The Descendants of Johann Christian Friedrich Bohnstedt in Wyoming, Colorado and Texas

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)


Close-up: William Henry Bohnstedt


Wyoming: Amanda Bohnstedt and the Pioneering Bohnstedt Women

When I first wrote this narrative I had started with William Henry Bohnstedt, the eldest child of Johann Christian Friedrich “Frederick” Bohnstedt and his wife, Annie. Since then new information has been brought forward about William’s sister, Amanda. This information gives a picture of pioneering life in Wyoming in the mid-late 1800’s, and also seems to indicate that Amanda may have left the family nest in Illinois even before her brother William did. In fact, the first time William appears in any kind of document outside of Illinois was nearly ten years later, in Denver Colorado. What developed was an odd kind of family migration in which the daughters of Frederick and Annie Bohnstedt migrated to Wyoming, and their sons to Denver Colorado, at least for a number of years.

1. Amanda Louise (Bohnstedt) Miller, circa 1939, from a newspaper article. Amanda is in her 80's in this picture.
2. Close-up of a section of an old map of Wyoming, showing Hartville, Millersburg, and Ft. Laramie.  The map pre-dates the incorporation of the town of Guernsey in 1902. It also shows a place called "Fairbanks", which does not exist as a town today, and was probably little more than a mail stop when the map was made.

From what evidence is now available it appears that it was Amanda who left Illinois and headed west to Wyoming, before the rest of the family did. A newspaper article from 1940 about Amanda Bohnstedt says that she arrived in Wyoming on April 1st, 1874.  Amanda was born in or about 1859, so she could not have been more than 14 or 15 years old.  According to the article Amanda had come to the T.D. Ranch on Muddy Creek, near Egbert Wyoming, which was owned by her aunt and her husband.  Which aunt this is, the article does not say.  What is not so clear are the circumstances which took Amanda from Illinois to Wyoming.  Her father, Frederick, was remarried in 1872 to Susan Abigail Briggs.  It's just a theory, but it's not inconceivable that there was some friction between Susan, Frederick's second wife, and the older children who missed their mother, Annie, and resented Susan's percieved intrusion.  Regardless of the actual circumstances, Amanda went to live with her aunt, out west in Wyoming.  It was while living at the T.D. Ranch of her aunt that Amanda met and married Henry Taylor Miller.  The newspaper article says that Amanda had celebrated her 65th wedding anniversary in 1939 (the same year that her husband, Henry Taylor Miller passed away). This would put the year of Amanda's marriage about 1874, and given that Amanda was born about 1859, she was about 15 or 16 years old when she married.

In 1941 a story appeared in the Wheatland Times, from Wheatland Wyoming. Amanda had recently passed away that year, and the story was printed in honor of Amanda’s life and it recounts some of the experiences that Amanda and her husband Henry Miller had as pioneers in the Wyoming Territory, before it was even a state. Unfortunately the first part of the article is missing, and was probably in a different page in the newspaper. However, I suspect that the bulk of the narrative was in the “continued” portion of the article.  This continued portion of the article starts by describing the dangers that the settlers were having with Indians in the area.  Settlers were moving in, the native population was being pushed aside, and this led to friction and hostility between the settlers, the local army garrisons, and the Indians, some of which became openly hostile and began raiding settlements and carrying out the occasional massacre.

     A year later when the men went on a round up, Mr. Miller accompanied them, and Mrs. Miller accepted his long absence as she did everything, cheerfully and without complaint though her first child was due at any time. Not long after Miller left the ranch, the Dicksons got word that Indians were on the war-path and that they were raiding every ranch and settlement within miles.
     Some of the ranchers who had not yet left on the round-up, got their women and children into wagons and left for Cheyenne, but Mrs. Dickson refused to leave her home. At this time, Mrs. Miller gave birth to her first child, with only two women to attend and protect her in case the Indians did attack. The baby was a boy.
[her first child, Mark, was born in 1876].
     Only because Mr. Miller agreed to remain with the wagons and equipment of the round-up crew while the others went out for the cattle, was his life spared. Just two of a large round-up party escaped from the Indian massacre.
     At first Mrs. Miller received word that her husband had been killed, too. Days later a traveler brought them news of Miller’s escape to the Dickson ranch.
     How many women would have wished to remain in that local after such a harrowing experience. But not only did Mrs. Miller stay at her husband’s side, but she was anxious to have a ranch home of her own “inspite” of the Indian danger.

1-2. Artists conception of the Fort Laramie trading post prior to 1840.

