Family Stories, United States Genealogy

Interviewing my Great Uncle Paul.

I am taking an introduction to family history research class with the goal to attain a degree in family history research. One of the assignments was to interview a relative about a deceased ancestor. My great uncle Paul is one of my oldest relatives that is still living. He is 91 years old and I enjoyed interviewing him. I learned so much about his parents, my great-grandfather John Haan Jr.

John Haan Sr (1870-1956) and Bessie Rieman(1873-1948) my great-great grandparents had nine children in sixteen years.

  1. Alfred Haan born 1893 Iowa
  2. John Haan Jr, born 1894 Iowa (My great grandfather)
  3. Henry Haan born 1896 Iowa
  4. Engle E Haan born 1898 Iowa
  5. William M Haan born 1900 Iowa
  6. Bertha J Haan born 1902 Iowa
  7. George H Haan born 1905 Iowa
  8. Delia A Haan born 1907
  9. Daniel R Haan born 1909
John Haan Family in the 1900 U.S. Census Iowa, Lyon, Riverside, District 0051. Image from ancestry.
John Haan Family in the 1910 U.S. Census Iowa, Lyon, Riverside, District 0056. Image from ancestry.

I am going to focus on John Haan Jr and family (Great Uncle Paul’s Parents). He was born 5 September 1895 in Monroe, Butler, Iowa. On 5 June 1917, John Jr registers for the WWI draft. I know very little of John Jr.s service in the Army. I found him on an outgoing and incoming Army transport list. In 1918, he was sailing on the boat the Katoomba and left from a port in New York in September. He was serving in the Camp Pike draft, infantry, company 17. I also found the incoming Army transport list, where John was a private in the infantry returning to Hoboken New Jeresey on 10 Jan 1919 and departing from St. Nazaire France.

WWI draft registration card. Image from ancestry.
U.S. Army transport service passenger list, 1910-1939, outgoing, Katoomba, 28 June 1918-12 November 1918. John Haan is listed at number 108. Image from ancestry. One thing that stood out to me as I was looking at this document, was the entry two up from John, where this soldier was trans. as enemy alien. Wonder how much John would have known about him.
U.S.Army transport service, passenger list, incoming Manchuria, 8 April 1918-22 Dec 1919. Image from Fold3.
John Haan in 1920 U.S. Census Iowa, Lyon, Riverside, District 0066. Image from ancestry.

By the 1920 census John Haan Jr is living by himself farming land that he has rented. Uncle Paul said that this was when his parents meet. After John Jr returned from the service a friend introduced them. Alice Ibeling was born 13 April 1897 in Albion, Butler, Iowa to Ubbe Ibeling born in Germany (1861-1937) and Ella Luchtenberg born in the Netherlands (1871-1953). Alice was the oldest child and had one brother, Ubbe (1903-1936) and one sister Grace born 1915. Alice was only able to attend school until the eighth grade.

Ubbe Ibeling Family on the 1920 U.S. Census Iowa, Butler, Albion, District 0079. Image from ancestry.

Both Ubbe Ibeling and Ella Luchtenberg immigrated to the United States in 1893 and become naturalized citizens in 1893 according to the 1920 census.

John Jr and Alice had two sons, my grandfather Harold Ubbe Haan (1926-1988) and my uncle Paul who is still living. Paul has always been more like a grandfather to me and as I interviewed him for my class it reminded me of how wonderful he is. Here is what I learned about the life of John Jr and Alice from him. The lived on their farm during the depression and life was really hard. Banks were closing and money was hard to come by. John Sr, John’s father, had a lot of land and could not pay the taxes on it, he asked his son to help. John Jr did not have the money to give him but did give him ten cents to buy a loaf of bread. Eventually one of John Jr’s sisters helped her father pay the taxes. Paul also talked about how good his parents were and how good they were to him. One of Paul’s grandmothers, Ella Lutchenberg Ibeling taught him low German and he spoke a couple of words to me. Ella also lived with the family for about eleven years after she had a stroke.

Alice passed away on 16 February 1976, in Parkersburg, Butler Iowa at 79 years old. John Jr lived for another nine years and passed away on 27 March 1985, in Parkersburg , Butler, Iowa at age of 91.

I remember my great grandfather John Haan and spending time with him when we would visit. I was eleven years old when he passed and my memories are very vague. One thing I do remember is that my younger sister was born on his 87th birthday and the local paper did a story, which included a photo, of them together. I can not seem to find the article today.

Interviewing family members is something I wished I had started many years ago. All of my grandparents have passed away, so I have lost that opportunity to interview them. I would encourage you that if you still have living family, interview them and see what you can learn.

6 thoughts on “Interviewing my Great Uncle Paul.”

  1. Very good and very interesting blog. I hope you got an A.πŸ’–πŸ’—πŸ‘
    Thank you for picking Uncle Paul and his Dad to write about. Love you always. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, it is a sad truth we learn – that we need to talk to the living while they’re with us. Sounds as if you had a really good interview with your uncle! Lucky. And with more and more local newspapers being digitized, I hope you’ll find that article about your grandfather and your sister soon too.

    Liked by 1 person

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