Conducted Mostly by Jeff Duntemann and Mary Ellen Duntemann McGuire...

...but Assisted by a Host of Others!

Updated September 2, 2002

A Gathering of Fragments

It often begins with a gathering of fragments.  For many years my aunt and godmother Kathleen M. Duntemann has been sending me scraps of paper containing lists of relatives, mostly but not entirely deceased.  I've tried to remember that I have an Uncle Henry and an Uncle George and an Uncle Albert (technically great-great uncles, siblings of my great-grandfather Frank) but I always seem to forget Uncle William—or did they call him Bill?  And who was Aunt Ella again?  And somewhere there was a guy named Roland Dunteman—I was asked once by a LaSalle Street laywer (whose copier I had come to repair) whether I was, as he put it, "Roland's boy."  Then there was Alta Eckhoff Blakely, a mysterious woman who sent a lot of Dunteman(n)s mimeographed letters in 1975, basically asking us who we were, and hinting that she had traced the Duntemann line back through time to the 1500s, when the Duntemanns were millers in the small German village of Verliehausen.

I kept it all in a file folder full of scraps, added to here and there through contributions by my father's cousin John Phil Duntemann and a man I didn't know named Joe Masonick, whose letter was originally sent to John Phil and from there on to Aunt Kathleen, who then sent it to me.  And another one of my father's cousins, Betty Jane Duntemann St. Germain, gave me some amazing photos of the Duntemann line back to my great-great grandfather Heinrich.  Finally, of course, were the Dunteman(n) names in the phone book—did they somehow connect to me?

There simply comes a day when the scraps hit critical mass.  As a simple matter of organization, I said, What the heck, and sat down and typed in a family tree.  By that time there were quite a few names, and not just Dunteman(n)s but Butenschoens and Dohes and McGuires and many others.  I sent it to my sister and my aunt and my father's cousins and scratched my head over what to do next.  But what made the project catch fire was the enthusiastic response of Mary Ellen Duntemann McGuire, who without any formal agreement but simply the bond of shared enthisiasm became my partner in a venture that will never truthfully be finished.  For as long as any descendent of the Dunteman(n) line remains unknown, we will have work to do.


In October of 1997, I went to visit Mary Ellen, whom I had not seen since 1982, when I had been a whole lot younger and considerably less bald.  When I rang the bell and she opened her door, she greeted me by saying, "My God, Jeff, you look just like your dad!  When I looked out the window I thought it was your dad standing there!"  And in a mysterious way, well, it was—for I carry him with me, in my memories and in every cell, in my strong hands and my insatiable curiosity, in my grin and my faith and the very lines of my face.  So I dedicate my portion of this project to Frank W. Duntemann, Engineer (1922-1978) who once said, When you build 'em right, they fly!

You did.  And I do.

What We're Trying to Do

The history of a family is just that: The names, the dates, the stories that bind a people together.  We're trying to identify as many people as we can who descend from those carrying the Dunteman(n) name.  We're looking back in time to find the earliest Duntemanns we can, and from them work forward to as many people as are their descendents.  I'm building a CD-ROM structure on a Zip cartridge, containing the family tree and the photos and the stories, and some day, when we have something we think people would enjoy exploring, we'll start making CD-ROMs containing the structure and sending them to anyone in the family who would like one.

This has never been done before.  We've already collected more information on the Dunteman(n) line than we believe anyone else has ever done. Mary Ellen and I would like to eventually call a family reunion, back to DuPage County, Illinois, where our clan of the Dunteman(n) family first settled after leaving Germany. 

Duntemann, Dunteman, Dunterman

I write Dunteman(n) because the name has more than one spelling.  In Germany it was originally and remains Duntemann, with two final n's.  Most who came to America dropped the second n for simplicity's sake, or perhaps (as someone suggested) to appear slightly less German. Furthermore, several families in the Bureau County clan (more on clans below) began spelling the name Dunterman in the last part of the 1800s. We're not sure why, exactly—perhaps they felt it captured a little bit of the German accent.

In this document, for simplicity's sake, I'm going to use the original form when discussing the family as a whole, and the other spellings only when discussing individual people or branches of the family where that spelling predominates.  This isn't entirely because I'm a "two-n" Duntemann myself, but simply because it was the original spelling, and in looking back through time it's something that all of us can claim.

What, however, does it mean?  Nobody really knows.  The name truly does go back to the 1500s, and almost certainly a good way beyond that, at least to the era when the German peasants were required to take surnames.  Some have suggested that it is a corruption of Dunkelmann, which in German means, "dark man," but as there are no Dunkelmanns to be found, even in Germany, this is unlikely.  Paul Dunteman of Phoenix heard that there is a Dunte river in Germany, which could have been adopted as a surname by those who lived along its banks.  This could be—though try as they might, two of my German friends have been unable to find any least trace of a Dunte river anywhere in Europe. Still another story tells of a Swedish woman named Dunna, who married a German who (perhaps because of Dunna's beauty, or cunning, or inner fire) became known as Dunna's man, and passed the name to his descendents. Yet another theory holds that the original Duntemann was an emigrant from Dunte, a city in Latvia. I'm trying to locate some indication that the Latvian town of Dunte existed under that name back before 1500, when we have our earliest mention of the Duntemann name.

