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How the Dunteman(n) Name Came to America

Note: I’m writing this for the benefit of several distant cousins whom I’ve just met for the first time, all of them descended from the younger brother of my great-great grandfather. Facebook doesn’t allow any significant text formatting, so Contra gets it.

My research shows that the Dunteman(n) name came to America from Germany at least four times: Once to Chicago (my group), once to southern Illinois, once to Cincinnati, and once to rural Iowa. As best I can tell, all four emigrations came from one small area of Lower Saxony. Carol and I visited the little town of Schlarpe back in 2002, and were allowed to peruse the church’s life records (births, deaths, baptisms) with the help of a German couple we knew who drove us to Schlarpe from Bonn. Some of what I outline here came from the church’s records; some is on sites like Ancestry, and some came from family history fanatics elsewhere on our tree.

My great-great-great grandparents emigrated to Chicago some time in 1849 or 1850 (we don’t have passage records yet) probably in reaction to the European turmoil of 1848. Their names were Johann Karl Christian Duntemann (1808-1863) and Millizena Erdmann Duntemann (1814-1896). “Millizena” is the old German form of Melissa. German men and women of that era often had two or three “first” names and chose one for ordinary life. He went by Christian Duntemann. In Germany, the name Duntemann always had two n’s at the end. It also had an umlaut over the “u”. Most Duntemann descendents who came to America dropped the second “n” in the years running up to WWI, perhaps to sound less German. As best I know, the umlaut didn’t survive the crossing to the U.S.

Christian and Millizena Duntemann had nine known children. The first name used by those for whom we have record of all names is underlined:

  • Amelia Duntemann 1834-?
  • Johanne Caroline Millizena Duntemann 1837-?
  • Laura Duntemann 1841-1851?
  • Heinrich Duntemann 1843-1891
  • Christian Frederick Wilhelm Duntemann 1846-1927
  • William Duntemann 1850-1921
  • Louis Duntemann 1851-1928
  • Louise Duntemann 1854-1928
  • Hermann Duntemann 1859-1933

We know nothing about the two oldest girls except their birth dates. They might have remained with relatives in Germany, or perhaps been married off before the rest of their family emigrated. (Finding the family passage records would be a big help here.) The same was true of third daughter Laura, until Old St. John’s cemetery near O’Hare Field was condemned and the bodies moved in 2011. When Christian and Millizena’s remains were exhumed, the body of a child was found beside them. She was wearing small gold earrings, and by her size might have been as young as eight or as old as twelve. Church records are silent on her fate, but consider that cemetery plots were often purchased only when the first member of a family passed away. Church records do show that the plot was purchased by Christian in 1851. Laura was ten that year, so we’re fairly sure the small body found was hers.

All of the children except for the three oldest girls are known to have survived to adulthood, and all but one of those survivors now have many descendents. The exception is Hermann Duntemann, who had a son Emil in 1888 who survived only a few days. His wife, depressed for many years by the loss of her firstborn, committed suicide in 1920. There are stories that he married again later in life, but we’ve found no record of a second marriage, nor of other children.

One of the many still-open questions is whether Christian Duntemann’s younger brother Charles was the one who emigrated to southern Illinois, down near Effingham. A Duntemann descendent living there currently told me that Charles Duntemann’s death certificate listed his birthplace as Schlarpe, Germany. There’s a conflict in birth years, but such conflicts are fairly common in family history work. Schlarpe is a very small town (we’ve been there) and although another Charles Duntemann was possible in that era, it would be unlikely.

That’s the story of how my Duntemann bloodline got here. (I descend from Heinrich; the cousins I’ve recently heard from descend from William.) I haven’t been doing a lot of active searching for a few years, and my genealogy database program won’t install under Win7. So it’s time to go shopping for a new program, as I suspect my good cousins are about to shower me with facts I didn’t already know.


  1. TRX says:

    > won’t install under Windows 7

    Even with the “run as different Windows version” wossname setting in 7?

    If nothing else you can install your old Windows in a VM and reinstall your software there.

    BTW, if you ever go to 10 or Linux, you can move your existing 7 installation into a VM. The performance hit under VirtualBox is negligible, and you don’t even care what the new host OS is.

