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Arriving in Concordia

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:24 pm    Post subject: Arriving in Concordia Reply with quote

(Note. Much of the information presented below was derived from Descending Love, Ascending Praise by Alfred Rodewald, et. al. and Independent Immigrants by Robert Frizzell.)

The earliest group of German immigrants that settled in the Concordia area arrived about 1840. That year is celebrated as the founding of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church because the first baptism was held at that time by the group that was to become the congregation. Marie Oetting was baptized on May 1, 1840 by Teacher Henry Liever, who had been chosen to lead the small group of immigrants in the area.

Why Concordia? It was a remote, underdeveloped area unknown to the early Germans who had come to America. To answer this question, one must understand the people who came and the history at that time.

Almost all of the German immigrants who first came to Concordia were from Northern Germany, which was primarily an agrarian society then. Owning land and farming it was considered the ultimate occupation. However, the population in that area was becoming too large to support farming for everone. Under primogeniture rules, the decreasingly small plots of land were handed down to the oldest son and the younger children in the family had to work for their elder brother or look for another occupation to support themselves and their families. Furthermore, an extended period of bad weather in the early to mid 1800s resulted in poor growing conditions and famine conditions across Northern Europe. Because of poor crops and the collapse of the linen cottage industry due to the Industrial Revolution and increased use of cotton, people found it more difficult to support their large families. Some men, particularly in northwestern areas of Germany such as Westphalia, are said to have walked 100 or more miles in the spring to the Netherlands looking for work and would return to their homes in Germany during the fall.

Therefore, many considered moving to another location, particularly one with plenty of land. A German official named Gottfried Duden had traveled to America and lived in Missouri along the Missouri River for several years. He wrote about his experiences and extolled the virtues of life in Missouri in particular. He promoted emigration to that area as a solution to the overcrowded conditions in Germany and described what it would take to move to Missouri. Missouri had been made a state in 1820 and, to promote settlement there, the federal government sold land for only $1.25/acre. Furthermore, as a continuation of a policy started after the Revolutionary War, increasingly more generous military bounties were offered to veterans to reward service in the military. (If you look at the land patents for many of the plots in the Concordia area, you will see that they were consigned to the purchasers by veterans of the Mexican War.)

So the stream of German immigrants to the U. S. grew in the mid-1800s. A common expression in Germany was “Amerika hat es besser.” The ports of Hamburg and Bremen became crowded with people headed for the New World. The earliest immigrants arrived at the eastern ports of New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. They would then travel either by land or the Ohio River to St. Louis. Most of them would spend some time in St. Louis before migrating further. Travel from Europe to New Orleans was longer and more expensive but, as steamships came into use for travel across the Atlantic by the 1840s, it became economical and the destination of choice. Travel up the Mississippi River provided a faster and more convenient means of getting to St. Louis.

One might wonder why St. Louis expanded where it is located, rather than a city at the intersection of the Ohio River and the Mississippi (such as Cape Girardeau) i.e. the route by which many immigrants arrived in Missouri. The city started as a small settlement on the Mississippi founded by the French in 1764. The location of St. Louis at the intersection with the Missouri River provided an ideal port for travel westward. Soon after the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition started from St. Louis and it became known as the jumping off point for continued travel, i.e. it became the “Gateway to the West”.

Farmland desired by the immigrants in the immediate area of St. Louis area was soon taken by the early arrivals. As would be expected, those who arrived later began migrating up the Missouri River and settling along its banks. Other than a few wagon trails, travel into the interior of Missouti was primarily by river. As the river land was taken, the immigrants began moving to available land in more remote areas. But they would generally live in St. Louis for some period of time either to earn enough money to purchase land or decide where they would eventually settle. Because St. Louis was expanding rapidly, it provided a good temporary location. Many of the immigrants had trades other than farming when they arrived, particularly carpentry and woodworking or as a shoemaker, tailor, or blacksmith. So they did not have a problem finding work. But their goal was to purchase land and begin farming. They usually would make trips from St. Louis to examine various areas they learned about and purchase land they found suitable at the various land offices. (Lexington, MO was the office for land in Lafayette County during the mid-1800s.) Depending on their finances and weather conditions, they would then move from St. Louis to their new home.

The first German immigrant to settle in the Concordia area is generally accepted to be Friedrich “Wilhelm” Dierking. Dierking arrived in America with a number of his relatives on Sept. 29, 1837 onboard the Burmah landing in New York City. From there, he traveled on to St. Louis, probably by land since he brought a wagon with him on the ship. His wife Anna Marie (Frerking) died shortly after they arrived in the U. S. After living in St. Louis for only about one year, he began looking for land to settle. Robert Frizzell relates how, after a chance meeting with Dick Mulkey in St. Louis, he traveled with Mulkey back to Mulkey’s home in Lafayette County to examine the land there. He obviously was attracted to the area because, on that same trip, he purchased 880 acres of government land to the west and south of present day Concordia in November 1838. He was able to afford the purchase of so much land because of the sale of his 100 morgen (60 acre) farm back in Esperke, Germany .

