Sunday, May 17, 2009


Several weeks ago I posted the company flag for Grinnell & Minturn's Red Swallowtail shipping line, the company that operated the packet ship, London, on which my great great great grandparents sailed the London to New York leg of their 1855 emigration from East Brandenburg in Prussia to Wisconsin.

A recent visitor to my blog found my post through a Google search for the terms "Grinnell & Minturn swallowtail line". The visitor didn't post a comment or send me an e-mail, but there was no real need to do so. Sitemeter records the URL for the sites from which my blogpost is accessed and in Google's case the search terms the visitor used. One of the search results listed on that page was a webpage headed Ship Yorktown, which is one of a number of pages that are part of the Forster Family Genealogy website.

It seems the first Forsters to come to America in their line arrived on the Yorktown in 1852. The Forsters weren't able to locate a portrait of the Yorktown, but they were able to find a painting of her sister ship, the London, built by Webb & Company at the same time and in the same location at the East River shipyards in New York. The two ships, according to their webpage, were identical in all but a few small details.

If you look carefully at the painting of the London you can see the Red Swallowtail colors flying from the top of the mainmast. You can see it up close if you click your mouse once on the picture.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Red Swallowtail Line

A year and a half ago I found the passenger manifests for the ships on which my German ancestors arrived in New York at Castle Garden in 1855 and 1856. I posted about that find on this blog and shortly after wrote another post about the New York Marine Register and the online information I had gleaned at Mystic Seaport about the ships on which my ancestors traveled.

I mentioned then that my great great grandparents arrived from Hamburg on a ship called the Ann Washburn in the summer of 1856 and that my great great great grandparents sailed the previous spring in 1855 from London on a ship called the London. I think it's likely that they would have all traveled together in 1855 except that my great great grandmother was about 5 months pregnant with my great grandfather at the time that the London sailed. I noted then that the owner of the London was listed as M. H. Grinnell and that the name of the ship's captain was Hubbard.

Since then I've located a little more information about the New York shipping line that transported some of my ancestors. It was called the Red Swallowtail Line and the symbol they used on their flag and sails is shown at the top of this post. The owner of the London, Moses H. Grinnell, was the youngest of three Grinnell brothers from New Bedford, Massachusetts, who were partners in a New York firm called Grinnell, Minturn & Company. The company owned the Blue Swallowtail Line, that sailed packet ships between New York and Liverpool, and the Red Swallowtail Line, carrying passengers, freight and mail between New York and London for six decades, from 1823 until 1881.

I learned about it from a webpage put together several years ago by Michael Carolan, whose ancestor, Thomas Carolan, emigrated from Ireland by way of Liverpool during the Potato Famine. His ancestor, a blacksmith, arrived in 1847 on a ship called the Patrick Henry. The London was one of about a dozen ships in service on the Red Swallowtail Line and the captain on that ship in 1855, Sheldon G. Hubbard, was listed in 1851 as owning 1/16th of the Patrick Henry during the several voyages when he was skipper of that vessel. Click on the Grinnell, Minturn & Company link to visit the Thomas Carolan webpage. It's a truly dazzling portrait of a 19th century shipping firm.

I still haven't been able to determine how my ancestors traveled to London in 1855 from the banks of the Oder fifty miles east of Berlin or why my great great grandparents and their two small sons booked their passage one year later from Hamburg instead of London.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Das Buch

I'm always finding new things online. It's not that the book itself is new. In fact, it's been around for exactly one hundred years. What's new is that significant portions of it are now available online in English translation.

'The Book of the Germans in America' was published in 1909. It contains more than nine hundred pages and, starting around page 368 or so, the latter portion of the book is about particular Germans who either emigrated to America or spent enough time in America to have written and published poems regarded as a literary contribution to the German-American experience.

Things changed rapidly in the following decade, largely due to American participation in WWI, when laws took hold requiring schools in German-American communities to use English as their primary language of instruction. Consequently, the book pictured above never really found a place in the public school curriculum.

If you open the text to page 368 by clicking on this link you'll see the first four pages of a fifty page essay called 'German Poetry in the United States' written by a woman named L.L. Leser of Philadelphia, but you won't actually see that essay until after you've scrolled past the photo of Konrad Krez. The original text is all in German. The online edition includes page by page translations of much of the text. Short biographies are provided for a few dozen of the more notable immigrant poets, along with representative samples of their work. The placement of the photo of Krez and the caption beneath it make a fairly compelling case for Konrad Krez as a leading light of German poetry in the United States at that time.

I mention the book here because I've recently translated three Krez poems. My translations are available exclusively on this blog. Links to the archived posts of my translations can be found at AATIA, the Austin Area Translators and Interpreters Association, in my blogroll or at this link.

The poems I translated were written during or shortly after the Civil War and published in 1875. They describe New Orleans before the fall of Mobile in 1865, Brazos Santiago at the mouth of the Rio Grande prior to the march on Brownsville in August, 1865, and the Union occupation of Little Rock from August, 1863, until the end of January, 1865. My great great grandfather died serving in the regiment Krez commanded, the 27th Wisconsin, a fact that I discovered researching my family history online in the past five years.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Meadow Springs

The pictures above were taken in Jefferson City in Wisconsin in 1930. They were sent to me by my Aunt Vera at my request shortly before she died a year or so ago at the age of 90. Vera is the girl at the left in the upper right picture. The girl to her left is her sister, Eileen, and the three year old driving the toy car is my father.

