of Chicago
Descendants of Frederick Wilhelm Gottlieb Bonow
1847 - Present

ROEPKE FAMILY    *     CARL BONOW FAMILY    *     MOLL FAMILY    *     MAPS    *     RESEARCH    *     LINKS


FRIEDRICH WILHELM GOTTLIEB BONOW was the head of the Pomeranian German family who brought his large clan of Bonows, Ziemers, Roepkes, and others to settle in Chicago in the 1880's. Louise Bonow As described in Pomeranian Roots, Friedrich (or Ferdinand), a 25-year old servant from the estate at Pöniken, Kreis Köslin, Pommern, married 20-year old Louisa <i>S. S. Braunschweig</i>KRUECKOW in March, 1847. Louise was the daughter of Christina HEISER and Jacob KRÜCKOW, a property owner from Martinshagen, about 20 kilometers NE of the city of Köslin. Friedrich and his wife Louise started their family with our ancestor Caroline, born in 1847; their first son August was born in 1849; William in 1853; Johanna in 1856; Carl in 1859; daughter Friederike Wilhelmine Auguste Bonow was born in Zewelin 1861; Wilhelmine in 1863; and a stillborn daughter, lost in 1874.

The Bonows and all their surviving grown children left their homeland for the United States, beginning with Wilhelm, their single son, a merchant tailor, who went ahead to prepare the way for the others. Daughter Caroline was next, with her husband Martin Ziemer and the children in 1881. (Grandson Charles Ziemer, known to our family as "Uncle Charlie", later described their miserable 31-day passage in his Family Chronicle.) The Bonows' daughter Johanna, with her husband Frederick ROEPKE arrived; then a son Carl, and daughter Wilhelmine. Finally the elder Bonows, with the oldest son August and his wife and children, arrived at Baltimore on April 17, 1884 aboard the S.S.Braunschweig from Bremen.

It is most likely that the immigrants traveled by train to Chicago from there. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had a direct line for passengers by that time. Why they had decided on Chicago is not known, but certainly the Bonows were not alone in seeing a prosperous future in the booming, big midwestern city. Throughout the 1880's and 1890's, 35% of the immigrants were from northeastern Germany - Prussia, Mecklenburg, or Pomerania. By 1900 470,000 Chicagoans were of German descent; one of four citizens were either born or had a parent born in Germany.

In 1880, Chicago had a population of over 503,000. The "windy city" was even then a center of political wrangling, hosting both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 1880. The Republicans chose James Garfield over U.S. Grant that year, and Garfield would go on to win the presidential election - and would be assassinated within the year. The Chicago White Stockings won the baseball league championship at South Side Park at 35th and Wabash.. Chicago was gradually becoming the city we know now. As the new Pomeranian immigrants scraped for a living, John Root and Daniel Burnham oversaw the completion of their ten-story Montauk Building, Chicago's first steel skyscraper. By 1890 Chicago's population had surged to over a million. Within the next few years, Marshall Field's was built on State St. and the Rookery, the Auditorium, the Monadnock Buildding, and the Art Institute all became Chicago landmarks, while the Columbian Exposition of 1893 would transform the South Lakefront. It was a time of change and unrest. Labor unrest would escalate in Chicago to the Haymarket Square bombing and riots.

Earlier in the century, German immigrants had settled on the North and Northwest Sides of the city, Now German, Irish, and other immigrants were also flocking to Bridgeport and Canaryville, near the Union Stock Yards. The Bonows rented or bought homes in the Township of Lake just south of the city limits, where frame housing was cheap and not subject to the city's stricter post-Fire building codes, in a strip among the railroad yards, between Pershing Rd. and Garfield Boulevard. (Almost obliterated by the Dan Ryan Expressway, the area is now known as Fuller Park.) Town of Lake was incorporated into Chicago in 1890, and continued to bustle with new immigrants working at the stock yards or the nearby railroad yards. The horse-drawn street car line down Wentworth Avenue made it easy get around to other parts of the city; and the cable car line down State Street was extended to 63rd Street by 1887.

