9 Maria Katarina Dahlinger

This page was last updated 3 November 2002 -- rak.

9. Maria Katarina Dahlinger 1850 - 1922

Discovering great-grandmother Mary's ancestry took several steps separated by many years and was full of twists and turns.  

My first baby step was a school or cub scout project about 1948.  The job was to construct a family tree going back to my great-grandparents.  Both dad and his mom, my grandmother, told me that my great-grandparents Kraus were John and Mary Kraus.  I suspect that is the first time I had heard and remembered Mary's name.  I still have the little, tattered family tree that I printed in pretty bad hand at that time.

The second step had to do with courtship.  My intended, Adele Schmidt, attended the Arlington Mennonite Church behind which Mary and David were buried.  During the 1950's, I was often at the church with Adele.  So several times I visited David and Mary's grave and  noted that their stone said she was born on March 17, 1850.

The third step was attending the Kraus family reunion in Hutchinson in the summer of 1960 during which various older members told me that Mary was a Dahlinger and had come from the village of Rosenberg.  I also thought they had told me that her full name was Mary Dorothy, or Maria Dorothea in the German.

The fourth step was a series of interviews in 1960-62.  During that period I interviewed four senior family members: 1) my great aunt Lottie (Beltz) Geis, grandmother's elder sister; 2) my great uncle Alexander Kraus; 3) my cousin Henry Fromm whose grandfather, Fritz Dahlinger, had been Mary's brother, and 4) Mrs. Peter Kraus of Tampa, Kansas, daughter-in-law of Philip Kraus, the first of "our" Krauses to settle in Marion County.  Great uncle Ferd Kraus was my guide for the middle two visits.  The upshot was absolute confirmation that Mary had been a Dahlinger, that Fritz had been her brother, that these two siblings together with their spouses and children had come to the US on the same ship, and that their parental family was from Rosenberg.  Unfortunately, no one had any idea as to who her parents were.

The fifth step came when I learned that I could buy Dahlinger entries in the 1857 Russian census of Rosenberg.  So I ordered this extract, receiving my copy in 1998.  I opened it with eager anticipation expecting to find  6- or 7-year-old Maria Dorothy Dahlinger right there!  No such person was on the list.  There was no Maria Dorothea Dahlinger.   I was terribly disappointed and not sure what to do next.

The sixth step happened because of sheer doggedness.  All the senior family members were agreed that David, Mary and their eldest children came to the US in 1876, but I could not find them.  For almost 40 years I searched.  Various lists and indexes were available, but they were not listed in them.  I read through the microfilm of passenger lists for all ships bringing people to the US in 1876.  I could not find them.  Even when I found the exact reference to ship and date for Fritz Dahlinger and family, I could not find David and Mary Kraus on that ship.  I gave up looking for the adults and started looking for the kids ... David B, Mary and Anna.  Still no luck.  Finally, on the afternoon of 23 October 1998 in Washington, D.C. while at the National Archives mainly looking up stuff on my mother's family, I decided to have one more look at the ship which brought Fritz Dahlinger here.  Suddenly I saw David and Anna who were kids about the right age.  But the third child, a girl, was Dorothea, not Mary.  I looked at their parents.  Those names looked to me for all the world like Daniel and Catharina Strauss!  But I copied shiplist.jpg (186598 bytes) the entry and showed it to other more informed people who assured me that the name was Kraus and that the man's name was David.

The seventh step came out of desperation.  All the Dahlingers in the 1857 census had come there from either Galka or Shcherbakova about 1852 when Rosenberg was founded.  I reasoned that if I had a complete listing of the Galka- Sherbakovka- Rosenberg Dahlingers, I would most likely find our Mary.  So, although it promised to be quite expensive, on 30 November 1998 I ordered as complete a family tree as was possible from Volga records for the Dahlingers of these three villages. 

