Recently, I received a message from a woman inquiring about a potential DNA match with her mother. We had both tested through AncestryDNA and were a high confidence match. A couple of weeks ago, my potential cousin and I connected via the telephone and discovered our shared ancestry through the Hufnagel line.
Three years ago, I began my Hufnagel research only knowing the name, birth and dates of my great-great grandmother Anna Elisabeth Hufnagel (1855-1942) who had married George Michael Stern. This information had been recorded on a slip of paper by my grandmother which she had presumably written for my father. Beyond that, I had no knowledge of her or her family. The civil marriage record for the couple indicated Elisabeth Hufnagel was born in Germany and living in Bay City, Bay County, Michigan at the time of her marriage to my great-great grandfather on 15 July 1877. This led me to search for her family origins which in turn led me to other Hufnagels in Bay and Saginaw Counties.
The Hufnagel surname was not particularly common in the Saginaw Valley and a variety of census, marriage, death, church, newspaper, probate and other records indicated the following additional Hufnagels born in Germany and residing in either Saginaw or Bay Counties, Michigan:
- J. Michael Hufnagel (1842-1887)
- George Adam Hufnagel (1851-1920)
- Anna Maria (Hufnagel) Schreiner (1857-1922)
- Johann L. Hufnagel (1860—1896)
Given their common surname, birthplaces of Germany, and proximity of settlement in the Saginaw Valley, it seemed likely they were all related. Multiple on-line family trees had them all listed as siblings, although none had adequate sources supporting this. Through the various records mentioned above, I found connections as siblings for George Adam, Anna Elisabeth, Anna Maria, and Johann L. No records indicating J. Michael Hufnagel’s relationship to any of the other Hufnagels or their common parents were located.
A church record for Anna Maria (Hufnagel) Schreiner indicated her birthplace was Windsbach, Baiern. This led to a search for records from the town of Windsbach, Bavaria. This then led to the discovery of The Brenner Collection of family group sheets extracted from parish records in and near the district of Ansbach, Mittelfranken, Bavaria. These records include Windsbach parish. The Family History Library (Salt Lake City, Utah) holds microfilms, 764 rolls to be exact, of the Brenner Collection. I ordered a film potentially containing records for my Hufnagels of interest.
A family group sheet from the collection confirmed the parentage, birth dates and places for the Hufnagels I had already identified as siblings:
Children of Gg Andreas Hufnagel and Eva Els Böhm married 26 November 1848 in Windsbach:
- Georg Adam, b. 20 December 1851, Schwalbenmuehle [bei Windsbach]
- Anna Elisabeth, b. 29 August 1855, Schwalbenmuehle
- Anna Maria, b. 8 October 1857, Schwalbenmuehle
- Johann Adam (aka Johann L.), b. 2 June 1860, Schwalbenmuehle 
Schwalbenmuehle lies to the east of Windsbach. It translates as “swallows mill.” The record lists Gg Andreas as a “Mühlgutsbesiter,” a mill landowner. The record also listed these additional children of the couple:
- Anna Elisabeth, b. 28 August 1849, Windsbach; d. 1 January 1850, Windsbach
- Georg Michael, b. 21 October 1850 Windsbach; d. 15 November 1853, Windsbach
- Margareta Barbara, b. 25 March 1853, Windsbach 
J. Michael Hufnagel, born 1842, about six years before Georg Andreas Hufnagel and his wife were married, was not a part of this record. Still theorizing he must be a relation, I continued to search the Brenner Collection. Another family group record potentially identified his birth:
Child of Gg. Andr. [Georg Andreas] Hufnagel and M. Barb. [Maria Barbara] Böhm married 4 June 1838 in Windsbach:
- Johann Mich. [Michael], b. 11 January 1842, Windsbach 
This couple also had several other children between 1839 and 1846.
Based on his proximity in time and location to the other Windsbach area Hufnagels in the Saginaw Valley, this Brenner Collection record is probably the correct record for J. Michael Hufnagel of Bay County, Michigan. This was the only record from the Windsbach area that proved to be a possibility for him.
