Curious and Branching Out

Branching out or researching collateral lines is a well-known technique used in the genealogy community when you hit a brick wall.  It was a brick wall and curiosity that caused me to branch out and research collateral lines.  In two ancestral lines, I was curious what brought them to the place they settled in.  What brought my 2nd great-grandfather, Charles Bowers, to Ottawa, Illinois in 1854?  Usually, people settle in a specific area because they know someone or have a job.  The job was out because he worked as a farm laborer and a school janitor.  He could have done these jobs anywhere.  He must have known someone, but who?  If I wanted to know why he settled in Ottawa, Illinois, it was necessary to research his collateral lines. 

William Linfor

Charles Obituary in 1897 said he had two brothers, Robert and William, living in Syracuse, New York.[1]  I did find a Robert living in Syracuse in 1900[2] and Richard Bowers[3] living in Syracuse, New York in 1892, but no William.  I often wondered if Richard was William.  Maybe William was his middle name.  I gave up looking for William and thought perhaps the newspaper or person giving the information had it wrong.

A few years ago, I ordered microfilm from the Family History Library in Utah to look for my 2nd great-grandfather Charles Bower’s baptism on 2 October 1828 in England.[4]  I knew it was there from the online index.  When I got the microfilm reels of the church records it covered the years 1772 – 1905.  I started looking for anyone and everyone with the last name Bowers.  I found my 3rd great-grandparents Bonnet Bowers and Eliza Linford marriage which stated that Eliza was a widow.[5]  I also found baptism records for a Richard,[6] Robert[7] and Eliza Bowers[8] born to Bonnet and Eliza Bowers.  I never found a William Bowers that was a son of Bonnet and Eliza.  Along the way, I found Eliza in the marriage banns to Robert Linford.[9]  I also found two children she had with her first husband, William baptized 28 August 1811,[10] and Elizabeth baptized November 30, 1814[11] and died on 5 December 1814.  I made copies of all the pages that listed these events.  I then came home and entered the Bowers information into my family tree.  I filed the documents in my file cabinet under their family name and moved on to another branch.

I decided to start scanning documents that I have collected over the years into my computer.  I started with the Bowers folder because it is the first one in my file cabinet.  As I was scanning them into the computer, I was looking over them again, when I came across the name William Linford born in 1811 to Eliza and her first husband.[12]  I guess it pays to take a second look at documents because at that moment it struck me that if William lived, he would be a step brother to my 2nd great grandfather Charles.  Could this be the brother William mentioned in Charles’ obituary?  The next thing I did was a search on William Linford, and the first thing that popped up was the 1850 census which had a William Linfor (spelled without the d) living in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.[13]  This was most likely brother, William, and that is why Charles ended up in Ottawa, Illinois. 

I continued to search for William Linfor(d) and found out the following information. He married Dinah Essaby in 1833.[14]  They had four children John 1837, William 1840, Sarah 1844, Robert 1846.[15]  They came to the US 22 August 1849 and to Ottawa, Illinois on 1 October 1849.[16]  In 1851 William applied for citizenship and in 1854 he became a citizen of the United States.[17]  He worked as a Sexton at the West Ottawa Cemetery until the family moved to Section 20 in Allen Township, LaSalle County, Illinois in 1856.  William farmed the land until 1879 when Dinah died and he moved to Syracuse, New York.[18]

In 1911 William Linfor was living at 1516 Grape Street in Syracuse, New York.  At the age of 99 he was just beginning to carry a cane.  The previous winter he was seen climbing a ladder to clean snow off the roof.  He attributed his long life to never eating beyond what he knew he could digest.  He was still in possession of all his faculties except his hearing.[19] William Linfor died on 28 January 1912 of pleurisy at the ripe old age of 100.[20] 

Another 2nd Great Grandfather, Conrad Reinhardt, settled in Amana, Iowa after coming to the United States.[21] The Amana Colonies are religious communal way of life.[22]  All property was held in common and all decisions religious and secular were made by the same leadership.[23]  My grandmother always said that her grandfather’s sister started the Amana Colonies, however I could never find proof of this and in researching his siblings, they all would have been too young to be involved in the founding of the colonies.  I could find no evidence that any of his siblings ever lived there.  Who did Conrad know in Amana, Iowa?

While I was researching a great-uncle, John C. Reinhardt, I found an article in the Sabetha Herald about John’s recollection of his childhood in the Amana Colonies, Iowa.[24]  I found this interesting since he is my great grandmother’s brother and our common ancestor is his father, Conrad (my2nd great grandfather).  In the article John mentions that his great-aunt was a school teacher for more than half a century.  She weighed 225 pounds and was 6 feet 2 inches. The name of the great aunt was not mentioned in the article.  I figured this was my 2nd great-grandfather’s connection to Amana, and this is the reasons he chose to go there upon arriving in the US.

