Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hockemeier -- quite a name!

We all are given two sets of biological grandparents and four sets of great-grandparents.  For Lizzie Reiter Metzner (1874 - 1958) we have already looked at one set, the Schoppmans, who immigrated in the mid-1840s and settled in the Fort Wayne area.  Another set of Lizzie’s great-grandparents are circled in yellow on the right. They are Fridrich Wilhelm (William) Hockemeier (1782-1854) and his wife, Sophie Wilhelmine (Mena) Busching (1792-?).

The Hockemeiers settled in the Fort Wayne area about the same time as the Schoppman, and they came from the same area in northwest Germany. But the Hockemeiers have been one of the hardest families to research.  That’s mostly because there are dozens of variations on their last name – Hockemeyer, Hachmyer, Hookemeyer, Hokemyer, etc. etc. etc.  And to top it off, many of the boys born in the family were called William, Fred, Henry, or Herman.  They are all over the place in Allen County which makes for a giant puzzle that’s been hard to piece together.  There are 15 individual family trees on for the Hockemeiers.  Each is slightly different, and not always for the better. I chalk it up to the fact that all these researchers have been having an equally difficult time with this family.

The Hockemeiers’ German records have been easier to find than their American counterparts -- that’s because the Lutheran Church in Germany has kept phenomenal records since the 1700s. An untold number have been microfilmed by the Mormans.

Our William was born in the small village of Buchholz in Minden-Westfalen, Prussia on 29 October 1782.  Mena was born in Ovenstadt on 6 Mar 1792.  Their marriage is recorded in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Buchholz (left) on 27 Aug 1819, as are the baptisms of their six children.  One of those children, Caroline Sophie Louise Hockemeier, would eventually marry Johann Dietrich Friedrich Schoppman, bringing together the two family names. 

LEFT: Evangelical Lutheran Church at Buchholz, built in the 13th century.

It is unknown when William and Mena came to the U.S. but they were here by 1850 living in Marion Township, Allen County, Indiana, as recorded in the 1850 U.S. Census.  By then, William is along in years.  At 70 he is listed with no occupation. His son Frederick, age 24, is working as a laborer and is likely the breadwinner in the family.

ABOVE: 1850 Census of Indiana, Allen County, Marion Township lists the Hacamyer [sic] family:

William, age 70, male, no occupation, real estate value $300, born Germany, cannot read or write (probably English)
Mena, age 60, female, born Germany
Frederick, age 24, male, laborer, born Germany
Rosetta, age 19, female, born Germany
Henry, age 13, male, born Germany, attended school in previous year

The facts outlined here seem to be universally agreed upon by Hockemeier researchers, including that William died on 23 October 1854. No one has found a record of death or burial for Mena, though one researcher claims she died in 1897, which would have made her 105 -- it’s possible but probably not likely.  We may never know what happened to Mena following the death of William.

William’s and Mena’s time in the U.S. may not have been long but four of their children thrived here, had big families, and many of their descendants continue to live in Allen County.  In the next blog we’ll look at more of the Hockemeiers, especially their connection with the Schoppmans.  

RIGHT: Cemetery Marker, St. John Lutheran Cemetery Bingen, in Decatur, Indiana.  Text is written in German and translates as follows:

Here rests with God, Wilhelm Hockemeier, born in Buchholz, county of Minden, [state] of Prussia, died on 23 Oct. 1854, age 71 years [the remainder is illegible] 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The First Schoppman Immigrants

Lizzie Reiter Metzner
The ancestors of my great-grandmother, Lizzie Reiter Metzner, arrived in America in the 1840s and settled in Allen County and Adams County, Indiana – basically the Fort Wayne area.  It’s not easy to piece the earliest immigrants’ lives together when all you have is names, places, and dates.  We have no anecdotal information from oral tradition, letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, or photographs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t put together a reasonable picture of who they were.  Let’s start with Lizzie’s great-grandparents on the Schoppman side. 

In the family tree below, Lizzie’s great-grandparents are circled in orange -- Heinrich Conrad Schoppman, better known as Conrad, and Anne Margrethe Sophie Dorothea Turnau, who went by Margaret.   Conrad and Margaret were both born in the little village of Ilvese, in a region called Westphalen (or Westfalen) Prussia -- Conrad on July 9, 1791 and Margaret on Feb. 3, 1795. 

