Conducted Mostly by Jeff Duntemann and Mary Ellen Duntemann McGuire...
...but Assisted by a Host of Others!
Updated September 2, 2002
A Gathering of Fragments
It often begins with a gathering of fragments. For many years my aunt and
godmother Kathleen M. Duntemann has been sending me scraps of paper containing
lists of relatives, mostly but not entirely deceased. I've tried to remember
that I have an Uncle Henry and an Uncle George and an Uncle Albert (technically
great-great uncles, siblings of my great-grandfather Frank) but I always seem
to forget Uncle Williamor did they call him Bill? And who was Aunt
Ella again? And somewhere there was a guy named Roland DuntemanI was
asked once by a LaSalle Street laywer (whose copier I had come to repair) whether
I was, as he put it, "Roland's boy." Then there was Alta Eckhoff Blakely,
a mysterious woman who sent a lot of Dunteman(n)s mimeographed letters in 1975,
basically asking us who we were, and hinting that she had traced the Duntemann
line back through time to the 1500s, when the Duntemanns were millers in the small
German village of Verliehausen.
I kept it all in a file folder full of scraps, added to here and there through
contributions by my father's cousin John Phil Duntemann and a man I didn't know
named Joe Masonick, whose letter was originally sent to John Phil and from there
on to Aunt Kathleen, who then sent it to me. And another one of my father's
cousins, Betty Jane Duntemann St. Germain, gave me some amazing photos of the
Duntemann line back to my great-great grandfather Heinrich. Finally, of
course, were the Dunteman(n) names in the phone bookdid they somehow connect
There simply comes a day when the scraps hit critical mass. As
a simple matter of organization, I said, What the heck, and sat down and
typed in a family tree. By that time there were quite a few names,
and not just Dunteman(n)s but Butenschoens and Dohes and McGuires and many
others. I sent it to my sister and my aunt and my father's cousins
and scratched my head over what to do next. But what made the project
catch fire was the enthusiastic response of Mary Ellen Duntemann McGuire,
who without any formal agreement but simply the bond of shared enthisiasm
became my partner in a venture that will never truthfully be finished.
For as long as any descendent of the Dunteman(n) line remains unknown,
we will have work to do.
In October of 1997, I went to visit Mary Ellen, whom I had not seen since 1982,
when I had been a whole lot younger and considerably less bald. When I rang
the bell and she opened her door, she greeted me by saying, "My God, Jeff, you
look just like your dad! When I looked out the window I thought it was your
dad standing there!" And in a mysterious way, well, it wasfor I carry
him with me, in my memories and in every cell, in my strong hands and my insatiable
curiosity, in my grin and my faith and the very lines of my face. So I dedicate
my portion of this project to Frank W. Duntemann, Engineer (1922-1978) who once
said, When you build 'em right, they fly!
You did. And I do.
What We're Trying to Do
The history of a family is just that: The names, the dates, the stories that bind
a people together. We're trying to identify as many people as we can who
descend from those carrying the Dunteman(n) name. We're looking back in
time to find the earliest Duntemanns we can, and from them work forward to as
many people as are their descendents. I'm building a CD-ROM structure on
a Zip cartridge, containing the family tree and the photos and the stories, and
some day, when we have something we think people would enjoy exploring, we'll
start making CD-ROMs containing the structure and sending them to anyone in the
family who would like one.
This has never been done before. We've already collected more information
on the Dunteman(n) line than we believe anyone else has ever done. Mary Ellen
and I would like to eventually call a family reunion, back to DuPage County,
Illinois, where our clan of the Dunteman(n) family first settled after leaving
Duntemann, Dunteman, Dunterman
I write Dunteman(n) because the name has more than one spelling. In Germany
it was originally and remains Duntemann, with two final n's. Most who came
to America dropped the second n for simplicity's sake, or perhaps (as someone
suggested) to appear slightly less German. Furthermore, several families
in the Bureau County clan (more on clans below) began spelling the name Dunterman
in the last part of the 1800s. We're not sure why, exactlyperhaps they felt
it captured a little bit of the German accent.
In this document, for simplicity's sake, I'm going to use the original
form when discussing the family as a whole, and the other spellings only
when discussing individual people or branches of the family where that
spelling predominates. This isn't entirely because I'm a "two-n"
Duntemann myself, but simply because it was the original spelling, and
in looking back through time it's something that all of us can claim.
What, however, does it mean? Nobody really knows. The name
truly does go back to the 1500s, and almost certainly a good way beyond that,
at least to the era when the German peasants were required to take surnames.
Some have suggested that it is a corruption of Dunkelmann, which in German means,
"dark man," but as there are no Dunkelmanns to be found, even in Germany, this
is unlikely. Paul Dunteman of Phoenix heard that there is a Dunte river
in Germany, which could have been adopted as a surname by those who lived along
its banks. This could bethough try as they might, two of my German
friends have been unable to find any least trace of a Dunte river anywhere in
Europe. Still another story tells of a Swedish woman named Dunna, who married
a German who (perhaps because of Dunna's beauty, or cunning, or inner fire)
became known as Dunna's man, and passed the name to his descendents. Yet another
theory holds that the original Duntemann was an emigrant from Dunte, a city
in Latvia. I'm trying to locate some indication that the Latvian town of Dunte
existed under that name back before 1500, when we have our earliest mention
of the Duntemann name.
