She was a little German woman, with the whitest of caps. She told me this story:
We was born in a country place (1) not far from Berlin in 1838 (2) My father (3) was a blacksmith. He owned his little house and a half acre of land where the geese were herded that m plucked in the fall and killed for the market. There were twelve children in our family. A stork used every year to nest on our roof, and I thought he brought my brothers and sisters, we had a bee house, and just outside was a sod couch, covered all over with growing grass. My father used to lie here on Sunday afternoons in the summer, and smoke his long pipe and take his nap. A big pear tree stood in. the garden, when the wind and storm blew down the pears we children ran out and got them.
We emigrated to America in 1848 (4), "My children will have a better chance there" my father said. What he said is true. I was glad we came to America.
The passage was by sail ship and no easy one. It took eleven weeks. There were many discomforts. The pork we ate had such long hair on it that we needed no forks to eat it with, and was so salty that we could not eat it anyway! The potatoes were boiled without washing them, the rice had prunes in it! On Sundays we had pudding but it was too hard to eat! The bean soup was always burned and the pea soup had peas in it as hard as bullets, Our brother drew our rations for us. Bringing them in a tin tureen. He would tie the tin cover on with a rope and drag the vessel to the hatchway where my father met him. The worst thing about the rations was that they were so salty. The herring that we had once a week was like brine. We had tea or coffee, very bad, at our meals; and one time a day, one cup of water to each of us. Just before we reached New York the cook boiled a kettle of potatoes and threw them on the deck and we children gladly scrambled for them, wie were, indeed, nearly starved.
From New York we went to Albany, thence took train ta Buffalo. The baby (5), two years old, we carried in a clothes basket. He had been ill on the way over; and on the train he died. He was very dear to us and we children wept with our mother (6). We reached Buffalo the eve of the third of July, The people were beginning the celebration of the Fourth of July; streets were filled with crowds and fire-crackers were banging and there was a big din everywhere, My father feared he might lose some of us in the growing dark. He got a rope and we all took a hold, First went mother with a small child in her arms (7), the two oldest, Charlotte (8) and Ferdinand (9) with the dead baby in the basket, then the other children down to the smallest, our father bringing up the rear, fearful less some of us stray.
We got to a German hotel. The hotel keeper was kind, he got a coffin tor us, my mother dressed the little one and we all marched to the grave. We left the next day. The hotel keeper would not accept any pay from us.
We reached Milwaukee and passed on and settled in a little town named Mayville on the Rock River (Dodge County, Wisconsin). It was a wild place, deer used to come down to the opposite bank of the river in the evening to drink. There were many Indians and they had a habit of coming to the window and staring at us, scaring us children out of our senses, but we got to know them after a while and would call "Bo-Joo" to them to make them smile.
My father bought a piece of land and opened a blacksmith shop,(10), For the first summer we could build a bit of a shack and as the weather was very rainy, it leaked terribly. In the night we children crept under our beds to keep dry; and father and mother used to hold an umbrella over them as they lay in bed to keep off the dripping rain. Later we built a very comfortable house, but our first winter, having no place to keep potatoes, we could not lay in any and ate beans. We ate so many that we cannot bear the sight of beans to this day; but pork was only a cent and a half a pound and we had plenty of it. The next summer my father made a hand wagon. Every morning we elder children piled the smaller ones in the wagon and wheeled it out to our bit of land, or farm, as we called it, where we worked all day. we planted potatoes and turnips. At noon we ate our dinner,
Mother often helped father in the blacksmith shop, wielding the heavy hammer with him, and she helped him shoe oxen.
The town had a dozen house in it, and a mill and a store. There was no church. On Sunday afternoons my father took down a big volume of Luthern sermons; and we elder children took turns reading aloud. Hy father was a good man. Sometimes men drove up and said, "My what a big family!" and he would say, "The more children, the more to say the Lord's Prayer!"
Three years after we came to America our mother died (11). The afternoon before, she called us to her and kissed us everyone. Doctors on the frontier were few and not always efficient. I remember my father coming upstairs to the room where we were all together and screaming out, "Oh, my children, what shall 1 do? Your mother is gone!" The next day twelve (12) of us and my father followed the coffin in which we buried my mother and the little babe we never saw.
Four months after this, my father died (13). He went suddenly, It was a little village and no one thought of us. No one came and sat up the night he lay in the house. Again we children followed the coffin of our parent.
