The Buhr Mystery

The Buhrs loom large in my imagination. When you know absolutely nothing about a branch in your family tree, there’s no detail for your imagination to grab onto. But when you knew just enough… just within your grasp… that’s when things can get interesting. And possibly not very factual.

I’m a little tired and writing this fairly late, so maybe that explains why I’m just gonna go for it and tell you stuff with pretty much zero facts. (My favourite!)

Some Mennonite names are super-prominent. The Reimer’s and Friesen’s and Penner’s are everywhere around here. But there’s never been a single Buhr in sight.

Except that was my great-grandma’s maiden name.

Okay well obviously I technically have four great-grandmothers… but there was one that I actually knew. I still possess some gifts that she handed to me, in person, in her house, when I was a girl. And, she was a Buhr.

Because there are no Buhr’s around here, the name kinda stands out when I come across it. And… I accidentally married into a piece of the puzzle!

Lo and behold, the name Buhr is on Andrew’s genealogy too.

Funny that my Grandma Koop hadn’t caught this when I’d brought Andrew around when we were dating. She had hauled out one of the family books and eagerly paged through it while pelting Andrew with questions about who his parents and grandparents were… sighing with disappointment when a connection wasn’t made. (Andrew and I sharing a look of relief.) Little did Grandma know I’d brought home her half-second-cousin-4x-removed. She just didn’t think to check the Buhr book. In fact… there IS no Buhr book. At least there never was in any of our homes. And she likely thought that would be a dead-end anyway, in her search for familial connection with Andrew. After all, her mother wasn’t even from here!

A few months ago, one of Andrew’s great-uncles (?) passed away and my mother-in-law obtained some researchy family papers, which she passed along to me. When I peered inside that manila envelope… I found maps of the Buhr estate in South Russia.

I stared from the maps to the grandma online printout and back again. “Buhr estate?”

Andrew and I are descended from half-brothers — Andrew from Cornelius, and me from Johann. Their father Erdman Buhr had been a first cousin to the Kornelius Buhr who had toured this Hanover area with the Delegates in 1873.

Johann was 16 years old when his father Erdman Buhr immigrated to the United States with his second wife and family, arriving in Philadelphia in 1877, settling in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. At some point he and my great-great-grandmother Gertruda Bergman moved their young family to Canada, to Saskatchewan (Hepburn & Waldheim areas, I think). And from there, I’ve heard that my great-grandmother came to Manitoba independently.

Meanwhile, Johann’s much older half-brother Cornelius remained in Russia… but his daughter Anna immigrated to Canada in 1926 — Andrew’s great-great-grandmother.

Interesting how these differing dates of immigration, from the same Buhr family, make me a Kanadier and Andrew a Russlander.

So what’s the mystery? Well, I’m curious about the estate, and I wonder if there’s maybe been some confusion between the (many?) Cornelius/Kornelius Buhrs… I don’t know.

But I did see a Buhr book! (I’ll post about that another time, this post is already is too long!)