Which Johann is it?

In days gone by our ancestors  named their children after grandparents, parents or aunt and uncles.  This meant cousins of similar ages often had the same names. In Germany it also wasn’t uncommon to give all the of the children the same first name and a different middle name. They usually went by the middle name but in official records they might be listed with both names, the middle name or just the first name. This can make sorting who is who confusing.

This confusing name pattern exists within my Uelmen family.  Mathias Uelmen, the father of my immigrant ancestor, named his sons Johan Mathias, Johan Adam and Johan Adam. (Yes, that is right, two sons with the same name first and middle name) To make things more confusing all three Johan’s settled in the same area of Wisconsin and each named a son Johann Adam as well as repeating the names Joseph, Peter, Nicholas, John, Adam, Mathias and William.

Years ago I ran across the newspaper clipping posted below. At first I was excited, I thought I’d found my immigrant ancestor, Johan Adam’s, obiturary but though the history was similar the birthdates etc. didn’t match up. So who was he?  I thought he must be related but couldn’t place him in the family.

I recently ran across the clipping again while reviewing my Uelmen files only now I had more information on the three immigrant brothers. I quickly figured out he was the son of Johan Mathias which made him Johan Adam’s nephew. The obituary tells us that the first Uelmen’s in the family arrived in 1844, 13 years before my Johan Adam.  It also gives us clues as to what our ancestors journey must have been like as well as the family homestead was near where my great grandfather Peter first lived.

The Johan Adam in this clipping was my great grandfathers Peter Uelmen’s first cousin. For some time I was aware that the town of Campbellsport had once had  two dentists with the Uelmen surname . Leo Uelmen( my great uncle) and a older Peter Edwin Uelmen.  I’d asked my mother about this Peter.  She remembered his name him but said as far as she knew he was of no relation.  Still, I thought it odd that a small town would end up having two dentists with the same, less than common, surname with out them being related.I did a little more research on the Johan Adam in the obit. It turns out  his son was the dentist – Dr. Peter E. Uelmen.  The two dentists were related after all. I am sure my great grandfather Peter must have know his cousin Johan Adam well.  So did his son Peter E. Uelmen, influence my Peter’s son, Leo to become a dentist? Maybe somebody out there knows.

Campbellsport News, January 3, 1918


  Wednesday forenoon at 10 o’clock the final call was made for John Adam Uelmen, one of our oldest and most highly respected citizens. Mr. Uelmen was born in Germany on October 8th, 1836, and came to this country with his parents when seven years of age. They landed in New York on the 8th day of July, 1844. They started west by way of Albany and Buffalo Canal, through the Great Lakes by boat and landed at Racine.  From Racine they walked to Saukville, where they bought a farm and lived ten years. They then moved to Lake Superior in the copper region, where Mr. Uelmen was employed in the mines for three years. Later, he with his wife whom he married in 1855, came by boat to Sheboygan, locating near New Fane, where they lived on a farm until April 1st, 1863, when he and his family moved onto the old homestead one mile east of this village. In November, 1902, Mr. Uelmen retired from active labor and moved to the home on east Main street in the village. The deceased is survived by three sons and one daughter, John and Joseph residing on the old homestead, and Dr. P. E. and Mary Uelmen at home. Five other children proceeded him a number of years ago. The funeral will be held tomorrow (Friday) morning at 10 o’clock from St. Matthews’ church, Rev. Father July singing High mass. Interment will take place in the Union cemetery, the remains to be laid beside those of his wife, who preceded him in Semptember, 1909. The pallbearers will be Nick Hahn, Henry Leibel, Sr., John Granger, Michael Farrell, Stephen Bonesho and Joseph Van De Grind.

ak_1918_jan3.gif (20782 bytes) (Scan courtesy Alan Krueger)


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