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From the Ancestry Daily News  
  Michael John Neill – 1/18/2000

A "Freundly" Search for Fatherland Origins: Not Always a Straight Path

Determining immigrant origins can be difficult at times. It can be even more so when ancestors die at a young age and leave few records. The search for the ancestral origins of part of the Freund family of Davenport, Iowa, was such a search.

The search begins with a George Freund who died in Davenport, Iowa in 1928 His death certificate provided the names of his parents (Paul and Elizabeth Schollmeyer Freund) and his obituary in the "Davenport Leader" mentioned many other family history details. Most relevant to the determination of his ethnic origins were his birth date and place (1859, Davenport, Iowa) and names of parents. The obituary mentions several half-siblings, including an Ed Wachter. Another surname to research and keep my eyes open for.

There are no civil birth records in Iowa in the 1850s, but the family's Catholic religion suggested that church records be accessed. The records of the St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Davenport, indicate that a George Andreas Freund, son of Paul and Elizabeth Freund was born on 8 January 1859 and baptized there with Andreas Schulmeyer and Margaritta Crebs as sponsors Andreas is likely a paternal relative and perhaps the reason for George's middle name. While later records indicate George was born in 1858, the baptismal record is a contemporary primary record of the event and would generally be considered more reliable than later records that contain George's birth date.

A search of relevant Scott County, Iowa histories was also conducted. A biography of Kasper Wachter from the 1910 Scott County, Iowa, history answered several questions. Kasper had "married Mrs. Elizabeth Freund, the widow of Paul Freund," in 1864. A biography for a Peter Freund was also located, but made no mention of a Paul. Peter was of the age to be Paul's brother and a copy of the biography was made for future reference (Peter's parents were listed). Biographies of step-ancestors and ancestral siblings should always be referenced for clues on the actual family being researched.

Hoping Paul had died before Elizabeth's marriage to Kasper, I searched for a probate for Paul, beginning in 1864 and working back. There was an entry for a Paul Freund, who died in 1863.

This appeared to be the Paul in question. The probate records mention a wife Elisabeth, and children George and Elizabeth. Later probate records mention a son John, most likely born posthumously. Elizabeth is referenced in one document as Elizabeth Wachter, providing additional confirmation that this Paul Freund is the correct one. When widows survive, there's always the chance that a probate record will contain the new surname if she remarried.

A review of the records for St. Anthony's Church revealed that a Casparus Wachter and Margaretha Freund were the sponsors for Anna Margaretha Elizabeth Krebs in 1865, the daughter of Conrad Krebs and Margarethae Freund. Interesting--was Margaret (pick your spelling) a sister to Paul Freund? She was the godmother of his son George in 1858. The Krebs family needed to be studied further.

An index to burials in the Holy Family Cemetery in Davenport, listed a Conrad and Margaret Krebs and provided her date of death. This led to her obituary in an 1885 "Davenport Democrat" which indicated she was survived by a brother Peter Freund. Aha! Circumstantial proof of her connection to Paul, but the evidence is convincing. It is at least strong enough to warrant researching Peter and Margaret's family in Germany in hopes of finding Paul. Knowing Peter Freund's parents will make searching easier.

Where in Germany should our research of the Freund family begin?

The answer to this question provides one more example of completely searching on one side of the ocean before beginning work overseas.

Death information on Peter Freund and Margaret Freund Krebs was accessed in hopes of determining their village of origin. Every obituary, death notice, and death record, were analyzed. It was fortunate too, as some records spelled the place incorrectly and others did not describe it adequately enough. The most complete birthplace "Goldbach in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria" is listed in an obituary for Peter. There's more than one Goldbach in Bavaria, but only one near Aschaffenburg.

Remember to revisit records when you locate new information or names. New clues may emerge. Now to locate records in Germany and see what I can find there. It seems the more we find out, the more there is to know.

Good Luck!

Copyright 1999, Michael John Neill. Michael John Neill, is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him at: or visit his Web site at:

Copyright 2000,
This article used with permission 

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