I would guess their mother, Elda, was the photographer, but it could just as easily have been their father, my grandfather. He was a minister for seventeen years and Jefferson City was the last pastorate where he was able to perform his duties. He suffered a respiratory collapse later that year and remained an invalid until his death in 1932. The house in the lower right picture appears to be the parsonage where the family lived at that time.

A few days ago I was looking on at the 1930 Census for Jefferson City and I noticed something I hadn't seen before. The thing I had noticed previously was that the family's surname, Lubach, had been misspelled as Laubach, a perfectly understandable error on the part of the enumerator.

Frank Laubach had been a famous minister in that era, best known for his missionary work in the Philippines, where he had devised a system for teaching adult literacy. When the Spaniards ruled the Philippines as a colony, education had been a priority for only a few wealthy, elite families. The American colonial regime placed a strong emphasis on literacy and made sweeping changes to the educational curriculum, eliminating Spanish and replacing it with written English. School children in the Philippines were far more likely to progress rapidly in acquiring the English language if their illiterate parents didn't feel threatened by their children's proficiency with the colonizer's language. So adult literacy programs were the order of the day and that, along with unrestricted emigration to the U.S., made American colonizers and their exceptional military commitment to the Philippines very popular.

While I'm not certain if it's really a compliment to be confused by the government with someone famous, I did make a point of informing that this family listed in Jefferson City in the census really is my father's family and the enumerator really did misspell the family surname. Searches on now produce the same record in response to requests with either spelling.

That's what I noticed the first time I found the record, and believe me, the enumerator's spelling error, whether intentional or not, did not make finding the record any easier. The thing I noticed this time, though, is that the enumerator noted the name of the street for the households recorded in a vertical column along the far left margin of the page. So it's clear that the first four listings on the page were on the west side of Wilson Avenue, which ends where East Linden Street turns into East Linden Drive. The enumerator made a right turn at Linden Street and the remaining households on that page are all listed in the margin as located on that street. My guess is that all of the houses on East Linden were on the north side of the street because the Google map makes it clear that everything south of East Linden Street is on the Meadow Springs Country Club golf course, within easy walking distance of the clubhouse and the circular drive that provides access to the clubhouse.

In the pictures above there are some houses in the background. My guess is that the pictures were taken on or from the premises of the Meadow Springs Country Club. I did some Googling and determined that the course was built in 1920 and redesigned and remodeled around 1970. I also found a catalog of all of the architectural designs drawn up by Frank Lloyd Wright that were ever built. The catalog includes nearly 500 buildings, most of them private residential homes. One of them was built on East Linden Drive in 1950 on property opposite Meadow Springs Country Club.

I don't know if the parsonage on East Linden Street where my father and his family lived from 1928 until 1930 is still standing and in use. But I'm fairly sure the Frank Lloyd Wright house on that street is still there. I visited Jefferson City four years ago with my mother-in-law who is now 87 and still living in Milwaukee in the house that her husband built in 1950. I'll be visiting her again a few weeks from now as I understand she's starting to have some problems with her memory. The last time I visited Jefferson City with my mother-in-law we saw some churches and a few older homes that looked like they might have housed ministers. This time I'll know exactly where to look.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Halle Revisited

Dear Ms. Keller,

Thanks so much for your reply to my inquiry. The Personnenregister database indicates there were several doctors of theology named Olearius associated with the formation of the Franckesche Stiftungen. Johann Georg Lubach lived to be eighty years old and could have known all of them. I am curious to know which one of them he might have eulogized.

There are several people named Lubach listed in the school's student and faculty database. Godofr(oy) Lubach from Wriezen was born in 1713 when Johann Georg was 41 years old. His father's occupation is listed as unknown.

Daniel Andreas Lubach was born in 1741. Gottfried Lubach was born in 1744. Both were born in Gartz an der Oder and are listed as Waisen and sons of a Cantor, a position apparently held at one time by Johann Georg Lubach, who was about 70 years old when Daniel and Gottfried were born. Place of birth and father's occupation suggest that they could have been brothers. Another Lubach, Gotthilf, is listed in another database, matriculating around 1796. He was probably born about 1780 when Daniel Andreas and Gottfried were not quite forty years old. This suggests to me the possibility of four generations of one family associated with the Orphan School at Halle.

Records indicate that my ancestor, Wilhelm Lubach, was born in 1827, although it's not clear yet where exactly he was born. He and his wife, Marie (Ebert) Lubach registered to emigrate to America in 1856 in a village called Wrechow east of the Oder. They were married on June 6, 1852 by a Reverend Melitz in nearby Zehden. The birthplace of their first son, Carl, appears on the Hamburg shipping manifest to have been a village called Carlshoff, less than five miles east of Wriezen. Both Wrechow and Wriezen are listed as Heimatort for a number of Waiseschule students.

My ancestor and his wife settled in Wisconsin with his wife's parents, two brothers, two sisters, a brother-in-law, a niece and a nephew. Marie's parents and her siblings emigrated in 1855. Wilhelm and Marie followed a year later, delaying their departure until after the birth of my great grandfather. Wilhelm died serving the Union army in 1865 during the American Civil War. Marie remarried two years later in 1867 at a church that was planned but not actually built until 1871. That church is still standing and in use. It was registered as a national landmark in 1987.