The family was
scattered. Mr Butters, who
rented a room from us saw to placing us, We were scattered over the
with families wherever one could take a child. The two oldest were put
out to work, I was placed with a family named Davis (14), about 12
from Mavville (15). Of all the children, I fared
People were poor, but Davis was worse than poor. He lived in a one-roomed cabin. Father, mother, grandfather (16), four year old daughter (17), twin babes (185, beds, table, cook stove, cradle and my little ophan self, all in one room. Our breakfast was rye coffee, a piece of dry bread and pumpkin syrup, Pumpkins were boiled then the mass strained and the juice boiled down; it was not very appetizing. After breakfast I helped with the dishes and the children. In the summer I went out and yoked the oxen for Mr. Davis. I got the yoke on one ox and lifted the other end while the second ox, a well trained animal, came foreward and put his head in. Then, while Mr. Davis plowed, I followed all day and whipped the oxen. I was too little to reach the off ox with my snake whip and to strike him I had to run around the plow. I followed all day. I was bare headed, bare footed and clad in just a little smock that I was sadly out-growing. Mr. Davis was not cruel. He merely worked me to death.
Think of a thirteen-year old girl following oxen all day, then, in the evening, having to go to the tamarack swamp (19) to hunt the cows. All the farmers had a herd of two or three cows. The leader of each wore a bell, and I had to learn to distinquish the bells to locate our herd. Sometimes I had hard work getting my herd out of the swamp. Then came supper. For dinner we had bean soup or potato soup; for supper only rye coffee and bread spread with lard. Then there were the children to put to bed and dishes to wash before I got rest.
There was a little German Lutheran Church(20) two miles away to which Mr. Davis and his family sometimes walked on Sundays. The minister's name was Rev. Srakkel (21). He was a good man. He owned small sawmill (22) front which he got most of his living. The second year I was at Mr. Davis's, Rev. Brekkel wanted me to be confirmed, and to prepare myself, I went to his house twice a week, beginning in the spring, all year, walking of course. Rev. Brekkel was kind to me, he knew 1 had no easy time. I had to learn passages from Scripture and the Ten Commandments and the German Catechism. Mr Davis offered neither lamp or candle, but, in the day I gathered chips and in the night, when the others had gone to bed. I opened the stove door and put in the few chips and studied by their light, when they died down I put in more. The next Easter on Confirmation Sunday, the Minister quoted a verse, .''But one thing is needful, for Mary hath chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her". My name was Mary, you see.
I was at Mr. Davis's two years; and for all the work I did there I got six yards of calico and an apron.
Two or three miles away lived a Mr, Hertell (235 who had once worked for fliv father. Once in a while 1 went over there. He used to say, "Mary, you leave Mr. Davis's; you must get with some American family where you will learn English and American ways. Sometime, when Davis is gone, you leave. You can learn nothing following the plow; so one day, when Mr. Davis and his wife and babies had gone to Mayville, I put up my little bundle and left. The old grandfather was at home and saw what I was doing but he said nothing for he knew that I was being worked harder than I could stand. I went to Mr, Hartell's and stayed there some days till I got work in a hotel at twenty-five cents a week and board. The hotel owner, a Scotch family named "Grey" (24). Mr. Davis felt bad about my leaving him. He told some neighbors he did not know how he could run his farm without me.
Mr. Grey treated me kindly, but I was homesick all the time to get back to Mayville where I could meet some of the rest of my family. I returned to Mayville and took employment in a hotel but the hotel keeper got drunk and quarreled much with his wife. One Sunday I set out again with my little bundle, this time to go to a neighboring town named "Hartsford" (25) to look for work.
It was in January and I took a short cut five miles thru a swamp. I got confused with the wagon roads made in the snow and lost my way; darkness came and stars appeared overhead, I walked until 1 fell exhausted. It began to snow. I had a little shawl over my shoulders. I wept and called and prayed to God to save a poor orphan. Nightly at Mr. Davis's I had fallen asleep praying, and God heard me, and now had heard me again. He led me to a little bundle of dry grass, where I crouched with my shawl about me, too exhausted to rise. I fell asleep on the grass.
I awoke in the morning, too stiff to rise, but I heard a dog barking, I crept toward the sound and came to a farmhouse. A man was just making a fire. "Why, my poor child", he cried. "I heard you cry last night but thought it was children playing on the ice." He put me on a bench behind the fire. I stayed there a couple of days till I could journey on.
The next two years I worked at several places, my highest wage being seventy-five cents a week. Money was scarce those days, and twenty-five cents seemed almost a fortune.
I married when I was seventeen,(26) just to get a home. My husband was twenty-six (27) and was just a year over from Germany. He was a cooper by trade and opened a shop in Iron Mountain (26). There were three children (29)born to us and we removed to Oakfield. Then the American Civil war broke out.
