Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding The Nufer Sisters

I really want to find out more about my third great grandparents, Martin and Maria Nufer.  There are several research questions I have about this couple.  Included in my research To Do’s for them are the following:

        What is Maria’s maiden name?
        Were Martin and Maria married prior to immigration?
        What are their home towns in Baden Germany?

To this point in time finding the answers to these questions has proven to be an elusive endeavor.   I have been working my way back one generation at a time on my maternal line.  Rosa Nufer Loescher is my great, great grandmother and the fifth child of Martin and Maria Nufer in a family of seven daughters.i   My research to date on Rosa and her children has not turned up any family knowledge or artifacts that would help answer these research questions about Martin and Maria Nufer.  While I continue to look for this couple in traditional records, documents and newspapers I really feel like I need to additionally see if I can find out more about their other children and maybe even find a cousin in that branch of my family tree who has the answers to my questions.  Good idea, right?  But wait…..

Seven daughters….oh my goodness. The idea of trying to identify the families of seven women from 19th century Central Illinois seemed rather daunting.  But I decided that the only way to tackle this research challenge was simple….one daughter at a time.

But what is known about Martin and Maria already?  From Rosa’s obituary it says she was born in Groveland, Illinoisii  My assumption is that if in Tazewell County.  The first time this family appears in the US Federal census is in 1860.  They are in Peoria Ward 1, Peoria, Illinois.  Along with their parents, there are five of the seven daughters - Mary L, Caroline, Josephine, Emily and Rosina (10 months old).

1860 US Federal census - Martin Nufer Family

If Rosa’s birth location is correct in her obituary (that information is suspect in my evaluation) it means this family had only been residing in Peoria for a few months.  The first appearance of this family in a Peoria City Directory of the time was in the 1861 edition where Martin is listed as a “dealer in cattle, hogs, etc.iii

What about this couple’s immigration?  The 1860 census lists the birthplace for the oldest daughter, Mary L (aka Maria Louisa) as Illinois.  But the 1870 US Federal census lists her birthplace as “Baden”.iv  Maria’s birthdate on her death certificate is not direct.  It is written as the number of years, months and days instead.  From that calculation her birth date is 1 Nov 1851.v  In the 1860 and 1870 census records Martin and Maria are listed as being born in Baden also.  I have never been able to find Martin and Maria (separately or together) in a passenger list…..yet.  Martin is not listed in the only extant index of naturalizations for Peoria County, Illinois.  (Note to self:  check Tazewell County naturalizations to see if he was listed there.)  Based on additional census records, city directories and Federal tax lists from the Civil War, Martin and Maria continued to live and work in Peoria, Illinois until the early 1870’s.

My working theory is that they came to America around 1850 or 1851 as a married couple (possibly pregnant).  But where can I find out more the daughters; especially the oldest one Maria Louise?  How can I find their descendants?  In order to do that I really need to find their husbands names.  

Martin Nufer passed away sometime in March  The only record or mention of this passing that I have been able to find is from his probate file from Peoria County, Illinois from 1877.  Evidently he died in Texas and likely was not brought back to Peoria for burial.  There is no record of him being buried at St Joseph’s Cemetery in West Peoria (where his wife is buried) nor any record of a funeral at any Catholic church in Peoria.

In his probate file there is no will and no mention of any property or heirs.  It only includes a request by his widow to be name the Executrix of his estate so that a mortgage maybe settled.

So….no help here in finding the names of his daughters’ husbands.

Based on family information, discussions with my grandmother and other records, I was able to identify married names for two of Rosa’s sisters.  Caroline was married to John Friling and Josephine’s husband was Andrew Brutcher.  Both of these men were from Jubilee Township in Peoria County, Illinois and would have lived not far from Rosa and her husband Frank Loesher.  While this was very nice to find these married names and the descendants of Caroline and Josephine it really did not help me to identify any new information about Martin and Maria.

But wait….listed in the same index of probate files I found online at the Illinois Regional Archives Depository website for Peoria County was a listing for Maria Nufer!!  Given that her husband’s probate file was so small and included no real information I did not have much hope for finding out anything meaningful from Maria’s file.  But, I requested the file and was overjoyed at the results.

Maria Nufer died on 17 March 1882 in Peoria, Illinois.vii  The probate packet contents were just 5 pages including the front cover and included a handwritten will!viii  It reads as many wills do in that it provides instruction about who should administer her estate and what is to be done with her personal possessions.  But at the end of the will it lists each of her daughters and for six of the them their husbands first and last names are included.  Wilhelmina (Minnie) was not married at the time and evidently was still living with her mother.

