2012-04-26

Four ships came sailing

Ancestor chart, Robert Schuh
Recently some cousins from Germany visited Chuck and me in Palm Springs. Robert Schuh and his wife Annemarie from Wasserliesch and Barbara Schuh, the younger of their two daughters included Palm Springs as part of their tour of California, Nevada, and Arizona. They flew to San Francisco, rented an SUV, drove to Las Vegas, Brice Canyon, and the Grand Canyon, and then to Palm Springs before a few days in Los Angeles and their return to San Francisco. Yes, they were packing in as much American Southwest as possible for a three-week trip.

Robert and I are 3rd cousins. My great-grandfather John M. Kohn is a brother to Robert's great-grandmother Barbara Kohn-Schuh. Our first ancestor in common is our 2nd great-grandfather Johann Matthias Kohn V (1804-1877 in Wasserliesch). On the ancestor charts (at right), he is marked with a solid arrow.

The family arrived as the result of following their GPS directions to our home. Robert pulled their SUV into our driveway while Chuck and I were working in the front yard. I was burying irrigation tubes and Chuck was cleaning pine needles and stray weed-grasses out of the cactus.
Ancestor chart, Tom Kohn
We proudly showed them our garden and what we most recently finished, the path and patio underneath a towering pine tree. Annemarie and Barbara both tried Chuck's favorite relaxing spot, a hammock shaded by the pine tree.

We gave them directions to their hotel and made plans to meet them there for dinner nearby at The Cowboy Way, a favorite informal restau that serves the best western bar-b-que. Thanks to Barbara, who is a superbly conscientious interpreter, we had a spirited conversation at dinner. Robert and Annemarie told us about Wasserliesch, other members of our family who live there, the homes and locations that I've noted in my research through the Kirchenb├╝cher and websites. Chuck talked about his writing, American politics and culture, and his family and early years in Cleveland. And from time to time, Robert and I spoke directly about family history and swapped American and German family stories.

The next morning, while Chuck was playing volleyball and Kazu was at the gym, the Schuhs picked me up to show them what I love about Palm Springs. We drove east along Highway 111, and I pointed out a few of my favorite areas for off-road biking, we drove to the top of the cove neighborhood at the south end of Cathedral City, and then we went to Indian Canyons directly south of Palm Springs. We hiked all of Andreas Canyon, which is about a mile of gentle hiking up the canyon along the stream. The return hike leads up to the top of the canyon's south wall, from where you see a great panorama of the entire canyon and many native cactus and ground covers. We drove on to the trading post, descended into Palm Canyon, and walked a little among the immense Washingtonian palms.

We topped the afternoon with a drive up to the tramway station. We decided against taking the cable car up, since we were dressed only for the valley floor. The temperature at the top station was around 35 degrees (F), much too cool for exploring the trails and lake up there.

Ancestor chart, Oskar Blasius
Robert and I left Annemarie and Barbara at the hotel for some late afternoon poolside relaxing, and he and I talked about our family history research. I printed the ancestor charts duplicated in this post, and we talked about the three Kohn brothers who emigrated from Wasserliesch, in 1855, 1865, and 1872. I told him of my guess that John M. Kohn and Susannah Reinert had met while they lived on opposite banks of the Mosel River, and Robert described how closely tied the two towns have been, despite the absence of a bridge between them. Robert told me of meeting Oskar Blasius and his interest in understanding the distant connection between them. I made another ancestor chart and printed it for Robert's next meeting with Oskar, whose 2nd great grandfather is my 3rd great grandfather. (So we are 3rd cousins, once removed.) Our first ancestor in common is Peter Blasius II (1789-1846 in Igel). Peter Blasius II is indicated with a dashed arrow in the ancestor charts.

