52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
Road Trip: Finding the van den Heuvels
Bluebonnet Genealogy is home to an extensive database of individuals buried in Washington County cemeteries. Volunteers spent countless hours researching and compiling the information into something easily accessible to the general public. When the Jaeger Witte Heritage Cemetery Association was formed in 2014, this website provided a valuable starting point for compiling biographies of individuals buried in the historic Witte section of the cemetery.
But four names stuck out:
Caroline van den Heuvel (nee Hagedorn), her husband Dietrich van den Heuvel, and their children Lina and Rudolph.
Bluebonnet Genealogy indicates that these four individuals are buried in the cemetery, without headstones. I checked through family records and pictures of the cemetery dating back over 100 years and was unable to locate any information about these burials. So, I went to my semi-reliable friend–the internet–for answers.
Websites like Ancestry, Find a Grave, and Family Search are helpful insofar as one can locate original sources such as obituaries and census records. And most of the time, the family trees are a treasure trove of pictures and stories. But sometimes family historians and amateur genealogists (myself included) import records from other sources without verifying the information, and so an error on one website gets repeated over and over again. Such is the case with the van den Heuvel graves. Multiple entries on these sites place them in the Jaeger Witte Cemetery, alongside Caroline’s parents and three of her siblings.
But further sleuthing brought up an entry on the Austin County, TXGenWeb Project site. According to this site, Caroline and Ditrich van den Heuvel, along with their children Rudolph, Caroline (“Lina”), and Anna are buried in the Dr. Herman Bartram Cemetery in Shelby, Texas. This cemetery popped up on Find a Grave and provided GPS coordinates along with these directions:
From Shelby, TX, take FM 389 NE for 2 miles to Church Rd. (dirt road) Turn right on Church Rd and go .5 miles to a gate on left.
Cemetery is located 700 yards NE from gate, on top of a hill under trees.
The closest address to the cemetery was 3200 Wagner Rd, Round Top, TX 78954.
On October 8th, my cousins Debbie and Kay and I hit the road in search of the van den Heuvels. We followed these directions to the cemetery and (as expected) were greeted with a locked gate. We waited near the entrance, waved towards the house, blew the horn, but if anybody was at home, they did not see us. I emailed Jane Keppler, who is the County Coordinator for Austin County, and maintains http://www.countygenweb.com. She put me in contact with James Hering, from the Austin County Historical Commision. James and I spoke at length about his work in locating and cataloging cemeteries in Austin County. James shared that around ten years ago, he and another member of the commission heard from one of the locals that there was a cemetery located somewhere on the property belonging to Lonnie Hermann. Mr. Hermann gave them permission to search the property and eventually they located the burial site on top of a hill, under some trees. There appeared to have been a chain link fence surrounding the cemetery but at some point it had fallen down. Cattle had begun trampling the graves. Despite this, they were able to successfully locate and identify the following eight headstones:
Alexander George Bartram
Carl Heinrich Ludwig (Herman) Bartram
Maria Georgine van den Heuvel Bartram
Anna van den Heuvel
Caroline Amalia van den Heuvel
Caroline Marie Amalia Hagedorn van den Heuvel
Dietrich Alexander van den Heuvel
Rudolph Louis van den Heuvel
I have since written a letter to Mr. Hermann as well as to those living on the property and am waiting to hear back. Once I do, you can be sure I will be back on the road, one step closer to catching up with the van den Heuvels.