The Ziemers lived on what was then called Shurtleff Avenue, then Atlantic, later 5th Avenue, and eventually Wells St. The youngest Bonow daughter, Wilhelmine, had married carpenter Wilhelm Moll already in September of 1884 (9/21/1884), and they were starting a family at 4950 S. Princeton. William Bonow, the tailor, had married his wife Amelia by 1886, and they had several at 4942 Princeton. Johanna and her husband Frederick Roepke lived a few doors down at 4922. The parents Friedrich and Louise Bonow lived at 46th and Wentworth (4606 or 4608). Their son Carl may have lived with them there; and August Bonow and his family likewise lived with his parents at first.

Like most Pomeranian immigrants, Friedrich and Louise and their children spoke plattdeutsch -- Low German -- and the elders probably never spoke fluent English. They found an Evangelical Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, in St. Peter's at 3918 S. Dearborn, where christenings, confirmations, weddings, and funerals were observed for many years. Friedrich apparently had chronic health problems; he was said to have contracted cancer in one eye as a result of injury during the threshing of grain back in the old country. He never worked at a steady job after arriving in Chicago, although he did knit socks and mittens and such for the police, firemen and others. He died in July, 1887, at age 66, just 3 years after leaving Germany. A few months later, their son Carl married Mary Ebinger (Sept. 4, 1887) but from that point there is little known about him. After Friedrich's death, Louise moved in with her daughter Caroline and the Ziemers, and lived with them for the rest of her life at their new home facing the railroad yards at 4951 Shields (originally called Tracy St.) It was just across the alley from the other Bonows, Molls and Roepkes. Louise died Nov. 27, 1916. The Bonow siblings and their families all spent many years as neighbors in the Fuller Park neighborhood of Chicago, their stories recalled by Charles A. F. Ziemer and others. (Grandma Bertha Heinrich Ziemer recealled the exploits of one "Buck" Bonow, but we don't know which of the boys that would be.) For the most part the Bonows attended first St. Peter's and later (by 1898) the even more convenient Gethsemane Lutheran Church at 45th and Princeton. As the years went by, the neighborhood became crowded, and with a few exceptions, later generations tended to move farther south in the city, many to the Englewood neghborhood after it was annexed to the city. The ethnic makeup of the neighborhood changed dramatically, with blacks replacing the European immigrants in the aging frame houses. The Ziemers, Bonows, Molls, and Roepkes were dispersed by that time all through the South Side.


Friedrich Bonow Death Record * * * Braunschweig Passenger List


The oldest daughter Caroline with her husband Martin were the parents of our Ziemer family, which is of course my own line and is documented in more detail in Ziemers of Chicago. Caroline BONOW and Martin ZIEMER were married in the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Manow, Kreis Köslin, Pomerania. Martin was a farmer in nearby Zewellin, and presumably the married couple started their family there. Charles A. F. Ziemer(the aforementioned Uncle Charlie to our dad) was the first-born of their children in Pommern. The second son Herman was born in 1877, followed by Otto. Two little girls were also born in Pommern, Annie in 1879 and Minnie only shortly before the emigrants left for their difficult voyage to the U.S. As described by Charles, the Ziemers suffered among other steerage passengers as the little sidewheeler steamship, a converted freighter, struggled through storms in the Atlantic for a 31-day crossing. They made their way (probably by train) to Chicago, finding a house at 46th and Shurtleff (later Atlantic, then 5th Avenue, finally Wells Street). In the days after their arrival, everyone in the family but Caroline was sick, and when little Minnie died, only Caroline was well enough to attend the funeral. Arriving home, she found that her daughter Annie had also died in her absence. A few years later, young Otto died and was buried with his sisters at Oak Woods Cemetery. Martin eventually found work as a laborer, and they moved to 4951 South Shields St., across the alley from Princeton Ave., where Caroline's parents, brothers and sisters, nieces, and nephews lived for many years. Frank (Franz Herman Carl Ziemer), our grandfather, was born Feb. 17, 1885, the first born in the USA. William (Wilhelm August) was born October 2, 1887. One more son, Otto, was born on Christmas Day of 1890. He died a month before his third birthday in 1893.

