 80th birthday.  I’m thankful every day for having 7 years with him.  We spread his ashes – and later my grandmother’s – in an area he loved near the Rosebud Creek Battlefield where Crook’s Battle was fought days before the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

It’s because of my grandpa that I love genealogy.  He was a great man and a wonderful father and grandfather.  He lives on in all of his family.  It’s fitting that the 139th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of the Little Bighorn is happening on his birthday.  I’ll be there enjoying it.  Happy Birthday, Grandpa.

Advertisements

52 Ancestors: Pinky the Black Sheep

When you think of a Konzen black sheep you probably think of my 2nd great uncle Peter Hubert Konzen – also known as bad Peter.  But there’s more than one black sheep in the Konzen family. Harold Mathias Konzen, also known as Pinky, was born 27 Jun 1900 in Lawler, Chickasaw, Iowa, USA.  Harold’s parents were John G Konzen (1862-1913) and Mary A Connors (1866-1953).  His grandparents were Johan Mathias Konzen (1818-1900) and Sophia Conrad (1832-1905).

At first, Pinky seemed to live a fairly average life.  He lived in Mason City, Iowa, and worked as a clerk in 1918 according to his WWI draft registration card.  In 1919, the Mason City Directory listed Harold as a waiter at Vermilya Cafe.  He was also listed as a waiter in the 1920 census. Harold still lived in Mason City when he married Loduska Marie Hays on 6 Jun 1924 in Eldora, Iowa.  According to the 1925 state census, the couple lived in Hansell, Iowa. Then Pinky started appearing in newspapers.

In the 8 Aug 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette, he had been charged with illegal possession and transportation of intoxicating liquor.  The article reads: “Harold Konzen, Hampton, Taken By Federal Man: Jailed Here Pending Posting of $1,000 Bond on Two Charges.  Harold ‘Pinkey’ Konzen, Hampton was arrested there lated Thursday afternoon by John P. Johnson, federal agent, and charged with illegal possession and transportation of intoxicating liquor.  The arrest of Konzen was said to have occurred after the federal agent had made a ‘buy.’  Two gallons of alleged alcohol were found by the officers.  A Hudson coach valued at $1,800 was taken by officers.  Konzen was [brought] to the county jail here Wednesday night where he will remain until the bond set at $1,000 is posted.”

8 Aug 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

8 Aug 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

On 16 Nov 1929, the Mason City Globe-Gazette reported that Harold plead guilty to violating Prohibition.  “Fines totaling $2,600 were assessed against nine Mason City men in United States district court Friday at Fort Dodge on liquor charges.  Harold Konzen, Hampton, was fined $300 on a liquor charge.”

Harold and Loduska were still married and living in Hampton in the 1930 census.  His occupation was a cafe proprietor and he could have been violating Prohibition for his business.  Maybe he needed liquor to make a living because it brought customers into his cafe.  Or maybe he violated Prohibition only for extra money and not because he was worried about his business.  Or he might have just been running liquor because he wanted it for himself.

16 Nov 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

16 Nov 1929 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

Pinky was back in the news in 1930 facing another liquor charge.  The Mason City Globe-Gazette reported on 29 Apr 1930 that “Franklin county district court was reconvened for the April term here today, with Judge H. E. Fry of Boone on the bench.  Two cases are assigned for trial this term: State versus H. M. Konzen on a liquor charge, and that of State versus Dick Blair on a statutory charge.”

It seems that Harold stayed out of the news for a few years – maybe because Prohibition ended in 1933.  Somewhere along the way, he and Loduska divorced and he married a woman named Imogene.  In the 1 Apr 1937 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette, Imogene had filed for divorce from Harold.  The divorce must have been completed quickly because in the Mason City Globe-Gazette on 28 Jun 1937, Imogene Konzen, 23 years old, and Lamont J Johnson had been issued a marriage license.

On 13 Aug 1938, Pinky was in the Mason City Globe-Gazette for a charge of disorderly conduct.  The paper said “A hearing on a charge of disorderly conduct filed against H. M. Konzen, Hampton, was continued by Acting Judge Haynes.  Konzen was arrested by police at 5:30 o’clock Saturday morning in front of 13 West State street, where he was alleged to have been sitting in a car drinking.  Officers stated he had a small quantity of whisky and alcohol with him when arrested.”

