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.

Pitz, Pütz, Puetz – However You Spell It, It’s All Relative

I’ve been working on my Pitz side of my family for a few years, but it’s taken a while for me to get anywhere with them. My 2nd great grandparents are Catherine Pitz and Joannes Konzen, they were both born in Germany and immigrated to the US. They were married on 12/22/1855 in Dubuque County, Iowa, and they moved to Chickasaw County by 1858 where they lived for the rest of their lives. From Catherine’s obituary I discovered that her maiden name was Pitz and she had a half-brother John Pitz who also lived in New Hampton, Chickasaw, Iowa. Then I discovered from John/Joannes Pitz’s obituary that he was born in Mettendorf, Germany. From there I looked through Tom Pick’s microfilm index (His index is priceless, in case I haven’t said that before) http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pick/mettendo.txt and found Catherine and Joannes listed as children of Gregorius Pütz.

Since I found that information I’ve never been able to find a microfilm for Mettendorf that looked like it would have their birth information on it. I don’t know if Family Search recently added some microfilms or added new descriptions to some of them, but recently I ran across some indexes of German parish records in World Vital Records. And in those records I found indexes of birth records for Catherine Pitz and much of her family in Mettendorf. Each indexed record included the number of the microfilm they had been indexed from and that helped me determine which microfilms of Mettendorf to order from Family Search.

In the first film I looked through I found the jackpot – or at least that’s what it felt like to me. I found a ton of Pitzes/Pützes/Puetzes, however you want to spell it. In my 2nd great grandmother Catherine Pitz Konzen’s birth record in 1828, I discovered that her brother Peter was her twin. I’d wondered about that possibility before, but I didn’t have proof of their real birth dates until I looked through that Mettendorf film.

Catherine and Peter weren’t the only twins in their family. The first children born to their parents Catherine Rouller and Gregory Pitz (also seen as George in records) in 1820 were a set of twins – Anna Maria and Michael Pitz. Unfortunately, Anna Maria and Michael both died in 1820, less than a month after their births. I also found birth records for Catherine Rouller and Gregory Pitz’s sons Michael (1821) and Joannes (1824). Then I found the record of Catherine Rouller Pitz’s death in February 1833.

George Pitz’s sister Catherine Pitz gave birth to an illegitimate son named Joannes Pitz in 1808. Later that year she married Joannes’s father Theodore Jutz and Joannes Pitz was legitimized to Joannes Jutz. Catherine Pitz and Theodore Jutz had another son named Joannes Jutz in 1809 and a son named Joannes Hugo Jutz in 1812. And I discovered that Michael Pitz, son of Catherine Rouller and Gregory Pitz, married Anna Maria Kohn in 1855 in Mettendorf.

There were many other Pitzes in the records that I can’t connect to our family tree, yet. In the near future, I’ll write about the other Mettendorf and Alsdorf (Catherine Rouller Pitz’s hometown) records that I also found.

Chicago Konzens

I can never resist a good Konzen mystery. In August, Mark Konzen posted some information about his Chicago Konzen family on my About page and then a couple days later Lynn Konzen posted on my About page about her Chicago Konzen family. It made me wonder if their two families were related and I am always trying to connect Konzen families back to my Konzen family.

So I started looking into their families. Mark posted “My name is Mark Konzen and I’m originally from Chicago. My father (Frederick Konzen) was from Chicago as was my grandfather (Henry A. Konzen).” Lynn’s post stated “I have a brother Mark Konzen. He is living in Chicago. Our father is Bernard J Konzen. His father was Bernard Konzen as well. We do have a Henry in our family line.” I started tracing Mark’s family line back from his father Frederick Konzen to his grandparents Henry Aloysius Konzen (1890-1955) and Eleanor E Raubal (1894-1981). Then to Henry Aloysius’s parents John Bern Konzen (1858-1928) and Bertha Hoffarer (1863-1928). According to his death certificate, John Bern Konzen was born in Germany and his father was Henry Konzen. John Bern Konzen had a brother named Bernard Konzen (1853 or 1858-1924) and Bernard’s death certificate says he was born in Prüm, Germany, to Henry Konzen and Margaret Molitor (both born in Prüm, Germany). In the 1880 census, Bernard and John Bern Konzen lived in Chicago with their parents Henry Konzen and Margaret Molitor.

