Thursday, July 28, 2005

Belleville, St. Clair County in the 1840s

Our Stumpf and Wenkel ancestors emigrated from Germany to Illinois in the 1830s, settling in northern Monroe County near the towns of Columbia and New Hanover. Map. The nearest "city" was Belleville, about 15 miles to the northeast of Columbia in St. Clair County (Map). Belleville's size (and proximity to St. Louis) brought many notables into town. The records they have left paint a picture of Belleville and the surrounding area in the mid-19th century.

In 1840, Abraham Lincoln (then a member of the Illinois state legislature) spoke in Belleville. "The audience did not think him much of a speaker. They heckled him for his story about a one-eyed horse. Belleville at the time was staunchly Democratic. Lincoln at this stage in his political career was a Whig." (Cahokia Beginnings - he was received much more warmly in 1856)

In 1842 the English novelist Charles Dickens travelled through St. Clair county on his way to the "Looking Glass Prairie" (now Lebanon), Illinois from St. Louis.

Belleville was a small collection of wooden houses, huddled together in the very heart of the bush and swamp. Many of them had singularly bright doors of red and yellow; for the place had been lately visited by a travelling painter, ‘who got along,’ as I was told, ‘by eating his way.’ The criminal court was sitting, and was at that moment trying some criminals for horse-stealing: with whom it would most likely go hard: for live stock of all kinds being necessarily very much exposed in the woods, is held by the community in rather higher value than human life; and for this reason, juries generally make a point of finding all men indicted for cattle-stealing, guilty, whether or no. . .

On his return to St. Louis, he described the Monks Mound in Cahokia and stranded new settlers, probably in the American Bottom.
After breakfast, we started to return by a different way from that which we had taken yesterday, and coming up at ten o’clock with an encampment of German emigrants carrying their goods in carts, who had made a rousing fire which they were just quitting, stopped there to refresh. And very pleasant the fire was; for, hot though it had been yesterday, it was quite cold to-day, and the wind blew keenly. Looming in the distance, as we rode along, was another of the ancient Indian burial-places, called The Monks’ Mound; in memory of a body of fanatics of the order of La Trappe, who founded a desolate convent there, many years ago, when there were no settlers within a thousand miles, and were all swept off by the pernicious climate: in which lamentable fatality, few rational people will suppose, perhaps, that society experienced any very severe deprivation.

The track of to-day had the same features as the track of yesterday. There was the swamp, the bush, and the perpetual chorus of frogs, the rank unseemly growth, the unwholesome steaming earth. Here and there, and frequently too, we encountered a solitary broken-down waggon, full of some new settler’s goods. It was a pitiful sight to see one of these vehicles deep in the mire; the axle-tree broken; the wheel lying idly by its side; the man gone miles away, to look for assistance; the woman seated among their wandering household gods with a baby at her breast, a picture of forlorn, dejected patience; the team of oxen crouching down mournfully in the mud, and breathing forth such clouds of vapour from their mouths and nostrils, that all the damp mist and fog around seemed to have come direct from them.
(from "American Notes" Chapter 13)

American Notes, 1850 Edition (page images, chapter 13 begins on page 122). Map of Dicken's Journey
Panoramic Map of Belleville, 1867

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

UPDATED: Land owned by George Stumpf & William Wenkel in Monroe County, Illinois

Esther Kraus was born in Monroe County, Illinois. Her grandparents and great-grandparents emigrated from Germany in the 1830s-1850s, probably in part because of the availability of land in America. Our ancestor Johann Georg "George" Stumpf (1804-1875) made several land purchases from the federal government. In contrast, Johann "Conrad" Wenkel purchased land already in the public domain.

Stumpf and Wenkel properties
in Monroe County as of 1875. [large image]

George Stumpf made three purchases in Monroe County. The purchased land was all in Township 1S, Range 10W, Section 28, which is in Columbia Township (formerly Eagle Precinct), between the towns of Columbia and New Hanover. On this 1875 map of Monroe County, section 28 is below the L in "EAGLE".

