Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 4, 2005

Stifter family has first reunion since 1938

By Teresa Jagodzinski

A bright, sunny June day brought several descendants of Paul and Anna Stifter to the home of Ron and Darlene Otto in Winsted for the first reunion since 1938.

To say that the family has grown in the last 67 years seemed like an understatement, as the Otto home filled to overflowing despite seven tents being erected on the lawn.

It all began when Paul and Anna (Loew) Stifter were married April 6, 1880 in St. Bonifacius.

They had 11 children: George, Louis, Laura, Paul, Joseph, Eugene, Agnes, Appolonia, Edward, Anna, and Frank.

They settled on a farm west of Winsted, which is now owned by a great-grandson, Keith Stifter.

From their children, many families in the area were created. Faschings, Loebertmanns, Ottos, Schermanns, and Stifters are just some of the descendants that can trace their heritage back to Paul and Anna.

Gerard Stifter, a grandson of Paul and Anna, is credited for researching the information on the Stifter family. He and his wife, Rosemary, have been working on the family history for over 10 years by searching through records at libraries, courthouses, and churches.

“It’s time consuming,” he remarked.

Five years ago, Gerard made a trip to Austria and went through church records there to gather more information.

“Some of the records in Austria were in different languages,” he said. Gerard was able to decipher some of the language to get the information that he needed.

He has attended conferences and seminars on how to find information on relatives.

To keep track of all of the names, he uses the family tree maker computer program.

“I probably have close to 10,000 names on it,” he said.

He worked with the Ottos to get the information that he had collected through his searches updated for a 500-page family history book.

Information sheets were sent out twice to relatives to gather information. The second mailing was to update the information that was obtained from the first information sheet, so the updated information could be included in the book.

“We were successful in the response to the information sheets,” Ron Otto explained. “If we didn’t hear directly from someone, their parents responded with the information.”

“Everyone’s name is in the book,” Darlene Otto said.

The Ottos did more than just supply the place for the reunion, though. They sent out 750 invitations to all of the family members to invite them to come.

They printed all of the copies of the 500-page book of the descendants of Paul and Anna for anyone who wanted to purchase one.

Darlene also produced a video of all of the pictures submitted and set it to music, and relatives were able to purchase that, also.

Along with Debbie Loebertmann, Darlene helped make a heritage quilt with a picture of Paul and Anna and each of their children.

A common remark heard throughout the day was “They all did a lot of work, and a very nice job.”

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