Sunday, January 30, 2005

Upstate Huguenot?

Visitors to my webpage will be aware that my interest in genealogy began about two years ago when I found a cemetery transcription online that included my great grandparents and several other German immigrants, who moved with them in the 1870s from Sheboygan County near the shore of Lake Michigan to Chippewa County near the Minnesota stateline. The cemetery transcript led me to some 1910 census records for Chippewa County. The record for Tilden Township shows my Great Aunt Louise, who was then boarding with her Uncle August and his wife, Minnie Boettcher. It also shows their neighbor, Mikel Meyer, and his family.

The oldest person in the Meyer household then was Mikel's father, Ludwig, who was 91 years old in 1910. Directly below Ludwig's name on the census is that of Kata Toussaint. She was 26 years old and listed on the census as a "servant". Her job appears to have involved looking after old Ludwig Meyer. The census record indicates that she spoke no English, but did speak German, and she arrived in Wisconsin only one year earlier in 1909.

Kata Toussaint is of interest to me because in recent months I've been looking for evidence that would support my hunch that my great great grandparents may have originated in a part of Germany known as the Uckermark. I hadn't given much thought to Ms. Toussaint until recently when I became aware that the Uckermark was colonized by French Huguenots at the end of the 17th century. I've since learned that Toussaint is the name of one of the Huguenot families that were given refuge in the Uckermark by Frederick the Great following the Thirty Years War, which along with the plague had severely depopulated that region. Frederick considered the religious views of the Huguenots compatible with the outlook of the few Germans who had somehow survived one of the most brutal religious conflicts in recorded history.

Her presence in the Meyer household in 1910 doesn't really answer any of my questions, but it has raised some new ones I hadn't previously considered.

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