Finally….I found the married names of 5 of my great great grandmother’s sisters!  Maybe this would help move my research about the third great grandparents forward.

Probate File Transcription - Maria Nufer
Probate File - Maria Nufer
Peoria County, Illinois and Illinois Regional Archives Depository

Source Citation -
Peoria County, Illinois, probate case files, file, no. 2585, Maria Nufer (date),will record no. 4, pages 60 - 61,1882; Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois.

Filed 21 March 1882.

[Page 1 of PDF file]
No. 2585
BOND $ ______________
Letters Granted ______________19_____
Inventory Files_______________19_____
Amount of Appraisement  . . $_________
Amount of Specific Allowance . . $_________
Amount of Sale Bill . . . . . . . . . . . .$_________
Will record No. 4, Pages 60 - 61

[Page 2 of PDF file]
Peoria County,
In the  County Court of said County,
In Probate, March Term, A.D. 1882
PERSONALLY APPEARED in open Court, Harmon Alkis
and John M. Niehaus subscribing witnesses to the foregoing instrument
Of writing, purporting to be the Last Will and Testament of Maria Nufer
late of Peoria County, deceased, who being duly sworn according to law, do
depose and say, each for himself, that the foregoing is the Last Will and Testament of the said
Maria Nufer, deceased; that they subscribed their names thereto as the
attesting witnesses at the request of the said Testator, and in her presense, and in the
presence of each other, on the 4th day of January A.D. 1882
That she then and there subscribed her name thereto in their presence, and
declared the same to be her Last Will and Testament; and that the said Testator at the time
of executing the same as aforesaid was of full age, of sound mind and memory, and under no

Subscribed and Sworn to in open Court, this
21st day of March A.D. 1882
John D McClure County Clerk.
Lawrence Olhmert
John M Niehaus

[Page 3 of PDF file]
Fridalin Braun being duly sworn, deposeth and saith:
That Maria Nufer late of the Town of Peoria
in the County of Peoria and State aforesaid, departed this life at Peoria
in said County, on or about the Seventeenth day of March
A. D. 1882, and that she died leaving a last will and testament to
the best of my knowledge and belief.
                Fridolin Braun [signature]

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 20th day
of March A. D. 1882.
                John D McClure [signature]
                County Clerk.

[Page 4 of PDF file]
In the name God. Amen.  I
Maria Nufer of the City and
County of Peoria and State of
Illinois, being in poor health but
Of Sound and of posing mind and
Memory did make, publish
and declair this to be my last
will and testament.
I desire that my funeral Ex
penses and all just debts to be
fully paid.
I give and bequeth to my be-
loved daughter Wilhelmina Nufer
all my household effects, that
is to say all the personal propo
irty now being or which at the
time of my death shall be in
My house and home.  Except notes
or other o???? in action or money
on hand.
It is my wish and will that
after the payment of my just
Debts and funeral Expenses all of
My Money and property Except
That bequeathed to my said daughter
Wilhelmina shall be divided equally
Between all of My children ????
Mary Braun wife of Fredolin Brown
Caroline Freiling wife of John Friling
Josephine Brutsher wife of Andrew Prutcher
Emma Powell wife of Wm Powell
Rosa Loeshe wife of Frank Loeshe

[Page 5 of PDF file]
Freidricka Miller wife of George Miller
And Wilhelmina Nufer
And I herby appoint Michael
Blank of the City and County as
Executor of this my last will
and  testament fully comprising my
Said Executor to Execute the pror??I?
of the same.

In witness thereof I the said Maria
Nufer have hereunto set my haus and
have this  4th day of January A D 1882

                Maria Nufer [signature]

Signed Sealed, published and declared
By the said Maria Nufer, as her
Last Will and testament in our
presence, who in her presence and
the  presence of Each other at her
request Signed our Names as ??????
to the Same on the on?? above written

                L ???????  Miller [signature]
                J. M. Niehauc [signature]

I decided it would be best to start with the oldest daughter Mary.  It would seem that maybe if there were any letters or documents passed down in the family that maybe they be with her children and grandchildren.  But in looking at the handwritten will, I had a hard time reading the writing and decided that Mary’s last name was Brown.  Her husband’s first name was also hard to make out but it looked like “Fredolin”.  Off I went in search of a “Fredolin and Mary Brown” in Peoria or the surrounding areas.  I came up with nothing in census records or city directories or in church records for these names.  Oh there were lots of Brown’s but nothing with anything close to a couple with these two first names.

