I was very thrilled
recently to obtain a photo of my great grandparents. It was
taken in 1859, the year they were married in Germany. They had four children,
three boys and a girl. All emigrated to the United States in 1880 and 1881.
Henri was a Lutheran minister. He died in route and was buried at sea. My grandfather, Charles
(Karl), had left Germany first along with several cousins and began working for a
railroad in Chicago. My great grandmother and the other siblings eventually
made it to rural Woodbury Minnesota, now a large eastern suburb of the Twin
Cities, where they established a farm. Later my grandfather moved to St. Paul where he raised his family of six children. They lived about 10 miles from his mother and siblings farm.
Here is the farm. I magnify the picture closer and closer. Horses, cattle, a dog, chickens, geese, farm implements, sheds and a house, partially hidden behind some trees, emerge. You can see some people. It appears there are both children and adults. I can't see their faces though. Nor know their individual stories. The year is 1908. One year before my father was born. The people are, no doubt, his Uncle, Aunts and cousins.
They call it genealogy. It is a subject of which I am quite ignorant. Woodbury in 1908 was a small rural crossroads east of St. Paul. Now it’s suburbia, with attendant housing developments and shopping malls. There my great grandmother established a farmstead on 160 acres with the help of several of her sons and a daughter.
They had left the German city of Bremen aboard the ship, General Werder. On that voyage my great grandfather (who was a Lutheran minister) developed pneumonia, died and was buried at sea. Charlotte (my great grandmother) and three of her children arrived at Castle Garden, Manhattan, New York on September 29, 1881.
It's a long and complicated story of which I know only bits and pieces. My grandfather, another of Charlotte’s sons, had arrived in Chicago a year earlier. There he was working for a railroad. He later moved to St. Paul, where he was employed as a railroad chef on transcontinental routes. There are large gaps in his story, which I would like to learn. I began by visiting a Methodist cemetery in Woodbury. This was the home church of his mother. Hopefully, there is more to be learned.