The “ranch home” that Amanda wanted was not remotely close to the nicely furnished, WiFi capable comfortable “ranch style” homes that one might obtain a mortgage for in a new housing development in California or Arizona. According to the article:

     Two years later the Millers moved into a log cabin twelve miles from the nearest habitation, which was Fort Laramie. Like many of the settlers, Miller helped make a living by supplying lumber to Fort Laramie, hauling it from the hills by team [horse team]. Miller was also a carpenter and as the country became settled, he was always in demand to help with building.
     The first home was simple, indeed. Hard packed earth made the floor, and a small sheet-iron camp stove was the main utensil for cooking. Later Miller built a substantial house of logs with an immense open fireplace
[where] Amanda prepared the food over open coals. Staple provisions were obtained at Fort Laramie, and wild game was plentiful for meat.
     The young mother spent days alone with her small boy, but she had no time to fear Indians or anything else. She fished in the clear streams, hunted wild plums, currants, cherries and grapes. As there were no glass jars available, Mrs. Miller prepared the fruit by cooking it into a thick paste, dried it on platters in the sun, to be used later by boiling with brown sugar which made a delicious conserve, eaten with hit breads baked in a Dutch oven.
     Bit by bit the log house became truly a home. Buffalo rugs were layed on top of the neat gunny-sack covered floor. Many products of her handcraft brightened the rooms. There was a wealth of affection within these walls, and good health was the most precious.

Ft. Laramie, circa 1890

Indians and finding and storing food were not the only dangers that settlers faced. In the open plains weather could pose a real threat, and still does in the form of tornados and other weather phenomena.

     Some time in 1879 the Millers awoke to the sound of roaring water. A terrific flood swept through the house. Fighting the rushing water, the Millers finally succeeded in harnessing a team and to escape in a wagon to higher ground to higher ground where they camped in a downpour of rain of rain until the flood subsided.
     This flood was mainly the reason why the Millers moved to a new location, this time on the north side of the river on the site which is now where the town of Guernsey stands.

    One night when alone with her small boy a group of over fifty Indian renegades rode up to her home and entered. They demanded food, and Mrs. Miller calmly agreed to get it for them. Instead she maneuvered her child and herself out a back door and fled to the river where a small hand-made raft was anchored. She grabbed up an empty wooden box on the way, and putting the boy in this on the raft, she cast off into the swirling, rapid current. Making the opposite shore in safety, she ran to a neighbor who notified Mr. Miller. The families then hurried to Fort Laramie and a detachment of soldiers were sent after the raiders, who were never captured.
    When the Millers returned home, nothing was left which could be removed by the Indians. Incident after incident occurred to this family. Near starvation during the winter when they fought a blizzard for three days until they reached help, being only one of them
[incidents]. Mrs. Miller very nearly lost her life when the family were crossing a flooding stream in the wagon. Her second child [James Frederick] was born just a few hours after this terrifying experience. This occurred in 1881 when the family were moving to the Pollard ranch on the Laramie River.”

One of the things that the article related was an incident in which Henry Miller found some bright green rock, and brought a piece of it home for Amanda; he thought she would like it because it was pretty. It turned out to be copper, and Henry Miller, acting on the advice of a traveling peddler, bought some mining claims. This turned out to be a very prosperous move because it was at the beginning of a copper boom in the area.                                          

One of the things that puzzled us when we began researching Amanda Miller in depth was her year of birth.  Amanda's grave marker in Prairie Rest Cemetery says that she was born in 1857.  However, we know from two different census records that she was born two years later, in 1859.  Two census records from Richland County, Illinois, one from 1860 and one from 1870, listing Frederick and Annie (King) Bohnstedt's family.  The 1860 record lists Amanda as 1 year old, putting her year of birth squarely in 1859.  The 1870 record lists Amanda as 11 years old, again putting her year of birth in 1859. 

The problem is that a 1900 census record from Hartville Wyoming, listing Amanda with her husband and four of her children, shows her age as 43 years, which puts her year of birth at 1857.  The next four census records which list Amanda Miller (her married name) gives her age as 53 years (1910), 64 years (1920), 73 years (1930), and 83 years (1940), the year before her death.  And if the 1920 census was taken after Amanda's birthday she would be listed as 63, not 64 years.  All of these census records put her year of birth in or about 1857.  The question is, when and why did her year of birth somehow change from 1859 to 1857, a date that she maintained for the rest of her life?

One possibility that Amanda simply lied about her age when she was married.  We know from one of the newspaper articles that Amanda celebrated her 65th wedding anniversary when in 1939.  And, as stated before, that puts her year of marriage at about 1874.  In fact, one of the news articles says she was married April 1st, 1874.  If we count back from 1874 to 1859, she would have been no more than 15 or 16 years old when she was married.  But if she told the county registrar that she was born in 1857, her age changed to 17 or 18 years old.

