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One of the biggest surprises is to find that "Geraths" had once been "Gerhards"! In fact, all the German records we've found call the family Gerhards. When this changed, we don't know, because the family is ALSO called various versions of Gerhards in the Wisconsin censuses of the late 1800's, but the name had changed before the turn of the last century.
The top couple in this line is, for now, Heinrich Gerhards and Barbara Gulden (the daughter of Phillip Gulden and Amelia Scheaffart) who married in the Kerpen region sometime during the 1750's. So far as we know, they had three sons, Gerard, William and Peter. Peter married Sophie Lennartz in 1791. They had several children, two of them seem to have lived past childhood.
These surviving children were Friederich Gerhards (b.1795), who married Anna Maria Steven (b. 1792) and Heinrich Geraths, who married Anna Maria Wiedenfeld (an in-law of the Lennartz family!). It is here that my line skips to North America.
Heinrich dies in 1841. This precipitates a grand move wherein Anna Maria, her daughter Anna (married to Constantin Zander) and her son Frederick Geraths moved to the United States and settled in Dane County, Wisconsin. Young Frederick first married a woman named Maria Catherine Marking, a local Dane County gal who's father was a neighbour of Friederich's dad back in Habbelrath and whose brother, John, is Frederick's sister Anna's second husband! Whew!
Fred and Catherine had approximately three kids when Catherine died soon after childbirth in 1860. Friederich soon re-married to Magdalena Eiler and they had several more children including my Grandfather John who was born at Pine Bluff (near Cross Plains, just west of Madison) in 1879. Frederick and Magdalena eventually moved to a small town in Hutchinson Co, South Dakota called Dimock, where they are buried. Many of their descendants remain in Wisconsin to this day.
Frederick and Magdalena's son Casper (b. 1869 in Cross Plains) married Anna Schroeder and moved to California. Casper and Anna had 11 children (!), most of whose descendants live on the west coast of America, including California, Oregon and Washington State. Casper himself lived until 1964(!). John James changed his name to Gerrath during the First World War when he moved to Canada and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in 1916 to fight in Europe. John arrived in France with the 44th Infantry Battalion and (as part of the 10th Infantry Brigade) fought in the last stages of the Battle of the Somme and was involved in the entire attack on Vimy Ridge. He was mustard gassed in battle (we're not sure which) and suffered irritating respiratory problems for the rest of his life. He stayed on in Europe until 1919. He married Margaret Mary Anderson in 1926 and settled on a farm outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (near the town of Floral, the birthplace of hockey legend Gordie Howe). John and Margaret had five children, all of whom live in Canada. Ruth in Alberta, Lawrence in Victoria, British Columbia, and John, Louise and Joseph in Southern Ontario. Joseph met Jean Drewry at the University of British Columbia during the sixties. They married and moved out to Guelph, Ontario where they worked at the University of Guelph (in Botany). They had two children, John (me) and Janet during the seventies (the Disco Era).
A perusal of current German phone books will turn up over fourty "Geraths", and most of them turn out to be highly localized, slightly west of Koeln, in smaller cities along the border of the Limburg region of the Netherlands. There are many Dutch surnames of similar spellings and identical pronunciation. There seem to be few Geraths east of the Rhine.
Click here for the Hohn family report
Click here for the Wermers family report
Click here for the main Kurtenbach family report
Click here for the Lennartz family report
Click here for the Wiedenfeld family report
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