George August Heinrich Gottlieb "James" Bohnstedt
and the Descendants of Isaac Carl Bohnstedt in Illinois

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)


The ancestors of the Bohnstedt family line in Indiana, and some in Illinois;
Georg August Heinrich Gottlieb "James" Bohnstedt and Elizabeth (Swallen) Bohnstedt

George August Heinrich Gottlieb Bohnstedt, who went by the name “James” in America, was born in July 1839 in Germany, probably in the small town of Jersleben, where his brothers and sisters were born. He came to America with his parents in 1848 when he was nine years old aboard the sailing ship “Pioneer”. His parents settled first in the very small township of Brush Creek, which, even today, is just a small assemblage of a handful of houses and buildings. James’s parents moved on to Illinois, to the small town of Olney where he grew to adulthood. It was there that he met and married Elizabeth Swallen in 1863.

There is some confusion about when Elizabeth was actually born. Verbal family history give various years of birth for Elizabeth (Swallen) Bohnstedt, the likeliest one being 1844. However, the grave marker for Elizabeth Bohnstedt in Speicher Family Cemetery seems to give her year of birth as 1856. This presents a problem: Although this would make Elizabeth 68 years old when she died, this would also make Elizabeth only 10 years old when her first daughter, Samantha, was born. Either the date on the marker is incorrect, or it's possible that Elizabeth was Georg August Heinrich Gottlieb Bohnstedt's second wife, and he had been married before, from which marriage the older children were born. However, this is only theory, and we have not yet discovered another wife. Also, James was twenty-seven years old when his first known child, Samantha, was born. This is generally about the age when young men at that time began starting their own families. For now, the mystery of Elizabeth’s year of birth remains.

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The twins, Albert and Alfred, born 1868 in Illinois

Two years after Samantha's birth twin boys were born to James and Elizabeth; Alfred and Albert. When Alfred and Albert passed away many years later their descendants would see their grave markers with different years of birth; 1867 for Alfred, and 1868 for Albert. But there is ample documentary evidence that they were twins, both born in 1868. The first hint is the American tradition of naming twins with similar names or names beginning with the same letter (Albert and Alfred had two first cousins named Verner and Vaden Bohnstedt who were twins, born 21 years later in 1889).

1. Grave marker of Albert and Viola Bohnstedt in Fairview Cemetery in Servia, Wabash County, Indiana
2. Grave marker of Alfred and Lora Bohnstedt in South Whitley Cemetery, South Whitley, Indiana.  The year of birth for Alfred (1867) is incorrect.  There is sufficient documentation to show that Albert and Alfred were twins, and that they were born in 1868.

As for documentation, the first item is an 1870 census record of Olney, Illinois. Page 15 and 16 of this record, in Dwelling 112, lists the family of James Bohnstedt and wife Elizabeth. Alfred and Albert are listed on page 16, and are both clearly listed with the age of 2, and there is a notation in quotation marks next to each that says “twin”. Ten years later, when the census was taken, James’s family appears in the 1880 census for Madison Illinois (near Olney). Not only are Albert and Alfred listed with the notation “twins”, they are listed on the same line! All of this points to one conclusion: that although Albert Bohnstedt’s year of birth is listed on his death certificate in 1929 as “1867”, it was a documentational error. Indeed, when Albert was buried the error was corrected on his grave marker which states his year of death as 1868. As for Alfred, the opposite problem occurred. When he died in 1934, his death certificate correctly gives his year of death as 1868, but his grave marker, amazingly, says 1867 !!

Albert and Alfred WERE twins.  (1) 1870 census of Olney Illinois, with entries for Albert and Alfred, BOTH listed as 2 years old, and both with notations "twins".  (2) 1880 census of Madison Illinois with one single entry for both Alfred and Albert on the same line, listed as 12 years old, and with the notation "twins".  Keep in mind that these two census records were taken ten years apart by different census takers.

The next child of James and Elizabeth, Lydia May “Liddie”, was born in 1872 in Illinois, as was her younger brother, Isaac Carl Sylvester, born in 1874. Now we come to another anomaly; that the next child who appears on record for James and Elizabeth was Margaret Genevieve, born in 1881 in Illinois.