We may never know.  That won't stop us from trying to find out!

The Duntemann Clans

You'll hear me speak of the various Duntemann clans in this document.  There are at least three clans of Duntemanns, and perhaps a couple more.  By a "clan" I mean a distinct line of descent going back across the Atlantic to Germany.  Back in Germany, of course, the clans may merge, and one of the long-term goals of this project is to determine if this in fact happens.  We are almost certain that the two largest clans come together, because they have been traced back to two small German towns less than five miles apart.

Here, then, are the clans as we know them today:

The DuPage County Clan

This is my own clan, and the primary focus of our research so far. Our clan was brought to America by Johann Carl Christian Duntemann, 1808-1863, who came to America with his wife Millizena and several of their childen sometime about 1848.  The clan can be traced back to the late 1600's or so within the village of Schlarpe in Lower Saxony, partway between Uslar and Goettingen, to the south of Hanover.  Christian settled his family somewhere in the city of Chicago (legend has it near the Stockyards) but we do not know precisely where, although the 1880 census shows Millizena still in Chicago with her two youngest sons Louis and Hermann. In 1864 Christian's son Heinrich Duntemann married and bought land in DuPage County, near the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Wolf Road, in what was then known as Leyden and is now Bensenville.  Don't go looking for this intersection—the original Duntemann farm is now part of mighty O'Hare Field, and the intersection no longer exists except in our memory.

In June of 2002, my wife Carol and I travelled to Germany, and in the company of two good friends who live in Germany (near Bonn) we went to Schlarpe. Irwin and Maria acted as translators and point-people in an area of Germany that doesn't see a lot of tourists and doesn't speak much English. We were allowed to examine the old Lutheran church records for that region in the nearby (and larger) town of Volpriehausen. What we discovered pushed our knowledge back to Christof Duntemann, born in 1687 and died in 1738. We also found dozens of Duntemanns we had no knowledge of before, and found dates and full names for many we knew only vaguely.

The following link shows the Duntemann line from Schlarpe to DuPage County IL.  This copy of the tree emphasizes those individuals from the early 20th century and before:

The Short-Form Family Tree of the DuPage County Clan

For privacy reasons, the full family tree is not posted on the Web and is distributed only to family members.  Please contact me directly for a copy.

The Bureau County Clan

Another group of Duntemanns came to America in the 1850s, from the little village of Verliehausen, which is less than five miles from Schlarpe.  Two brothers, Henry and Ernst Duntemann, emigrated first to Bureau County, Illinois, and later to the region around Woden, Iowa.  A contingent later moved to Amiret, Minnesota and lives there to this day.  Nearly all of what we know of the Bureau County clan is due to the efforts of Alta Eckhoff Blakely, a Duntemann descendent who did a great deal of research in the mid-1970s, including a trip to Verliehausen where she followed the Duntemann line back to the mid-1500s.  Alta published a monograph in 1977, called My German Heritage.  I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of the Duntemann portion of the monograph (which discussed the families of her four grandparents separately) from Loren Dunteman of Balaton, Minnesota, a member of the clan.  The Duntermans (with the "r") are part of this clan.  In reading through Alta's genealogies, it struck me that the family itself was huge, but there was a preponderance of girls, which made the clan seem sparser than it actually is because few of the clan today actually carry the Dunteman or Dunterman name.  I am convinced that the two clans are actually one, and once I make contact with the German churches, I hope to find the connection. Some members of this clan still live in Germany, and I am in communication with one of them, a young man in Bremen, whose great-great-great grandfather is present in Alta's genealogy.

The Effingham Clan

A fair number of Duntemans have lived in the town of Effingham, Effingham County, in southern Illinois, and in the surrounding region.  Very recently I got in touch with a member of the Effingham clan, and he has evidence that his clan and the DuPage County clan are related.  The Effingham line descends from one Charles Duntemann, who may very well be Johann Carl Christian Duntemann's younger brother. We are investigating this right now, and I'll update this page once we get to a definition opinion.

The Cinncinnati Clan

There is a group of Duntemans hailing from Cinncinnati, Ohio who appear to be an entirely separate family from ours.  I am working with Paul Dunteman here in Phoenix to determine when his ancestors crossed the Atlantic.  We know his grandfather was Herman Duntemann, 1855-1929, and we cannot connect him to either the Bureau County or DuPage County clan. Steamship records show that a Herman Duntemann crossed from Bremen to New York on the S.S. Rhein and arrived on July 8, 1871, when Herman was 16.  This makes him just about precisely the age that Paul Dunteman's grandfather was supposed to be. Furthermore, those same steamship records show an adjacent record for a man named August Duntemann, age 47 at the time. Because the records were adjacent, it's extremely like that the two were travelling together, and August is probably Hermann's father, though we have no corroborating evidence. More research is needed here, and we're pursuing it as best we can.

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