In our last episode, the Heerdinks remained a mystery.  Likely removed from the Earth by aliens and taken to a distant planet for further testing.

I tried some of the ideas proposed in the comments of my last post (found here) to no avail.  Now I’m starting to wonder if there were ever any Heerdinks in Indiana at all.

So a few choice words and a couple of drinks later, I thought I would tackle the problem from a different angle – Anthony Heerdink’s wife, Mary Diefenbach.  Rumor has it that she was born in Indiana around 1840, so I should be able to find her family in the census, right?

Welllllll … not as easy as it seems.  While Diefenbach is not a very common name, it turns out there are at least three dozen ways to spell it, particularly if spelling isn’t really that important.

I started on FamilySearch with a broad search for Diefenbach.  I then continued to narrow it down by location (Indiana), year, etc.

After about 4 hours, I had reconstructed the family of George Diefenbach and Louisianna Buttz (m. 4 Mar 1843).  The 1880 census tried to be a real bugger, but I was on a mission and it didn’t stand a chance.  It finally took a page-by-page search of Perry Township, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, but I found them … as Dusenbach (my personal favorite of all the spellings).  And yes, I was also keeping my eyes peeled for variations on “Heerdink” as well.  Didn’t find any of those though.

This couple had 12 children (according to the 1900 census), but by 1900 only 8 were still living.  Mary, Abraham, Israel, Caroline, Catherine, George, Louisa, Matilda, Francis, William, and 2 other children I have not yet identified (possibly died at or near birth and are not listed on any census).

George Diefenbach - 1850 US Census

1850 Census – Divenbaugh

George Diefenbach - 1860 US Census

1860 Census – Defenbough

George Diefenbach - 1870 US Census

1870 Census – Diefenbach

George Diefenbach - 1880 US Census

1880 Census – Dusenbach

George Diefenbach - 1900 US Census

1900 Census – Deifenbach


I even managed to work back one more generation, to George Diefenbach’s father, George … I think.  It’s the 1840 census with all those tick marks instead of names, and they really butchered the name (written Diefenbough, indexed Deapenbouch!!) so I can’t be sure, but the ages fit (1 male age 20-30, 1 male age 50-60, and 1 female age 50-60), and they are in the same area.  Clearly, more work needs to be done here as well.

George Diefenbach - 1840 US Census

The oldest child, Mary, is potentially my 3rd great grandmother.  Unfortunately, I am still trying to definitively link her to a family.  This family is the most likely (only Diefenbachs in Indiana with a child named Mary, and the dates are consistent), but she is not listed with the family in 1870.  To me, that says perhaps she and Anthony were married before 1870.  Hopefully there are some marriage records laying around somewhere.

(zzzzzz … work work work work …)

Ask, and you shall receive!  I got home from work and did a search for Mary Diefenbach on Ancestry.  I then narrowed my search to the Indiana Marriage Collection (1800-1941).  There they were … Mary Deifenbach and Anthony Herding … married August 13, 1863.  (Brief pause for happy dance)

Mary Diefenbach marriage index

Obviously, I will be requesting this record from the County Clerk’s office in the next couple of days.

Now I just have to find these two lovebirds in 1870 and beyond …

(and please – if you see any flaws in my reasoning, feel free to speak up!)

Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com

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How (Not) to Find a Missing Heerdink (Part 2) — 7 Comments

  1. Nice work and way to stick to it! Her (potential) maiden name reminds me of the Defenbaugh trash company. There is yet another misspelling for you to check! I have a family name with a thousand spellings, too. So frustrating. But you are a step closer to your answers!

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement, Heather! I will feel a whole lot better once I definitively link Mary to a family. But for now I’ll settle for figuring out where the happy couple was living after they married!

    • Hello. I noticed that you were looking for Heerdinks in Indiana. I am part of a big family of Heerdinks in Evansville, Indiana. There aren’t too many Heerdinks in the world. I was wondering if our family lines cross.

      • Tim,

        Thanks for letting me know about your Heerdinks! Sorry it has taken so long for me to respond – playing catch-up after my trip to Ft. Wayne last week has me running a few days behind.

        I believe we MUST be related, because all of my Heerdinks are pretty much from the Evansville/Mt. Vernon area and didn’t stray too far from there.

        I would love it if you would send me an email (lostancestors AT gmail DOT com) so we can compare notes. I look forward to hearing from you!



    Series: T623 Roll: 408 Page: 64

    Surname GivenName Age Sex Race Birthplace State County Location Year


    Line 99-100

  3. Pingback: Surname Saturday: Diefenbach | Are My Roots Showing?

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