Their baptisms were recorded in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Heimsen, Westphalen, as was their marriage on August 24, 1817.  Six weeks later Margaret gave birth to their first child, a boy. In all, they had 9 children between 1817 and 1837.  Four, and perhaps six, made it to adulthood.

-          Heinrich Friedrich Conrad Schoppmann, b. 11 Oct 1817; death unknown

-          Sophie Wilhelmine Luise Lisette Schoppmann, b. 11 Nov 1819; death unknown

-          *Johann Dietrich Friedrich Schoppmann, b. 23 Nov 1821; d. 28 Jan 1903 Indiana

-          Heinrich Conrad Wilhelm Ferdinand Schoppman, b. 16 Feb 1824, d. 6 Feb 1904 Indiana

-          Sophie Luise Lisette Amalie Schoppmann, b. 11 Nov 1826, d. 2 May 1827 Germany

-          Johan Friederich Hermann Schoppmann, b. 4 Mar 1829, d. 18 Mar 1829 Germany

-          Sophie Wilhelmine Friederike Schoppmann, b. 27 Nov 1830, d. 22 Oct 1839 Germany

-          Karolina Wilhelmine Luise Schoppmann, b. 29 Aug 1833, d. 18 Jul 1905 Indiana

-          Sophie Luise Lisette Schoppmann, b. 3 May 1837, d. 13 Mar 1920 Indiana

*our ancestor

The year that Conrad brought his family to America is unknown.  Lengthy search of passenger records have revealed only one sketchy record which may indicate that they arrived as early as 1841. It has so little detail that I can’t say for certain that it’s the correct family.  But no other obvious family is listed in the passenger records after that, so the 1841 record may be correct.

The first record of this family in America is the 1850 Federal Census for Indiana.   On 2 October 1850, Conrad and two of his sons’ families are recorded in close proximity to each other in Madison Township, Allen County, Indiana.  Their last name is recorded as Shuckman, which is probably how it sounded to the census taker when one of the family members -with a thick German accent- recited their last name.

1850 Federal Census, Madison Township, Allen County, Indiana

Notice in the census record above that brothers Dedrick[sic] and Wm[William] are listed next to each other, presumably because they lived on adjoining property.  Their father Conrad is recorded several families down the list. He is living with his wife Margaret and two daughters, Mena (short for Wilhelmine) age 17, and Eliza (for Lisette) age 13.  Dedrick and Conrad are laborers – probably working as farm hands until they can purchase their own property.  William is a farmer.

By 1860, all three men have their own land.  According to the U.S. Agricultural Schedule for Allen County, Conrad owned 10 acres. This would have been sufficient to grow food for his own table, tend to some chickens and a dairy cow, and trade some of his production for goods at the local general store.  The Population Census for that year shows that their grandson Henry, the 11-year-old son of William, is living with them. He is there almost certainly to help around the farm and also to relieve some of the financial burden from his father, a common practice.

William was doing the best with 170 acres of land.  Deadrick[sic], our direct ancestor, owned 70 acres. An 1860 plat map of Madison Township shows the location of their property, though the map’s acreage for each person is different than reported in the Agricultural Schedule.

Our Schoppmann families owned property in sections 30 and 31 of Madison Township.  The three blue lines above underline their names.  Top line is a simple "W.S." and 30 acres.  The vertical line highlights D. Shuckman with two pieces of property, each at 40 acres.  And the angled line is for "W. Schuckman" and another 40 acres.  It appears that Conrad, their father, owned the 10 acre strip of land in section 30, right between "W.S." and the D. Schuckman's property. Someday a visit to the Allen County Courthouse will help verify the location and quantity of their property --                     and I'll get a better map!!!

By 1870, Conrad and Margaret are living alone at the advanced age of 79.  According to the census record it appears they no longer own the 10 acres of land since the column for real estate value is unmarked. Given their age, they may have sold it to one of their sons.  Their personal property value was only $100, so they were living quite a simple life – a bed, table and chairs, some bedding, clothes, a few dishes, and perhaps a washtub for laundry. 

