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My Mother's Ancestors >
Henry and Carolina Reinhard
and Carolina Reinhard
From News: August
If you've been following my website, you know that one of the reasons that I decided to
take this trip was to do some family research around America and to learn more
about where I came from, something I'm doing not just for myself, of course, but for
everyone in my family. Up to this point, all of the ancestors that I've
researched on this trip have been on my Dad's side and, more specifically, on my
Dad's mother's side, including the Bradstreets and Chaplins in Massachusetts and
the Myers' in Michigan (see My Father's
Ancestors: Map and Photo Essay). It was now time to shift gears and start
researching my mother's side of the family.
All of my
mother's ancestors came to America from northern Europe in the late 1800s and homesteaded on the Great Plains
Mother's Ancestors: Map and Photo Essay). Her father's ancestors came from Germany and Norway
in the 1870s and homesteaded near Windom, Minnesota, which is why I was here. After leaving
Windom, I was planning to drive to northeastern South Dakota, which is where her
mother's ancestors, from Norway, homesteaded in the 1880s. Both families
moved to central North Dakota around 1900, where my grandfather met my
grandmother. To my knowledge, I didn't have any relatives in either
Minnesota or South Dakota, and perhaps none in North Dakota.
Unfortunately, my mother never talked that much about her family's history so
this would be a real learning experience, not only for me but also for my
siblings and their kids. I wanted to document my mother's family history
as best I could not only for myself but, more importantly, for future
two days in the Windom area, mostly at the Cottonwood County Historical
Society. There, with the help of a couple of delightful ladies, Bethene
and Erma, I discovered some old plat maps of this area showing where my
great-great-grandfather, Henry Reinhard and his wife Carolina, homesteaded in the
1870s after emigrating from Hannover, Germany. One sunny afternoon,
equipped with copies of the old plat maps, I found Henry's homestead and,
amazingly enough, discovered a barn that I knew he must have built since it was dated
1893, which was when Henry lived there. Of course, I never knew Henry (my
great-great grandfather) or his son, Henry Jr. (my great-grandfather), or HIS
son, Edward (my grandfather), all of whom had died before I was born, but it was
a thrill nonetheless.
As I walked around the empty barn, a couple of farmers about my age named Mike and Roger stopped by
because they saw my truck parked there. I introduced myself and talked to them for
about a half-hour and as we talked, I discovered that Mike is a distant
relative of mine, the only relative that I know of in the state of Minnesota.
bore you with all the other stories that I learned about Henry's family.
I'll just say that I learned a lot and that it was all quite interesting.
Above left: Cooking brats (bratwurst) on the prairie in southern Minnesota.
Above center: County Courthouse in Windom, Minnesota. Windom was
where my great-grandfather, Henry C. Reinhard (Henry Jr.) and my
great-grandmother, Petrina, got married in 1890.
Above right: I spent two days here in the Cottonwood County Historical
Society and learned that Henry's father, Henry Sr., homesteaded here in the 1870s. Bethene and Erma,
shown here, were a
Above left: After studying plat maps from the 1890s, I learned where
Henry Sr.'s farm was and drove out to it. This barn had the date "1893" painted on
it, so I knew that Henry had built it since he lived here from 1879 until
1910, the year he died.
Above center: The farmland on the right was where my great-grandmother,
Petrina, had lived with her parents in the late 1800s.
The farm roads in the Midwest are laid out in a grid pattern and are spaced
exactly one mile apart. There aren't many landmarks around, so to navigate
you've got to watch your odometer.
Above right: After walking through the
Westbrook Cemetery, I found the gravestone (in dark gray) of Henry Sr. and his wife,
Carolina, who both died around 1910. As I learned, Henry and Carolina were
from Hanover, Germany. I also learned that Henry Jr. and his wife,
Petrina, moved to Regan, North Dakota in 1907, which was were I'd be heading in
a few weeks.