Two and a half years ago I wrote a post explaining how I didn’t know anything about the Waldeck branch of my family. I’ll quote the post here and then give you an update, such as I have at this point.
Waldeck is a fairly common name. There are two Castle Waldecks. Lots of places share the name Waldeck. There are many Waldecks listed on Wikipedia, including the first Waldeck, who was a count, and some Waldeck princesses. I bet there are a lot of paupers named Waldeck, too.
But so far I can’t find the town or region in Germany where my Waldeck family came from.
Look at the sorry state of the family tree:
Godfrey (Gottfried) and his wife Alvena (Alvina) immigrated to the United States with their family and then had more children. I don’t even know if all those children listed on this tree are theirs! Clara is.
And so is Godfrey (junior) because I remember him when I was young. He managed a grain elevator or something like that, but he also farmed his own land. He was blind from glaucoma when I met him, and he still walked down the road each day and drove his tractor in the fields. As an aside, glaucoma runs rampant in their family.
I know that Grandma used to like to go to the Waldeck family reunions, and I went to at least one myself, at a lake (of course).
Look at Alvina Waldeck above. The tree lists her as Alvina Neffka, as if that is her maiden name. But is it? I’ve also seen it listed as Noffke and on her death certificate her father was listed as Louis Koffler. Her mother was listed as Dora Couch.
Noffke is a German name, and so is Koffler. Neffka is not German. Neither is Couch.
One person I’ve spoken with has wondered if the family was more Polish than German, but I have no proof of that either.
I need some help with this and hope that somebody reads this blog and gives me some clues about the family!
I am going to take a stab at identifying the people in the photo.
Back row: Fred (according to a rumor, he was in a terrible accident), Ada Steeby (who had a daughter Ruth), Anna (did she marry a Stewart or Christianson or both), August (died in WWI, a bachelor)
Front row: Gottfried, Clara (my great-grandmother), Alvina, Godfrey
Looking at this photo and the names, can we write off Adolph, Rudolph, Max, Herman? Are they not part of our family? Or were they older, born in Germany, and already living their own adult lives when this photo was taken? And why isn’t Fred even on the family tree?!
Here is what I’ve learned. The family names from this branch are WALDECK, NOFFKE, and KUSCH. I believe that Couch was written by a non-German speaker on a document, and that the name is Kusch. I believe this because there are Noffke families and Kusch families in one particular area of what was (sort of) Germany: Pomerania in East Prussia. My ancestors in this branch were most likely ethnic Germans living in East Prussia, a place that would become northern Poland, a change in borders that would result in their exile at the end of WWII in 1945. Because nothing can be tied up neatly in genealogy, Waldecks do not live in the same region as Noffkes and Kuschs.
I did find a Dorothea Kusch from East Prussia who travelled to the United States from Pomerania in the 1880s, but on further analysis believe that she is a different Dorothea Kusch from Dora Kusch Noffke. This info gave me the idea that “Dora’s” name probably was Dorothea because my great-grandmother named her 3 daughters after the Noffke family. She would have named her oldest daughter Dorothea (Dorothy) after her own grandmother, as she named her second daughter Lucille after her own grandfather, Ludwig/Louis. Her third daughter was named Alvena, after her own mother Alvina Noffke Waldeck.
Fred (born Friedrich and later Frederick), the man above who was in a terrible accident, I found just where my grandmother had warned: the State Hospital in Kalamazoo. He was in a streetcar and wagon accident and was confined to the psychiatric hospital after that. I assume he had brain damage. His wife and young son Edward moved in with her mother in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fred died at the State Hospital, so that is how I found his death certificate.
While Fred was gone from home at the hospital, his 14-year-old son, perhaps while he was working or traveling to school, was hit by a car. I found an article in the paper dated July 6, 1912 about how the driver left the boy and didn’t take him to the hospital. He was lucky to survive after being left alone. Read the description of his injuries in the article and see if you think the driver should have left him!
I have also discovered that Adolph, Rudolph, and Herman passed away while the family still lived in Germany, but I have not found death records for them. Max passed away shortly after the family moved to Michigan. August did die during the time of WWI, but he was in his 50s, and I haven’t been able to find a record that his death was related to the war. But I will keep searching.
One more thing. Late last night I got an Ancestry “hint” on Aunt Vena and Uncle Al’s wedding–that is Clara Waldeck Mulder’s daughter Alvena. Their marriage license was now available online. I noticed that they were married in the Portland Baptist Church by Pastor E. A. Waldeck. How odd that the name was Waldeck! And E.A. Like Edward? Could he be the right age? And was the A correct? Yes, it was. Edward Waldeck, son of Fred, and Aunt Vena and Grandma’s first cousin. The boy hit by the car had married a young lady named Cora. In the 1930 census, he was an accountant for an auto shop and she was a music teacher. But in the 1940 census, he was now a minister with the Baptist church! Another click of a puzzle piece snapping into place!
Read Full Post »