Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Looking Back at the Records

Right after I posted about John Friederich Berres, (1796-1872), I went back to FamilySearch.org 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.

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