Wilhelm Lubach's grandson was ordained as a minister in 1916. He died in 1932 at the age of forty-eight when my father was five years old. Two of my grandfather's sisters, Emma and Louise, were schoolteachers in Wisconsin. A third sister, Elsie, taught school for a number of years in Alaska, long before it achieved statehood, and she later taught in California. It's not clear to me what if any training they ever received as teachers. Teaching seems to have been something innate with them; they simply understood how it was done as part of growing up on a family farm.

Both of my father's sisters married ministers and one of them also taught school for many years. My father holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, a field that for him represented a viable alternative end to an orthodox upbringing. He retired about fifteen years ago after a career that included government sponsored research, two decades pioneering the concept of community mental health, a stint as a college professor and more than a decade in private practice.

I've recently translated three Civil War poems written in German by the officer who organized and commanded the regiment in which my great great grandfather served during the war. Publishing poems-in-translation often requires a short statement regarding the translator's background. I'd like to make sure that I'm really qualified to translate poems about things that happened long before I was born.

Am I correct in assuming, from what I have seen in the online database, that Johann Georg Lubach may have been one of the original orphan school orphans? How much is known at this point about how the school functioned in those early days? Would it have been unusual for several generations of a family to attend the school? On what basis were prospective students selected from the many far flung towns and villages within the purview of the institution's outreach efforts? Was it seen as odd for children in Brandenburg to go away to Saxony Anhalt to attend school? How did this schooling differ from what they might have received otherwise? I guess those are the questions that come to mind for me.

When I first visited Germany seven years ago in November of 2002, I knew nothing of my father's family history beyond the fact that my grandfather had been a minister in Wisconsin who wrote sermons in both German and English and that his father was a farmer who had arrived in Wisconsin from Germany as a small child. I wasn't told until about two years ago that my great grandfather died in an industrial accident at a sawmill and that my grandfather had inherited his father's job at the sawmill when he was fourteen years old. He apparently finished high school after he had enrolled at the seminary. I learned that my great great grandfather died in the Civil War from bits and pieces of data I was able to glean from the internet during the past five years.

I think my great great grandfather was a blood relative of the Lubach family that attended and/or taught school at Halle in the 18th century, but I don't yet have conclusive proof for that assertion. The period from 1800 to 1830 was an era marked by playing host to Napoleon and his followers. The established order of things in that region underwent significant turmoil as a result. When the dust finally settled my ancestors were on a ship sailing from Hamburg to New York.

Earlier this year I visited the churchyard cemetery near Milwaukee where my great great grandmother is buried along with her second husband and her parents. Construction of the church was completed the year that her father died. My guess is that a few of the people who worship in that church today may know more than they are telling about who he was and that one of the secrets he took with him to his grave was the relation of his oldest daughter's first husband to a long and distinguished line of educators who devoted some small portion of their lives to an august institution, still standing and very much in use at the University of Halle.

Best Regards,

Craig Lubach,

----- Original Message -----
From: C.Keller
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 5:45 PM
Subject: WG: Lubach

Sehr geehrter Herr Lubach,

leider sind über Johann Georg Lubach keine weiteren Informationen in unserem Archiv zu finden. In unserem Bestand ist lediglich eine Handschrift von ihm vorhanden, in der er sich zu einer Predigt von einem Doktor Olearius äußert.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Carmela Keller


Franckesche Stiftungen

Studienzentrum August Hermann Francke

- Archiv -

Franckeplatz 1 / Haus 22-24

06110 Halle
Tel.: 0345 21 27 426


Sunday, November 02, 2008


It came to my attention a month or so ago that my webpage has been cited as a reference in a recent online revision of an older scholarly article in print called The Story of Union Forces In South Texas During the Civil War. The article was revised by Norman Rozeff of the Cameron County Historical Commission in Texas for their website. My URL for my webpage is listed in the references at the end of the article as the online location of a document cited by Rozeff as 'Fredrich Buker. Memoirs of a Union Soldier.'

I'm not ordinarily the nitpicky sort. The fact is that the rules and conventions for citing online work are still pretty much up for grabs. Writings that are only available online can't really claim to have actually been published in anything but a virtual sense. Vast amounts of 'published' materials consist of information assembled or compiled by individuals and donated to local historical or genealogical societies. Many such documents are one of only a handful of copies made for the benefit of the dozen or so people in the world who might one day want access to that particular information. Sometimes the material is invaluable to the people to whom it pertains, but the chances of its finding a wider audience are so infinitesimal that there is no percentage in investing in publishing costs that won't ever be recouped.

The internet makes it much easier to 'publish' such material. All that's required is one hard copy, access to a scanner, a computer and a server address where the document's URL can be accessed online by remote computers. Anyone with a blog could put the entire content of most local historical societies' libraries online at very little expense beyond the time it takes to scan in the pages. What that means is that scholars, particularly historians, now have to contend with an exponential growth in the availability of primary historical sources.