Detailed sections of census records relevant to Amanda Louise Bohnstedt-Miller:

- 1860 Census, Clark County, Illinois, detail
- 1870 Census, Olney, Illinois, detail
- 1880 Census, Olney, Illinois (Amanda absent, having left in 1873-74. William also absent.
- 1900 Census, Hartville, Wyoming, detail
- 1910 Census, Hartville, Wyoming, detail
- 1920 Census, Albany County, Wyoming, detail
- 1930 Census, Platte County, Wyoming, detail
- 1940 Census, Platte County, Wyoming, detail

We know that Frederick remained in Richland County Illinois until at least 1880 - an 1880 census of Olney Illinois lists Frederick and his second wife, Susan, Susan’s mother, Phoebe Briggs, and Frederick’s children; Danial (18), Ada (16), Lilly (15), Mary (11), and Christian (5), Frederick’s son from Susan, his second wife.  But Amanda’s sisters were all married 1882-1883 in Wyoming. This is probably because after Amanda and William had left home and gone west, their father Frederick had followed with his wife and the remainder of the children shortly after 1880.

Grave of Amanda Louise (Bohnstedt) MIller and Henry Taylor Miller in Prairie Rest Cemetery, Guernsey, Wyoming.  Amanda's year of birth is incorrectly given as 1857.  Amanda was born about 1859.

Once in Wyoming Frederick’s other daughters had each met eligible men for marriage, or were assisted by matchmakers. In 1882 Ada Bell “Addie” married Joseph Covington in Hartville Wyoming, and they had eight children. Not long after Addie's marriage, her younger sister, Lillian “Lilly” married Daniel Jerome Allen King. This was either in 1882 or 1883.  The two of them had four children that we know of; the first three in Wyoming, and the fourth in New Mexico.  It's a little bit confusing though; because, according to records, the first and fourth children; William Richard and John Raymond used the last name of "King", but the second and third children; Jessie and Arthur, used the last name of Allen.  The last of Frederick’s daughter’s, Mary A. “Mollie”, married in 1883 in “Millersburg” Wyoming to Seth Gambell. Mollie remarried in 1896 to Harrison Thomas Franklin Jones.  Harrison and Mollie later moved to Idaho. Mollie died there in 1911 at the age of 43 years, and her husband died in 1915 at the age of 60. The cause of Mollie's premature death at the age of 43 is unknown.  But one thing we have discovered is that Mollie's father, Frederick, died in Weiser, Idaho in 1904 at 70 years of age.

Mary A. "Mollie" (Bohnstedt) Gambell

While researching this part of the Bohnstedt family, Lois Branch discovered something that may help us understand more about the "aunt" that Amanda traveled west to live with.  The man that Amanda's sister married in Wyoming - Daniel Jerome Allen King - was the child of John Henry Allen and his wife Hattie King.  Lois believes that this Hattie King was a relative of Frederick Bohnstedt's first wife, Annie King.

So what about the rest of the family? What happened to the parents of Amanda, and Addie, and Lilly, and Mollie?  What about their brothers?  Their father, Frederick, and mother, Annie, had a son named Samuel in 1860 in Illinois, who appears in the 1860 census as an infant.  However, this Samuel Bohnstedt appears in no other records, including the 1870 census, suggesting that he died within ten years after his birth.  Another son was born about 1870 to Frederick and Annie, named Harrison.  This boy may also have died within ten years, as he does not appear in the 1880 census or any other records, like his deceased brother Samuel.

1. Grave site of Joseph and Ada Bell (Bohnstedt) Covington, Prairie Rest Cemetery, Guernsey, Wyoming
2. Grave site of Lillie (Bohnstedt) Allen, Fowler Cemetery, Fowler Colorado

Patriarch Johann Christian Friedrich "Frederick" Bohnstedt remarried in 1872 to Susan Abigail Briggs.  I don't know for sure whether Frederick's first wife, Annie died, before Frederick remarried, but I personally believe she did. Frederick and Susan had a child in 1874 in Illinois; Christian Frederick Bohnstedt, probably named for his father.  Susan died in 1881 in Richland County Illinois, and this is the last record we've found which shows Frederick in Illinois.  We know that Frederick married for the third time in 1885 in Laramie City, Wyoming, to Ernestine Wilderson.  From this we derive that Frederick must have moved west to Wyoming between 1881 and 1885.  I believe that he moved with his family shortly after Susan's death, because the next year is when we find Frederick's and Annie's daughter's beginning to marry in Wyoming.

