Monday, July 28, 2014

52 Ancestors: #25 Francis/Franz Joseph Henn (1800-1863) and #26 Catharina Phillipina Blank Henn (1805 – 1890) Baden, Germany to Oswego County NY

Climbing My Family Tree: German Immigrants to North America (1853)
German Immigrants to North America (1853)
Click to make larger

 This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

As I have visitors this week, I am doing my two ancestor posts for this week (on my catch-up schedule) in one. #25 Francis/Franz Joseph Henn and #26 Catharina Phillipina Blank Henn are my third great grandparents on my father's father's side (she was known as Phillipina and that is how I will refer to her). In the materials I received from my Dad, Francis and Phillipina Henn, are as far back in this line that anyone had gotten in tracing back our Henn line, and it dead-ended with the knowledge that they came from Baden, Germany. Accordingly, I was absolutely astonished and delighted to find a copy (English translation) of their marriage record information on It had the right names and it was in the same place as Phillipina’s and many of the children’s births were registered (as found on, so I believe it is the marriage record of my third great grandparents.  The record also included some information that wasn’t in Dad’s paperwork: their marriage date, and the names of Francis’ and Phillipina’s parents! Whoo-hoo! I went back another level! Well, I have names….but nothing else ...yet.  

I’ve learned this week that if you are researching a person who lived in Germany before 1876, the best place to look is the church records as civil records of births, marriages, or deaths weren’t kept until after 1876; but everything I’ve read so far says that the church records were reasonably accurate. In some areas of Germany, the records of people of other faiths were kept by whatever the predominant church/worship place was in the area. This perhaps partially due to the fact that “Germany” didn’t exist until the late 19th Century. Instead, the area was made up of smaller areas controlled in a feudalistic system by a hierarchy of royalty (princes, dukes, counts, etc). Farmers were very nearly the bottom rung of that very regimented hierarchy.

Climbing My Family Tree: Unification of Germany 1815-1871, Baden in lower left of  Germany
Unification of Germany 1815-1871, Baden is in lower left of Germany

Franz Joseph Henn was born on or about November 8, 1800 to Melchior and Gertrudt (Grimm) Henn. In the marriage record index, kept by the Catholic (Katholisch) church in Doerlesberg,  Mosbach, Baden, Germany, Catharina Phillipina was listed only as Phillipine; her parents were Georg Michael Blank and M. _ Anna Schulz. She was born on or about November 17, 1805. I don’t know whether they were born in the same towns/areas or not. I don’t know anything about their growing up years. I do know that, according to records kept by the Catholic church in Doerlesberg, Mosbach, Baden, Germany, Franz Joseph Henn and Phillipine Blank were married on August 5, 1827. 

In the Baden-Wurttemberg section of Germany, many of the farmers had a side occupation that they passed down, father to son. As the Henn’s were farmers after they immigrated to the United States, it is logical that they were probably farmers in Germany as well. I know from family documents and a few U.S. Censuses that Franz and Philippine’s sons worked as coopers when they first got to America. That was a skilled occupation passed down through middle class farming families in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Germany. So Franz & Phillipine were likely part of the middle class. They may have owned land obtained by fief (I haven’t established that yet) and were subject to the rules and laws imposed by the fiefholders to whom they would owe a sort of feudal allegiance. In the early 1800’s people had little choice in the persons they married as the marriage was often arranged by their parents as a business transaction in order to gain wealth by combining lands through the marriage. Additionally, the couple had to apply to the lord their family served to get permission to marry. The lord imposed a fee and sometimes the couple didn’t have the money to pay the marriage fee, and so delayed the marriage. This sometimes resulted in children born before the official marriage.

I don’t know yet if this occurred in Franz and Phillipina’s case, but about eight months before the marriage Phillipina gave birth to a daughter, Genofera Blank (later, also known as Genevieve [Henn] Scheer, 1827-1916), on January 2, 1827. The record, kept by the same Catholic Church as the marriage record, did not show a father’s name in the index, but my reading shows that is normal for pre-marriage babies. [The original was not available to view, or I would have.]  I haven’t yet found a birth record for Franz and Phillipina’s daughter Serena Mary [Henn] Dick, but later in the U.S. Censuses she indicated that she was born in July 1828, which would put it nearly a year after the marriage. I did find birth records Franz and Phillipina’s other children: Dorothe/Dorothea [Henn] Snyder (1830-1896);  Andreas/Andrew Henn(1832-1911); Generosa/Rosa (Henn) Strauss (1836-1908); Edmund Henn (1838-1961); my great great grandfather Josephat/John Henn (1842 – 1861); Franz/Frank J. Henn (1843-1928); and Josepha/Josephine (Henn) Schueurmann,  (1845-1877). All were registered through the Catholic Church in Doerlesberg, Mosbach, Baden, Germany, with the exception of the youngest two children who were registered at the synagogue (Israeliten) in, Eubigheim, Mosbach, Baden, Germany.

