Alexandria, Minnesota resident traces family history to Silent Night composer

Silent Night is a song that I have sung for most of my lifetime. In church choir we sang it and our family sang it at home.  The Alexandria, Minnesota Echo Press has the story of Butch Dallmann of Alexandria who “grew up hearing stories about his great-great-great-grandfather, an Austrian organist and choir master named Franz Gruber.”

Dallmann visited the composer’s Austrian village of Oberndorf in 2002. What an experience that must have been! The full story by writer Jessica Sly is worth reading in the Echo Press.

Update: Be sure to read Doug Williams’ comment to my post. Doug knows music and genealogy.





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4 comments on “Alexandria, Minnesota resident traces family history to Silent Night composer

  1. In just a quick search on ancestry I see several Franz Grubers who came to Minnesota. I’m guessing if someone had the time he/she could show that one of these other Franz Grubers is Mr. Dallman’s ancestor. I’m tempted to do it but I’m up to my eyeballs in my own dead ancestors. I think most families have long held stories that they swear are true but when you dig deeper you find out they aren’t. DNA testing has led to many families learning that no, they are not part Native American no matter what great grandpa said, as one example my friends and I have been discussing.

  2. Hmm. Interesting story. I have choir members who’ve asked me in jest to see if they descend from Silent Night text author, Josph Mohr, a Catholic priest. Obviously, they couldn’t descend directly from Mohr, but perhaps cousin-related? However, as to Franz Gruber, the composer, it seems there’s a discrepancy between the Echo Press story and other sources. Did Gruber and his 13 children really come to America in 1839? Did 13 children even survive childhood? Did he turn around and return to Austria sometime after his supposed holiday in the U.S.? Seems he died 7 June 1863 in Hallein, Austria. See: and also
    Is there a genealogist that wants to investigate the Dallmanns’ genealogical claim further?
    Whatever the truth, we all may likely agree that Mohr and Gruber gifted the world with a much-beloved carol. Merry Christmas to all.

    1. Research is obviously needed! Now I am intrigued. No time for the research. Resisting turning to Ancestry and FamilySearch today. Must cook. Maybe Dallmann has only those “family stories” preserved and has not done the good ol’ reseaonably exhuastive research! Thanks, Doug. I think you should do the research after you complete playing at services today.

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