Not only was Frederick married (his third marriage) in 1885 in Laramie, Wyoming, but Frederick's eldest son, William Henry Bohnstedt was also married in 1885, in nearby Fairbanks, Wyoming.  (Fairbanks can no longer be found on maps, and was probably not a thriving town, but more likely a mail stop with a train station, post office, a maybe sheriff's office where a Justice of the Peace could sign marriage licenses and certificates).


Colorado: William Henry Bohnstedt and the Railroads

According to Duane L. "Sparky" Bohnstedt, family legend has it that Theodore Bohnstedt (Sparky's grandfather) headed west from Illinois with a cousin. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the cousin in question was William Henry Bohnstedt. William was six years older than Theodore.  If we make an assumption that Theodore was about 18 years old when he went wandering with William, it would have been about 1880.  In fact, William is absent from the 1880 census, taken June 4.  But when the census takers arrived at the home of Charles Bohnstedt Jr. and Mary Ann on June 10, their son Theodore, 18 years old, is listed in the household.  This means that either he was still living there, or had only recently departed with William, aged 24 years.  It's also possible that Wiliam had left some years earlier, and then returned sometime shortly after 1880, discussed going west with Theodore, and they left together.

Click to Enlarge
William Henry Bohnstedt and wife. We've always believed this was William's first wife; Louisa (Ford) Bohnstedt

According to the family legend, both young men made it as far as Wyoming, and Theodore worked in Wyoming for awhile for a company that hauled frieght by mule train.  After doing this for some time Theodore decided to go back to Illinois, but he only made it as far as Nebraska and ran out of money. But William, on the other hand, appears to have remained in Wyoming.  There is a marriage record for William from 1885, in which year he married Louisa Ford in Fairbanks, Wyoming, which is very close to Hartville and Ft. Laramie.  The next year William and Louisa had moved a few miles south, to Denver Colorado, where thier son, Edward Daniel Bohnstedt, was born, in 1886.  In that year, William's younger brother, Danial, was also married, in Arapahoe County, Colorado, to Anna Bell Hoagland.  

Close-up of a section of an old map of Wyoming, showing Hartville, Millersburg, and Ft. Laramie.  The map pre-dates the incorporation of the town of Guernsey in 1902. It also shows a place called "Fairbanks", which does not exist as a town today, and was probably little more than a mail stop when the map was made.

So far we've found no records or directories which would give any indication of occupation for William prior to 1887.  But in a city directory from 1887 in Denver, Colorado, we find an entry for William H. Bohnstedt, working as a laborer for the D&RG.RR (Denver and Rio Grande RailRoad) as a laborer. William's brother, Danial, is also listed, working as a laborer for the same railroad company. 

An 1888 city directory of Denver shows William still working for the D&RG.RR (Denver and Rio Grande RailRoad). He appears again in an 1889 Denver directory, this time working for the  B.& M.R.RR (Burlington and Missouri River Railroad) as an engineer.  A "John F. Bohnstedt" also appears in that same directory for Denver, working as a laborer for the B.& M.R.RR.; this was William's, and Danial's and Amanda's father; Johann (John) Christian Friedrich (F.) Bohnstedt.  It's likely that William helped his brother Danial, and his father, gain employment with the railroad.

1. Denver, Colorado, 16th Street, 1880
2. bird's eye view of Denver, Colorado, 1889

William is the only Bohnstedt listed in the 1890 Denver directory, but in 1891 William appears again working for the B.& M.R.RR.  His brother Danial is also listed in 1891, working for the same railroad, but as a "fireman" (someone who feeds the coal or wood into the fire for boiling the water to create steam).  By 1889 Danial was already divorced from his first wife, Anna, and had remarried in 1889 to Dollie Barton.  In 1891 William and Louisa's second child, Dora, was born.  The entries for William and Danial Bohnstedt working for the B.& M.R.RR continue the same, with William working as an Engineer, and Danial working as a Fireman, up through 1893.  The one apparent change in 1893 is that they are listed at the same address: 2205 Larimer.  We know from documents that Danial was divorced from his second wife in 1892, and William had also divorced in 1892 from his first wife, Louisa Ford.  Records indicate that William remarried in 1893 to Katherine Joy.

Denver Colorado, circa 1898.  (Click here for colorized version)

Into her marriage with William, Katherine brought three other children from her marriage to Jasper Balding; Maud, born 1887, Ella, born 1888, and Edna, born 1889, all born in Colorado. There was some confusion regarding these three children because they had appeared in census records, living in William's household, and all listed under the last name of Bohnstedt.  However, more documentation turned up that showed that these three daughters were indeed from Katherine's previous marriage.  Most likely it was either the census taker being lazy, or the parents just giving William's last name so they dident have to bother with explanations.

