While walking Rath Cemetery recently to update our files, we noticed that Phoebe Knegendorf, who had a marker in the cemetery with only her year of birth (1890) when the cemetery was canvassed in 1980, no longer had a tombstone in Rath. There was a concrete pad where a marker SHOULD have been. Phoebe was the third wife of Henry Knegendorf- his first two wives had predeceased him and were buried near him in Rath Cemetery. Phoebe had outlived Henry, who died in 1969. She was listed as his surviving widow in his obituary.
The man who takes care of burials in Rath, and has for the past 40 years, didn’t remember seeing a marker for Phoebe. The Township office didn’t have a record of Phoebe, or ANY Knegendorf in Rath Cemetery, for that matter.
A quick check of the Michigan deaths on Ancestry produced the following entry:
- Name: Phoebe Knegendorf
- Birth Date: 16 Mar 1890
- Death Date: 23 Apr 1983
- Gender: Female
- Residence: MT Pleasant, Isabella, Michigan
- Place of Death: MT Pleasant, Isabella, Michigan
The county clerk’s office in Isabella County was able to check their records and provide the place where Phoebe was buried- North Bradley Cemetery. Googling the cemetery provided no results, so Find A Grave was checked after determining that there is a town called North Bradley in Midland County, which borders Isabella County. There was only one cemetery in North Bradley, called Geneva Township Cemetery.
The Midland Library was called to see if anyone there might know anything about Phoebe and this cemetery. The librarian was helpful but suggested that I call back later when the volunteers from the local genealogical society were there to help me further. A volunteer named Bob checked many records for Phoebe and tracked her back to her parents’ household in Pennsylvania and found that Phoebe’s parents had moved to the Midland area and had a plot in the Geneva Township Cemetery. They were listed on the cemetery transcription, but Phoebe wasn’t.
Out of curiosity, I checked Find A Grave for Phoebe’s parents, William and Amanda Lytle and was surprised to find PHEBE LYTLE, 1890-1983 also listed. She has a marker in the Geneva Township Cemetery under her maiden name! BTW, her tombstone has PHOEBE, but the Find A Grave volunteer spelled the memorial as Phebe.
Phoebe doesn’t have an obituary in the Monroe museum, but she does have one in a local paper:
Last Name: Knegendorf
First Name: Phoebe (Mrs.)
Date of Death: 04/23/1983
Birth Date: 03/16/1890
Obituary Source: Morning Sun
Source Information: April 25, 1983; Page 2, Column 1-2
We still don’t know what happened to Phoebe’s marker that was in Rath Cemetery in 1980 when Shirley and Frieda walked the cemetery, but at least we know where Phoebe ended up and also learned to check for links to family members when looking for someone’s final resting place. Phoebe was there all along, we were just looking under her married name, when we should have checked under her maiden name.
I created Find A Grave memorials for Henry Knegendorf and his first two wives and linked him to Phoebe in the cemetery in Midland County, so she should be easier to find in the future.
The Knegendorf name is fairly unusual, so I checked some other records to find this family. Henry was the son of Christian and Dorothea (Schippmann) Knegendorf. He was born in Michigan- and the family lived in Ida and Raisinville Twps. Christian and Dorothea were married in Germany based on the information in the 1900 census and arrived here with their oldest child around 1883. The remaining children were all born in Monroe County. Entries for their baptisms were found in the St. Matthew Lutheran Church records (available on microfilm at Ellis or in a transcribed book).
The Knegendorf family came from Mecklenburg- which is a great thing for researchers because many of those records are available on the internet via Ancestry. (Don’t have a subscription? Stop by our archives on a Wednesday- we have access to the World Edition of Ancestry!) Christian and Dorothea were married in Pfarrkirche Güstrow on 8 Dec 1882. See the copy of the actual record found below:
Translation: Christian Johann Ludwig Heinrich Knegendorf, laborer in Strenz, was born in Dehmen on 22 Sep 1845, son of Dorothea Catherine Christine Knegendorf, single woman from Dehmen. He married Dorothea Sophia Friedrike Schippmann, who was born 25 Aug 1861 in Neu Goldewin, the daughter of the late Johann Joachim Friedrich Schippmann, a worker.
The baptism record of Christian and Dorothea’s oldest child, Anna, was also found on Ancestry’s site as well as the ship record for them arriving in the United States.
Copies of the information found on Christian & Dorothea will be placed in GSMC’s archives, in the Betty Gay Collection.
There is probably more information to be found on Ancestry for this family- but we’ll leave that for a family member to follow up on!