In spite of the tragedies and hard times, the surviving sons grew and raised families of their own. Charles became a traffic manager and clerk for the nearby Rock Island railroad. He married Louise Bruns and they lived at 4455 Shields St. "Lizzie" Bruns ran a neighborhood grocery store. Charles and Lizzie raised two sons: Martin, who became a doctor; and Elmer who became a dentist. The Charles Ziemers eventually moved south to 8201 S. Carpenter Street in the Englewood neighborhood.

Uncle Charlie got Herman a job working for the railroad, too. Herman married neighbor Minna Post in 1899, and they lived originally at 4449 Shields St., raising two daughters: Lillian (b. Feb.14, 1900)and Ella L.(b. December 16, 1904). Lillian married Lou Soldan, and they later lived in the same house at 7735 S. May St., where the Soldans raised two sons: Lou (b.1`2/22/1922) and Donald (b.7/12/1928) and a daughter Pearl (b. 9/7/1928). Ella married John Kraft and their daughter was Ruth (who was adopted by Ella's second husband, Arthur Olsen.) Herman Ziemer died Dec.2, 1941.

Our grandfather Frank also started out with the Rock Island Line. He married Bertha HEINRICH in 1908, and they lived on Carpenter St. in Englewood, moving into a brick bungalow at 6349 Carpenter. Frank worked briefly as a goldsmith, but left that trade to become a clerk at the car works, then an inspector of rolling stock for the Illinois Railway Association, a job that involved travel around the states; during the Depression he was superintendent of the railroad yards in Kansas City, which involved week-long sojourns away from home. Frank and Bertha had four children, beginning with Harold (b.2/27/1908), who married Lydia SAESS and had five children: Shirlee, Frank, Donald, Darlene, and Harold; Margie (b. 8/15/1918 - who died in infancy); our father Raymond Heinrich (b.3/2/1920), who married Alice RADOVAN, raising Barbara, Raymond, and Susan; and Robert Frederick (b. 4/30/1924), who married Isabelle CLEMONTS and had three children: Jacqueline, Pamela, and Robin. Frank died after his appendix burst on the train en route from Kansas City to Chicago, on June 25, 1933

William Ziemer lived in the building on Shields with his parents Martin and Caroline, even after marrying Margaretha KAISER and siring two children: Margaret (b. 5/1/1911) and William Christie Ziemer (b. 7/4/1913). "Willie" worked in the trades, as a moldmaker for plaster mouldings and ornaments, but fell ill and died at the age of twenty-nine on Oct. 13, 1915. His widow Margaretha remarried to Anthony BELL, and moved to the Jefferson Park neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. Margaret Ziemer married Henry Burke and they had four sons: William, John, Richard, and Thomas. William Christie Ziemer married Betty SCHAEFER and their children were Nancy and William R. Ziemer.

Martin Ziemer died of penumonia on May 1, 1913. Caroline stayed on at the Shields St. house with Willie and his family, but after Willie's death in 1915, she moved in with her oldest son Charles and his family on Shields Ave., and later lived with them at 8201 S. Carpenter St., until her death Jan. 20, 1930.

1900 Census * * * 1910 Census * * * Charles Ziemer, 1920 Census * * *Herman Ziemer, 1900 Census
Frank Ziemer, 1910 Census * * * Frank Ziemer, 1930 Census



The second-oldest of Friedrich and Louisa's children was August BONOW, born in Seeger, Kreis Köslin, Pommern in 1849. He married Mathilda SCHEUNEMANN and they had five children in Germany: Mathilda, Martha, & William Bonow Bertha Minna Caroline, born 1876, who apparently died before the family emigrated; Wilhelmine C., born in 1878. Carl (or Charles), born 10/31/1879. Franz, born in 1882; and Augusta, born November of 1883. This little one was just a few months old when the family took passage to America.

