Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Rethmeiers of Illinois and Nebraska - My Most Elusive Ancestors

A little bit about my genealogy research (for a change).

My great-great-grandparents were Fred and Dorothy Rethmeier. They immigrated to the United States shortly after their marriage in 1854 and settled in Barrington, Illinois. Of their seven children only three lived to adulthood.

My grandmother Emma Rethmeier, the youngest of the family, married Fred Schwemm. Her brother John, a carpenter, never married and lived on the family farm until both of his parents passed away. After the family farm was sold, John made his home with Emma and Fred in Barrington. Then there is Henry. Henry moved to Nebraska and was quite prosperous. I found quite a lengthy article about him and thought I had hit pay dirt. This family would be easy to trace…wrong.

History, Reminiscence and Biography of Western Nebraska, 1909

Henry Rethmeyer, a resident of Minden, Kearney County, is well and favorably known as a worthy citizen and good businessman. He is a contractor and builder, and has followed this trade constantly since coming to Minden twenty-four years ago.

Mr. Rethmeyer was born in Cook County, Illinois, February 13, 1858. He is a son of Fred and Dorothy (Dullmeyer) Rethmeyer, who came to Illinois from Schaumburg, Lippe, in 1854, settling in Cook County, where he followed farming for many years. He is now eighty-six years of age, and his wife seventy-nine, both hale and hearty. Since locating in Kearney County Mr. Rethmeyer has built a good many dwelling houses and barns all over the county and also in the adjoining counties.

He has done work in Adams and Clay counties, and erected the German parsonage at Grand Island. This is a beautiful residence, and he has put up many of the finest houses in his hometown, of which his own home is a good example. He employs four or five assistants and carries on a large business, giving the best of satisfaction with whatever he undertakes. He owns two houses here, and has met with pronounced success in his line, and has made all he is worth through industry and strict attention to his business, supplemented by honesty and good judgment. On the grounds surrounding his residence he has in full bearing a fine orchard of cherries, apples, plums, apricots, etc., showing that all of these fruits can be successfully grown in Nebraska if properly planted and cared for.

Mr. Rethmeyer was married in 1883 to Miss Mary Heimerdinger, who came from Stuttgart, Germany, in 1882. They are the parents of two children, namely: Mary, wife of John Stader, a farmer living in this county, and Julia, wife of J. Blackburn, who is engaged in the fruit business in Banning, California. Mr. Rethmeyer has four grandchildren--Edward, Onita and Hilda, in Kearney County, and Olpha May, in California.

In the summer of 1907, Mr. Rethmeyer went into the cement block business and does considerable contracting in the line of cement work. He does cement floor work, porch columns, baluster work, steps, etc.

Researching the Rethmeiers

The first problem is that Nebraska has no statewide indexes for death, birth, or marriage records and county indexes are scarce. Another problem is that from the records I have found, their children Julia and Mary were both born in Germany. So did Henry go to Germany or were they Mary’s children from a previous relationship? And then there is Mary husband’s last name. I was busy looking for a Stader family, but recently found out it was Stadler.

And did you notice that Rethmeier is now Rethmeyer?

According to Dorothy Rethmeier’s obituary, Henry moved to Florida sometime after this article was written. I cannot find a record of his or Mary’s death anywhere.

I have written to ten descendents of Julia Rethmeyer Blackburn, but to date I have had only one reply that advised me to write to someone else, who did not return my inquiry. I have found some VERY helpful folks on Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness that have found obituaries and photographed graves. But, I still have not found when or where Henry and Mary Rethmeier died. I just need a clue, a snippit, a break... I love a challenge!

Everyday Genealogy Desk Calendar

Mary and Henry Rethmeier

1 comment:

  1. You are lucky in that you have two really good pictures. And I will share with you my favorite saying:
    Never give up; never surrender!
    - from Galaxy Quest! :-)
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)