The Descendants of Theodore Bohnstedt in Nebraska

by Thomas Allen Bohnstedt, California USA
     (the text of this page is my intellectual property. Please do not copy and repost without my written permission)


Family of Theodore and Mary Ellen Bohnstedt, year unknown; L-R Back: Hazel, Velma, Bernice, Harry.  L-R Front: Duane, Theodore, Mable, Mary, Marjorie, Paulina


According to Duane L. "Sparky" Bohnstedt, his grandfather, Theodore Bohnstedt, (who was a grandson of Johann Carl Christian Bohnstedt Sr), decided to seek his fortune in Wyoming, left Illinois and headed west with a cousin. We believe that this cousin was most likely William Henry Bohnstedt, the eldest son of Johann Christian Friedrich Bohnstedt. Theodore and Henry made it to Wyoming, but after some time Theodore decided to return to Illinois. However, he only made it as far as Gage County, Nebraska.

1. Theodore and Mary Ellen Bohnstedt, circa 1888-1889.  The phoyograph identifies the child as "Earl", in other words, Alva Earl, their first son, who was born in 1888, and died the next year in 1889
2. Allegedly, this is, L-R: Bernice, Hazel and Velma Bohnstedt, year unknown

On his way through Nebraska, Theodore stopped at the Townsend Farm seeking temporary employment. According to family history as reported by Sparky Bohnstedt, Mr. Townsend did not like the look of young Theodore at first, and thought he might be a horse thief ! But he gave him a chance and put him to work. During his stay on the Townsend Farm, Theodore met Mr. Townsend's daughter, Mary Ellen, and fell in love with her. They married, and Theodore never made it back to Illinois. Theodore did not take any of Mr. Townsend's horses, but he acquired a much better prize.

1. Theodore Bohnstedt, Image provided by Clifton Cockerill, a grandchild of Theodore and Mary Ellen Bohnstedt
2. Mary Ellen (Townsend) Bohnstedt, Image provided by Clifton Cockerill,

Theodore and Mary Ellen settled on a piece of property near Adams, Nebraska and began farming. They had ten children in all; seven daughters and three sons; Alva (1888), Harry (1890), Bernice (1892), Hazel (1894), Velma (1898), Duane Townsend (1900), Paulina (1903), Mable (1905), Marjorie (1907), and Preston (1912). Alva died in her first year, and Bernice died when she was nineteen years old.

1. Grave of Bernice Bohnstedt, Highland Cemetery, Adams, Nebraska.  Image provided by Clifton Cockerill,
2. Grave of Theodore and Mary Ellen Bohnstedt, Highland Cemetery, Adams, Nebraska.  Image provided by Clifton Cockerill,

Harry, the oldest living child of Theodore and Mary Ellen married Geneva Smith in 1920 and they settled down in North Platte Nebraska, where their son, Robert Lisle was born in 1924. They moved the next year to Hot Springs South Dakota, where a daughter, Roberta was born. Roberta married William Dreese in 1953 and they had four children; one son and three daughters.

1. Harry Lisle Bohnstedt,, Nebraska
2. Geneva Pearl (Smith) Bohnstedt,, Nebraska
3. Grave marker of Harry and Geneva Bohnstedt, Winlock Cemetery, Winlock, Washington

Robert enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943, and one year later he married Marjorie Swanson in Youngstown Ohio. After the Second World War the Army Air Forces was reorganized as the United States Air Force, and Robert was placed in the Military Airlift Command. In this role he participated in what many people consider to be the first "battle" of the Cold War; "Operation Vittles", better known as the "Berlin Airlift".

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1-2. Robert Lisle Bohnstedt
3. Roberta (Bohnstedt) Dreese and William Dreese, 1950's

In June 1948 Communist East German and Soviet forces attempted to gain control of West Berlin, which was well inside East Germany, by closing the only road leading into the city from the west through Communist controlled territory. The idea was to starve the citizens of West Berlin into surrendering control to East Germany. By the time the situation had ended several months later, the Air Force was landing one airplane every three minutes, around the clock, in West Berlin's Templehof Airport. They kept the people of West Berlin alive for over a year. Eventually the Communists gave up and re-opened the road leading into the city. But the Cold War had begun, and Robert remained in the U.S. Air Force until 1965.

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1-2. Scenes from the Berlin Airlift, 1948
3. Grave of Robert and Marjory Bohnstedt, Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Youngstown Ohio

Robert and Marjorie had one son, Niles Lan Bohnstedt. Niles was born in 1945 in Washington, and like his father, he served in the Air Force. He attended the University of Delaware and became an electronics engineer. With his wife, Barbara Green, he had one child, Eric Ryan Bohnstedt, born in 1963 in Maryland.

Like her siblings, Hazel Merle Bohnstedt was born on the Bohnstedt Farm near Adams, Nebraska. She married Louis Nielsen in 1923, and they had three children, who in turn gave Hazel eleven grandchildren. Velma Edith Bohnstedt was born in 1898 and married Leroy Edward Lehman. they had one daughter, Mildred.  A record was found that showed that Velma also had twin boys who were born prematurely in 1920.  Thier names were Richard and Romen.  Richard died the same day he was born, and Romen died the next day.

