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Genealogy discoveries can sometimes come from the most unexpected sources. Being open for any possibility should be the credo for someone looking for past ancestor's.
Carl Buchholz and Caroline Hiller
This is an interesting story. Out of the many potential clues and sources found, the Carl Buchholz and Caroline Hiller clue is an intriguing one. Emil Franz Herrmann gave nearly no clues to his German origins. He had no family in the United States to the best of everyone's knowledge. He stated that he first stepped foot in the United States 08 September 1874, but it is not known what port he came in. It is not known exactly when he came to Minnesota. The first indication of him showing up was at St. Johns Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, Hennepin County in 1877 in church records where he met his wife to be, Wilhelmine Reinking. This gives a window from 1874-1877.
He is in the church record as standing up for Carl Buchholz and Caroline Hiller child's baptism. The Buchholz even named their child after him as, 'Francis Hermann.' Carl Buchholz was born 1838 in Germany and his wife Caroline Hiller was also born in Germany 1843. They were some 8-13 years older than Emil Franz. They were married and brought two children with them from Germany to Connecticut where they lived for some 2-3 years before coming to Minnesota. They left from Hamburg, Germany, a major German seaport in the north. How did they connect with Emil? Did they know him in Germany? Or did they just meet in Connecticut or did they meet in Minnesota? We consider it considerable when they name there son after Emil. There must have been some connection it is believed. The question is did Emil know them in Germany? Were they related? Or did he help them move from Connecticut to Minnesota, or did he just work for them in Minnesota?
The whereabouts of the Buchholz in Germany has also proved fruitless. They openly came to the United States and didn't appear to be hiding anything, but nevertheless it has been difficult finding their German origins in an attempt to see if they had the same origins as Emil Franz. Although there are two towns in the Brandenburg province that are named Buchholz city. This story is ongoing...
Naming patterns of how a German parent named their children can often lead to clues. Emil purposely picked names of some of the children that could lead one to believe there was a Latin or French influence, which would normally be connected to those living in southern Germany where there are many name matches to Herrmann, or having a Catholic background. But Berlin as an origin seems most plausible. Family stories state that Emil Franz was in the military. Military units usually had their own parishes and church records.
Naturalization, Census, Obituaries
Most every available record has been recovered and no indication of Emil's German origins. Minnesota state naturalization papers before 1907 did not ask for the immigrants origins, just that they give up allegiance to the Emperor of their country where they were born. After 1907 the application changed and it did require the immigrant to state his home city or town from where he/she came from as well as their height, weight, eye color, complexion and hair color including port of embarkation.
It is considered by many genealogist that the best records are most often family documentation and stories. We have many good family stories, but strangely no exact home town origins of Emil. We absolutely believe this information was known, but there are no supporting papers that have been found. It wouldn't surprise if there is some paper that some family member has and do not even realize what it is they are holding. If any family member reads this account and believes that they may have some piece of paper, no matter how insignificant they may think it seems, that could identify Emil Franz origins please share. Thank you.
Census records sometimes will provide the origins of the immigrant, but usually will only state the country they came from and on occasion will provide the province they came from. In Emil's case all of the census records recovered only gave the country, i.e., Germany or Prussia. There is only one possibility left and that is the Minnesota state census of 1875. This is the only undiscovered census document. We are not even sure he was in Minnesota in 1875, but we do know that he applied for citizenship in Hennepin County, Minnesota October of 1876. It is possible he is in this state census.
Church records and death records can sometimes provide the origins of the immigrant. In Emil's case it did provide his fathers name, but not his specific origins. Just Germany. His father's name was a real find, but no mother's name. Church records can perhaps be the most fruitful, but St. Johns Lutheran had a fire and most of the death records were lost.
Obituaries can provide the information also, but Emil's obituary only states his country. The family did not provide the information in the obituary.
We do know that his wife Wilhelmine knew his origins, but either didn't record the information or the information was lost. His son-in-law Hermann Stark had many conversations with his father-in-law Emil when on hunting trips, but again, the information was not recorded. There are living family members that tell the story and valuable information is given, but no exact origins can be remembered.
One very significant piece of information was recently given by a living family member who stated that having conversations with their grandmother who was one of Emil's daughters said that her father Emil was born in Berlin. The living family member was very emphatic about the grandmother's story of Emil's origin. This brought up memories of hearing the same Berlin story from another family member who is now deceased, Max Richard Herrmann saying the same thing.
There has been more investigation then stated here in this account. Many church members of old St. Johns Lutheran have been investigated. Land records and naturalization records have also been searched of different people in the hopes of finding a connection.
There are available resources from historic records and writings from witnesses of the time writing documentaries. One example is Christian Heinrich Reinking story being told by local historian recording prominent people of the time in books stored in historical societies, such as '"History of Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis, Including the explorers and pioneers of Minnesota, and outlines of the history of Minnesota by Rev. Edward D Neill and J Fletcher Williams. North Star Publishing Company, Minneapolis, 1881, Corcoran-Biographical." There are a variety of publications as this one.
In Anoka, Minnesota were Emil homesteaded there is a published book for well known citizens of Anoka, but the book was not allowed to be taken. It had to be read at the city historical society. Someone living in Minnesota would have the best access to this uncovered possibility to go to Anoka and look through this book. These are not absolutes, but good possibilities that the desired information is in one of these undiscovered publications that haven't yet been read.
Another possibility is that Emil worked as a Truant Officer for the city of Anoka. Perhaps there is documentation on him with the city.
United States Church Records
Are there some other church records beside St. Johns Lutheran? The family did attend other churches as some of Emil's children were baptized at different churches. Only a few, but enough to make it a possibility.
German Church Records
The investigation has moved up to looking through German church sources. The best known and largest resource in the world is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Mormon church charts every person who has come into the United States and over the decades increased that documentation to the world. They have microfiche of nearly every country's records, and it is free. Berlin church records are many and they have all the film available. There are literally thousands of church records available for viewing. People come from all over the world to stay in the Salt Lake City area to spend time researching. Investigation has just begun using these resources. The site to whomever wants to research is called Family Search. There are also several good pay for information sites such as, Ancestry.com. Another free site that provides many links is Cindy's list There are many other good resources also.
German Military Records
In addition to searching church records, military records are another source. During WWII the allied campaign bombed Berlin heavily and most German military records were destroyed as this is where military records were kept for the most part. Very unfortunate. There are still many many military records available though and just a minimal amount of what is available have been searched so far. So many records and so little time. One step at a time.
Stayed tuned. If you have information please send it. If you choose to research, please join in. Thank you....
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Last updated: March 26, 2023