By April of 1884, August's brother William and two married sisters had already arrived in the U.S. Probably Wilhelmine and Carl had also made the journey. It was time for August to pull up stakes, along with his parents. As noted, their ship, the SS Braunschweig, docked in Baltimore, and the family came by train to Chicago. August and his family made their home with Friedrich and Louise at 4606 Wentworth, a few blocks from the Ziemers. Before they could even settle into their new home, tragedy struck. Little Augusta died on May 16, and was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery. Then another blow came when two-year old Franz died on June 11. One can only imagine how difficult and debilitating the overseas journey, how harsh or unhealthful their living conditions were to take such a toll.

Charles Bonow But life goes on, and the family grew. Martha G. was the Bonows' first child born in the USA on June 2, 1885. William Charles was born in August of 1889. (One more daughter may have been a late-life child of August and Mathilda: Louise, born Feb. 10, 1903.) August had gotten a job with the city streets department, and soon was earning a foreman's wages. After Friedrich's death, the family rented a nice home at 4948 Princeton. .
Daughter Wilhelmine married German immigrant Ernest SCHNEIDER April 18, 1897 in Chicago, and they lived down the street at 4925 Princeton. Their children included Herbert, born 1898; Erna, 1899; Irwin W., 1909; Dorothy, 1912; and Bernice, 1916. Schneider started out as a laborer in the local car shops, but eventually became a crane engineer. By 1930 they had moved to 1525 E. Marquette Rd.

Martha was out doing day housework. She never married, and died in 1908 at the age of 23. Son Charles also remained single and living with his parents; it looks like August got him a job on the streets crew, too. A photograph from Chicago Tribune files shows him at work as street sweeper. He died at age 34 the 14th of January 1914. William Charles Bonow worked as a salesman at a supply house. Around that time he married Alice Behnke, the sister of Wanda Behnke, his cousin's wife (Cousin William Louis Bonow -- The sisters both married men named William Bonow!) William Charles was one of the few Bonows who left the city - to change his luck, to find a different lifestyle? Their daughter Juanita was born in Wisconsin about 1914. When William registered for the WWI draft in 1917, though, he was working as a bookkeeper for a State St. firm, and he listed his parents' address on Princeton. It's possible he had returned because his father was ill. In 1918, August died at the age of 69; he was buried in Bethania Cemetery. Mathilda stayed on alone at the Princeton St. house.

By 1930 William C. and Alice had left Chicago again - they owned and worked a fruit farm in Van Buren Co., Michigan. Their second child was William “Jack” Bonow, an attorney who lived and practiced in the Kalamazoo area; he died in 1969. Juanita married Vaughn Walter of Kalamazoo, MI. Their son John Walter was a minister and lived in Conway, AK. William Charles died in 1955 and his widow lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan until her death January 7, 1977.

Manow Birth Record, 1875    *     Braunschweig Passenger List    *     1900 Census    *     1910 Census     *    1920 Census        Wm.C. Bonow Family 1930 Census


William BONOW was born in 1853, the third child and second son of Friedrich and Louise Bonow. Being a single man in his late twenties, William was the one his family sent first to the USA, to prepare the way for the rest of them. (New York Passenger Lists have a Wilhelm Bonow, 29, arriving 30 April 1881 on the Rhein from Bremen.) He worked as a tailor, and married Amelia, (born 1862) shortly after arriving in Chicago. They began to raise a family at 4942 Princeton": Their first child was probably William Louis, born Nov. 24, 1884. August H. was born probably in 1887 (or maybe 1882, depending on which year's census records you want to believe). Herman, born 8/21/1888 died within weeks, on September 7. Then Annie was born in January 1889. Later in that same year (October 5, 1889), Amelia died.

