Prosperity: (noun) a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.
All my immigrant ancestors are relatively recent—mid- to late-1800s. For most of them, I don’t know their circumstances in the towns they came from. It’s safe to say most of them found their life in the United States to be more prosperous than their life in the old country was.
One of those famlies was that of Peter Harry/Hary/Harré and Elisabetha Boullie. They were the parents of my great grandmother, Dorothea Harry Schweiger, and you met them in Travel, when they emigrated from the Saar region, in Germany.
Peter arrived in Manitowoc County in 1854. In 1858, he purchased² 40 acres of land in Township 20N, Range 24E from the government. His property was in the SE¼ of the SE¼ of Section 12, as shown in the plat maps, below :
Leslie Larson and his wife, Lucille (a 2nd cousin, once removed—granddaughter of my great grandmother’s sister, Margaret) hired a researcher in the Saar region in the 1970s. They tracked me down in 1980, and shared the information they had.
Back then, online records weren’t dreamed of, and even the microfilm collection of the Latter-Day Saints would have been smaller. The records from the Saar region possibly weren’t even filmed, yet. The extract the Larsons received of Peter and Elisabeth’s 15 April 1844 marriage in Bisten listed Peter as a coal miner. On both social and financial scales, he was positioned pretty low.
When he purchased his forty acres in 1858, Peter probably felt like he’d hit the jackpot! Owning land back in Germany would never have been possible for him. Unfortunately, prosperity was short-lived for him. According to the information I received from Mr. Larson, Peter died 14 July 1860, from complications due to a tree falling on him, breaking his back. According to my notes, that information came from Peter’s youngest son, Fred (who was born after his father’s death), and his granddaughter (my grandmother), Victoria Schweiger Haws.
Nevertheless, Peter obtained a better life for his family, and they continued to farm that land after his death, according to the plat maps. Confirming that with census records has been challenging. I almost gave up locating Elisabeth and their children in the 1860 census. Searches failed. Going page-by-page through several enumeration districts:
- Two Rivers (twice!)
- Two Rivers (Village of, 1st Ward)
- Two Rivers (Village of, 2nd Ward)
turned up other names I recognized, but not this family. In desperation I tried my old standby of searching for one of the kids. Using FamilySearch, I picked Margaret, left off the surname, birth range 1854-1856, residence Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Only 46 matches were found, so I scrolled through, looking at the other names in the records. I found one with all the first names I expected, and all the right ages. But the surname was BURGER, not Harry!³
No wonder I couldn’t find them with search parameters . . .
How do I know this is my family? Well, they weren’t anywhere else, and I know from the plat maps they stayed in the area another 18 years. The oldest daughter, Mary, had married John Westphal a couple weeks before the enumerator came through. The newlyweds were on the lines above Elizabeth and the younger siblings. I’d noticed Mary and John the first time through, so how did I miss everyone else? The surname was nothing remotely like Harry, so I never looked at first names.
That was clearly an enumerator error, not one caused by the indexer. Nor was it the only error made by the enumerator! Peter should have been listed in the household, even though he had died by the 18 August visit date. Enumeration day for 1860 was 1 June. Since he didn’t die until July, he should not have been left off.
In January, 1861, Elizabeth (at some point she changed from the German spelling with an “s” to the American spelling with a “z”) gave birth to Fred, the child she was pregnant with at the time of Peter’s death. In the 1870 census, Elizabeth and her children proved to be even more elusive than in 1860. An afternoon of searching and paging through the 1870 census turned up nothing. Searching for the nearby neighbors from the 1872 plat map found the neighbors, but no Harrys. Looking for the children’s future spouses found them, but still no Harrys. Everyone reappears in later census and other records, just not 1870.
So what became of the children as they grew up and left home?
- Mary (1845): and John Westphal continued to farm in Two Rivers and had 9 children. A daughter, Ida, moved near her Aunt Dorothea in Glencoe, Illinois, and married Joseph Schramm. At least one other child moved to Sheboygan, because Mary died there in 1933.
- William (1847): married Sophia Aleff. They remained in Two Rivers, and had 11 children.
- John (1849): married Barbara Aleff (yes, they were sisters!). Their 3 children were born in Wisconsin, but John also moved to the Glencoe area, near his sister, Dorothea.
- Peter (1853): married Frances Young and had 12 children. This family relocated to Clark County, Wisconsin, between July 1877 and July 1879.
- Margaret (1855): married Stephen Mais in 1872. They had 4 children that I could find. It appears they also moved to Clark County, Wisconsin. It was their granddaughter and her husband who contacted me in 1980.
- Dorothea (1858): My great grandmother. By 1880, she had moved to Chicago, working in the Nussbaumer household.⁴ She married Ignatz in 1885.
- Frederick (1861): married Sophie Land in 1882. By 1900, they had moved to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where Fred worked in the saw mill. It seems they never had children.
Elizabeth lived alone in the 1880 census. All the children were elsewhere. She died in Clark County in 1887, so it seems she moved in with either Peter, Jr. or Margaret between those years.
Peter’s 1854 search for prosperity clearly paid off. Despite his untimely death, his emigration propelled his family’s fortunes upward. Were they Rockefellers? Hardly! But his children and grandchildren had opportunities for land ownership and home ownership never possible in Germany.
For me, this week has been a great chance to catch up on this family. One downside to being given a lot of information (from the Larsons in 1980), is the tendency to focus research on less complete lines. It turns out I have a lot of DNA matches from this great grandparent pair! I recognize surnames, but don’t know how they connect. I need to fill in the gaps in my information (I’m sure there have been a bunch of births, deaths, and marraiges in the last 40 years!) to figure out how to those matches are related to me. This week provided a good start.
But once again, more answers only beget more questions . . .
¹Dictionary.com. [online] (https://www.dictionary.com : accessed 19 Feb. 2020, “prosperity.”
²”Land Patent Search”, database, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records (www.glorecords.blm.gov/search), accessed 21 February 2020, entry for Peter Hary (Manitowoc County, Wisconsin), cash sale doc. #19859.
³1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Two Rivers; Page 284; dwelling number 2254; family number 2218; line 6; Elizabeth BURGER household; accessed 22 February 2020. Elizabeth BURGER [HARRY}, age 42; NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1418; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
⁴1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Chicago, e.d. 189; Page 432D (printed), 28 (written) ; dwelling number 91; family number 155; line 12; Chs. NUSSBAUMER household; accessed 31 October 2019. Dora HARRY, age 24; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 199; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).