Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - The Drake/Hau Family

Part 2

Last time I shared a story about the Drake branch of this family. In our research we covered the following surnames: Drake, Bates, Cox, Sallee, Croft, Hix, Lane, Sellers, Denny, Huisel, Tanzier, Hau, Meyer, Schute, Pohl, and Smith. Can you guess which ones are the German side of the family? Many early immigrants tend to stay within cultural/ethnic groups and it is not until a few generations later that the children start to marry people of other ethnic backgrounds.
Today I will try to answer for you the question, "Who were Joseph and Mary Howe who were buried in Chicago?"

Anna Margaret (Maggie) Hau (Howe) married William Huisel in about 1879, probably in Chicago. They had ten children, all born in Chicago. The focus of the research was on Maggie's parents, were they John Hau and Helen Meyer or Joseph and Mary Howe?

In Grandma Tessie's book she noted that, "Joseph Howe, born in Kentucky, was a Stonemason. He worked on some of the old buildings in Chicago; the bricks were laid by him. He came from Holland to America in 1851. John Howe was 21. He came on the British ship "The Phoenix." Born in the Bavarian Alps, on the border of Switzerland and Austria. He was in the Civil War Infantry of the Army, April 1861. He lived in Kentucky, but was not sympathetic to slavery. Drafted into service, wounded and brought home before the war ended."

Through census work we came up with several possible Josephs and one couple of Joseph and Mary Howe in researching in Kentucky where Maggie was born 1 July 1858. This couple, though thoroughly researched, was not the right couple. Along the way we worked with some very nice people. Southerner's really are very gracious and would go out of their way looking for the information that we needed.

For John and Helena we traced them through census records with several name variations:
1860 John and Helen How, District 1, Jefferson, Kentucky
1870 John and Lena Hall, Elizabethtown, Hardin, Kentucky
1880 John and Heller Hojn, Chicago, Cook, Illinois
1900 John and Ellen Hau, Chicago Ward 20, Cook, Illinois (mother had 10 children, 7 were living)

The following pension file was of interest: Civil War Pension Index, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 at
Name: John Hau, John Haun
State Filed: Illinois
Widow: Helena Hau

In determining that we had to have this file I did something I would not normally do. My client was unable to purchase it, so I paid for it as a future teaching tool. We used Jonathan Webb Deiss, a private records accessor for files from the National Archives. His website is:
This file contains sixty-two pages. He provides an amazing service.

While the widow Helena Hau did not receive a pension, she provided essential family information we would have found nowhere else. This information also matched that found in the second family book we read, which had a matching list of all the children with their birth dates. This was more of a serendipity experience as it took time to process so much information.

The conclusion on Joseph (Grandpa Joe to the family) and Mary Howe is that they were probably Johann and Helena Hau. They supposedly worked on the Underground Railroad, so did they take on assumed names in this work? Did Johann (John) Hau have the middle name of Joseph and Helena the middle name of Mary? The mother of John, Anna Mary Hau is mentioned in the pension file and was buried in Louisville, Kentucky.

Could Joseph have been a brother of John Hau? So far, we found nothing that provides such information. Maybe the records in Germany on the family will help explain this family question. The Catholic Church has generously provided us with many documents for Chicago and Louisville. That provides hope that there might be early records in Germany.

Next week I will share a little more on this family. Wishing you well in your research. I encourage you to keep looking for those hidden puzzle pieces just waiting to be found.

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