I followed Lynn’s information from her father Bernard J Konzen to her grandfather Bernard James Konzen (1887-1970) and his wife Margaret C Plutz (1891-1988). Then from Bernard James, I found his parents Peter Konzen (1846-1925) and Johanna E Weiss (1850-1930). According to Peter’s death certificate, Peter was born in Brime, Germany, and his father was Henry Konzen, born in Brim, Germany, and his mother was born in Brim, Germany. Brime and Brim, Germany, don’t exist so I wondered if Peter was actually born in Prüm, Germany, and related to John Bern Konzen and Bernard Konzen of Mark Konzen’s family line. According to Tom Pick’s index of parish records http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pick/prumgm1.txt, Joannes Bern Konzen was born 10/08/1858 in Prüm, Germany, to Henry Konzen and Margaret Molitor. On 02/01/1853 Bernard Konzen was born to Henry Konzen and Margaret Molitor in Prüm, Germany, but there were no other children in the index for Henry Konzen and Margaret Molitor. This could mean that other children born to Henry Konzen and Margaret Molitor were in records for another microfilm, Tom Pick couldn’t read the records for other children of Henry and Margaret on the same microfilm, or their were no other children of Henry and Margaret listed in Prüm’s parish records.

With the help of Craig Pfannkuche, of Memory Trail Research, I got death notices/obituaries for John Bern, Bernard, and Peter Konzen from the Chicago Daily News. Bernard’s death notice on 08/11/1924, reads “Bernard Konzen, loving husband of Maria (nee Ulrich), fond father of Mrs. Bertha McGrath and Mrs. Catherine Pierson. Funeral Tuesday August 12th, from last residence 6534 S. Morgan st. to Sacred Heart Church where requiem high mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m., interment at St. Mary’s cemetery. For seats call Stewart 9460.”

On 04/12/1928, John’s death notice was published and it states “John Konzen, beloved husband of the late Bertha, fond father of Henry, Joseph, John, Mrs. Samuel Rice, Mrs. Herman Smith and the late Thomas, Frank and Johanna. Funeral from his late residence, 5033 S. Bishop st., Saturday, April 14, at 10 a.m., to St. Augustine’s church, where solemn requiem high mass will be celebrated: interment St. Mary’s cemetery. For information, call yard 4765. Member of Third Order of St. Francis.”

Peter’s death notice appeared in the paper on 03/23/1925, “Peter Konzen, beloved husband of Hannah Weiss Konzen, devoted father of Mrs. Margaret Green, Mrs. M. Culkin, Mrs. M. Beck, Mrs. Katherine Mount, Clem H. Konzen, Ben Konzen, Mrs. Anna Schwab, and the late John and Peter Konzen, fond brother of John and the late Bernard Konzen. Funeral Wednesday, at 9 a.m.from late residence, 7133 Eberhardt st., to St. Columbanus church, where requiem high mass will be celebrated: interment Mount Olivet. For information call Stewart 1908.”

