Category Archives: Surname Saturday

Surname Saturday – Congdons

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Genealogical statistics are interesting:  How many records are currently in your genealogical database? (103,036). Which individual lived the longest, assuming the birth and death dates are correct?  (Elizabeth Waters, age 113). What is the highest number of children in any one family?  (20). What are some of the strangest family names found?  (Preserved Fish and Grizzel Spratt). And finally, which surname appears most often in your family tree? (Congdon).

The Congdon surname appears 2142 times; of these individuals, 1132 are male and 1009 female.  The earliest appearance was in 1610 and the most recent in 1992. Interestingly, the closest relationship between me and any of these 2142 individuals is third cousin 8 times removed; no direct ancestors are named Congdon.

Our Congdon connection begins with Ann Gifford, my 2nd cousin 9 times removed (her great-grandfather was my 10G-grandfather), who was born in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, on June 5, 1715.  At age 16 she married William Congdon, then twenty years old, and the couple had fourteen children between 1733 and 1755. In October 1755 William died, leaving Ann to raise their children on her own.  She lived another 40 years, dying February 3, 1795 in North Kingstown.

Somewhat unusually, it appears that most of the 14 3rd cousins 8 times removed lived to adulthood. The next to youngest, Yelverton, lived only 8 months, but a number of others lived into their 80s and 90s. For a few, images of their headstones can be found on the Find-a-Grave website, and traces of their history can be found in Rhode Island and elsewhere.

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Surname Saturday – the Demlers of Baden and Fairbury

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Our Demler family came to Fairbury, Illinois, from Baden, Germany in 1864. Ancestry.com provides two possible meanings for this surname:

German: from an old personal name, Damo, a short form of a compound name formed with Old High German tac ‘day’.Perhaps an altered spelling of German Demmler, a southern nickname for a glutton, from an agent derivative of Middle High German demmen ‘to indulge oneself’, or a northern nickname from Middle Low German damelaer, demeler ‘prankster’, ‘flirt’. 

Why do I suddenly feel like visiting a buffet? Anyway…our branch begins with Johan Demler, born between 1815-1816 in Baden. His parentage is unknown; he married Catherine Marie Reser who was born in Baden between 1823 and 1824. Johan and Catherine had three children, all born in Baden: Wilhelm K., born November 15, 1847; August Frederick, born about 1849; and Mary (my great-great-grandmother), born January 17, 1855.

The family arrived on December 3, 1864, in New York City on the J.A. Stamler after a 34-day ocean voyage. Records from the Castle Garden Immigration Center list the following family members: Johan, age 48; Maria, age 40; Wilhelm, age 18; August, age 16; and Marie, age 11.

Around 1867 the family moved to Indian Grove Township in Livingston County, Illinois, and in November 1873 moved into Fairbury itself. In 1880 Johan (enumerated as “John”) appears in the home of his son Wilhelm (“William”) in Belle Prairie Township. Johan is listed as married, but Catherine’s whereabouts are unknown. He died about 1890, supposedly as the result of a horse accident, and was buried in the South Apostolic Christian Cemetery, though again I am not yet sure of the exact location.

Wilhelm married Anna Keller (born November 17, 1845 in Zurich, Switzerland) in Indian Grove township in 1878, and they had seven children: Emma Ida, William Henry, Louise Ann, Samuel Albert, Benjamin E., Ernest J., and Anna. August Frederick married Caroline Fankhouser (born February 26, 1860 in Ohio), and they had thirteen children: Emma Ida, Charles, George, Lena Helen, John, William, Henry E., Mary Wina, Tadry, Katie, August, Cora, and Josephine. From our own branch, Mary/Marie married Samuel Slagel (born November 30, 1849), and they had four children: Samuel, Daniel, Emma Alice (my great-grandmother), and Joseph J.

Now, about that buffet…

Surname Saturday – Bewildering Bollingers

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Saloma Bollinger, my 3G-grandmother, is bewildering. Was her name Saloma, Salina, Lalla, or Salome? Was she born September 22, 1821; September 22, 1822; or between 1823-1824? Was she born in Zurich or Schaffhausen, Switzerland; Kentucky; Germany; or Akron?

It seems most likely that she was named Saloma Bollinger and was born September 22, 1822 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. She appears to have emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, about 1848 with two brothers, a sister, and a brother-in-law (and possibly her parents). One brother was named Baldes and is said to have served in the Civil War.

