Brief History of Dillenbeck Family


A Brief History of the Dillenbeck Family



On my father's side of the family, there is an extensive genealogical history that has been researched by distantly related relatives. They have published two volumes: The Dallenbachs in America: 1710-1935 and The Dallenbachs in America: 1935-79. As I write this a new volume is being researched to bring the family genealogy up-to-date and to include previous omissions. You can visit the official Dillenbeck genealogy web page at


According to the Dillenbeck Family Web Page, the family first came to the United States in 1710 from Lauperswil, a small Swiss village in the Alps mountains, a few miles northeast of Bern, Switzerland. Jorg Martin Dallenbach settled in upstate New York. This is where our family begins. In 1810, two other Dallenbachs, Christian and Jacob, settled in Ohio.

While we know where and when the first Dillenbecks arrived in America, the Dillenbeck family lineage is somewhat vague (until someone does research) until the mid 1800s. My great grandfather - Delbert Dillenbeck - was born sometime in the mid 19th century in upstate New York. In fact, until the turn of the century, before the age of modern transportation, there was a high concentration of Dillenbecks in the upper mid-state region between Albany and Syracuse. This became clear to me one day when I was passing through the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. While there, I happened to peruse the local library and thumbed through some old New York State census material. In the census of 1850, there must have been several hundred Dillenbecks listed (or variations on the same name) that were scattered throughout the above mentioned region. Today, there is still a high concentration of Dillenbecks in upstate New York. While living in Albany in 1979, I flipped through the metro telephone white pages and came across a listing of 50-plus Dillenbecks. Today there are Dillenbecks scattered across the American continent.

Some of the below mentioned forebears contain links to their pictures. Unfortunately I have an incomplete picture history which I hope to remedy in future updates.

My grandfather, Arthur Owen Dillenbeck was born in 1886 in Boonville, directly north of Utica on the western fringe of the Adirondack mountains. I never knew my grandfather. He died in 1947. According to my father, Kenneth K. Dillenbeck Sr., my grandfather moved to New York City to seek his fame and fortune. There he married my grandmother, Lena Young, in 1907. Sometime afterwards, they moved to Great Neck, Long Island and from there to Manhasset, the bordering town. My father (born September 7, 1918) grew up in Manhasset, where he met my mother Dorothea M. Schmitz (born July 9, 1924). They married in 1943.

It is not clear when my mother's ancestors came to America (depending upon which family branch you trace). Along her paternal line, her great grandfather Valtin Schmitz (b. 1832) came to America in 1847 with his family and settled in Evansville, Indiana. He later married Maria Franziska Strasser, born 1833 in the district of Worms, Germany. She immigrated to America in 1853. This makes sense as the high point of German immigration to American was between 1850 and 1870. Their son, Jakob Francis Schmitz married Louise Johnson in 1892 who in turn bore my grandfather, Valentine in 1894. Valentine Schmitz married my grandmother Julia Hughes (b. 1903). They married in the early 1920s and "immigrated" to Manhasset, Long Island. Following the birth of my mother, my Uncle John was born in 1926 followed by Robert (1928).

Along my mother's maternal line (Hughes, possibly Welsh or English), the lineage in America appears to stretch further back in time. We know that my great, great, grandmother Amelia Edwards (b. 1846) was born in America. While living in New York City, she married John Hanan (b. ___) in 1870. We know one interesting fact regarding my great, great grandfather - John Hanan - he fought in the American Civil War. Their daughter Emily married John Hughes, who died in his thirties. Emily had a brother, John Hanan (my mom's great uncle) who never married. Emily Hanan gave birth to my grandmother Julia Hughes (b. 1903), who in turn married my grandfather Valentine Schmitz as noted above. Julia Hughes had a sister, Gertrude ("Aunt Gaggy"), who taught in the New York City public schools and was quite active with my family when I was growing up. My mother was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. but her family subsequently moved to Manhasset. As noted previously, my mother and father met in Manhasset and married in 1943, while my father was in the service during World War II.

To read an oral history of my family, which I recorded with my parents and transcribed in 1995, click here. It is quite revealing and includes all the family dirt you'd want to know about.