The area of Baden in which they lived was over-populated and land for farming was hard to come by. In 1817 Baden had become part of a German confederation, which then led to a few decades of political unrest, culminating in an attempted revolution in Baden in 1849, which failed after the Grand Duke of Baden joined with Bavaria in requesting the armed intervention of Prussia, and the armies of Prussia invaded Baden in June 1849 and crushed the rebellion. This couldn’t have made it a comfortable place to try to work a farm and raise a family. In addition, there were repeated years of crop failure and potato blight in the period between 1846 and 1853, making it very had to live and depressing the economy. All of this together perhaps led many farmers to truly view America, with its storied fertile lands and wide, open spaces, to appear to be a shining beacon of hope.

Climbing My Family Tree: Port of Le Havre, France mid-19th Century
Port of Le Havre, France mid-19th Century
Click to make bigger

One year after their eldest son went to America in 1852 at age 20 (see Andrew/Andreas’ story), Franz Joseph and Phillipina, immigrated with their entire family to America, joining Andreas/Andrew in Syracuse NY.  The Germans travelling to America in the 1850’s had the money to pay for their own tickets and thus arrived in America without debt. Franz Joseph and Phillipina first travelled to Le Havre France, where they had obtained passage on the ship, Trumbull, to New York City.  The ship’s passenger list (pictured below) inexplicably lists Franz Joseph Henn as “Henn, Fr. Friedrich” from Baden but the age is right, and listed with him are Phillipine and all of the children at the correct ages. So I tend to think that whoever filled out the list – it’s all the same handwriting – just got his name mixed up. 

Climbing My Family Tree: "Trumbull" Passenger List, listing Henn Family
"Trumbull" Passenger List, listing Henn Family
Click to make bigger

They would have obtained the tickets in Germany as France required emigrants to show their tickets at the border. In addition to whatever personal property they were bringing with them to America, they would also have brought food – a lot of it – as emigrants were required to bring their own food for the voyage. They travelled in steerage, which would have been crowded and uncomfortable. (To read interesting descriptions of the voyages between Havre & New York in letters sent home by immingrants, click here.) Voyages lasted approximately 45-50 days. They arrived at the port of New York City thirty years before the creation of the Ellis Island processing center. (To read a contemporary story from The New York Times of what it was like for an immigrant to arrive in New York City in 1853, click here.)  

Climbing My Family Tree: Ad shown in Freiburg for package voyage between Le Havre and New York, 1856
Ad shown in Freiburg, Germany for package voyage between Le Havre and New York, 1856
click to make bigger 

From NYC they could have taken a steamship or train to Syracuse NY, where they joined Andreas. Sometime thereafter, they each anglicized their names, probably to better fit in in their new country.

Almost immediately, Francis and Phillipina moved the family up to a farming community named West Monroe, NY, about 22 miles north of Syracuse, in Oswego County, on the shore of Oneida Lake. They appeared in the 1855 New York Census in West Monroe, and indicated they had lived in the community for 2 years. Francis was 55 and listed as a farmer.  Phillipina is inexplicably listed as Phebe (one wonders if the census taker couldn’t spell Phillipina), age 49.  Still living at home were: Andrew, Generosa (spelled Russena), Edmund, Joseph (my great-great-grandfather John), Francis (Frank), and Josephine. All were listed as Aliens, so none of the family were naturalized citizens yet.

Climbing My Family Tree: Oswego County, NY (about 1902)
Oswego County, NY (about 1902), West Monroe is on North shore of Oneida Lake
Click to make bigger

The 1860 Federal census found Francis and Phillipina still farming in West Monroe, Oswego County, New York. Still living at home were John (previously Josephat), Frank, and Josephine, Also there that day was a 1 year old boy, Jepa Cottel – I wonder if Phillipina or Josephine was babysitting that day? Francis indicates that he can read and write English (or rather, does not indicate that he cannot do so). The main population census showed that Francis owned $700 worth of real property and $300 worth of personal property. This was back when farming was done mostly by hand and/or with the help of a mule or horse. People could not work huge farms, without a lot of help then. He also was surveyed for the 1860 Federal Census Non-Population schedule on Productions of Agriculture. That survey indicated that he had 30  (or 80 – it’s hard to tell whether the handwriting is a 3 or an 8) acres of improved land and 20 acres unimproved. Here he states the cash value as $900 and the value of farm implements and machinery as $50. He owns 1 horse and no mules, but he has 30 (or 80) milk cows, 2 working oxen, and 2 other cattle. He owns 3 sheep and 2 swine. He estimates the value of his livestock at $173. During the year ending June 1, 1860, the farm produced 40 bushels of rye, 40 bushels of “Indian corn”, 50 bushels of oats, 9 pounds of wool, 50 bushels of “Irish Potatoes”, 5 bushels of buckwheat, 5 tons of hay and 300 ( or 800 - again hard to tell whether the handwriting is a 3 or an 8) pounds of butter. He indicated that the value of animals slaughtered during the year was $35 (or $85 – the handwriting problem is consistent.) 

