News From 1892: Elopement of Minnie Hill and Harry Hagenbuck
Old newspapers can be a great source for uncovering family history. Recently, while searching through an online database of periodicals, I found mention of an elopement—that of Minnie Hill and Harry Hagenbuck in 1892.
Upon further research, it was determined that Harry Hagenbuck was actually a Hagenbuch, whose last name had changed as his branch of the family moved west into Indiana. Harry’s line is thought to be Andreas (b. 1715) > Henry (b. 1736) > Joseph (b. 1778) > William Sr. (b. c. 1809) > William Jr. (b. 1846) > Harry L. (b. Aug. 12, 1872).
According to a May 5, 1892 article in the Grand Rapids Herald, Harry (who would have been 19 at the time) traveled with 16-year-old Minnie Hill from Indiana to Michigan where they were promptly married. The article is found below:
Outwitted Her Parents.
Minnie Hill of Laporte, Ind., Elopes with and Marries Harry Hagenbuck.
Laporte, Ind., May 5.—This community was upset today over the elopement of Minnie Hall [sic] and Harry Hagenbuck. Miss Hall [sic] is the 16-year-old daughter of John Hill, president of the John Hill Lake Ice company, member of the city council, and probably the wealthiest man in Laporte. Young Hagenbuck’s father is a prominent Logansport lumber merchant. He came here last summer to attend a watchmakers’ school, and meeting Miss Hill they fell in love. On account of the young lady’s youth she was taken to Florida to spend the winter, in the hope the distance would change the ardor of the youthful pair. She has been at home just one week. The pair slipped away to the West Michigan depot, where they boarded a train for New BuffaIo, Mich., and went from there to Kalamazoo. A dispatch just received says they were married this afternoon. Young Hagenbuck made complete arrangements for the elopement, and was assisted by two schoolmates, and the gay young couple will go to the groom’s parents in Logansport, and in due time will undoubtedly return here and be forgiven.
Research shows that, indeed, Harry and Minnie were married in Kalamazoo, Michigan on May 4, 1892. Although, marriage records reveal that they may have lied about key facts. Harry L. Hagenbuck is listed as 21 years old, when he was actually 19. Minnie is recorded as “Minnie M. Jurnt,” age 19, the daughter of William Jurnt.
Interestingly, there might be some truth in Minnie’s unusual choice for a last name. An 1880 census record, notes her father as John Hill, age 49, who is married to Lydia Hill, age 30. Yet, Minnie’s last name is recorded as “Jern.” Perhaps Minnie was an adopted daughter?
Whatever the case, the newspaper article makes it sound as though the couple would be forgiven and live happily ever after. But that does not appear to have happened. Rather, it would seem that upon discovering their daughter’s elopement, the Hills may have sought to invalidate the marriage.
There was likely a good case for this as Minnie appears to have been married at the age of 16 without parental consent. No record can be found showing Harry and Minnie Hagenbuck living together as a married couple, supporting the case that their nuptials were short-lived.
In fact, Harry L. Hagenbuck seems to have remarried in 1901, this time to 23-year-old H. Olive Whiting of Detroit, Michigan. They would go on to have one daughter, Virginia, who was born in 1903. The family of three was living in Cleveland, Ohio in 1920 and, curiously, they had changed their name from Hagenbuck to Hagenbeck. Census records note that Harry worked as a salesman for a paper factory and that while he was born in Indiana, his father’s place of birth was Pennsylvania.
Harry Laponte Hagenbuck/Hagenbeck died on October 25, 1938 in Willoughby, Ohio. It is not known where he was buried. However, thanks to an article about his elopement, we are able to discover something of his life and his brief marriage to Minnie Hill.