The following year, in 1894, William Bohnstedt and Danial Bohnstedt both appear at a different address; 920 Arlington, in Denver.  William and Danial's father, Frederick, also appears at this address, but his occupation is listed as "marbleman".  I will just take this at face value, and assume that Frederick had developed a business dealing in marble. Danial, William and his family, and Frederick (and possibly Frederick's wife, Ernestine), stayed at the 920 Arlington address into 1896.  It appears that the original building at 920 Arlington is gone, and a modern new apartment complex was built in it's place.

1. A passenger train of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, one of William H. Bohnstedt's employers, in Denver Colorado, about 1900
2. Union Depot, Denver, near the turn of the 20th century (Colorized version)

Although Danial does appear in the 1897 directory working for the B.& M.R.RR, I dident see any listing for William, William H. or William Henry Bohnstedt in the Denver directories after 1896 for several years.  Admittedly, there are several years of Denver city directories that I dident have access to after 1896, I was able to review 1897, 1902, 1903, 1907, and 1908.  In the 1908 Denver directory There is a "Henry Bohnstedt, an Engineer, living at 2807 Champa, in Denver, with Edward D. Bohnstedt, a "Brakeman".  This brings up another issue; the Aliases of William Henry Bohnstedt.  According to information retrieved by Duane "Sparky" Bohnstedt, William became invloved in union organizing activities, and as a result was blacklisted by the railroads.  According to Sparky, In order to keep working, William began using the alias "Henry Thomas Bohnstedt".  He also began using the alias "Henry T. Thomas", probably when the railroad companies figured out that William Henry Bohnstedt and Henry Thomas Bohnstedt were the same person.  After all, "Bohnstedt" is not a common name.  It's seems fairly obvious that Henry Bohnstedt at 2807 Champa was William Bohnstedt; William's son was named Edward Daniel Bohnstedt.

There is another curious aspect to William's history; he appears in a 1900 McCook Nebraska, census, with his wife Katherine, his son Edward, and his wife Katherine's children from her pervious marriage. Why William was making a home in Nebraska during that time is uncertain, but we do know that his wife, Katherine Joy, was born in Nebraska, Did William go to Nebraska just to meet her? Maybe not; records indicate that William and Katherine were married in Denver in 1893, not in Nebraska. But we know that William and Katherine were divorced in 1901, the year after the federal census was taken in Nebraska. Katherine was found living in Denver in 1902 and 1903, by herself, which coincides with the information that she and Williiam were divorced in 1901.

1. 2205 Larimer, Denver Colorado, where William and his brother Danial were residing in 1893.  This might have been a hotel, or a large boarding house.
2. 2807 Champa, Denver, Colorado, where William, living and operating under the name of "Henry Bohnstedt", was residing with his son Edward in 1908, Denver.
3. Denver Colorado, circa 1909

In 1907 William's daughter, Dora, died at the age of 16 years. She was buried in Roselawn Cemetery, in Pueblo Colorado. In 1909 William appears in the Denver directory under his original name "William".  William's son Edward also appears, working for the B.& M.R.RR as a brakeman. After that, records from directories becomes even more spotty.  William no longer appears in what Denver directories were available to me, but in 1913 Edward appears in a Cheyenne, Wyoming directory, listed as a Switchman for the C&N W Rwy.   But when it comes to identifying his father, William Bohnstedt residing and working in Denver under an alias, he will be extremely difficulty to identify under the name "Henry Thomas" since Thomas is not exactly a rare name.  In fact I found several in each directory. 

1. The old cemetery where William's grave was found is behind a Wal-Mart store, and was once a Wyoming State Hospital cemetery.
2. Perhaps William's burial was handled by the state of Wyoming, and bureaucracies being what they are, proceeded to not only misspell his name (Bonstedt), but to use an incorrect year of birth (he was born 1857).  Given William's many years of working in the railroad industry it seems almost appropriate that the cross at  the head of the grave marker is made from iron.

In the directories that have been available to me so far, I found William H. Bohnstedt appearing again in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1933, the same year that his brother, Danial, died.  By 1936 William had gone to western Wyoming, in Evanston, near the border with Utah.  He died there, and was buried in the State Hospital Cemetery.  His grave marker has William's last name misspelled, and the wrong year of birth.  This all leads me to suspect that William had gone to Evanston to find work (perhaps he had become too well-known in the Denver area, even under his aliases) and died there without family (he was divorced from his second wife, Katherine, in 1901).  In this circumstance he may have become ill, was taken to the state hospital in Evanston, died, and was buried in the state cemetery with what records they could find, records that might have been obtained from railroad companies, records that were not accurate, perhaps partly due to William's attempts at hiding his true identity from the rail companies during his union organizing activities.


