Monday, August 24, 2015

Searching for Burgenlanders in Bancroft, Kossuth County Iowa

Why did my relatives, the Schötls, and many families from Mönchhof (now in Burgenland, Austria) emigrate to Bancroft, Kossuth County, Iowa?

After spending the first of our two days to Kossuth County in the County seat of Algona, we spent our 3rd and final day in Bancroft. (see the Algona blog here)


As early as 1882, Catholic families came to make their homes in and around Bancroft.  It was designated as an out-mission of Algona and Mass was celebrated in the Bancroft public school building for the next several years.  In October 1889, Bishop Hennessy directed Father Nicholls to build a church in Bancroft and the 36' x 60' structure was completed October 19, 1890. It was deemed a separate Catholic parish within the Dubuque diocese.



From our research we put together a list of the Burgenlander burials in Kossuth County, many in Bancroft. 

We started with the "Burgenlander's Honored and Remembered" listed by the Burgenland Bunch. We went through and created a spreadsheet of the families who came from the Neusiedl  area villages buried throughout the U.S.  We sorted that for just the Iowa burials. We next sorted that alphabetically by town burial site in Iowa.  What we found is that the Bancroft St. John the Baptist Cemetery has burials from Mönchhof immigrants representing 14 families.  To these we could add others, like the Schotls, who were Bancroft residents but with no burials.

Shan contacted Judy Vaske, the business manager at Saint John the Baptist Church in Bancroft with our list.  Judy agreed to bring the cemetery records and meet us at St. John the Baptist cemetery to locate the graves.





Shan Thomas and Judy Vaske

Shan at the Martin Sanftner grave marker


The cemetery books are very detailed with the graves marked according to the placement in quadrants. A map is posted on a board in the center of the cemetery. The cemetery is in excellent condition and well cared for. 









St. John the Baptist Cemetery Map




Burgenlanders buried in St. John's Cemetery, Bancroft

last name  maiden name   1st name    home village    birth  death           cemetery         place
Deim Johann Mönchhof 1865 1941 St. John's Bancroft
Deim Rainer Catherine Mönchhof 1866 1931 St. John's Bancroft
Lentsch Rapp Rosalia Mönchhof 1857 1926 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Gregor Mönchhof 1873 1909 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Lorenz Mönchhof 1843 1909 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Krenn Genofeva Mönchhof 1846 1907 St. John's Bancroft
Rainer Martin Mönchhof 1877 1901 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Franz Mönchhof 1856 1903 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Zittritsch Marie Mönchhof 1859 1942 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Josef Mönchhof 1870 1928 St. John's Bancroft
Rapp Sanftner Magdalene Mönchhof 1876 1963 St. John's Bancroft
Regner Georg Mönchhof 1875 1970 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Gothardt Mönchhof 1868 1950 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Schwartz Elisabeth Mönchhof 1871 1954 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Martin Mönchhof 1862 1932 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Rapp Barbara Mönchhof 1868 1932 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Mathias Mönchhof 1844 1911 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Pöckl Anna Mönchhof 1852 1925 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Michel Mönchhof 1856 1908 St. John's Bancroft
Sanftner Hoffman Anna Mönchhof 1855 1901 St. John's Bancroft
Lentsch Melchior Podersdorf 1882 1904 St. John's Bancroft
Lentsch Michel Podersdorf 1855 1931 St. John's Bancroft


We were able to locate and photograph all but 3 of the Burgenlander graves. These we assumed were either never marked, marked but missing, or the stone was buried under the grass.


Some of the Burgenlander grave markers at St. Johns the Baptist Cemetery


After we finished at the cemetery and had a little lunch in downtown Bancroft, we headed to the church where we met with Lori Geitzenauer, the Director of Religious Education for St. John the Baptist Church. She helped us search the church records for births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials. She took a tremendous amount of time and was very patient with us.

We looked for Schötl/Hoffman records, then Lori showed us other names from our list. More time with these records would give a better picture of this Burgenland group.  



Baptisms at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 
Bancroft, Iowa, July 2015 
  • Michael Joseph Schotl, baptised 30 Dec 1897, born 13 Dec. 1897, son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl
  • Michael Mathias Schotl, baptised 30 Jul 1899, born 27 Jul 1899, son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl
  • Franz (Frank) Mathias Schotl, baptised 8 Jul 1900, born 6 Jul 1900, son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl, god parents Joseph & Lena Rapp
  • Mathias Paul Schotl baptised 8 May 1902 born 30 Apr 1902,  , son of Michael Schotl & Elizabeth Hoffman Schotl, god parents Michael & Anna Sanftner                                                           (last name Schotl is spelled Schöttel in Baptismal Records)
Marriages at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 
Bancroft, Iowa, July 2015 
  • Michael Schotl to Elizabeth Hoffman, 10 Feb 1896, witnesses Matt Schotl & Teresia Sanftner
  • Joseph Rapp to Lena Sanftner, (Franz Schotl god parents) witnesses John Rapp & Anna Green

Burials at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 
Bancroft, Iowa, July 2015 

  • Mathias Hoffman, died 6 Oct 1906, buried 8 Oct 1906, age 75


The lesson was how valuable church records can be in genealogy. We knew that Michael Schötl and Elizabeth Hoffman had 4 sons born in Iowa but there was no record of these births at the county. The church records are the only documents we have about the boy's birth dates and given names. 









The parish of St. John The Baptist is nearing its 125th year in 2016 and is currently in the 100th year since the building of the church.  The quasquicentennial celebration is set for July 2nd 2016.  A call for stories, pictures and artifacts has been made by the church's History Committee.  Information can be mailed to PO Box 94 Bancroft, IA  50517.






The Schötls and others didn't stay long in Iowa.  According to the 1905 Minnesota State Census, the Schötl family, with the exception of Frank and Mary, were living in Columbus Township, Anoka County.  It was in the Anoka County records and with the help of the Burgenland Bunch that we discovered that many of their Hungarian neighbors from Mönchhof had settled on adjacent or nearby farms in Columbus Township.