What of the Bollinger surname? I have yet to identify who Saloma’s parents were, or any siblings other than Baldes (and even he is pretty murky). Ancestry.com provides the following: Swiss German: habitational name for someone from any of three places called Bollingen, in Schwyz, Württemberg, and Oldenburg, or from Bohlingen near Lake Constance (which is pronounced and was formerly written as Bollingen). 

This doesn’t provide us with much. Fortunately, Saloma’s later years are more easily documented. By 1850 Saloma had moved to Akron, where she met Karl Schwing; they were married in Akron the following year. In 1860 Karl and Saloma (ages 46 and 36) were enumerated in Akron with children John, 9; Henry, 3; Albert, 1 (my great-great-grandfather); and an Elizabeth Raison, 20. Karl’s occupation is listed as tailor. Another son, Charles, had died in childhood.

In 1870 the family is still in Akron; “Charles Schwing” and “Soloma,” John, Henry, and Albert have been joined by Joseph, age 8.

By 1880 the family has moved to Chatsworth, Illinois: Charles Swing, 66; “Lalla” Swing, 58; Henry Swing, 23; Albert Swing, 20; and Joseph Swing, 18.

On August 14, 1880, the Chatsworth Plaindealer noted the following:

Deaths

Mr. Swing formerly of Ackron [sic], Ohio, died at his home in this township Tuesday evening, aged 67 years. His funeral was attended Thursday.

Saloma’s son John had died earlier that year of “lung fever” at age 29. It seems that Salome spent the final 20 years of her life rotating between the Illinois farms of her three remaining sons, living at different times in the Chatsworth area, Cissna Park, and after 1888 in Fairbury with son Joseph. Saloma died in early 1900 and was buried in Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury.

Derrick K. Babbs, in his book 91 Years of of the Fairbury, Illinois German Apostolic Church: 1874-1965, reprints Saloma’s obituary:

Saloma Bollinger Swing

Mrs. Saloma Swing died at the residence of her son Joseph Swing in this city Wednesday, January 7, aged 77 years, 4 months and 10 days. Saloma Bollinger was born in Switzerland September 22, 1822. She came to America with her parents in the spring of 1849. The family first located at Akron, Ohio. She was united in marriage to Carl Swing in 1851 at Akron and 24 years of her life were spent at that place. Five boys were born to them, three of whom are living: Henry Swing, at Lamar, Missouri; Albert at Cissna Park, Ill.; and Joseph the youngest at Fairbury. On first coming to Illinois the familiy located near Chatsworth where they lived for five years. It was in that place that she lost her husband, Mr. Swing dying August 10, 1889 [sic].

The family came to Fairbury in 1888 and she has since made her home in this city. She was a kind and affectionate mother and a loving wife. She was for many years a member of the German Apostolic Church and died in that faith. Besides her three children she leaves two brothers and many friends to mourn her death.

The funeral services will be held this afternoon in the German Apostolic Church of this city, and the remains will be laid to rest in the Fairbury cemetery.

Apostolic Christian Church

Surname Saturday – the Simmons Brick Wall

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Names are interesting. When I first started doing genealogy, I found it intriguing to realize how many surnames you “own” in your family tree. Sometimes the surnames become more and more familiar over time as more relatives are uncovered and researched.  Other times the connection to a surname is more tenuous – a link of one maternal ancestor, and then the proverbial brick wall.

My great-great-grandmother Belinda Simmons is one of these tenuous links.  Born May 14, 1838 in Cincinnati, she married John Montgomery on Christmas Day 1858 in Ohio. John and Belinda appear in the 1860 (Clark, Ohio) and 1870-1880 (Denver Township, Illinois) censuses with their growing family. Belinda died on Valentine’s Day 1908 and is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery in Olney, Illinois (in a grave my family and I failed to find on a field trip to Olney).

Belinda’s parentage, however, remains a mystery, as does her name itself.  Sources list her name variously as Malinda, Mary Ann, Mary Ann Belinda, Mary B., and Belinda. After much searching I did finally locate Belinda in the 1850 census, aged 12. The discovery, however, only provided half the story: apparently sometime before 1850 Belinda’s father had died, and her mother (Rachel – the half of the story the census revealed) had remarried a Charles Clark. Also in the household is Belinda’s younger brother Charles H. Simmons, aged 10. If Belinda had been born a little later, it might be easy enough to find a Rachel Simmons and her young children in an earlier census – but since census records prior to 1850 don’t list each individual in the household by name, it is trickier to confirm the identities of family members – especially when the head of household’s name remains unknown.