In 1861, their son, Edmund died. He was only 22, and unmarried. I don’t know how he died. Or, for that matter, where he was in 1860.

Francis died two years later, at age 62, on April 20, 1863. I haven’t been able to find out why he died but he evidently knew he was dying because he drafted his will on the same day he died. (I found a copy through the collection of NY Probate records, 1629-1971, for Oswego County, and plan to transcribe it, as best I can, in a separate post later this week.) He was buried in St. Francis Cemetery in Oswego County, NY.

Climbing My Family Tree: Grave of Francis (Franz Joseph) Henn (1800-1863)
Grave of Francis (Franz Joseph) Henn (1800-1863), originally posted on ancestry,com by Reckinger
Click to make bigger

After her husband died, Phillipina saw two of her sons, Andrew and John, go off to fight in the Civil War in 1864, and, thankfully, return in 1865.  In 1870, the U.S. Census shows that Philipina is living with John Philip Henn, son of Serena Mary Henn Dick in West Monroe; she is “keeping house” and he, at age 15, is farming. The census indicates that she doesn’t own any real property and that her personal property is valued at $100. In 1871, acting as Executrix, Phillipina probated Francis’ will, in an action to prove his will filed October 12, 1871 The Court on, November 27, 1871, acknowledged the sworn statements of the witnesses to the will and declared it proved to be written by Francis when he was in a sound mind, on April 20, 1863. It left her his real (land) and personal property. I don’t know yet why she waited until seven years after her husband’s death to try to probate his will.

I then lost Philipina for about 20 years. I cannot find her in the 1875 New York Census, or in the 1880 U.S. Census. The person who wrote her entry at said that “She lived on a farm in West Monroe, Oswego County, until after 1870 and then in Oneida, NY with one of her daughters until her death.” That would indicate that she probably lived with Serena Mary Henn Dick, even though I could find nothing showing that Phillipina lived with Serena and her husband, Jacob, and nothing showing that Serena’s family had lived in Oneida NY prior to 1900 (I have seen the 1875 NY Census, as well as the 1880 Federal Census, for Serena and her family and her mother isn’t listed with them). On the other hand, Serena and her family did live in Lenox, Madison County, NY through, at least 1892, and Lenox NY and Oneida NY are only about 4.5 miles apart. Phillipina, perhaps, just wasn’t in the house on the dates of the censuses, or perhaps lived close by but not with them.

Phillipina  died on August 5, 1890, at age 84, and was buried in St. Francis Cemetery in Oswego County NY.

Climbing My Family Tree: Grave of Phillipina Blank Henn (1805-1890)
Grave of Phillipina Blank Henn (1805-1890), originally posted on ancestry,com by Reckinger
Click to make bigger

------------------------------------------;;;  "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891", index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 Jul 2014), Joseph Henn, 1853; ; ; ;; ;  1855 & 1875 New York State Census; 1860 & 1870 US Census and 1860 Non-Population Schedule, Agriculture Production; "New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971," images, FamilySearch (,214485401 : accessed 27 Jul 2014), Oswego > Wills 1865-1872 vol J-K > images 522 & 523 of 717;

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Best Laid Plans ....

As you may have noticed my plan to catch up the 52 Ancestors challenge  in one week didn't work. Life again got in the way, and I needed my sleep. So I've now modified my plan to catch up. I've decided that a more realistic approach will be to try to do two Ancestor bios a week  until I'm caught up, and it's okay if the two a week isn't in consecutive weeks. I think this will work better.

I'm going to try to get two done this week, not including this one. But I'm not starting tonight, as I keep nodding off, and going to  bed sounded wonderful,

Have a great day tomorrow, every one,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How Do You Find All That?!

I post all of my Ancestor Bio posts to Facebook for family and friends to see, and today, after posting Andrew’s story, I had a couple friends ask, “How do you find this stuff?!” I tried to answer on Facebook but apparently it’s currently not letting me comment on my own or anyone else’s posts for some unknown reason. But it is letting me post from outside sites to Facebook, so I thought I’d do a post answering the question. Tomorrow I’ll go back to my compulsive quest to catch up on the 52 Ancestors challenge (I’ve four more posts planned – not written yet --this week and then I should be caught up and go back to one a week, so I can sleep, too – coming up are posts on GGG-grandfather Francis “Franz Joseph” Henn and GGG-grandmother Katharina Phillipine Blank, #24 & #25; GG-grandfather John “Josephat” Henn #26; GG-grand aunt Rosa “Generosa” Henn #27; and, #28, a transcription of a newspaper article describing the inquest into the death of Rosa’s son, Henry Strauss, jr (the latter is not my normal style of post but I found it fascinating and hope you will too. In fact, each of these people had fascinating bits in their stories, just wait and see!)

