Sunday, September 15, 2013


I have had this photo for about 12 years and always thought that it was the photo of my great grandfather (Peter Joseph Nebgen) with his siblings and his parents.  Since I knew his brother Nicholas was older than him, I assumed that he was the tall fair haired young man in the back row (the taller one).

I have another photo of 4 siblings with some names written on the back.  It read, "Uncle Clemenz, Uncle Emil, Uncle Pete and Aunt Maria.

Since my great grandfather was Peter Joseph, again, I assumed that he was "Uncle Pete" with his siblings. Only two of the siblings, Nicholas and Peter, immigrated to the US so they are the ones that I have the most information about.  The obituary for Peter's mother Anna Wittayer does mention that she had 7 children, but 2 of them died before she did in 1919.  I assumed that the 2 children died as babies.

I have a cousin Bernd, who lives in Germany, and his wife Susanne not only does family research but she graciously shares the information with me (otherwise I would be totally lost on the Nebgen family history).  So, with the information from the 1890 census of Duisburg that she sent me, I realized that I had been mistaken about my photos and my assumptions!

According to the 1890 census, there were 5 children living with Anna and Balthazar --
1. Peter (born in 1863) -- making him the oldest
2. Peter (Clemenz) -- born in 1867
3. Emil - born in 1876
4. Maria - born in 1880
5. Joseph Laurentius - born in 1884.

They have 2 other sons -- Nicholas who immigrated to the US in 1885 and my great grandfather Peter Joseph, who immigrated to the US in 1887.

So, let's re-visit that 1st photo -- Nicholas and Peter Joseph are not in that photo.  It was probably taken some time between 1886-1887.  Nicholas was in the US and Peter Joseph was either serving on a naval ship or also in the US.    Now, photo #2, that Uncle Pete in this photo is the eldest brother Pete, not my great grandfather Peter Joseph.  They could have made it easier by not naming all the boys Peter!   My last assumption about two of the boys dying as babies.  Incorrect, too!  You are probably not surprised by now!Nicholas died in 1915 (at age 50) so he was one of the children who died before his mother.  The other one was Joseph, who probably died in 1917 during World War I (found some records on this).

Lesson learned is "don't make assumptions without all the facts!"

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