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Home > Family History > My Mother's Ancestors > Henry and Carolina Reinhard


Henry and Carolina Reinhard



(Reprint From News: August 17, 2001)


If you've been following my website, you know that one of the reasons that I decided to take this trip was to do some family research around America and to learn more about where I came from, something I'm doing not just for myself, of course, but for everyone in my family.  Up to this point, all of the ancestors that I've researched on this trip have been on my Dad's side and, more specifically, on my Dad's mother's side, including the Bradstreets and Chaplins in Massachusetts and the Myers' in Michigan (see My Father's Ancestors: Map and Photo Essay).  It was now time to shift gears and start researching my mother's side of the family.


All of my mother's ancestors came to America from northern Europe in the late 1800s and homesteaded on the Great Plains (see My Mother's Ancestors:  Map and Photo Essay).  Her father's ancestors came from Germany and Norway in the 1870s and homesteaded near Windom, Minnesota, which is why I was here.  After leaving Windom, I was planning to drive to northeastern South Dakota, which is where her mother's ancestors, from Norway, homesteaded in the 1880s.  Both families moved to central North Dakota around 1900, where my grandfather met my grandmother.  To my knowledge, I didn't have any relatives in either Minnesota or South Dakota, and perhaps none in North Dakota.  Unfortunately, my mother never talked that much about her family's history so this would be a real learning experience, not only for me but also for my siblings and their kids.  I wanted to document my mother's family history as best I could not only for myself but, more importantly, for future generations.


I spent two days in the Windom area, mostly at the Cottonwood County Historical Society.  There, with the help of a couple of delightful ladies, Bethene and Erma, I discovered some old plat maps of this area showing where my great-great-grandfather, Henry Reinhard and his wife Carolina, homesteaded in the 1870s after emigrating from Hannover, Germany.  One sunny afternoon, equipped with copies of the old plat maps, I found Henry's homestead and, amazingly enough, discovered a barn that I knew he must have built since it was dated 1893, which was when Henry lived there.  Of course, I never knew Henry (my great-great grandfather) or his son, Henry Jr. (my great-grandfather), or HIS son, Edward (my grandfather), all of whom had died before I was born, but it was a thrill nonetheless.  


As I walked around the empty barn, a couple of farmers about my age named Mike and Roger stopped by because they saw my truck parked there.  I introduced myself and talked to them for about a half-hour and as we talked, I discovered that Mike is a distant relative of mine, the only relative that I know of in the state of Minnesota.


I won't bore you with all the other stories that I learned about Henry's family.  I'll just say that I learned a lot and that it was all quite interesting.



Above left:  Cooking brats (bratwurst) on the prairie in southern Minnesota.

Above center:    County Courthouse in Windom, Minnesota.  Windom was where my great-grandfather, Henry C. Reinhard (Henry Jr.) and my great-grandmother, Petrina, got married in 1890.

Above right:  I spent two days here in the Cottonwood County Historical Society and learned that Henry's father, Henry Sr., homesteaded here in the 1870s.  Bethene and Erma, shown here, were a great help.



Above left:  After studying plat maps from the 1890s, I learned where Henry Sr.'s farm was and drove out to it.  This barn had the date "1893" painted on it, so I knew that Henry had built it since he lived here from 1879 until 1910, the year he died.

Above center:  The farmland on the right was where my great-grandmother, Petrina, had lived with her parents in the late 1800s.  The farm roads in the Midwest are laid out in a grid pattern and are spaced exactly one mile apart.  There aren't many landmarks around, so to navigate you've got to watch your odometer.

Above right:  After walking through the Westbrook Cemetery, I found the gravestone (in dark gray) of Henry Sr. and his wife, Carolina, who both died around 1910.  As I learned, Henry and Carolina were from Hanover, Germany.  I also learned that Henry Jr. and his wife, Petrina, moved to Regan, North Dakota in 1907, which was were I'd be heading in a few weeks.