4

According to my g-g-grandmother's obit, her first husband, Heert Wilms Heerts, died 3 weeks after they arrived (April 1869) in the USA from Germany. It sounds like they were living near Forreston, Ogle Co., IL, when he died. My g-grandmother was the oldest of 3 children, and she was 5 when they immigrated.

I'm really curious about him:

  1. I can't imagine a young couple with 3 young children leaving their homeland if he was not in good health.
  2. Even if this was the case, he would have not been allowed into the USA, due to his health.
  3. They made it to IL within 3 weeks of landing in the USA--how could they manage that, if he had health problems?

I have found no obituary or tombstone for him, so how do I find out what he died of, and where he was buried? How can I connect with other descendants of his?


This is what info I have on Heert:

Heert Heerts Immigration
name: Heert Heerts
event: Immigration
event date: 19 Apr 1869
event place: New York, New York, New York, United States
gender: Male
age: 33
country of origin or birth: Germany
occupation: Shoemaker
ship: Weser
estimated birth year: 1836
departure port: Bremen
literacy: Unknown
last residence:
destination: United States
transit or travel compartment:
manifest identification number: 00031120
narapublication title: Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897
arc identifier: 1746067

Citing this Record "United States, Germans to America Index, 1850-1897," index, /FamilySearch/ (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KDQ7-5NH : accessed 29 Dec 2012), Heert Heerts, 1869.

HEERTS Posted By: Tammy (email) Date: 9/12/2011 at 20:41:00

Mrs. John Heerts Called

Death came to Mrs. John Heerts Monday morning at the home of her son west of Holland and in her passing Grundy county lost another old pioneer as Mrs. Heerts had lived in the county since 1871.

Mrs. Heerts was born in Germany and came to America in 1869, settling near Forreston, Ill., where Mr. Heerts died three weeks after he reached America. In 1871, Mrs. Heerts moved to this county where she has since resided.

Mrs. Heerts is survived by five children, two sons, Will of Colfax township and Ed of Stout, and three daughters, Mrs. Yunker [Junker], of Buck Grove, Mrs. Myers, of Lincoln township, and Wilmke who was at home.

The funeral was held at 1 o'clock from the Drake church and was attended by a large number of friends and relatives.

--Grundy Republican (Grundy Center, Iowa), 6 November 1913

It's possible that Jan/John Heerts may have already been established in Iowa, and there may have been a blurb in the newspaper there?

I have wondered if he might have drowned, a tree fell on him while he was building their home, etc. I have not found ANY info on their family--newspapers, tombstones, etc. in the area. I have wondered if there might be a newspaper back in Germany that might shed some light on it, but I have no idea how to go about researching this, since I don't know German.

  • 3
    Your list of three areas about which you are curious includes great motivation for exploring your family history, BUT they are not research questions. To proceed further you need to focus your efforts on questions for which you can find documentary evidence. A great start would be Where did Heert Heerts die? Until you can nail down a date and place, you have little hope of making progress on why he died. – Fortiter Aug 27 '13 at 9:06
  • 3
    "It sounds like ..." is not how a genealogist wants to hear a knowledge claim begin. Do you know where 19th century death records for Ogle County would be kept? Have you checked them? Was there a newspaper in Ogle Co in 1869? Did it report the news of the sudden death of a new immigrant? – Fortiter Aug 27 '13 at 9:06
  • Was your g-g-grandmother Frauke Folkens who was said to have married Jan, the brother of her late husband? If so, you might like to explore the Junker Family Message Board on Ancestry. – Fortiter Aug 27 '13 at 9:08
  • You've received great suggestions on how to proceed. I'd like to add that my own relatives suffered great hardships in the first few weeks of their arriving in the new country as they tried to navigate their way over wet and cold terrain to get to the eventual homestead. Imagine not having any horses or vehicles to transport your family to IL? Or one horse and cart... who would get to ride it? Probably not Dad. Many settlers had to walk miles & miles to their new destinations. Fortiter mentioned newspapers; you'll find that many contain tales of men walking for days to get supplies & whatnot. – Canadian Girl Scout Aug 28 '13 at 19:59
  • You say "My g-grandmother was the oldest of 3 children, and she was 5 when they immigrated." Do you have the obits of her siblings? If Heert Wilms Heerts has siblings, do you have their obituaries? Establishing the date of death for all the people in the family and seeing which people are listed as survivors in the obituaries can provide other evidence for the date of death (if they all agree on his death date because they are repeating the same family story, at least you know you have found the right people). – Jan Murphy Dec 1 '13 at 18:45
7

1) I can't imagine a young couple with 3 young children leaving their homeland if he was not in good health.

Right. So first check ship's records, both departures from Germany and arrivals in the USA to see if they actually did come.

2) Even if this was the case, he would have not been allowed into the USA, due to his health.

Many arrival ports detained people who were sick. If you find they came to Ellis Island for example, you may find such records.

3) They made it to IL within 3 weeks of landing in the USA--how could they manage that, if he had health problems?

Are you sure it was a health problem? Maybe he was killed in an accident. Maybe he caught something when he arrived and succumbed quickly. Maybe it was suicide - which families will seldom admit to. Check local newspapers of the time.

I have found no obituary or tombstone for him, so how do I find out what he died of, and where he was buried? How can I connect with other descendants of his?

Work on the other three things first. That will give you the clues you need to get further.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.