Friday, December 5, 2014

Big Moves

My wife and I are in the midst of selling our old home, moving items into storage, then buying a new home and finally moving our things into our new home. It's a long and stressful period but in the end, we hope to be more comfortable and happy. It makes me wonder about how my ancestors experienced moves they went through.

The first one that comes to mind is when Franz Josef Panther moved from Stadelhofen, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany to Mösbach. The move was only about four miles down the road, just a little further than our move. Our move is going to be made easier by asking family and friends to help and renting a good sized UHaul truck. Obviously, they didn't have UHaul trucks back in the late 18th century. I don't know anything of their details but I'd imagine they used one or more wagons and possibly several trips to move their household goods. I'd imagine it would be a similar experience to what we're going through.

The moves that Franz Josef's grandsons, Aloys and Ferdinand Panther went through were obviously much more grueling.
They uprooted themselves from the tiny village they and their parents had lived in for decades and from the area their ancestors had lived in for as long as we can trace. Can you imagine living in the same area that you know your ancestors had lived in as long as history records, then you pack up what is likely a fraction of your belongings into trunks, travel by horse-drawn wagon to the nearest port (they went to Bremen), hop on a ship for a month-long voyage across the sea to a new land where you don't even know the language? It boggles the mind.

Ferdinand had taken his girlfriend or fiancé, Amelia Traub with him to New York, getting married and moving to Pennsylvania for a few years before eventually settling in southeast Iowa. Aloys, I believe, had been visited in Germany by his brother Ferdinand. We see a record of a Ferdinand Panther emigrating to America in 1854 from Mösbach, then another record of him making this voyage in 1870. Aloys finally came over in 1872. I tend to believe Ferdinand paid him a visit and explained how well things were going for him, farming in Iowa. It took a couple of years for Aloys to finally pick up and follow his brother, but he eventually made the move.

I encourage you to look into your immigrant ancestors. Find their documentation so you can get an idea of their hometowns that they left, what they went through on their voyage and what they brought with them. I believe it will put your life into a new perspective.

Here is what I know about my immigrant ancestors. I don't know everything I'd like about all of them, and some of it is just rumor, but I'm making progress. I'll start with my male ancestral line and work my way down, listing either the immigrant ancestor or the ancestor furthest back I know about in America.

Charles Miller, aka Karl Müller - born in 1854 somewhere in Germany. Came to America in about 1872 and at least for a time, lived near his siblings in New York City. He eventually moved to Linn County, Missouri, met Philomena Bixenman in Wien, Chariton County, Missouri, married, had children, and eventually moved to Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa, where they lived out the rest of their lives.

Benedict Bixenman - Born 1829 in Treherz, Donaukreis, Württemberg, Germany. Met and married Crescentia Wolfgang, we believe while still in Treherz. They emigrated through New York, eventually settling in Lake County, Indiana, where they had eight children. When their youngest, Philomena, my great-grandmother, was less than a year old, they packed up a wagon and joined a wagon train of settlers moving to Missouri, where they were among the first settlers that founded the town of Wien. Benedict and Cresentia lived out the rest of their life in Wien while their daughter Philomena married Charles Miller and eventually moved to Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa.

Thomas Doran - Born 1775 in at an unknown location in Ireland. Married Catherine O'Hara. They had at least four children while in Ireland. Eventually, they migrated to America, settling for a time in New York, then probably around Philadelphia. His daughter Nancy became an unwed mother of a son she named Thomas while in New York or Philadelphia. The family ended up moving to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois.

Hugh Kelly - Born 1829 in Clincorick, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland to Thomas and Velat Kelly. When Hugh was less than two years old, Thomas and Velat moved their family to Dunbartonshire, just outside of Glasgow, Scotland. When Hugh turned twenty years old, he hopped on a ship named the Ann Harley and sailed to New York City.

He eventually settled in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, where he met Catherine Murphy. They married and had a family, living out the rest of their life in Warsaw.

Katherine Murphy - Katherine was born in 1830 in Lixnaw, County Kerry, Ireland. It is unknown when she came to America or who she came with, but I tend to believe she came to America with a prior husband. She was married to James Dee and to Michael Hoare prior to marrying Hugh Kelly.

Aloys Panther - Aloys was born in 1837 in Mösbach, Ortenaukreis, Baden, Germany. He met Monica Hanle in Mösbach, married and had three children. His oldest lived but his second and third sons both died very young.

Shortly after the death of his third son, he left Mösbach on September 14, 1872 for Bremen.

They arrived in New Orleans on October 1872. Nine months after arriving in New Orleans, Monica gave birth to their next son, Frank, and three months later, they travelled up the Mississippi River to arrive in southeast Iowa where Aloys took up farming near his brother, Ferdinand. Monica died about five years later and Aloys married Elizabeth Dunzinger.

Andreas Dunzinger - Andreas Dunzinger was born 1822 in Wemding, Bavaria. He likely learned his father's trade of fabric dying. In about 1846, he travelled to America, arriving in New York City. Either while still in Bavaria or after arriving in New York City, he met and married a woman named Fanny, last name unknown. They had two daughters, Mary A., who disappeared from history at the same time as her parents and Elizabeth, who was brought to southeast Iowa by her grandmother, where she eventually met and married Aloys Panther.

Johan Diedrich Menke - Johan Diedrich Menke was born in 1816 in Schwagstorf, Hannover, Germany. He met and married Anna Maria Catharina Rickelman in 1845 and had three children. After her death in 1856 he married Maria Catharina Brinker and had one child. After her death in 1858, he married Maria Elizabeth Geers and had four more children, including my great-grandfather, Johan Anton August Menke. The family left for America in 1872 but Johan Diedrich died on the voyage and was buried at sea. His wife and children arrived in America and moved to southeast Iowa where Maria Elisabeth married Henry Schutte.

Gerhardt Harmeyer was born in 1797 in Hanover, Germany. He married a woman named Mary Elizabeth and had at least one son, Joseph, my great-great-grandfather. The family emmigrated to America, probably around 1834.

Johann Heinrich Kempker - Johann Heinrich Kempker was born in 1797 in Hanover, Germany. He married Mary A. Nichting in 1830 in Germany. They had one child, Maria Agnes Kempker, my great-great-grandmother. After the death of his first wife in 1832, he married Mary A. Hillman in 1833 and had one child, Gerhard Heinrich Kempker. After Mary A. Hillman's death in 1835, he married Mary A. Sands in 1837. The family moved to America some time before 1843.
Here is the district court record from Lee County, Iowa when he appeared before the court to petition to become a citizen of the United States, which was granted.

Immigrant ancestors, to me, are the most fascinating to investigate. It took a huge amount of courage to uproot your family, get onto a boat for a month-long journey in uncomfortable (at best) conditions to a foreign land where you don't speak the language. Add to this doing it with hardly any possessions and a pittance of money in your pocket and you know these people had guts. It makes our move from a smaller house to a newer larger house just a few miles down the street seem like a walk in the park!


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