A year later, on Oct. 19, 1890, William married Elizabeth MUELLER, born in Hamburg April 1858. She may have come over in 1888 with a two-year old child of her own, Hannah (b. Jan. 15, 1886). The 1910 Census records Hannah's birth in Germany and immigration in 1888. Furthermore, in later years, although she was regularly designated "Single" or "Miss", she went by the name of Hannah Miller ("Mueller"="Miller"). Whether Elizabeth was a young widow, or unmarried mother will never be known. But later census records indicate she devotedly raised all of William Bonow's children as her own. William continued to work as a tailor and soon several more children were running around the Princeton St. flat. Harry August was born Feb. 15 1894. Charles Albert was born in December of 1899. Then at the age of 47, William died (April 18, 1900)at Evangelical Hospital. (Is it possible that Elizabeth was pregnant with their last child? "Bettie" isn't listed in the 1900 census, which was enumerated in early June. She appears for the first time in the 1920 census at 19 years of age, which would indicate a 1900-1901 birthdate. Perhaps she was adopted by Elizabeth - or she was a child of one of the other families?)

To support her family, Elizabeth took in laundry and did "day work" (housecleaning). The eldest son William Louis was not living at home in 1900, but August was old enough to work at a number of jobs: from "barber's assistant" he progressed to tuckpointer in 1910; then laborer in a canning factory in 1920. His brothers Charles and Harry were also factory workers, Charles an assistant foreman at Continental Can's factory (1920); and Harry as a cotton worker. William Louis married Wanda BEHNKE at the age of 21, in 1906 or so. They had a child Natalie, who apparently died young; and another daughter Adeline, born 19 April 1907. William was working as the driver of a bakery wagon, and they lived at 8342 S. Halsted. By 1914 Harry was also working as a teamster. He married Clara at age 20 and they began to raise a family at 9628 Exchange: Raymond (b. 1914), Mildred (b. 1917), and Violet (b. 1919). They lived with Elizabeth and the rest of the family; Charles worked as a street car motorman. After William’s death, the family stayed for another ten years or more on Princeton St. Eventually, though - by 1918 or so - Elizabeth moved to 6119 S. Dorchester, with the unmarried August, Hannah, Charles and Bettie. William Louis lived at 917 W. 77th St., and had become a locomotive engineer for the Belt Railway; later they moved in with his BEHNKE in-laws at 1246 W. 97th Street. By 1930 Elizabeth and the family had moved again, to 8113 S. Paulina. Hannah was still at home with Elizabeth, as were August - a machinist for the railroad now - and Charles, working as a motorman on the streetcar line. In November or December of 1930 Charles married Adelyn A. Thielke, and they lived on Paulina with Elizabeth and the others. Elizabeth died in 1935. She is buried along with William and his first wife Amelia at Oak Woods Cemetery.

William L. Bonow had moved to 8911 S. Justine. He died Sept. 1958 at 73 years of age. His daughter Adeline married KAMENSKE and had four daughters: Gail, Janice, Ruth, and Linda. August H. Bonow never married. He became an engineer for the Belt Railway like his brother William, and continued to live at the Paulina St. house with his sister Hannah. He died in March 1969. Hannah lived with August, apparently never married, and preceded August in death. Harry moved his growing family (another daughter, Harriet, was born in 1922) farther south, to 3420 116th Street. He worked as a millwright at the Steel Mill (Wisconsin Plant on the East Side), and in the 1940's lived at 6939 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn. His last residence was in Evergreen Park. Harry August Bonow died in June 1976. Charles Albert and Adelyne raised their family on the South Side. Charles died 20 October, 1987. As for Bettie Bonow, she has not been found again in any records beyond her first appearance in the 1920 Census.


Elizabeth Bonow, 1900 Census * Elizabeth Bonow, 1910 Census * Elizabeth Bonow, 1920 Census

Wm.L. Bonow 1910 Census * Wm. L. Bonow 1920 Census * Chas. A. Bonow WWI Draft File * Harry Bonow 1930 Census


JOHANNA BONOW was born January of 1856 in Pommern. A Civil Record of 1875 from Manow records the unmarried Johanna Bonow giving birth to a boy named August Albert Ferdinand in 1875. Later entries bring Ferdinand/Frederick ROEPKE into the picture acknowledging the child as his own.

