Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mathias Berres Made the History Book

While doing some name searches on the Berres families that moved to Lakeville, Minnesota, I came across Mathias (gggrandfather of husband, Mark) in a history book.

The following biographies are from "History of Dakota County and the City of Hastings, including the Explorers and Pioneers of Minnesota , and Outlines of the History of Minnesota". By Rev. Edward D. Neill and J. Fletcher Williams. Published in Minneapolis by North Star Publishing Company, 1881.

Page 422

M. Berres - a native of Germany, was born in 1821. After reaching man's estate he came to America. proceeding from Quebec to Buffalo, New York, thence to Washington county, Wisconsin. Here he engaged in agricultural pursuits eleven years. Coming to Lakeville, Dakota  County, Minnesota, he purchased a farm on which he lived about seven years, then bought property in the village where he now lives. His wife was Miss Elizabeth Hammes, married in 1852. They have nine children living.

(And his son, John)

Page 422

John Berres - was born in Wisconsin, in 1853. When a lad of twelve years he moved with his parents to Owatonna, Minnesota, and soon after to Lakeville. After attaining man's estate he purchased a farm from his father, and has since continued in agricultural pursuits. In 1876, he was married to Miss Mary Simons. Mary B., Catherine and Lena are their children.

Now all I have to do is run down to DCHS (Dakota County Historical Society), find the book and see if there are pictures in it!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why Wisconsin?

Why Wisconsin? 

Why in 1846 would so many families from Germany uproot and come settle in Wisconsin? 

 I think I may have found one possible anwer to this question. On the Wisconsin Historical Society webpage there is this entry about Carl Hasse and the booklet he wrote encouraging his fellow countrymen to go to Wisconsin.

A German emigrant guidebook, 1841
Schilderung des Wisconsingebietes in Nordamerika (Description of Wisconsin Territory in North America)

     "Carl E. Hasse (1802-1872) came from his home near Leipzig, Germany, to visit Wisconsin in 1838. He stayed several months and wrote this 80-page pamphlet when he returned. In it he says he doesn't want to persuade anyone to emigrate to America, but only to provide accurate information based on his own experiences to people who are thinking about it. His account is among a handful of works credited with starting the large-scale immigration of Germans to Wisconsin which peaked after the country's failed 1848 revolution. Hasse immigrated to Wisconsin with his family about 1845, settling in Greenfield, outside Milwaukee. He became a community leader, serving as a justice of the peace and elected twice to the state Assembly (1852 and 1859). After the Civil War, he appears to have followed his eldest son's family to Missouri, where he died in 1872.

     Hasse's pamphlet is extremely rare: only three copies exist in U.S. libraries. This one may have belonged to the author, since it was given to the Wisconsin Historical Society by his granddaughter, the influential librarian Adelaide Hasse (1868-1953). It is entirely in German and printed in the Fraktur script; no English translation is known to exist. Following the text is a large map of Wisconsin and Iowa territories, with an inset of the settled portion of southern Wisconsin, dated 1841."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - RoseMary Berres

Wordless Wednesday – a great way to share your old family photos! Create a post with the main focus being a photograph or image. Some posters also include attribute information as to the source of the image (date, location, owner, etc.). Wordless Wednesday is one of the longest running “memes” in the blogosphere and is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Letter Back Home to Germany - 1846

Michael Rodenkirch, having emigrated from Germany to Wisconsin, wrote in a letter dated December 26, 1846, to his mother and siblings back in Germany:

     "Meat is not too expensive here and almost in all America they have meat three times a day.  Those who are living here two or three years have a larger number of swine, which for almost the entire year find their feed in the woods, and cattle get too fat in the woods which means no deduction for the owner.  There is not much trouble connected with keeping the cattle here,  The cattle are not fed in the barns as in Germany.  Here everything is different from what it is at home with you.
     Dishes of all kinds are expensive here, but they are good.  Bring but one axe with you when you come.  The axes in Germany are worth nothing; here they are better -  they had good ones.  Do not bring chains along, here they are better.  Do not bring much tin ware as there is enough of it here,  Across the ocean an iron pot or kettle and a sauce pan are best for cooking purposes.  Tin ware does not last long.
      For the voyage across the ocean take among some Zwieback, also bran flour and wheat flour; take much of this.  Potatoes if you can get them are the best vegetable.  Also ham, butter, brandy, and a small cask of wine, if you can.  Spices, coffee, sugar, and everything that you can , take this all along, for on the ocean trip, because on the ship you can get nothing, even for money.  There on the ocean you see nothing but sky and water for over a thousand miles, nothing but water; whoever plans to go to the woods to live there should provide himself with many shoes and boots, also some good strong clothing.  However, you can get enough supplies on the way and also here.  Do not bring many dishes, as it will do you no good as they have good things here in that line.  Money is the best thing you can bring along.  Bring some waffle irons and cake pans along."

He continues his letter, telling of the trip across the ocean, of how to acquire land from the government, how the nearby Indians lived, and how safe they felt living in this wilderness amoung others from Europe. 

Fr. Peregrin, in his notes of THE BERRES FAMILY CIRCLE wrote of John Berres and his travels to America that after 66 of traveling across the ocean, landing in Quebec as they had been blown off course by storms, and finally reaching Milwaukee ( 84 days from start to finish - or just shy of 3 months!), they loaded their belongings on wagons drawn by oxen and started their two day walk to St. Michael's, Wisconsin.  (St Michael's is about 50 miles NNW from Milwaukee).  Land was going for approx.$1 an acre and you could get 640 acres for about $800. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

John F Berres Comes to Wisconsin

At last report, John F. Berres and family left Germany in 1847.  They settled down in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, where daughter Anna Maria was born on March 25, 1848.  For all of us mothers, that meant that not only did Christina uproot from all was familiar, take seven children to a strange, new land, but also would be in the first few months of a new pregnancy.  Now that is a pioneer spirit!  Two years later another daughter would join the family, Susanna, born February 13, 1850. 

Within 10 years time, according to the 1860's census, John and Christina would have three children at home, Casper, Anna and Susanna. 

Mathias, the oldest, had gotten married in November, 1852 to Elizabeth Hammes.  By 1860 they had 4 children, three of whom were still living, John, Margaret and Jacob.  Nicholas, next in line after Mathias, also had gotten married, to Elizabeth's sister Catherine the same year, 1852.  They had 3 sons, John, Herbert, and Nicklaus.  Brother John married a girl whose family also came over and settled in Wisconsin, Catherine Rodermund on September 8, 1852.  They had one daughter, Maria and two sons, Thomas and Peter by 1860.

Also out on his own was brother Thomas.  He had gotten married in 1856 to Anna Marie Bendel and they was 1 daughter, Elizabeth Berres.  1852 was a popular year as sister, Margaret also got married to Nicholas Schmitz.  This would be four weddings in one year!   By 1860 they also had 4 youngsters running around, Philip, Nicholas Mathias and Margaret.

Brother Peter was 22, not married, but not listed as at home with his folks, John and Christina.   I need to keep looking for his place of residence for that year. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Looking Back at the Records

Right after I posted about John Friederich Berres, (1796-1872), I went back to to verify what I had listed from Fr. Peregrin.  I found records that has his father Nicholas having more brothers and sisters that were not listed on the family circle.  For those who have their own list, I have found the following:

Mathias and Susanna (Weinand) Berres had the following children:
Margareta     born 08 Sep 1750
Nicholas     born 06 Aug 1754
Petrus     born 04 Jul 1758
Mathias     born 11 Dec 1764

(Let's get back to John F. Berres, son of Nicholas) 

John married Anna Berres (no relation) March 12, 1816 back in the old homeland of Kennfus, Germany.  They had ten children:

Gertrude, born Nov 28, 1818 and lived for two and a half years - June 25, 1821.

Mathias was born a short time later on October 26, 1821.  He eventually emigrated to the USA, finally settling in Lakeville, MN.  He passed away on June 5, 1896.

Nicholas was the third child born on July 20, 1824.  He emigrated to Wisconsin and passed away on June 5, 1865.

Next was John, born June 25, 1827, also lived in Wisconsin until his death on June 12, 1898.

