Tracing Our Bosque County Roots
By: LaDawn Garland
27 March 2002
We have found a family for the Oswald photo that was in last week’s column,
Annelle Wells the grand-daughter of the couple in the photo emailed to let
me know it was of her grandparents. She seemed very happy to get it back,
her father was really happy as well, his mother in the photo had died when
he was five years old and it was very special to him to have this photo that
had been lost. Thanks again to PJ Holman for locating and saving the photo,
I’m so glad we were able to find the right family.
Please continue to send in your family stories, queries, memories and
reunion information, they will be here in the newspaper column and on the
internet as well. You never know what old friends or distant cousins you
Sommerfeld-Behnke family in Bosque County
I am still searching for early information on my paternal great-grandfather,
his siblings, and parents. What I do know is that in the 1860’s, Michael
Sommerfeld and his wife Pauline nee Schulz immigrated from Posen Province,
Prussia to Washington County, Texas. The area of what was Posen is now
within the borders of Poland. My paternal grandfather, Gustav Sommerfeld was
their youngest son, one of either 8 or 9 children. Grandpa Gus was born
December 14, 1880, in Washington County. Family stories, records and
headstones reveal that when Gus was about 9, his mother died, and his father
soon remarried. At age 14, Grandpa Gus left home to live with some family
friends who came from the same area of Posen and had settled nearby. This
was the Gustav Behnke family.
Documents, including ship’s passenger manifests, prove that Gustav Behnke
immigrated from Schokken (Skoki) Wrongowitz Kreis, Posen, Prussia, in 1875
with his wife Augusta nee Baier, arriving May 31, 1975, in Michigan, after
first landing in New York. Entry through the Ellis Island system probably
explains why their immigration was better recorded than the Sommerfeld side,
who are believed to have come to Texas through Galveston, possibly after
initially landing elsewhere. Because the Behnke’s and Sommerfeld’s were
apparently neighbors in Posen, I am led to believe the Sommerfeld’s also
came from Schokken or nearby.
Grandpa Gus was engaged to the Behnkes’ daughter Marie, born in 1882.
Unfortunately, Marie died in February, 1901, of malaria at the age of 19,
reportedly shortly before the scheduled wedding.
Subsequently, in 1902, Grandpa Gus married Marie’s older sister Bertha
Behnke, who was born in Washington County, Texas in 1878. They produced 12
children, with one infant, Anna, dying in her first year of life. Anna is
buried in Bismarck Cemetery in Bosque County, off SH 56 on CR412. Gus Behnke
had a brother Heinrich who immigrated to America in 1881, also initially
coming to theWashington and Fayette County area. In 1896 Heinrich moved his
family to Bosque County. He and his wife Augusta nee Winkelmann are buried
in the Bismarck Cemetery.
Many of Gustav Behnke’s children followed, including Grandpa Gus Sommerfeld,
and his bride, Bertha nee Behnke, after they married in 1902. They initially
settled in the Walnut Springs area. My father, Rinert F. Sommerfeld, the 6th
child and second son of Gus and Bertha, was born there April 7, 1910. In
1911, the family moved to the Clifton area, between Smith Bend and Cayote.
Bertha Behnke Sommerfeld died unexpectedly on May 16, 1936. She was known to
have a bad heart. Gus had taken Bertha to see the doctor in Clifton, and
afterward they stopped off at their daughter Frieda’s home. Frieda had
married Fred Ludwig, and the family lived outside of Clifton near Womack.
While sitting in the yard, admiring baby chicks, Bertha had a sudden attack
and fell dead. Grandpa Gus still had 6 children at home. On March 10, 1937
he married married Emma Knuppel Naumann, who brought 7 children of her own
to the marriage, with 5 still at home. Together, they had Ralph, born 1938,
married Irene Riley; and Margaret, born 1939, married Raymond Klaehn.
