About ZellTree and our long
RonKZ ~ 1998
Hello, I'm Ron "Klotz Zellhoefer". The Zellhoefer
part is bloodline, and the Klotz part results from unrecorded adoption about 1865.
I was born in Wisconsin in 1938 and moved to Arizona in 1964 - so
a LONG time now.
As both Zellhoefer researcher and webmaster, you can blame me for
everything that's wrong here! <grin>
I was never much interested in our family history, but after "retirement"
at the end of 1996, I had hoped to complete a solar home. Well, the money just
ran out, but I was too young to just sit around and twiddle my thumbs, and didn't
feel that going back to "work" was a viable option.
Having been heavy with computers since the first PC, and noticing the store of
genealogical information was mushrooming on the www, it seemed that a little digging
into my g.g.grandparents might be a useful short-term useful pursuit.
Our family lore, as writ by my father Myron George Klotz, held that my
g.g.grandfather was John Michael Zellhoefer ("Mike"), born "Germany", and first known in
Jefferson County, Wisconsin.
It took several years to track him down in Bavaria, where kirche document
shows that Mike was baptised 4 August 1825 as Johann KONRAD Zellhoefer; his christened name
Konrad was never
seen afterward. Mike's military records in Wisconsin list him as John Michael
Zellhoefer, born 17 May 1825. I doubt we'll ever know how or why the changes
of name and date appeared, but believe me, all that certainly made the tracking
most challenging! The only thought I have on that is that 17 May was
really Mike's birthdate, and for whatever reason his baptism was much
Myron's records also held a copy of an 1848 marriage between John Michael Wellhofer
and Elisabeth Pfeffer, along with his insistence that this was the acutal
marriage document of my
g.g.grandparents, and any who objected must be ignorant of the
interchangability of W and Z in der deutsch! So of course I spent years
barking up THAT wrong tree, eventually finding that there actually WAS this
other couple with remarkably similar names (Elizabeth later was found to be
Anna Elizabeth, which as you'll see made it all more difficult!) just six miles away in
HEBRON Township. Our Mike did not arrive in the U.S.A until 1853, and both men with
their respective families are found in their respective households in the 1860
census. As only this single lone Wellhoefer surname appears in any
records in Jefferson County, this is yet another reason to speculate that
Wellhoefer and Zellhoefer are the result of misspelling or
misinterpretation, and actually of the same bloodline.
We eventually found just one brief obituary for from which we learn that
Mike's first wife was Anna, no surname, nearby hamlet Urpher[t]shofen or Urphershofen in Bavaria. There
recorded documents in Wisconsin, but recordation was not required at
that time. Having searched to exhaustion in Mittelfranken, in the
Church records of Obernzenn we found no Anna who fits. On the ship
passenger list on which we found Mike, we found no Anna who fits.
I now surmise that after Mike landed in New York, he might very well have
stopped in Newark, New Jersey and visited brother Fredrick, and then went on
to Crawford County, PA and visiting brother Jacob, and that somewhere on
that path to Wisconsin Mike and Anna, (who almost certainly also attended
the kirche Obernzenn), met again and wed. One must assume some
pre-arrangement - an interesting story might be found somewhere!
family lore, now verified, twins George Martin and Catherine Sophia were born unto this marriage, but the
mother died in childbirth that 9th day of September 1858. However, in
the 1860 census is found Mike's new household showing not only the twins,
but also Fredrick and Annie, who could only have been of the Mike/Anna
uniont. Family lore
held that the twins were adopted by Klotz in 1862, but that doesn't make much sense
-- read on....
Mike soon remarried the widow Elnora Miller, said to have been twice-widowed in
Germany, and to have come to Wisconsin with a daughter from each marriage, they
being Annie Heilmann and Augustina Miller. Soon enough Mike and Elnora had
three more daughters together, and then...
In August 1864, Mike went off to the Civil War. He died 6 Jan 1865 in
Kentucky, was buried in Louisville and so never came home. Now it would make
more sense that the twins were adopted after his death.
The 2nd wife Elnora proved to be yet another enigma, partially
solved but with some big questions unanswered. Several variations of her given name spelling are found, along with
the aka "Laura". Her maiden name was supposedly Haverland, but
tracks are found. She had borne but one daughter, not two. The
second child Annie Heilmann never existed. The "real" Annie and an older brother Fredrick
were found in the 1860 census as heretofore unknown spawn of Mike and Anna. I now surmise
that perhaps Elnora was born not Haverland, but Heilmann - the only known
tracks for Elnora are in the marriage records for her
daughters, all hugely disparate!
So it figures that the twin's adoption probably did not occur until after
death in 1865. It also triggers more search to find out what happened to
Fredrick & Annie! There are no birth nor adoption certificates of record
for any of the four children in either Jefferson or Sauk Counties.
So the information from our family lore proved to be helpful,
but inadequate and too often just plain WRONG! Therefore it evolved over these
years to gathering information on every Zellhoefer I could find, anytime,
anywhere. Creating ZellTree proved to be the easiest and most productive
means of handling this momentous task.