Everything was excitement - just as in Germany now in her war with Russia and France (1915). The papers were full of the news. The first year there were only skirmishes but in 1862 fighting began in real earnest and my husband felt he must go and help free the slaves in the south.
Mayville was a German settlement, Oakville (30) was wholly American; and as a company was forming of our American neighbors, my husband (31) enlisted with them. I felt very sad but I was willing that my husband should go, because I thought the slaves should be free, we had just built us a five-room cottage, but the upstairs was still unplastered. My husband left me with this cottage, a cow, a few chickens, and three children, the eldest a little over four years old. My husband was so afraid he would miss the train that was to take him to war that he sat up all the previous night
The next three years were hard for me. Six months after my husband left, a fourth baby (32) was born to me, The neighbors had promised my husband that they would look after me in his absence, but they did not fulfill this duty very well, and I had to saw and split my own wood. On rainy days I brought the sticks into the kitchen and laid them, one at a tins, with the ends resting on two chairs, while I sawed them in two. I would set a child on each end of the stick to hold it steady. However I do not blame the neighbors much. There were very few men left in the country, except old men and cripples. All the able bodied men had gone to the war. The old men and women ran the farms.
My neighbors brought me the mail. Once a month I had to go seven miles for five dollars, the county gave us for support as a soldiers wife. I had to go to Fond-du-Lac. I would watch and get a ride with anyone I could find who was going there and I had to come back the same way. Often I did not get back till long after dark, My eldest child was as yet only six and was sickly (33! and I had to leave her all day with the other three. She used to put a candle in the window so I could see it on my return. My heart used to jump everytime I saw that candle.
My sister (34) had a store in Mayville and once a week she drove over with denim cloth to make overalls. I had no machine, but by doing my housework after dark, I was able to make one pair a day, Often I worked by candle far into the night. I got fifty cents a pair for the overalls. My neighbors used to ask if 1 ever went to bed. I did all my scrubbing and washing after dark.
And news of big battles came. My husband was at Murphysboro, Chattanooga, Atlanta and marched with Sherman eastward to the sea, we had always written each other once a week, but now all news of Sherman's army ceased and I heard nothing from my husband for weeks. When a letter came from my husband I used to put it under my pillow and pray the Father not to let my babies become orphans as I had been. When I nursed my baby the hot tears rolled down my cheeks and my baby looked up as if she wondered why I wept.
My husband drew thirteen dollars a month as a soldier. Of this he kept three dollars for his own use and sent me ten dollars every month. Also he washed shirts for the other soldiers who did not like to do such work and did not save their money. These shirts would get full of vermin and had to be washed in boiling water. My husband got ten cents for each shirt her washed. All that he earned in this way he saved up and sent me a fifty dollar gold bond and a gold ring that he purchased with these savings. He wrote that the food the soldiers got was not good. " I get only cow tail to eat." he said. So I sent him a box of food once but the freight on it was nine dollars which I found hard to pay.
Still with Sherman, my husband marched to Washington and was mustered out (35). He came home by way of Milwaukee where he bought a cheap linen duster to protect his clothes. The night I expected him I never went to bed. When he got in the station he started right for our cottage, and the neighbors said his feet never touched the ground but that he flew to his family. He was neatly shaved and clean — cleanest of the whole company that returned. I had just lain down when the train pulled in and the children ran in to say 'There is a soldier coming". A moment after, my husband came in with the children clinging to him. My little two year old Flora, who had never seen him, was clinging to him too. Then, for the one time in my life, I fainted.
My husband found his household free from debts, not a cent owing to anyone.
There is little more to tell We removed later to Mayville. A German Presbyterian Church was organized there, and my husband and I united and all the children were baptised. After we left Mayville we put our letters in an English Presbyterian Church.
I am old now. I and my husband have not many more years to live together, but I am glad my father was a good man and taught me to love the Bible. I am glad he was wise enough to bring his children to America, where we have had much better chances. I am glad my husband was brave enough to show that he and I love our adopted country and were willing to sacrifice for it. I am glad too for the teaching of my German Luthern home to which I have clung all these years, but I have grown to love the good Presbyterian Church in which I had my children baptised and in which I and my husband have worshipped for fifty years. Only one thing remains for me — to die and be buried in her teaching. (The couple sent their final years in Minneapolis, Minnesota)
FOOTNOTES - by Norma
Schaal Benisch (1951)
1- Wuscheweir near Wriezen in the Gderbruth on the Oder River, Brandenburg, now East Germany.