This post is not my normal sort of post either because I still consider myself a beginner doing basic research, solely online, on a few sites, so far. I know there is more on other sites online, and far more to find offline, but what I am doing now is a first pass through both sides of my family. At the end of this year (I think) I’ll be going back through, slower, looking for the harder to find things. Anyway, while I consider myself a beginner, I realize I have friends who are just starting that might find what I do in my searches helpful in developing their own search style.

I discovered in thinking about writing this post that I have already developed basic search patterns that I apply to each person, with varying levels of success.  So I’m going to talk about this in steps. (Problem: I don’t know how to do screen shots, so I can’t show you exactly).

To begin with, I’m lucky enough to have some family research / written memories passed down to me on both sides of the family. More on Dad’s side than Mom’s but both tending to the “born, married, begat, and died" dates and names. My interest is in filling in the between spaces so I do more societal background research for my bio posts than you may be interested in. In any case, even though I have helpful family documents like this, I consider them clues, not gospel. I’m sure they did the best they could in their research/ interviewing (in terms of interviewing, probably better than me as I don’t do enough, because I’m shy and busy.) But I don’t know them & thus don’t know what they did for research, as most did not attach source documents or cites, and I don’t know how they think. I know me. I know that I have had over 20 years’ experience in assessing credibility of evidence as an Administrative Law Judge, and I’m fixated on being able to document a fact. True, I work in a small, extremely niche area of the law and I haven’t done a lot of historical research since college but the principles of analysis carry over, I think, as well as the application of logic and common sense.  (Some things that drive me nuts from other Ancestry trees: even if the offered person has the right name, if they don’t have the right kids (or parents if you know them), it’s probably not the right person. If the kid is born when the putative mother is 8 years old --or before the alleged mother is born–they aren’t related; if someone is born in Illinois/Indiana Territory in the early 1800s one month after the mother documented as being in Maryland, the baby is not that mother's child as no one could get from Maryland to Illinois/Indiana Territory in a month in the early 1800s – think horses or walking – let alone an 8 month pregnant woman!)

I. My first step always starts with My working tree is there, I have the International Membership, which is quite helpful now that I’m starting to have ancestors on the other side of the pond, as some records from other countries show up in my shaking leaf hints. I have to be careful in looking at the hints because not all of them apply to my family. This is where my non-straight line approach helps. I don’t just look up straight line ancestors but all their siblings and their kids too (I usually stop two generations down on this sweep through) as that provides me with more facts to double-check against others, as how I think my Oswego Andrew Henn is right because of the newspaper notice about his sister Rosa’s death. If I were doing straight-line I wouldn’t know about Rosa (who has a tragically fascinating life story, btw; coming soon.) I also note neighbor’s names in censuses as I’ve noticed that people seemed to move west in groups of people they know and the same names showing up as before might confirm that I’ve found the right William Erwin or Elizabeth Bixler Wolfington Moore.  

II. My second step is also but I click the link to “search records” just above the “overview tab” and go see what else I might find. You can alter the search parameters, look in all the searchable records at once or one at a time [there are records that are only browsable not searchable, that I’d have to look at page by page, but I’m saving them for a different pass.]  I look past the point where Ancestry says the records are no longer likely to be my ancestor for a few pages. Sometimes I find stuff that way: directories, yearbooks, land records, etc.

III. My third step is’s record search. I don’t have a tree up there yet, but with a free membership I can search all the records I want. Mostly there though I look for death certificates and marriage records as they often have them when Ancestry doesn’t; or when Ancestry might have given me the information off a document but not let me see the original, FamilySearch often has the original. ALWAYS LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL of any document when you can, it has so much more information than is in the index! (And sometimes the transcriber transcribes something incorrectly in the index version.) If I find them, I download them and take notes (lawyer here – we take notes on everything).

IV. If Ancestry has shown me a draft registration, or my ancestor is alive during a war, I check (subscription site), which has historical military records. Lots of them. Not all of them, but more are added weekly so check back. I found a boatload of information from Mariah Bailey’s application for a Mother’s pension against her son John’s death in the Civil War. Again, you’ll have to sort through and make judgment calls as to which records belong to your family. But you can set the search parameters to help limit what you find.