The item Norman Rozeff referenced to my web address is actually only a 'dead link', one that a reader can find if they take the trouble to read through my entire webpage, a page that was written more than five years ago when the link was still current. Rozeff is actually referencing my summary of a translated memoir of a German-immigrant Union soldier who was in South Texas at the end of the Civil War.

A current link to Buker's translated memoir can be found in the sidebar of this blog under the heading Friedrich Buker. At some point during the past five years, probably less than a year ago, the State of Wisconsin took enough interest in Buker's diary to host the document on their own server and spare Buker's descendants the cost of paying a server to host the document.

I'm not convinced, based upon Rozeff's excellent and highly detailed and documented article, that he's ever actually seen Buker's translated memoir, a primary historical source. My summary of Buker's memoir is a secondary source and it should have been cited as a secondary source under the title of my webpage, Pinnacled Dim In The Intense Inane, which can also be found on my left margin sidebar.

As a memoirist Buker rambles a bit and he tends to assume that readers of his rendering are already well acquainted with the newspaper accounts of his regiment's activities. That may have been true in his time. The State of Wisconsin, for the benefit of 21st century readers, recently began hosting the online edition of an unpublished book by Mark Knipping, A History of the 27th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment During the War of the Rebellion. Summarizing Buker's memoir would have been far easier for me and required much less close reading if Mr. Knipping's book had been published online five years ago.

Nonetheless, I am deeply grateful and feel highly complimented that Mr. Rozeff took the trouble to acknowledge my work, however obliquely, for the online revision of his print article.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I received the following e-mail message about two weeks ago:

Sep 22
Thank you for all the info you have given me on my family. I have been searching for any clues to my family ties for years without finding anything. I just knew that my grandfather had a half brother other names. I now know that Ludwig Backhaus was his father. I have gone to New Fane and found the grave. My grandfather was Charles Henry Backhaus born January 10, 1859 in the town of Scott. He died in Campbellsport Wisconsin January 8, 1951. I found more on too. But your website has been a joy for me. I pieced a lot of things together to make my family tree.

Ruthie Stoffel

I sent a reply to this message and haven't heard back from Ruthie yet. But I'm hoping that I will. Her grandfather appears to have been my great grandfather's step-brother. Both of them had a half-brother named Henry. It was basically impossible to explain Henry's relationship to my great grandfather without also explaining his relationship to Ruthie's grandfather, Charles. I keep finding individual pieces of documentary evidence and posting them on my blog, but it really doesn't mean much until someone else comes along who can see that those pieces do add up to something and do make sense.

I believe Charles also had a younger brother, Edward, born in 1863. I think it's likely that their mother, Henrietta Backhaus, died giving birth to Edward and he was raised by my great great grandmother, Marie, who married her next door neighbor, Ludwig Backhaus, after her first husband, my great great grandfather, Wilhelm Lubach, died in July of 1865 while serving the Union Army in the Civil War. She declared for a widow's pension and benefits for her minor dependents, Carl, William, Louise and Edward, but wasn't processed until 1867 after she had married Ludwig Backhaus and the children had become his legal wards. Henry was born in 1868, a year after Marie married Ludwig.

My great grandfather, William Lubach, is listed in the 1870 census for Scott Township in Sheboygan County as William Backhaus. The age listed for him is 74, but he was actually only 14. His older brother, Carl, isn't listed in that census, but their sister, Louise, is listed as a Backhaus, age 12, born in Wisconsin, along with their half-brother, Henry, age 2, and their step-brothers, Edward, age 8, and Carl, age 11. Edward appears in the 1910 census listed as Edward Lubach, age 48. I believe he married a neighbor listed on the same page of the 1870 census, Catherine Anne Luhn.

The whereabouts of Edward Lubach are important to me because that's the name by which my grandfather was known. It was his middle name. Edward was a popular name in Wisconsin in 1863. It was the first name of Lieutenant Governor Edward Salomon, a Prussian army officer who became Acting Governor of Wisconsin when Governor Harvey drowned in the Tennessee River in 1862 while reviewing the Wisconsin troops who had survived the Battle of Shiloh.

Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln had a twelve year old son named William who died of pneumonia in 1862. William was the second of three Lincoln sons to die in childhood. The first was Edward, who died at age 4 in 1850, the year that William was born. Mary Todd Lincoln wrote a poem called Little Eddie about the loss of that son, which was no doubt revived to lament the loss of William shortly after the family moved into the White House. My father's middle name is Edward and so is mine.

Sometimes I'm just amazed at what a precise instrument the internet can be for finding those proverbial haystack needles. Theories based on hunches are all well and good, but they only become tangible when someone you've never met or even heard of provides that indispensable independent verification.

Thanks so much, Ruthie. I couldn't have done it without you.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Over The Rainbow

Merriman Sisters

If you click on the link my cousins, the Merriman sisters, should take you up where bluebirds fly in five part harmony. The last time I saw them in person was more than forty years ago and they were shorter then, but I'm pretty sure they're singing the same arrangement they learned from their father, Jack, a high school music teacher, who died of a heart attack before he was forty years old.

They have a younger brother, Steve, who hosts the Merriman's Playhouse in South Bend, Indiana. Steve plays drums, his wife plays stand-up bass and they apparently perform once a month, showcasing featured jazz performers who make a short detour from Chicago or Detroit to jam with them.