There is a seven-year gap between the two children. In those days there was no such thing as birth control except for abstinence or divorce, so there should have been at least one, possibly two children born between Isaac and Margaret. If there were any children born between Isaac and Margaret they would have appeared on the 1880 census – unless they died before the census was taken. There is also another gap between Margaret and the last child of record for James and Elizabeth; Florence Ida, born in 1885, which leaves room for one more child. A child born during that time may have appeared on the 1890 census. The only problem was that most of the 1890 paper census records were destroyed in a large fire, so a child could have been born to James and Elizabeth after Florence, but died before his/her 16th birthday. The reason I bring this up is because there was family anecdotal information that there were three other children; George, Marcella, and Katherine, or “Katy”. But so far I have found no records, including birth certificates, to validate any of this.


"I want to go to Indiana"

According to one family legend, passed down from Clinton Milford “Skinny” Bohnstedt, his grandfather “James” Bohnstedt decided one day he was done living in Illinois and wanted to move to Indiana. As the story was told

My grandfather, Gottlieb, according to grandmother Elizabeth, came in the house one day and said, "I want to go to Indiana". She said he throwed all the house furnishings he could get in a wagon, hitched horses to the wagon and they started for Urbana, Indiana where most of their children were living. This was about "1902-03". They said the weather went bad soon and grandfather caught a bad cold which turned into pneumonia shortly after they arrived at Urbana, Indiana. Bad health continued for about two years, till his death in 1905.

It's logical to assume that James' reason for leaving Illinois for Indiana is that all but one of his children had already gone to Urbana, Indiana and nearby areas.  As far as why everyone (except for Isaac Carl) left Illinois for Indiana, that remains unknown to me.  One excerpt from Clinton's verbal history recalled the locations of the family home and some of the ancestral graves in Urbana Indiana at the turn of the century:

According to my father, Alfred J. Bohnstedt, [the family] home was one mile south of Olney on what is now St Rd 130, or "Main Street", turn right (west) one mile to first road right, go north 1/4 mile, then turn left to first or second intersection. 'Home' was there on the north west corner of the intersection. My great-grandfather...and my great-grandmother.... were buried in Lindon "Old German" Cemetery, one mile south of Olney on St Rd 130, turn right (west) one mile. The old cemetery is there on the north-east corner of the intersection. This is the road I used to go to their home also. There is an old school or church across the road south from the cemetery. I, Clinton M. Bohnstedt, went to what is left of the cemetery November 8, 1980 and could not find any markers left with the name Bohnstedt on them. My brother and father, Alfred J. Bohnstedt, were there in the late 1920's and found the markers and names of infants buried there.

I found the last sentence especially interesting because of the rumor or hearsay that James and Elizabeth had produced three more children; that Clinton's brother (unidentified) and his father, Alfred, had gone to the "Old German Cemetery" and found the markers and names of infants there.  I finally did identify and locate the "Old German Cemetery" (now called the "Linden Lawn Cemetery").  Using a combination of Information from the "Findagrave" website, Google Maps satellite imagery, and Clinton Milford "Skinny" 's description I was able to locate it, right where Skinny said it was.  Some of the street names had been changed, but it was still there.  I did a search of the name registry for that cemetery and didn't find any Bohnstedts. If there were any there they are no longer visible.  However, given the large number of Bohnstedts buried in Haven Hill Cemetery, it seems safe to assume that most of the family in Olney and the surrounding area would have made use of that cemetery.

1. Olney, Illinois area, with Haven Hill Cemetery just north of Olney, and the "Old German" Cemetery south/southwest of Olney identified by yellow pins.
2. Satellite view of Haven Hill Cemetery
3. Satellite view of the "Old German" Cemetery (Linden Lawn Cemetery)

The first to leave was probably Samantha, who married Samuel C. Speicher in Illinois in 1884. Their first child, Elijah, was born in 1883. We don’t have a birth certificate to verify where he was born, but a Findagrave.com memorial record says that he was born in Indiana. However … marriage records for Samantha and Samuel indicate that they were married in March 1884 in Illinois. Having a child out of wedlock was unusual in that age, and when it did happen, attempts were made to cover it.  We don't know if that's what happened here, or whether one of the records involved is inaccurate.

