Earliest

Who got here first?

When I started doing genealogy, I quickly realized we were “newbies” in this county. I am only the third or fourth generation in the United States, so no DAR or Mayflower Society for me! Unfortunately, with the exception of my Meintzer line, I don’t have much information about the immigrant ancestors. Oh, I know who they are, sometimes I know roughly where they came from, and I may have narrowed the arrival window. That may seem like a lot, but usually I can’t pinpoint an exact date, arrival port, departure port, and in most cases, an ancestral village. That makes research farther back, impossible.

Thus, I’m not really sure when my earliest ancestor arrived. The Jost (Yost) family might be the ones, so I’ll spend this week trying to nail down something more specific for them. I haven’t looked in a while, and new databases are always coming online. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find something.

What do I already know? Elizabeth Jost (2nd great grandmother) married Johann Mathias Bruder in Wisconsin in 1859. In letters from two of my grandfather’s sisters, the information was a little vague:

  • Clara Haws Koch said Elizabeth’s birth year was 1835
  • Mary (May) Haws Carroll said “My mother’s [Anna Bruder] father & mother [Johann Mathias Bruder & Elizabeth Jost] are buried in Francis Creek Cemetery, as also is my grandmother’s [Elizabeth Jost] father & mother, whose name is Johanna Mathias Jost & Elizabeth Jost.” [It should be Nicholas (not Johanna Mathias!) Jost]

Both women were in their 80s when writing that, and lived a decade longer. In the mid-1970s, their parents and grandparents had been dead a long time, and I doubt they were looking at any paperwork when they answered my letters. They gave me a starting point, though, so I’m not complaining. When I look into records, I find:

Cemeteries¹

  • Nicholas Jost (St. Anne, died 23 September 1886, age 86; infer 1800 birth)
  • Elizabeth ______ Jost (St. Anne, died 30 January 1863, age 55; infer 1808 birth)
  • Elizabeth Jost Bruder (St. Anne, died 15 January 1894, age 55; infer 1839 birth) — death certificate infers 1838
  • I don’t have solid death dates, much less cemeteries, for any of Nicholas & Elizabeth’s sons (Mathias, John, & Peter).

1900 & 1890 census

1900 was the first census to specify the immigration year, number of years in the US, and the person’s naturalization status (alien, papers applied for, naturalized). Unfortunately, both parents (Nicholas & Elizabeth), as well as daughter, Elizabeth, died before then. I’m not sure whether Mathias was alive, but I don’t find him in that census. That information isn’t always correct, especially that far back, but it’s usually pretty close. The one possibility I DID find, arrived in 1864, with a wife. That doesn’t fit. The other Josts (see next section) aren’t found, either, so have probably died.

I did find a likely Mathias Jost in the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule.² Unfortunately, that doesn’t help with finding him in 1900, or answer the immigration question. Now let’s take a bigger jump back in the census records.

1850 census and Land Purchase

A Nicholas Yost, (54 — the German “J” is pronounced like a consonant “Y,” so this is a common variation), lived in Manitowoc Rapids with wife, Elizabeth (50), and three children. The 16-year-old son’s name started with “M” and ended with “ST” and is illegible/nonsensical in-between. Daughter Mary was 9, and son, John, was one. John was the only one born in Wisconsin; the others were all Prussia.

Several problems surface with this snapshot of the family. ALL the ages are “off” compared to other sources I consider more reliable:

  • Nicholas by 4 years
  • Elizabeth by 8 years
  • Mathias by 1 or more
  • Mary by 2 or 3
  • John may be pretty close — babies usually are!

Census ages can be notoriously inconsistent, so there’s wiggle room for them. But then there’s the whole name issue. “Mathias” isn’t what the census recorded. Nowhere do I ever see my 2nd great grandmother recorded as anything other than Elizabeth. Why would I think this is the right family?

German naming custom could easily be in play here. On my mom’s side, I’ve got a mother-daughter “Maria Elisabetha” pair, both of whom went by “Elizabeth.” That’s my theory here. “Mary” was actually “Mary Elizabeth” and was either being called Mary by the family as a child, or the enumerator was told “Mary Elizabeth” but only “Mary” was recorded.

Later census records didn’t suggest there was another, similar, family nearby. So, despite the issues with this census data, I feel confident these are my Josts. As mentioned in The Old Homestead, Nicholas purchased a parcel of Homestead land 10 August 1850, so he was obviously in Manitowoc County by then.

The dwelling enumerated before them has a Nicholas (26) and Pete (24) Jost with property of their own. Their relationship to my Jost ancestors is not established, though their ages and proximity suggests they are related. Due to Nicholas & Elizabeth having a son, Peter, in 1853, I believe these twenty-somethings are nephews who arrived in Wisconsin — with them, or separately.

1860 census4

The 1860 census had Nicholas (60) & wife Elizabeth (55— slow aging?) listed with a last name of “Jose.” It seems the “t” at the end wasn’t pronounced clearly enough to be heard by the enumerator! Daughter Elizabeth was out of the house, married to John Bruder. Mathias (24) was not yet married, John was 10 (short a year) and a new child, Peter (7), appeared. Even with the misspelled surname, this family is consistent with the Yost family in 1850.

What about the two Jost men who had lived next to them? I haven’t been able to positively identify either in the 1860 census, or later ones. Several additional Jost families appear in Manitowoc County between 1850 and 1860. Some are new immigrants, some may be these young men, now married. Unfortunately, the marriage indexes show a date and groom’s name, but the bride isn’t linked in that record. It’s difficult to connect her separate record to the right groom. It will take some extra effort, and perhaps a trip to Wisconsin to look at the register books and better track land ownership, to sort out the additional Jost families.