Danial B. Bohnstedt and "Bohnstedt Draw"

The last record I found for Danial Bohnstedt in Denver, Colorado was an 1897 Denver city directory, which listed Danial as a "fireman" for B.& M.R. Railroad.  The next record I found for Danial was a 1910 federal census which places Danial in Hartville Wyoming, suggesting that sometime during that 13 year period between 1897 and 1910 Danial had begun thinking about an occupational change.  The new occupation was gold prospecting.  Danial had several mining claims in a shallow canyon, or "draw" in Goshen County, not far from Fort Laramie, Hartville, Millersburg, and what is now Guernsey.

Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
1-2. Satellite images of the area surrounding Bohnstead Draw, a canyon in Goshen County Wyoming where Danial Bohnstedt had several claims. The image on the right is a close-up of the image on the left.

Most of Danial's claims were sold off to a mining company later in his life. Although he must have extracted sufficient gold to pay his expenses, Danial never became a wealthy man. In fact, he may have made more money when he began selling off his claims in 1928.  Danial died in 1933 in or near Lander, Wyoming. The following article appeared in the "The Lander Evening Post", on January 6, 1933;

Daniel Bohnstedt, well known pioneer of the South Pass district, arrived in Lander and will remain for sometime. Mr. Bohnstedt has been in poor health for the past several months.

Click to Enlarge
1. Lander Wyoming, 1930's
2. Section of a U.S. Geological Survey map showing Bohnstead Draw in Goshen County Wyoming, named for Danial Bohnstedt. Unfortunately Danial Bohnstedt's last name was spelled incorrectly as "Bohnstead" by whoever originally recorded the information.

Danial died the next day. According to the "The Riverton Review and the Riverton Chronicle", Riverton, Wyoming, January 19, 1933;

D.B. Bohnstedt, who for many years has been working in the mines around Atlantic City and South Pass died Saturday, Jan. 7 at the county farm, the funeral services were held the following Sunday with internment in Mt. Hope Cemetery at Lander. Deceased came to this country forty years ago and has worked in the mines since that time. Working for different companies and had at times done much prospecting in the hills. He held some valuable gold mining claims south of Pass City which he leased to a company and was very hopeful of making his stake until he was taken ill several months ago. He was about 80 years old, cheerful and hopeful to the end. His only known relatives were a sister who lives in Guernsey, Wyo., and nephew somewhere in the east.

It is unknown where the editor of this newspaper got his information about Danial's family history. It has been established that Danial was born in Illinois, and that his father, Johann Christian Friedrich Bohnstedt, migrated to America as a child with his parents in 1848. I also wonder what was being referred to as "The County Farm".


Texas: Descendants of Edward Daniel Bohnstedt

The last listing I found for Edward Bohnstedt in Denver Colorado was in 1909, when he was 23 years old.  He was already married to his first wife, Clara three years.  The next directory I found Edward in was in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1913, where he was working for the C&N W Railway as a switchman.  The next year, 1914, Edward was divorced from Clara and remarried to Edna Marie Cornwell.  I found no references to Edward Bohnstedt, William's son, until 1913. From 1913 through 1920 Edward appears in nearly every city directory for Cheyenne, Wyoming, except for 1916, where he appears in Dillon, Montana working as a brakeman, 1917 in Caspar, Wyoming, where he is listed as a 'Brakeman", working for the C&N W Railway.  In 1920 Edward begins appearing in city directories again, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

1. Clara Belle Jones, the first wife of Edward Daniel Bohnstedt
2. The Albany Hotel in Denver, Colorado, in the early part of the 20th century.  Clara worked here after her divorce from Edward Daniel Bohnstedt in 1914.

Another item I found was a 1915 city directory for Denver, Colorado.  It listed "Bohnstedt, Clara", who worked at the Albany Hotel, and roomed ("rms") at 1921 Champa.  1921 Champa used to be the location of the Kane Hotel.  I suspect that the Kane Hotel was more affordable than the Albany, which is why Clara was working at the Albany, but living at the Kane.  The Kane Hotel is no longer standing.  I am also reasonably certain that this "Clara Bohnstedt" was the ex-wife of Edward Bohnstedt.  They were divorced in Denver in 1914, and Clara most likely found work there in Denver at the Albany Hotel.  The mystery, however, is the listing underneath Clara: "Bohnstedt, Pearl", who also worked at the Albany and roomed at 1921 Champa.  So far, I have no idea at all who this Pearl Bohnstedt was. It's likely that they were related in some way since they not only worked at the same place, but lived in the same location.  I wondered if perhaps Pearl was a sister of Clara, but I haven't found any record of Clara having a sister named Pearl.  It is possible that Pearl was related to Clara, but had a different last name, and whoever collected the information assumed that Pearl's last name was the same as Clara's.

