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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks nos. 37 & 38, The Stanabaughs

I know nothing about my ancestors, Mr. and Mrs. Stanabaugh. I do not even know whether this is their real name. In fact, it probably isn’t. Why not, and where did we find it?

  1. The name comes from that provided on my great-grandmother’s death certificate in 1961. It lists the decedent’s mother’s name as Katherine Stanabaugh. This information was provided by my great-grandmother’s second-to-youngest child, almost a hundred years after the said Katherine Stanabaugh had passed away. Talk about second-hand information!
  2. I have a letter from my great-grandmother’s oldest child saying that the mother’s name was Katherine Stillenbaugh. This letter was written even later, in the 1980’s, when the writer was nearly 100 years old herself.
  3. German researchers advise us to check the German phone book for supposedly German surnames. If they do not appear there, the name has likely been garbled along the way. Neither name, Stanabaugh nor Stillenbaugh, appears in the German phone directory. These names do not appear on U.S. census records either.

If their name was not Stanabaugh or Stillenbaugh, what was it? I have so few clues:

  1. My great-grandmother said her mother came from Germany as a child. My great-grandmother was born in 1865 in Indiana, home to a large German population.
  2. Many Germans immigrated to America after civil unrest in Germany in 1848. A child coming over at that time would have been the right age to have a child of her own in 1865.
  3. My great-grandfather, Thomas Sherman, had German neighbors named Stilgenbauer when he lived in Indiana in the 1860’s. This name is tantalizingly close to Stanabaugh or Stillenbaugh.

I have not yet been able to fit my Katherine into any German family, let alone a Stilgenbauer family, in Indiana between 1848 and 1865. Mr. and Mrs. Stanabaugh would be the parents in this theoretical family, but so far they remain unidentified.

This unknown family represents a huge brick wall in my ancestry. Next year I will pull out all the pertinent information I have on these people, go over it again, and tackle the suggested research again. Will 2017 be the year I can add my German ancestors to my family tree?

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