1870 census5

Nicholas, age 70, was living in the household of Mathias & Gertrude Joist [Jost]. Relationships weren’t stated in 1870, but this is likely to be his son, Mathias. Listed below Nicholas was Catherine, age 56. That’s a story for another day, but suffice it to say his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1863, and Nicholas remarried. Below her was 17-year-old Peter, born in Wisconsin. Again, no relationship, but the inference was that he was Nicholas’s son who we saw in 1860. Middle son, John, is out of the picture, but being 20+, this isn’t surprising. I have the same problem with him that I had with the younger Nicholas and older Peter — I can’t be sure if/who he married, so can’t pick him out from the various John Josts in the county. The blended family we see here is certainly consistent with the earlier ones.

1880 census6

In 1880, Nicholas was widowed again, and was now living with his daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, John Bruder. Mathias and family disappeared from Manitowoc County, but this time I tracked him down in Marathon, Wisconsin. His having a bunch of kids really helped me out! It seems my 1850 family is, in fact, the correct one. Throughout the week I discovered (or confirmed) a lot, but not enough.

What I DIDN’T find:

  • Naturalization papers — Those might have an arrival date or ship name, but no, none to be found.
  • Passenger list(s) — Nothing shows up on Ancestry. None of the Josts in the Castle Garden database fit the immigrants I know about. It’s also possible they came up from New Orleans — though I don’t have any documentation or family lore to support that scenario. Maybe they swam.
  • Obituaries — I had hoped the Find-A-Grave memorials might have had obituaries added. Those might have contained information about when they arrived or the town they came from, but no. Newspapers.com didn’t have the years I needed for the county newspapers, so none there, either.
  • Death certificates — All I can find are indexes, and the birthplace is always a generic “Germany.” I don’t know if the actual certificate might be more specific, but I don’t have those.

Why did I spend so much time tracking each census year, instead of trying to find more passenger lists or naturalization records? Those may not exist (at all, or not online), and I may not be able to identify my ancestors in them. I hoped to track everyone forward to a record that would narrow down the year or place. Since my earliest census had some consistency problems, I needed to be sure those family members moved forward in time in a way that connected them to later information (death dates and cemeteries), if I found it. If they couldn’t match up with the later records, then the 1850 family was probably the wrong one. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, none of the immigrants survived to a census with more detailed immigration information! Lousy luck. The six people I was tracking didn’t generate the records that might have helped.

So I didn’t exactly accomplish what I’d set out to. Before this week I had Josts narrowed down to about a 10-year immigration window (between Elizabeth’s (daughter) and John’s births. That really hasn’t changed (1838-1848), and I still don’t know the ship. But looking at this family in a semi-organized way has resolved a couple questions:

  • Nicholas & Pete (from 1850) are likely to be extended family
  • I know what happened to Mathias after 1870 (he moved to Marathon, WI)

It’s also pointed out that I REALLY need to spend more time sorting out the descendants from this line, to get a more complete picture. That’s for another day. Some unexpected pleasant surprises materialized, though:

  • I discovered several more Civil War veterans. They are relatives, not ancestors, but that’s okay.
  • I MAY have discovered Elizabeth’s (mother) maiden name AND the town they emigrated from. If so, that would be huge!

I was looking at my leaf hints (I know, always a risky proposition!) when I noticed Mathias had a hint in the “Saarland, Germany, Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1776-1875” database. I can’t see the full information, or the image, from home, but the birth year is reasonable, and the parents are a Nicolas Jost and Elisabeth Goedert. The birth was recorded in Nenning, Saarland. When I clicked on his sister’s leaf, the same database pops up, with the same parents, same town, and a reasonable birth year for her. The two children in the registers are undoubtedly siblings (same parents). It seems unlikely the birth years would match up so well, if they weren’t my Mathias & Elizabeth. A trip to the library is needed to assess the records, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

If you ever wondered why I spend the time correlating information and filling in the gaps, now you know. Sometimes it pays off, big time!

#52Ancestors


¹Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 155697934, Nick Jost, (unk-1886), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photographs by Bev Rockwell.

Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 155697971, Elizabeth Jost, (unk-1863), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photograph by Bev Rockwell.

Find-A-Grave, database, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) accessed 23 June 2019, memorial 144417009, Elizabeth Jost Bruder, (1839-1894), Saint Anne Cemetery, Francis Creek, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; photograph by Bev Rockwell.

²1890 U.S. census, “Schedule Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War schedule”, Wisconsin, Marathon, Marathon, e.d. 115; Page n.g. (written); image 1 of 2, line 1, Mathias JOST; Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com) accessed 23 June 2019. Population schedule house number 167, family number 171; NARA publication; M123.

³1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Rapids; Page 44; dwelling number 207; family number 213; line 18; Nicholas YOST household; accessed 17 June 2019. Nicholas YOST, age 54; NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 1002; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).              

Nicholas (age 26) and Pete (age 24) JOST the dwelling and family before them

41860 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth; Page 227; dwelling number 1789; family number 1773; line 27; Nicholas JOSE [JOST] household; accessed 23 June 2019. Nicholas JOSE [JOST], age 60; NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1418; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

51870 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth; Page13; dwelling number 92; family number 85; line 5; Mathias JOST household; accessed 13 June 2019. Nicholas JOIST, age 70; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1723; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

61880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth, e.d. 66; Page 12; dwelling number 104; family number 108; line 12; Mathias BRUDER household; accessed 3 February 2019. Nicklos JUST [JOST], age 75; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1434; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Marathon, Marathon, e.d. 88; Page 11; dwelling number 66; family number 67; line 19; Math. YOST household; accessed 13 June 2019. Math. YOST, age 47 [very faint]; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1433; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

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