1. Adults, L-R: Edward Daniel Bohnstedt, daughter Bernice, wife Edna.  Children, L-R: Children of Bernice (Bohnstedt) Erickson; Don and Loreen.
2. Grave marker of Edward Daniel Bohnstedt, Beth El Cemetery, Cheyenne, Wyoming

Directories are not available again until 1933 (the year Edward's uncle Danial died).  From directories and other sources, it appears that Edward and his wife, Edna Marie, were living in Cheyenne, Wyoming at 3029 Cribbon Ave, Denver, in 1933.  Presumably, Edward worked for the railroads for several more years before his death in 1944.  He was buried in Beth El Cemetery in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Edna stayed in Cheyenne for several more years. In a 1948 Cheyenne city directory, she appears as "Bohnstedt, Edna M.", and working as a telephone operator at the Plains Hotel.  At some point Edna moved to California.  I personally believed that she went to California because her daughter, Bernice was there.  Edna died in Norwalk, California in 1967.

1. The Plains Hotel, late 1940s-early 1950's, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Edward Daniel Bohnstedt's wife, Edna, worked at the Plains Hotel for awhile as a telephone operator after Edward's death.
2. Much of Wyoming is wide open plains, where United States Air Force ballistic missile bases and launch control centers were built during the Cold War.

Edward's son (his second child), Charles Filmore Bohnstedt was born in 1923 in Cheyenne Wyoming. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces, and was sent to Kelly Field, an Army Air Corps training base near San Antonio, Texas.  Kelly Field later became Lackland Air Force Base when the AIr Force was made independent from the Army after the Second World War.  It was at a local dance hall near San Antonio that Charles met his futire wife, Winnie Dean Johnson.

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1. The flight line at Kelly Field, U.S. Army Air Corps training base, near San Antonio, Texas.  It was because of his posting here that Charles met his future wife, Winnie Dean Johnson.  After the war, "Kelly Field" became Lackland Air Force Base.
2. Charles Filmore Bohnstedt Sr., U.S. Army Air Forces photo

During the war Charles became involved in a little-known but immensely important part of U.S. military history.  Charles was assigned to a special unit that was field testing the very first prototype helicopters for the U.S. military, the Sikorsky R-4. According to Charles' son, Charles Filmore Bohnstedt Jr., Charles Sr. was involved as a supporting technician (or a similar capacity) with these primitive helicopters, flying them from U.S. Navy ships during the Second World War. 

Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
1. U.S. Army Air Forces personnel with their R-4 helicopter prototype aboard a Navy ship. This copter was named the "Grasshopper" by it's pilots and ground crew. Charles F. Bohnstedt is second from the right.
2. Charles Filmore Bohnstedt Sr. with his wife, Winnie Dean (Johnson) Bohnstedt

These early helicopters, built by Sikorsky and designated the "R-4" had a short range, and had barely enough lifting power to carry one extra person, perhaps a downed pilot or a wounded soldier. Even so, these small helicopters were prototypes for the U.S. Army's and U.S. Navy's first operational helicopters and they paved the way for more advanced helicopters to come.

1. Charles with his first child, Charles F. Bohnstedt Jr., circa 1948-1949
2. Grave of Charles Filmore Bohnstedt Sr. and his wife, Winnie Dean (Johnson) Bohnstedt in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1944 Charles married Winnie in 1944. Their first child, Charles Filmore Bohnstedt Jr., was born three years later in San Antonio Texas. In 1950 a second son was born; Tim Ernest Bohnstedt, and six years later a third: Jay Keith Bohnstedt. Charles married Nancy Elaine Camps in San Antonio in 1974.  After earning his doctorate in chemistry Charles founded "Von Analytical Labs". They had two children, Ross Von and Carrie Eve Bohnstedt. Ross married Jennifer Lauren Waits, and Carrie married Casey Eugene Salge.  Ross and Lauren had two children; Dean Von and Stella Claire Bohnstedt, and Carrie and Casey had Cortlin Eugene, Catelyn Elaine, and Colton Edward Salge.  Charles passed away in December of 2016 in Houston, Texas.  Instead of a traditional burial Charles' body was donated by his family for scientific research per his wishes.  His story is told in Doctor Charles Filmore Bohnstedt II.

