Ancestry Research

From Whence I Came, Part One

 Germans from the Odenwald

Hans & Margaretha Dingledein lived in Beerfurth, Hesse in Germany’s Odenwald region in the late 1500s to the mid 1600s. Those Germans sure knew how to keep track! Three generations later the Dingledein name spelling was modified by (only) part of the family, to Dingeldey.

 Four more generations later, in 1801, my great-great grandfather Heinrich Jakob Dingeldey was born in Neunkirchen, Hesse, Germany. He married Catharina E. Schmitt, and they had 14 children, 13 of whom lived to adulthood. Heinrich is the earliest Dingeldey to have written a letter which exists today! It was translated into English, later typed, and finally photocopied for all of us to share here in the US. From that handed-down letter I’ve gotten a feel for this father of 13 who encouraged 6 of his sons to emigrate to the US. There was much unrest in Germany, as well as other European countries in the 1840s and although he loved his sons, Great-great Grandfather’s letter hints that they emigrated so as not to have to fight in the rebellions of those times. Conscripts may have been hired to fight in their places, as he referred to laying low or staying in the US!

 My Great Grandfather was a part of the second group of Dingeldey brothers who immigrated in 1852, a mere decade before the Civil War. After arriving in Buffalo, NY, one brother stayed there, another made his way to Michigan and a couple of the boys settled in Ohio, my Great Grandfather being one. He was 15 when he got off the boat, 19 when he arrived in Youngstown, OH.

Three things were important in those years: an occupation, marriage and children. Lumber and building run in my family, so Georg Heinrich Dingeldey americanized his given name to George Henry, modified  his surname to Dingledy, and founded Dingledy Lumber, Lath & Shingles located next to the Youngstown River.

George almost immediately married (Anna) Maria Müller, from Germany herself, and began a family. Sadly, it was not to be for them.  Maria gave birth to 11 children, none of whom survived infancy. She herself died finally giving birth. During those difficult years they adopted an infant though, naming her Louisa. One year after Maria’s tragic death George married Maria Sophie Peters, another German immigré. These two structurally and physically sturdy Germans  had 9 children 2 of whom did not live beyond 2 years. (Martin Luther Church records indicated the two may have died of cerebral meningitis.) My Grandfather William George Ludwig  Dingledy was their third biological child, born in 1883 in Youngstown.

The stories of our immigrant ancestors are often difficult to fit together- sometimes it feels like a 1000 piece puzzle!