Tag Archives: 1800s

Tombstone Tuesday: Lorenz Stoehr (1790-1876)

Lorenz Stoehr was born in or near Weißenstadt, Upper Franconia, Bavaria, Germany, a village located a mere twenty miles from what is now the Czech Republic.1 Weißenstadt was named “white city” as a nod to its landmark white church, and is situated on the shore of a lake in the Fichtel Mountains.2 From the inscription on Lorenz’s tombstone, his birthdate can be calculated to 04 September 1790.3

As a young man, Lorenz served approximately six years in the military during the Napoleonic Wars, first under Napoleon and then, as allegiances shifted, with the Germans.4 As the story goes, he was eventually wounded on a march to Paris and was then discharged and granted a pension.5 Lorenz was trained as a master tailor, a trade he pursued during the winter months as the summer months were consumed with his labors as a farmer.6 Amazingly, several mementos of these chapters of his life survive today: buttons from his military uniform, his discharge and pension paperwork which granted him the amount of five Gulden each month for the remainder of his life, and an 1828 purchase agreement for approximately one and a half acres of land in the Weißenstadt area.7

Lorenz was married to Barbara Feicht in 1820 or shortly thereafter, and with her had the following known children: Margaretha B. (1824-1897), Johann Wolfgang (1826-1883), Eva Margaretha (1831-1906), George Adam (1833-1915), and Johann Friedrich (1842-circa 1857).8

In 1853, at the age of sixty-two, Lorenz arrived in New York harbor aboard the Solon.9 Traveling with him were his wife and youngest daughter; his sons had made their way to America the year prior, disembarking in New Orleans before making their way up the Mississippi River to the community of Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa.10

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 January 2019), photograph, Lorenz Stoehr (1790-1876), Memorial No. 69221239, Elgin City Cemetery, Elgin, Fayette County, Iowa; photograph by Tammy Miller, 2015.

Lorenz was widowed in 1855 and spent the years thereafter at the homes of his children.11 In 1856, he lived with his daughter Eva and her husband Hiram Hammond on their farm in Clayton County; in 1860 and 1870, he could be found at the home of his son George, a jeweler and dry goods merchant, first in Clayton County and then in neighboring Fayette County, Iowa.12

Lorenz Stoehr died at the age of eighty-six on 07 December 1876, likely at the home of his son in Elgin, Fayette County, Iowa.13 He is buried at the Elgin City Cemetery where an upright tombstone marks his grave.14

Copyright © 2019 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
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A Glimpse of Hyde County

Three years ago, my husband and I were in our final year of graduate school and in search of something to do over spring break. We lived in Northern Virginia at the time, so my husband suggested exploring the Outer Banks – about a five hour drive south. As soon as I determined that the Outer Banks were only a stone’s throw from mainland Hyde County, North Carolina, I was on board.

Why the fuss about Hyde County? I knew that this was the place from which my Stilley ancestors – who settled on the Illinois frontier in the early nineteenth century – had likely hailed. And for me, the ideal vacation includes at least some genealogical or historical element, paired, of course, with beautiful scenery, good local food, plenty of photo ops, and a travel companion willing to humor me.

P1050418My direct ancestor Nancy Stilley, born in 1819 in Franklin County, Illinois, can almost certainly be linked to the other Stilleys scattered throughout southern Illinois who had roots in Hyde County, North Carolina. Nancy is believed to have been a granddaughter of the Hezekiah Stilley who was a resident of Hyde County as late as 1800 and whose numerous children – later residents of southern Illinois – are named in a family Bible.1 In the interests of full disclosure (I’m looking at you, Ben Affleck), I will add that Hezekiah Stilley likely married the daughter of Hyde County landowner and slaveholder William Davis, who died there circa 1803.2 His will named eight slaves, Jemima, Gabrel, Joseph, Moses, Kesiah, Cate, Judith, and Silard, all of who were to remain with his wife and selected children after his death.3

P1050417We had only a couple of hours to spend driving through the Inner Banks of Hyde County, but while this was not an in-depth research venture, it was still incredible to get a feel for the landscape that would have been familiar to my ancestors. I was glad to find that the county is still very rural; according to the 2010 census, the population is under six thousand people, comparable to its size two centuries ago. I believe we drove for an hour through the swamps and marshes without seeing another human being, and the only signs of civilization for much of our drive were an untended boat and an abandoned but well-kept ghost town.

