Discover Your Past

Condon, Kleckner, Gilles, Ethen, Milton, Meyer, Mitchell, and Liston Family History

Home Data Page Obituaries Map Central Historical Documents Pics of New Haven, Iowa Acknowledgements

Gilles stories

In early 2013 I've spent time researching the records of for clues about the origins of the Gilles family. My starting point was the database of Sr. Catherine Gilles (RootsWeb Gilles tree), who included citations from Tom Pick's transcriptions of German birth and christening records (Tom Pick database) derived from LDS source materials.

The first complete records are for John (Johannes, Joannis, Joannem) Gilles. [Note: I'm including the variations of names in the databases because when doing searches, different information comes up using the different names, although some information, such as spouse name, might be in common for the records.]

There is a marriage record for Joannem Gilles and Margaretha Palms (Gilles-Palms marriage) who married on July 4, 1806 in the municipality of Stadtkyll, Rheinland, Germany.  This marriage record also includes the names of the parents of John and Margaret--Mathiae Gilles and Catharinae Held for John and Martini Palms and Annae Cremer for Margaret.  I've searched for more information on these parents, but so far have not uncoverd anything else except the possible presence of another son, Everhardus (Gilles-Dauben marriage).

The marriage record for Everhardus Gilles and Anna Veronica Dauben indicates they married on Nov. 11, 1806, later in the same year as John and Margaret.  The parents of Everhardus are Mathiae Gilles and Annae Catharinae Held, and those for Anna Veronica are Damiani Dauben and Catharinae Gordungs. This wedding was in the municipality of Glaadt, which is just a few miles east of Stadtkyll, perhaps indicating the home town of Anna Veronica.

John and Margaret (also sometimes referenced in some family trees as Marqueret Palmer) made their home in Schönfeld, Germany, in the southern part of Stadtkyll. They had a number of children there, nine previously recognized, and perhaps one more. Marriage records again provide a clue to another son, Christian.  This marriage was between Christian Gilles and Anna Barbara Peters on Jan. 7, 1841.  Parents of Christian are listed as Joannis Gilles and Margarethae Palms, and those of Anna Barbara are Egidii Peters and Margarethae Tielen (Gilles-Peters marriage).

From records cited by Sr. Catherine (Gilles emigration) it is known that in 1846 sons John Joseph, Thomas, Paul, and Nicholas emigrated from Antwerp, Belgium through the port of New York to the Marshfield area of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.  A document indicates that John Joseph was 26, Thomas was 24, Paul was 20, and Nicholas was 18.

There are two documents in the BLM General Land Office records for a Johan and John Gilles.  The first of these is dated 1848 and is in the W1/2 of the NW1/4, Sec. 15, T. 16 N., R. 18 E.  The second parcel is in the SW1/4 of the NE1/4, Sec. 12, T. 16 N., R. 18 E., and the document is dated 1849.  Both of the parcels are in the Mt. Calvary area of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.  There is not definitive proof that the person or persons who obtained this land is the John or Johan of our Gilles family, but the circumstances seem to point that way.

In time the brothers moved to different areas--John Joseph to the Johnsburg, Wisconsin area, northeast of Fond du Lac, and then to the New Haven, Iowa area; Paul also to Johnsburg, Wisconsin; Thomas to Plum City, on the west side of Wisconsin; and Nicholas to the New Haven area of north-central Iowa.

In my database I have 2,265 known descendants of these four brothers (not including spouses).  These include about 1,200 males and about 1,100 females. Approximately 82% of the people known are still living, or I have not yet determined a death date. The average age at death is 54 years, reflecting the bias of the death data toward previous generations, and the average number of children is 3, probably reflecting the smaller families of current generations. As more tools, such as online death indexes and graveyard inventories, become more available these statistics probably will reflect a shift upward in average age at death. My data are no doubt incomplete because I rely mainly on publicly available information.


I come from Nicholas' line, consisting of about 1,500 of the known relatives, and don't know much about the other families' histories.  Before moving to Iowa Nicholas also lived in Johnsburg, Wisconsin, northeast of the city of Fond du Lac.  There he married Mary Anna Weber in 1853. Mary Anna was born in Kirsbach, Prussia, about 20-25 miles east of Stadtkyll, in 1834. Her parents were Anton and Anna Catharina (Koenigs) Weber. She emigrated to this country as a child in 1842 and grew up in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.

Nicholas and Mary Anna continued to live in Fond du Lac County where 14 children were born to them.  Their last place of residence in Wisconsin was in the Mt. Calvary area.

About 1884 Nicholas sold the farm for $2,000 and headed to Mitchell County. This was after his son John and Katherina (Hartogh) Gilles had moved to Mitchell County in 1878. Nicholas and Mary Anna bought a farm two miles northeast of New Haven. Their daughter Mary Ann had been born in 1868, in Mt. Calvary, so she was 16 when the family moved.

At about this same time, the Kleckner (Kloeckner) family emigrated from Germany, including Anna and Mathias, and some other brothers and sisters. Mary Ann Gilles caught the eye of Mathias (Matt), who had homesteaded some land in Spink County, Dakota Territory, in 1882. They were married at St. Peter's church in New Haven, Iowa in 1886, when he was 32 and she was nearly 18.

The family first moved to Fargo, North Dakota and then to what is now South Dakota for a few years, and then returned to the New Haven area to farm. Three of their children, Alfred, Ernest, and Gertrude, were born in Dakota Territory. The other 6 children were born at New Haven, including Isabelle, my grandmother.

I've still got some research to do on the rest of the Gilles family, but have a few facts.  Mease Gilles (son of Thomas) was a nephew of Nicholas, who also moved to the New Haven, Iowa area.  Mease and Anna (Kloeckner) Gilles (sister of Matt Kleckner) operated the General Store in New Haven for many years. Their son, Ernie, also owned it for a while, as did son Guy and Matt Fox and Mert (Gilles) Fox (a daughter of Mease).  Eventually the store was bought by Lorenz Helfter and Bernice (Gilles) Helfter (another daughter of Mease) and Henry Carroll.  Bernice lived next door to the site of the store, which was torn down a few years ago, until her death in 2007.

A long-time resident of New Haven was William (Billy) Gilles. He was born in 1878 in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin, the youngest child of Nicholas and Mary Anna, and had moved to Mitchell County as a young boy.  He eventually married Rose Cheney, of Stillwater, and lived most of his life on a farm on the east side of New Haven.  Billy and Rose were both musically inclined, he on violin and she on piano, and they formed a dance orchestra that was in great demand in the area for over 50 years.  In addition to his professions of carpentry and masonry, he was a township clerk, sang in the church choir, and looked after the church grounds.  Rose was the church pianist.  Billy was still on his acreage when I was growing up, and my cousins and I would go down to his barn to dig for night-crawlers to go fishing.  Billy and Rose had one daughter, Rosemary (Mrs. Dan McCarthy).  Billy lived until 1968 and Rose until 1974.

In this Gilles line a list of death locations shows how widespread the families have become over time. The greatest number is in the Osage, Iowa area (Condons, Gilleses, and Kleckners), followed closely by New Haven, Iowa (Gilleses), Ogden, Utah (Junks), Stacyville, Iowa (Gilleses), and Wahpeton, North Dakota (Gilleses). In all, there are 70 place names for death locations for the direct descendants of Nicholas and Mary Anna Gilles.


Random notes:

© 1999-2013 Steven M. Condon. All Rights Reserved.