Still not finding some key information, ZellTree has since
expanded to include tracking not only the children of Mike, including the offspring
of but also the children's marriages to ROETHEL, LIPPERT, BOGIE, PFEIFFER, LUETSCHER
We're also tracking the offspring of Mike's siblings in the
USA - so that now includes KRETSCH (Pennsylvania, beginnings of the ZILHAVER
surname), PFEIFER, TARTSCH, DEBERINER, and the family begun by Fred ZELLHOFER in New
In Bavaria other of Mike's siblings married SCHERZER/SHERER,
WALZ and LEUPOLD. Earlier connections include WINKLER, HOFMANN, SHUCK,
FEDERLEIN, ADAM, HARTMANN, EBERLEIN, KITZMAN, HERTLEIN, OSTERREICHER, probably
WELLHOEFER, and more.
In the process of all this, we have tracked our roots back
thru Bavaria into Austria before 1600. There in Austria we find also the
origins of other Zellhöfer's who migrated to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and to
Door County, Wisconsin (beginnings of the ZELHOFER spelling). It
appears ALL are connected, and continue to look for the common thread as research
In Austria are found connections to (P/B)LANCKENBUEHLER,
KELLER, probably FELHOFER, SCHNEIDER, GOLLHOFER(!), KRAEFEL, PLUMAUER,
PREUDENSTEINER, SPIESSELEHER, SPAIGER, MATTES, MESSER, LIDL, SCHILLING and KRUEZER.
Language barriers, possible family rifts, and plain old
ignorance & carelessness has come to further corrupt our surname with probably
at least 20 other spelling variations, key being FELHOFER, WELLHOEFER and such as
SELHAVER. So if you see a surname that sounds something like Zellhoefer, it's
probably somehow connected!
To help everyone in this endeavor, I work very long and
hard to keep all this information fairly up-to-date as research continues.
George Martin Zellhoefer & twin sister Catherine Sophia standing behind their
adoptive parents Melchoir Klotz & wife Catherine Felix, photo c.1876/1878
The twins George & Sophie were said to have been adopted in 1862 by
farmers Melchoir & Katherine Klotz of Honey Creek in Sauk County,
Wisconsin. Certainly the adoption was believable, but the year 1862 never made
sense to me. WHY THEN?
George, my "grampa with the whiskers" married Verena Luetscher and and
eventually came to own the family farm. Sophie married farmer Albert Zick, and
each of the Twins spawned more children whose lines continue today.
The family lore for all those in Sauk County seemed thorough and complete enough,
but the tracks for the Zellhoefer twins were pretty muddy. The only documents
for Mike were two marriage certificates (one not his!) and some military records.
So, such was the beginning of ZellTree.
George Martin Zellhoefer (seated) in 4-generation photo c.1942.
Now then, living here in Arizona and with all the "happenings" back in
Wisconsin, the logistics of this venture were obviously going to be a challenge!
So, I gathered together whatever was available, entered it all into some
shareware genealogy application, and ventured into the vapor-world of the
WorldWideWeb. I found a few Zellhoefer's and fewer eAddies, and with those
began the process of inquiry.
But from that small start, I quickly I struck GOLD! Anne Zellhoefer of
Madison Wisconsin quickly answered one of my the first eMails. I'll never
forget her words - "I have so much to tell you". Very shortly she
mailed a couple of tombstone photographs and pages 1-29 of the "Autobiography of the Zellhoefer Family",
written by George G Zellhoefer, a nephew of my Mike. I spent the rest of that
day and night reading about the several Zellhoefer's who had migrated from Bavaria
to Rome in Sullivan Township Wisconsin, another to Pennsylvania and yet another to
New Jersey in the 1840's. One of the immigrants to Wisconsin was my John
Mike was brother of Anne's ancestor George Leonhart. Anne soon mailed three
handwritten pages listing George's descendant tree, but knew nothing of Mike or
whatever had happened to him. The Autobiography contained some
discussion of the family and their farm back in "Ahrnsbach",
Bavaria. This was wonderful, because we had never known anything about the
roots in the home country.
However, after searching for many moons, I had to conclude that
"Ahrnsbach" never existed, and came to accept that "home" was
Ansbach, perhaps a hundred miles from the location as described by GGZ. Years
more work revealed that the real "home" was, yes near Ansbach, but
actually Brachbach, a farming hamlet 17 km north of Ansbach.
For many years I accepted as fact everything in hand both of the family lore and the
Autobiography, making those the standard by which every other tidibit of
information was judged. It finally dawned on me that was a HUGE mistake, which
had wasted untold months and even years of effort! Those sources were
important for providing tracks and clues, but relying on them sent me on many wrong
paths and led to many dead-ends. I finally realized that EVERYTHING one finds
is subject to scrutiny and challenge!
So these were the beginnings of ZellTree, which has become a full-time all-day
every-day pursuit. It is embarrassing to admit that this research now borders
on obsession. Whatever, I hope it is worthwhile to posterity.