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About Hilmes-Lanahan Family
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This website documents the genealogy of my parents, Walter H. Hilmes and  Rosemary Lanahan Hilmes.


The name Hilmes doesn’t have any particular meaning, except to indicate someone from Hilmes near Hersfeld (Hesse) or  from Hildesheim, which is called Hilm(e)sen in the local dialect.  Some of us have visited the village of Hilmes, near Bad  Hersfeld in Germany, a little NE of Frankfurt, but I think we’re more likely from the Hildesheim area in Hanover.  However,  our particular Hilmes family was living in the town of Lengerich at the time they emigrated, now a part of Lower Saxony  (new system) but a part of the Kingdom of Hanover back in the mid 1800s, very near Osnabrück.  So many emigrants from  this area settled in what is now Germantown, IL, that its original name was Hanover, said to be the first German settlement  in Illinois.

The oldest record I can find of the Hilmes family in the US is aboard the ship Cumberland in 1838.  It sailed from Bremen  and landed in New Orleans.  On it were a party of Germans from Lengerich, with names that included Hilmes, Albers,  Uhlen, Esch, and others that should sound familiar both from the Carlyle area and in our family tree.  All were bound for St.  Louis, presumably by ship up the Mississippi.  Many settled in Germantown or in surrounding Clinton County just east of  St. Louis, where they remained for several generations. They acquired unbroken prairie land and plowed it for crops.  And  they and their neighbors built big churches in towns like Germantown, Breese, Bartelso, Albers, New Baden, and Carlyle.   Here’s a fascinating blog, with great photos, of the German Churches of Clinton County  (http://www.romeofthewest.com/2008/11/some-churches-of-clinton-county.html). Our ancestors were among the original  congregants of many of these churches.


A note on names:  Diekmann literally means “dike man,” someone who lives near dikes and works to maintain them.  A  spelling variant is “Dieckmann,” but our family seems to have made do without the “c”.  This confirms what we already  know, that the Diekmann family hails from the “low country” of NW Germany, near the Netherlands.

Our direct line of Diekmanns doesn’t go back very far:  Anna Diekmann Hilmes’s father, Theodor Johann Diekmann, came  over from Germany in 1890, at age 19, sponsored by the family of his Aunt Anna Maria Diekmann Kruep and her husband  Johann Kruep, who had come over in the 1860s and settled in Clinton County, IL.  Two years later, Theodor’s younger  brother Henry G. Diekmann (1876-1960) emigrated as well.  My dad related his grandpa’s story that he left Germany to “get  away from der Kaiser” – Kaiser Wilhelm was passing anti-socialist laws and threatening to go to war with Russia around  then.  Probably a good time to leave.


Caroline Wesselmann was our great-grandmother, the bride of Theodor Diekmann and mother of all the girls above.  

Wesselmann can mean somebody from Wessel, in Saxony, but it also means “man of exchange or trade,” as in tradesman.   Our Wesselmanns come from that familiar area, near Osnabrück, this time a little village called Herzlake.

The Wesselmann family in the US doesn’t go back that far, but when they came over, they came with a splash (or almost;  see below).  Our great-great-grandfather, Johann Bernard Wesselmann (1821-1909) and his wife Anna Maria Burke (1832- 1902), arrived on these shores in 1882.  They came from Ibbenbüren, Germany, again not far from Osnabrück.  And they  came with five children: Bernard Henry (1858-1951), Johann (1861-1891), Gerhard (1864-1948), Theresia (1867-1964) and  Caroline (1871-1945).

They settled in Clinton County and began reproducing at an impressive rate:  Bernard had 10 kids, two of whom also  married Diekmanns – lots of intermarriage between these families.


The very first of our Lanahan family to come to the US was Patrick Lenehan (b. 1835) who arrived in 1862.  Next were his  brother Thomas’s sons, John (b. 1852) and our grandfather Daniel Joseph (b. 1862), arriving together in 1873.  We know  just a little about their parents and grandparents, all of whom remained in Ireland.

The Lenehans, as they spelled it then, lived in the townland of Clogher, adjacent to the village of Claregalway, in the parish  of Claregalway, 10 miles north of Galway City.  Many names mentioned below – Lenahan, Fahy, Dugan, Ford, Tully and  Long –  came from this same small area of West Galway, with many intermarriages.  Some came over together on the same  ships and continued to live amongst each other in the US, mostly in Indiana.

Why did the Lenehans come to Indiana?  It is difficult to know, but census records show that members of related families  from the Claregalway area, notably Fahys and Dugans, had made their way to central Indiana in the 1840s and 50s, so  there must have been something of a Claregalway-Indiana “pipeline.”

Note on the spelling of the name:  the most common form in Ireland today is Lenihan, but our early ancestors shunned this  spelling and were listed as “Lenehan” in Griffiths Land Valuation Survey of 1848-55 in Ireland.  However, Patrick preferred  “Lenahan,” as did some but not all of his Brownsburg branch of the family. Our branch of the family – brothers John and  Daniel Lenehan – changed the spelling of their name to “Lanahan” in the late 1890s.