                  Shopman Coonrod, age 79, male, white, farmer, property value $100, born in Prussia
                          Shopman Margaret, age 79, female, white, keeping house, born in Prussia

The 1880 History of Allen County, Indiana includes one settler’s recollection of life in Madison Township in the 1840s. Our Schoppman ancestors probably lived in a very similar way:  

      In the erection of our dwellings, we used neither lumber, shingles, nor nails. The shell was made of round logs, covered with clapboards and weighted with poles. The floors were made of puncheons, and the doors of the same material, fastened together with pins, and hung on wooden hinges, with a wooden latch on the inside, to which was attached a buckskin thong, to open it from without. For window-glass, we used paper, well oiled with tallow or lard; and in lieu of stoves, we cut out a part of one end of the house, and built a “crib,” within which we erected back walls and jambs of clay, well packed by pounding. Our chimneys were built of mud and sticks, and our houses generally contained but one room, which served the purpose of parlor, bedroom and kitchen.
     We had but little money, and but little need of it. Our rifles supplied us with meat in abundance, and we raised our corn, potatoes and wheat. Deerskins, mink and coon skins were the only articles that would, at all times, command money. They almost constituted our currency.

     We were obliged to work hard, but we enjoyed good health, and were as sociable as brothers and sisters. There were no doctors, and no attorneys; and in fact, we had but little employment for the talent of either profession.

The newspapers in Fort Wayne are a treasure-trove of genealogical information, and I’ve found a slew of obituaries for our family, but not for our Conrad and Margaret.  They had lived in the county for about 30 years so I’m disappointed to not find a nice obituary for each with a little summation of their lives.  Nevertheless, their deaths were officially recorded in the Death Records of Allen Co., Indiana. 
Con Schoppman was recorded as 82 years old, having died of old age on March 31, 1873. Margaret Schoppman’s death record notes that she too died of old age, at 80 years and 6 months. She died on January 9, 1875 and is buried next to her husband at Saint John Lutheran Cemetery in Adams County, Indiana.  Their markers have not been found.

View of Saint John Lutheran Cemetery in Decatur, Adams County, Indiana

Their son, Johann Dietrich Friedrich Schoppman (1821-1903), carries on their name for another generation in our family tree.   

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Our German Ancestors

It was 9th grade at Ridgeview Junior High when I got an assignment in English to write a paper on my ancestors.   I was fortunate that all my grandparents were living and I could ask each of them about their parents and grandparents.  What I got was names and some anecdotal information.  Of all the papers I’ve written through school – including all the way through graduate school – that little 9th grade English paper is the only one I’ve ever kept.  Yep! Still have it.  Obviously you can see where my priorities have been for the last 40 some odd years. 

As simplistic as the information was, it proved to be extremely helpful, especially in tracking down some lines of the family that I had little connection with as a youngster.  In particular, my Grandpa Al Metzner’s mother’s family – the Reiters and Schoppmanns of Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Lizzie Reiter Metzner, ca. 1920
The Reiter side of the family begins with Grandpa Al’s mother, Lisetta “Lizzie” Reiter (1874-1958).  She was a Midwest girl – born and bred in Indiana.  Her parents were Conrad Reiter and Sophie Schoppmann.  Conrad and his parents were the immigrants on the Reiter side.  Sophie’s parents and two sets of grandparents were the immigrants on the Schoppmann side.  

Both of the families came from the area of Westphalia in northwest Germany and arrived in America in the mid-1840s.  We don’t know why they decided to come to America but I suspect it was to find better opportunities.  The website ic.galegroup. com explains it quite well …

  • Although political turbulence and religious repression in Europe triggered small waves of German migration to the United States, most historians note that the mass migrations were mainly motivated by the desire for economic opportunity and prosperity. For many years rural Germans had lived on small family farms. As the German states faced industrialization, the old way of rural life was quickly disappearing. Many were forced to move into cities and learn new skills. Yet, with unemployment in Germany rising, the cities did not always hold much hope. Among those who emigrated, some had few options left in Germany and sought more opportunity. Steady migrations were ongoing starting in the early nineteenth century. 

The Reiter/Schoppmann family came from the area in Westfalen (Westphalia) circled in white.