According to the 1939 Des Moines City Directory, Harold was a manager for Food Shops, Inc.  In the 8 Jul 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette, he had been charged with intoxication.  The article reads “Francis E. Turner, Kansas City, Kans.; Harold ‘Pinky’ Konzen, Hampton; Albert Redding, 119 Seventh street southwest, and Delbert ‘Red’ Faust, Prairie du Chien, Wis., were each fined $10 and costs on charges of intoxication.  Arrested by Police: Turner was arrested by police in the 400 block on Fourth street northeast, at 1:10 o’clock Saturday morning.  Konzen was arrested by a deputy sheriff on highway 106 at 2 o’clock Saturday morning.”

8 Jul 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

8 Jul 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

Harold was in the Mason City Globe-Gazette again on 15 Dec 1939.  “Three Forfeit Bonds In Court: Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct Charges Filed Here.  Stella Mandt, Manly and Harold M. Konzen, Hampton, each forfeited $10 bonds before Police Judge Morris Laird Friday on charges of intoxication.  They were arrested at 2:20 o’clock Friday morning in the 300 block on North Federal.”

15 Dec 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

15 Dec 1939 issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette

In the 1940 census, Pinky was living in Hampton with his sister Ruth Konzen and her husband Mathias Brun.  He worked at Ruth and Marius’s Brun Inn as a waiter. Harold reappeared in the Mason City newspaper on 29 Feb 1940.  “Harold M. Konzen, Hampton, and Alice Milnes, 1431 Jefferson avenue Northwest, each forfeited $10 bonds on charges of disorderly conduct.  They were arrested at Fourth street and Jefferson avenue southwest at 4 o’clock Thursday morning.”

The next time Harold appeared in the Mason City Globe-Gazette it was on 12 Mar 1940 when he and some friends purchased the Hampton Cafe.  He became the active manager of the restaurant.  Then he was in the paper on 12 Oct 1940 for reckless driving.  “Hampton Driver Fined $100 Here: Harold M. Konzen Arrested on Charge of Reckless Driving.  Harold M. Konzen, Hampton, was fined $100 and costs Saturday by Police Judge Morris Laird on a charge of reckless driving.  Police arrested Konzen at 4:45 o’clock Saturday morning in the 100 block on West State street, when he was alleged to have nearly struck a bakery truck with his car.  Police said he had been drinking.”

On 18 Sep 1942, Harold was living in Hampton and he had been selected for physical examination prior to induction.  I couldn’t find any Pinky sightings in Iowa papers between 1942 and 1951.  Harold was living in Des Moines on 12 Jul 1951 according to The Hampton Chronicle.  He died on 25 Nov 1953 in Des Moines.  His obituary reads “Former Resident of Hampton Dies.  Hampton – Funeral services for Harold M. [Konzen], 51, former Hampton resident, were held here Tuesday at the Greenfield Funeral Home.  He died of pneumonia at a hospital in Des Moines Sunday.  He lived in Hampton a number of years until 1941 when he went to Mexico where he remained four years.  For the past six years he operated the Dutch Mill cafe at Des Moines.  His mother, Mrs. John [Konzen], died here last month.  He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Marius Brun, of Hampton.”

Harold's obituary in the Mason City Globe-Gazette on 25 Nov 1953

Harold’s obituary in the Mason City Globe-Gazette on 25 Nov 1953

His obituary says he lived in Des Moines from about 1947 until his death and that he’d left Hampton in 1941.  The 1941 departure must not be accurate since he was in the newspaper living in Hampton in 1942.  So if he left Hampton around 1942 for Mexico then he would have been in Mexico until at least 1946. I think Pinky was more than a little bit of a black sheep.  After all he was charged with violating Prohibition multiple times and with disorderly conduct.  I’ve also heard him described as a womanizer.  However, he might have been worse than all that.

Since he was absent from Iowa and living in Mexico – according to his obituary – probably between 1942 and 1947, it made Michelle, Sandy, and I wonder if our Harold M. Konzen is the same as the Harold M. Konzen in the Arizona Republic? “Grand Jury Presents 11 Indictments Here.  Nine open and two secret indictments were presented for action of the Phoenix branch of the U. S. District Court by the federal grand jury which closed its two-day session here yesterday.  Among the alleged offenses for which men will be held for court action here are two Dyer act cases, a rape charge and a white slave traffic act violation.  Harold M. Konzen and John Turner were indicted for allegedly transporting a woman from El Paso to Jerome in September in violation of the Mann act.”

