Man's Family Tree Research Grows into Books Volumes Explore the Northwest Suburbs' German Roots

By Daday, Eileen O. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 18, 2001 | Go to article overview

Man's Family Tree Research Grows into Books Volumes Explore the Northwest Suburbs' German Roots


Daday, Eileen O., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald Correspondent

The names sound familiar: Pfingsten, Biesterfeld, Rohlwing, Schoenbeck, Springinsguth.

They refer not to a road map of the North and Northwest suburbs, but to German settlers, all descendants of the same family, who planted roots here in the mid-19th century.

A descendent of the Pfingsten family, Gary Biesterfeld, 50, of Elgin, recently published a history of his ancestors. What started out as an update of a family tree grew into two volumes of work, encompassing 3,000 names.

Called "Dear Cousin," the self-published books take their name from the first version of "Dear Cousin," written 35 years ago by another Pfingsten descendent, Connie Knake of Urbana. Her research yielded many of the old family photos and documents, which Biesterfeld uses again.

"I was about 15 when my father brought home the first book," Biesterfeld says. "I just loved it, reading all about who my ancestors were."

Knake's first book sold out of the 500 copies she had published.

Already, Biesterfeld has sold 400 of his 500 limited edition, mostly to "cousins" spread out across the country. He also has dispatched copies to area historical societies and libraries.

It's no wonder. The books documents some of the earliest settlers to the Schaumburg area, using research in part obtained at St. Peter Lutheran Church, which Pfingsten family members helped to build in 1848 and where many of the original settlers are buried.

Biesterfeld traces the family back to Heinrich Pfingsten, who came to America in 1847 from the town of Apelern in the Schaumburg section of Germany. He and his wife, Sophie, arrived with three children, and subsequently had six more children in this country.

They settled in Schaumburg Township, on a farm built along Meacham Road. The farm stayed in the Pfingsten family until 1959.

It is the descendants of these nine Pfingsten children that Biesterfeld traces, devoting a different section to each family, complete with pullout pages to document each branch of the original family tree. …

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