Search billions of records on

Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
Collected and posted by RITA
This site is exclusively for the free access of individual researchers.
* No profit may be made by any person, business or organization through publication, reproduction, presentation or links
to this site.



also Koppes, Koppis, Koppos, Kappis, Kappes and Cappus

of Peshtigo, Oconto County, Wisconsin

Researched and contributed in part by descendant: Fran
Additional family contributors: Darlene Pritchard Baker, Helen Ronke
General History - Rita

Christian Kappus was born in Baden, 1838, now a part of Germany, and came to North America in the year 1848 with his parents and 6 siblings. By 1849 the last of his siblings, Charles, was born in Eden, Erie County, New York where the family had settled into farming.  Much of this family generation remained in Erie County, New York for the rest of their lives.  Christian homesteaded land and was raising a family in Peshtigo, Oconto County, Wisconsin (now Marinette County since 1880) at the time of the 1871 Peshtigo Firestorm. The entire family history is still being researched. Below is what has been pieced together so far.
Christian Kappus came with his father Frederick Carlton Kappus in 1848 (not 1845).   He was a weaver by trade.  He owned his own shop and employed several workmen.  He sold his business and came to America because he was opposed to mandatory military service for his 3 sons.  He settled on Shadigee Road to farm in Eden, N.Y  My uncle (Frederick Carlton Kappus IV) (age 93) said that it is ironic that Frederick Kappus I came here to avoid having his sons in the military service in that he (Fred IV) believes that Frederick Carlton Kappus II and Christian actually paid someone to fight in the Civil War for them {this practice is known as conscription}. Darlene Pritchard Baker)

Life in Europe

Although there had been Germanic born people in the Americas for generations by the time this Kappus family had arrived, they were among the first large migration of these people to come from Europe in the 1840's. What is now the country of Germany, since 1871, was once composed of over 300 independent small states and city states, each with it's own ruling system and laws.

By the 1840's the number of such states and cities had been reduced to 38 during the occupation of the French under Napoleon in the early 1800's. Prussia, one of these states, was rapidly gaining strength and power while the others struggled with 2 centuries of very poor weather leading to crop failure, named the "Little Ice Age" in Europe; residual death, epidemic disease, unemployment and poor governments resulting from bloody religious wars dating back to the 1500's; very limited access and ability to foreign markets by sea; servitude of most people to the rulers of each state, next to no educational and health care opportunities; rapid changes in local government and borders due to small local power struggles; and the severe hindering of commerce within the region because those traveling to markets with goods and service had complicated passage paperwork and taxes for each individual state that they had to cross, driving the prices of goods and services beyond what most could afford in the depressed times.

At the time of this immigration there was a rising unrest among the people, who had no say in any form of government and no relief from joblessness, mandatory, lengthy military duty with little or no pay and increasing widespread poverty. The restlessness turned to descent in the forms of rebellion against taxes, revolt and even riots against the small, locally run governing bodies, especially by students, educators, land and shop owners. The put down of the descenders was fast and furious.

All of Europe was also in economic straights, meaning that the traditional European migration destinations, such as Russia, the Slavic nations and Hungry, were
no longer available and once welcomed displaced Germanic people were now being forced from those countries as unwanted "foreigners." These people, after generations spent in other countries, were no longer welcomed back in distressed Germanic states either.

The willingness to work hard was never an issue. Pressure was now just to survive for many.  Opportunity for success beyond that was nonexistent for them. Other than the kindness and care of neighboring family and friends, who found themselves "in the same boat" with little to share, there was no place to turn for help. Gathering what little was available and left for a new start
on other continents was the best option for those who could manage to escape the continuing chaos.

To America

Somehow, the farming family of Kappus managed to come together to the "New World" where they were able to own land and work to meet their own needs.  The voyage must have been a serious and dangerous venture in itself. The sailing ships were wood, small and leaky in 1840's. People, including children, were crowded without privacy and had to bring all their own food without any way to avoid spoilage and infestation, as well as possessions needed in their new home. Storage space was limited and there was no protection against violence or food and possessions being stolen. The water on board was often contaminated, so passengers had to arrange other sources of fluid intake to avoid dehydration, which many were not aware of before starting the trip. There was no water for bathing or washing clothes or eating utensils other than in the salty ocean. The fast trips took three weeks, the slow ones took more that three months at sea. There was no place to stop for supplies once underway and not enough room for even minimal amount of food and drinking fluids needed for each person for three months, if most had the funds to purchase that.