If you already know your ancestor was in the Civil War, look for him in the National Park Service’sSoldier’s and Sailor’s database to find out what he did in the War, plug in his name & perhaps other details, then sort out who is yours, then click on the battle unit to get to a description of what he went through. I've found (through Google) that some states have good archives of military info (e.g., Indiana, Missouri & Illinois are good, Pennsylvania is difficult to navigate) that extend beyond the Civil War. This cheat sheet helps you figure out what war your ancestor may have fought in: 

V. Next I go to Google Play,Books, and search for old e-books on the places my Ancestor has lived. A lot of counties did histories around 1880 – 1905, some with biographical sketches of the first settlers and/or prominent people. Most are free and most are searchable within the e-book: plug in the relevant surname and see what pops up. Sometimes it’s a lot (Judge Erwin), sometimes it’s just a list of who enlisted in what (Andrew Henn) & sometimes I get nothing – except interesting background information about the area he lived.

VI. My sixth step is to look for local historical newspaper articles about my ancestor. Small town newspapers used to do stories or one line squibs on everything: who visited who, 50th anniversary parties, reunions, obituaries, hospital entrance and release, legal notices, plus regular news. This step requires patience as the search capabilities on each site are based on scanning and sometimes on old newspapers it scans wrong, or you ancestor decided to go by their middle name for a while [names used to be very interchangeable, I’ve found]. But when you find something it’s a delight. The main pay sites I’ve used are NewspaperArchive,com,, and;the free sites have been the Library of Congress and, for New York, only, the Fulton Post Card site.  and when I don’t know where to look, The Ancestor Hunt site has an excellent section on where to find archived newspapers in any state. Newspaper mentions can really humanize and bring a person to life as they did for Myrtle Bailey and for Mabel Erwin Snyder.

VII. My seventh step is to Google the person’s name and lifespan, and perhaps a key factor about him . Somebody else might have done research you want to see. If you’re using the info for your own tree/personal use, you can just use it probably under fair use, just keep the cite so you can find it again – there is apparently a “proper” way to cite for genealogical purposes: I don’t know it -- I’ve got the book but haven’t read it yet so i'm not using it yet -- I will go back through and correct cites after I have time to read the book. Right now I figure it works if I cite enough detail that I can find it again. If you’d like to use part of what is written on the site or a photo in a blog or book, email the person or entity and ask permission first or if you think you’ll be using their phrasing or the picture. While FACTS can’t be copyrighted, how one writes about them can be, unless it’s old enough to be off copyright.  I’ve links on copyright issues for family historians in my Resources page, others can explain that a whole lot better than I can. It is not my area, so nothing I write here should be construed as legal advice.

VIII. My eighth step is to google background things for general info & understanding. Curiosity is one of the best traits a family historian can have. For the post on Clarence Snyder I googled "Plumbrook munitions" and "teachers in the Great Depression" among others. For the post on Andrew Henn I googled: “Germans in Syracuse NY Oswego” – there’s bunch of info on that; “German emigration passenger list” – there’s a website, plus Ancestry has some; “Ship Radius 1850s”, “Ship Schiller 1850’s” – that was a bust but it’s worked before; “Baden emigration 1800s” – there turns out to be a lot on that, a good bit in German (I used Google Translate), including lists of people who left Baden with details as to the port used & whether they were steerage or not; I googled “emigration 1850s Bremen”  and “emigration 1850s Le Havre” – fascinating stuff; “Coopers 1850s” “Baden History” – got a birth record index that had a bit more info than Ancestry’s – in German, thank you Google Translate; “1800s Germany why do children’s birth registration change religion in the same family” – that one will be used in a later post; and probably other things I’ve forgotten now. I do list sources at the bottom of my ancestor bio posts. I tend to use Google a lot in prepping for a blog post, and I Google anything I can think of that I’m curious about, even though sometimes 2-3 hours of research results in one sentence by the time I write it up. But each search gives me more knowledge with which to find out more, and it carries over from ancestor to ancestor. The irony of any information search is that you must know something to find out more. It helps you form the questions to ask.

And last, if I’m blogging the person, I look for images, pictures, You Tube videos, etc., to illustrate and explain the story. Reading a big block of text without pictures is intimidating to a lot of people in our video age and people won’t read or finish it no matter how interesting it is. I LOVE having pictures of the person, but I don’t have many (actually I don’t have any more further up the tree on Dad’s side of the family than I’ve already put up – if you have some and are willing to share with me I’ll be forever grateful!). Sometimes I use images of documents, full or cropped. Sometimes images of old ads (pre-1923 is off copyright in the USA - other rules apply in other countries) that I've found through a Google search. I've bookmarked websites that connect me to photos/art which are under the creative commons license (which allows me to use it under certain conditions and with proper credit) or in the public domain. I love,, Creative Commons Search, and Wikimedia Commons. There are other sites too. I’m concerned about making copyright violations because even though this isn’t my area and I know virtually nothing beyond what I’ve read on the Legal Genealogist’s blog (excellent blog, btw) and/or linked to in my Resources page, I’m afraid I’d be held to a higher standard because of the J.D., and I can’t afford a screw up in that area. So I try to be careful..