23 Nov 1946 issue of the Arizona Republic

23 Nov 1946 issue of the Arizona Republic

“Mann Act Trial Opens.  Testimony on behalf of the defense will be resumed in U. S. District Court today when the trial of Harold M. Konzen and John Turner, Albuquerque, N. M., on charges of violating the white slave traffic act, enters its second day before Judge Dave W. Ling.  The government’s evidence, intended to prove that the defendants transported a young Mexican girl from El Paso, Tex., to Jerome for immoral purposes, was presented yesterday by four witnesses.  Maria Garcia Carrillo, native of Juarez, Mex., testified, through an interpreter, that she made the trip with the men.  Others called to the stand by E. R. Thurman, prosecutor, were Jesus Puentes-Nava, Juarez cab driver who allegedly introduced the principals; Fred N. Thomas, border patrolman, and William B. O’Mahoney of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Bertha Cooper, serving a sentence in Arizona State Prison on conviction of operating a house of prostitution, was the first witness called for Turner.”

23 Nov 1946 issue of the Arizona Republic

5 Feb 1947 issue of the Arizona Republic

In my opinion, the Harold M. Konzen in the Arizona Republic articles is more than just a black sheep.  I don’t know if that Harold M. Konzen is the same person as our Harold, but it does seem very possible.  Maybe we’ll eventually find enough information to prove one way or another.  Until then I’ll choose to think of our Pinky as just a black sheep.

Photos from the Past

My family is planning a mini-reunion this summer, with my aunts, uncles, and cousins getting together. In anticipation, I’ve been scanning old family photos borrowed from an uncle. Some of these photos I’ve seen before and some of these I’ve never seen before. I’ve even found my grandma Yvonne Sumner Konzen’s high school yearbook. Who knew that they had yearbooks in small-town Minnesota in 1937!? I had no idea that my grandma was in the Drama club or that her high school nickname was Bonnie.

Kermit Konzen and Yvonne Sumner circa 1939/1940

Kermit Konzen and Yvonne Sumner circa 1939/1940

The above photo of my grandparents has always been one of my favorites. I found some new photos of my great grandparents Ella Pauline Kuske and John Charles Konzen. Ella and John’s son Karl (my great-uncle) was a solder in WWII, but I found some photos that my great-aunt Kay says were from his last furlough before he was sent to Europe. They’re great photos, but after I looked at them for a while I realized that there was a deeper meaning to the photos. It would’ve been the last time my great-uncle Karl saw his dad because John died in November 1942 and the photos were taken in August 1942. They also are the last photos taken of John that I have.

August 1942: John, Kathryn (Kay), Ella, and Karl.

August 1942: John, Kathryn (Kay), Ella, and Karl.

I’m having lots of fun scanning these photos and identifying people in them, but I’ve come to realize these photos also tell a story just as much as any document. I’ve always been told that my grandparents first settled in Bozeman when they came to Montana from Minnesota. And only later did they move to Billings. That’s actually not the truth. According to a photo they lived in Billings in October 1942, then they moved to Bozeman, and later they moved back to Billings.

My aunts Karol (above) and Karen (below) in Billings.

My aunts Karol (above) and Karen (below) in Billings.

Some photos are not as much fun. On the back of a photo of my great-uncle Karl during WWII he wrote “‘Don’t Fence Me In!’ At that time we were joking but now it’s no laughing matter cause we are fenced in.” He never spoke about the war with me, so it wasn’t until this year that I found some information on him being at Omaha Beach and in the Battle of the Bulge during the war. It must have been painful for him to talk about because I went to Omaha Beach when I was in high school.  Before I went I asked him if there was anyone buried there that he wanted me to pay my respects to and he never said anything.

Karl Konzen during WWII.

Karl Konzen during WWII.

My grandpa loved taking photos and I’m going to assume my grandma enjoyed it, too, since they had so many photos. Considering how expensive photos and cameras used to be, it’s hard to believe how many photos they have. I’m thankful that they enjoyed taking photos so much. To me, photos are worth more than a thousand words.

Kermit and Yvonne Konzen, circa 1940.

Kermit and Yvonne Konzen, circa 1940.

All photos courtesy of the Randy Konzen Collection.

