Just being curious can pay off sometimes. I was reminded of this recently during my scanning project of my old research files. As I open the manila folders from my file drawers, I’m rediscovering forgotten family history background in historical articles, maps and photos. I thought I’d share one of those forgotten files today that reminds me that we should keep our minds open for resources in not so obvious places.
Sometime in the past few years I pulled off the local library shelf the book entitled The Italians of Indianapolis by Prof. James Divita (library link below). No, I have no Italian ancestry. It was the knowledge that Prof. Divita writes very informative books about the Catholic parishes in Indianapolis that made me look. This source turned out to be not only a fabulous insight into the city’s ethnic development, but it includes mentions of my local German families.
As an example of how a resource might contain unexpected information, I’m sharing a scattering of excerpts from this Italian history that include references to the Suess and Buennagel families. These German families were involved with establishing an Italian Catholic parish in Indianapolis, Holy Rosary. They belonged to the German parish, St. Mary’s. When an Italian priest came to Indianapolis to look into establishing a new Catholic church, they were ready to help out. Max and Lizzie Suess are mentioned in the third page excerpt below as the couple who sold the land for the new church on Stevens Street. Lizzie Suess was my great grand aunt, a daughter of Lawrence and Elizabeth Keen. Also mentioned on the following pages is the Buennagel family. Another Keen sister married into this family as well. The Buennagels introduced their Italian friends to the new priest and the bonds were established. These tidbits of family history were for me only available in this unlikely place.
Lastly I’ll mention a photo included in this book that adds a nice facet to the story of my Germans. On the first cutout of a page below is a photo of Saint Mary’s Church and Academy on East Maryland Street around 1890. This was the parish home for several of my direct and collateral ancestors, the Kasberg, Keen, Paetz, Suess, Weber and other families. This mostly German parish at the time was moved several blocks away in later years and this property sold. The buildings no longer exist.
This account by Professor Divita tells a fascinating story of the overall ethnic makeup and history of the south side of Indianapolis during the late 19th and early 20th century. Anyone seeking history of Indianapolis’ south side communities in these formative years will find The Italians of Indianapolis a rich resource.
Arrivederci. Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,
Here’s information on The Italians of Indianapolis at Marion County Indianapolis library.
For a list of Keen and Weber Family Descendants: Click Here