Children of Gus Sommerfeld and Bertha Behnke were: Ella, (1903-1954),
married Joseph Urban; Adolph, (1904-1984), married Mary Urban; Frieda,
(1905-1996), married Fred Ludwig; Alma, (1907-1998), married Peter Urban;
Selma, (1908-1998), married Emil Schwartz; Rinert, (1910-1996) married Anna
Urban.; Anna (1912-1913); Rudolph, (1914-), married Christine Mihlhause;
Hilda (1916-2000), married Otto Zelmer; Leroy(1919-1977), never married;
Lawrence, (1920-1978); married Sidonia Zander; Regina (1924-), married
Much family information has come from Zion Evangelical Church records at
Womack, and surviving records from St. John Evangelical Church, which once
stood across the road from the cemetery at what was known as Bismarck
Community. They are full of Behnke and Sommerfeld family baptisms,
confirmations and weddings in the late 19th and early 20th century. St. Paul
Lutheran Church was established in 1942 at Pleasant Hill, southeast of
Clifton on FM 708, with Gus Sommerfeld as a founding member. Those records
are now stored at Trinity Lutheran Church in Clifton, after St. Paul merged
with Trinity in 1960. The Behnke and Sommerfeld family are mostly buried in
the various cemeteries around Bosque County, primarily the Clifton Cemetery.
Some family members are buried in Washington County. I continue to follow
the trail of records and uncover more details all the time. I am hopeful
that I will be able to identify the family roots in Posen.
Pat Lyon email@example.com
Old News From Around Bosque County
The Bosque Citizen
Thursday, Dec. 22, 1886
Johnson – Smith
at Clifton, Monday evening, Dec. 20, 1886, Mr. Stewart Johnson of Albany,
Texas and Miss Carrie Smith of Clifton were united in wedlock.
Miss Delia Spears and Mr. O.D. Cheatham of Albany, accompanied the groom.
The bridal party left for Albany, Wednesday morning where the couple will
make their future home.
Clifton, Dec. 20
The funeral of Mr. Carl Questad took place Monday, 15th inst. Mr. Questad
was 73 years old and was one of the earliest settlers of Bosque. He settled
here 38 years ago and lived an honorable life. His funeral testified the
esteem in which he was held by the people who knew and loved him. It was the
largest concourse that ever assembled in this locality to pay the last sad
tribute to the dead. Mr. Questad was stricken down on Monday 6th and died
Monday 13th, 1886.
Mrs Brisco was buried at 10 in the morning and Mr. Questad at 4 in the
afternoon on the same day. On the following day the 16th, Christina, the ten
year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs Nelson, of Clifton was buried in same
On Thursday morning last, Mr. DeHart, father of our Justice of the Peace,
had the misfortune to lose his stable, corn crib, hay and horse by fire. It
is supposed the hay caught from a spark from the stove pipe.
S.F. Ozburn has purchased the Frank Gaston house on the hill near the
cemetery and will occupy it as soon as Mr. Cornelison can vacate.
Col. Morrell is progressing finely with the work on his residence.
V.H. Iley will build cottages on his new purchase.
P. B. Ward’s cottage is nearly ready for occupancy.
Sam Harris has completed and is living in his new residence
Be sure to visit the Bosque County site at
http://www.txgenweb5.org/txbosque/there’s a wealth of information on Bosque
County and it’s families provided by volunteers and other researchers.
Contribute your family information, you might just find something on your
ancestors there. You’re quite likely to find others researching your family
line as well. There you can check out the new project for the TxGenWeb
archives, you can submit Texas Family Group Sheets, be sure to submit your
Bosque County family.
The Bosque County Collection in Meridian has a treasure trove of history
just waiting to be explored. From the many newspapers covering the county
through the years, census, death and marriage records to the old deeds.
There is sure to be something there for every researcher, for more
information visit their website at http:www.htcomp.net/bcc Good luck to all who are researching their Bosque County roots. If you would
like to submit a query, family story or reunion information on your Bosque
County family, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to Bosque
County News, P.O. Box 343, Meridian, Tx 76665 or fax it to 254-435-6335.