Monday, August 24, 2015

Searching for Burgenlanders in Bancroft, Kossuth County Iowa

Why did my relatives, the Schötls, and many families from Mönchhof (now in Burgenland, Austria) emigrate to Bancroft, Kossuth County, Iowa?

After spending the first of our two days to Kossuth County in the County seat of Algona, we spent our 3rd and final day in Bancroft. (see the Algona blog here)

As early as 1882, Catholic families came to make their homes in and around Bancroft.  It was designated as an out-mission of Algona and Mass was celebrated in the Bancroft public school building for the next several years.  In October 1889, Bishop Hennessy directed Father Nicholls to build a church in Bancroft and the 36' x 60' structure was completed October 19, 1890. It was deemed a separate Catholic parish within the Dubuque diocese.

From our research we put together a list of the Burgenlander burials in Kossuth County, many in Bancroft. 

We started with the "Burgenlander's Honored and Remembered" listed by the Burgenland Bunch. We went through and created a spreadsheet of the families who came from the Neusiedl  area villages buried throughout the U.S.  We sorted that for just the Iowa burials. We next sorted that alphabetically by town burial site in Iowa.  What we found is that the Bancroft St. John the Baptist Cemetery has burials from Mönchhof immigrants representing 14 families.  To these we could add others, like the Schotls, who were Bancroft residents but with no burials.

Shan contacted Judy Vaske, the business manager at Saint John the Baptist Church in Bancroft with our list.  Judy agreed to bring the cemetery records and meet us at St. John the Baptist cemetery to locate the graves.

Shan Thomas and Judy Vaske

Shan at the Martin Sanftner grave marker

The cemetery books are very detailed with the graves marked according to the placement in quadrants. A map is posted on a board in the center of the cemetery. The cemetery is in excellent condition and well cared for. 

St. John the Baptist Cemetery Map

Burgenlanders buried in St. John's Cemetery, Bancroft

last name  maiden name   1st name    home village    birth  death           cemetery         place
Deim Johann Mönchhof 1865 1941 St. John's Bancroft
Deim Rainer Catherine Mönchhof 1866 1931 St. John's Bancroft
Lentsch Rapp Rosalia Mönchhof 1857 1926 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Gregor Mönchhof 1873 1909 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Lorenz Mönchhof 1843 1909 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Krenn Genofeva Mönchhof 1846 1907 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Martin Mönchhof 1877 1901 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Franz Mönchhof 1856 1903 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Zittritsch Marie Mönchhof 1859 1942 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Josef Mönchhof 1870 1928 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Sanftner Magdalene Mönchhof 1876 1963 St. John's Bancroft
Regner Georg Mönchhof 1875 1970 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Gothardt Mönchhof 1868 1950 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Schwartz Elisabeth Mönchhof 1871 1954 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Martin Mönchhof 1862 1932 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Rapp Barbara Mönchhof 1868 1932 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Mathias Mönchhof 1844 1911 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Pöckl Anna Mönchhof 1852 1925 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Michel Mönchhof 1856 1908 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Hoffman Anna Mönchhof 1855 1901 St. John's Bancroft
Lentsch Melchior Podersdorf 1882 1904 St. John's Bancroft
Lentsch Michel Podersdorf 1855 1931 St. John's Bancroft

We were able to locate and photograph all but 3 of the Burgenlander graves. These we assumed were either never marked, marked but missing, or the stone was buried under the grass.

Some of the Burgenlander grave markers at St. Johns the Baptist Cemetery

After we finished at the cemetery and had a little lunch in downtown Bancroft, we headed to the church where we met with Lori Geitzenauer, the Director of Religious Education for St. John the Baptist Church. She helped us search the church records for births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials. She took a tremendous amount of time and was very patient with us.

We looked for Schötl/Hoffman records, then Lori showed us other names from our list. More time with these records would give a better picture of this Burgenland group.  

Baptisms at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 
Bancroft, Iowa, July 2015 
  • Michael Joseph Schotl, baptised 30 Dec 1897, born 13 Dec. 1897, son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl
  • Michael Mathias Schotl, baptised 30 Jul 1899, born 27 Jul 1899, son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl
  • Franz (Frank) Mathias Schotl, baptised 8 Jul 1900, born 6 Jul 1900, son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl, god parents Joseph & Lena Rapp
  • Mathias Paul Schotl baptised 8 May 1902 born 30 Apr 1902,  , son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl, god parents Michael & Anna Sanftner                                                           (last name Schotl is spelled Schöttel in Baptismal Records)
Marriages at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 
Bancroft, Iowa, July 2015 
  • Michael Schotl to Elizabeth Hoffman, 10 Feb 1896, witnesses Matt Schotl & Teresia Sanftner
  • Joseph Rapp to Lena Sanftner, (Franz Schotl god parents) witnesses John Rapp & Anna Green

Burials at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 
Bancroft, Iowa, July 2015 

  • Mathias Hoffman, died 6 Oct 1906, buried 8 Oct 1906, age 75

The lesson was how valuable church records can be in genealogy. We knew that Michael Schötl and Elizabeth Hoffman had 4 sons born in Iowa but there was no record of these births at the county. The church records are the only documents we have about the boy's birth dates and given names. 

The parish of St. John The Baptist is nearing its 125th year in 2016 and is currently in the 100th year since the building of the church.  The quasquicentennial celebration is set for July 2nd 2016.  A call for stories, pictures and artifacts has been made by the church's History Committee.  Information can be mailed to PO Box 94 Bancroft, IA  50517.