[Footnote. Southeast Lafayette County was not totally uninhabited at that time. Various Anglo-Americans had already purchased plots in the area surrounding Concordia. According to the General Land Office records, more than 100 different individuals had purchased land within 6 miles of Concordia by the time Dierking arrived in 1838. For example, Christopher Cox, Hamilton Cunningham, William Davis, and James Patrick bought much of the land in Section 9, the one square mile area directly south of the present city limits. The Mulkeys owned considerable acreage several miles west and southwest of Concordia. Other concentrations of Anglo-American land purchases were in the areas of Peavine Creek and just southwest of Emma. One must also keep in mind that dates listed on the land patents are later than the actual purchase date. They show the time when the patent was filed in Washington, DC after being sent there from the land offices. Not necessarily all of them lived on the land they purchased, but many of them are listed in the 1840 census. However, there was still plenty of land available for purchase from the government by 1838.]

The land patents list Friedrich still living in St. Louis during 1838, but he then moved to Lafayette County before 1840 because he is listed in the 1840 census for Freedom Township. On his return to St. Louis, he obviously spread the word about the available land in Lafayette County among his friends and relatives because a number of them soon bought land in the same area. At least 20 German immigrant families are known to have purchased land in the Concordia area by 1842, including the Brackmans, Bruns, Dierkings, Everts, Frankes, Frerkings, Hartmanns, Meyers, Niemeyers, Oettings, Paulings, Rabes, and Stuenkels. While many of them had lived in St. Louis for some time, one family appears to have moved almost immediately to the Concordia area after their arrival in 1840. That was the family of one of my ancestors, Henry Bruns. They had landed in New Orleans early in 1840 but can be found in the 1840 Lafayette County census records. Henry appears to have come to the area with another of my ancestors, Conrad Stuenkel, shortly after Conrad’s marriage in St. Louis. They made their first land purchases at the same time and can be found living next to each other in the 1840 census. In his personal diary, Conrad notes that he moved to Lafayette County in the spring of 1840.

The German-born population of the area around Concordia grew rapidly in the 1840s and 50s (and later) due to “chain migration”, i.e. when friends and relatives in a particular community follow the pioneers to a new home. They are particularly attracted to an area where the people speak the same language and have the same customs as their own. St. Louis had a relatively close German population so the word about land in Lafayette County obviously spread quickly. Similarly, news also reached others back in Germany.

The travels of my gr-grandfather Adolph Frerking tell one story of an immigrant’s journey to his final home in Concordia. Adolph was the ninth of thirteen children born to Johann and Dorothee (Sprengel) Frerking. Growing up in Esperke, Germany, he had little hope of owning any land there. So, at the age of 12, he and three of his brothers joined his uncle Friedrich Dierking’s family as they departed from Hamburg on the sailing ship Burmah in 1837 for their trip to America. (Unbeknownst to him, another of my ancestors, gr-gr-grandfather Conrad Stuenkel sailed on that same voyage.) When the group arrived in St. Louis, Adolph got a job as an apprentice woodworker and carpenter. Conrad, on the other hand, did not travel with the Dierking group but stayed in New York City for the winter. The following spring, when Conrad arrived in St. Louis, he moved on to southern Illinois where he worked on a farm for several years. (See the posting at Conrad Stuenkel in Illinois.) In 1845, Adolph and his brothers were joined in St. Louis by the rest of their family who had immigrated to New Orleans on the Gen. Washington. After a short stay there, his mother and many of his siblings moved on to the Concordia area to be with their Esperke relatives and friends. However, Adolph remained in St. Louis for a number of years. He met Anna “Marie” Baumeister there. She had immigrated to St. Louis on her own in 1846 at age 18, working as a dressmaker. They were married on Sept. 26, 1848 in one of C. F. W. Walther’s churches, Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

Adolph and Marie visited Concordia in the following years because their first born daughter Mathilda was baptized at St. Paul’s Church, but died in St. Louis. Two more children were born to them in St. Louis, August and Louise. After their third child Louise died in 1854, Adolph decided to move to Concordia with his family the following spring to be with the rest of his relatives. Adolph first continued to work as a carpenter, but then decided to become a farmer. By that time, much of the more desirable land in the area had already been purchased from the government. So he assembled a farm southwest of Concordia from three parcels of land that he purchased from brother George Frerking, George Helm, and Wm. Heinbrock in 1858. During 1865, he sold some or all of this farm to Henry Deke and purchased other land from Herman H. Uphaus. He built a home there where he and Marie raised their six surviving children, including my grandfather Henry F. Frerking. [Note. A photo of the family taken at their golden wedding celebration can be found in the posting at Baumeister/Kappelmann Connection?.] Adolph remained a full-time farmer but also continued his woodworking practice. (His specialty was building coffins. A family legend says that the tools in his toolbox would rattle anytime someone in the area died.) Marie and Adolph continued to live on the Frerking homestead until their respective deaths in 1908 and 1912. After that, the farm was handed down to the oldest surviving son Louis and later to his son Paul, becoming one of the centennial farms in the Concordia area.