P1050422

Hyde County, North Carolina also encompasses Ocracoke Island, a popular tourist destination on the Outer Banks that we visited via ferry. The island boasts quaint shops, stunning herds of wild horses, and locals who speak a distinct Ocracoke brogue that traces back to the dialect of the early colonists. It’s a must-see along the Outer Banks. The Inner Banks, in sharp contrast, are on the road less traveled – but one I would most definitely like to travel again.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Tombstone Tuesday: Paulus and Elisabeth (Schmidt) Thoma

July 009

Grave of Paulus Thoma (1801-1882) and Elisabeth Thoma (1804-1862), Garnavillo City Cemetery, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa; digital image 2007, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

The mid-nineteenth century saw what could be considered a virtual exodus of families who left their home village in Bavaria for the farmland of northeastern Iowa. Paulus and Elisabeth (Schmidt) Thoma of Weißenstadt, Wunsiedel, Bavaria, Germany were among them. Paulus was a weaver by trade,1 and together, he and Elisabeth raised eight children: John Conrad, William Henry, Anna Rosina, Frederick, Anna Sabina, Maria Magdalena, Ursula Pauline, and Anna Margaretha.

In 1852, Paulus and Elisabeth traveled with seven of their children from Bremen to New Orleans, undoubtedly an exhausting journey. They were accompanied on the Uhland by ten others from Weißenstadt, a small sampling of the immigrant families who had likely been linked for generations and chose to resettle together in America.2 Upon arrival in New Orleans, the Thoma family traveled by way of the Mississippi River to reach their destination of northeastern Iowa.3 Several years later, Paulus and Elisabeth were joined by their eldest son and his family.4

Once settled, Paulus apparently put his weaving aside for a farmer’s life in Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa. I thought perhaps he would have raised sheep for wool, but, at least as of 1860, crops of wheat, Indian corn, and oats seem to have been his primary focus. At this time, he farmed over two hundred acres of improved land.5

Elisabeth (Schmidt) Thoma passed away in 1862, after only ten years in Iowa.6 Five years after her death, Paulus, now well into his sixties, remarried to Maria Krueger.7 By 1870, Paulus was declared on the census to be an “invalid” due to “old age.”8 He survived for more than a decade longer, however, although his “old age” was noted again on the 1880 U.S. census.9 Ultimately, he survived his first wife by twenty years; Paulus passed away in 1882, and he and Elisabeth share a headstone at the Garnavillo City Cemetery in Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa.10



SOURCES
1 “New Orleans, Passenger Lists, 1813-1945” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 November 2013), manifest, Uhland, Bremen, Germany to New Orleans, arriving 18 June 1852, Paulus Thoma; citing National Archives microfilm M259, roll 36.
2 “New Orleans, Passenger Lists, 1813-1945” digital images, Ancestry.com, manifest, Uhland, Bremen, Germany to New Orleans, arriving 18 June 1852, Paulus Thoma.
3Diane Haddad, “Riverboat Migration Records,” Family Tree Magazine (http://www.familytreemagazine.com/article/Whatever-Floats-Your-Riverboat : accessed 1 November 2013).
4 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), manifest, Anna Delano, Bremen, Germany to New York, arriving 23 June 1855, J.C. Thoma; citing National Archives microfilm M237, roll 153.
5 1860 U.S. census, Clayton County, Iowa, agriculture schedule, Garnavillo, p. 5 (penned), line 11, Paul Thoma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 October 2013), citing “Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880.”
6 Grave of Elisabeth [Schmidt] Thoma, 1804-1862, Garnavillo City Cemetery, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa; digital image 2007, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.
7 “Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 01 Nov 2013), Paulus Thoma and Mary Krueger, 1867.
8 1870 U.S. census, Clayton County, Iowa, population schedule, Garnavillo, p. 17 (penned), dwelling 116, family 114, Paul Toma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 October 2013), citing National Archives microfilm M593, roll 383.
9 1880 U.S. census, Clayton County, Iowa, population schedule, Garnavillo, Enumeration District (ED) 133, p. 362 (stamped), dwelling 207, family 218, Paul Thoma; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 October 2013), citing National Archives microfilm T9, roll 333.
10 Grave of Paulus Thoma, 1801-1882, Garnavillo City Cemetery, Garnavillo, Clayton County, Iowa; digital image 2007, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.