These cousins are the brood of my mother's younger sister, Mary Lou. They are all descended from Alexander and Lydia Ann Price who were the focus of my 1902 Price Family Reunion and subsequent posts. My cousin Kim in California is still quite intent on organizing a 21st century family reunion.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hamburg Manifest

I joined a newsserver called the Germany Passengers List about a year ago. The members of the list often go to great lengths to assist people looking for information about ancestors or relatives who emigrated by ship from what is now called Germany to other parts of the world.

A month or so ago the list ran a message from someone with a relative who made the crossing from Hamburg to New York on the Ann Washburn in the summer of 1856. The listowner, Ursula Adamson, replied to that message, indicating she has access to microfilm records of the Hamburg passenger manifest for that voyage. I sent a message to the list indicating that my ancestors were also aboard that ship. A week or so later I got an e-mail from the listowner with a record attached, a microfilm copy of the page on that manifest where my ancestors are listed.

If you click your mouse once on the manifest image above you can see the image in its actual size. And if you scroll to the bottom you can see that my great grandfather, Wilhelm, age 0, is listed on the 10th line from the bottom, directly below his brother Carl, age 2, his mother Marie, age 26, and his father Wilhelm, age 29.

After the Name column and before the Age (Alter) column there are three other columns, Geburts oder Wohnort (Birth or Home Village), Landes (Country), and Gewerbe (Occupation). In 1856 Landes referred to whichever of the many hundreds of small kingdoms, duchies and principalities that were eventually unified as Germany. An attempt had been made in 1848 to unite all of the many small kingdoms under the banner of a German state, but that effort failed. Greater Germany as a nation-state wasn't realized until 1871.

No birth or home village is listed for Wilhelm and Marie, but there is a locality listed for Carl. The handwriting isn't easy to decipher and it is in German, but it looks to me like what is written could be the name Carlsheim. I haven't been able to locate any villages by that name online, but I have found a literary reference.

Benedikte Naubert was a popular author in Leipzig at the beginning of the 19th century. She wrote more than fifty books, some of them fairy tales later adapted by the Brothers Grimm. Her works included a number of historical romances, some of which were translated into English by Matthew (Monk) Lewis shortly after their publication in German. One of those romance novels was entitled Feudal Tyrants: The Counts of Carlsheim and Sargans. The story was set near Zurich in Switzerland, probably so it wouldn't be confused with any actual places in what eventually became Germany.

I don't know if the emigration officials in Hamburg had a policy about passengers listing fictitious places for their points of origin. I suspect it was permissable if it came from a book they hadn't read. Marie listed what looks like Greufsen for her country. I've located a small town in Thuringia by that name, although now it seems to be spelled Greussen. Until fairly recently Thuringia was part of the former East Germany. The town is about 30 miles north of Erfurt and fifty miles west of Leipzig. Frederick von Hardenburg's poem Novalis seems to be associated in some way with this locality.

I haven't had much luck deciphering what Wilhelm and Marie listed for their occupations. I'm willing to entertain educated guesses.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kettle Moraine

I don't know how many state parks come furnished with a house of worship that's an authentic national landmark, but I do know that the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin has one for which I feel a certain affinity. Ordinarily my tendency is to worship nature out of doors and some of the best places for doing so can be found in state or national parks. The church in the picture, St. John's New Fane Lutheran, was built in 1872. The surrounding countryside wasn't made a state park until 1936.

A few weeks ago I just happened to be in the neighborhood, so I made a point of stopping in for a brief photo op. My wife and I were in Milwaukee in April to visit my mother-in-law who celebrated her 87th birthday on Mother's Day. She loves to drive her Dodge Caravan, so not much persuasion was required for a quick run up the freeway to Kewaskum and a little beyond. Last year I wrote a post indicating that I'd located a cemetery transcription online that placed several of my ancestors in the New Fane churchyard cemetery.

The church is apparently a national landmark due to the mode of its construction. It's what's known as a "gothic fieldstone" church. Many hundreds of them were built in the 19th century, but only a handful are still standing and in use. The soil of the Kettle Moraine is notoriously rocky because it marked the leading edge of a huge glacier that began retreating at the end of the latest ice age. German immigrant farmers like my ancestors, who settled in Wisconsin in 1856, had to first remove the stones from their fields in order to cultivate them.

My understanding is that the stained glass windows, four on each side and one at the back, were added at a much later date, probably well into the 20th century. My mother-in-law kept the engine revved while my wife and I did a quick survey of the cemetery. We found quite a few markers written in German, some that must have been from before the end of the 19th century, but none of them had legible inscriptions, so we weren't able to locate the graves of my great great grandmother, who died in 1893, or my great great great grandfather, who died in 1872.

But we did find the grave marker for someone I think was my great great grandmother's youngest brother. August Ebert died in 1924 at the age of 78. His wife, Mary, passed on at the ripe old age of 39. August had a brother two years older, William, who was just old enough to enlist in the Union army in 1864. William served only a few months before he was wounded at the Battle of Atlanta. He collected a Civil War disability pension for 50 years and died in 1916. William's pension records furnished the clue that led me to New Fane. He married his wife, Fredericke, at St. John's New Fane in 1866, six years before enough field stones had been collected to actually build the church. His older sister, Maria, married her second husband there in 1867. Her first husband, my great great grandfather, Wilhelm Lubach, died at Jefferson Barracks Hospital in St. Louis in July, 1865, while serving in the 27th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.

