Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

We interrupt this series to bring you the other series . . .

A Sorted Past, Week 2: Two Mrs. and a Frau

Some of you may recall reading late last year about my Uncle Paul Koenig and his brother Alfons, who immigrated from Germany in 1923 and 1929, respectively. (If you missed it and want to catch up, click the "koenig" label at the bottom of this post.)

I don't remember ever meeting Alfons or even hearing anything about him, although in my mind, I can easily imagine my Uncle Paul, who spoke with a slight German accent, saying his name. I didn't know whether Alfons had ever married, but I was curious about him. My first stop in looking for information about him was the Social Security Death Index. There were three Alfons Koenig listings, one of whom last resided in Hamtramck, Michigan. That, I thought, could be my guy.

From there I went to the Advanced Search, entered the surname Koenig along with Hamtramck as the Last Residence, and searched again. This time, two names came up, Alfons and Eleanore. It looked good, but still, I couldn't be sure these were the right Koenigs. I could send for Alfons' death certificate, but at $17 per, Detroit's death certificates are pretty spendy if they turn out to be for somebody else's relatives. I decided to wait for a sign.

It wasn't long in coming. In my ongoing project to sort through boxes of unfiled genealogy stuff, I found this 1950 snapshot labeled, "Eleanore, Paul's mother, Marceline."

3 Koenig wives at 534 Townsend Avenue, Detroit - 1950
(If it weren't for my ruthless cropping, you could read
the house number in the window over Eleanore's head.)
Doesn't Eleanore look just like Joan Crawford?

When I emailed the snapshot to Cheryl, she decided to see if she could find a ship manifest that might tell us Paul's mother's given name and the exact year this picture was taken. We already had an approximate idea, based on the estimated age of a child in another photograph taken during Mrs. Koenig's visit.

And sure enough, Cheryl found the record. At the age of 76, Mrs. Koenig, No. 10 on the manifest below, traveled First Class on the Westerdam, leaving Rotterdam on July 8, 1950, and arriving at the port of New York on July 17. Paul's father Hermann must have died before then, because Maria is listed as single, not married. Her destination was 534 Townsend Avenue in Detroit, home of Paul and Marceline.

Maria Koenig traveled to the United States in July 1950
to visit her sons, Paul and Alfons, who had been living
in Detroit, Michigan for more than two decades.

At 76, the traveling was probably difficult for her, and the language barriers somewhat challenging as well, but Maria must have been very excited to see her sons. I don't know whether she'd seen them since they emigrated from their homeland, or whether she'd met their wives before this trip. We haven't found any additional travel documents for any of them.

I hope she had a wonderful trip!

Paul Koenig and his mother Maria
(click to enlarge)

Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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