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1. According to the History of Wabash County, Indiana, by Clarkson Weesner, this was the Speicher family farm where Samantha (Bohnstedt) Speicher and her husband, Samuel Speicher, made their home and built their family

2. Speicher Family; I believe the individuals here are identified as follows: L-R Top: Ethel, Florence, Otto, Samantha (mother). L-R Bottom: Thressa, Samuel (father), Lora, Charles.  Recent research reveals that Elijah Speicher, who we thought had been born (and died) in 1904, may have actually been born in 1883, and was working as a servant or farmhand in another household by the time he was 16 years old.  That would explain his absence from this picture.  Based on the apparent age of the youngest boy, Charles, who appears to be about 2-3 years old, I think that the picture was taken about 1897-1898.

As far as available records indicate, Samantha and Samuel had a total of nine children. The oldest, Elijah Benjamin, was born in or about 1883, but he died when he was about 21 years old. The next, Florence Amanda, was born in 1885 in Indiana. She married in 1908 in Urbana Indiana to Edwin Meyer, and they had – according to currently available records - five children. Both Florence and her husband were Chiropractors. Samantha and Samuel’s third child, Ethel Anne, was born 1886 in Indiana. She married in 1925 to Fred Pauling, and they had three children. Otto Christian Speicher was born in 1888 in Urbana Indiana. He married in 1917 to Ruth Rager, and they had three children. The fifth child, Thressa Elizabeth was born in 1890 in Wabash County, Indiana, but she died when she was 14 years old, in April 1904, just a few months before her older brother, Elijah. Lora Mae was born in 1893 – most likely in Indiana. She was married in 1924 in Urbana Indiana to Carl Stohl, a Swedish immigrant, and they had three children. The seventh child of Samantha and Samuel, Charles Speicher, was born in 1895 in Urbana, Indiana. He married in 1909 to Mary Moyer, and they had three children. Carol Evangeline was born in 1899 in Indiana. But she died in 1912 when she was 13 years old. A cemetery record suggests that Samantha and Samuel had one more child, Isaac, who was born - and died - in 1901.

1. This photo of the Speicher family must have been taken in mid-1904, and is from the book History of Wabash County, Indiana, by Clarkson Weesner.  L-R, Back Row; Elijah Benjamin (about 21 years old),  Florence Amanda (about 19), Otto Christian (about 16), Ethel Anne (about 18).  L-R, Front Row; Carol Evangeline (about 5 years old), Samuel (Father), Samantha (Mother), Lora Mae (about 11), and Charles (about 9).  Absent are Thressa, having died in April 1904, and the youngest, Isaac, having died the same year he was born in 1901, possibly stillborn.  [NOTE: The caption under the photo identifies some of the children as "Florence, Elizabeth, Otto, Theresa [Thressa], Laura [Lora], Charles and Carol".  I believe this to be inaccurate, and I believe that Thressa is not in this picture.  Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge there were no children in this family named "Elizabeth", unless the author or photographer incorrectly identified Ethel as Elizabeth. See the paragraph below for an explanation of how the identification and dates were arrived at].

2. Grave of Samantha and Samuel Speicher in the Speicher Family Cemetery, Urbana, Indiana

With regard to the photo above;

We know that Samantha and Samuel Speicher had nine children; four boys and five girls. Seven are pictured here with the parents; four boys and three girls. The question is, which of the five girls are missing? The key lies with the oldest boy; Elijah. We had only a date of death for Elijah and no other records for this boy, so we thought that he had died as a baby, or was stillborn. But evidence later surfaced (a census record) which revealed that he had been born about 1883 and was working as a “servant” (probably a farmhand) for a neighbor. We also found a grave marker and cemetery record for Elijah which indicating that he died in December 1904. In this picture we do see three boys in all, so the oldest one, on the viewers left, must be Elijah. (The youngest boy, Isaac, died as an infant or was stillborn). With that in mind we can easily conclude that the picture must have been taken before December 1904. We can also safely conclude that the two oldest girls in the back row are Florence and Ethel. That leaves the two younger girls in front to be determined. Having identified Florence and Ethel, we need only determine which two of the three remaining girls – Lora Mae, Thressa, or Carol - is in the picture. Since we know that Carol lived until 1912 we can assume she is not deceased and is therefore in the picture. Lora Mae lived until 1963, so she must be the last remaining girl. That means that Thressa is the missing girl. We also know that Thressa died in April 1904. Since Elijah died in December 1904 this picture must have been taken between April 1904 and December 1904. In other words, Thressa had recently died, and Elijah would also die within months after the photo was taken.

