2 January 2012

This essay is not yet finished.   Please accept my apologies.

Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum

and

Christine Elisabeth Peterjohann

Family Migration from Prussia to U.S.A.

When Did it Happen: 1832, 1833 or 1834?

A number of secondary sources - obituaries, biographical sketches, census enumerations, newspaper articles - report the emigration of the Adolph Heinrich and Christine Elisabeth (Peterjohann) Fiegenbaum family from the Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia (German: Provinz Westfalen, Königreich Prueßen ) to the U.S.A. In these accounts, this event is said to have taken place in either 1832, 1  1833, 2  or 1834. 3 

A close reading of a few of these accounts reveal a number of factual errors connected with other matters they report and therefore raises general suspicions about the overall accuracy of the writing or editorial supervision of these particular sources. Even autobiographical statements by family members fail to agree on the timing of this important family event.

A ship's passenger list that clearly identifies when this branch of the Fiegenbaum family arrived in America would go a long way to settling this matter, but such evidence has not yet been found.

In spite of the many mentions of 1832 or 1833, I believe the accumulation of the available reliable evidence suggests that Adolph, Christine, and their five children arrived in the U.S.A. in 1834.

The 1832 Date

According to family members living in Germany who have done research in the records of the evangelical churches in northwestern Germany, Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum was born in 1793 at Ladbergen, a small village in the County of Tecklenburg (German: Grafschaft Tecklenburg ), since 1707 a domain of the King in Prussia. Christine Elisabeth Peterjohann was born in 1797 at Lengerich, a slightly larger village in the same County. Following their marriage at Ladbergen in 1820, the couple apparently took up residence in the Hohne section of Lengerich. The first five of their children were born in Lengerich, from 1821 to 1833.

The youngest of these five children, Maria Wilhelmine Fiegenbaum, wrote a brief autobiography towards the end of her life and repeated a story about the migration which she had obviously heard from other members of the family.

I was born in Germany, on the 27th day of July, 1833, and as an infant came over the ocean in a sailing-vessel. The voyage lasted fourteen weeks. I was the smallest of all the passengers, and was so ill that the travelling-companions frequently said to my apprehensive mother that she should not give herself so much trouble with the little thing for that was destined for the fishes.

However, the fishes did not get me; I am now seventy-one years old and am still living and well, and I thank God therefor.  4 

That Maria Wilhelmine was a baby during the ocean voyage was part of the family story repeated to a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch in June 1898 who travelled to Edwardsville, Illinois to interview the four Fiegenbaum brothers about their careers in the German Methodist Episcopal Church (quoting Maria Wilhelmine's brother, Rev. Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum).

When our mother and father and their five children - Rudolph had not been born then - landed at New Orleans, we were penniless. Henry, the oldest, was 12 years old, and Minnie, the youngest, was only a baby.  5 

On the basis of these recollections, it seems unlikely to me that the Fiegenbaum-Peterjohann family was in the U.S.A. in 1832, prior to Maria Wilhelmine's birth. Furthermore, if it is true that Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, the eldest child, was 12 years old when the family reached New Orleans, the voyage could not have taken place in 1832. Heinrich was in his 12th year from October 1833 to October 1834.

The 1833 Date

Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, the eldest child in the family, contributed an autobiographical statement to a book on German Methodist pastors published in 1859. His recollection of the family's relocation combined personal experience with a well-known historical circumstance.

In the year 1833 our family migrated to America, and about midsummer my parents with five children landed in New Orleans. This was the year when the cholera raged with such violence, and scores fell victims to it every day.  6 

It would seem that Heinrich was referring to what is known as the second cholera pandemic, a world-wide event from 1829-1838. The outbreak began in India and spread to China, Afghanistan, and into Russia by 1827. By 1831, outbreaks had occurred in Poland, Hungary, Austria and Germany. Cholera reached Paris by early 1832 and then began showing up in England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The hopes of some people that the Atlantic Ocean would protect North America were dashed when the pandemic appeared in 1832 in Quebec, Ontario and New York. By 1834 it had reached the Pacific coast. From 1832 to 1833, New Orleans suffered from a particularly disasterous outbreak of cholera. In October 1832 alone 4,340 residents died; 5,740 had perished by the end of 1833 when the disease had run its course. 7 

One might easily understand that such circumstances would have made an indelible impression on a young boy of about 12 years who was at the same time completing a long ocean voyage and seeing his new home for the first time. The weight of such a memory cannot easily be discounted.