2- Harie Antonie Schaal was born 30 November 1838 in Wuscriewier
3- Her father was Johan Friedrich Schaal
4- The HERSCHELL from Hamburg, Germany arrived New York City on 1 July 1848 with 16 in cabin, 26 in the house on the deck, 195 in between decks (steerage)
5- Julius Ernst Schaal born 8 March 1846 Wuscheweir
6- Actually, her STEP- mother and aunt, (Caroline) Wilhelmine Franke, born 16 May 1316 Baerwalde, who Johan Friedrich Scnaal
married in Wuschewier on 11 July 1839. -Mary's blood mother, Louisa Franke Schaal died 4 May 1839 in Wescheweir when Hary
was 6 months old.
7- Ernst Heinrich Schaal born 15 Nov. 1947 Wuscheweir.
8- Charlotte Friedricha Schaal born 20 Oct. 1S32
9- Friedrich Ferdinand Schaal born 8 Nov.1834
I0-Lot 5 Block 14 of the original Plat of Mayville, near the corner of Main and Horicon Streets.
11-Wilhelsiine (Franks) Schaal died 21 May 1851 Mayville, Wis.-Buried Graceland cemetery, Mayville
12-A Daughter, Helena was born 20 Sept. 1849 Mayville, Wis., plus the 11 children who survived the trip from Germany to Hi. in 1848
13-Jchann Friedrich Schaal died 25 Sept. 1851 Mayville, Wis. Buried Graceland Cemetery, Mayville, Wis.
14-Frederick Dewitz Sr, and first wife, Henrietta; Davis and Dewitz are pronounced quite similiarly. All further reference to Mr. Davis refer to Mr. Dewitz.
15-Hubbard twsp. Dodge county, Wis., 1/2 of Nw1 1/4 of Section 23 now on "E" near "Rex" Cemetery
16-The 1850 census shows a Christian Fitnaus(?) age 75 living with the Dewitz family.
17-The daughter, Mary Dewitz who died 5 May 1858 and is buried in "Rex" cemetery,
I8-Frederick Bewih, Jr. and twin, Henrietta
19-Swamp bordering the Rock River, now damned to form Lake Sinissippi
20-The Town of Hubbard Luthern Church, a log building located on what is now Cedar Road. Ss 1/4 of Nw 1/4 of section 35, Hubbard twsp. Dodge county, Mich, The cemetery remains and the sign above the gate says, "St, Michael's Cemetery",
21-The Rev. Frederick A. Bechel installed by Nuehlhauser in 1849.
22-The sawmill belonging to Rev, Bechel was located in Section 27, NH 1/4 of Sll 1/4 Herman twsp. Dodge county, Wis.
23-A Frederick Haertel owned land two miles south of the Dewitz' home on "E", Section 33, SU 1/4 of 3N 1/4 Hubbard twsp., Dodge county, Wl, Now Lake Drive area off of "E". In 1873 Fred Haertl had a blacksmith shop at the junction of "S" & "E". Friederich Haertle age 32 and Louisa Haertl age 25 were also passengers on the HERSCHEL during the trip to America.
24-William Graves owned the American House in Horicon , Wis, in 1849.
25-Perhaps Hustisford is the town meant here, as there was much swampy area between Horicon and Hustisford.
26-Mary Schaal married Augustus C, Johns 7.Sept. 1856 at Addison, Mich
27-Augustus C. Johns was born 9 March 1830 in "Germany",
28-It is believed that Iron Ridge or its neighboring village, Neda is meant here
29-Helen E. Johns born 14 July 1857, Adah Lorilla Johns born 14 Feb. 1859, Luelia L. Johns born 28 October 1860. The August YAHN family, August age 27, Antonia 22. Helena 3, and Ida 1 are shown on the 1860 census for Iron Ridge, Hubbard twsp, Dodge county, Wis.
30-Perhaps Oakfield is meant. The Johns were living in Dalefield, Wis, when Mr, Johns enlisted
31-Augustus C. Johns enlisted 13 Aug. 1862,
32-Flora A. Johns was born 3 Harch 1863.
33-Helen E. Johns died 19 August 1669 age 12 years
34-Possibly Charlotte Schaal Albert (Mrs Gottiieb Albert)
35-Augustus Johns was discharged S June 1865 at Washington, D.C. with Co. F, 21st. Wis. Inf.
NOTATION by Herb
I am a direct descendant of the Schaal family that came to the United States from Germany in 1848 and settled in Wisconsin.
I have just read the information about Gertrude Lanette Schaal and wish to make some important corrections so that future researchers get the correct information.
Her grandfather (Johan Friedrich Schaal) ) first married Loisa Franke in 1831, and the couple was married for eight years before her death in 1839, after which he married Caroline Wilhemina Franke, her sister.