Having calibrated the date of the picture to mid-1904, we can accurately identify everyone in the picture and their respective ages. In the back row, L-R; Elijah Benjamin (about 21 years old), Florence Amanda (about 19), Otto Christian (about 16), Ethel Anne (about 18). In the front row, L-R; Carol Evangeline (the youngest, about 5), Samuel (father, about 55), Samantha (mother, about 38), Lora Mae (about 11), Charles (about 9).

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1-2. Grave markers of Georg August Heinrich Gottlieb "James" and Elizabeth Bohnstedt in the Speicher Cemetery, Urbana, Indiana. The date of birth - 1856 - on Elizabeth's marker is not even close to her true year of birth as she would have been seven years old when she married James.  How and where the crafters of this grave marker got the date of 1856 is literally beyond imagination.

With regard to the lives and families of the twins, Albert and Alfred Bohnstedt, I leave that to the next two chapters.  After the twins, Albert and Alfred, Lydia May “Liddie” was married in 1899 to Charles Leaf. As far as is verifiable they had seven children in Indiana; Raymond Lemuel (1900), Edward Clement (1902), Tressia Elizabeth (1904), Fern Gotlieb (1906), Vera Nancy (1907), Nora Ellen (1910), and Otto Hugh (1911).  In a strange, perhaps even bizarre, coincidence, Tressia Elizabeth Leaf was born April 9, 1904, just 19 days before her cousin, Thressa Elizabeth Speicher (Samantha's daughter) died on April 28, 1904.

Grave of Lydia and Charles Leaf in South Whitley Cemetery, South Whitley, Indiana 

James and Elizabeth’s fifth child, Isaac Carl Sylvester Bohnstedt was born in Olney Illinois, like his siblings, but instead of moving on to Indiana, Isaac stayed in Illinois, and it is from him that the Bohnstedts in Illinois descended.   That family line is discussed in the next section below; The Descendants of Isaac Carl Bohnstedt in Illinois.

1. John Heinnickel and Margaret (Bohnstedt) Heinnickel
2. Family of John and Margaret Heinnickel

There is an odd 7-year gap between Isaac Carl and the next child; Margaret Genevieve, who was born in January 1881 in Illinois. Margaret married in 1900 in Indiana to John Heinnickel, a German immigrant from Bavaria. Margaret and John had five children in Indiana; Anne Marie (1901), Isaac Sylvester (1903), Florence Bernice (1908), Ruth (1911) and John Homer (1914).  It's possible that Isaac Sylvester was named for his uncle Isaac Carl Sylvester.

Grave of Margaret and John Heinnickel in Fairview Cemetery, Servia, Indiana

James and Elizabeth’s last known child, Florence Ida, was born in 1885 in Richland County Illinois, and married in 1909 in Indiana to William Henry Walters. As far as we know Florence and William had two children; Ernest Matthew (1910) and Barbara Madalaine (1914).

1. Florence Ida (Bohnstedt) and her older sister, Margaret (Bohnstedt) Heinnickel
2. Grave of Florence and William Walters in South Whitley Cemetery, South Whitley, Indiana



The Descendants of Isaac Carl Bohnstedt in Illinois

Isaac Carl Bohnstedt was born in 1874 in Olney, Illinois, the sixth child and third son of James and Elizabeth Bohnstedt. The rest of Isaac's family - brothers, sisters, and parents - moved to Indiana when they got older, but Isaac stayed in Indiana.  But it wasn't the small town of Olney where the "family nest" had been.  It was to the north, in the towns of DuPage County outside of Chicago, and it was this move to northern Illinois that shaped the lives and culture of his descendants for generations to come.