After reading the death notices, the index on Pick’s site, and the death certificates, it looks like Peter, Bernard, and John Bern Konzen are brothers. Which means that Lynn and Mark share great great grandparents Henry Konzen and Margaret Molitor and they are third cousins. I haven’t connected the Prüm Konzens to my Konzens, but maybe one day. You never know what information will be available tomorrow : )

Finding ‘Bad’ Peter

In December 2011, I wrote a post about my hunt with Michelle, Paula, and Sandy for my great great uncle Peter Konzen, otherwise known as bad Peter to us (to distinguish him from his cousin Peter Konzen who was also a lawyer). Bad Peter was my great grandpa John Charles Konzen’s younger brother and he became notorious amongst the four of us when we discovered newspaper articles detailing his disappearance and reappearance. To sum it all up, bad Peter faked his death on a business trip to Chicago and disappeared for months, leaving his wife and children behind in New Hampton. Bad Peter was eventually found in Valparaiso, Indiana, going to school under an alias. Over two years after bad Peter’s disappearance, his wife, Elizabeth, was granted a divorce from him and then he disappeared from records again.

During our hunt for bad Peter, we ran across many different possibilities to be him. We found a Paul Konzen, a P.H. Konzen, and more, but none of them seemed to match up with what my great aunt Kay (Kay Konzen Anderson) had told me about him. According to Kay, we were looking for someone who had remarried, had more children, lived in Wisconsin, and later left his second family. Every time we tried to stop focusing on him, one of us kept going back and trying to find him again. This year at Christmas time, Michelle was desperately trying to “find” bad Peter as a present for all of us, but it still didn’t happen.

Then during the beginning of the new year, Michelle reread all articles and records that were possible bad Peters. She realized that one article linked bad Peter to a P.H. Konzen and we were able to connect him from there to almost all the bad Peter possibilities we’d run across! An article published in the Mason City Globe-Gazette on May 24, 1917 linked P.H. Konzen to New Hampton. According to the article entitled “Martin is Dead,” P.H. Konzen had gone by the alias Joe Martin, but Martin was dead. The article said that “Martin and Konzen, originally from New Hampton, were warm friends in Martin’s lifetime. New Hampton men whom Konzen asked to go his bond have refused to do so.”

What we now know about bad Peter is that according to his World War I draft registration card, Peter Hubert Konzen was born on December 15th and I believe he was born in 1872 (Citing the 1880 census, 1885 census, 1895 census, and 1900 census.). His obituary, under the name Paul Konzen, says he died in Arkansas on January 8, 1953, at the age of 81 (hmmm!). He was remarried to Marie Dreyer (11 Mar 1885-May 1966) and they had five children together Carleton Konzen (1908-1975), Ronald Paul Konzen (1909-2000), Clarice E Konzen Dummermuth (1911-2001), Merle V Konzen (1921-2004), and Elvin E Konzen (1923-1986).

From newspaper articles, censuses, and directories, we’ve compiled a timeline of bad Peter’s escapades. Elizabeth Leichtman Konzen divorced him in 1905 and between then and 1908, we don’t have any records of him. According to an article entitled “Konzen Slated for Pen,” Peter lived in Sioux City and then Rock Rapids before moving to Bijou Hills, South Dakota, where he farmed for a year or two. His second wife Marie gave birth to his son Carleton on March 1, 1908, in South Dakota, so he probably married Mamie between 1905 and 1908. He then returned to Iowa where his son Ronald was born on September 22, 1909. In the 1910 census he was in Rock Rapids where he unsuccessfully ran for county attorney.

On November 1, 1911, Peter’s daughter Clarice was born in Eldorado, Arkansas, so I assume he had moved to Arkansas at that time. He returned to Sioux City, Iowa, by 1914 and he was listed as Paul H Konzen of the firm Kephart & Konzen in the Sioux City Directory. Peter continued to be listed in the Sioux City directory through 1916. On January 1, 1917, his residence was listed as Stillwater, Minnesota, in his mother’s obituary. There’s no record of him living in Minnesota, so maybe that was just a ploy to throw people off his trail or he could have temporarily lived there.

In 1917, Peter’s luck ran out and his schemes started to unravel. He was caught in Mason City, Iowa, and arrested for defrauding a railway company. Peter falsely claimed to have injured his back by slipping on a banana peel while stepping from a train. He used the alias Joe Martin He was sentenced to seven years in the state penitentiary. But according to the penitentiary records, Peter ended up being paroled on August 18, 1920, after less than 18 months in the state pen. That’s the luck of Bad Peter.

