27 January 2020

Branches of the Josef Jakobs Family Tree

Trier, Germany - origin of the Josef Jakobs clan
Trier, Germany - origin of the Josef Jakobs clan
Back in November, I received an intriguing Facebook message from a woman down on the east coast of the States. She said that her family name was spelt "Jakobs" as well and that her family had long circulated a story that one of their great-relatives was a spy for the Nazis. She had come across my book and website and thought... maybe we were related.

This was kind of a cool thought and it spurred a burst of activity from me on Ancestry. I hadn't worked on the Jakobs branch for a few years and... Ancestry has come a long way since then. I started tracking various Jakobs side-branches from my direct lineage, trying to trace a connection to the States. At the same time, I got a bit of information from the woman and began researching her tree upwards... trying to trace her forefathers who immigrated to the States from Germany.

At this point, I've traced her great-great grandfather as one Herman Frederick Jakobs who came to the States in the early 1890s - exact city/village/town in Germany still unknown... but we are working on digging up some more records.

At this point, however, drawing a link between Herman's tree and my tree is not likely:
  • Herman's branch is Protestant... my Jakobs branch is Catholic - and while there have been people who have crossed the lines from one to the other... it isn't likely
  • My Jakobs branch has no Herman's or Frederick's in it... and given how children were often named after previous ancestors... this makes a connection doubtful
  • DNA - I had Ancestry DNA done a few years ago and... so did the US woman's father... at this point, Ancestry says we have zero DNA in common
  • Herman would have been roughly the same generation as Josef Jakobs' father, Kaspar Jakobs. So even if there were a connection, it would have to be higher up the tree than Kaspar (as he had no Herman or Frederick siblings)
Jacobs/Jakobs is not that uncommon a name in Germany and it is quite likely that Herman Frederick originated from some other location. My branch of the Jakobs originated in Trier and I can trace them there until well into the 1500s. I've made contact with a few German Jakobs relations (4th cousins) but haven't found any evidence of them jumping the pond to North America.

There is always the possibility that Kaspar, Josef or my own father had a few extra-marital Jakobs children... and it remains to be seen if any of them ever emerge from the woodwork. There is also the mysterious nephew of Josef Jakobs, one Balthazar Jakobs, who was born in the mid-1920s and, according to family legend, died during the war. I haven't been able to confirm his death so... it is always possible that he survived the war...

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