Lucky me, I have German ancestors on both my maternal and paternal lines! I am currently researching the names SICK and SELL in Schleswig-Holstein, SCHNEIDER in Hessen and KUNDERS (Conard) in North Rhineland - Westphalia. I enjoy doing German research and trying to remember some of the high school German language that I took oh so long ago.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Mystery Man

The elusive “Mr. Werntz.” He is my third great grandfather and I’m beginning to think he doesn’t want to be found.
Here’s the family overview:

Sarah “Sallie” Buffington (Werntz?) Tallman had a son with my mystery man.  This child, James Oliver Werntz was born September 7, 1853.  I have no actual record of a marriage between Sarah Buffington and Mr. Werntz.

James Oliver Werntz married Agnes Henderson Campbell in Pennsylvania, probably in 1872.  

James and Agnes had a daughter, Jennie Olive Werntz, born February 11, 1873 in Pennsylvania (possibly Pottsville).

Jennie Olive Werntz married Henry Snyder January 31, 1895 in Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado.

Their children were Grace, Wilma, Dorothy and William.  Dorothy was my grandmother.

In this photo - back row -Jennie Olive Werntz Snyder.  Front row (left to right) - James Oliver Werntz, Grace Snyder and unidentified woman.  She could be James' wife, Agnes Campbell Werntz.

Here’s the census overview:

1860 (only 7 years after James' birth) – Sarah Buffington is living with her husband Mattias Tallman.  Living with them is James, age 7 and Henry, age 2.  There are in Wiconisco Twp., Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

1870 – James Werntz is living with Samuel Buffington (Sarah’s brother), age 16, occupation, driving teams.  Samuel is a manufacturer of porter and ale.  They are in Gratz, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

1880 – James is married to Agnes and living in Mt. Carroll, Illinois.  His occupation is “keeps billiard hall.”  The Mattias and Sarah (Buffington) Tallman family has also moved to this area in Illinois.

I have census records up until James Oliver’s death on June 13, 1926 in Rupert, Idaho.

Here’s my tale of woe:

I cannot prove that Sarah Buffington and Mr. Werntz were ever married.  In Buffington family history records, James Oliver’s dad is always referred to as Mr. Werntz.  I assume he was recognized as a member of the family, but Sarah was fairly young when she had him (15 or 16).  Sarah also had a cousin close in age and living nearby named Oliver.  Maybe she was a young widow?  Maybe they weren’t married?

But….at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I found the record at the right. (Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania Archives; authors Phillip A. Rice and Jean A. Dellock)  

J.A. Werntz married a Miss Buffinger of Kratztown, Pennsylvania on September 11, 1853 - a year before my James Oliver was born.

In my research I found out that Kratztown was a name used for Gratz.  The surname Buffinger also comes up when doing surname searches on Buffington.  With my limited German language skills, I can hear how these translations could happen.

It’s intriguing, frustrating, challenging and crazy-making!  But, it’s genealogy and I am resolved to find my Mystery Man!  He can’t hide forever.

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