I've scanned in part of a map of the Kettle Moraine State Forest for any readers interested in making the trek to New Fane. The town itself has only one street but many of the houses along it are fairly new. I suspect that the State Park imposes a few zoning restrictions on development, so the town probably won't get much bigger than it is right now. The Bridle Path runs a block west of the only street in town. One block to the east is where hikers pass through along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The town of Kewaskum can be seen in the lower left corner of the map about three miles southwest of New Fane. It has a number of excellent cafes and handy stores for loading up knapsacks for the thirty mile hike from one end of the forest to the other. I'm fairly sure that the land my ancestors homesteaded for most of the second half of the 19th century is situated a little more than a mile northeast of New Fane, near the junction of Brazelton Drive and Forest View Road. One click of the mouse on any of the pictures will enlarge the view.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Price Pictures

My third cousin, Kim in California, who I've only met online through my blog, has sent me more photos of our Price relatives from South Bend, Indiana. If you click on the photo you can see them in much greater detail. Kim said she thinks these four pictures were taken in 1927, roughly twenty-five years after the 1902 Price Family Reunion photo that appeared last year in a previous post.

The really great thing about the 1902 Reunion photo is that that picture has numbers on each of the individuals and names to go with the numbers on a separate page so it's fairly easy to identify almost all of the nearly fifty individuals in the photo. These four photos aren't numbered or coded, so to identify people you have to imagine how much different they would have looked twenty-five years later. Many of the adults in these photos were small children in 1902.

Kim asked me if I recognized any of the children in these photos. I can't really claim that I do, but I did point out to her that my mother was born in 1926 and her older brother was born in 1925. If you look carefully at the upper right photo, you'll see that it includes a woman standing in the middle row with a baby girl in her arms who looks to be perhaps a year old or a little less. Standing directly in front of that woman is a small boy who looks to be about two years old. I don't think Kim would have sent me this picture if she weren't fairly certain that the woman holding the baby was my grandmother, Carlie (Ruth) Steele. That would make the baby my mother, Carolyn, and her two year old brother my Uncle John.

The woman at the far left of the upper left photo was my great grandmother, Laura (Price) Steele, pictured with her six older sisters and three older brothers. The man at the far left of the lower left photo was my great grandfather, Ira Steele. I suspect that the man standing in the front row in that picture with a two year old boy in a sailor suit in front of him was my grandfather, Cleon Virgil Steele.

The three of them, Great Grandpa Ira, Grandpa Cleon and Uncle John, are sitting together in the front row in the photo on the lower right. Cleon is the one wearing the hat. I think Cleon is also the man on the far right in the upper right photo. Kim tells me that her mother and grandmother are also in these photos and that her mother was born the same year as my Uncle John.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shipping News

I've been fortunate to find a little more information concerning the ships on which my father's family arrived in the United States in the decade preceding the American Civil War.

Mystic Seaport is a town in Connecticut with a maritime museum that has a great website. If you know the name of the ship and a good approximation of the year it arrived, go to Mystic Seaport. The site has online access to the New York Marine Register for 1857 and to its successor, the American Lloyd's Register of American and Foreign Shipping.

Up until 1857, passengers took their chances getting on board a ship. There was really no reliable way for emigrants to know if the vessel on which they had booked their passage was really seaworthy. Once they'd sold all of their possessions and traveled halfway or more across Europe to get to a major port like London or Hamburg, it was a little late at that point to arrive at the dock and decide that getting on board might not be such a great idea.

The New York Marine Register of 1857 eased that dilemma substantially. It was a publication financed by a number of underwriters who insured the ships on which cargo and passengers traveled. A listing on the register gave passengers a much better idea of what to expect when they arrived at the dock. All of the ships listed on the register were given a rating, ranging from A1+ to A3-. The rating indicated the quality of the construction of the ship and the adequacy of its equipment. Lloyd's of London adopted the system set up for the New York Marine Register of 1857 and within two years the annual publication was known as the American Lloyd's Register.

My great grandfather came to America as an infant with his parents and a two year old brother. They crossed from Hamburg to New York in 1856 on a ship called the Ann Washburn, departing on May 25th and arriving on July 12th after 46 days at sea. The ship was inspected and rated for the New York Register in August that year, presumably while it was still in port following that arrival. Its rating was A1 and 1/2-. The ship was listed at 861 tons and it had two decks. It was built in 1853 at Freeport, Maine, and owned in Boston by H. H. Stevens. It was a new ship, built of oak with copper plating and iron fittings.

My great grandfather's grandparents and their family arrived in New York a year earlier in 1855 on a ship called the London. Its rating or class was 2. The captain's name was Hubbard. The ship displaced 1,143 tons and it had 3 decks. It was built in 1847 in New York by someone named Webb and it was owned in New York by M. H. Grinnell, at that time one of the most prominent shipowners in New York. He is remembered for financing polar expeditions and public lectures by Abolitionist ministers. The London was listed on the American Lloyd's Registry up until 1870, but aside from the 1855 voyage on which my ancestors sailed there isn't much news about it posted online.

