My Family’s Immigration Story:
I imagine the above picture is what a picture of the Statue of Liberty might look like in the past.
I, like many, come from a family of European immigrants. I was raised in a bilingual family. My great grandma on my mother’s side did not speak fluent English. My grandmother and her sister were bilingual. My mother spoke the language as well; however, I did not. My grandma was a naturalized citizen. I am second generation born in the USA on my mother’s mother’s side; yet I also come from poor, industrious German immigrants on my father’s side.
My husband & I had the privelage of visiting historical Ellis Island and viewing the Statue of Liberty in 2011. It was a touching time for me to walk in my ancestor’s footsteps prior to making the USA their home.
Ellis Island: My Family’s Gateway
My grandmother’s family left Czechoslovakia in the early 1900’s. My great grandparents entered this country via Ellis Island with their oldest baby daughter, my grandmother. They had two more children, a girl and a boy, born in the USA. Their son died of pneumonia as a child. My great grandfather died in 1934, leaving my great grandmother single at 46 years of age.
My mother’s father’s family moved to the USA from Germany/Austria in the early 1900’s with their oldest son. They had 4 more children born in the USA. My great grandmother on my mother’s father’s side died early in life. Her deceased body was found near her bed by my grandfather’s youngest brother, leaving my great grandfather a single parent in the 1920s. My grandfather, two brothers and sister were raised in an orphanage.
My father’s family immigrated to the USA around 1843 from Prussia (Germany). My great, great, great grandfather moved here a widower with 3 children. My great, great grandfather was 16 years old when they settled in Indiana.
My great, great grandfather married my great, great grandmother in 1851. Her parents were from Germany. They had 10 children. My great, great grandmother died in 1873 while giving birth to their 10th child, a son. She was about 38 years old. Their youngest son lived to be 7 months old. Their second youngest son, died when he was 10 months old. About a year after her death my great, great grandfather married again. His 2nd wife was a widow. The family all lived together and helped raise the children. His 2nd wife died six years after they married. In 1881, he remarried again. They were married four years when my great, great grandfather died on Christmas Eve, 1885.
Homesteading in the Midwest…
After the Civil War, many settlers (including my ancestors) moved to the MN area looking for homesteads. Land sold for $5 or less an acre. They had to clear the land by hand with an ax. For the first five years they had no oxen or horses to help clear the land. They built a tiny log cabin to live in. The children, as young as six years old, were required to help hunt wild ginseng barefoot amid thorns, nettles, and mosquitoes. When they spied a plant they would call to their father and he would dig it. On a good day they could manage to gather fifty pounds a day. They would trade it at a nearby town store. They received six cents a pound for the ginseng root. They would also travel to another town seven miles away to trade ginseng.
My great grandfather married in 1875 to my great grandmother from Minnesota. They had to clear the land to build a small log cabin for his family to live in. They plowed their fields with oxen, and planted grain to feed their family. He traveled on foot for miles to the nearest town to do his trading. They had 8 children. Their oldest, my grandfather, married my grandmother, who’s parents were from Canada. (There’s no record of where they came from prior to Canada, but the sir name suggests England.) In fact, 3 of my great grandfather’s sons married 3 sisters from the same family. My grandfather & grandmother had 10 children, including my father (their youngest son), all born in the USA. Their youngest child, a daughter, died as a young child.
My father’s life reflected patriotism, service, and a dedication to support those that served in the military. Read his story here…
My Heritage & Today:
When I hear people complain about how bad they have it in this country, I reflect on my family’s history. Granted, my ancestors freely choose to come to this country; however, they had their share of hard times. Nothing was handed over to them. No affordable healthcare was offered to them; family members died young. There were no food stamps to supplement a lack of food. There was no TV or internet. No cars. No phones…. Families worked together to make ends meet. My family lived by working hard and never giving up, no matter how hard the times they faced were. They looked for the good in every situation. For many of my ancestors, their faith in God carried them. That faith is reflected on my great, great grandfather’s grave stone which reads: “Lebet Allewahl – Bhaswiriens einstwiederschen” which my family was told translates to, “Live well all of you, until we meet again.”
I am Simply Blessed…