Lost and Found in Olingen

As a genealogy lover, I know a lot about brick walls.  I don’t always know how to go around them, over them, or through them; but I have a lot of experience with hitting brick walls.  You’ve probably heard the Albert Einstein quote about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and thinking we’ll get different results.  I think a little bit of insanity has to go hand in hand with genealogy. Sometimes the insanity of daring to believe that we’ll find something new or finally find someone pays off.  And that makes it all worth it.

In December, Wilbur Kalb left some comments about Wilhelm Konzen on my post “The Luxembourg Konzens”.  Wilbur wrote about Wilhelm Kontzem, son of Theodore Kontzem and Catharina Scholer, who married Catharina Hoffman in Betzdorf and had a daughter named Katharina Kontzem who married Jacob Gales.  He also said that Mathias Gales, son of Katharina Kontzem and Jacob Gales, immigrated to the USA and settled in Kansas. We hadn’t been able to find Wilhelm Konzen – mostly because we didn’t know which Olingen he was in.

Years ago, we’d noticed a Wilhelm Konzen of Olingen was listed as godfather on the baptism record of one of Theresa Wolff & Peter Konzen’s children.  This was before we’d looked in Lellig for the Konzens so we didn’t even know Wilhelm was Peter’s brother.  I wasn’t even thinking about Luxembourg so I thought Olingen was Ollingen, Germany, or even that it could be Dillingen, Germany.  I looked for Wilhelm Konzen in those towns with no luck and I think I even looked through an Olingen, Luxembourg film, but it wasn’t for any time periods that Wilhelm’s family was in the records.

So I set Wilhelm of Olingen to the side (even after we found out he was probably Peter’s brother) and hoped one day I’d get back to him. After hearing from Wilbur, I went straight to Family Search and looked through Luxembourg Civil Registration marriage records to confirm that Wilhelm of Olingen, Luxembourg, was our Wilhelm.  And he was.  In the process, I’ve found much more about Wilhelm, but there’s much more to find still.

Wilhelm Konzen* (born 23 Apr 1797) married Catharina Hoffman (born about 1793) on 11 Feb 1820 in Betzdorf, Grevenmacher, Luxembourg.  They had three children: Catharina Konzen (born 30 Nov 1820 in Olingen), Anna Catherine Konzen (born 19 Jan 1824 in Olingen), and Margaretha Konzen (born 24 Sep 1827 in Olingen, and died 9 Mar 1828 in Olingen).  Catharina Hoffman Konzen died on 4 Jul 1830 in Olingen, and Wilhelm married Barbara Schumacher on 8 Oct 1830 in Betzdorf.  They had one daughter Catherina Konzen (born 12 Dec 1831 in Olingen, and died 22 Mar 1832 in Olingen).  Barbara Schumacher Konzen died on 26 Apr 1834 in Olingen, and Wilhelm married Maria Margaretha Kieffer (born 6 Jan 1812 in Jeanharishof, Grevenmacher, Luxembourg) on 13 Jun 1836 in Betzdorf.  They had four children: Jean Konzen (born 10 Apr 1837 in Olingen), Elizabetha Konzen (born 6 May 1839 in Olingen), Jakob Konzen (born 29 Oct 1842 in Olingen), and Marie Konzen (born 11 Dec 1846 in Olingen).

According to the 1843 census in Olingen, Wilhelm/Guillaume’s profession is listed as cultivateur or farmer (it’s also listed as the whole family’s profession).  There are two other people living with the family, Jacques Dondlinger (born 1824) and Susanna Hansen (born 1830).  Both Jacques and Susanna are listed as an unmarried domestiques or household servants.  On the census taken on 11 Dec 1846, Wilhelm is listed as a laboureur or laborer.  The 1847 census lists Wilhelm Konzen as a journalier or day laborer and his wife Marie Kieffer is a housewife.  It notes that the family is Catholic and that Wilhelm has lived in Betzdorf Commune for 27 years and Marie Kieffer has lived in the commune for 12 years.  I haven’t been able to find Wilhelm in a census after 1847.

Wilhelm’s daughter Catharina Konzen (born 1820) married Jacob Gales on 27 Feb 1845 in Betzdorf, Luxembourg.  Catharina’s full sister Anna Catherine Konzen (born 1824) married Jacob/Jacques Gales’s brother Joannes/Jean Gales on 9 Feb 1846 in Betzdorf, Luxembourg.  Jacob and Jean Gales were born in Ernzen, Germany, to Mathias Gales and Elisabeth Kayl.  They also had a sister Helena Gales who was baptized in Ernzen in 1822.