After his parole, we don’t have an idea of where Peter might have lived until his son Merle was born on September 23, 1921, in Dubuque, Iowa. So Peter could have also lived in Dubuque in 1921. Then on July 18, 1923, his son Elvin was born in Wisconsin, so Peter might possibly have lived in Wisconsin in 1923. In 1929, Peter is back in a Cedar Rapids newspaper ad as “Paul H Konzen, Lawyer, 20 years experience.”

He drops back off the radar until April 25, 1942 when the World War II Draft lists him as a self-employed resident of Amberg, Wisconsin. In 1947, he’s the newspaper again in Manchester, Iowa, as Paul Konzen, a lawyer filing a $4000 lawsuit against the United Benefit Insurance Company. Peter claimed that after he took an insurance policy out with the company in 1938, he was soon after injured in a streetcar accident “and was hospitalized after becoming totally disabled for a time.” He believed he deserved $830 since he’d been disabled and $4000 in damages “because of false statements made against him by the defendant company while refusing to allow his just claim.”

Peter disappears again until 1952 in Springdale, Arkansas, where he shows up in the newspaper for owing taxes. And on January 8, 1953, Peter died in Springdale. The obituary for Paul Konzen says he was 81 years old, which supports our belief that his birthday was December 15, 1872. His obituary makes no mention of his first marriage or of any children from that marriage. It also doesn’t mention his second wife Marie who was still living, so maybe they had gotten divorced or were just separated or estranged. With Peter anything is possible.

I love mysteries – which is why I love genealogy – but when I can’t solve them it makes me a little crazy. And despite what we’ve found about Peter, his story is nowhere from finished. If anyone happens to know any more about Peter, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you have any good Konzen family stories or family stories, feel free to share them.

6 Days with my Konzen cousins: Days 5 & 6

Our last day in Dubuque, the three of us went from Bankston to Balltown and then on to Sherrill and back to Loras College in Dubuque. At the St. Clements Cemetery in Bankston, we found William Conrad (Grandson of Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer) & his wife Anna Loutsch (Granddaughter of Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen), Robert J Conrad (Great grandson of Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer) & Mary Eileen Hagerty, David William Klostermann (William Conrad & Anna Loutsch’s grandson), Elmer Link (Grandson of Maria Josephine Breitbach & William Link) & his wife Irene Hoffman, Michael Wolf (His daughter Margaret Wolf married Louis Link) & his wife Mary, Carolina Breitbach (Jacob Breitbach’s daughter) & her husband Peter Wolf, Frank Schmitt & his wife Margaret (Their grandson Joseph Schmitt married Lucille Jaeger), and Clarence Schmitt (Son of Paul Schmitt & Catherine Breitbach).

William Conrad, the grandson of Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer, married Anna Loutsch, Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen's granddaughter.

William Conrad, the grandson of Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer, married Anna Loutsch, Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen’s granddaughter.

Elmer Link, Maria Josephine Breitbach & William Link's grandson, & his wife Irene Hoffman.

Elmer Link, Maria Josephine Breitbach & William Link’s grandson, & his wife Irene Hoffman.

Paul Schmitt & Catherine Breitbach's son Clarence Schmitt.

Paul Schmitt & Catherine Breitbach’s son Clarence Schmitt.

We met up with Paula, her husband, and two sons in Balltown where her Konzen ancestor Angela Susanna Konzen lived with her husband Peter Hansen. Paula and her family took us to the St. Francis Assisi Cemetery and led us around the cemetery while she told us stories about her family.

