Family History Through the Alphabet – A is for Anton

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

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It’s been a while in the making, but here is the first post of the series….. (Warning – Long post ahead)

“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!

Early Life

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.

Immigration

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.

Family

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.

Tombstone Tuesday – Donald and Mary (Hablawetz) Washler

This week’s Tombstone Tuesday post is of my father’s parents, Donald and Mary (Hablawetz) Washler.  I have only very very vague memories of my grandfather and unfortunately no memories of my grandmother since both died when I was still relatively young.  It wasn’t until I started doing my genealogy research that I knew that my grandfather actually died on my 4th birthday.

My grandparents are buried in Riverview Cemetery in Newville, Indiana.  This is the same cemetery where both of their parents, many of their siblings and many of the family ancestors are buried.

Donald and Mary (Hablawetz) Washler
Riverview Cemetery, Newville, DeKalb County, IN

Donald Adelbert WASHLER:  b. 10 June 1898 in Concord Twp, DeKalb County, IN
                                               d. 11 December 1975 in Auburn, IN
                                                m. 28 March 1929 in United Brethren Church of Newville, IN

Mary Louise HABLAWETZ:   b. 07 August 1907 in Wilmington Twp., DeKalb County, IN
                                               d. 25 August 1973 in Auburn, IN

Blogging by the States – Indiana

Blogging by the States is a blog theme/challenge being run by Jim Sanders over at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets and is one of several blog challenges I have been looking at doing.  I’m coming in to Jim’s challenge a little late (Indiana is Week 19) so I am going to do some doubling up over the next few
weeks to catch up.  Jim’s running through the states by the order in which they became a state.

I love that I found this theme and joined the challenge on the week that features Indiana simply because it is by far the easiest for me to do since I am a born and raised Hoosier and most of my research started in Indiana.

The surnames that I am currently researching in Indiana are:

WASHLER – The family first came to Indiana with John Warshler/Warstler sometime between 1850 and 1860.  (I’m still researching to find conclusive information on when John and his family moved to Indiana.)  John and his family settled in Jackson Township in DeKalb County, Indiana.

FARVER – Isaac Farver was my first Farver ancestor to come to Indiana in 1855 and he settled in Jackson Township just a few miles from where the Washler family settled (quite possibly how my great grandparents met!).  Isaac served in the Union Army as part of the Indiana Infantry.

NICHOLLS – I have confirmed that the Nicholls family came to Indiana (or at least purchased land in Indiana) in 1850 when Simon Nicholls purchased public lands at the land office in Fort Wayne on 20 December 1850.

ROBERTSON/ROBINSON – This is the Indiana family that I probably know the least about.  My 2nd Great Grandmother’s maiden name was either Robertson or Robinson (so far the evidence is very inconclusive on this).  If the information that I have so far proves to be correct, I believe I have found the family living in Indiana as early as August of 1850.

HABLAWETZ – The Hablawetz family came to Indiana with my 2nd Great Grandfather, Anton who moved to Wilmington Township in DeKalb County in 1869.  As I discussed in a previous post, Anton built one of the one room school houses that served DeKalb County for many years.

As you can see, my Hoosier roots run very deep and even though I have done extensive research on the families that lived in Indiana, I know that I have only scratched the surface and have many, many years of research left to do!

I hope you enjoy some of the new content that I will be adding to my blog.  I have been looking around for ideas, and recently came across two blogging “challenges” that I plan to undertake.  One is the Blogging by the States that this post is part of and the other is Family History Through the Alphabet.  While the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge is actually long over, I like the idea of the challenge and will take it on separate from the original challenge.  (Check back later today or tomorrow for the start of that one!)

Treasure Chest Thursday – Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild

As most genealogists do, I utilize a lot of on-line resources in my research.  My list of bookmarks in Firefox seems to go on forever, and that is just my research sites and doesn’t include others that I categorize as resources or societies, or libraries or…you get the picture.  Of all of the sites that I use, I think I would call each of them a bit of a treasure chest at times, but I have never had one site that became a treasure chest for me the very first time I used it, until now.  Enter the site for the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG).

I have set aside a lot of my new research lately to focus more on improving my records organization, my documentation and citations and to spend some time on genealogy education. (Stephen Covey called this “sharpening the saw.”)  But I do find myself doing some “casual” research from time to time.  This research is more just doing some Google searches on problems or brick walls that are waiting for me on my to do list.  I will browse the search results looking for new leads and then if I find something, clip it to Evernote for later reference.

On Tuesday of this week, I was doing some casual research over lunch and decided to look for my great great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, who has been a bit of a “brick wall” for me in that because of the unusual last name, the spelling variations that I have found have been incredible.  See my posts here and here to see what I mean.  Before I had let my Ancestry subscription lapse (I know, that is near heresy in the genealogy world), I had noticed a hint for Anton that mentioned the name “Hablerwitz” in a ships passenger index.  Since I currently can’t access the record on Ancestry, I decided to Google that variation of the last name and see what I found.  What I ran across was an incredible hit….the passenger list manifest for the Ship Republik on the ISTG website.