So far, I’ve found two children of Catharina Konzen and Jacob Gales.  Mathias Gales was born 16 Feb 1846 in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, and Catharina Gales was born abt 1859 in Olingen.  In the 1871 census, Catharina & Jacob returned to Betzdorf commune with their children.  Their son Mathias married Elizabeth Apel in Machtum, Luxembourg, on 30 Dec 1868.  Mathias and Elizabeth along with two of their children lived with Catharina and Jacob and their daughter Catharina in 1871.  In the 1875 census, Mathias, Elizabeth, and their children live with Catharina and Jacob, but there is no Catharina Gales (born bat 1859) in the household.  However, there is an unmarried Susanna Konz (born in 1860) living with their household as a maid.  Mathias Gales & Elizabeth Apel and their children immigrated to the USA and settled in Kansas.

Anna Catherine Konzen and Jean Gales had six children: Jacques/Jacob (born 1 Feb 1847), Barbe/Barbara (born 20 Apr 1849), Mathias (born 12 Sep 1851), Maria (born 1 Feb 1854), Catherine (born 7 Dec 1856), and Catherine (born 11 Nov 1858).  On 5 Dec 1846, Anna Catherine and Jean lived in Dudelange, Luxembourg, where the census says they were tailleurs d’habits or tailors of clothes.  They returned to Olingen where they had lived for 4 months before the census was taken on 31 Dec 1847.  In the 1847, 1849, 1851, and 1852 censuses, Jean was still listed as a tailor.

The 1852 census has a 15-year-old Elisabeth Konsen living with Anna Catherine and Jean, she’s listed as a servante/maid.  This could be Anna Catherine’s half sister Elizabetha (born 1839), however she would 13 instead of 15.  According to the 1855 census, Jean is now a cultivateur/farmer and there is a servant living with the family named Anne Schmit aged 16 years.  In 1858, Jean is listed as a laborer and the family lives in an Olingen house named after the Kontzen (Konzen) family.  After 1858, Anna Catherine and Jean disappear from Betzdorf censuses.  Their son Mathias is still listed in Olingen in the 1871 and 1875 censuses.

I’m still looking for more information on what happens to Wilhelm and his children after they disappear off the Olingen census records.  And I’m looking for Anna Catherine and Jean and their children since I can only find their son Mathias (born 1851) after 1858.  It’s amazing how fast you can go from finding tons of information to hitting another wall.

*Note: Peter Konzen had seven siblings: Anna Maria (born 1781), Peter (born 1782), Wilhelm (born 1783), Elizabeth (1787-1878), Joannes (1794-1796), Marie (1795-1795), and Wilhelm (born 1797) of Olingen.

Who is Jacob Konzen?

There are some things in life that we love to hate and hate to love.  I’d probably tell you that Konzen mysteries are one of those things for me.  But it would be a lie, because I secretly love that there are always more mysteries to be solved with the Konzens.  I hate leaving any stone unturned and I’ve always wanted the answer to every single question.

Sometimes, I have to put a mystery on the back burner because there are so many of them and only so much time available to look into these mysteries.  One of these back burner mysteries is Jacob Konzen.  My cousin Michelle pointed out that Jacob’s “story” should be told, so here it is.

Jacob was born about 1840 in Luxembourg and he came to America sometime in 1860 or earlier.  The census taken on August 10, 1860, states that he was living and working as a farm laborer on Theodore Konzen & Marie Demuth’s farm in Iowa Township, Dubuque, Iowa, USA on June 1, 1860. After 1860, we have no idea of what happened to Jacob.  He could have died, but most likely he left Theodore’s farm and probably moved out of Iowa.

We’ve found some Jacob Konzens who could possibly be our Jacob.  One Jacob marries Anna and lived in Ohio until his death on 23 Sep 1916.  They had at least three children: John H Konzen (born about 1881), Jacob Konzen (born about 1876), and Peter Konzen (born about 1872).  I received a copy of this Jacob’s death certificate and it states that his father was J Konzen who was born in Germany.  It also says Jacob was born on 23 Nov (presumably in 1842) in Germany and he was 73 years old at his death.  I also found a naturalization index record in Family Search for this Jacob and it says he didn’t immigrate until 1867, so he’s probably not our Jacob.

