In the last year, I have made serious efforts to jump into my German lines. German Genealogy has long intimidated and terrified me, and while I’ve half-heartedly attempted to get over this fear in the past (by attending lectures, reading books, asking questions, etc), this time I am actually jumping in.
But the first step to jumping in requires actually getting some U.S. research done on my German ancestors – something I’ve avoided over the years because eventually, I’d get to the German part and have to actually jump the pond. I haven’t jumped the pond just yet, but I am getting closer to doing so.
My great grandmother, Marie Keppler married my great grandfather, Maxamillian Doerflinger on September 17, 1902 in Butte, Silver Bow, Montana. From the newspaper articles I’ve read, it sounds like it was a fun occasion.
Marie Keppler’s parents, Anton and Rosalie Keppler.
With the help of a distant cousin that I found through research, I was able to find Anton Keppler listed in New Haven, Connecticut city directories from 1883 to 1892. Sometime between 1892 and 1895, Anton moved to Butte, Silver Bow, Montana because in 1895, he is listed on the Butte city directory. He is again listed in the Butte city directory in 1896, but in 1898, the city directory lists him as having passed away – and even gives the date he passed away and his age.
I know that Anton was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Butte, Montana and I’m waiting for a lovely volunteer from FindaGrave to take the photo for me. (Volunteers are awesome!).
Before I go any further, let me tell you what I know about this family:
Anton Keppler, born abt 1847 in Germany and he married Rosalie, born in March 1845. While in Germany, the couple had four children: William A. Keppler (Dec 1873), Adolph Keppler (Mar 1875), Marie Keppler (Apr 1876), and Annie Keppler (Sept 1880). Once in New Haven, Connecticut, the couple had Anton Keppler (7 Mar 1884) and Frank Keppler (May 1886).
So based on where their children were born, my hypothesis is that Anton and Rosalie immigrated to the United States between late 1880 to early 1884. With this information in mind, I began a search on Ancestry.com. I began my search by using Anton as the main person, but I wasn’t finding anything. I then started searching for Rosalie and look what I found:
Source: “Hamburg Passenger Lists,” digital images, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com : accessed and dowloaded 12 March 2011), Ship Name: Frisia, Departure Date: 27 Apr 1881, Port of Departure: Hamburg, Port of Arrival: New York, J Keppler and Rosalie Keppler.
The above image of of the Hamburg Passenger Lists database on Ancestry.com. It shows the lists compiled during departure from Hamburg, Germany. Here are the people I’m looking at:
- J A Keppeler
- Rosalie Keppeler
- Wilh Keppeler
- Ad Keppeler
- Ernest Keppeler
- Otto Keppeler
My heart began to race as I saw this. Could this J Keppeler be my ancestor? His age matched up with Anton Keppler’s. The ages for Rosalie, Wilh, and Ad were about correct. But if this is my family, then where are the two Keppler daughters, Marie and Annie? And who are the two extra boys, Ernest and Otto? It seemed I was left with more questions than answers.
So I started going through my old research notes and I noticed two things:
- According to family stories, my great-grandmother Marie Keppler came to this country separately from her parents. According to these stories, she came here and lived with an “Aunt Annie”. Looking at the 1910 Census for Marie, I noticed that she listed her immigration year as 1889, which is different than the year her brother’s listed. Could this family story be true? Could “Aunt Annie” actually be Marie’s sister Annie?
- The above passenger list says that the family is from Stuttgart. Family stories also say that the family is from Stuttgart.
- While searching for Rosalie’s death certificate, I found a Keppler death certificate that I couldn’t fit into my tree. The death certificate was for a 20 year old Ernest Kepler, who died on 19 Aug 1898. There was little information contained on the certificate – no parental information or information about an informant. Could this be the Ernest Keppeler listed on the above passenger list?
With a little further Ancestry.com searching, I found a New York Passenger List:
This passenger list shows the arrival of the Keppeler family into New York on 11 May 1881.
While I haven’t confirmed that this is the passenger list for my Keppler family, I would say that I am 90% sure that it is. My gut just tells me that I’ve finally found it.
In order to confirm my gut feeling, I am going to need to find the following:
- What about Marie and Annie? Were they left behind in Germany for a few years and then brought to the United States? If that is the case, then why? Why bring the sons but not the daughters?
- Is the Ernest Kepler in the death certificate I found the same Ernest Keppler as listed on the passenger lists?
- Who in the world is Otto?
Do you have anything to add? Did you catch something I missed? Please let me know! I love the research advice!