Winter travel was the least expensive and all that many could afford, so they experienced slow, unheated, dangerous, stormy crossings. The scant records that were kept indicate a large loss of life due to communicable diseases; dehydration from chronic illness including dyahhrea and vomiting, sea sickness, poor sanitation (toilets were pots or trips to "hang over the side") and malnutrition. No one will ever know how many bodies were thrown overboard due to death, swept into the sea during storms; how many fell overboard because they were too weak and dizzy during calm weather (the ships did not go back to look for them); how many children and women with newborn babies died or how many ships went down with all aboard. Leaving the European Continent by sea was not a decision taken lightly for most passengers in that time. It was easy to confuse and deceive people when they could not speak or understand the language used by the travel providers. Organized groups, such as those backed by villages, a religious congregation or realty and manufacturing companies recruiting immigrants as settlers and workers, had the best chance of successful crossings.

The Next Generation

Having settle into farming in Eden, Erie County, New York, Frederick Sr. and wife Mary had one child in America, named Charles, who died at about age 10 years and was described on the 1860 census as being unable to speak. Sons Fred Jr. and Charles traveled to Peshtigo, Oconto County, Wisconsin in the 1860's where they worked and purchased land.  Fred, who was single, returned to farm in New York, where he married and raised a family (see more below).  Christian was married and had 5 children in Peshtigo by the time of the fire storm October 8, 1871. He lost his wife and 2 children in the fire. He returned to his land to rebuild and was said to have died when hit by a falling tree in 1871. His three surviving children, all born in Wisconsin, continued separate lives. (see more below)

Generation 1

Frederick Carlton Kappus I (also Cappus)
    born 1806 in Baden Darlene Pritchard Baker
    immigrated: 1848 Darlene Pritchard Baker
    occupation - farmer
    died: May 22, 1887
Darlene Pritchard Baker
Note on Frederick Kappus: Living in town of Eden, Erie County, New York in 1850 and 1860.
+ Mary  ? - wife of Frederic
Frederick Carlton Kappus I  married Maria A. Weaber or Weber. Her tombstone is in North Evans Cemetery , NY reads  Maria A. Weaver b. 1806 d. July 2 1887 Darlene Pritchard Baker
    born 1806 in Baden.

Children of  Frederic and Mary Kappus (Cappus 1850 Eden, Erie, New York Census) were:

    1. Frederick Carlton Kappus II, born 1832 in Baden, - see below
    2. Mary Kappus born 1836 in Baden -Mary Kappus married Fred Spires.  She died giving birth to their first child.  The baby also died.  St. Paul, Minnesota was mentioned (family history by Helen Ronke).
    3. Christian Kappus, born 1837 in Baden - see below
    4. Sophia Kappus born 1839 in Baden
- married Charles Ronke: (also Carl Heinrich Roenke Darlene Pritchard Baker  Sophia Kappus was the second wife of Carl Ronke (family history by Helen Ronke) tailor born in Mecklenburg in 1830 and lived in Erie, New York. Married 32 years, birthed 4 children. Widowed by 1900.
    5. Andrew Kappus born  1842 in Baden, died 1908 Darlene Pritchard Baker - Married to Elizabeth ?,  farmed the family homestead in Eden, Erie, NY, raising niece Caroline (Carrie) Kappus and boarding his widowed mother Mary Kappus in 1880. Andrew had a adopted son named Walter.(family history by Helen Ronke).
    6. Catherine Kappus born 1844 in Baden -Katherine Kappus married John Loton Jr.  They had a adopted son named Gus. No other children mentioned. (family history by Helen Ronke).
    7. Charles Kappus born 1849 in New York Charles died at about age 10 yrs. On the 1860 Eden, NY census  he was listed as dumb, meaning he was unable to speak.  He is found in either the North Evans Cometary or the Eden Cometary, in NY Charles who is listed as dumb on the 1860 census in that his tombstone, also in North Evans Cemetery, NY lists his death as Feb 1857 and yet he is listed as an 11 year old on the 1860 census. Darlene Pritchard Baker

Generation 2

1. Kappus, Frederick Carlton II
    born: October 1832 in Baden (now in Germany), Europe
    immigrated: 1845 at age 13 years (1900 US Federal Census - Eden, Erie, New York)  

on Frederic Kappus: Living in town of Eden, Erie County, New York in 1850 and 1860. 
Frederick (Coppas) was a laborer who had applied for a land patent in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, July 2, 1869, paying cash for 40 acres in N29 E 22  6.  In 1870 he was living alone with Baden immigrant Sebastian Saucerman and family in Peshtigo, Oconto County, Wisconsin.
Married and farming in Hamburgh township, Erie, New York in 1880.

