Sunday, September 30, 2012
Finding the Coonradts
I recently went back to link to my research into the Coonradt family and I realized that I wasn't satisfied with what I had originally written. To remedy that, I'm going to do a recap.
So, it started way back when I first asked my Grandpa Conrad about his family tree. He told me that the family name hadn't always been Conrad. It used to be "Koonradt" he said and that it had been changed to Conrad when the family came west to Iowa. Over the years I had looked for this name online but never found anything to connect to my family.
At some point in 2009 I got onto one of my regular genealogy kicks and I was looking at new sites. I believe I was newly on Geni.com and I started searching on variants of Koonradt. When I did, this Coonradt page came up at a different site, WeRelate.org. Naturally, I followed the links at the bottom which promised more detail on the Coonradt family tree. Did they ever deliver! A treasure trove of Coonradt family names. Naturally, I read through all the names on each page to see if any looked familiar. I paid particular attention whenever a Harry or Henry came up since I knew my great great grandfather had been Harry Conrad.
Under the Willhelm Coonradt family, I found the following grouping:
F.3. Daniel Coonradt, b.1830 Grafton N.Y., CIVIL WAR.
G.1. Edgar Coonradt, Moved to Iowa where he raised a large family. (History incomplete)
G.2. Harry Coonradt, (No history)
G.3. Clarence Coonradt, Harkimer, N.Y.
It was so lucky that someone knew enough about this family to know that the boy named Edgar had gone to Iowa. More on Edgar later. But the other details all seemed like a good start - I knew my great great grandfather Harry Conrad had to have been born around 1860 and it seemed likely that his father was born in 1830.
So I went off to Ancestry.com. Quickly, I want to tout Ancestry.com and what they've done with the US Census records. There you can very quickly find the relevant record using their search function and then look at the actual handwritten census document. Extraordinary! So try it with Daniel Coonradt, born 1830 and you'll find the same thing I did: in the 1860 federal census, this family appears in Luzerne, Pennsylvania:
Daniel H Coonradt, age 30
Cordalia Coonradt, 26
Clarence Coonradt, 5
Edna Coonradt, 3
Hendrick Coonradt, 1
This family certainly looks pretty close, other than the location. Always look at these census records carefully, though. On the second page, it lists the individual's place of birth. For Daniel Coonradt: New York. Exactly the same age, same place of birth and with at least one son with the same name. I wasn't concerned about Edna being missing because I'd noticed that the Coonradt page included very few female names. And Hendrick/Harry - a nickname? Seemed pretty likely.
Two other records also come up in the search results on Ancestry: two civil war records, one for Daniel Coonradt from New York, and one for Daniel H Coonradt of Pennsylvania.
So the next things to check on was to follow this family in the census records and see where they turn up next. Daniel doesn't appear in any of the other census records after 1860. What about Cordalia? So type "Cordalia Coonradt" into the search engine at Ancestry.com for my next revelation. You'll find if you look through all the search results a pension record for Daniel H Coonradt where the dependent is listed as Cordelia Coonradt. Underneath her name is the name "Bailey, C.S." with the notation "Gdn" - I took this to mean "guardian". Below in the detail, it lists two dates of application: February 26, 1866 on the line "widow" and December 18, 1867 on the line "minor". Sadly, now we know why Daniel doesn't appear in the 1870 census - he died in the war.
But what about this Hendrick Coonradt? I started on Ancestry.com with Hendrick Coonradt and then Harry Coonradt but quickly became frustrated. I couldn't find either one matching the family I'd found above. However, if you search on "Harry Coonradt born around 1860" the records for Harry Conrad out in Iowa start popping up pretty quickly, matching up with the information my grandfather had given me - lived in Waterloo, Iowa, wife named Grace, etc. That's my Harry Conrad, all right.
At some point I left Ancestry and entered "Hendrick Coonradt" into Google. You have to use all the resources at your disposal, after all. Lo and behold, the following page came up in the search results: http://www.pagenweb.org/~luzerne/orphan1.htm It's a listing of children at a Civil War soldier's orphanage. You find not only Hendrick Coonradt, born in 1859, but also Edgar C. Coonradt, born in 1861. Blammo!! Can you hear all the pieces falling into place? Hendrick and his younger brother Edgar were "orphans" - young children whose mother had just lost her husband in the war.
I made two other connections through Geni.com. The first was Dave Young, who is a Coonradt descendant on another line. After I told him some of what I'd discovered, Dave said that all of this sounded right, and that I should compare notes with another descendant named Dick Conrad. Dick is the great grandson of Charles E Conrad. As it turned out, Hendrick Coonradt wasn't the only member of the family to change names upon coming west. His brother also made the change, from Edgar Charles Coonradt to Charles Edgar Conrad. Not only did he give me this information, Dick also had a letter from Harry to brother Charles in 1914. I have transcribed that letter here. The letter doesn't contain any revelations, but it does tie the family together nicely, including Cordelia's remarriage to Charles Rosengrant and the two half-brothers that Hendrick and Edgar grew up with. Following these folks through the subsequent census records was a project that occupied me for several days.
Dick also sent me the portrait of Daniel Coonradt in his Civil War uniform that you see above.