Another Jacob lived in South Bend, Indiana, and he died in 1920 leaving behind a wife and four children.  It looks like this Jacob was born about 1852 according to census records, so he’s also probably not our Jacob.  The third Jacob married Rosina and lived in Wisconsin.  If our mystery Jacob could only be one of these three – my bet’s on this Jacob.

There’s also a Jacob Konzen who arrives in New York in 1843 from Antwerp, Belgium.  He’s 3 years old and he arrives with Johan Konzen, 45 years old; Anna Konzen, 38 years old; Magdalena Konzen, 15 years old; Franz Konzen, 12 years old; and Cath Konzen, 8 years old.  This could also be our mystery Jacob.  It seems that this family lived in Hinterweiler, Germany, because Tom Pick’s index shows a Konzen family with the same names and approximate birth dates living there.

And, Wilhelm Konzen – brother to Peter Konzen and son of Theodore Konzen and Catherine Schuler – and his third wife Maria Margaretha Kieffer had a son named Jacob/Jacques Konzen born in Olingen, Grevenmacher, Luxembourg, in 1842.  This Jacob/Jacques would have been Theodore Konzen’s first cousin and that makes him a possibility for the Jacob Konzen in the 1860 census.

I’m hoping that somebody will read this and have a lead for us.  Maybe we’ll be able to find Jacob and connect him to our Konzens one day.

Sina’s Daughter

My birthday is in December and it always makes me think a little bit more about the reality of genealogy. Sometimes it seems like we deal so much with census and death records that we lose sight of the people our ancestors were. Today is/was my great-grandmother Olga’s birthday, she’d be 126 years old today. She was born Olga Matilda on December 30, 1888, in Aurskog, Akershus, Norway, and her father’s name is, well, a bit of a mystery.

When Olga was 3 years old, she immigrated to the US under the surname Sannes with her mother Hansine (Sina) Olsdatter Sannes. They lived in Howard, Miner, South Dakota, and Evanston, Cook, Illinois, before arriving in Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota, where Sina married Johan Elstad when Olga was 9 years old. Olga considered Johan to be her father.

I never knew Olga, but I get the impression that she was very close-mouthed and a little cranky. In fact, most of her grandchildren didn’t even know that Johan wasn’t her biological father. I only knew that she had a different father than her younger siblings from talking to my oldest aunt about Olga.

I’ve tried hunting for information on Olga for years and after I learned a few years ago that Sina was born in Blaker, Akershus, Norway, I looked through Blaker’s digitized parish records for Olga and I thought I’d found her. The baptism record had the correct birthdate and the correct name Olga Matilda, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of the rest of it. Norwegian was worse than Greek to me and I didn’t see her mom Sina’s name anywhere in the record. I told myself I’d have someone translate it one day, in case it was my Olga. Then I became absorbed in something Konzen related and I forgot Olga’s record somewhere on my computer.

Then while looking through my Ancestry DNA matches this fall and wondering if I was ever going to get a confirmed match beside my father (I am glad that he’s a match), I realized that Ancestry now lets you search your DNA matches by surname or place name in their trees. I typed in “Konzen” one match (I’ll talk about that another time), “Sannes” no match, “Sumner” no match, “Ronglien” no match, and “Elstad” no match. That just sucked. All these people with Norwegian ancestry that “matched” me and we had no common surnames. Suddenly, I realized I was being an idiot and I’m not related to any Elstads except for Olga’s half-siblings and their descendants. I typed in Akershus, Norway, and Blaker, Akershus, Norway, and I messaged all 16 matches with a family tree containing those places. I explained that I didn’t see any common ancestors or surnames in their family trees (the public ones), but that maybe we were related through my great-grandmother Olga’s father or even through her mom Sina. I told the story of Olga and Sina arriving in the US alone and that I knew Sina’s parents were Ole Sannes and Karen Thui.

I was too excited about the possibility of a match to wait for a response, so I started looking through Norwegian parish records and searching the Norwegian digital archives again. I extended one side of my Norwegian family back into Norway and another generation, but nothing on Sina or Olga was that easy. I looked through every parish in Akershus county for Sina’s birth on March 8, 1868, and I finally found a Hansine Olsdatter born on that date to Ole Hansen and Karen Jacobsdatter Kroken in Svarstad. Was Sannes the last name of Olga’s father or just a name Sina chose for them? Or was this not her at all?