There is nothing inherently unbelievable about Heinrich Hermann's account of the family migrating in 1833. The birth of his sister, Maria Wilhelmine, in Germany in July 1833 would not have made it impossible for the family to have reached New Orleans by the end of that same year, whether the ocean voyage was nine weeks long, as brother, Friedrich Wilhelm reported, or it took 14 weeks, as Maria Wilhelmine remembered it. 8 

Whether the parents would have risked travelling with such a very young infant must remain a matter of supposition, for there appears to be no record of their thinking on this matter. Given the preparations required for emigration from the Kingdom of Prussia at that time, it would no doubt have taken extraordinary efforts to postpone such a momentous event.

However, there is other evidence which I believe makes a strong case for believing that the family made their voyage a year later.

The 1834 Date

In 1838, Henry's father, Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum, appeared before the Circuit Court of St. Charles County, Missouri and declared his intention to become an American citizen. He also declared that he had "landed in New Orleans in June 1834."

Henry's brother, Friedrich Wilhelm, wrote to his children that the family reached New Orleans in the last part of June 1834, travelled up the Mississippi River and arrived at St. Louis about the 3rd or 4th of July.

PARAGRAPH

PARAGRAPH

PARAGRAPH

PARAGRAPH

To be continued. . . . .


Notes

  1. Sources reporting migration in 1832:

    • Obituary for Adolph Fiegenbaum, by C. W. Henke in Der Christliche Apologete; 29 January 1877; page 39.
    • Obituary for Adolph Fiegenbaum; The Hancock Signal (Garner, Iowa); Thursday, 18 January 1877. From a transcription provided by Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts in 2002.
    • Obituary for Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum; "Death of Rev. Fiegenbaum;" in The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 6 March 1914; page 1, column 4.
    • 1900 U.S. census, population schedule; Missouri, Buchanan County, St. Joseph, Ward 3, Supervisor’s District 4, Enumeration District 51, census sheet 14A, enumerated 7 June 1900, 1123 North 5th, dwelling 248, family 289, lines 14-18. National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 841, page 128A.
    • Account of the golden wedding anniversary celebration for Heinrich Hermann & Clara C. (Kastenbudt) Fiegenbaum; "Half a Century," in The Holt County Sentinal (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 16 April 1897; page 4, columns 3-4.
    • Celebration of Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum's 80th birthday; "An Unusual Celebration" in The Holt County Sentinal (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 25 October 1901; page 2, columns 3-4.
    • Obituary for Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum; "Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum....," in The Holt County Sentinal (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 20 January 1905; page 1, columns 4-5.
    • Obituary for Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum in The St. Joseph Gazette (St. Joseph, Missouri); 14 January 1905. From a transcription provided by Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts in 2002.

    Return to Text

  2. Sources reporting migration in 1833:

    • Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, "Experience of H. Fiegenbaum" in Adam Miller, compiler, Experience of German Methodist Preachers, edited by D. W. Clark (Cincinnati: Methodist Book Concern, for the author, 1859); pages 368-371.
    • A biographical sketch of "Frederick W. Winter, M. D." in Hugh Jackson Dobbs, History of Gage County, Nebraska: a Narrative of the Past, with Special Emphasis upon the Pioneer Period of the County's History, its Social, Commercial, Educational, Religious, and Civic Development from the Early Days to the Present Time (Lincoln, Nebraska: Western Publishing and Engraving Company, 1918); page 900.
    • "Philip E. Winter" in Joseph Bradfield Thoburn, A Standard History of Oklahoma: An Authentic Narrative of its Developments from the Date of the First European Exploration Down to the Present Time, including Accounts of the Indian Tribes, both Civilized and Wild, of the Cattle Range, of the Land Openings and the Achievements of the most Recent Period (Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, 1916); volume 3, pages 1,175-1,176.