It appears Johanna emigrated in 1883, arriving in Chicago as Mrs. ROEPKE, the mother of 12 children, five living at that time. We have found records of only three Roepke girls living with their parents in Chicago: Martha, born June 14, 1889; Minnie (Wilhelmine), born December, 1890; and Maggie (Margaret), born May, 1893. At the time of the 1900 census, they lived at "4922 S. Princeton. Frederick worked as a carpenter and car repairer for the railroad at the nearby yards. I believe he was listed as a resident character witness "Fred Ripka" on his brother-in-law Martin Ziemer's naturalization petition.

They stayed there on Princeton for the next thirty years. By 1910, only 17-year old Margaret was still at home with the parents. Also in Chicago at this time was an August Albert Roepke, who could very well be Ferdinand and Johanna's eldest child. The census lists him (in 1920) as a car repairer in the railroad yards, just like Fred Roepke. He also was at one time a teamster for the gas company, and later a laborer for the city. With his wife Wilhelmine, he produced a large family: Carl/Charles, Margaret, Albert, Martha, Wilhelmine, Henry Ruth, Elsie, Louise, and Robert.

Johanna Roepke and her husband by 1920 had bought the house next door at 4924 Princeton and rented apartments to three other families. By 1930 they had left the neighborhood; they owned a new home where they lived alone at 3518 W. 115th St. 77-year old Frederick was working as a watchman for the railroad. He died probably Dec. 15, 1936; his widow Johanna stayed on until her death Sept 15, 1938.

Johanna 1900 Census    *     Johanna 1910 Census    *    Johanna 1920 Census * Johanna 1930 Census
August Roepke 1910 Census   *   August Roepke 1920 Census    *     August Roepke 1930 Census


CARL BONOW, born in 1859, emigrated from Pommern between 1881 and 1884, separate from his siblings. According to Uncle Charlie Ziemer, he came over before his parents Frederick and Louise. His marriage to Mary EBINGER Sept. 4, 1887 is the first vital record we have so far located. The wedding took place at the home of Frederick and Louise, 4608 Wentworth Ave. It is reasonable to guess that Carl was living there with them until his marriage. Recently I found indexed the 10 February, 1903 birth of Mary Bonow, parents Charles Bonow and Mary "Abinger". This must be Carl's daughter, but I have found no other information about the family beyond that.


WILHELMINE BONOW was born in September of 1863. She emigrated in about 1883 at the age of 20 or so. It’s not known how or where she met the carpenter William MOLL – he left Germany about the same time, and they were married in 1884 in Chicago. By 1900 they were raising a family at 4950 S. Princeton St. A daughter Anna was born 27 June 1885. William Martin Moll, their first son, was born (by some accounts) on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1887. Martha was born the following year (1888). Charles Ferdinand was born July 28, 1891. August was born April 25, 1893; Wilhelmine (Minnie) was born September 1895. Last was Della, born about 1900 (Our grandmother Bertha HEINRICH ZIEMER was one of her sponsors.) Apparently the family suffered several infant deaths - at least three children, one of who was no doubt the first-born Anna. The 1910 census entry indicates Wilhelmine bore 10 children but only 7 were living. William Moll died not long before or after the birth of his last child.

Wilhelmine Moll continued to live at 4950 Princeton. Martha died unmarried at the age of 22, April 25, 1910. William Martin, Charles, August, and Harry never married. William M. was a teamster and sometime laborer at South Park. While Charles lived at home he was a teamster, driving a coal wagon, and later was a laborer on the "steam railroad." August worked as a plasterer , but also became a teamster, as did likewise his younger brother Harry.

Young Minnie married James MURPHY about 1917. James was a guard and later a conductor on the “El”. Their children were Edward, born 1917; Irene, born about 1919; and Howard, born 1923. They lived for a while at 4948 Princeton, next to the Moll Family. By 1930 they had moved down the street to rent a flat at 5006 Princeton.

