I’ve been doing research on my husband’s Dabelstein line as I prepare to go to Chicago to the Newberry Library and Concordia Cemetery. Wilhelmina Dabelstein was my husband’s great-grandmother. I know that she grew up in Chicago and I know her father was Andrew Dabelstein. I have the family group sheet filled out pretty completely except for the date of death for 1 brother. I decided to purchase a 1 month subscription to Footnote.com to see if the city directories could help me out.
When looking at the Chicago directories, I realized that Dabelstein was a pretty rare name in Chicago, which made me begin to wonder if the families that were listed could be related. Almost all of the Dabelstein men were bricklayers or masons, so it seemed likely that they could be related. I also found an “old German file” from the FBI on one of the Dabelstein names (a lawyer, not a bricklayer) that made me even more curious!
I began to build an Excel file with all of the information I could find on the families. Because I had been concentrating on the Chicago city directories, that information was stuck in my mind, so that’s where I started. I began to build my Excel file with each person listed along with their address from each directory. My goal was to be able to separate the families based on addresses because there were some duplicate first names. After assembling the information from directories for 1884 – 1916, I had a vague idea of who belonged to each family, but I wasn’t certain, so I decided to add census information from Ancestry. This helped me to be more certain of my breakdown and even made me realize that 1 person was listed under 2 different names (August and Gustav) – sometimes in the same directory.
Then, I realized (hand smack on forehead) that if I could find the birthplace for the different heads of each family, I could be pretty sure they were related in SOME way. I had found the birthplace of Wilhelmina’s father by finding the birth certificates for her siblings on pilot.familysearch.com, so I thought I’d see if I could find birth certificates for the other family and was thrilled to find one that confirmed the same village for Frank Dabelstein! He was 10 years older than Andrew, so he could be a brother or a cousin. There was a 3rd family – a mother and 2 children – all born in Germany. The 2 children were never married, so I’m not sure how to find a birthplace for them yet, but the ages and date of immigration do not appear to fit with my family but I’ll try to keep an open mind there.
Since I have this connection, I’m going to continue collecting all information possible in this Excel name study to see what potential information I can find on Andrew through Frank. My next step will be to look for immigration information for Frank.