Monday, July 14, 2014

52 Ancestors Challenge - Wilhelm Grote - Celle, Germany - Week 26

I've been slacking when it comes to this 52 Ancestors Challenge lately.  I'm finding it hard to make the time, and concentrate, while my children are home from school.  So much more to do with them home everyday, but its all fun!!  So this is a bit late, but better late then never!!
For week 26, I've decided to write about my great, great, great, grandfather, Wilhelm Grote.  For years I've been looking for him, not knowing if he died in Germany or came to the U.S. with his wife Auguste Rheinfels.  I had no birth date to go off of either, just the entry on his daughter's birth certificate that she was born in Celle, Germany. 
Well, earlier this week, I did another google search (as I tend to do from time to time), and searched for "Genealogy records Celle, Germany."  This time, I found a link to a familysearch Wiki post at  On this page it talks about Village Lineage Books, "locally compiled books...extracted from parish registers."  I clicked on the link listed and it directed me to  I've been to this website before, but most of it is in German and my German isn't all that good, so I easily give up.
Playing around, I scrolled down to the Niedersachsen villages to see what I could find.  I knew the family was from the Celle area, but what actual village, I wasn't sure.  As I clicked through a few, I then looked up the surnames of Grote and Rheinfels, along with a couple others I knew were related to them.  Finally, I clicked on the area of Celle Süd-Ost, found the surname Grote, and looked at the very long list of Grotes.  I clicked on a few, but when I clicked on the name Carl Heinrich Wilhelm Grote I noticed his wife's name was Henriette Wilhelmine Auguste Rheinfels.  Could it be???  They show a daughter named Auguste Caroline Wilhelmine Henriette Grote born 24 December 1867.  I immediately pulled up my tree to compare, and sure was the same birth date!!  Auguste Rheinfels birth date is about the same too!  Her info on this website says she was born 28 August 1835, the same date I have that was based off her death certificate!!

So I'm very sure these are the same people.  However, because this is a secondary source, I hesitate to say I'm 100% sure.  I need to track down the actual records to verify it all.  But with these village books, I now have hope that these records do still exist!!

If we can safely assume these entries are correct, then this Grote family can be traced all the way back to the early 1700s!  All living in the same village too!

So who is Wilhelm Grote?

Based on the findings from this "Familiendatenbank Celle Süd-Ost Familienbericht," or Local Family Database Celle Süd-Ost Family Report, we know the following:
  • Carl Heinrich Wilhelm Grote was born the 25th of August 1833 (same birth date as my dad...just 117 years earlier) in Bröckel, Germany.
  • His parents were Carsten Heinrich Grote and Dorothea Elisabeth Schepelmann.
  • He had at least 9 brothers and sisters:
    • Sophie Elisabeth
    • Sophie Caroline
    • Friederike Elisabeth
    • Carsten Heinrich
    • Heinrich Wilhelm
    • Heinrich Christian
    • Heinrich Christian (two with the same name, the first died before the second was born)
    • Marie Dorothea
    • Caroline Friederike
  • Wilhelm married Henriette Wilhelmine Auguste Rheinfels the 22 of April 1864 in Weinhausen, Celle, Germany.
  • They had at least 4 children that I know of:
    • Heinrich Friederich Wilhelm
    • Auguste Caroline Wilhelmine Henriette (my great, great grandmother)
    • Caroline Marie Auguste
    • Herman (he isn't listed on this website, but was born about 1877 and is listed on his sister's obituary).
  • We don't know for sure when or where he died.  His wife is listed on the "Chicago, Illinois, City Directory, 1897" on's "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989." She is listed as the widow of Wilhelm, and living at 585 Larrabee. Her son Herman is shown as living at the same address in this directory.  So we know he died prior to 1897.  The 1900 census also lists Auguste as coming to the U.S. in 1887, although, I haven't been able to find her on any ship manifest yet.  I'm guessing he might have died in Germany, but can't be sure.
It's safe to say I was very excited to find this new information!!  It has consumed most of my free time over the last week!  If you would like to see Wilhelm and his family in this database, just click here on, and it should take you there.  If you'd like to read more about his wife, Auguste, she was the focus of my week 18 post.

If you have any questions, or concerns, about any of the information listed above, please leave a comment. I'd be happy to provide any additional information I have. Thanks for reading!

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