Thomas was the fifth child, born on March 5, 1832.  He also eventually settled in Lakeville, MN.  He passed away on January 26, 1898, a few months prior to his sibling, John.

On Feb 2, 1834, Margaret was born into the world, also settling down in Wisconsin when she passed on January 4, 1909.

Following next in line was Peter, born August 1, 1837.  He too wound up in Lakeville, MN until he died on December 31, 1911.

In October 1841, Anna, mother of 6 living children, the oldest being 20 years old and the youngest being 4 years, passed away. John remarried 2 years later to Christine Lehnan, thirteen years his junior. This marriage added Casper, born May 3, 1844. Casper wound up in Lakeville, MN where he passed away 72 years later on October 31, 1916.

FR. Peregrin wrote in THE BERRES FAMILY CIRCLE -
"John Berres owned 26 acres of land near Kennfus, but with a family of seven children it was not enough to make a good living on, so they decided in the early part of 1847 to come to America.  the passport shows the date, April 25, 1847.

At that time there was a threat of war starting again.  Mathias, an elder son, had been drafted, but he got another man to take his place in the Army, so he could come along to America.  Anna Berres, first wife of John Berres, died October 4, 1841, and is buried at Kennfus, Germany.  The family included Christina Lehnen, 2nd wife of John, and seven children: Mathias, Nicholas, John, Thomas, Margaret, Peter, and Casper.  They sold the farm and whatever they didn't want to bring along to America and started the trip to the USA. "

In a letter written by Michael Rodenkirch, one of the first settler's living at St. Michael's, Wisconsin to his family and friends in Germany, he wrote:

State of Wisconsin, 
December 26, 1846

My dearest Mother and all my sisters and Brothers, Brothers-in-law, sisters-is-law, Relatives and Acquaintances, my heartfelt greetings to you all: 

We are all, praise be to God, healthy and well and hope the same of you.  I hope that by this time you will have received my letter of October 22nd and will have learned from it where we are located and what happened to us on the journey.  In case you received the letter, i hope some news from you will be on the way.  Again I will give you a brief account of the journey."

He goes and tells of how much it would cost to travel from Cochemm, Germany to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It sounds a little like "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" except that it is "Train, Ship, Steamship, Train, then Steamboat"   Imagine bring along everything you own, small children in tow, and not knowing where exactly you will end up!

Michael continues in his letter home:" The journey across the ocean lasts 52 days, but thanks be to God, all went well.  the trip through America until here took 18 days.  We were three weeks in Milwaukee until we had bought our land.  Whoever wishes to make this trip, is warned to carefully guard his money.  With us were some people from Brohl on the Mayfeld.  In Albany 2200 Thaler was stolen from them.  Their misery was great.  So far I do not know whether they got it back.  They could not continue their journey.

Every day on the trip costs money and we have heard of several others from whom money was stolen.  here int he woods we hear nothing about thievery.  Almost no one has a lock on his door.  No wild animals are here to harm men and cattle; so far I have not seen or heard of any snakes.  The animals which live in the woods here are foxes and badgers, deer, roes, rabbits, game birds, partridges and other birds.  Regarding plants and herbs we have here, strawberries, raspberries, watercress, wild blackberries, wild grape vines almost everywhere, as well as wild herbs or plants on which the cattle feed.

There are many kinds of wood: 2 kinds of sugarwood of which I have over half, 4 kinds of oak wood, large havy Linden trees, nut trees, and a kind of reddish wood called ironwood.  This gets so hard when it is dry that no iron nail can be driven into it.  Of beechwood I have little; ashwood is our fuel, we can chop that easily.  The ash trees we chop down are dragged to the house by oxen and used for firewood.  I have many larch trees, tamarack of immense size.  The rotten and fallen trees lie crosswise thwart each other so that we an hardly get through the woods.  My greatest joy is to browse around in the woods and see trees very tall ones of which 40 or 50 feet at the bottom is without branches and these are very beautiful.  I still have not been able to examine all the sections of my land.