I hope this helps someone. If you’ve got questions, leave a comment, or email me at the address on the Contact Me page; I’ll try to answer. If I know you on Facebook, well, it’s got to let me comment again someday!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: #24 Andrew/Andreas Henn (1832 – 1911), First to the U.S.A.

Climbing My Family Tree: Gravestone of Andrew Henn (taken by Frank K for
Gravestone of Andrew Henn (taken by Frank K for
Click to make bigger

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

As those who follow my blog know I have some notes and research done by some of my ancestors on both sides of my family that I have used as clues in doing my own research, and occasionally quoted in this blog. Those notes and such have usually turned out to be partially accurate, some more accurate than others. Most often there are a few grains of truth that help me confirm what I find belongs to my family (for an example see my post on Elizabeth Manley Bixler Wolfington Moore) then decided to check Great-Aunt Lucille’s book, Members of the Flock, to see if she ever talked about Andrew. Yikes! Yes, she reports a memory of my grandfather’s about an "Uncle Andrew" but he doesn’t sound remotely the same as the man I researched! I was then up ‘til 3:00 AM last night double-checking my trails and trying to find our Andrew in the places mentioned in Lucille’s book. I gave up. I don’t know if the book references the same man or if there is another Uncle Andrew that I haven’t found yet. I decided to tell you what the book said (it’s brief) and present what I found and if any can give me any further information/stories about Andrew that help resolve this, or even if they don’t, I’ll welcome you and them with open arms! Please leave a comment below or email me at the address on the “Contact Me” page. I will respond as quickly as I can.

In Great-Aunt Lucille's book, my grandfather, Owen Carl Henn, remembered the following brief story about "Uncle Andrew Henn, who “was an Immigration Officer on Ellis Island, New York City. Later he returned. I mean, retired, and lived in Florida. Mom and Dad visited him one time, and Dad was challenged by the sight of a checkerboard. Dad always prided himself as a fairly good checker player, and thought it a good way to pass the time. But Uncle Andrew proved himself to be a checker champion. Dad couldn’t do any good at all.”  

Andrew Henn is my 2nd great grand uncle on my father’s father’s side. He was born to Franz Joseph and Katharina Phillipine[Blank] Henn on January 20, 1832 in Baden, Germany; he was baptized/christened, Andreas Henn, as a Catholic on January 23, 1832 at Doerlesberg, Mosbach, Germany. His siblings were Genevieve “Genofera” [Scheer] (1827-1916), Serena Mary [Dick] (1828-1918); Dorothea “Dorothe” [Snyder] (1830-1896); Rosa “Generosa”[Strauss] (1836-1908), Edmund (1838-1861), John “Josephat” (1842-1919), Frank “Franz Joseph” (1843-1928), and Josephine “Josepha” [Schueurmann] (1849-1876).

I know nothing personal the first twenty years of his life. But mid-Century Germany was experiencing upheavals, with the failure of the revolution in 1848 to bring Democracy to the country, economic uncertainty, and, in some cases, religious persecution, that were encouraging a boom in emigration to the United States for the chance at a new and better life.  In addition, better communication and travel meant that Germans in the interior knew more about emigration and found it to be more of a possibility. Those that left were generally small farmers, not rich, but also not the poor. These mid-century immigrants had enough resources to finance their trip, but not enough to make them want to stay in Germany if there were other opportunities. When they hit the American shore they went west looking for fertile farmland.

Nearly 1 million Germans emigrated to the U.S in the 1850’s, and among them was Andreas Henn. In taking ship for Germany he would likely have not only had to pay his passage, in steerage, but also bring all of his own food for the trip, which would have lasted approximately 30-45 days.  (See here for a collection of letters describing the voyage from Germany to the USA.)   I don’t know why he struck off on his own at age 20 but we know that he arrived here in 1852, one year before the rest of the family followed. I’ve found two possibilities for the ship he arrived on.  The first is the ship “Schiller” which left from the port of Bremen, and arrived at Castle Garden NY (it was before Ellis Island existed) on April 1, 1852; the passenger list shows “Andreas Hen”, male, age 20, from Baden, was aboard. The other possibility is the ship “Radius” which departed from the port of Le Havre, France and arrived at Castle Garden on October 14, 1852; the passenger list shows “Andreas Henn”, age 20, female, from Germany was aboard traveling steerage. Even though Bremen is a lot closer to Baden than Le Havre, I lean towards the Radius as the correct ship. I think the “Female is a misprint because Andreas is not a female name in German. I lean towards Le Havre because the next year the rest of the family left out of Le Havre and I would think that they would follow in his footsteps if he were successful. I might be wrong though. In any event, he arrived in 1852 and made his way to Syracuse NY (Onondaga County) initially, where there was a large German community.
Climbing My Family Tree: Passenger List for Ship "Radius"
Passenger List for Ship "Radius"
Click to make bigger

