Saturday, March 8, 2014

52 Ancestors Challenge -- The Elusive Elizabeth Kraut

    The lady I’ve chosen as this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge is Elizabeth Kraut, one of my maternal second great grandmothers. I’m calling her “The Elusive Elizabeth Kraut” because a period of her life prior to marriage and motherhood seems just out of reach.  I’ve come to some dead ends, but I’m not giving up on her. Fortunately, these Ancestor Kraut ChartChallenges are developing into helpful brainstorming sessions.  As I write what I know and don’t know, ideas start to form about where to find more pieces of the story.  It’s fun!
    Elizabeth was born in Sombon (or Somborn), Bavaria on 9 June 1824. This information is recorded in the St. Mary’s Catholic Church records in Indianapolis, Indiana,  where she was a member for the last ten years of her life.   Sometime before 1848 she emigrated to America and married Lawrence Keen. These early years, birth to 24 years of age, are the “elusive” ones.
    I do know that Elizabeth and Lawrence established their home in Zanesville, Ohio, and welcomed their first of nine children into the world in 1848.  On a research trip to Zanesville I located eight of the Keen children’s baptisms in the St. Nicholas Catholic Church records. This church was established around 1845 as the German population of the area was growing.  Unfortunately, these church records had no marriage of Elizabeth Kraut and Lawrence Keen. None that are still surviving and legible anyway.  Since Lawrence immigrated through Baltimore, Maryland, the marriage may have taken place there.  But I have not come across a record of their marriage….yet.
    The Keen family grew considerably during the Zanesville years. Elizabeth gave birth to eight children between 1848 and 1864. Their seventh child, Mary Anna Keen, born in 1860, became the mother of Harry Lawrence Weber and the grandmother of my mother, Rosemary, and her five siblings, Robert, Virginia, Margaret, Dolores and Harry Weber.
    Elizabeth and Lawrence moved their large family to Indianapolis before the ninth child was born in 1867.  Their home was at 175 South New Jersey Street, within the area of the city where a great many German immigrants lived. I wrote about Lawrence’s occupation and more details of the Zanesville to Indianapolis story in another 52 Ancestors post. (The link to that story is at the end of this post.)
    On June 1, 1877, Elizabeth died in their home at 175 South New Jersey Street inElizabeth Kraut Keen's tombstone in St. Joseph Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis just 18 days before her 53rd birthday. My great grandmother, Mary Anna Keen, would have been 17 years old and Elizabeth’s youngest child, Clara, was just ten. Elizabeth’s death certificate indicates that she died of “inflammation of the bowels.”  She is buried in the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery on Indianapolis’ south side in the Keen family plot.  The tombstone is marked with both the German spelling of  her married name,“Kihn,” and the Americanization of the name, “Keen.” 
    So, this is where this story stands. The chapters of Elizabeth Kraut’s story are shaping into the often told tale of the immigrant from Germany making a new life in the U. S.   I feel fortunate to have learned all I have about her marriage, children and my descendancy.  So, why would I still say she’s “elusive?”  Because I have enough of the picture of her life to make me wonder where those other details are hiding.  So, I’ll be digging deeper for the Kraut family. Where exactly is Sombon, Bavaria anyway?  When and where did Elizabeth come to America?  Who were her parents? Siblings?  Also, where did she and Lawrence marry?  Was the marriage in Baltimore, where Lawrence immigrated in 1840?  How long did they live in Baltimore, if at all? 
    The first research question that pops into your mind is about the census, right?  If she was in the country could I find her in the 1840 census? I won’t be identifying Elizabeth, a 16-year-old female, in this census without knowing her father’s name, since this census only lists names for the head of household. But okay.  I’ve searched the 1840 census anyway, just to see who’s there.  And there are Kraut families living in New York and Pennsylvania. Who knows if Elizabeth’s family is there though.  So, I’ll save that information for a later date. 
    And, what about finding the immigration of Elizabeth Kraut from Bavaria to America?. There are two people on the records at of immigrants to America that have my attention.  One person on a ship’s passenger list is a  5-year-old Elizabeth Kraut arriving in New York in 1833 with other Krauts, possibly her family.  Is this her?  Another passenger list includes a 22-year-old named Louise Kraut, arriving in Baltimore in May 1847 from Somborn. (Remember the church burial record above providing her birth place?) Could be our girl traveling without family. Maybe her first given name is Louise?!  But, I can’t confirm yet that either one of these females is our Elizabeth.  Again, these finds may fit into the puzzle later.
    A young child traveling from Germany with her family to live in a strange country?  A young adult leaving her family thousands of miles away to find her own opportunities in America?  What do you think of these records?  No matter how she came to be in America or who came with her, my second great grandmother traveled a German immigrant’s path familiar to so many in the mid-19th century.  But yet….she’s unique.   They all are.  Elizabeth Kraut is both unique and elusive…so far.  That’s what keeps me curious. 
After this brainstorming session, I have these research goals:  
-- The marriage of Elizabeth Kraut and Lawrence Keen (Kihn) should be my priority because it’s where my documentation keeps leading me.  Recent searching online uncovered a possible resource:  Indexes to marriages in Maryland newspapers in the Maryland Department of the Enoch Pratt Central Library in Baltimore. Since I don’t have any plans to be in Baltimore soon, I’ll be looking to make inquiries online or to find a local genealogy researcher. 
-- I’ll also be doing more research on Sombon/Somborn, Elizabeth’s birthplace.  If I were to find others from her town, it could lead me to her family.
Are there cousins who know and would share more about Elizabeth Kraut? Are you thinking of other places I should look? I am happy to provide more background or resources for the family history above. Leave me a message below by clicking on Comments.
Thanks  for visiting Indiana Ties. And thanks again to Amy Johnson Crow at for sponsoring the 52 Ancestors Challenge.  I am enjoying my participation very much.
Here are some related stories and genealogy:
Lawrence Keen, The Shoemaker
Keen/Kraut Descendants
Copyright © 2014 Nancy Niehaus Hurley

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