Hi Mary, yes, I am the Vernon Hattrup who graduated from Windthorst. Do you have a copy of the "100 Years 1878-1978 Droste Family" book? If not you need to get a copy from one or your relatives. In the back where he is applying for a Civil War pension, he states that he was born in Balma, Germany. I checked in Meyer's Orts and there is no such place listed near Osnabrueck, Germany, which is where his obituary said he was from. There is a Belm there that would be considered a suburb nowadays. I ordered the appropiate film from the LDS and could not find a Martin nor Mathias Droste listed as being born in the time frame he used as his birth date. There was only one reference to a Gerhard Droste family, I don't know if we will ever find his birth village. I don't believe Mathias knew his actual birth date. He states in his pension application that he always figured it off his sister's birth. I think his sister was actually his 1/2 sister. In his military and pension records he used several birthdates for himself.
From the GLO records he did file a homestead declaratory statement claim Jan 10, 1878 along with all the other first Windthorst homesteaders. He used his military name of Martin Groaster to file, presumeably so he could file for 160 acres instead of the 80 most people were restricted to at that time. Hope this helps a smidgen.
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