Because the land was purchased from the federal government, the original grants can be downloaded from the Bureau of Land Management Database.

Purchase Date - Description [all in Monroe Co., T1S R10W Section 28]
12/10/1836 --- E1/2SW 80 acres View Image
04/19/1839 --- SWSW 37.75 acres View Image
06/19/1839 --- SWSW 40 acres View Image

At the time the first purchase was made, George was living in adjacent St. Clair County. When the 1839 purchases were made, George was living in Monroe County, presumably on the first piece of land.

George's brother John Stumpf purchased land in the NWSW and SWSE portions of Section 28. According to an 1894 biography of John's son Fritz Stumpf, the land was purchased shortly after John (and presumably George) arrived from Germany. It was untamed wilderness:
He at once bought forty acres of land in this county and township, which was a wild and heavily timbered piece of land, and which is still a part of the present estate of our subject. The father worked hard and long to bring about its cultivation.
George and John still owned this land in 1875 . George died on November 25, 1875, and John died on September 4, 1878, passing the land to their heirs.

William Wenkel arrived with his parents Conrad and Henrietta (Bierwirth) Wenkel in Monroe County in the mid-1840s. By 1850, Conrad owned $3000 of real estate. He did not purchase land directly from the government - he was probably the second or third owner of the property that made up the Wenkel farm.

William Wenkel married Katharina Stumpf, George's daughter, in 1853. His father Conrad died in 1859, and it appears that William was living on the farm in T1S R10W (his older brother and widowed mother lived in the town of Columbia).

By 1875, William Wenkel owned several parcels of land, included a large tract in the northwest corner of R10W section 21 (the rectagular property that spans R11W section 24 and R10W section 19 - above the E in EAGLE on the
1875 map ). It isn't clear if this was the original Wenkel farm of the 1850s.

UPDATE: The 1918 Prairie Farmer's Directory of St. Clair and Monroe County lists Charles Wenkel, son of William Wenkel and Auguste Zweig, living on Columbia R1 in Columbia Precinct "24W" (probably the farm in section 24 listed for William Wenkel, above). His brother William is living on Columbia R1, Columbia Prt. 35W, on the land owned by Walter Huch.

On Section 28 were living Fred Stumpf (1855-1928, married to Theresa Schueler), son of the immigrant John Stumpf and William E Stumpf, son of Fred. Note that the two sons of George Stumpf were not listed: son John died before 1900, and had no surviving sons; son Henry and family moved to St. Louis before 1880.

UPDATE: The 1953 Monroe County Plat Book shows that Charles Wenkel, probably the son of our ancestor William Wenkel (who died in 1905) and Auguste Zweig had land in R11W Section 24. This to appears to be part of the the Wenkel farm of 1875.

Members of the Stumpf family still owned land in R10W in Section 28, and adjacent Section 33 near the border of Columbia and New Hanover Precincts. The land in section 28 is the same as that purchased by John and George Stumpf in the 1830s.

Related links:
How to figure out the location of a land purchase.
• The Illinois Public Land Tract Database records the initial sale of public land.
Bureau of Land Management Database.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Emigrants from Michelbach, Hessen: the Eckert Family

Our ancestor Margaretha Eckert, born August 7, 1848 in Michelbach, Hessen emigrated to America some time before April 1862, when she was confirmed at St. Paul's Evangelical Church in Columbia, Illinois. Five years later she married Daniel Krauss.

Several other Eckert emigrants also settled in the Columbia area. Emigration records from the Hessen archives help us sort out the relationships between these families.

Leonard Eckert and Family
The Hessen archives list the following family in their emigrant data:

Eckert, Leonhard, 54 years old, Ackerer (farmer), Lutheran
Herkunft (origin): Fränkisch-Crumbach.
Auswanderungsdatum (emigration date): 1856-02-22
Ziel(goal): Amerika, USA.
Ehepartner (wife): Margaretha, geb. Schäfer (44 years old)
Kinder (children): Johannes (17), Valtin (14), Margaretha (5)

A second set of records shows the family actually originated from Michelbach near Fränkisch-Crumbach. Map showing Michelbach just southeast of Fränkisch-Crumbach.

