Some time ago, I had received a hand-drawn family tree for the Plenzlers with a cover letter dated 1991 that mentioned a John Plenzler who had settled in Minnesota. This family tree and the letter were created by Theresa Plenzler Helminiak, a cousin.
While tracing my great-grandfather, Joseph Plenzler, I realized he had several siblings because of this information yet I hadn’t followed up with any of Joseph’s siblings here. A good prod came from Judy again, because truthfully, I was asleep at the wheel this summer with any genealogy efforts. Let’s just say it’s been a busy summer and I’m trying to make sure I find at least a few hours each week to get more research and writing done.
Per the information Theresa (Tessie) recorded, Joseph had at least five siblings that I could verify and locate:
- Margaretha and then see here and here. Margaretha and Joseph were the only siblings who settled in Ohio.
- John settled in Minnesota with his wife Marianna (Mary). He’s the subject of this post.
- Catharine married Jacob Niemier and settled in South Bend, Indiana.
- Elizabeth married Joseph Zalas and settled in South Bend, Indiana.
- Kunegunda married Stephen Zalas and settled in South Bend, Indiana.
The sisters, Catharine, Elizabeth, and Kunegunda will be topics in the near future.
Per census records and a marriage record I located via the Poznan Project, Johannes (John) was born about 1857. The record I found on the Poznan Project indicated that Johannes and Marianna married in 1877 in Głuszyna–a common fact in my branch of the Plenzler family. She was 19, he was 20. Marianna’s maiden name was Krych. I will have to write to obtain the actual marriage record(s)–and see if there are both civil and church marriage records to review.
After this point, things get a little murky with John and Mary. While Tessie documented John and Mary as having lived in Minnesota, there are a few immigration records that do not make their arrival quite clear.
A Hamburg manifest heading into New York was located for John, indicates that he left Europe on 4 April 1883. A corresponding record at Castle Garden for his arrival also exists that provides his date of arrival to the US as 20 April 1883 and his occupation as a mason. However, this manifest indicates that his final destination is Wisconsin.
Digging into this further, I had to look at census sheets and to also look at Mary’s immigration records. A passenger manifest for the ship, Weser, arriving into Baltimore from Bremen documents her arrival on 20 April 1884. On this manifest is some interesting information. Marianna arrives with two daughters: Veronica, age 6 and Barbara, age 11 months. Immigrant mothers arriving with infants or small children isn’t unusual although it’s always noteworthy. However, viewing the passenger record just above Marianna’s name is a record for a Cecelia Aumiller. That notation nearly knocked my socks off. My great-great-grandmother was Maria Aumiller before her marriage to Andreas Dauer. Their child, Eva, married Joseph Plenzler. My guess is that Cecelia was either a sister to Andreas (her age is listed as 63) or she was a wife to a brother of Andreas! I have not yet definitively located any of my Aumiller relatives in the US although I have had clues. This is going to be an area of future research–I am so hoping to eventually find if there are Aumillers to whom I am related to in the US.
While researching John and Mary, I have located some indirect evidence that they had remained together in Wisconsin for a while prior to settling in Minnesota. Thanks to Judy, we have the 1900 Federal Census that shows John and Mary living in Middle River, Minnesota. Note that on this record, the surname is spelled as Plenzer. Here the census provides information on the family as it was in 1900:
- John is listed as Charles. I do believe this to be an error on the part of the census taker. His birth is listed as March 1857, age 43. However, his immigration is recorded as 1881. It is possible the John had come to the US earlier and had returned. Remember that Marianna had traveled to the US with a small child of 11 months in 1884, so that would have placed Barbara’s birth in 1883.
- Mary’s birth is indicated as August 1859 and her age is 41. Note that she has had 10 children, but six are still alive in 1900.
- Daughter Barbara is then noted, with her birthdate given of September 1883. (This is difficult to ascertain because it appears as if the census taker had made a mistake and tried to write over the original answer, however, Barbara’s age seems to be provided as 17.) This would make sense if she were not quite a year old upon immigration in 1884.
- Son, Mike, is then listed. He, and two of his following siblings, are noted as having been born in Wisconsin. Mike is noted as 11 and born in September 1888.
- Son, Frank, is then listed. His birthdate is provided as February 1890 and is noted as 10 years old.
- Son, John, is then listed. His birthdate is provided as April 1893 and is noted as 7 years old.
- Son, Nicholas, is then listed. His birthdate is provided as April 1896. The census taker noted his age as 3, but if he were born in 1896, his age should have been noted as 4 at the time of this census (June 1900).
The 1905 Minnesota state census reflects the same information for the family. Note on this record, the surname is spelled as Plencner or Plencener. (Begin with record #37.)
Realizing that Mary had traveled to the US in 1884 with two daughters, Barbara and Veronica, I noticed that neither the 1900 census or the 1905 state census reflected any information for Veronica and that the 1900 census stated she had six children living, it was apparent that Veronica had already left home. I located Veronica, noted as Verona, on an 1895 Minnesota state census where she was living in Argyle, Minnesota at the age of 17. If she were six at the time of arrival in the US, she would have been born about 1878, making her 17 at the time of this census. So this census data likely reflects that this is indeed John and Mary’s daughter, Veronica.
I have not been able to locate a 1910 US census with this family’s data; however, the 1920 and 1930 census data is available. This is data too indicates that it’s possible the John had come to the US in 1881 but did not stay.
The 1920 census shows us that Mary and John are still living in Middle River, Minnesota. Note that on this census, the surname is given as Plencner. Here, John’s immigration date is provided as 1881 and Mary’s as 1882. Also note that John was naturalized in 1900, and Mary is also indicated as having been naturalized. (I believe that spouses whose husbands were naturalized at this time were automatically granted naturalization, but this would need some verification.) John and Mary are listed as no longer having an occupation; however, two sons reside with them: Mike and Frank who appear to be running the family farm.
On page 1, John and Mary are listed as records 49 and 50. They are on the same farm that they own, ages 73 and 71, respectively. The same immigration dates of 1881 for John and 1882 for Mary are provided.
On page 2, son Frank, is still living on the same farm with John and Mary, single, age 38, and seems to be also running the farm (record#51, second page). What is even more interesting is daughter, Barbara has re-appeared. (See record #52, page 2.) Here we learn she is widowed, age 48, and is living with Frank, John, and Mary with a daughter, Gwendolyn, age 14. Even more interesting, it is noted that Gwendolyn was born in New York. Barbara’s name is given as Barbara Ervin.
Moving down on the second page of the 1930 census data for the Plenzler family, records #54 through #58, it appears as John Jr. had purchased the farm next door (or perhaps his father had subdivided the farm and sold half to his younger son). John is married in 1930 to a woman named Josephine and there are three children: Mary Anne, Adeline, and Raymond. These children were all born in Minnesota.
I have not found any death records for John; however, I did locate an abstract of Mary’s death. Mary passed away on 18 October 1938 in Middle River, Minnesota at the age of 79.