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Bruns/Ficken Connection

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:59 pm    Post subject: Bruns/Ficken Connection Reply with quote

Family relationships are sometimes discovered in unusual ways. In this case, it involves the photo of a house and people shown below. It was found in a collection of my mother’s old photographs. She had labeled it as the “Pape Homestead”. However, when looking at it, the house did not resemble the Jacob Pape home that I remembered and the people in the photo were not familiar. When the original photo was examined more closely, the name “Gerd Ficken” was found faintly penciled on the back. Given this name and a little bit of research, I have tentatively identified the house and people. In the process, I also discovered some interesting family relationships.

The story begins with a Bruns family back in Germany. An online index of the Hanover state archives includes the following entry.

Bestellnummer: Hann. 74 Neustadt/Rbg. Nr. 4853

Titel: 1. Bruns, Heinrich, Bühren 3. Vollmeier 5. Bruns, Dorothee, geb. Mahler; Bruns,
Johann Heinrich (geb. 31. 10. 1827) 7. Amerika 8. 1839

Based on this entry, Heinrich Bruns from Büren emigrated to America in 1839 with his wife Dorothee (nee Mahler) and son Johann Heinrich (born 31 Nov 1827). These were my ancestors, namely my 3rd great-grandfather Heinrich Johann and gr-gr-grandfather Johann Heinrich (John Henry). [Note that both father and son were known either as Johann Heinrich or Heinrich Johann in various records.] To date, I have been unable to locate any church records that provide more information nor have I been able to find the ship or port of entry for their trip to America. The father was relatively well-to-do back in Germany (a Vollmeier); but as author Robert Frizzell noted, he had four sons (even though only the oldest, Johann Heinrich, is listed in the index) and probably decided to emigrate to the US, where land was plentiful, to make sure all four sons were well provided for.

It is not known exactly when the Bruns family arrived in the Concordia area. Most of the early settlers initially stopped in St. Louis. However, Heinrich began buying a considerable amount of land around Concordia directly from the government as early as May 20, 1840. One of the two pieces of property he bought that day was an 80 acre plot just north of the future city of Concordia. Soon after, he donated an acre of land on the southwest corner of that plot to the newly formed St. Paul’s congregation for a church and cemetery.

When the father died in 1844, the property that son John Henry inherited included that 80 acre plot. [Getting slightly ahead in my story, that land eventually became my grandfather Jacob Pape’s farm.] Gr-gr-grandfather John Henry Bruns married Maria “Christine” Frerking on Sep. 9, 1849 and sometime around then he built a house on the land. The 1850 census records show that John Henry and Christine were living there along with Pastor Adolph Franke (the first ordained pastor of St. Paul’s) and his wife Friedericke (Christine’s youngest sister). Before Christine died on Mar. 6, 1857, John Henry and Christine had five children; Maria “Sophia” (b. 1850 and married my gr-grandfather Louis Stuenkel), August E. (b. 1852 and married Louise Kueck), Henry William (b. 1853, d. 1862), Adolph (b. 1855 and married Emma Franke), and John (b. 1857, d. 1859). [Did Christine die from childbirth?]

After Christine’s death, John Henry married Anna Detmar on May 7, 1858. John Henry and Anna had four more children; John Herman (b. 1859 and married Marie Walker), Henry Frederick Wilhelm (b. 1861, d. 1862), Anna (b. 1862 and married John Martens), and Line “Christine” (b. 1865 and married Ernest Stuenkel). As many know, John Henry was killed in the bushwacker raid of Oct. 10, 1864 when Anna was still pregnant with Christine. [A family tale – John Henry was said to have buried his treasure in the yard of the house before the battle. When my grandmother Mary Stuenkel Pape wanted the children to dig up the garden, she told the children to look for the treasure there.]

Finally, we get to Gerd (or Gerhard) Ficken. After John Henry was killed, widow Anna married Gerhard Ficken on Sep. 15, 1865 and Gerd inherited the extended Bruns family. But Anna appears to have died by 1870. The 1870 census lists a 36 year old “Gerhard Ficke” (no ‘n’ at the end) living in that same farm with the following family. No wife is listed but there are the following children. First was a “Doretha”, age 2. The St. Paul’s records list a “Dorette” Ficken baptized in 1868, so she must have been born to Gerd and Anna. The next three children are Sophia, August, and Adolph, who ages match the children of John Henry and Christine Frerking Bruns. [Note that son Henry is not listed. He had died in on Christmas Day 1862.] Then there is a son John, age 11. This was Anna's son because the first John (Christine's son) died in 1859. Then there is a daughter Anna, age 8, who would be the daughter of John Henry and Anna. Finally, there is their daughter Christine, age 5. Anna's son Henry is not listed because he had died in 1862. Note that Gerd listed his biological child first, followed by the step-children. The census enumerator did not include the Bruns surname for the older children or note that they were Gerd’s step-children, as is the usual practice.

Finally, after Anna’s death, Gerd married Meta Hinck on Sep. 16, 1870, shortly after the census was taken. According to St. Paul’s Church records, Gerd and Meta had five more children; Dorette Marie (b. 1871 and married Fritz Wieking), Catherine Margarethe (b. 1874 and married Johann Becker), Anna Rebecca (b. 1877 and married Johann Roehrs), Johann Heinrich (b. 1880, never married), and August Louis (b. 1883). It appears from the census records that the first Dorette may have died as a young child so Gerd and Meta’s first daughter was given the same name.

Given all of this information, one still needs to identify the house and people in the photo. This, of course, depends on the date when the photo was taken, which could not be determined. However, based on the apparent ages of the people in the photo and matching them to the various members of this extended family, I have made the following tentative identifications. First of all, one must accept that the man seated in the chair is Gerd Ficken, because of the name written on the back of the photo. Assuming the children in the picture are all family members, it would seem that the girl on the right is Sophie Bruns (shortly before she married Louis Stuenkel, who was a next door neighbor). The wife would then have to be Anna Detmar Bruns Ficken. [Note. Meta was considerably younger than Gerd.] The two boys have considerably different facial features, so I am guessing that the one between the parents is Anna’s son John Herman and the other is Christine’s son Adolph. August may have moved from home by then. The only problem is that Anna’s two young daughters are not in the picture.

If the identification of the people is correct, the photo would have been taken between 1865 and 1870. The 1870 census indicates that Gerd was still living in the John Henry Bruns homestead at that time. After Sophie married Louis Stuenkel on June 21, 1871, the farm ownership passed on to Louis. [Note that the 1877 plat of the area shows Louis Stuenkel as the owner.] When Louis and Sophie’s daughter Mary married Jacob Pape, the farm was then handed down to Jacob Pape. Family history indicated that the foundation of the original J.H. Bruns home was that of the summer kitchen of Grandfather Jacob’s home. So, in a sense, one might call the house in the photo the Pape homestead, although I would rather refer to it as the J. H. Bruns homestead.

Probably the JH Bruns homestead. Seated are Gerd Ficken and wife Anna Detmar Bruns Ficken. Boy between parents possibly Johann Herman Bruns. Other two children possibly Sophie Bruns (Stuenkel) and Adolph Bruns.
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Last edited by roger.pape on Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:27 am    Post subject: JH Bruns homestead picture Reply with quote

Great picture. It is thrilling to see where my great-great grandparents lived and your deductions on who's who in the picture seem reasonable. I too have been following the thread of who Johann's descendents are and the various deaths and remarriages. It is fun to do some "detecting" with census information, church records and family history.
I love to read your stories and memories.
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