For a long time to come my children will not have to think of dividing the land.  They can select the best places for dwellings and then cast lots where each will live.  Our grandchildren need not fear St. Martin's day (November 11) as the date for paying the final installments on purchase of land.  All of them love one another and see to it that they have enough to live on.  Here, too, I can enjoy some good days in my old age which I could not do in Germany.  We live very well here, as almost every day we have meat three times except Fridays and other abstinence days when we don't eat any.  Every day we have white bread, like Witlicher rolls.  Fruit is of a much better quality than in Germany.

Dear Mother, if you are still alive and if you were here, I do not think you would want to return to Germany; and you my sisters and brothers, I would like to wish you all over here, if I knew you would be as contented as I am here.  I have never regretted my journey here.  I always had good courage.  We all do not wish ourselves back in Germany to live and to stay there.  I have often asked our youngest if they wish to go back home and they say, "No, not for a thousand dollars".

The letter goes on for many more pages and I will relay them at a later point as we continue on looking back down the Berres family tree.

Branches from the forest

When one starts a genealogy blog, you have no idea who may read it or what family knowledge they have of this really big tree.  There is so much to tell and one can only take it slow.  I am married to Mark.  His parents are James E Goossens and RoseMary Berres.   For now, I'm going to follow the Berres trail, starting with his great-great-great(ggg) grandfather, John Friederich Berres.  John Berres was born in Kennfus, Germany, on September 18, 1796.  He was the youngest of 7 children born to Nicholas and Anna Margaretha (Sausen) Berres.  His brothers and sisters have names that have been carried forth down the Berres line, as was the tradition then.

Johan Frederich Berres b. 18 Feb 1779
Anna Maria Berres b. 09 Apr 1781
Maria Eva Berres b. 11 May 1783
Mathias Berres b. 24 Jun 1786
Anna Berres b. 22 Feb 1789
Johan Nicholas Berres b. 28 Jul 1791
John (Joannes) Friederich Berres b. 18 Sep 1796

When you search on you can find the listings of all of these children from German records.  When Fr. Peregrin was working on his list, he had friends and cousins over in Germany who would research church records for him.  How easy it is now to look from the armchair.

Fr. Peregrin wrote "They lived in the village of Kennfus on Dorf Street, house number 6, in West Germany.  Their farm was located about 8 miles west of Cochem, which is on the Moselle river. 


The Berres family had their farm near Kennfus, which is a small farm village with farms all around, which is the custom to this day in Germany and most of Europe.
Bad Bertich 1900
The area where the Berres families lived is called the Rheinland and north of the Moselle river it is known as the Eifel. The rugged, hilly landscape in this part of Germany was formed by volcanic eruptions in the distant past, and in these fertile valleys between the hills is where the people have their farms.
They have their house and barn in the same building...

Kennfus now has about 25 houses, and a hotel, church, cemetery, and post office.  For their shopping they go to Bad Bertrich, which is about 2 miles to the southeast. 

Bad Bertich is a noted Mineral Bath Spa and has many stores, also hotels, where people can live while they are taking treatments in the warm spring waters, also have church and cemeteries; many of our ancestors are buried at Kennfus and Bad Bertich."

Gooseberries - And So We Start

I've had such fun writing about my family tree that today I will embark on writing about my husband's, Mark, side of the family.  This blog will follow the Goossens and the Berres family lines, and hence the name "Gooseberries".  Back in 1982, Fr. Peregrin Berres (1930-1999) compiled THE BERRES FAMILY CIRCLE, a multi-sheet extravaganza with many circles and families and names.  It also contained interesting side notes and letters, which I hope to include here.  But of most interest is the personal note he wrote about why he undertook this task.  He wrote, "But, the names and dates and places are just a beginning of the story that THE BERRES FAMILY CIRCLE contains.  Each person in the family has a unique story to tell.  Everyone of us has stories to learn, to cherish and to pass on.  There is much to share.  Cousins will ask their grandmothers, 'Tell us your story.'  These special stories are attached to family traditions.  Their memory brings special moments to savor.  Favorite recipes and foods, special chairs or books, favorite things to do, places to go and see.  Each family has special ways of celebrating Christmas and birthdays.  Favorite stories about traditional gifts for special occasions that bring families together.  Stories, gifts, rituals and traditions are like 'old family reunions' even when everyone can't be there.  The stories bring them back."

I hope that I can help continue to tell those stories and traditions.