Climbing My Family Tree: Passenger List for Ship "Schiller"
Passenger List for Ship "Schiller"
Click to make bigger

By 1855, though, he and the rest of the family had moved up to West Monroe in Oswego County, NY. As the Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal met in Syracuse, it was easy to get there and back to Syracuse as necessary. Andrew worked as a cooper [Here is a You Tube video demonstrating a Cooper at work - it's interesting!]. In 1859, he married Sarah Deacon, and by the time of the federal census the next year, they had a one month old son, Charles (1860-?). Two years later they had a daughter, Hattie [Baum} (1862-1931), and two years after that another daughter, Ida (1864-1884).

On February 9, 1864, he enlisted as a private in Battery G of the 3rd NY Light Artillery, for a three year period. It was commanded by Capt. David L. Aberdeen [duty at New Berne and other points in North Carolina till March, 1865. Campaign of the Carolinas March 1-April 26. Southwest Creek March 7. Battle of Kinston or Wise Forts March 8-10. Occupation of Goldsboro March 21. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. Duty in the Dept. of North Carolina till June], and was mustered out under Capt. William A. Kelsey, July 7, 1865, at Syracuse.

Climbing My Family Tree: 1st NY Light Artillery
1st NY Light Artillery
out of copyright

He returned to Oswego County and took up farming. He reported on the Non-population farming Censuses in 1870 and 1880. His farm was a bit bigger in 1870 (15 acres improved 10 acres woodland) than in 1880 (8 acres tilled, 5 acres permanent meadows, and 7 permanent woodland), and valued about $300 more. I’m wondering if he could no longer maintain the bigger farm, since he filed for a civil war disability pension on December 9, 1979; it was granted.  He indicated later, in 1890, on a NY Veteran’s schedule that he had chronic diarrhea and spinal difficulties. In both non-population schedules he indicated he had 1 horse, 2 cows, 2-3 sheep, 2 swine and 2 poultry. Between 1870 and 1880 he went from producing 120 bushels of Indian corn to 40 bushels and 95 bushels of oats to 40, but his production of buckwheat doubled in that time frame, and his production of Irish potatoes and butter remained the same.

The local paper, The Baldwinsville Gazette Farmers Journal reported that Andrew and Sarah had a fairly active social life over the years with many friends and family visiting, and Sarah being very active in the Ladies’ Aid Society. They also knew tragedy. Their youngest daughter, Ida, died in 1884 at age 20, and the local paper reported that Andrew Henn’s sister Rosa died on August 31, 1908. In fact, Andrew outlived three of his siblings.  Andrew continued farming at least through 1910, per the census, and probably to the end, as he died the next year, on April 21, 1911, at age 79.

I’d like to find out whether I have the wrong “Uncle Andrew” or who my grandfather was speaking of when he described “Uncle Andrew” as working at Ellis Island (that would also be a fascinating story) and retiring to Florida.
As always I’d like more detail about his life, and a picture or two. Perhaps there is more in the land records or probate records.
------------------------------------------------------ Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.;;,_New_York;;;;;; NY Find A Grave Memorial# 34893720;; NY census for 1855, 1892 & 1905; US Census for 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1010, including non population surveys for 1870 & 1880. And NY Veterans Report for 1890.

Monday, July 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #23 John Philip Henn (1855-1930), He Came To Dinner

Climbing My Family Tree: Syracuse NY to Burnside NY (Google Maps)
Syracuse NY to Burnside NY (Google Maps)
Click to make bigger
This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

After writing about my great grand parents Owen James (#21) and Myrtie Mabel (Wilcox) Henn (#22), I became curious about Philip Henn, who came to dinner in 1927 and didn’t leave until he died three years later -- as I wrote about in Myrtie’s story.

John Philip Henn (hereinafter “Philip”) was born in 1855 to John Henn’s sister, Serena May Henn. (John Henn was Owen James' father.)  In great-Aunt Lucille Henn Robson’s book, Members of the Flock,  Lucille, My grandfather and his brother Lowell discuss a family rumor that that Philip may have been born out of wedlock. No one knew for sure, as it was something that wasn’t talked about in Philip’s lifetime. They weren’t even sure who his mother was, but noted that Philip never spoke well of her. Considering he arrived as a teenager, that could be teenage angst that got stuck.