    Return to Text

  3. Sources reporting migration in 1834:

    • Declaration of Intention by Adolphus Fiegenbaum on 2 April 1838 in St. Charles County Circuit Court, State of Missouri.
    • Genealogical research by Hermanda (Lagemann) Fiegenbaum, of Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Federal Republic of Germany.
    • Genealogical research by Lieselotte (Freese) Fiegenbaum, of Ladbergen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Federal Republic of Germany.
    • Summary of the authorized emigration records of the Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum family in Friedrich Müller, "Westfälische Auswanderer im 19. Jahrhundert - Auswanderung aus dem Regierungsbezirk Münster, 1. Teil, 1803-1850," Beiträge zur westfälischen Familienforschung 22-24 (1964-1966); page 63; entry 117.
    • Frederick William Winter, "Fiegenbaum Family History," in The Second Book of Chronicles of the House of Winter, edited by Philip Ernst Winter (1906). From a typscript provided by Philip E. Winter.
    • "Hon. Henry A. Schoppenhorst" in Portrait and Biographical Record of St. Charles, Lincoln, and Warren Counties, Missouri: Containing Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the Counties, Together with Biographies and Portraits of all the Presidents of the United States (Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company, 1895); page 376.
    • Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum, A Statement of Life and Work of Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum, a Minister of the Gospel (place and date unknown). From a transcription provided by Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts in 2002.
    • 1900 U.S. census, population schedule; Missouri, Holt County, Lewis Township, Oregon, West Ward, Supervisor’s District 4, Enumeration District 89, census sheet 6B, enumerated 6 June 1900; Fred Fiegenbaum household, dwelling 140, family 140, lines 76-77. National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 859, page 219B/6B.
    • 1910 U.S. census, population schedule; Kansas, Doniphan County, Wathena, Supervisor’s District 1, Enumeration District 44, census sheet 7A, enumerated 25 April 1910; Frederich W. Fiegenbaum household, [--?--] Street, dwelling 164, family 167, lines 45-46. National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 437, page 215A.
    • Fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration for Friedrich Wilhelm & Louisa (Otto) Fiegenbaum; "For Fifty Years." in The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 18 April 1902; page 1, columns 1-3.
    • Biographical sketch of Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum in Otto E. Kriege, et al, Souvenir der West Deutschen Konferenz der Bischöflichen Methodistenkirche (S.l.: the Conference, 1906); pages 251-252.
    • Obituary for Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum; in an unidentified newspaper possibly published in or near Wathena, Kansas. From a transcription provided by Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts in 2002.
    • Biographical sketch of Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum in Otto E. Kriege, et al, Souvenir der West Deutschen Konferenz der Bischöflichen Methodistenkirche (S.l.: the Conference, 1906); pages 236-237.
    • Biographical sketch of Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum in J. Sterling Morton and Albert Watkins, History of Nebraska From the Earliest Explorations of the Trans-Mississippi Region, revised and edited by Augustus O. Thomas, James A. Beattie, and Arthur C. Wakeley (Lincoln, Nebraska: Western Publishing and Engraving Company, 1918); page 782.
    • Obituary for Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum; Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois); 30 November 1906. From a transcription provided by Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts in 2002.
    • 1900 U.S. census, population schedule; Illinois, Madison County, Edwardsville Township, City of Edwardsville, ward 1, Supervisor’s District 12, Enumeration District 48, census sheet 2A, enumerated on 2 June 1900; William Fiegenbaum household, [no house number] Grand Avenue, dwelling 25, family 25, lines 9-10. National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 326, census page 2A.
    • Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum, "Experience of William Fiegenbaum," in Adam Miller, compiler, Experience of German Methodist Preachers, edited by D. W. Clark (Cincinnati: Methodist Book Concern, for the author, 1859); pages 275-278.
    • "Wilhelm Fiegenbaum," in Jubiläumsbuch der St. Louis Deutschen Konferenz, edited by E. C. Magaret, Friedrich Munz, and Geo. B. Addicks (Cincinnati, Ohio: Jennings und Graham, [1905?]); pages 391-392.
    • Maria Wilhelmine (Fiegenbaum) Winter, "Wilhelmine Fiegenbaum Winter" (circa 1904-1905?). From a photocopy of an English translation produced in March 1906; generously provided by Philp E. Winter, great-grandson of the author.

    Return to Text

  4. Maria Wilhelmine (Fiegenbaum) Winter, "Wilhelmine Fiegenbaum Winter" (circa 1904-1905?; 1906 English translation).

    Return to Text

  5. "Four Sons of a St. Louis Gardener Have Served 192 Years in the Ministry" in the St. Louis Post Dispatch; Sunday, 26 June 1898.

    Return to Text

  6. Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, "Experience of H. Fiegenbaum" in Adam Miller, compiler, Experience of German Methodist Preachers, edited by D. W. Clark (Cincinnati: Methodist Book Concern, for the author, 1859); pages 368-371.

    Return to Text

  7. Joseph Patrick Byrne, editor, Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2008); volume 1, page 99.  A Treatise on Asiatic Cholera, edited and prepared by Edmund Charles Wendt, M.D., in association with Drs. John C. Peters, Ely McClellan, John B. Hamilton, and George M. Sternberg (New York: William Wood and Company, 1885); pages 24-25.

    Return to Text

  8. Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum, "A Statement of Life and Work of Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum, a Minister of the Gospel."  Maria Wilhelmine (Fiegenbaum) Winter, "Wilhelmine Fiegenbaum Winter" (circa 1904-1905?; 1906 English translation).

    Return to Text