Sunday, April 30, 2006

Revisiting a family story

A few years ago, I was first told a story about how one of our ancestors died while immigrating from Germany. The story goes that the woman died, was buried at sea and her body could be seen bobbing up and down while "following" the ship in its wake. The story was recently mentioned again, but this time it was said that the woman died during the trip on a river heading to the St. Louis area, after disembarking from the ship that brought the family to America. Additionally, this woman is said to have been an ancestor's first wife -- a detail I don't recall having heard the first time.

I was initially led to believe this related to the BENNE family since grandpa is who had told the story, but it doesn't seem like anyone died during that family's immigration and Johann Friedrich BENNE's first wife, who he married in Buer, Hannover, lived for 11 years in St. Charles County before dying in 1854.

So, if it apparently wasn't the BENNEs, what other families on grandpa's side could this story relate to? Beyond that, was this woman really one of our ancestors or was she married to one of our ancestors? Big difference.

Without going into lengthy descriptions, I feel confident the story does not relate to the SCHUMPE, UHLMANNSIEK, MEIER and VOSSIEK families on grandpa's side. The remaining possibilities are the BULL-SCHOKNECHT and HOLZ-DEPPERMANN families.

After discovering the details of the BULL-SCHOKNECHT immigration, I believed that the old family story actually described their travels in 1867. After all, grandpa's grandma was a little girl on that cholera-ridden ship and it's easy to see how the story might have been told and misunderstood. However, all of those deaths happened at sea, not on a river, and it doesn't appear that great-great-grandma's mother died. (It should be noted, though, that I haven't had much luck researching that particular 3rd great-grandmother and certain inconsistencies could possibly be explained by a death after immigrating but before arriving in St. Charles.)

The HOLZ-DEPPERMANN family is such a mystery to me that it's entirely possible that the story describes Anna Katharina Margaretha Ilsabein (DEPPERMANN) HOLZ's death. After all, I cannot find her in local records past the 1854 passenger list. But if the story makes reference to a "first wife," implying that there was a second wife, then I do not believe this is the correct family branch. There is inconclusive evidence that Ferdinand Friedrich HOLZ died within months of immigrating and a second marriage record for him has not been found.

There's no guarantee the story has remained accurate over the years, but at this point I still think the story actually describes the BULL-SCHOKNECHT immigration and 2nd great-grandmother's eyewitness account of over 70 people, some she may have known, dying from cholera while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. I'll always keep an eye out for new information which may help solve this, though.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dave - my name is Kim Schoknecht, and I'm a tax attorney here in the San Francisco Bay Area. My great grandfather was Henry Adam Schoknecht, whom I believe was born in about 1865 and settled in St. Louis. His grandson was my father, Henry Adam Schoknecht III, born in Kirkwood MO in 1925. My generation's understanding of family history is quite weak. Where might I go to see a well-developed Schoknecht family tree, if such a thing exists? My understanding is that Henry I (as we call him) was born in the US, with his ancestors arriving from Germany in the late 1840s.

Any help is welcome. Thanks.

Kim Schoknecht