I looked for more children of Ole Hansen and Karen Jacobsdatter and I found a Karl Laurits Olsen and a Gudbrand Olsen. I matched these men up with a Karl Laurits Sannes and Gudbrand Sannes in the US and confirmed they were Sina’s brothers. Gudbrand, Karl Laurits, and Sina must have all decided on the last name Sannes for some reason. It could be that they all worked on the same farm called Sannes before they left for America. That’s still a mystery.

I revisited Olga’s baptism record and I could see the name Hansine Olsdatter in the section for parents, but I still couldn’t understand the rest of it. I searched through lots of information on Norwegian baptism records and had a few different translations done of the baptism record, but her father’s identity still is a mystery.

Olga’s baptism record reads “Born on December 30, 1988, and christened Olga Matilde on January 20, 1889. The father is listed as bachelor Hagbart Edvardsen Ringstad, cottar’s daughter maiden Hansine Olsdatter Kroken. Hansine gave the name of the father’s daughter as bachelor servant Ole Olsen Enerud. Father’s location: Vestre Aker. Mother’s location: cottar’s farm called Kroken. Father was born in 1864, mother was born in 1868. Godparents: Farmer’s wife Anna Kristiansdatter Myrvold, farmer’s daughter Bolette Hansdatter Nyhus, Edvin Kristian Olsen Kroken, farm hand Anders Johansen Myrvold, and servant Gulbrand Olsen Kroken. Birth was illegitimate. (The father’s 2nd illegitimate child (the 1st with cottar’s daughter Pauline Petersdatter Bakken, the child Petra (12th birth in 1888) born August 9, 1988))”

So is Hagbart Edvardsen Ringstad or Ole Olsen Enerud the father of Olga? I asked my translators if they’d ever seen anything like this in Norwegian parish records and they said they had not. Our conclusion was that Sina (Hansine) had told them that Ole was the father and they (being the church or her family or the men involved) believed that Hagbart was the father. The only thing that will really solve the mystery is DNA. Ole was the father of the illegitimate child Petra, daughter of Pauline Petersdatter Bakken, I’m currently tracing both Hagbart and Ole’s family trees to find a descendant so I can hopefully compare DNA results with them.

Really, it makes sense why Olga wasn’t a very cheerful and happy person. She was born into such an odd situation where it wasn’t clear who her father was. Her half-siblings from her mom’s marriage to Johan Elstad were prettier and more petite than Olga. I can understand how the entire thing can make someone unhappy and bitter. I’ve never had a bad impression of Olga, but now I have even more sympathy with her. As much of a mess that her birth is on paper, I’m sure it was a much bigger mess in real life. Happy 126th birthday, Olga! I like to think she’d appreciate that people today are trying to understand her life.

The Pitz Family Continued

The next time I went to the local Family History Center, I found the record of Catherine Rouller Pitz’s (my 3rd great grandmother) birth on August 7,1793, in an Alsdorf, Germany film.  Alsdorf and Mettendorf are about 13 miles apart.  Her parents were Peter Rouller and Susanna Hansen and I found baptism records for three of Catherine’s siblings.  Her sister Margaretha Rouller was born in 1782, her sister Maria Catherine Rouller was born in 1786, and her brother Joannes Rouller was born in 1789.

In the Mettendorf films, I found George/Gregory Pitz’s birth (Catherine Pitz Konzen’s father) and his marriage to Catherine Rouller in 1819.  After Catherine Rouller died in 1833, I found a record of his marriage to Catherine Markes in 1834.  George/Gregory Pitz – I usually call him George – was the son of Anna Maria Fandel and Theodore Pitz.

I haven’t come across Theodore’s birth or death records yet, but I did find their marriage on January 9, 1782 in Mettendorf.  I came across records for the births of their following children: Maria Pitz (born in 1782), Catherine Pitz (born in 1784), Margaretha Pitz (born in 1788 ), and Mathias Pitz (born in 1790).  Anna Maria Fandel died in 1831 and was buried on February 3, 1831.  I also discovered from Anna Maria Fandel’s death record that she was born in Bettingen, Germany.

In 1841, I found confirmation records of Catherine Pitz Konzen and her brothers Peter and Michael Pitz.  There are many more Pitzes in the films to connect to our Pitz family and more records to still search through.  I’m not done looking through the Mettendorf and Alsdorf films, all the films are long and full of possible relatives and handwriting that is difficult to read.