The eighth step was learning by experience with lots of Volga records and from other more experienced researchers that among Volga Germans, as often as not, a person was known by his or her middle name.  Hence, on the passenger list the person we knew as Mary Dorothy Kraus, who had been baptized Maria Dorothea Kraus, was listed as Dorothea.  And her mother who we had known as Mary (Dahlinger) Kraus, who it turns out had been baptized as Maria Katharina Dahlinger, was "naturally" listed on the passenger list as Catharina!  All this time I had been looking for Maria Dorothea when I should have been looking for Maria Katharina!  I think this error was mine alone.  I think that early on I had confused David's mother's name with his wife's name.  So here was our family right on the ship they were supposed to be on, in the year they were supposed to have arrived!  And I had the correction for Maria Katharina Dahlinger's name.

So it was back to the 1857 census for step nine and another look.  There I found two candidates for our Mary: Maria Catharina Dalienger age 6 and Maria Catharina Dalienger age 12.  My guess was that the 6-year-old whose family was from Shcherbakovka was our Mary.  Although the ages given in the censuses often were not very accurate, hers was almost exactly right for the girl that would later become David Kraus' bride, and our Mary just would not have been close to being 12.  I had long since forgotten how definite Henry Fromm (grandson of Fritz) and Alex Kraus (son of Mary) had been that Mary and Fritz  were siblings.  I only vaguely remembered that they were close relatives and I did not now even look to see if the six-year-old Maria Catharina had a brother named Frederick, Fred or Fritz.

Step ten was the much anticipated arrival of the Dahlinger family tree in July 2000.  Fortunately it added no more candidates for our Mary.  Unfortunately, it provided no more information about the two candidates I had.  So I stuck with the assumption that the 6-year-old in the 1857 census was our Mary.  In the meantime, I had been in touch with more descendants of Fritz who never heard of Mary Dahlinger Kraus and who did not realize that Fritz and family lived next door to his sister and her family while in Marion County, Kansas.  During this period I did not recheck my by now 40-year-old notes on my interviews with senior family members.  I thought I had Mary's origins resolved.

Step eleven was a thunderbolt.  On 29 April 2002 I received from cousin Betty Ferguson a crystal-clear obituary for Mary.  It said that her father had died early and that she had been raised solely by her mother.  That was a revelation!  Of the two Maria Catharina's in the 1857 Rosenberg census, only one had had a father who died when she was young ... and that was the one listed as a 12-year-old whose family was from Galka!  At the time of the 1857 census the father in this family was already dead.  Census takers seem to have had a extraordinarily difficult time trying to decide how to get their information when they did not have the traditional male head-of-household to deal with.  Among other things in 1857 it is highly likely that only long-term male heads of households knew a bit of Russian since they had to deal with Russia authorities with some regularity.  It is also highly likely that females and younger males know virtually none.  As a result, all of the ages of children, and perhaps some of the names, in this household are, in my eyes, suspect.

Step twelve was going back through the notes of my 1960's interviews which made it abundantly clear that Fritz and Mary Dahlinger were siblings.  The 6-year-old Maria Catharina in the 1857 census had no brother named Frederich.  The 12-year-old Maria Catharina in the 1857 census among several brothers listed had an elder brother named Georg Friedrich Dahlinger.  Here was Fritz, albeit with an incorrect age, right where he should be!  Now I was absolutely certain that I had Mary's family of origin and, through the Dahlinger family tree, her ancestry.  Her parents were Johann Adam and Maria Sybil Dahlinger of Galka.

I thought the road had come to an end.  But it had not.

Step thirteen was the realization on the evening of 21 November 2002, that if Fred had married in 1853, both he and his wife would be listed in the 1857 Rosenberg census if either was.  His wife was not there so neither was Fred!  He and Elizabeth having married in 1853 most likely were living with or near her parents in Shcherbakova at the time of the 1857 Rosenberg census.  So the Georg Friedrich of the Rosenberg census and of the Dahlinger Family Chart is NOT our Frederick, but is his younger brother!  Now to find out if there is a 1857 or 1858 Scherbakovka census available.


To obtain a copy of the Dahlinger family tree, click on: http://rakgen.homestead.com/index.html


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