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1. L-R: brothers Alfred Bohnstedt and Isaac Bohnstedt
2. Isaac Bohnstedt, second from left. It is unclear who the other young men sitting with him are. They might be classmates at college or they might be students of his own.

Isaac attended North Central College in Illinois, and since the Bohnstedt family in Illinois began expanding from Naperville Illinois, outside of Chicago, my best guess is that the college being referenced here was in fact North Central College in Naperville, a private school. After completing his college education Isaac pursued an academic career as a teacher. In September 1901 Isaac married Dora Ellen Matter in DuPage County - again, probably Naperville. Isaac and Dora had two children, both born in DuPage County; Bernice Evangeline Bohnstedt (1904), and Earl Kenneth Bohnstedt (1909).

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1. Isaac Carl and Dora (Matter) Bohnstedt, wedding picture, circa 1901
2. Family of Isaac Carl Bohnstedt; L-R: Bernice, Dora (mother), Isaac, Earl, circa 1911
3. Grave of Isaac Carl and Dora E. Bohnstedt, Naperville Cemetery, Naperville Illinois

Bernice, apparently attended a music school, possibly a music program at College.  This may have been a music program at North Central College, where Bernice's father had attended.  Musical talent must have been a family trait in this family line because Bernice's brother, Earl, was a talented musician and played guitar and banjo in local bands. He married Ruth Selina Louma in 1933 at Naperville Illinois and they had three children; Robert Kenneth Bohnstedt, born in 1933 in Aurora Illinois, Donna Mae Bohnstedt , born in 1936 in Aurora Illinois, and James Earl Bohnstedt, born in 1941 in Naperville Illinois.

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1. Isaac and Dora's daughter, Bernice (music school photo)
Earl and Ruth (Louma) Bohnstedt, probably about 1933
3. Grave of Earl and Ruth Bohnstedt, Naperville Cemetery

Donna Mae Bohnstedt was a graduate of the National College of Education (now Lewis University), earning a Masters degree. She was married twice, first to Robert Townsend, and second to Thomas Williams, a marketing director for Standard Oil. During her marriage to Robert, Donna had four children, Scott, David, Denise, and Mark.

1. Donna Mae Bohnstedt, High School picture
2. Grave of Donna Mae (Bohnstedt) Williams, Naperville Cemetery, Illinois


The Family of Robert Kenneth Bohnstedt

Robert married Helen Gehrke in Naperville Illinois in 1959, and they started their family in nearby Aurora. They had one son in 1960, Bret, who became a cement finisher like his father. They also had three daughters; Shirley (1961), Sherri (1963), and Sally (1965). At this writing both Shirley and Sally have children of their own.

1. High School picture, Robert Kenneth Bohnstedt
2. High School picture, Robert's wife, Helen Fay Gehrke

3. Grave of Helen Fay Bohnstedt (1939-2016) and Robert Kenneth Bohnstedt (1933-2003), Naperville Cemetery, Illinois.

It appears that Robert and Helen's son, Bret, never married or had children of his own.  As for Sherri Lynn, records indicate that she married a man named William Edwards, but with regard to family and children, that remains unknown at this time.

High School Pictures; Robert and Helen's children.
L-R: Bret Robert (1960), Shirley Anne (1961), Sherri Lynn (1963), and Sally Fay (1965).


     The Family of James Earl Bohnstedt

James Earl Bohnstedt married Diane Helen Kocher in 1964 in Naperville Illinois. He developed his skills as an electrician and built a successful electrical contracting company called "C.J. Power", a company which still operates in and around the Chicago area today. Together James and Diane had six children; four sons and two daughters; Charles James (1964), Dawn Marie (1966), James Kenneth (1967), Shawn Marie (1969), Chad Robert (1972), and Robert Joseph (1982).

