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About the Martin Heiner Family Organization

Our Beginnings

The Martin Heiner Family Organization officially formed on 23 October 2011 with the intent to plan a reunion for the following summer. Scott S. Heiner served as President with Kimberly Heiner now Farmer as secretary and treasurer until Leo Eastman took over as treasurer.  We appreciate all they have done. Kathleen Lindsay headed up the temple work and fundraising committees while Dana Palmer spearheaded research. Those from the various family lines agreed to be the family representatives for their respective lines including: Cheryl James, Gary Dittmore, Sherm Watkins, Carolyn Jacobson, Laraine Adams, Laurel Lee Pedersen, Garth Welch, Terry Welch, Quinn Heiner Joanne Heiner Blood, Carolyn Scott, Carolyn Kuroiwa, Gawain Wells, Sheila Heiner Jones, Gaylynne Heiner Hone, and Vicki Boyle. Christine Deppe planned and organized a reunion, which was held in the summer of 2012.  Many people contributed to the success of this event. This was the first reunion for the Martin Heiner family in 45 years for all branches of the Heiner family. Over 600 people were in attendance at the reunion and there were family members from all branches of the Heiner family present. Since that first reunion, many reunions have been held to reconnect our family. 


Prior to the organization in 2011, many family members were involved with sharing information, photos and research on this family.  Thelma Black Dahle contacted the Utah Genealogical Society in the 1950's and aid for research to find out more about the ancestors of Martin and Adelgunda Heiner.  Since Thelma was also working on three other family lines, the Society suggested she turn the research over to Spencer and Eva Heiner of Salt Lake City who volunteered to help after the last Heiner Reunion in 1963. Thelma kept in close contact with Spencer and Eva and updated all the pedigrees and family group sheets each time she traveled to Utah from Oregon. Their efforts were shared with the other Heiner family members who wanted to help with the work such as Gretta Croft, Agnes Heiner Seare, Roswell Seare. Since this area of Germany during the 1960's through the 1980's was behind the Iron Curtain, new genealogy research was done by hiring individuals to research the parish registers in East Germany including Thüringen, Germany. It was often years between receiving reports from those hired in Germany and then the reports had to be translated before temple work could be submitted. As Spencer, Eva and Thelma grew elderly their health prohibited them from helping.


By the 1990's, Laurel Lee Dahle and Jed Black took the pedigrees and family group sheets maintained by Thelma, Spencer and Eva, and entered the data into the Personal Ancestal File (PAF). This work took 8 years to complete. In 1999, the data entry was complete and temple work was submitted and completed by the Black family for progeny who were eligible.


During the same time, the Utah Genealogical Society was renamed the LDS Family History Library after the new building was built. FamilySearch was created and new technologies incorporated. When FamilySearch blended the three major databases to create a "master file" the merged the files caused inaccurate linking and documentation. Hundreds of Heiner names were affected. Thus the painstaking process was started of going through each individual name by name to fix the problems caused by the merge. Laurel Lee Pedersen and Jed Black spent three to four years working on this.


Meanwhile work commenced by FamilySearch to obtain copies of the original German records. Unfortunately, FamilySearch was unable to digitize the records in the area where our ancestors lived. 


By about 1998, Dana Palmer began the process of verifying the accuracy of the data for Heiner family records in the family group records and on FamilySearch. She hired a researcher to obtain copies of specific records in Germany in 2000. The researcher she hired was unable to obtain a photocopy of the original church records at that time because the records were being copied to microfilm and unavailable for viewing.  In the meantime, Richard Monk set up the first Heiner family website and was the webmaster of it for many years. In 2004, Kathleen Lindsay joined the efforts. Over the years, Gaylynne Hone, Carolyn Wolthius and Sherm Watkins collaborated and pooled knowledge with Dana on the Heiner family. By 2008, with many of the Heiner family members wanting stories and documented organized for their posterity, the idea of creating a family book was proposed. Dana Palmer agreed to gather the needed stories, photos and documented and put it together. In 2011, Bob Rau, a German researcher in Cincinnati, was hired to help translate the obituaries Dana found in the Cincinnati newspapers for Mary Petzsch, Martin's sister.

In 2011, many Heiner cousins participated in regular conference calls to start planning a family reunion for the following summer and to share progress on research being done and the status of the Heiner book. 


About 2012, Scott S. Heiner took a trip to Germany and met with Ute Gerlach and Eberhard Wolf who shared what they knew about the Heiner family. Dana Palmer was put in contact with them soon after and a relationship that has spanned the ocean was forged. Dana traded research for Eberhard and Ute who had family that moved to the USA in exchange for them going to the archive in Eisenach to make copies of some of the German records for our direct Heiner family members. In 2015, Eberhard and his family traveled to Utah and gave a presentation at the Heiner reunion about German culture at the time Martin and Adelgunda lived there. Since then many Heiner family members have crossed the ocean to visit our ancestral towns of Wasungen and Walldorf to learn more about our Heiner and Dietzel family members. 


Sometime around 2015 the Heiner family website Richard Monk created was attacked by a vicious virus that corrupted it.  Ashley Pugmire, Dana’s sister, agreed to help re-create a family website.  She used the tools and template to design the layout.  Dana then went through and added content to make the site easy to use and informative. Ashley then refined it as Dana directed.  Dana has continued to add content to the website such as research done in Germany. Eventually stories on Martin and his children will be added to this website.