I cannot confirm or deny whether Philip was born out of wedlock, although the evidence tends toward saying he was. In the New York State Census of 1855, taken June 21, 1855, he is listed as John P. Dick, age 1/12 (1 month old) and the relationship to head of household was indicated as “child.” Serena Mary Henn married Jacob Dick in 1855 and this was the first census they appeared on as a married couple/family. Jacob Dick was five years younger than his wife, and both were born in Germany.

Climbing My Family Tree: Dick 1855 NY Census
Dick 1855 NY Census
Click to make bigger
In 1860, Serena May and Jacob Dick are listed without children on the Federal Census. That doesn’t necessarily mean that baby died. It could confirm that the child was not Jacob’s. In the 1800’s, out of wedlock children were frequently raised by other relatives and he might be living with someone else. However, I haven’t been able to find much of the family on the 1860 Census; those I have found, don’t have him. But, in 1870, I found John Henn, age 15,  living with his 65 year old grandmother [both are mis-transcribed as  “AHeen”] at the Henn farm.

Climbing My Family Tree: 1870 Census: Phillipine & John Philip Henn
1870 Census: Phillipine & John Philip Henn
Click to make bigger
My grandfather recalled, in the reminiscences recorded by great-aunt Lucille that John Philip Henn came from New York to Michigan to work with John Henn, his uncle, when John Philip was about 15. Since there would have been two John Henns, John Philip began going by Philip.

Philip arrived before John was married and initially helped him in his cooperage business, making and sending barrels to Syracuse, NY for the salt industry.  After John married Elizabeth O’Brian in 1873, Philip lived with John and Elizabeth. Until John bought him a farm (as he eventually for did all of his children) in approx. 1880.

Climbing My Family True: Burnside Twp Land Property Map (Lapeer Cty MI)
Burnside Twp Land Property Map (Lapeer Cty MI)
Owen James' land is between and below the N & the S in BURNSIDE
Philip Henn's land is kitty cornered to Owen James'  and just below and to the right
Click to make bigger
Phil’s farm was ¾ of a mile east of Owen James’ farm on M-90 east of Burnside Michigan. Great uncle Lowell recalled: the first year they cleared ten acres and burned off the brush and planted wheat: forty bushels to the acre were harvested, and that was their first crop as farmers. Later, Elizabeth’s father, a carpenter, built a house for Phil in about 1885.

According to Aunt Lucille’s book, and the censuses, Philip never married. For many years he went with Ella McIntosh of Burnside, MI, who also never married. She visited him at Owen James and Myrtie’s house after he was bedfast.

After John’s children became adults and had families of their own, Owen James moved into the place of caring for Philip when he needed it, because Phil had “rheumatism” and “was bent” (likely Rheumatoid arthritis) per Great-Aunt Lucille. Philip used to go visit in his horse and buggy nearly every day. Lucille recalled that the kids looked forward to his visits, despite his cheek squeezes, because he gave them each a wintergreen candy, which he kept in his pocket.

He often visited at dinnertime and would stay for dinner. In the Spring of 1927, Phil got quite sick and didn’t get better. On June 30, 1927, Phil came to their home, and Myrtie put him in her and her husband’s bedroom to care for him until he got better. He didn’t leave the room, or the bed, for three years.  In 1930, he died in his sleep.

According to Great-Aunt Lucille, Philip had never been a practicing Catholic, but Owen James’ brothers and sisters’ insisted he be buried a Catholic. So they had the funeral in the West Burnside Church and buried him in St. Mary's Cemetery, Burnside. Great Aunt Lucille wrote in her book, Members of the Flock, “There were several prayer cards for him and after 2 or 3 months they began to run out, and I remember Dad’s  [Owen James’] sisters sot of insisted that Dad pay for a prayer card too. “What for?” Dad asked. “Why, to get him out of Purgatory, of course.” Dad, not being a Catholic, was sort of ‘ruffled in his feathers’ and he told them, “Well, if he can’t jump across, he can go to H__.”  The girls wouldn’t speak to him for quite awhile, but things got patched up later.”

Philip was survived by two half sisters, Mrs. Rose Johnson of Syracuse, New York, and Mrs. Emma Behr of Oneida, New York.

If anyone has more information about Philip Henn and would be willing to share it with me, please email me at the address on the "Contact Me" page or leave a comment here. I look forward to hearing from you!

Climbing My Family Tree: Philip Henn Gravestone (shared to by Reckinger)
Philip Henn Gravestone
Click to make bigger

NY Census 1855; Federal Census, 1870, 1900; Members of the Flock by Lucille Henn Robson


I really want to find digitally archives for Michigan newspapers so I can find more detail for Phil's life.
I'd also like to find out who he lived with in his younger years--before he moved to (ran away to?) Michigan.
I'm pessimistic about it being possible, but I'd like to find out for certain who his father is.