The Brenner Collection is a derivative source and the information provided by the records is out of context and error-prone, thus making it difficult to ascertain the definitive connection of Johann Michael Hufnagel of Windsbach to the Hufnagels of Bay County, Michigan and Frankenmuth, Saginaw County, Michigan; however, I offer this hypothesis:
There is not enough information from both family group records cited to state that the father Georg Andreas Hufnagel is certainly the same man. There is no death recorded for Maria Barbara (Böhm) Hufnagel, but her last children were twins born 12 May 1846. The other family group record for a Georg Andreas Hufnagel shows his marriage to have taken place on 26 November 1848. It is possible that the Georg Andreas Hufnagel of both family group records is the same man if his first wife died sometime between the birth of their twins and his potential second marriage. Moreover, there do not seem to be records for Hufnagels in Windsbach prior to the 1838 marriage of Georg Andreas, lessening the likelihood that there were several Hufnagel families residing there. This would make Johann Michael Hufnagel a half-sibling to the other Hufnagels of Bay County and Frankenmuth, Michigan; however, the original church records of Windsbach should be examined in context to possibly prove this. American church records for J. Michael Hufnagel have not yet been located; they may provide further insight into his identity.
Since originally examining The Brenner Collection on microfilm, I found that Ancestry.com has recently digitized the collection as “Ansbach, Germany, Lutheran Parish Register Extracts, 1550-1920.” The collection is also still available on microfilm from the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
1. “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015), Anna E Stern, 29 November 1942; citing Michigan Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing.
2. Bay County, Michigan, Marriage Registers, 1877, p. 58, no. 1594, George Michael Stern-Elisabeth Hufnagle [sic]; digital image, “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015); citing Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing.
3. History of Bay County, Michigan With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men And Pioneers (Chicago: H. R. Page, 1883), 203.
Bay County, Michigan, Death Registers, 1887, f. 80, no. 386, Mike Hufnagel; digital image, “Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015); citing Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing.
Bay County, Michigan, probate case file no. 2172, J. Michael Hufnagel (1888); “Michigan Probate Records, 1797-1973,” digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 7 August 2015).
4. “Death Records, 1897-1920,” Michigan History Foundation, Seeking Michigan (http://seekingmichigan.org : accessed 30 August 2013), death certificate image, Bay County, no. 164 (stamped), George Adam Hufnagel, 8 September 1920; citing Michigan Department of State, Division of Vital Statistics.
5. “Death Records, 1921-1947,” Michigan History Foundation, Seeking Michigan (http://seekingmichigan.org : accessed 26 August 2015), death certificate image, Saginaw County, no. 73 736 (stamped), Anna Maria Schreiner, 31 December 1922; citing Michigan Department of State, Division of Vital Statistics.
6. Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 August 2015), memorial 116845299, Johann L. Hufnagel (1860-1896), Fremont Cemetery, Bay County, Michigan; a photograph by FELIX 5574 provides a legible image of the inscribed data including full birth and death dates.
7. Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book II: Baptisms (1857-1885),” (typescript, 1995, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Offices, Frankenmuth), p. 253, Schreiner no. 298.
8. 1884 Michigan state census, Bay County, Monitor Township, population schedule, p. 20, lines 9-12 , household of Adam Hufnagel; digital images, “Michigan State Census, 1884-1894,” Michigan History Foundation, Seeking Michigan (http://seekingmichigan.org : accessed 30 August 2013).
Bay County, Michigan, Marriage Registers, 1895, f. 174, no. 4800, John Hufnatel [sic]-Mary M. Kraft; digital image, “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 27 August 2015); citing Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing.
“Death Records, 1897-1920,” death certificate image, Bay County, no. 164 (stamped), George Adam Hufnagel (1920).
“Obituary,” obituary for G. A. Hufnagel, The Bay City (Michigan) Times Tribune, Friday, 10 September 1920; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 09 November 2013).
“Death Records, 1921-1947,” death certificate image, Saginaw County, no. 73 736 (stamped), Anna Maria Schreiner (1922).
“Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, Anna E Stern (1942).
9. Tobias Brenner, compiler, “The Brenner Collection,” type- and manuscripts, n.d., family group record for Gg Andreas Hufnagel and Eva Els Böhm, married 26 November 1848; FHL microfilm 541,585. The birth date for Johann Adam matches that of tombstone record for Johann L. (see reference note no. 6).
12. Tobias Brenner, compiler, “The Brenner Collection,” type- and manuscripts, n.d., family group record for Gg Andr. Hufnagel and M. Barb. Böhm, married 4 June 1838; FHL microfilm 541,585.
15. Brenner, “The Brenner Collection,” Gg Andreas Hufnagel and Eva Els Böhm (1848).