Robert asked questions that set another research task: What ships brought the Kohn brothers and the Reinert family to America? Did these ancestors emigrate through Hamburg, Bremen, Ostende, or some other port? Did they all arrive in New York? There were other family emigrants also. These are the facts I know about each:

Entlassungsurkunde
Gertrude Blasius-Schmitz
  • Matthias Kohn (1829-1888), the eldest of the Kohn brothers who emigrated, was confirmed in Wasserliesch on 25 April 1849 and bought land in La Crosse county, Wisconsin on 15 May 1856. (Section 23, Town 15, Range 5, SW 1/4 NE 1/4 S 23 T 15N R 5W, documented in the county deed books, volume 89. I believe he emigrated in 1855, before Prussia required applications for emigration. He married Josephine Becker in 1865, and they had 11 children and adopted 2 children. He operated a hotel-saloon in La Crosse from about 1866 through his death in 1888. Several of his descendants live in Minnesota.
  • Several Blasius siblings emigrated from Igel before 1867 and resided in the Chicago area. These included the widowed Anna Catharina Blasius-Schmitz (1826-after 1869) and her daughter Gertrude, who emigrated April 1863; Nicolaus Blasius (1835-1912, emigrated 1863); and Johann Blasius (1833-1878, emigrated before 1864). All married in America, and several of their descendants still live in the Chicago area.
  •  Johann Matthias Kohn (1839-1919) emigrated after applying to the local authorities on 30 June 1865. He stated he was 26 years old, and that the reason for emigrating was "that he has a brother already residing in America and imagines that he will have better prospects." He stated an intention to embark at Le Havre, France. In America he called himself John M. Kohn, lived near Tipton, Kansas, and married Susannah Reinert there in 1874. In 1880, he moved his family to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he was a milk farmer and deliveryman. Susannah Reinert-Kohn died of heat stroke in 1887, and John M. moved his family back to Kansas and lived there with his mother-in-law for a time. He bought a farm nearby, raised cattle, and drove some cattle to market in Kansas City each year. He died on his farm southwest of Tipton, Kansas.
  • Johann Reinert (1822-1871) emigrated after applying to the local authorities on 9 February 1867. In Amerika-Auswanderungen aus den Regierungsbezirken Bitburg und Trier im 19. Jahrhundert, Josef Mergen records the application, "851. Der Leinweber Johann Reinert, geb.12.6.1822 mit seiner Frau Katharine Blasius, ge.20.3.1824 und den Kindern Susanna 8.1.1848, Nikolaus 7.1.1851, Peter 7.5.1853, Maria 27.1.1860, Gertrud 10.12.1864. nach A. 'dass er daselbst Anverwandte habe, welche bereits fuer sein ferneres Fortkommen gesorgt haetten.' 9.2.1867" [...that he has relatives there who have already provided for his expected arrival]. Johann died of cancer of the neck on his farm near Caledonia, Minnesota in 1871, and his widow  Katherine  and the family moved with a dozen other families by wagon train to Kansas in 1872. Katherine died in 1891 on her farm near Tipton, Kansas.
  • Michael Kohn (1844-after 1900) emigrated after applying to the local authorities on 17 June 1871.  In his application, he makes the sworn statements "... born in _Prussia_ on or about _1844_ ...[and] landed in the Port of _New_York_ on or about _July_1871_"  This date is corroborated in the Wasserliesch Kirchenbuch. He was naturalized 1 November 1872 in the Circuit Court of Wisconsin and married Theresa Loerscher in Wisconsin in 1874. He worked as a carpenter or furniture maker  in La Crosse for several years, but he lived in Beloit, Kansas about a year and was in the 1880 federal census there. He moved his family to Leavenworth, Kansas. Until recently, his whereabouts was unknown, and I have just uncovered the residence in Leavenworth. He had several children, whom I am researching now.

After a few hours of genealogy, we met again for dinner at  The Blue Coyote, a quiet southwestern restau on North Palm Canyon Drive. Chuck brought his recent book, Dark Dreams 2.0, to show Barbara and her parents, and we had a lively discussion of film that edged often into the arts, politics, and culture. Soon we said good-by, and wished the Schuhs well for their coming few days in Los Angeles and the return to San Francisco.

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