For anyone who has moved away from home, you know how tough it can be.  There is uncertainty, fear, and loneliness, but also some excitement about what may lie ahead.  But when I think about these migrations of our ancestors – leaving their home, their family, their friends – I think it must have been gut-wrenching.  They didn’t have the instant communication we have today and for many it could take months to hear from a loved one back home; and, in most cases families would never see each other again.  Based on that factor alone, taking the leap to emigrate seems to have been a very brave thing to do.  I do, however, find one comfort in the fact that, for most 19th century immigrants to America, they came in family groups or with friends. So, perhaps, not such a lonely prospect after all.
That is almost certainly what happened with our Reiter/Schoppmann and extended families. Several family groups came in the mid-1840s and all settled in a small are of Adams County, Indiana. 

Lizzie Reiter’s ancestors came over in 2-4 groups.  I say 2-4 because I have only found the passenger records for two groups.  The others came at different times--together or separately we don't know since I’ve yet to find their passenger records.

Here are the immigration facts that we know:

On 19 Oct. 1844, a small group of people arrived at the Port of New York on the passenger ship Charleston.  All were destined for “Washington.”       I am almost certain that meant Washington Township in Adams County, Indiana.  The group included two brothers, Henry and Dietrich Schoppmann; Dietrich’s future wife Sophie Hakemeyer; and two others who may have been family friends – Friedrich Meyer and Karoline Emme. Dietrich Schoppmann and Sophie Hakemeyer (Hockemeier) [circled in green above] were the grandparents of our Lizzie Reiter. 

    Henry Schoppmann 26 [male] Butcher New York Washington
     Dietrich ditto           22 [male]  Farmer  Prussia      ditto 
     Sophia Hakemeyer  23 female  Farmgirl Westphalen  ditto

What is interesting about this record is that it appears to indicate that Henry Schoppman was already living in America when he arrived on this particular passage. The record identifies him as a butcher in New York City. That tells me he immigrated at an earlier date then went back to Germany, perhaps to encourage and bring others back with him.
At some point, Henry and Dietrich Schoppmann’s parents (circled in orange above) and siblings also emigrated to America, as did Sophie Hockemeier’s parents and siblings (circled in navy blue), but the records of those journeys have also not been found.

The other family that has been found is circled in red – the Reiters.  This family immigrated to the U.S. and landed at the Port of Baltimore on 2 August 1845 -- father Friedrich, mother Elisabeth (Lizzetta), and seven children. The youngest, Conrad (Lizzie Reiter’s father), was just three years old.  Conrad’s younger brother, Johann Herman, was born 14 days after they arrived.  One can only imagine the discomfort of that 2-month voyage for a very pregnant Lizzetta.  

    Friedr. Reyter [from Selenfeld]  [farmer]  [destination Baltimore] age 46
      Elisab.  same as above                                                                     age 44
      Louise   same                                                                                   age 22
      Fried.     same                                                                                   age 20
      Wilh      same                                                                                   age 18
      Diedr     same                                                                                   age 15
      Sophie   same                                                                                   age 12
      Heinr.    same                                                                                   age   8
      Conr.     same                                                                                   age   3
The Reiter family settled in Adams County, Indiana by 1848 as evidenced by Friedrich Reiter’s 1848 Naturalization document.  It states:

I Frederick Reiter an alien, do make the following report of myself, to wit I am a native of the Canton of Windheim in Prussia born on the 2nd day of January AD 1797.  I emigrated from the port of Bremen on the 2nd day of June AD 1845 and arrived at the Port of Baltimore in the United States of America, on the 2nd day of August AD 1845 and [one] my allegiance to Frederick William 4th King of Prussia and I reporte my sons and daughters as follows to wit Wilhelmina aged now 19 years, Diederick aged now about 18 years, Sophia aged 15 years, Henry aged 12 years, Conrad aged 7 years who came with me to the United States and who were then less than Eighteen years of age. And I do solemnly swear that it is bona fide my intention to become a citizen of the United States of America and of the state of Indiana, and I renounce and abjune forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign power potentate state and sovereignty whatever and [forhand____] to Frederick William Fourth King of Prussia.                        Signed Friderick Reider     Sworn to and subscribed before me the 28th day of November 1848, Samuel L. Rugg Clk 

And with that, our Reiter family became citizens of their new country. There is lots more to come...stayed tuned!