Casefile Clues

21 April 2013

The Goldenstein Trunk

I've written about this trunk before and have actually had it for over ten years. It's not a new acquisition, but I decided to revisit it after Genealogy Tip of the Day readers suggested it.

The trunk belonged to Altje Goldenstein and is likely the trunk she had with her when she immigrated to the United States sometime before her August 1870 marriage in Adams County, Illinois, to Hinrich Schuster. Altje has never been located on any ship manifest, but quite a bit is known about her life and her family. Altje was born in Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany, the daughter of Johann Luken Jurgens Ehmen Goldenstein and his wife Tjode Anna Focken Tammen. She was a part of a much larger chain of migration to Adams and Hancock Counties in Illinois that included all but two of her siblings, an aunt, an uncle, and numerous cousins. Even if she arrived alone on the boat there was family waiting for her in Keokuk Junction--her destination which is stamped on the trunk. 
 
Keokuk Junction was a railroad train stop in northeastern Adams County, Illinois, and today is known as Golden. It was home to a large contingent of Ostfriesen immigrants. 

Altje was a sister to Fokke Goldenstein, my great-great-grandfather. That is how the trunk came to my possession. In the days before blogs, I posted much of my family tree on my website. The antiques dealer who purchased this trunk from an estate sale, told me that the trunk was originally wrapped in canvas and that after removing the canvas and cleaning it up, she decided to perform some internet searches for the name on the trunk. 

Fortunately my website was one of the results. The antiques dealer emailed me, we agreed to a price, and the trunk is now in my possession.

Altje died in 1907 in Hancock County, Illinois, and is buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery near Basco. The trunk probably never left the immediate area as the dealer who purchased it was based in Keokuk, Iowa. 

Apparently it was used for a toybox at one point in time because it is painted bright red inside and wheels were attached to it at one time. The dealer was unable to tell me where she bought the trunk. She did not live far from the area, so my supposition is that the trunk was in someone's attic, garage, or barn until the dealer purchased it. 

I also have her brother's trunk that he used on a return trip to visit Germany in the early 1900s. His trunk does not have his name stamped on it, so I'll have to take Grandma's word for it that it was his trunk.