The family probably came from Hessen to America on the Ship "Saratoga" (Liverpool to New York, arriving May 2, 1856. (Germans to America Vol. 10).

Leonard Eckert and family have not yet been found in the 1860 Census. It is possible that they did not immediately settle in Illinois after arriving in America.

It appears that Leonard and Margaret had twin daughters Margaret and Elisabeth, born in 1856 and confirmed at St. Paul's Evangelical in Columbia in May 1870.

In 1870, Leonard Eckert, his wife Margaret, son Valentin and son John with his wife Julia (Bergman) Eckert and their children were living together in Columbia.

So, is this our Margaretha's family? Probably not.
- Leonard's daughter Margaret who came with the family from Hessen was born about 1850, about two years later than our Margaretha. No record of Margaret has been found in America, and it is possible she died as a child.

- Leonard's daughter Margaret, born in 1856, married Adam Harres.

- Most importantly, our Margaretha's confirmation record (1862) indicates that her parents were "J. Eckert and Johanna Dahmer".

Margaretha and Phillip Eckert

The Hessen archives list other Eckert emigrants from Michelbach:

Eckert, Marg.,
Herkunft: Michelbach
Auswanderungsdatum: 1854-10-07
Ziel: Amerika, USA
Bemerkungen: Route über Havre.
The source of these records was the Erbach district rather than Frankische Crumbach.
On the same date a "Ph. Eckert" also emigrated from Michelbach.
Unfortunately, no age is given for either "Marg." or "Ph."

We know that a Phillip Eckert, born March 29, 1828 in Michelbach married Julia Bergmann in about 1860, probably in Monroe County, Illinois. They had four children: Phillip, Margaret "Grettchen", Elisabetha, and Margaretha. Phillip died in 1868. Julia then married John Eckert, son of Leonard, described above. Julia and John had six children: Daniel, Valentin, George and two sons and a daughter who died young.

Margaretha Eckert was confirmed at St. Paul's Evangelical in Columbia in April 1862. She married Daniel Krauss at St. Paul's Evangelical in Columbia in November 1867.

Is our Margaretha the sister of Phillip? Probably.

- In 1854 she would have been 6 years old. It is unlikely that she could have travelled to America alone. However, if the Phillip listed is the one that settled in Monroe County, he would have been 26, certainly old enough to accompany her.

- Ida (Kraus) Schmidt, granddaughter of Margaretha (Eckert) Krauss wrote in a letter to Mrs. Viola (Wenkel) Meier and Mrs. Emma (Schroeder) Mann, that “Haberlah family, their father was a brother to Grandma Eckert Kraus”. Elisabeth "Lizzie" Eckert, daughter of Phillip Eckert and Julia Bergmann married William Haberleh in 1886.

Is our Margaretha the one the emigrated in 1854? unclear

- We have no hard information about Margaretha's immigration date. The 1900 census indicates that she immigrated in 1856. The 1910 Census indicates that she immigrated in 1863 (which is clearly wrong).

- We have no information at all about Phillip Eckert's immigration date, except that it was before 1860.

It looks like research in the original Michelbach records may be necessary to clear up the relationships between these Eckert families.

1848 Map of Hessen (Fränkisch-Crumbach is just northeast of Erbach in southeastern Hessen-Darmstadt).
Hessisches Archiv-Dokumentations- und Informations-System (Hessen archives - in German)

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Emigrants from Gross Zimmern, Hessen - George and John Stumpf

Our ancestor Johann Georg "George" Stumpf was born November 18, 1804 in Gross Zimmern in the Starkenburg region of Hessen, Germany. This was formerly in the Grand Duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt. We know that George arrived in Monroe County, Illinois by April 1836. However, emigration records from the Hessen state archives suggest that he emigrated with his brother John in 1834.

