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There are several surnames in this history: SPERA of Capestrano, Italy; HANNIGAN of Dumbarton, Scotland; CRONNELLY of County Limerick, Ireland; GOGGINS of County Cork, Ireland; KIEL of Germany, DETJEN of Zeven, Germany; FREUDENBERG of Balje, Germany; and WINTJE of Lintig, Germany; HENSLEY of Kentucky and Indiana originating in England, are the most common and the surnames I am researching.
Family legend has it the CRONNELLY-GOGGINS line are descendants of General Patrick Sarsfield through the Cronnelly line. However, this may be family folklore. Patrick Sarsfield, the 1st Earl of Lucan, had two children. The line is very well documented and our Johanna (married to John Cronnelly) is not from that Sarsfield line. Maybe a Sarsfield cousin to Patrick is the connection.

The KIEL name is of particular interest as family folklore tells of a name change upon the family's immigration to New Jersey. All of George and Elizabeth Kiel's children were born in New Jersey with the oldest son, John, being born in January of 1854. Therefore, it is estimated that George came to the U.S. between 1850 and 1853. Supposedly, the name was changed to KIEL from KIRCHGASSNER (or a similar sounding name such as Kiergassner, KIRGASSER, KIERGASSER or KIRGASSNER) because the family came from Kiel, Germany. However, the 1880 U.S Census for Bergen County, New Jersey indicates George Kiel was from Bavaria, Germany and his wife Elizabeth (DAUB) was from Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. A later census entry for one of their children indicates George was from Rhineland, Bavaria, Germany. I am still researching the KIEL name to see where the roots in Germany are planted. Maybe Wurttemburg. Perhaps Russia.

William GOGGINS seems to have arrived in the U.S. around 1880 as indicated on his death certificate. His wife Agnes WARD arrived about 1880. Giovanni SPERA came to the U.S. about 1911, as did KATHERINE HANNIGAN. The FREUDENBERGs, and WINTJEs seem to have arrived around 1912. The DETJENs arrived in the 1880's. The CRONNELLYs may have arrived during the Irish potato famine.

The HENSLEY family came from England. There is wide debate over the earliest Hensley to arrive to America. *********Please note: the information from William Hensley b. 1583 in England to William Hensley b. 1735 in Abermarle, Virginia is widely distributed on the Web and WIDELY DISPUTED.******** Marty Grant & Tom Hensley have researched the HENSLEY surname in Virginia quite extensively. However, none of their research has shown the information on the four generations between William b. 1583 to William b. 1735 to be accurate or authentic. This information was distributed by a Rev. Walter Lee Hensley in his books "A Family Called Hensley" and "The HENSLEY Family Tree". In my own attempt to verify these four generations, I have a request pending in England with a genealogy researcher. As soon as I hear from them, I will update this site. In the meantime, we know all of the information starting from John James Hensley b. 1822 in Kentucky is true and verified. We also know his father was Samuel Hensley. Any additional information on the Kentucky and Indiana HENSLEYs would be appreciated.

As far as occupations are concerned, most of the SPERAs were farmers. Some of the HANNIGANs were servants or housekeepers. Some of the DETJENs were tavern owners in West New York/Hoboken, NJ or involved in the liquor business. Some of the KIELs were merchants, gas station owner, and liquor. Most notable would be the KIEL BROTHERS MILK, EGG and CHEESE Co. which operated primarily in Bergen and Hudson counties in New Jersey. The Wintje family was farmers. The Freudenberg family operated an ice and coal company in the Bronx and on Long Island, NY. Mr. Frostee ice cream trucks were daily visitors delivering ice cream to local Long Island neighborhoods for close to 50 years.
These family histories are continual works in process. Any additions, corrections would be appreciated.
The Spera-Hensley Home Page
Updated June 1, 2010


Maria Spera

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