We may never know. That won't stop us from trying to find out!
The Duntemann Clans
You'll hear me speak of the various Duntemann clans in this document.
There are at least three clans of Duntemanns, and perhaps a couple more.
By a "clan" I mean a distinct line of descent going back across the Atlantic
to Germany. Back in Germany, of course, the clans may merge, and
one of the long-term goals of this project is to determine if this in fact
happens. We are almost certain that the two largest clans come together,
because they have been traced back to two small German towns less than
five miles apart.
Here, then, are the clans as we know them today:
The DuPage County Clan
This is my own clan, and the primary focus of our research so far. Our clan was
brought to America by Johann Carl Christian Duntemann, 1808-1863, who came to
America with his wife Millizena and several of their childen sometime about 1848.
The clan can be traced back to the late 1600's or so within the village of Schlarpe
in Lower Saxony, partway between Uslar and Goettingen, to the south of Hanover.
Christian settled his family somewhere in the city of Chicago (legend has it near
the Stockyards) but we do not know precisely where, although the 1880 census shows
Millizena still in Chicago with her two youngest sons Louis and Hermann. In 1864
Christian's son Heinrich Duntemann married and bought land in DuPage County, near
the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Wolf Road, in what was then known as Leyden
and is now Bensenville. Don't go looking for this intersectionthe
original Duntemann farm is now part of mighty O'Hare Field, and the intersection
no longer exists except in our memory.
In June of 2002, my wife Carol and I travelled to Germany, and in the company
of two good friends who live in Germany (near Bonn) we went to Schlarpe. Irwin
and Maria acted as translators and point-people in an area of Germany that doesn't
see a lot of tourists and doesn't speak much English. We were allowed to examine
the old Lutheran church records for that region in the nearby (and larger) town
of Volpriehausen. What we discovered pushed our knowledge back to Christof Duntemann,
born in 1687 and died in 1738. We also found dozens of Duntemanns we had no
knowledge of before, and found dates and full names for many we knew only vaguely.
The following link shows the Duntemann line from Schlarpe to DuPage County
IL. This copy of the tree emphasizes those individuals from the early
20th century and before:
Short-Form Family Tree of the DuPage County Clan
For privacy reasons, the full family tree is not posted on the Web and
is distributed only to family members. Please contact me directly
for a copy.
The Bureau County Clan
Another group of Duntemanns came to America in the 1850s, from the little village
of Verliehausen, which is less than five miles from Schlarpe. Two brothers,
Henry and Ernst Duntemann, emigrated first to Bureau County, Illinois, and later
to the region around Woden, Iowa. A contingent later moved to Amiret, Minnesota
and lives there to this day. Nearly all of what we know of the Bureau County
clan is due to the efforts of Alta Eckhoff Blakely, a Duntemann descendent who
did a great deal of research in the mid-1970s, including a trip to Verliehausen
where she followed the Duntemann line back to the mid-1500s. Alta published
a monograph in 1977, called My German Heritage. I was fortunate enough
to obtain a copy of the Duntemann portion of the monograph (which discussed the
families of her four grandparents separately) from Loren Dunteman of Balaton,
Minnesota, a member of the clan. The Duntermans (with the "r") are part
of this clan. In reading through Alta's genealogies, it struck me that the
family itself was huge, but there was a preponderance of girls, which made the
clan seem sparser than it actually is because few of the clan today actually carry
the Dunteman or Dunterman name. I am convinced that the two clans are actually
one, and once I make contact with the German churches, I hope to find the connection.
Some members of this clan still live in Germany, and I am in communication with
one of them, a young man in Bremen, whose great-great-great grandfather is present
in Alta's genealogy.
The Effingham Clan
A fair number of Duntemans have lived in the town of Effingham, Effingham
County, in southern Illinois, and in the surrounding region. Very
recently I got in touch with a member of the Effingham clan, and he has
evidence that his clan and the DuPage County clan are related. The
Effingham line descends from one Charles Duntemann, who may very well be
Johann Carl Christian Duntemann's younger brother. We are investigating
this right now, and I'll update this page once we get to a definition opinion.
The Cinncinnati Clan
There is a group of Duntemans hailing from Cinncinnati, Ohio who appear to be
an entirely separate family from ours. I am working with Paul Dunteman here
in Phoenix to determine when his ancestors crossed the Atlantic. We know
his grandfather was Herman Duntemann, 1855-1929, and we cannot connect him to
either the Bureau County or DuPage County clan. Steamship records show that a
Herman Duntemann crossed from Bremen to New York on the S.S. Rhein and
arrived on July 8, 1871, when Herman was 16. This makes him just about precisely
the age that Paul Dunteman's grandfather was supposed to be. Furthermore, those
same steamship records show an adjacent record for a man named August Duntemann,
age 47 at the time. Because the records were adjacent, it's extremely like that
the two were travelling together, and August is probably Hermann's father, though
we have no corroborating evidence. More research is needed here, and we're pursuing
it as best we can.
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