Lacking the availability of personal diaries or family histories, it is somewhat difficult to determine the exact time when a particular family moved into the area. Census records and church records (such as baptisms) can provide the latest date by which some came to the community. Land records and plats are not particularly useful for this purpose because the family may not have moved immediately after the purchase and many may have rented rather than purchase property. One of the puzzles involves the time of 1840. A number of families are known to have lived in the Concordia area in 1840 when St. Paul’s congregation was founded; however, only three families (possibly up to six) can be found in the Lafayette County census records for that time. They are the Henry Bruns, Conrad Stuenkel, and Friedrich Dierking families. The other possibilities are the Frankes (listed as Franky), the Thiemanns (listed as Teamon), and what some consider to be the Christian Oetting family (listed as what looks like Christen Wling). The census records for that year only list the names of the head of the household, not individual members, and a count of others by sex and age group. However, the counts are not much greater than the immediate families so one cannot assume that many others were living with them. Because the area was somewhat remote with poor transportation, some families may have been missed by the enumerator. But the number of missing family names is still puzzling.

I am trying to compile a list of when the various pioneer families immigrated to the U.S. and first came to Concordia. If you have family history information that indicates when your ancestors arrived in the area, I would be happy to learn about it.

Last edited by roger.pape on Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:44 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:22 pm    Post subject: Another Look at the 1840 Census Reply with quote

The exact date in 1840 when the population of Lafayette County and Freedom Township in particular was enumerated is not certain. The individual sheets in those records were not dated like they were in later years. Assistant marshal Daniel McDowell signed each sheet and dated his final tabulation on Oct. 24, 1840. If he polled the entire county by himself, it would have taken some time considering the size of the county and the road conditions. However, Freedom Township is listed on some of the latter pages so one can assume that it was counted shortly before or during October. This is well after the May 1st baptism date for Marie Oetting when St. Paul’s church was formed. The members of that congregation, including Christian Liever who performed the baptism, should be included in the enumeration. Another was Christian Lehne who purchased land in the area on Apr. 25, 1839. (Friedrich Niemeyer had also purchased land in Freedom Township Aug. 6, 1839 but he died Feb. 1840 in St. Louis before moving to Lafayette County. Ferdinand Bruns purchased land two days after Niemeyer. The two of them returned to St. Louis where they were working together as carpenters. Ferdinand did not move to Freedom Township until some time after 1840.) Conrad Stuenkel, who is known to have arrived in the area on Mar. 7, 1840, is listed; thereby establishing the earliest date for the enumeration of that area. Henry Bruns, whose family also appears in the census, purchased his land on May 20, 1840. [However, it is possible that he arrived slightly earlier that spring.] Friedrich Frerking purchased land on Jun. 5, 1840 and the land grant lists him “of Lafayette County”. His name is not in the 1840 census and the counts for him, his wife and infant son do not appear to be in the other family listings, such as Friedrich Dierking. This could indicate that the area was enumerated before June 5th.

Of the 6815 people listed in the 1840 Lafayette County census, 415 were living in Freedom Township. Of the people in Freedom Township, 40 of those listed (slightly less than 10 percent) were known to be German immigrants. (See the excerpts shown in the figure below.) This assumes that “Frederick Teamon” was Friedrich Thiemann, “Luccy Franky” was a Franke, and what looks like “Christen Wling” was Christian Oetting. [Note. While those who transcribed the records interpreted the last name as “Wling”, the handwriting could possibly be interpreted as “Otting”.]

The enumeration does not include the names of other immigrants who were living there at that time, such as Christian Liever and Christian Lehne. Were some of them living with other families? Knowing their date of birth, one might find them in the appropriate age group for another family in the listing. For example, Frizzell notes that Christian Lehne willed much of his estate to the children of Christopher Mulkey. His land was next to the Mulkeys, so it is possible that he lived with them when he first arrived in Freedom Township. Christopher Mulkey was born about 1800. The 1840 census entry for him lists two adult males, one aged 30-40 and another 70-79. Was the older man Lehne?

Christian Liever was born in 1787 and would have been 53 years old by 1840. He also had a wife and two daughters. Although his daughter Caroline married Friedrich Thiemann in 1839, Christian was not living in Friedrich’s household because there is no male listed in the age 50-59 group (the eighth column of the male age groupings). There are no entries in that group among the other German immigrants either so he must not have been living with any of them. There were two males in the 20-30 age group living in the Henry Bruns household that were not part of his immediate family. Their identities are unknown. There were only two people in the household of the newly-wed Stuenkels. The Franke household lists two males, aged 15-20 and 20-30, as well as four females, two aged 0-5, one aged 20-30 and one aged 50-60. One would probably be Heinrich Franke, who was 19 years old at the time, along with a young couple in the 20-30 age group with two young children. The older lady would probably be the mother of one of them. The various members of the Christian Oetting family at that time is not known to me so it is not clear whether the people listed in that household match his immediate family.

So the exact whereabouts of all of the German immigrants living in Freedom Township by 1840 has not yet been determined. Perhaps, in time, someone will figure out where they all were.

Extracts from the 1840 census records for Freedom Township, Lafayette County, MO listing German immigrants living in the area at that time.
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