So…the search back in time continues…

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John and Mary Montgomery Tombstone from Find-a-Grave

Surname Saturday – Nimrod Canterbury Murphy

You have to love a name like Nimrod Canterbury Murphy, but to date, my information on our Murphy branch of the family is limited.  Nimrod was born about 1809 in Kentucky. On June 24, 1830 in Jacksonville, Illinois, he married Cassandra Waters. Between 1831 and 1832 he served in the Black Hawk War.  In 1840 he is enumerated in census records in Carlinville, Illinois, and in 1850 in Gentry County, Missouri. He and Cassandra (born probably January 8-9, 1814 in Casey County, Kentucky) had 13 children: Lucinda, Joseph, Celia C., Margaret, Richard, Elizabeth, Nimrod, Paulina, W. Jackson, James Henry, Louisa, Greenill, and William Waters. Nimrod died September 11, 1860 in Allendale, Missouri, and is buried either there or in Morgan County, Illinois.

Cassandra lived nearly 40 years more. In 1860 she is enumerated in Washington, Missouri, listed as a weaver. In 1880 she is living in Franklin, Illinois. She died June 3 or 4, 1896 in either Murrayville or Pisgah, Illinois, and is buried in Pisgah’s Union Cemetery.

Nimrod and Cassandra’s daughter Celia, born May 16, 1842 in Illinois, married John H. Davis sometime between 1857 and 1860 and moved to West Union, Iowa.  They would remain in Iowa; according to the 1910 census Celia had given birth to 12 children, only 5 of whom were still living.  Their oldest child, Lucinda Blanche Davis, was born March 16, 1859 in Allenville, Missouri, and married Wellington David Wilson.  Lucinda and Wellington’s son Carl Ozro, was my grandma Blanche Wilson’s father.

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Surname Saturday – Hunkler

According to Ancestry.com, the surname Hunkler is of Swiss German derivation, a shortened form of a Germanic personal name meaning either “giant” or “bear cub.”  In the 2000 census, there were only 241 individuals in the U.S. named Hunkler.

Our Hunkler branch also hails from Switzerland – the earliest known ancestor by this name was John George Hunkler who was born in Switzerland and was apparently a bricklayer.  He and his wife, Margaret Egger, had six children: Huldreich, Ursule, George John, Henry, John George, and Adeline.  The three boys and Adeline (Adella) emigrated to the U.S. at various times in the 1880s or after.  I’ve found the emigration record for John George, who was 15 when he sailed (apparently alone) on the ship Belgenland in 1886:

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After arriving in the U.S. Adella married Fritz Meier and eventually settled in Michigan. She died in 1958 in White Pigeon.

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The three Hunkler sons settled in Illinois.  The eldest, my great-great-grandfather George John, born September 20, 1862, emigrated around 1883 and by 1886 was in Washington, Illinois.  On December 14 of that year he married Maria Elisabeth Rusch, paying $19.78 for her passage on a Red Star Line steamer from Antwerp to New York or Philadelphia, and railroad fare from Basel to Antwerp and from New York or Philadelphia to Washington, Illinois. George and Maria had five children: Bertha Elizabeth (Bert), Matilda (Tillie), John George, Lena Agnes, and Hulda Catherine. George John died in 1934, Maria in 1948; both are buried in Glendale Cemetery in Washington.

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Lena, my great-grandmother, was born December 22, 1892 in Washington and married Albert Carl Swing one hundred years ago this June 18. They had three children: Roy Albert, Velma Marie (my maternal grandmother), and Marilyn Margaret. Lena and Albert eventually moved to Harlingen, Texas, dying in 1969 and 1964, and are buried at Restlawn Cemetery in La Feria.

Lena Agnes Hunkler

Henry Hunkler, born 1864, married Elizabeth Hess in 1891 and had four children: Elmer Henry, Irma Elizabeth, Arthur Melven, and Mildred Bernice. Henry died in 1928 in Washington, Illinois (Elizabeth in 1926), and is also buried in Glendale Cemetery.

John George married Bertha Geiger in 1904 and had two children: Agnes Alvina and Walter Eugene.  John and Bertha are also buried in Glendale Cemetery after dying in 1955 and 1946.