    1. True enough, and I already own VMWare Workstation. However, I am less tied to Family Tree Maker than I am to, say, Visio. FTM is just a database program with some domain-specific output reports. I discovered after I wrote this entry that the program has passed through several hands and has now apparently been re-homed and reissued by a small firm. ( owned it for a number of years and “retired” it several years ago.) Hell, I bought the version I have now in the 90s for Win9x, and it’s naive to expect it to work 20 years later. So I’ve decided to pop for the latest release, which will import the data files and run on any Windows version since XP. Problem solved.

  2. TRX says:

    Fair enough. For what it’s worth, any program that old, there’s a good chance it’ll run under WINE, and you don’t need Windows at all.

    I’m using an ancient 1990s version of Paint Shop Pro under WINE. It’s small, fast, and has a minimum number of clicks and keystrokes for the rotate-crop-resize work that’s most of what I do with graphics. Unless someone comes up with something demonstrably faster to use, they’ll pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    For that matter, I’m still using my old DOS text editor – PC-Write – that I wrote two books and some magazine articles with, back in the 1980s. Runs under dosemu right on the KDE desktop. It’s limited by modern standards, but my fingers know it so well it’s invisible.

    There’s also no decent native-mode CAD software that runs under Linux, so I run a virtual machine with XP for that, and for the handful of web sites that can somehow differentiate and reject Firefox on Linux, but will display with Firefox on Windows. Though since Fireflop’s developers have decided to abandon XP, I’m going to have to find a legal copy of Vista or 7 someday soon.

  3. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I still miss the XyWrite word processor from the ’90’s DOS era. XyWrite was the word-processing part of the massive Atex system used extensively in newspaper and magazine publishing of that era, which was able to handle the input of several news wires, and even accommodated a primitive form of messaging others on the network where I once worked. I still have a copy of the floppies on hard drive somewhere, although the floppies themselves have long since disappeared. Occasionally, I still come across an old .xyw file on my hard drive, created with XyWrite at some time in my now distant past.

    XyWrite was signed-up to be THE word-processing program offered by IBM, to be named Signature. At the very last minute (after the product had been produced, manuals printed, and retail boxes constructed for selling it) IBM reneged on the deal, and the developers were left holding all the debt to get to that point. My understanding is that the chief developer walked out, bought himself a sports car, and took off, moving to the Cape from Boston, never to touch XyWrite again.

    It was the only program at that time which could be coerced into properly formatting Hollywood and TV scripts without manually typing them. Wordperfect and Wordstar–XyWrite’s main competitors–were just not up to the complex task of formatting scripts. And XyWrite was fast–even on super-slow computers of that era.

    I had the chance to work in Europe for a while, and cubicles are not so common there. Long tables had workers lined up about 4 on each side. In a room of about 5 of those tables with 40 people working, “clickfest” is not a strong enough word for what went on. Windows introduced the mouse, and function keys suddenly lay dormant. I often wonder how much faster we could work, if that had not happened, and the click, move, click, move, click move with seldom a touch of the keyboard, were not the only way to get things done in the graphic display era. But at least the mouse way likely burns more calories.

  4. TRX says:

    I had to work in a cube farm once. My particular annoyance was the idiots who would push “speakerphone”, turn the volume all the way up, and then hold conversations by shouting.

    This was during one of the times when voice-operated computing was the Wave of the Future. I could just imagine someone trying to run a spreadsheet shouting “UP – UP – LEFT – LEFT – LEFT – SELECT – TEXT!” while surrounded by people doing almost the same thing…

  5. Jay Smith says:

    I’ve been researching the Cincinnati Duntemans. They came from Bollensen, about 7 km from Schlarpe. It seems likely the four Dunteman families that emigrated from that region to the US are related, but I haven’t found any records linking them.

    1. I think I have the passage records for two men who may have been father and son, from Bollensen to New York. (It’s buried somewhere in my Big Box of Miscellaneous Family History Records.) The Bureau County Duntemanns are from Volpriehausen, which (again) is just a few miles from Schlarpe. I’m pretty sure all the families are connected (and the Bureau County folks have a tree going back to the 1500s) so all that remains to be done are finding the missing links.

      1. Jay Smith says:

        I probably have the passage records you are referring to. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my Duntemanns back farther than the early 1800s. They arrived piecemeal from about 1860 to 1880, two brothers, one of whom had 2 sons and a daughter who also came over. The only German records I’ve located are the birth and baptism records of those 3 children.

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