    occupation: dairy farmer living on Brueshaber Road
    died: 1913
Darlene Pritchard Baker
+ Bugart, Margaret wife of Frederick Darlene Pritchard Baker
    born: January 1842 in Germany
    married: 1872  (1900 US Federal Census - Eden, Erie, New York)  

    immigrated: 1867  (1900 US Federal Census - Eden, Erie, New York)  


Children of Frederick and Margaret Kappus were:

    1. William Kappus
        born: March 1873  in New York

    2. Mary (also Margaret) Kappus
        born: February 1875 in 
New York

    3. Fred Kappus 
        born: March 1878 in 
New York

    4. John Kappus
        born: June 1881 in 
New York

2. Kappus (also Koppus, Koppas, Koppos), Christian (also Christopher)   
    born: 1837 in Baden (now in Germany), Europe

    immigrated: 1845 at age 7 years

    occupation: Homestead farmer 
    died: 1872 in town of Peshtigo, Oconto County (now Marinette County), Wisconsin. 
Note on Christian Kappus: Christian Kappus, according to the birth of his first child, was in Wisconsin by 1863. Wisconsin Land Records list Christian Kappus applying on April 1, 1871 for two plots of land totaling 71,83 acres (N1/2NW N29 E21 1 and SWNW N29 E21 1) as Homestead Entry Original. Christian had left  with his three surviving children
after the Peshtigo Fire in 1871 to secure care for them. Youngest child Carrie, age 2, was taken in by Christian's parents Fred and Mary Kappus on their farm in Eden, Erie County, New York. His sons were thought to have been placed in a orphanage in Ohio or New York, but records of them between 1870 and 1880 have not been founds. Christian returned to his land  to rebuild. Family history states he was killed when a tree fell on him in 1872.
+ Meir, Catherine (also Katy Myers) wife of Christian
    born: 1843 in Mechlenberg (now in Germany)
    died: October 8, 1871
Note on Catherine Kappus: She and two children (one an infant) died in the Peshtigo Fire of 1871

Children of Christian and Catherine Kappus were:

    1. Charles Kappus
        born: 1863  in Wisconsin

Note: had no children of his own. Charles, brother of Carrie, was the gold miner  (family history by Helen Ronke). Charles turns up in Valdez, AK by 1898 as a gold miner. During the 1900 Federal census Charles was aboard the Steam Ship Garrone which left Seattle, Washington and arrived at Nome, Alaska June 25. On the 1930 October Federal census Charles was single (indicating he was not divorced or widowed), living in Valdez, Alaska, and working as a carpenter contractor.

    2. Fred Kappus
        born: 1865 in Wisconsin
in 1927
At the age of 18, Fred Kappus shows up on the Amos Notestein farm in Ohio on the 1880 census. In 1888 he married my grandmother Louisa E. King in Ohio and they settled in Hessville, OH. In 1900 and 1910 Fred worked as a blacksmith in his own shop Sandusky, Ohio. He had 2 sons and a daughter.

    3. Andrew Kappus 
        born: 1867 in Wisconsin
        died: October 8, 1871 in Peshtigo, Wisconsin - resulting from the firestorm.

    4. Caroline (Carrie) Kappus
        born: 1869 in Wisconsin.
        died: Carrie died in 1947
Note on Caroline Kappus: 

Caroline was mentioned with grandparents Kappus.(family history by Helen Ronke).
She and was living with her uncle Andrew Kappus, Christian's brother, and widowed grandmother Mary Kappus on a farm in Eden, Erie, NY in 1880 close to other aunts and uncles and their children.  Caroline Kappus at age 30, in 1900 in Buffalo, NY.  She was there with a cousin, Catharine Ronke, both  working as a servant. Married to John W. Bouey, born in Canada, by 1930.Carrie came to Fremont and Toledo, Oh area occasionally to visit her brother Fred, and family and went back to New York. Carrie's Will included nephews Floyd and Carl (children of her brother Fred Koppus). Caroline (Carrie) Bouey, Niagara Falls, NY adopted a girl child, but had no children of her own (family history by Helen Ronke).

    5. Infant - name unknown
        born: 1871 in Wisconsin
        died: October 8, 1871 in Peshtigo, Wisconsin - resulting from the firestorm.