Friday, September 15, 2017

Evidence for a Father - In a Surprising Place

Several months ago I wrote about my surprise when I found that my great-great-grandmother Katharina Bergmann's #7126 (1834-1916) father was listed as Jacob Barkman on her death certificate.  I described how I weighed the evidence and concluded that her death certificate was probably wrong and that her father was really Peter Peter Bergmann.  But I still had some doubts.

I found some evidence about her maiden name, and thus the surname of her father in a surprising place - the land records in the Jefferson County, Nebr., courthouse.  Katharina was widowed twice, when her first husband and my great-great-grandfather Johann Barkmann died in 1879 and again when her second husband Martin Barkmann died in 1894.  And each time while she was a widow, she conducted land transactions using the surname Bergmann.  In contrast, she used her married surname of Barkmann each time she was involved in a land transaction while she was married, so this is evidence of her maiden name.

A few weeks after her first husband Johann died, she used the surname Bergmann when she bought eighty acres of land that adjoined their home place.
Source:  Warranty Deed, Peter & Anganetha Heidebrecht to Katharina Bergmann, 4 November 1879, Fairbury, Nebraska, Deed Book P:202, Register of Deeds, Courthouse, Fairbury.
Her first name is cut off because it was in the crease of the deed book, but her last name is clear - "Bergmann."

After she was widowed a second time, she sold seventy-seven acres of land to her son-in-law Klaas R. Friesen and used the surname Bergmann.
Source:  Warranty Deed, Katharina Bergmann to Klaas R. Friesen, 27 March 1899, Jefferson County, Nebraska, Deed Book 25:165, Register of Deeds, County Courthouse, Fairbury.
She didn't use the surname "Bergmann" consistently - on two other deeds as a widow she used the surname "Barkmann."  But I think it's unlikely she would have used the name of Bergmann at all if it weren't her maiden name.

This is another good piece of evidence that her father's surname was Bergmann and not Barkmann.  When I analyzed her death certificate earlier, I felt that the evidence, while contradictory, was stronger that her father was Peter Peter Bergmann and not the Jacob Barkman listed on the death certificate.  Now the evidence is even stronger for Peter Peter Bergmann being her father.  And I certainly didn't expect to find it in the land records of Jefferson County, Nebr.

Collecting all the documents you can find and thinking about the implications of each one is crucial for doing good genealogy research.

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