Duane Townsend Bohnstedt was born in 1900 near Oak, Nebraska. After serving with the Nebraska National Guard he took up automotive repair, and eventually opened his own shop. He married in 1921 in Grant Nebraska to Evelyn Brinton. They had one son, Duane Lloyd Bohnstedt.

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1. Duane Townsend Bohnstedt and Evelyn (Brinton) Bohnstedt
2. Clockwise from left: Duane Townsend Bohnstedt, Duane Lloyd Bohnstedt, Evelyn Bohnstedt

Duane Lloyd Bohnstedt, who went by the nickname "Sparky" for most of his life, was born in Beatrice Nebraska in 1924. Just like his cousin, Robert, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943. He spent the next year and part of 1945 in Spinazzola Italy as an ordnance loader on B-24 bombers. When he returned to the U.S. from military service he began college education, working towards becoming an automotive designer. As he was continuing his education Sparky married Betty Jean Fralin in 1948.

Grave of Duane Townsend Bohnstedt and Evelyn (Brinton) Bohnstedt in Lincoln Memorial Park, Lincoln, Nebraska

After finishing his schooling Sparky went to work for General Motors as an automobile designer and played a major role in designing the early Chevy Corvettes, the 1955 and 1956 Chevy Coupes, and various other vehicles. Sparky and Betty had one child in 1965, a daughter, named Kara Lyn. Sparky's story is told in detail in Duane L. "Sparky" Bohnstedt.

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1. Mabel Elma Bohnstedt, circa 1924
2. Marjorie Fern Bohnstedt

Paulina Maude Bohnstedt, the seventh child of Theodore and Mary Ellen was born in 1903 on the Bohnstedt Farm in Nebraska. She married Ray Rawson and together they had two sons, Robert and James. Mable Elma Bohnstedt was born two years after Paulina, also on the Bohnstedt Farm. After marrying Clarence Cockerill in 1924 they had five children during the period 1926 - 1941. These five children produced no less than twenty grandchildren.

1. Preston Vern Bohnstedt
2. Ivry "Iva" (Barnard) Bohnstedt, Preston's wife
3. Resting place of Preston and Iva Bohnstedt, Mount Crest Abbey Mausoleum, Salem Oregon

Marjorie Fern Bohnstedt was born in 1907 and married at the age of nineteen to James O'Connell. She was married again in 1930 to John Olson, an electrician. Marjorie had three children. The first, Marjorie Mae, from her first marriage, and the second and third, Vernon and Muriel, from her second marriage.

1-2. Preston and Iva's children.  L-R: (1) Janet Carol Bohnstedt, School picture, (2) Theodore John "Ted" Bohnstedt, scool picture

The youngest of Theodore and May Ellen's children was Preston Vern Bohnstedt, born in 1912 in Nebraska. Preston pursued a number of occupations; he worked in the oil fields, he was a ship rigger, and when he moved to Oregon he owned and operated a seed processing business specializing in re-foresting. Preston married in 1931 in Kansas to Ivry "Iva" Bernard. They had two children, a daughter, Janet, and a son, Theodore.  Janet married Robert Louis Knowles in 1961 and they had one daughter, Theresa. Theodore was married twice, first to Martha Pardini in 1983, and then to Elizabeth Ann Peterson-Corbett in 1994.  As far as we know Theodore had no children of his own.


Eric Ryan Bohnstedt

Eric Ryan Bohnstedt, (the son of Niles Lan Bohnstedt and Grandson of Robert Lisle Bohnstedt) competed in a number of events including the 1992,  1996 and 1998 U.S. National Figure Skating championships, as well as the 1998 U.S. Eastern Sectional Championships in which he placed third.  Eric gained a bit of notoriety when he appeared in "Skating's Next Star", a 2006 reality TV show, hosted by Olympic figure skating star Kristi Yamaguchi.  The show featured several competition figure skaters who competed for first place as "Skating's Next Star".  The show ran for one season.  Eric later redirected his career to coaching skating.

1. Eric Ryan Bohnstedt
2. Eric was a professional exhibition skater.  In this publicity photo from Skating's Next Star Eric appears in the middle row, at the far right in the dark shirt.

Eric married Lisa Helen Breece, and settled down in Georgia.  Eric and Lisa had a daughter, Jazlyn Rose., bormn about 2010.  So far Jazlyn has been interested in show business.  Besides participating in local ballet theater in Roswell Georgia, Jazlyn has played roles in at least two short films.  In "K.R.A.P." (2019) she played a minor role as a "studio kid", but in "Save The Park" (also 2019) Jazlyn played the character "Willow".

1. Jazlyn Rose Bohnstedt
2-3. Jazlyn has appeared as a child actor in at least three short films; Babysitter 101 (2019), K.R.A.P. (2019), and Save the Park (2019, not shown)



See Also:
3-9 /
Duane L. "Sparky" Bohnstedt
3-29 /
Genealogy 3-3-1: America; Illinois and Nebraska


Online Resources



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