For 26 posts I will be doing a personal family history journey through the alphabet, one letter at a time. My personal challenge for this series is that I am going to try to match as many of the letters as I can to first names of my ancestors and research that individual’s life to write a full narrative of their life. For those letters that I can’t match to an ancestor, the post will be either a) about a artifact or a location where an ancestor lived, or b) educational in nature. Although the challenge is complete, Alona, the host, is encouraging others to participate anyway. Additional information on the challenge, can be found at Take the ‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge.
“He built the one room school house up the road there. He had a few kids…one of them went west and was never heard from again. He might be buried over in that cemetery.” Those were pretty much the only “facts” that I knew about my great great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, when I started my genealogy research. It was not really much to go on. Actually, it was pretty much nothing to go on.
When I dove into my genealogy about 20 years ago (seems like it was just yesterday), I did some basic “survey” research on Anton because that was about all I knew how to do. I lucked out and found a biography of him in a local county history book and a copy of his obituary from a local paper that no longer exists. I obtained a copy of his death record from DeKalb County, and I took some pictures of the old school house before it was torn down. These few pieces of information that I found gave me a few more clues about Anton…where he may have been from, possibly when he came to the United States, maybe where he is buried. But since on-line research was much more limited back then than it is now and since I didn’t live up in Indiana any longer, I was stuck on my research into Anton. So…I set him aside as being a “brick wall.”
Oh sure, I did a few basic searches every now and again when I came back around to that line, but I never really dug in because I figured I was just stuck on him.
Then I made the decision to use Anton for my “Family History Through the Alphabet” series. I wanted a challenge, and more than that, I wanted to know about great great grandpa Anton! I’m still nowhere near “done” with my research on Anton, but as you will hopefully see below, I have made incredible strides in finding out who he was, and I even met a couple of long lost cousins along the way!
Anton Hablawetz was born on 21 Oct 1827 possibly in the area of Bohemia, Austria (which is now part of the Czech Republic) or Wien (Vienna), Austria to Johann Hablawetz and Rosalia Klettowetz. Anton appears to have been the youngest of three children – Margarethe, Florian, and Anton. At this point, I know very little about Anton’s early life prior to his immigration to the United States. What I do know comes from records found in the United States later in his life. Sometime in 1849, Anton married Anna Lippert in Austria. Anton and Anna had possibly as many as 12 children, but apparently only 4 lived into adulthood. Anton’s first three children (or the first three that I have found records of) were all born in Austria. John was born in 1850, Maria (Mary) was born either October 8, 1853 or sometime around May of 1856, and Joseph was born sometime around February of 1859.
Anton and Anna, along with Anton’s brother Florian and his wife, Margarethe, immigrated to the United States in 1859. The records for Castle Garden immigration center in New York harbor (the predecessor to Ellis Island) show that the two Hablawetz families arrived in New York aboard the Republic from Bremen, Germany on 07 Nov 1859. While both families’ last names are misspelled in the ship’s register as
|New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
(Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010),
Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1859.
“Hablerwitz” and Anton is actually identified as “Adam,” correlation of the names and ages of the other family members confirms that this is indeed Anton and Anna. The ship’s register indicates that both families were bound for Ohio. At this point, I have not been able to locate the naturalization papers for Anton, Anna or any of the three children, but based on the 1900 Census, it would seem that Anton and John were both naturalized sometime after their arrival in the states.
Life in the States
After arriving in the United States, Anton and his brother both took their families to Ohio where the settled in Plymouth township in Richland County, Ohio. It actually took me quite a while to find out this little nugget of information. You see, up until recently, I had very little information on where the Hablawetz family had settled in Ohio. When I picked my research back up about 9 months ago, I was looking over a marriage record for my great grandfather, Anton’s youngest son, William. The record indicated that William was born in Plymouth, Ohio. This bit of information took me on a page by page search for Anton’s family in the 1860 Census. On a hunch, I started not with the Census records for the village of Plymouth, but with the records for Plymouth Township. To my amazement, I found Anton’s family, and an explanation as to why they had eluded me for so long. In the 1860 Census, the first in which Anton and family are found, my dear great great grandfather is listed as “Andrew Hobawantz.” I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for Anton and Anna in their new home when it seemed no one could even say their names correctly!
A biography of Anton found in History of De Kalb County, Indiana (Interstate Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1885) states that Anton moved his family to Indiana in the year 1868. However, the birth records, baptismal records and several other pieces of evidence point to my great grandfather being born in Ohio in 1869, which would lead to the conclusion that Anton and Anna moved their family to Indiana in late 1869 at the very earliest. So far, the best that I can say for sure is that they moved sometime between October of 1869 and 5 July 1870 – the day they were enumerated in the 1870 Census in Wilmington Township, De Kalb County, Indiana. It would appear that Anton moved his family because of opportunity. By July of 1870, Anton had gone from being a “laborer” in the 1860 Census to a “farmer” and apparent land owner in the 1870 Census. The 1880 Census still shows Anton farming along with help from his sons, John and Joseph. By 1900, most of his children have moved away, and Anton is living with Anna and William, my great grandfather.
