Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hilgenberg to Hillenburg - interesting how names can change

Filed under: Hilgenbergs — timothy @ 8:05 am

From Dutch Hillenburg about Daniel Hillenburg: His father was Johannes Christian Hilgenberg. I believe his brother went to Russia. Johannes and one brother had fought for several years as Hessian Grenadiers. I believe it was the brother who went to Russia.

Daniel Hilgenberg came to the USA as a Hessian soldier in 1774-5 and was captured at the Battle of Trenton. He was repatriated a few months later but switched sides in 1779 and fought in the Revolutionary Army for several years. Many Hessians deserted in this period when it was clear the British were not going to honor the terms of their contract and return them to Germany as scheduled.

Daniel settled near Wythesville, Virginia his name was slowly changed to Hillenburg. The area was still rough and some of his sons married Cherokee girls.

In 1835, the US Government rounded up most of the Cherokees, including some of the Hillenburgs and forced them on the “Trail of Tears” in which they walked 2000 kilometers to Oklahoma where they remain. Naturally this caused considerable resentment as families were split up at bayonet point.

Some family moved to southern Indiana in 1840s-1850s. Still angry, several Hillenburgs fought for the Confederacy but a couple fought for the Union. Thus it happened that a Confederate Hillenburg fought a Union Hillenburg. This Southerner is said to have been visiting his brother in hospital only to meet a
captured and very poorly fed Indiana cousin whom he brought food to whenever he could.

After the war most Hillenburgs moved to Dutch Ridge in southern Indiana and remained. That’s were I grew up and the family had established deep roots there. Some remain in Wytheville but the families lost touch about 1930 as the cousins who knew each other died out. My grandfather made trips to Oklahoma in the 1920s and 30s to visit his Cherokee relatives and the family maintains it’s Indian link.

Samuel W Hillenburg, father of Daniel Hillenburg


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