Della Moll married Walter MARTIN at age 18. The 21-year old Martin worked as a welder for the electric company and they lived at 4061 S. Ellis in 1920. About 1924 Walter, Jr. was born. A few years later they were living at 6852 S. Throop, and Della’s husband was listed as a salesman for a dairy.

Harry Moll died at age 31 on September 25, 1929. William Martin Moll continued living in the rear cottage on Princeton St. at least into the 1940's, long after the rest of the family had moved away.

1900 Census * 1910 Census * 1920 Census * 1930 Census * Minnie Murphy, 1930 Census * Della Martin, 1930 Census



(1) Frederick & Louise, August & Mathilda, 1884-1887 (2) Martin & Caroline Bonow Ziemer, 1881-1889
(3) Ernest & Wilhelmine Bonow Schneider,1889-1910 (4)Frederick & Johanna Bonow Roepke, 1890-1910
(5)Frederick & Johanna Bonow Roepke, 1920-1930 (6)William & Amelia, Elizabeth Bonow, 1889-1910?
(7) August & Mathilda Bonow, 1892-1925 (8) Martin & Caroline Bonow Ziemer, 1889-1915
(9)James & Wilhelmine Bonow Murphy, 1930


View Bonows in Fuller Park in a larger map


I would like to make contact with living Bonow cousins, but so far I have had little success.The only Bonow descendants known to me are those through the Ziemer line. There are quite a few Bonow-surnamed folks out there still in the Chicago area, but linking them to the Bonows documented here is another matter. Some of those relationships could be identified by the examination of Cook County birth and marriage records, but there are a lot of them to go through at some cost. Sometimes it's just a matter of asking someone, "Who's your Grand-Daddy?" But as is always the case, years go by, the old folks pass away, and knowledge is lost. Research is hindered by the family naming tradition: every family seems to have named sons and daughters after aunts and uncles, resulting in succeeding generations of people all with the same names.

From the August Bonows, I have been in touch with Ron S., descendant of a previously-unknown Bonow daughter, Louise. Otherwise, there are the Schneiders - but that's a common name to work with. I'm sure there are many descendants of William Bonow out there, but many of his grandchildren were female, which makes it more difficult to find them. The same could be said of the Roepke and Moll families - quite a few descendants out there, but most of them were daughters. I would like to find more about Carl/Charles Bonow and his wife Mary and their daughter.

Other Bonow families in the Chicago Area are probably related, but the exact relationships are not known at this time. An August Bonow, 29, and wife May lived over on 46th St. in 1930 with 3 children and his mother Mary. The Albert and Ida Bonow Family of Riverside, IL may also be connected to our own, back in the Old Country. Albert made several trips back to Germany to visit his father William Bonow. There was also a related family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Finally, Carl Bonow of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin may have been a cousin of our Frederick. Charles Ziemer, along with his son Martin and grandson Charles, visited the Carl Bonows in Wisconsin on more than one occasion.

The Bonow surname is widespread around the globe. Some of the Chicago Bonows emigrated from England. I have been contacted by Bonows from Germany and Sweden. We have even been corresponding lately with Edelcleise Bonow of Arroio do Padre, Brazil, whose family emigrated to South America in the 1800's. More research into the old German records could someday show how many of the Bonow families are related. I look forward to hearing from some of you distant cousins out there!


  • "Germans" (Encyclopedia of Chicago)
  • "Fuller Park" (Encyclopedia of Chicago)
  • Chicago History Journal
  • Maps of Old Chicago
  • German Lutheran Records in Chicago
  • Historic Oak Woods  Cemetery
  • Bethania Cemetery (Find-a-Grave)
  • City of Chicago
  • Chicago Historical Society
  • UIC Imagebase  Site

  • Click HERE to view a chart of Friedrich Bonow's descendants.

    Last modified  Saturday, 08-Sep-2018 04:26:08 MDT