The Ann Washburn, however, appeared several times in a column called Marine Intelligence in the New York Times and also in the Times Picayune. The voyage on which my great grandfather arrived from Hamburg in 1856 was notable because a seaman named George Hickson fell overboard and drowned near Nova Scotia. An earlier voyage from Antwerp to New York in April,1854, became controversial because the ship carried Belgian paupers and convicts among its passengers. The ship's captain apparently adopted a policy of excluding such passengers in subsequent voyages.

The ship made the news again in 1858 when it was moored in New Orleans. A tornado touched down along the wharf during a hurricane, wreaking havoc among the ships tied there. Several seamen were flung overboard and the Ann Washburn snapped her bowsprit and sprung a mast. The damage may have not ever been fully repaired. The ship appears to have managed the return voyage to Boston, but a voyage from Boston to New Orleans in November later that year ended in shipwreck at Looe Key near Key West. A fee of $5,000 was paid to a salvage company, probably to recover some portion of the ship's cargo. After 1859 the Ann Washburn was no longer listed on the American Lloyd's Registry.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Castle Garden

I've located the ship manifests, posted online by, for the ships on which my German ancestors arrived in America. My father's great grandparents, Wilhelm and Maria Lubach, arrived in New York at Castle Garden on July 12, 1856, on a ship called the 'Ann Washburn' which departed from Hamburg with more than 300 passengers on board, nearly all of them German, including my father's grandfather, Wilhelm, listed as an infant, and Wilhelm's brother, Carl, age 2. The family surname, Lubach, was transcribed online as Subach, which did not make finding the manifest any easier. The elder Wilhelm Lubach was 29 years old and his wife, Maria, was 26.

Maria Lubach's parents, Wilhelm and Dorothea Ebert, arrived a year earlier, July 9, 1855, on a ship called the 'London' which departed from London. They were accompanied by their children and by a son in law, August Heise, whose wife, Sophia, is listed twice on the manifest, once as the daughter of Wilhelm Ebert and a second time as the wife of August Heise. She was 22 years of age in both instances. The couple accompanied their two children, Carl, age 3, and Amelia, an infant.

There appears to have been possibly a third Ebert sister, Louisa, age 17, who is not listed as an Ebert in the 1860 census for Sheboygan County in Wisconsin. The brothers, Wilhelm, age 11, and August, age 9, are also listed on the ship's manifest as part of the Ebert family. The name of another female, age 19, listed by first name only as traveling with August and Sophia Heise and children, is difficult to read. The transcriber identified the name as Sabe. I would submit that this could have been August Heise's younger sister.

Castle Garden was a receiving station for immigrants at the tip of Manhattan Island, the predecessor to Ellis Island. It officially opened for business in August of 1855, a month and several days after the 'London' arrived, but the ship's manifest is maintained by NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and transcribed as part of an effort to make the Castle Garden records available to the online public. Castle Garden is currently known by its original name, Fort Clinton. It's where visitors to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty buy tickets and board ferries for those destinations.

The elder Wilhelm Ebert's age was listed as 50 on the London's manifest which would make him two years younger than the Wilhelm Ebert buried at St. John's New Fane Cemetery, but the date of birth listed on his tombstone is July 9, the anniversary of his arrival in America.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Fane

I've recently located an online transcription for a church cemetery in the southeasternmost corner of Fond du Lac County in Wisconsin. I believe that my great great grandmother and my great great great grandfather are buried in the St. John's New Fane cemetery in Auburn Township. I had not located their graves previously because census records indicate that they lived in Scott Township in Sheboygan County and that's where I had looked. It's clear now, however, that they lived on the county line and the nearest village was and still is New Fane in Fond du Lac County.

I've posted a link for the ">Scott Township Plat Map 1875. The link is an interactive plat map put online by the University of Wisconsin Digital Library. It's very high resolution with a moveable frame that allows for zooming in and out on quadrants, sections within quadrants and quadrants within sections of the map. You can see the name of the party to whom each lot was registered in each section, what portions of their lot were cleared or wooded and where any structures on their property were located. Click on Image Detail to resize the map from Medium to Extra Large and to access the Frame and Zoom functions.

It's helpful to compare the plat map with federal census listings. Thanks to I am able to show how and where my ancestors were listed on the 1860 Census. The three images posted to the right show the names of the inhabitants of what became Section 30 in the order in which they were listed in 1860. One click on each image will enlarge it, making it much easier to read.

When you click the first image you will see that in 1860 Ludwig and Henrietta Backhaus had five sons and one daughter. The oldest son was 18 and the youngest a one year old. When you click the second image it's clear that their next door neighbors were Wilhelm and Maria Lubach, who had two sons and a daughter. The next household was that of Wilhelm and Maria D. Ebert and their sons Wilhelm and August. Next to them was the Heise or Heiser family, August and Sophia and their four children, two sons and two daughters. Beyond them is the Oeder family.

When you look at the plat map for 1875 it becomes clear that the census enumerator in 1860 was proceeding north to south along the county line from the top of Section 30, Ludwig Backhaus and family, to the bottom of Section 31, where Henry and Mary Oeder lived. The Ebert family is still in between them in 1875, but the Lubach and Heise or Heiser families have relocated. The village of New Fane is a little more than one mile west of Section 30. It was the nearest village to these farms.