Loisa and Johan had five children before her death, and then Wilhemina and Johan had eight more children, the last being born in Wisconsin in 1849 and dying in 1852),
Here is the passenger list on the Herschel when they came to America:
BELOW IS THE PASSENGER LIST FROM THE
IN 1848 COMPARED WITH THE LIST COMPILED BY THE SCHAAL FAMILY AT A LATER
IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE FATHER WAS FIRST MARRIED TO LOISA FRANKE AND HAD SEVERAL CHILDREN, AND THEN, AFTER SHE DIED, HE MARRIED HER SISTER, WILHELMINA, AND HAD SEVERAL MORE CHILDREN.
This is from Ancestry.com web site
The column headings are:
Passenger name; Age (years); Age (months); Gender; Occupation; Country of Citizenship; Destination (I went back to page 1 to find the column headings.)
You will see on the Passenger List that little Ernst Schaal, who died shortly after arrival in "Amerika" was only 2 MONTHS old. He must have been born shortly before, or during the voyage. What a tragic way for the family to begin their new life in a new country. This passenger list had many Germans who were headed to Wisconsin.
As near as I can make out this list, it says:
(Passenger list is in bold face; genealogy notes in lite face)
Schaal, age 43,
Male; Blacksmith; Citizen of Prussia; Destination Wisconsin
Johan Friedrich Schaal (1806-1851) Buried in Mayville, WI
Schaal, age 32,
Female; Prussia; to Wisconsin
Caroline Wilhemina Franke Schaal (1816-1851) Buried in Mayville, WI
Schaal, age 15,
Female; Prussia; to Wisconsin
1. Charlotte F. Schaal (1832-1923) (Mother was Loisa Franke)
Married: Gottleib A. Albert (1821-1914)
Schaal, age 13,
Male; Prussia; to Wisconsin
2. Frederick Ferdinand Schaal (1834-1911) (Mother was Loisa Franke)
Married: Laura St. Ores (1848-1908)
Schaal, age 11; Female;
Prussia; to Wisconsin
3. Louise Emilie (1836-1923) (Mother was Loisa Franke)
Married: Adam Tillman (1826-1908)
Schaal, age 10;
Female; Prussia; to Wisconsin
4. Elenore Wilhelmina (1837-1888) (Mother was Loisa Franke)
Married: August Daue (1828-1901)
age 9; Female;
Prussia; to Wisconsin
5. Antonie Marie (1838-1925) (Mother was Loisa Franke)
Married: August Johns (1929-1915)
Schaal, age 8,
Female; Prussia; to Wisconsin
(Note: there were TWO female children named Charlotte)
6. Charlotte Emilie (1840-1912) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Married: Ferdinand Theodore Yahr (1834-1910)
Johan Schaal, age
7, Male, Prussia; to Wisconsin
7. Johan Gottfried (1841-1923) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Married: Augusta Johanna Kroesing (1844-1917)
Auguste Schaal, age
6, Female, Prussia; to Wisconsin
8. Augusta Sophia (1842-1931) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Married: Henry Smith
August Schaal, age
5, Male, Prussia; to Wisconsin
9. August Wilhelm (1843-1880/90?) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Bertha Schaal, age
3, Female; Prussia; to Wisconsin
10. Bertha (1845-1931) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Married: William Luedke
Married: Charles Pierce
age 1, Male; Prussia; to Wisconsin
11. Julius Ernst (1846-1848) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Died en route, buried in Buffalo, New York
Ernst Schaal, age
2 months; Male; Prussia; to Wisconsin
12. Ernest Henry (1847-1942) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Married: Hannah Maria Volk (1850-1915
Born in Wisconsin
13. Helena (1849-1852) (Mother was Wilhelmina Franke)
Born in Mayville, died in infancy
ANTONIA MARIE (MARY) SCHAAL
• Fifth child of Johan Frederick Schaal and his first wife, Louisa Franke.
• Born Nov. 30, 1838, probably in Wuschewier, Brandenberg, Germany, (near Berlin).
• Came to the United States in 1848, arriving on July 1 in New York with her father, Johan; his second wife, Wilhelmina Franke; and 11 brothers and sisters.
• Originally settled in Mayville, WI, a German settlement on the Rock River.
• Orphaned (with rest of family) when mother and father died in 1851.
• Married August Johns, who fought for the North in the Civil War.
• Had five children — Helen (b. 1857), the eldest daughter mentioned in the story, who died in 1869 at about age 12; Ada (b. 1859); Luella (b. 1861); Flora (b. 1863 while father was away at war); and Alice (b. 1872).
• Died in Minnesota in 1925.