Life goes on and this all got set aside for several years.  In 2014 I reread the handwritten will again of Maria Nufer and this time I enhanced and enlarged the scanned image.  This led me to see that the surname was not “Brown” but was instead “Braun”.  Also, “Fredolin” was Fridolin. 
BINGO!  I went back to the Peoria census records, city directories and church records again and there they were.  Fridolin and Maria Louise Braun made their home at 115 Smith Street, Peoria, Illinois starting around 1885.  There are Braun family descendants living at that same address until at least 1946.

There are many, many descendants of Fridolin and Maria Louisa Nufer Braun and their seven children.  There are also some very tragic stories also.  I’ll be writing about some of them in future blog posts.

But back to the other Nufer sisters.  Here are their names and their husbands’ names from Maria Nufer’s probate file along with a brief snopsis of their lives.
Mary Braun wife of Fridolin Brown - This couple had seven children and lived their married life in Peoria, Illinois at 115 Smith Street.
Caroline Friling wife of John Friling - They live in Jubilee Township, Peoria County for a few years and then lived in Peoria for the rest of their married life.  They had seven children.
Josephine Brutsher wife of Andrew Prutcher [surname is really spelled Brutcher] - Andrew was raised in Jubilee Township also and their entire married life was spent here as well.  They have six children.
Emma Powell wife of Wm Powell - I have not been able to find this couple yet or what happened to them.
Rosa Loeshe wife of Frank Loeshe [surname is spelled Loescher] - these are my great great grandparents.  See other related blog posts about this couple.
Freidricka Miller wife of George Miller - I have not been able to find this couple yet or what happened to them.
And Wilhelmina [Minnie] Nufer - She is a mystery.  She may have married Charles Shotte from Kickapoo, Illinois after the death of her mother.

While I have found been able to identify and find four of the seven Nufer daughters and their families, I have not been able to find out the answers to my original questions that I started with.  More research is needed.  More work is necessary.  Ho Hum. 

I have had some small success with autosomal DNA testing.  I found a couple of “cousins” in my AncestryDNA match list that were descendants of Fridolin and Maria Nufer Braun.  But they did not know anything about this couple (in fact I was the one who told them about this couple).  Maybe through more DNA testing and efforts by these two newly found “cousins” we will find some family artifacts that have survived.

I also would like to find a German language newspaper from Peoria from the 1870’s and 1880’s.  Maybe there would be death notices or stories about this family in the pages of that periodical.  Recently I have found another Nufer family in Peoria during the 1860’s - 1880’s as well.  I have now started trying to research them in hopes of finding a connection between that new couple and my Nufer’s.  Maybe that will yield some new clues also.
I’ll just keep trying to find out new information by investigating this family one person at a time!

Links to Previous Blog Posts -
Where Did Martin Nufer Die?

Rose Loescher – The Mystery of Her Birth

Copyright ©2016 – Diane Minor – All Rights Reserved.

i "Mrs. Rose Loescher," obituary, Brimfield (Illinois) News, 22 Sep 1938; microfilm, Brimfield Public Library, Brimfield, Illinois.
1860 U.S. census, Peoria County, Illinois, population schedule, Peoria Ward 1, Enumeration District (ED) 134, p. 40, line 10, household 301, family 324, Rosina Nufar; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed  3 Dec 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication T653, roll M653_216, FHL microfilm 803216.
ii "Mrs. Rose Loescher," obituary, Brimfield (Illinois) News, 22 Sep 1938; microfilm, Brimfield Public Library, Brimfield, Illinois.
iii O. E. Root, compiler, Root’s Peoria City Directory 1861 :   (Peoria, Illinois:  O. E. Root, Publisher, 1861), 92, entry for "Martin Nufer"; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 12 May 2015).
iv 1870 U.S. census, Peoria County, Illinois, population schedule, Peoria Ward 6, p. 109, line 23, dwelling 765, family 765, Mary Nufer; digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 19 May 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll M593_267, page 466A, image 506, FHL film 545766.
v Peoria County, Illinois, death certificate, no. not included  (23 Apr 1893), Maria Louisa Braun, Peoria County Clerk, Peoria.
vi Peoria County, Illinois, probate case files, no. 2097, Martin Nufer (1877);  Illinois Regional Archives Depository System, Western Illinois University, Macomb.
vii Peoria County, Illinois, probate case files, file, no. 2585, Maria Nufer (date),will record no. 4, pages 60 - 61,1882; Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois.
viii Ibid