Construction of St. John's Church at New Fane was begun around 1860 and completed in 1871. It is still in use and appears now very much as it did then. Wilhelm Ebert, who I believe was the father of Marie (Ebert) Lubach (my great great grandmother) and her sister, Sophia (Ebert) Heise, was buried in the New Fane Cemetery in 1872 at the age of 69.

Marie's first husband, Wilhelm Lubach, died in the Civil War on July 27, 1865, and was buried at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. Marie married Ludwig Backhaus in 1867, allowing the couple to collect a Civil War pension for her four minor dependents. Ludwig's first wife, Henrietta, appears to have died between 1860 and 1867. My theory is that she died giving birth to a son, Edward, in January, 1863. She does not appear to have been buried in the St. John's New Fane cemetery. Her son, Edward, eventually took the name Lubach as his surname, apparently in honor of his stepmother's first husband. Edward was listed as a minor dependent on Marie's pension application, so it appears she may have been caring for Ludwig's youngest son before the couple married. Marie appears to have given birth to another son, Henry, a year after her marriage to Ludwig Backhaus.

Sophie's husband, August Heise, survived the war. The 1875 plat map indicates a farm belonging to A. Heyser in Section 20 of Scott Township, two miles from the county line and close to the village of Beechwood. Wilhelm Ebert's farm in 1875 in Section 30 appears to have been divided evenly between his sons, William and August.

Ludwig Backhaus may have played a central role in finding spouses for his second wife's pensionable minor dependents. Marie was buried at New Fane in 1893, the year that her oldest son Carl or Charles lost three sons to a diptheria epidemic in Findlay, Ohio. Ludwig was buried at New Fane in 1897, the same year that Marie's second son, William, died at the age of 41 in a sawmill accident in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Ludwig was 82 in 1897. The birthdate on his tombstone indicates that he celebrated his 50th birthday on the same day that my great great grandfather died at a military hospital in St. Louis.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Leggett's Hill

I mentioned in a post several months ago that I visited Atlanta in 2001. I spent most of my time there at a highrise hotel in North Atlanta that was hosting a meeting my wife was attending, but I did find time for a round of golf, for an afternoon at the Stone Mountain Monument and also for a visit to one of my wife's colleagues who works at Emory University and lives in East Atlanta.

The visit to Stone Mountain awakened in me a slumbering interest in the Civil War. I knew at that time that a brother of my mother's great grandfather from Ohio had died at Andersonville Prison, but I wasn't aware then that any of my father's ancestors or inlaws in Wisconsin had even participated in the Civil War. I've since learned that the same Confederate general, Patrick Cleburne, whose men captured my mother's great uncle in Chattanooga, also commanded the men who shot my dad's great grandmother's brother in Atlanta.

During the past five years, using almost exclusively information freely available on the internet, I've discovered that my dad's great grandfather died in the Civil War, that he served in the same unit with a man married to his wife's sister, and that his wife's younger brother, William, enlisted in the 12th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry on February 22, 1864. William Ebert fought and was wounded in the Battle of Atlanta on July 21st and was discharged in January 1865, after convalescing for nearly six months at an army hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. He received his "red badge of courage" when he was 21 years old, a gunshot wound to his upper left arm. He sailed across the Atlantic from Prussia to Wisconsin at age 11.

The last time I posted about him I began wondering if I might have passed anywhere near the scene of that historic battle on my visit to Atlanta. We rented a car while we were there and, thanks to Dave Buckhout and his site, Tracking the Battle of Atlanta Today, I now know that I actually passed, more than once, through the battlefield where my great great uncle was shot.

Bald Hill was renamed Leggett's Hill as a direct result of that battle. General Mortimer Leggett commanded the brigade that included both the 12th and the 16th Wisconsin infantry regiments. His orders from Sherman on the 21st were to take that hill and to hold it. He did. And the Battle for Atlanta on the 22nd involved the unsuccessful efforts of the Confederate army to dislodge him from that strategic location. Nearly 12,000 men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner in that battle. It was the decisive battle in what became the Siege of Atlanta.

Abraham Lincoln was in the middle of a heated election campaign that summer, running for reelection against his Democratic challenger, General George McClellan. Soldiers who favored the challenger were disparaged and shunned as "copperheads", men who thought that the war was a catastrophic standoff that could only be resolved through a negotiated compromise.

When Atlanta fell, burned to the ground in September, and when Sherman's March to the Sea in October was well underweigh, it became clear that the war was indeed winnable. Lincoln won the election in a landslide. If General Patrick Cleburne's men had reclaimed control of the trenches on Bald Hill on July 22nd, Atlanta could easily have been a hopeless stalemate on election day and Lincoln might only have had until January to win the war.

Present day pictures of Bald or Leggett's Hill and vicinity, more than fifty of them, can be seen at Dave Buckhout's Inheritage website. Many of the pictures indicate the location of plaques that tell the story of the many different incidents and events that were part of the battle. The hill itself was leveled quite some time ago and is now a twelve-lane freeway.

A bridge crosses the freeway at Moreland Avenue, the street we took to visit our friend who works at Emory University. The view from the Moreland Avenue overpass is essentially the same view that the men in the trenches had from the brow of Bald Hill. Cleburne's men mounted their valiant attempt to reclaim the hill from an area now under construction that will soon be a large shopping mall.