1. James Earl Bohnstedt
2. James's wife, Helen Diane Kocher
3. The company that James Bohnstedt founded; C.J. Power Inc.

James and Helen's daughters; Dawn Marie and Shawn Marie both married and started families in the early 1990s.  After earning her nursing degree from Waubonsee College Sawn married Mark Anthony Wagner in 1991.  They had three sons, Eric, Ryan and Jacob.  Dawn attended Aurora College and earned her degree in education.  She married Tracy Rogers in 1992, and they had four children; Chad, Jenna, Becky, and Jack.  The youngest of James and Helen's children; Robert Joseph "Bobby" Bohnstedt married in 2011 to Kristen Miller, and they have three children; Brody Paul (2012), Hudson James (2014), and Veda Irene (2019).  Bobby works in the family business, "C.J.Power" as an electrician.

1. Dawn Marie Bohnstedt, school picture
2. Shawn Marie Bohnstedt, school picture
3. The youngest of James and Helen's children, Robert Joseph "Bobby" Bohnstedt

James and Helen's oldest, Charles James Bohnstedt, married Karen Ingrid Webb in 1995 in Sandwich, Illinois.  He works for "C.J.Power", the family electrical contracting business as an electrician and a director/senior manager.  He also worked with his wife, Karen, in hospitality management as a Director of Sales, Marketing and Event Coordinator.  Charles and Karen have two children; Drew Charles Bohnstedt, born in 1997 in Aurora Illinois, and Tara Ingrid, born in 1999 in Aurora.

1. Charles James Bohnstedt, school picture
2. Karen Ingrid Webb, school picture

James and Helen's oldest, Charles James Bohnstedt, married Karen Ingrid Webb in 1995 in Sandwich, Illinois.  He works for "C.J.Power", the family electrical contracting business as an electrician and a director/senior manager.  He also worked with his wife, Karen, in hospitality management as a Director of Sales, Marketing and Event Coordinator.  Charles and Karen have two children; Drew Charles Bohnstedt, born in 1997 in Aurora Illinois, and Tara Ingrid, born in 1999 in Aurora.

1. James Kenneth Bohnstedt, school picture
2. James's wife, Kimberly Roisland, High school picture
3. Katherine Marie "Katie" (Bohnstedt) Anderson, Husband Adam and daughters Adalyn, Makenna and Avery

James Kenneth Bohnstedt followed the family tradition of working in the family business - "C.J.Power", and in 1988 married Kimberly Roisland. James and Kimberly had three children; Katherine Marie "Katie", in 1985, Brandon James in 1992, and Alexandra Kristine "Alex" in 1997.

1. Brandon and Brandy Bohnstedt, with daughters Rylie Mae (left) and Audrey Layne
2. Katie, Alexandra Kristine "Alex", and Brandon Bohnstedt, at Alex's graduation from Illinois State University

Katie started her own family in 2014 when she and her husband, Adam Anderson, had their first child.  Brandon, an Information Technical Analyst started his family with Brandy Nelson in 2015 with their first child (Rylie) and again in 2019 with the birth of Audrey.  Brandon also works as an electrician for the family firm.

1.  Chad Robert Bohnstedt, school picture
2.  Juliet' "Julie" Stevenson, Chad's wife; school picture

Chad Robert Bohnstedt graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting, Masters degree in Accounting Systems. He pursued a successful career in accounting and at this writing is with the prestigious firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, based in London. In 1997 he married in Rockford Illinois to Juliet Anne Stevenson, an obstetrics nurse. Juliet is also a freelance photographer and built her own business; Juliet Jade Photography. Chad and Juliet three children during 1999-2003; Ethan Von Bohnstedt born in 1999 in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Samuel Lyle born in 2001 in Milwaukee, and Cooper James Craig, born in 2003 in Naperville, Illinois. Chad and Juliet later adopted a young girl from China named Rowan. At this writing Ethan and Samuel are both attending Indiana University.

1-3.  Chad and Juliet's three sons; Ethan Von Bohnstedt,
Samuel Lyle Bohnstedt, and Cooper James Craig Bohnstedt


See Also:
3-32 /
Genealogy 3-3-4: America; Illinois and Indiana


Online Resources
C.J. Power Inc., Electrical Contractor


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