Here I found this listing:

108* Adam Hublerwitz        32      male    Farmer   Bohemia           Ohio 
109* Anna Hublerwitz        29      female           Bohemia           Ohio
110* Johann Hublerwitz       8      male             Bohemia           Ohio
111* Maria Hublerwitz        3y6m   female           Bohemia           Ohio
112* Joseph Hulterwitz baby  0y9m   male             Bohemia           Ohio

(National Archives and Records Administration, Film M237, Reel 196, List 1092., Transcribed by Gene Janssen, a member of the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, 7 April 2010)

Hmmm….okay, yet another variation on the Hablawetz last name…great!  But, more importantly, while the list shows his name as Adam, I am nearly positive that this is Anton and his family.  The date of the ship’s manifest matches the information I had regarding his year of immigration; the ages for him, his wife and the three children match information I have previously found, and the location they came from matches.  Even better is that there are several more entries in the manifest that show people who appear to be relatives which may give me even more research opportunities for finding these ancestors!

I am still in the process of analyzing all of the information about the Ship Republik, but at this point, it appears that the good people at ISTG have absolutely shattered what I once considered a brick wall in my genealogy research….definitely a treasure chest of a website!

Surname Saturday – Hablawetz

William Hablawetz and his
daughter, Mary
(date unknown)

Not very long ago, I would have told you that the Hablawetz surname is my biggest brick wall (yes, the surname as a whole, not just one person) because I just couldn’t seem to find a lot of information on the family.  Now…now researching this surname has become a bit more like playing hide and seek.

Surname: Hablawetz

Variations:  Hobawentz (1860 Census), Heblewaits (1870 Census), Hablawitz, Hablerwitz (possible immigration records), Hoblewetz

Origins:  The family appears to have originated in Austria or Germany, and first settled in the United States in Plymouth Township in Richland County, Ohio.  From there, my line of the family moved to Wilmington Township in DeKalb County, Indiana.  I have been able to trace some of the family up to Michigan and it appears that there were other lines of the family that moved further west, but I have not been able to make a definite connection between those lines and mine.

Notable Facts:  My great great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, built one of the many one room school houses that served DeKalb County through the late 1800s and into the 1900s.  It stood until the 1990s.

Challenge:  As you can see from the variations in the surname, my biggest challenge with this family has been to find the variations of the name!  Once I began to realize that there were so many odd variations on the name, I started finding little trails to follow, but I still have not jumped that hurdle of finding any definitive immigration information for the family.

Sunday’s Obituary – Anton Hablawetz

This Sunday’s obituary is for my 2nd great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz.  I wish I knew what paper the obituary had been published in, but up to this point, I’ve not been able to determine that.  The obituary was published on May 21, 1909.  Apparently, the obituary was written by Rev. J.H. Crouse, as it was written in the first person by the individual whom Anton had asked to “preach his funeral.”

Anton Hablawetz Obituary

The obituary is to say the least, a touching tribute to a man who was apparently quiet, kind and very hardworking.

Those Places Thursday – Wilmington No. 13 School House

Wilmington Township School House No. 13

I know it may seem a bit odd to feature an old one room school house in a “Those Places Thursday” post, but that one room school house actually has an interesting family connection.  The old school house stood at the corner of State Road 1 and County Road 44 in DeKalb County.  I can remember driving by the old shell of a building at least once a week as a young child, and then once I was Jr. High and Sr. High School, I passed it every day on my way to school.  I had always heard my father refer to it as the “Hablawetz School,” but I never understood why.

1880 Land ownership Map – Wilmington Township

When I started my genealogy research in my 20s, I finally asked why the school was known as the Hablawetz School.  My father explained that the old Wilmington Township No. 13 school house was called that because my great great  grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, had donated the land for the school house and built it himself.  As you can see from the 1880 plat map shown here, Anton owned the northeast 1/8th of Section 36 and the northwest 1/8th of Section 35 in Wilmington township.  Anton had donated (as seen on the map) a small section of his farmland to build the school.  In today’s society, it may not seem like a lot of land that was donated, but when you put it in context, it was a huge sacrifice for the community from an Austrian immigrant who had only moved to the county a few years prior.  

A biography that I found of Anton in a published history of DeKalb County states that when Anton bought the land, it was wooded and uncleared and he cleared it all for farmland by hand.  Imagine spending days and weeks cutting down trees, pulling out stumps, clearing rocks and brush and finally having your land ready to farm and then giving away part of it for the betterment of the community!  As you can see from the map, Anton’s farm house stood just across the road a bit from the school house.

Both the one room brick school house and the old farm house are gone now.  Both were torn down for more “modern” structures.  I drive by occasionally and see the mound of dirt where the school house once stood, and realize that this monument to the generosity of one Austrian immigrant is long gone and left only for the memories of those who paid attention to it.  I have a few pictures, and have been able to find a few pieces of records from classes that went to the school, but that is about all that remains.  Somewhere, the stone that was over the door of the school is supposed to be preserved and may someday be used in the construction of another school in the local district, but if it isn’t, I’m hoping to obtain one very heavy piece of family history!