I had previously corresponded with the Amana Heritage Museum when needing information on my 2nd great-grandfather.  I wrote to them once again and they were able to provide me with information about the aunt.  The Aunt was Elizabetha Schuh born in Nussloch near Heidelberg, Baden, 26 May 1831.  Elisabetha is the sister to Conrad’s mother.  She came to Ebenezer Society in September 1847, then to Amana in October 1863.  The Internal records of Amana Society indicate that she came with the Bortz family. The Bortz Family and another outside source claims that her parents did not approve of her relationship with a certain boy so they shipped her to America.[25]  The Amana Heritage Museum history documents her as a woman of size and strength.  They also said that all of the teachers were men with the exception of teaching knitting.[26]  I was able to find her on the 1870 United States Federal Census[27] and the 1885 Iowa Census[28] and on both census records her occupation is listed as housekeeper not a teacher.  She died on 25 March 1908 and is buried in the Amana Cemetery.[29]

By branching out and researching collateral lines I was able to resolve my curiosity as to why both 2nd great-grandfathers settled where they did.

Note:  I combined last week’s 52 ancestors in 52 weeks prompt “curious’’ and this week’s prompt “branching out” for this week’s post

Copyright © 2022 Gail Grunst


[1] Obituary for Charles Bowers: Republican Times (Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois) February 18, 1897.

[2] New York, U.S., State Census, 1892 for Robert Bowers, Onondaga, Syracuse Ward 11, E.D. 02

[3] New York, U.S., State Census, 1892 for Richard Bowers, Onondaga, Syracuse Ward 07, E.D. 09

[4] Baptism for Charles Bowers baptized on 2 October 1828; Register of Baptisms in the Parish of Terrington St. Clements, Norfolk, England; 1813 – 1841 manuscript on microfilm #13640109 Item 3; Utah: filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, England

[5] Marriage Record for Bonnet Bowers and Eliza Linford married 27 April 1822; Register of Marriages in the Parish of Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England; 1813 – 1838 manuscript on microfilm #13640109 item 2; Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, England

[6] Baptism Record for Richard Bowers baptized 20 April 1822; Register of Baptisms in the Parish of Terrington St. Clements, Norfolk, England; 1813 – 1841 manuscript on microfilm #13640109 Item 3; Utah: filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, England.

[7] Baptism Record for Robert Bowers baptized 25 February 1825; Register of Baptisms in the Parish of Terrington St. Clements, Norfolk, England; 1813 – 1841 manuscript on microfilm #13640109 Item 3; Utah: filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, England

[8] Baptism Record for Eliza Bowers baptized 10 June 1827; Register of Baptisms in the Parish of Terrington St. Clements, Norfolk, England; 1813 – 1841 manuscript on microfilm #13640109 Item 3; Utah: filmed by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Cambridgeshire, England

[9] England Marriages, 1538–1973 database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVJ5-JXV : 10 February 2018), William Linfor and Dinah Essaby, 14 “Oct 1833; citing Gedney, Lincoln, England, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1542146 IT 1

[10] Baptism for William Linford 28 August 1811; Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England; Parish Register Baptism and Burials 1772 – 1812  Item 2; Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Wisbech, Cambs., filmed 26 July 1988, Film Number 13640109, film unit # 2161 NCD 2 Roll # 5

[11] Baptism for Elizabeth Linford 30 November 1814; Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England; Parish Register Baptism and Burials 1772 – 1812  Item 2; Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Wisbech, Cambs., filmed 26 July 1988, Film Number 13640109, film unit # 2161 NCD 2 Roll # 5

[12] Baptism for William Linford 28 August 1811; Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England; Parish Register Baptism and Burials 1772 – 1812  Item 2; Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Wisbech, Cambs., filmed 26 July 1988, Film Number 13640109, film unit # 2161 NCD 2 Roll # 5

[13] Year: 1850; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; roll: M432_115; Page: 269B; Image: 191

[14] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 224 & 227.

[15] Year: 1850; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; roll: M432_115; Page: 269B; Image: 191

[16] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 227.

[17] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D. C.; Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization service District 9 1840 – 1950 (M1285); microfilm Serial: M1285; Microfilm Roll 112

[18] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 227.

[19] Henley B. J., The Art of Longevity (Google eBook) (Syracuse, N.Y, 1911), p. 223 & 224

[20] Health News. Monthly Bulletin (Google ebook) (New York State Division of Public Health Education, Albany, New York), New Series, Vol. VIII, No 1, Full Series Vol. XXIX No 1,  January 1913

[21] Amana Church Membership Records, in archive collection of the Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa.

[22] Bourret, Joan Liffring-Zub and John Zug, Amanas yesterday: a religious communal society: a story of seven villages in Iowa: historic photographs 1900 – 1932. IA City, IA: Penfield Press, 2003

[23] Ibid.

[24] Sabetha, Kansas, Sabetha Herald, Wednesday, December 9, 1936, Pg. 4.

[25] Email from the Amana Heritage Society to Gail Grunst dated Friday October 13, 2017.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Year: 1870; Census Place: Amana, Iowa, Iowa; Roll: M593_396; Page: 131B; Family History Library Film: 545895

[28] Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.

[29] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/106053138/elisabeth-schuh

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