1. Dr. Charles F. Bohnstedt Jr. and wife; Nancy (Camps) Bohnstedt
2. Jay Keith Bohnstedt
3. Tim Ernest Bohnstedt with wife, Barbara (Shirmer), and children; Gina (oldest), Dana, and Justin (baby)

Tim and Jay each had one son; Tim and his wife Barbara had Justin Ernest Bohnstedt, and Jay and his wife Denise also had a son; Keith. Jay passed away in 2011. he was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Gulf of Mexico.  Justin, a schoolteacher, relocated to Oklahoma City, where he met and married Susan Nhi Nguyen.  So far Justin and Susan have two children; Henry Ernest Van Bohnstedt and Clark Filmore Bohnstedt. The first child is named for an ancestor of this line (William Henry Bohnstedt), for his father (Justin Ernest Bohnstedt), grandfather (Tim Ernest Bohnstedt) and Van is a family name from his mother's side.  Clark's middle name, "Filmore" was given in honor of his great Grandfather, Charles Filmore Bohnstedt I.

1. Tim and Barbara's son, Justin Bohnstedt, and his wife, Susan Nhi (Nguyen) Bohnstedt.
2. Grave of Tim Ernest Bohnstedt in Nockenut Cemetery, Wilson County, Texas

Another of descendant of Edward Daniel Bohnstedt, through his daughter Bernice Rose, is Scott Erickson.  Scott was a baseball player, and an opening pitcher for several teams during his career, including the Minnesota Twins, the Baltimore Orioles, the New York Mets, the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the New York Yankees.  In 2004 Scott married sports reporter Lisa Guerrero.

1-2. Scott Erickson, a great-grandson of Rose Bernice (Bohnstedt) Erickson, and Scott's wife; sports reporter Lisa Guerrero


The Missing Descendants of Frederick Bohnstedt

Only one line of descendants are currently known to exist from Johann Christian Friedrich Bohnstedt, AKA "Frederick"; the descendants of William Henry Bohnstedt in Texas and Oklahoma City. But Frederick had at least five sons from two different wives; William Henry, Samuel, Danial, Harrison (From wife Annie King) and Christian (From Susan Briggs).  Samuel was born in 1860 but appears in no other records, including the 1870 census, suggesting that he died young.  We know Danial was married at least twice, but for some reason never fathered any children. Harrison was born in 1870, but like Samuel, may have died young, as he appears in no other records, including the 1880 census. The youngest known male child from Frederick was Christian Frederick, from his second wife, Susan Briggs.  It looks like Christian was married at least once, to Bell Eckly-Lyman in Nebraska, and that he was a mechanic.  But we've never found any evidence of children from Christian.  Frederick and Susan may have had one more, possibly two more, children.  But like Samuel and Harrison, they may have died young since we have no information about them at all, not even their names. Susan lived for only nine years after marrying Frederick.  One of her last children was born in 1879, and we have no information about the child's name. This suggests a possibility that Susan had health problems, or at least difficulties with child birth.

Examing all of the available documentary evidence, it appears that the only line of descendants of Johann Christian Friedrich Bohnstedt that continued under the Bohnstedt name was that of his eldest son; William Henry Bohnstedt.


The "Other" Wyoming Bohnstedt Line

One issue that bears repeating here is the line of Bohnstedts from August Georg Wilhelm Ludwig Bohnstedt. One of August's sons, Friedrich "Fred" Wilhelm Andreas Bohnstedt, migrated to Wyoming, possibly by way of Colorado, where his son, Fred Edward Bohnstedt was born. Both Fred Bohnstedt Sr. and Fred Jr. were buried in Olivet Cemetery in Cheyenne Wyoming. When I first became aware of these Bohnstedt in Cheyenne Wyoming I assumed that they were somehow part of the immediate family of Johann Christian Friedrich Bohnstedt because the Bohnstedt name is so rare. I thought "how could there have been any other Bohnstedts in the wild west of Wyoming at that time?" Both families had left traces in Wyoming and Colorado (J.C.F. "Frederick" Bohnstedt's son, William Henry Bohnstedt, worked for the railroads in Colorado, and F.W.A. "Fred" Bohnstedt's son Fred Edward was born in Colorado).

In fact, at first I thought that "Fred" Bohnstedt might actually be the same person as Johann Christian Friedrich "Frederick" Bohnstedt, until Lois Branch convinced me through the evidence she had acquired that they were two different people, and they were actually first cousins. I think it is worth considering the possibility that Friedrich "Fred" Wilhelm Andreas Bohnstedt might have been in contact with his first cousin Johann Christian Friedrich "Frederick" Bohnstedt concerning the possibilities of a new life out west in Colorado and Wyoming.



See Also:
3-4 /
The Descendants of August Georg Wilhelm Ludwig Bohnstedt in Ohio and Wyoming; Fred Bohnstedt in Wyoming
3-11 / Doctor Charles Filmore Bohnstedt II
3-30 /
Genealogy 3-3-2: America; Wyoming, Colorado and Texas


Online Resources
Scott Erickson, Wikipedia

Lisa Guerrero, Wikipedia


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