These Chicago German-Language Newspaper Obituaries helped me break through my Austrian genealogy brick wall.

Searching for an Austrian Birthplace

Chicago German-Language Newspaper Obituaries

Churchyard at the Ladis Catholic Church.

Regular readers know how elusive Gottfried Hann, my Austrian great-grandfather, has been. His Chicago Abendpost and Der Westen obituaries were found at the Newberry Library. One of them had the fact I’d been searching for: Gottfried’s birthplace of Ladis, Tyrol, Austria.

Gottfried died two months before my grandmother was born. And by the time I was born, no one in the family remembered much about him. So it made me extraordinarily happy to find Gottfried’s birthplace.

Translations of Chicago German-Language Newspaper Obituaries

My German Genealogy translation class is over. But I want to keep my skills up. So I’m translating these two records I’ve had for a while. I want to know more than just the name of Gottfried’s birthplace.

Chicago Abendpost, Samstag, den 17 October 1896, S. 4:

Chicago German-Language Newspaper Obituaries

Chicago Abendpost, Samstag, den 17 October 1896, S. 4

Gestorben: Gottfried Hann, geboren am 2. May 1861 im Ladis, Tyrol, 35 Jahre alt. Gestorben am 17. Oktober 1896. Hinterläßt** Frau und zwei kinder. Beerdigung findet statt Montag, den 19. Oktober. Nachmittags 2 Uhr. von 21 Dayton Str. Tyroler und Vorarlberger Verein Chicago. F.A. Mathis, Sekretär. Daniel Kulin, Pres.

Died: Gottfried Hann was born on 2nd May 1861 in Ladis, Tyrol, 35 years old. Died on 17th October 1896. Leaving his wife and two children. Burial will be held Monday, 19th October. 2:30 o’clock in the afternoon. [Funeral party leaving] from 21 Dayton Street. Tyroler and Vorarlberg Club Chicago. F.A. Mathis, Secretary Daniel Kulin, President.

(I left the Victorian hearse ad in there because it’s cool. Gottfried’s family couldn’t afford a get-up like that. In fact, he was buried in a rented grave and when they family couldn’t pay, they buried him deeper and resold the plot at Saint Boniface Cemetery in Chicago.)

Der Westen (Illinois Staats-Zeitung), Sonntag, 18 Oktober 1896, S. 5:

Gegenseitiger Unterstützungsverein der Ver[einigte]* Oesterreicher und Bayern!

Den Mitgliedern zur Nachricht dass Gottfried Hann am 17. Oktober gestorben ist. Die Beamten und betreffenden Mitglieder haben sich am Montag Nachmittag um ½ 2 Uhr im Vereinslokale zu ver[s]ammeln,* um dem Verstorbenen die letzte Ehre zu erweisen. 

Mutual Support Association of the Brotherhood of Austrians and Bavarians!

Message to the members that Gottfried Hann died on 17th October. The officials and concerned members on Monday afternoon at 1/2 to 2 o’clock to gather in the clubhouse, to pay their last respects to the deceased.

I was reading the other day that many insurance companies got their start from ethnic clubs such as these. The modest dues each week provided small payments to families if something befell the man of the house. I hope my great-grandmother, who was about to give birth and had two other children under the age of four, was helped by these organizations.

*Hat tip to the Facebook German Genealogy Records Transcription group for the help with the “ver.” abbreviations in this record and ** to sharp-eyed reader Willibald Schliemann. Thanks to all.

Using German-Language Newspapers

Have you used foreign-language newspapers in your genealogy research? For more information about finding German-language newspapers, click here.