Logan and Doyle 

Michael Logan was the father of Sarah Logan, who married Daniel Lanahan.  He was a colorful figure, who liked to  embroider the story of his life quite a bit (talk about kissing the blarney stone…).  In one obituary that appeared in The  Indianapolis News, he claimed to have been a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln…pretty certain that’s not true.  He also  claimed that his older brother Patrick, who was the first of their family to come over from Ireland, died just before Michael  arrived to join him (after he’d been delayed by a shipwreck…right), so the poor boy had to make his way all alone.  I don’t  think this is true either, as there is a Patrick Logan who settled in Indianapolis and raised a family, who seems pretty clearly  related to us.  Michael also claimed, in a 1910 book, to be the oldest surviving original Irish Catholic settler in  Indianapolis…not likely, either.

Here is the history I’ve been able to piece together.  It’s still an interesting and tragic story.

There is very little trace of the Logan family in Ireland.  Michael said they were from Galway, but neither the East nor West  Galway Family History Society has any record of the family – though it’s true many records were destroyed or lost.   And  the Logans and Doyles emigrated during the height of the “Great Hunger,” the Irish potato famine that ran at its worst from  1845-1852, when millions fled Ireland.

Michael said that brother Patrick came over first; he followed, and a few years after that his youngest brother, Thomas  Xavier, emigrated along with their mother and a few other siblings.  There’s no substantiation of this, but Thomas Xavier  Logan– who became a priest and is buried in the priests’ circle in Holy Cross – luckily provided some further clues in his bio  and obituaries.  I’ve never found any trace of the mother, but her maiden name was Kigin (nowadays spelled Keegan).   Some Kigin relatives settled in Indiana too, and were named in Thomas Xavier’s will.

So the first generation Logan family as we know it in the US consists of Patrick (b. 1820), John F. (b. 1824), Michael (b.  1832) and Thomas Xavier (b. 1837).

Doyle family history

I know very little about the Doyle family before they emigrated from Ireland, also from Galway, but again several brothers  and sisters came to Indiana and settled there; nothing is known about their parents.  Interesting note:  Helen Casserly (m.  Vic Lanahan) is also our fourth cousin, I believe.  Her mother was Florence Doyle, descended from Andrew Doyle, below.

Anna Doyle, our great-great-grandmother, had three brothers: John, Edward, and Andrew. I know very little about her  except that she was born in Ireland in 1832, came over in 1850 and lived in Madison, IN for a while as a boarder with  another family.  We don’t even have a photo. She married Michael Logan in 1856; adding to her tragic life Michael reports in  his bio that besides the children buried in Holy Cross, "several other children" were born, all of whom died in childhood.  And by 1871, only 39 years old, she was dead.  At least she didn’t have to see her remaining children die.

Klimper family history

I suppose that in the Klimpers our family comes closest to public prominence – John Frederick Ferdinand (“Fred”) Klimper  served in the Ohio State Assembly, a public office, from 1878 to 1880, an achievement that as far as I know no other  member of our family has attempted. Later, he became Commissioner of the Port Authority of the Ohio River, in Cincinnati,  another important post during this time when Cincinnati was the Queen City of the Ohio River, one of the US’s major water  highways during the westward expansion. But it’s actually rather difficult to find out much about that family.  I’ll do my best  here.

First of all, the name.  Though our branch of the Klimper family has used that spelling since arriving in the US, it seems the  original name might have been “Klumper”, maybe with an umlaut. Either way it’s an unusual name.  Klimper is found mainly  in the US, and a little in Germany; Klumper is a little more widespread but mostly in the Netherlands.  Since the family  comes from the old duchy of Oldenburg – in the far northwest corner of Germany, right up against the Dutch border – we  may as easily be considered Dutch as German (though our ancestors apparently spoke German, so that’s a clue).

The second mystery is “who is the father of Fred Klimper?”  Family legend has it that Fred’s father, whose first name is  unknown, died on board the ship that brought them over from Germany, and that Christina, his wife, then married the ship’s  captain, John H. Puttmann.  I suspect this story has received the Lanahan blarney treatment (via my mother).  However, the  bio of John’s son, John J. Puttmann, confirms that his father did indeed captain a German sailing ship in the early 1800s,  spoke seven languages, and sailed around the globe before settling down as the owner of a grocery store in downtown  Cincinnati.  So part of it is true.

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Getting Around
There are several ways to browse the family tree. The Tree View graphically shows the relationship of selected person to their kin. The Family View shows the person you have selected in the center, with his/her photo on the left and notes on the right. Above are the father and mother and below are the children. The Ancestor Chart shows the person you have selected in the left, with the photograph above and children below. On the right are the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The Descendant Chart shows the person you have selected in the left, with the photograph and parents below. On the right are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Do you know who your second cousins are? Try the Kinship Relationships Tool. Your site can generate various Reports for each name in your family tree. You can select a name from the list on the top-right menu bar.

In addition to the charts and reports you have Photo Albums, the Events list and the Relationships tool. Family photographs are organized in the Photo Index. Each Album's photographs are accompanied by a caption. To enlarge a photograph just click on it. Keep up with the family birthdays and anniversaries in the Events list. Birthdays and Anniversaries of living persons are listed by month. Want to know how you are related to anybody ? Check out the Relationships tool.

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