My husband (and my kids of course) is descended from one of two men named Anstoetter, who were probably brothers, who came to the US in about 1868 from the region around Salzbergen, Hannover, Germany. Both settled in Iowa, one in Dubuque County and one in Carroll County. Actually, they both appear to have started in Carroll County where they bought land together. But something seems to have come between them. One brother moved to Dubuque County and never mentioned to his family that he had a brother living in the US. His obit doesn’t mention his brother even though he was still alive. These things happen. From what I know of John Herman Anstoetter, my husband’s great grandfather, he was a difficult man.
What really interests me in this little family spat is that one brother, I’m not sure which, changed the spelling of his name slightly. The Carroll County family, descendants of Gerhardt spell their last name Anstoeter very consistently in census, land, church, cemetery records and in published family accounts. John Herman and his descendants spell their name with two t’s – Anstoetter. And they were also very consistent and even insistent. I wonder why.
The name is very rare. Every person in the US with this surname, alive or deceased, is descended from one of these two men, probably brothers. The name is just as rare in Germany and I’ve never made contact with a German descendant of the family. In fact Google searches on the name – both variants – inevitably turn up roughly 10 hits involving individuals that aren’t closely related to my husband and those 10 hits are primarily to the websites of two individuals in Germany, one in Salzbergen and one in Muenster which is just down the road from Salzbergen. They seem to be a stay-in-one-spot sort of family.
Except for Gerhardt, John Herman and one other probable relative – Anna Adelheid Anstoetter Ovel who immigrated with her husband to Carroll County Iowa in 1854. She isn’t a sister as she is much older. But I will bet you she is an Aunt. No one knows. None of my husbands relatives had ever heard of a connection with an Ovel family.
I’ve contacted a researcher in Germany since the FHL has almost nothing for Salzbergen. I’m hopeful that somewhere there is enough information to help me understand. Why the dual spellings? Why the lack of migration? Why the testy family history? Well maybe not the last one. These things happen.