The biography of Anton that I found of Anton paints his life as a farmer in Indiana in quite the favorable light (as one might expect):
His land was heavily timbered, but he moved his family into a small log cabin, and went bravely to work to clear it and make a farm. He owns ninety-nine and a half acres, sixty acres of which he has cleared. His farm shows the care of a thrifty owner.
One thing not mentioned by this biography is that Anton did donate part of his land to the schools. Situated on the southwest corner of what is now State Road 1 and County Road 40, stood a small one room schoolhouse designated “Wilmington No. 13.” The plaque which stood over the door credited “A. Hablawetz” as the builder. I have to give some serious credit to Anton – this small structure stood for well over 100 years as it was only torn down about 15 years ago. It’s ironic for me that I passed by this small schoolhouse nearly every day during Junior High and High School and I never knew, until after I had graduated, that the brick schoolhouse held such significance in our family history.
According to the 1900 Census, Anton and Anna had twelve children over the course of their marriage, but only 4 had survived up to 1900. At this point, I have not found information for all twelve of their children, but I have found records indicating at least 8 children. As I have already mentioned, the oldest three, John, Mary and Joseph, were born in Austria and came to the United States with Anton and Anna. Thanks to one of my newly found “long lost cousins,” David, I have transcriptions from the baptismal and confirmation records of St. Bernard’s Church in New Washington, Ohio, which show the baptisms of 4 more of Anton’s children born in Ohio – Margaretha (born 4 March 1860), Antonius (born 25 December 1863), another Antonius (born 16 January 1866) and my great grandfather, William Wenceslaus (born 24 October 1869). Interestingly, Anton and Anna’s daughter, Rosa (Rose) is not shown in the baptismal records, but the 1880 Census indicates that she was born sometime in early 1862.
At this point in my research, I am able to say that the four living children in 1900 were John, Margaretha (Maggie), Rose and my great grandfather, William. I have found evidence that Mary died fairly young in 1882 after having married Frank Countryman and giving birth to one child. Joseph appears to have moved west to Kansas where he raised married Mary Bray and raised three children. Joseph died in 1896 near Kansas City. I believe that Joseph is probably the “son who went west and was never heard from again.” Anton’s oldest boy, John, married Lusina Smith in 1887, and remained living near his father until sometime between 1900 and 1910. From Indiana, John moved to Michigan and then on to Montana. From what I have found, most of John’s family stayed in the area of Billings, Montana. Margaretha has been a mystery for me so far. I find some indications of her working as a servant for families in Auburn, Indiana in the late 1800s and early 1900’s, and that she died sometime in 1911. (Needless to say, I have more research to do there!) Rose married Jacob Ginder in 1891 and had one daughter, Edna. Rose died on 12 Dec 1925. Anton and Anna’s youngest child, my great grandfather, married Nettie Nichols and had two children, Mary (my grandmother) and Robert. William died 04 November 1957. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any real information on the two boys named Antonius, other than the baptismal records. This leads me to believe that both boys died at a very young age.
The End of a Long Life
|Obituary – Anton Hablawetz
(The Butler Weekly Record,
21 May 1909)
Anton died on 16 May 1909 at the age of 81 years, 6 months and 25 days. He was preceded in death by his wife, Anna, on 16 Oct 1903. Unfortunately, the actual spot of interment for both Anton and Anna is somewhat of a mystery. Anna’s obituary indicates that she was laid to rest in the Krontz Cemetery in De Kalb County, Indiana; however, Anton’s obituary stated that he was laid to rest in the Ginder Cemetery in the same county. The two cemeteries are only a few miles apart, and neither is very large, so when I started my research on Anton, I walked both cemeteries to search out the headstones. Unfortunately, a couple hours’ worth of careful walking yielded absolutely no results. As luck would have it though, the records for
both cemeteries are maintained by the Wilmington Township trustee – who just happens to currently be a former high school classmate! I contacted Heather, and she did some searching through the records of both cemeteries. There was nothing in the Ginder records that indicate any Hablawetz was ever buried there, but the plot map for Krontz Cemetery shows “A. Hablawetz” on plot 48 with no markings on the adjacent plot. I know that this is not solid proof of Anton or Anna either one being actually buried there, but with the only other information being conflicting, and the negative evidence pointing to Anton not being buried in Ginder Cemetery, I believe that both Anton and Anna are interred in the Krontz Cemetery.