In Balltown’s cemetery not only did we find Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen, but we also found Peter P Breitbach & his wife Anna C Schmitt (Their son Benjamin Breitbach married Katherine Meyer, the granddaughter of Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer); Jacob Breitbach & his wife Philomena Sigwarth; Rose Marie Habel (Great granddaughter of Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen); Anastasia Hansen and her brothers Anton M Hansen & Leo F Hansen (Grandchildren of Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen); Anna Maria Hansen & her sister Frances Catherine Hansen (Grandchildren of Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen); Anton Hansen (Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen’s son) & his wife Mary Theresa Neises; Clemens Hansen (Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen’s son) & his wife Elizabeth Mary Neises; Alfred Jaeger (Mathias Jaeger & Regina Meyel’s son); Eva Meyer (Daughter of Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer), her husband John Jaeger, and his second wife Margaretha Conrad (Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer’s granddaughter); Henry Jaeger (Nicholas Jaeger & Mary Blide’s son) & his wife Mary Meyer (Granddaughter of Catherine Konzen & Anton Meyer); William Jaeger (Son of John Jaeger & Margaretha Conrad); Andrew Link (His great granddaughter Mildred Mary Link married Anthony Jaeger); Frank J Link & his wife Catherine Mary Sigwarth (Louis Sigwarth & Catherine Hansen’s daughter, Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen’s daughter); Francis Link (William Link & Maria Breitbach’s son) & his wife Margaret Thul; Silverius Link (Son of John Link & Cecilia Hansen, Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen’s granddaughter); Matthias Loch & his wife Mary Hansen (Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen’s daughter); Francis Sigwarth & his sister Irene Sigwarth; and George Steger & his wife Mary Sigwarth (Daughter of Catherine Hansen & Louis Sigwarth).

The mysterious Angela Susanna Konzen & her husband Peter Hansen.

The mysterious Angela Susanna Konzen & her husband Peter Hansen.

Anton Hansen & his wife Mary Theresa Neises had eleven children together.

Anton Hansen & his wife Mary Theresa Neises had eleven children together.

Eva Meyer married John Jaeger and they had two sons together before her death.

Eva Meyer married John Jaeger and they had two sons together before her death.

Mathias Loch & his wife Mary Hansen had three children.

Mathias Loch & his wife Mary Hansen had three children.

After the cemetery, we drove just down the street to Breitbach’s Country Dining restaurant (does that name sound familiar? The owners are distantly related to Paula) and had lunch together. Afterward, we took our pictures with a copy of an advertisement for Anton Hansen’s (Paula’s great grandfather) estate auction. We drove past Balltown and Paula showed us where Angela Susanna Konzen & Peter Hansen lived. Sadly, Michelle, Sandy, and I had to eventually say goodbye to Konzen cousin number four because they were only so many hours left in the day to hunt for ancestors in graveyards.

In Sherrill’s Sts. Peter & Paul Cemetery, we found Mathias Neises & his wife Maria (Their daughter Mary Theresa Neises married Anton Hansen, Angela Susanna Konzen’s son), Peter Breitbach & Caroline Sigwarth (Their son Peter Breitbach married Anna Katherine Ries) and her parents Ludwig & Dorothea Sigwarth, and Mathias Brimeyer (Great grandfather of Marie Margaret Brimeyer who married Herbert Hansen, Angela Susanna Konzen’s grandson).


Ludwig & Dorothea Sigwarth, parents of Caroline Sigwarth Breitbach.

Ludwig & Dorothea Sigwarth, parents of Caroline Sigwarth Breitbach.

After Sherrill, we drove back to Dubuque and went to the Loras College Library and worked for hours in the library’s obituary card catalog index and in copying microfilms of obituaries. Even with all three of us looking it was impossible to find every obituary we were looking for, but we left the library with a huge stack or two of obituaries to add to our stack of obits from Chickasaw county.

On May 6th, we left Dubuque and went back to New Hampton to search for some more obituaries and to copy some probate records. Our six days together were filled with lots of fun, genealogy, and enough good memories to last us until next time. Hunting through cemeteries, records, and libraries for information about family members with my cousins helped me understand that the more I learn about my family, the more I want to learn. And the more I understand my living family.

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.

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!