There are two entries for George in the Hessen archives "Auswanderungsdatum" (emigrant data). The combined information:
Stumpf, Georg
Herkunft (Origin): Groß-Zimmern.
Auswanderungsdatum (Emigration Date): 1834-12-10
Ziel (Goal): Amerika, USA.
Bemerkungen(Remarks): Ediktalladung vom 10.12.1834.
Bemerkungen (Remarks): mit (with) Johannes Stumpf, Groß-Zimmern

The information for Johannes "John" Stumpf is the same. John is almost certain George's brother, who was born in Gross Zimmern in 1809. The biography of Fritz Stumpf, John's son confirms that John emigrated in 1834 (Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, IL, 1894, page 351).

The Stumpf brothers may have initially stopped in Pennsylvania after arriving in America. The birthplace of George's eldest son, John, born 1835, is sometimes shown as Pennsylvania, and no record of George's marriage to Elizabeth Keim has been found in the Illinois marriage records*.

The first record of the Stumpf brothers in Illinois is the December 1836 purchase of 40 acres in Monroe County by George and 80 acres by John. At the time of their purchase they were living in neighboring St. Clair County.

* There was a marriage of a George Stump to Elizabeth Keim at St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church, Gettysburg, Adams, Pennsylvania on March 3, 1833. Record. If this record IS our George and Elizabeth, the immigration date is obviously incorrect.

1848 Map of Hessen (Gross Zimmern is a short distance east of the the city of Darmstadt in Hessen-Darmstadt).
Groß-Zimmern information
Hessisches Archiv-Dokumentations- und Informations-System (Hessen archives - in German)
•Previous post: Land owned by George Stumpf and William Wenkel in Monroe County, Illinois

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Emigrants from Oppenheim, Hessen: the Lepp Family

Wilhelm "William" Lepp was born in 1828 in Oppenheim. Today Oppenheim lies in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, but in the mid-19th century, it was in the state of Hessen-Darmstadt. William emigrated from Oppenheim with his mother, stepfather and two brothers and stepbrother in 1849.

The Hessen archives list the following family in their emigrant database:

Date: 1849-02
Ziel (Goal): Amerika, USA
Origin: Oppenheim
Reitz, Johann Gottfried (age 29) with Ehefrau (wife) Johanna geb. Leip und Sohn (son) Ludwig 3 J. (years) sowie Stiefsöhnen (stepsons) Friedrich Lepp, Wilhelm Lepp, Johann Lepp.

The rest of the family:
Reitz, Johanna nee Leip (age 44)
Lepp, Friedrich (age 24)
Lepp, Wilhelm (age 21), Bäcker (baker)
Lepp, Johann (age 15)
Reitz, Ludwig (age 3)

According to William's death record, he arrived in Waterloo November 21,1849. Not surprisingly the Reitz-Lepp family was living in Waterloo, Monroe County, Illinois when the 1850 Census was taken (p.85b):

Reitz John ___30 M Germany Farmer
Reitz Johanna 45 F Germany
Lepp Wm ______23 M Germany Baker
Lepp John ____15 M Germany
Reitz Louis ___4 M Germany

Friedrich was living in nearby St. Louis where he worked as a potter.

William lived in St. Louis for a year, then returned to Monroe County. He eventually settled in Columbia with his second wife, Pauline nee Wehinger and their children.

1848 Map of Hessen (Oppenheim is in southern Hessen-Darmstadt).
Hessisches Archiv-Dokumentations- und Informations-System (Hessen archives - in German)
History of Oppenheim with pictures in German. Includes Wappen (coat of arms), Geschichliches (history), Stadtrundgang (region, including history and photos of churches), Bauwerke (buildings), and Historische Ansichten (historical drawings). Translate text here
.Geschichtsverein Oppenheim (Oppenheim Historical Society - in German)
Things to see in Oppenheim

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