Up to 2015, some progress was made to obtain copies of the original church records from the archive in Eisenach, mostly through the efforts Ute Gerlach made to go to the archive and photo copy the pages requested. Wanting to have copies of all the records on our direct line was desired, but the cost was prohibitive unless donations were obtained. It was at this time that Kathleen Lindsay began actively seeking donors to help fund the project to obtain copies of the records there. Once a sufficient amount of money was donated, two researchers were hired, Andreas Bellersen and Ronny Suske, to research specific questions about our family and to find if the ancestral home of the Heiner family was still standing. We were told that the Heiner home was no longer standing, so Ronny Suske was specifically directed to find out where the Heiner home was located and see if it was still standing. He spent many hours going through tax and other records to find the home and discovered that it was still in Walldorf. The reason it was not found was because the street names changed and the houses were renumbered after a fire in the 1830's destroyed many homes near the Heiner home. Due to miraculous circumstances both Kathleen and her husband, and Dana and her husband were able to travel to Germany in the summer of 2016 to meet with Ronny and Andreas, and visit the Heiner home and tour the towns where our ancestors resided. In Walldorf our researcher Ronny Suske too Kathleen and Dana to where the Heiner home was located and then they had a long visit with Pastor von Berlepsch, the pastor of the Walldorf church which was being rebuilt. They also met with Isabella Wachmer, the historian for Walldorf, who graciously provided a property record showing what happened to the Heiner  home once Heinrich moved to Saint Bernhard. In Wasungen, they were able to meet with Ute Gerlach and Eberhard Wolf who provided a tour of the town and showed where the Dietzel family residences were located. The rapport developed on this trip made it possible for our family organization to obtain copies of the original church records a few years later.  Because of the generosity of many of the Heiner family members, we have been able to find the Heiner home in Walldorf, correct many of the errors entered in the FamilyTree on FamilySearch, and are continuing to research our ancestors that lived in the area. Eleanor Wollenstein has been instrumental in translating the early German records Ronny sent us. 

It was decided it was more cost effective to obtain copies of the parish registers for Walldorf and Wasungen so that our organization could do their own research on our direct ancestors and their collateral families instead of relying on others to obtain these records since these records were not available online. Ronny Suske, our researcher who had found the Heiner home and completed other research projects for us, was hired in 2017 to help us obtain copies of the records. Three parish records have now been copied and we are in the process of creating an index for these. Eleanor Wollenzien and Susan Goodfellow helped translate specific entries from the records Andreas Bellersen found in 2016. By the spring of 2018, once we got copies of the Wasungen parish, Eleanor spent countless hours translating the Wasungen church record books for our relatives, which were recorded in the old German script. In 2018 David Berges was hired to help take the information Eleanor translated and enter it into FamilySearch so it would be accurate and properly cited. His efforts allow for new name submissions on our relatives needing temple work. Also Kathleen was in charge of distributing temple ordinance cards to those family members who desired to help. She continued in this capacity from about 2012 until 2018 when she and her husband were called on a mission to Germany and Laurel Lee Pedersen took over for her. Laurel Lee has been working with David Berges to make sure the records Eleanor translated were properly added to the FamilyTree and cited.

Research on our family is continuing to be completed. In the fall of 2017, Dana found an entry on about one of Heinrich’s children, Martin’s nephew, who moved to Berlin. At the time our researcher was unable to make the trip to Berlin to research this line so it was put on hold. By May of 2018, one of Kathleen’s contacts, Kurt Grathwohl, found records about Heinrich’s son that moved to Berlin.  With Kurt’s work, Ronny's work, Richard Walker's help, and Dana’s follow up work, more than 30 individuals were identified and added to the tree. Marc Jarzebowski, a professional genealogist in Berlin, was hired to obtain copies of the civil registration records for this line that were not available online. In addition, Ronny Suske completed his fifth research project for us which focused on obtaining copies of the civil registration death records for the Hopf and Kirchner family members (Adelgunda’s sister’s family and her half-brother’s family).  Ronny provided the transcription and translation for these records as well as the civil registration record. He also translated 15 records on the Kehr and Hopf families. Dana Palmer also started adding copies of some of the translated records to Family Tree on FamilySearch in the memories section for a person. 


In the spring of 2018 the family organization decided to incorporate and become non-profit so all donations could benefit from the non-profit status.  Kimberly Farmer spearheaded this committee and created family bylaws. These bylaws are available on another tab of the family website.  Non profit 501(c)(3) status was approved in December of 2018. 

We are so excited for all the progress that has been made so far and the plans we have for the future!

Family Mission Statement

The Martin Heiner Family Organization is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity for the progeny of Johann Martin Heiner and Adelgunda Dietzel of Sachsen-Meiningen, Thüringia, Germany. 
Its purpose is three fold:


  1. build family ties through reunions, the sharing of histories, photographs, memorabilia, etc.

  2. collect, document, preserve and share accurate family records, both of ancestors and progeny

  3. provide opportunities for temple work for those members desiring to participate in completing ordinances

We have a closed Facebook group available for members to post photos, documents and share stories on the Heiner and Dietzel ancestors and progeny. Consider joining our group at: 


We recently joined the LDS Ancestral Families Association (LDSAFA)

We support World Family History Day!

Our Reunions


To periodically meet together to strengthen our family bond and share progress on our research.

Our next reunion date has not been set.  Detail will be posted once finalized!   

Our Research Goals


  • Find out what happened to Martin & Adelgunda's siblings and half-siblings and their descendants

  • Research our ancestors in Germany

    • Heiner family in Walldorf & Melkers

    • Dietzel family in Wasungen

    • Hondorf family in Friedelshausen

  • Obtain copies of the parish church registers for the towns where our ancestors lived

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