The Schötls and others didn't stay long in Iowa.  According to the 1905 Minnesota State Census, the Schötl family, with the exception of Frank and Mary, were living in Columbus Township, Anoka County.  It was in the Anoka County records and with the help of the Burgenland Bunch that we discovered that many of their Hungarian neighbors from Mönchhof had settled on adjacent or nearby farms in Columbus Township.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Schotls and other Burgenlanders in Kossuth County

Rose and Frank wedding photo
 with Matt Kreitz and Theresa Pollreis
Most of  my recent blogs have been about my Kunshier relatives. 

My maternal grandmother, Rose Kunshier, a German-Bohemian, was born and raised in Columbus Township, Anoka County, Minnesota.  It was there that she met and married Franz "Frank" J. Schötl, a German-Hungarian.

Shan and I have been tracking Frank's history for quite a while now and I would like to share some of that information in these next few blogs.  

Franz "Frank" J Schötl 
Early in our research, we determined that my maternal grandfather, Frank Schötl, came from Mönchhof  in current day Burgenland, Austria. I have written about Frank and Mönchhof in an earlier blog. (You can read that here)

We know the Schötls came in two groups. Sons, Michel and Matthias, went to Bancroft in Kossuth County, Iowa in 1897.  Their parents Matthias Sr. and Maria Theresia nee Kornfehl, and remaining siblings Joannes "John", Franz "Frank", and Maria "Mary" followed later. They sailed out of Bremen on the The Frankfort, and arrived in Baltimore in May of 1902.

The family was held at the port for medical examination and the manifest notes that Matthias Sr. was "senile". It appears that Matthias Sr., then age 66, never made it to Bancroft with Maria Theresia.  She arrived at her new home in America, a widow.

We became more interested in the Bancroft connection when we did the research project looking at how many Burgenlanders lived in Columbus Township. (read that here)
The data showed that 3 Burgenlanders were born in Iowa. That led us to do more work on these families and to do further research on Kossuth County, Iowa. 

We verified that, in addition to the Schotls, the Koch, Lentsch, Saxe and Sanftner families had been in Bancroft, Kossuth County, Iowa. Anyone else, we wondered?

Census research in Kossuth County didn't help because the families were identifying themselves as Germans, not Austrians, and not Hungarians.  We next tried the ever helpful Burgenland Bunch.  We started with the "Burganlander's Honored and Remembered" listings. We went through and created a spreadsheet of the families who came from the Neusiedl  area villages buried throughout the U.S.  We sorted that for just the Iowa burials. We next sorted that alphabetically by town burial site in Iowa.  What we found is that the Bancroft St. John the Baptist Cemetery has burials from Mönchhof immigrants representing 14 families.  To these we could add others, like the Schotls, who were Bancroft residents but with no burials.  

Kossuth County Map

We were determined that at some point we needed to visit Kossuth County and check court documents and church records for ourselves. So now, 4 years later, we were able to schedule the trip. Shan made numerous contacts and appointments with those who could help in our quest, and in late June of 2015, we were finally on our way. 

We would like to thank Jean Kraemer, Amy Frankl-Brandt, Judy Vaske, and Lori Geitzenauer for all their help.

The first stop was in Algona, the county seat  of Kossuth County. At the courthouse  a large sculpture of Louis Kossuth greets everyone. 

Who was Lajois "Louis" Kossuth? 

"He was a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Regent-President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the revolution of 1848–49. He was honored in his lifetime not just in Hungary, but in the United States, as a freedom fighter and bellwether of democracy. After his visit to U.S., streets, squares, and even some towns and counties were named after the Hungarian hero." Read more here (The Hungary Initiatives Foundation)

The plaza in front of his statue is paved with Memorial bricks.
One of the bricks was placed in remembrance of the Lorenz and Eva Gisch family who came from the Burgenland village of Podersdorf. 

We went inside to introduce ourselves to Jean Kramer who had helped with preliminary record searches and who made some contacts on our behalf. She is a past president of the Kossuth Historical Society and active in their genealogical society.  Jean's day job is in the county clerk's office where the probate records are kept. We then went downstairs to the Recorder's Office.  We were looking for a death record for Matthias Schotl Sr. which we didn't find, a marriage certificate for Michael Schotl and Elizabeth Hoffman, which we found,  and birth certificates for their first 4 children, also not found.   We were able to see indices to these records which confirmed other Burgenlanders. 

Our next stop was at the Algona Public Library where we searched through the Genealogical Society's holdings.  The collection includes, books, directories, newspaper clippings, photographs and microfilm.  

One of the big questions is Why Kossuth County, Iowa?

photo provided by Amy Frankl-Brandt

To try to answer this question, we visited the Kossuth County Historical Museum In Algona. We toured the museum on Tuesday morning and later in the day met with Amy Frankl-Brandt, the current president of the historical society, to talk about the Burgenlander presence in the county. She is related to one of the earliest Burgenlander residents in Kossuth County. Her great great grandfather was Josef "Joseph" Frankl. He came from Podersdorf in the district of Neusiedl am See, now in Burgenland. Amy hadn't heard of Burgenland, but seemed quite interested, and wanted to learn more.  We gave her a copy of Walter Dujmovit's book, The Burgenlander Emigration to America, to read and then to place in the Algona Library.  Amy had great family stories but not an answer to why Kossuth, County.