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.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


A ship called the 'Susanne Godeffroy' sailed from Hamburg in September of 1863 and arrived a few months later in Queensland, Australia, becoming the nucleus of the first German colony in Queensland, a settlement that its numerous descendants now refer to as the Bethania Colony. Two years later another ship, the 'Wandrahm' arrived there, significantly expanding the original settlement.

One of the founders of that colony was Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Ebert, who arrived on the 'Susanne Godeffroy' along with his wife, Johanne, and their two daughters, Bertha and Auguste. They were from the village of Stegelitz in the Uckermark. According to the history of the colony, Carl Ebert was one of the five men who purchased the land that became the colony. August Wilhelm Flesser from Warnitz, and his wife, Marie Christine (Lubach) from Schmiedeberg, arrived two years later on the 'Wandrahm' with their eight children. The ship arrived bearing a typhoid fever epidemic that killed twenty-two passengers and kept the ship in quarantine for a full year before the three or four hundred surviving passengers could disembark and join the colony. Eventually, one of their sons, Wilhelm Friedrich Flesser, married Auguste Wilhelmine Ebert. One of their daughters, Wilhelmine Friedericke Justine Flesser, eventually married Jurgen August Haack, a young man who had worked as a deckhand on the 'Wandrahm' and was apparently quarantined along with the passengers. Descendants of Jurgen and Justine Haack have assembled a Haack Family genealogy which is available online.

Close scrutiny of the surname list for the Bethania Colony reveals that sometime around 1880 another ship arrived in Queensland carrying the family of Johann Christian Friedrich Lubach and his wife, Marie (Flatow), from the village of Grunberg in the Uckermark. They were married in Marie's home village of Schmoelln which is only a handful of miles from Schmiedeberg. Their sons and daughters naturally intermarried with other German settler families in the colony, among them descendants of August and Marie (Lubach) Flesser.

Cousins marrying cousins is less of a tip-off to me, that these Australian pioneers might be distant relatives, than the names of some of the other settlers. The founder of the Bethania Colony was Christian Berndt. My grandmother's maiden name was Bernd and family lore has it that the 't' at the end was dropped. My grandfather's sister in upstate Wisconsin, married a Kurth. Again, a close look at the Bethania surname list shows a significant number of Kurths in Queensland.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Global Village

I'm posting a link for a website about Schloss Wartin, a Pomeranian manor house originally built three centuries ago in the days of Frederick the Great. I mention it because it's quite close to several villages in the Uckermark that I'm told have church records listing the Lubach surname as among their inhabitants as far back as that period. I doubt that any of my ancestors spent much time at the schloss, except perhaps to deliver goods or provide services to the eminences whose occasional presence graced their community. Since reunification the manor has been leased for restoration purposes and community outreach enterprises, among them serving as a WiFi hotspot compliments of Hewlett Packard. Two other short essays about the Schloss are linked at the top of the page, detailing East German Stasi and Nazi Luftwaffe activities at Schloss Wartin in bygone eras.

A nice map of the vicinity can be found on the German version of the site. If you read German you can probably find pictures of the garden, the library and the guard dog. The lower portion of the map shows the area where my ancestors were last seen in East Brandenburg in 1856, a few kilometres south of Chojna (Koenigsburg) and a little north of where it says Moryn (Mohrin). My theory is that they lived in one of several villages near Wartin, but were sent south and east across the Oder River after the 1848 Revolution. Quite a few villages had manor houses at one time, but not many were still standing after the Red Army came through.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Another Civil War Ancestor?

I've been looking at the Civil War rosters for Wisconsin recently and am beginning to wonder if perhaps I have more than one great great grandfather who fought in the war. My great grandfather, William Lubach, was married to a woman whose maiden name was Johannah Boettcher. Those who have visited my webpage will know that they are both buried in a small cemetery in Tilden township near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and it is fairly clear that Hannah was the daughter of August and Henrietta Boettcher. August was born in 1835 and died in 1898, which would mean that he was thirty in 1865. Civil War rosters for Wisconsin show only six men named Boettcher enrolled in Wisconsin regiments during the war and only one named August Boettcher, who served in Company B of the 45th Wisconsin. He listed his home in October, 1864, as Mosel, Wisconsin, which is a small suburb on the shore of Lake Michigan in Sheboygan County. Is it the same August Boettcher? The name Boettcher is a German word that essentially means 'barrel maker' and the English equivalent would be something like Cooper which also means barrel maker, so it's a very common German name. The earliest confirmed record I have of any of my Boettchers is Hannah's marriage to my great grandfather, but it stands to reason that the daughter of a veteran would have married someone whose father had also fought in the war, rather than, for instance, a newly arrived immigrant just off of the dock. I'm thinking it's a good bet and one I should be able to confirm fairly easily once I've found someone who will search census records for me in that part of Sheboygan County. If the names and ages of the spouse and children correspond with those in the Tilden graveyard, the evidence would be pretty incontrovertible. Another Boettcher named Charles also served with the 45th as a commissioned Commisary Sergeant. Could he have been August's brother? Nearly 90,000 men were enlisted in Wisconsin during the war, only six were named Boettcher and these two served in the same unit. Looks like a distinct possibility to me. The 45th was formed at the beginning of 1865 and the men of the 45th only served for the first six months of that year. They were assigned to guard duty in Nashville. More than half of the men in Company B were listed as having been drafted into service and as such were not volunteers, although August Boettcher was listed as a volunteer..

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Happy New Year

I spent Christmas on a beach on a small island near the large island of Palawan, which separates the Sulu Sea from the South China Sea, and was windsurfing on the 26th in the hours immediately following the tsunami. We didn't learn about the wave until we arrived back in Manila on the 27th. Reaching our resort required a four engine propeller plane to get us to an unpaved landing strip in a clearing in the jungle, and a ten minute jeepney ride from there to the Verde River which is called that because it's green. Then a hike along the river to the launch which took us across the river to the outrigger or "bance" for an hour long ride down to the rivermouth and across the bay to the resort. The distance from the beach to a sheer limestone cliff was only about sixty feet, so all of the units were on stilts and built out over the water above the reef. A twenty or thirty foot wave where we were would have left noone alive to tell the tale. Several years ago the Abu Sayaf kidnapped guests from another resort in Palawan and it took nearly a year to rescue the victims, some of whom were killed in the battle with the kidnappers, so security was a bigger concern for us than tidal waves. A 24/7 squad of soldiers wearing combat fatigues and carrying M-16s was assigned to guard the resort, but they were very low profile. We really only saw them when we took boat trips to or from the resort. I think we were the only Americans there as the owner and most of the guests were Japanese.

I haven't yet figured out how to set up a blogroll, but when I do I'm sure I'll list the absent.canadian
who often writes posts concerning the American Civil War. I mention him now because of a link I found on his page for a site called Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. It's a network of online genealogy enthusiasts who volunteer to do lookups on request in the not yet virtual places where they happen to live. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure I will.