For today’s Surname Saturday post I’m choosing the Hann family of Austria and Chicago. 

I posted the other day about my mysterious great-grandfather, Gottfried Ernst Hann, who died two months before my grandmother was born and who remains maddeningly elusive, despite a lot of searching.

I know he was born in Austria, probably in the Tyrolean region, in 1861. I know a Catholic priest married Gottfried and my great-grandmother, Anna Lovisa Larsdotter, on 27 Apr 1891, in Champion, Marquette, Michigan. At the time of the wedding, Gottfried was working as a teamster at an iron-ore mine.

They had three children:

  • Ernest Max (1893-1942)
  • Louise Marie (1895-1977)
  • Frieda Caroline (1896-1979)
Sometime after April of 1893, the Hann family moves from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Chicago. Gottfried appears in Chicago city directories three times:
1894: 33 Burling, Chicago, Cook, Illinois; laborer
1895: 166 Dayton, Chicago, Cook, Illinois; porter
1896: 18 Fremont, Chicago, Cook, Illinois; laborer

On 17 Oct 1896, Gottfried died in Chicago at the age of 35 (see above). He was buried the following day at St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery in a term (rented) grave. When the family didn’t have the money to purchase the plot at the end of the rental period, the church buried his body deeper and resold the plot. On 30 Dec 1896, his posthumous daughter, my grandmother was born, leaving my great-grandmother with three children under the age of five to raise on her own.

The parish records had no entry for a funeral. There is one possible immigration record for a Gottfried Haan. He doesn’t appear in any census because he probably arrived in 1885 and died in 1896. No naturalization papers or voter registration exist. No obituary in the Chicago papers, but I’ve hired a researcher to check the German-language Chicago papers. So my search for a hometown or birthplace in Austria for Gottfried continues. I’ve got plans for the Catholic Church in Champion, the local historical society, and the public library while I’m there. So the Hann family of Austria and Chicago remains a bit mysterious.

Update: Happy dance! I did find Gottfried’s birthplace, his family, and more, after many years of research. Read about it here.

For links to many many resources online for Chicago genealogy research, click here.