pages contain my attempt to revitalize, however inaccurately, the
memories of people, places and events that have shaped our family's
fear the past, content to let it rest. Most feel that it can
have no bearing on the dull routine of their everyday lives. But
a knowledge of our origins can have a profound influence on our
conception of ourselves and our goals. Through hundreds of years
of turmoil and uncertainty our forefathers have labored to bring us
the happiness and prosperity that we enjoy today. Their
god-fearing, hardworking ideals have given us our freedom and their
hopes for the future have become a reality in ourselves!
voices are fading as we allow the dreams of generations to disappear
into oblivion. The priceless heirlooms of our family's
collective past are rapidly becoming lost and as we forget so to do
our descendents. I we forfeit the memory of our ancestors and
the heritage that they have left us then we have truly lost a
Steven Richard Stuckemeyer
January 1, 1979
year to remember. Europe
had been shaken to
its very foundations by a man called Napoleon. His
huge citizen armies had criss-crossed the continent countless times,
and the power of his ideas had been felt by Europe for decades. Only
after 22 years of conflict
had he been unquestionably defeated at Waterloo in June of 1815.
demise kindled the hopes of a German
populace for the establishment of new and more democratic forms of
government. Hoards of freemen had won the right to participate in the
But Europe was exhausted and the German aristocracy was terrified of
French liberalism. As a
result the old order was re-established with few changes.
Hannover was restored to King George (also king of Britain), Schleswig-Holstein
remained under Danish influence and Prussia gained control of
Westphalia. on the Rhine. This is not to say that the German
peasants had not made valuable gains through the war years.
had been given their freedom in 1807 and west German peasants had make
significant advances in local government. But although European
monarchs could no longer afford the luxury of ignoring their subjects
real democratic reform would not come for a century and a
As the years passed, unrest began to grow among the people of Europe,
especially in the German Confederation. Industrialization made
its debut and started to replace the skilled laborer with machines,
increasing unemployment. Cheaper transportation and the reduction of
trade barriers within the Confederation itself began to threaten the
small and independent businessman as mass production undersold him.
The factory worker took the place of the artisan and shopkeeper.
Rapid increases in population further complicated the problem and
taxes rose to new highs as governments repaid huge war debts.
Historical evidence indicates that Johann Stuckemeyer, of Bramsche,
Hannover, who was probably H. H. Wilbrand's father, was a tailor at
this time. Certainly, he must have felt this economic pressure.
The thought of joining the wage-laborer class was abhorrent to the
pride, tradition and training of a skilled freeholder and he sought
alternatives. For some the answer was America, but emmigration
to the states did not become noticeable until the late 1830s.
Franklin L. Ford explains: "the American economic crisis of 1819
and settlers' reports home concerning the harsh, uncertain conditions
of life in the young United States . . . discouraged many who might
otherwise have left their homes in Europe."2 The
prohibitive cost of such a venture was also a problem for lower class
Germans and emigrants tended rather towards Poland or the lower
Danube. Records do show that families with the surname of
Stuckemeyer did emigrate from Westerkappeln, Westphalia at this time,
although none came to the U.S.3
Unrest brought problems for the German administrations
("Germany," at this time, was composed of upwards of 39
individual feudal states, each controlled by its own prince or king).
Unemployment was becoming a major problem and he population was
getting out of hand.
In 1827, for example, the population explosion forced Hannover to pass
new marriage restrictions. No household could be established
without proof of some financial means of support. A resultant
increase in illegitimate births followed. In some places public
demands for reform erupted in the "July Revolution" of 1830
in which Hannover, Saxony, Brunswick and Hesse-Kassel became
constitutional monarchies (although similar uprisings in Prussia were
ruthlessly crushed). After 1830 the American economy entered a
period of new growth and trans-Atlantic emigration increased
dramatically. In fact, during this period, no later than 1845, our
first immigrant ancestors made the crossing. H.H. Wilbrand
Stuckemeyer, his brother Rudolph, a sister and possibly their mother
and father came to the United States.
As emmigration grew, authorities became alarmed. The government
realized that if this outflow was not brought under control the state
could be bled of its best elements. Only the relatively successful
middle class could afford the trip to America, leaving the poorer
peasants at home to survive off of the welfare roles. Clubs and
societies sprang up demanding that the government regulate this new threat.
Some felt that the masses of unemployed should be deported and the shopkeepers
forced to remain. Others felt that German colonies should be
established on the shores of the Black Sea and South America in an
effort to channel the talents of the Auswanderer in the best interests
of the fatherland. The educated segments of society held that free
emigration was the right of the citizen and that no government should
restrict it. Finally, some demanded that the authorities just do
something! The plight of the Auswanderer provided a convenient focus
for the unrest of the late 4o's (in some cases emigrants had to
smuggle themselves out of the country) but it was, by no means, the
cause of that dissatisfaction. The peasant masses were fed up with
their situation and for years the liberal elements of the upper class
had been demanding an end to the domination of the princes. Confusion
became the order of the day as hundreds of factions pulled lawmakers
first one way and then another. Many authorities recognized the
inevitability of their demise but desperately clung to the established
order. Pressures mounted and a potato famine in 1845 fed the fire.
Middle aged liberals, student radicals and an out- spoken press united
in an effort to topple their leaders and central Europe finally
exploded in revolt in March of 1848.
It began in Paris, in February, when local officials refused to allow
citizens to celebrate George Washington's birthday. The revolt quickly
spread to Austria, Italy, Poland, Prussia and the German States.
Everywhere excited peasants marched on their feudal lords
and forced them to vacate their thrones. On May 18, liberals convened
in Frankfort to work out a new means of governing themselves, but the
congress developed into a bitter quarrel and the revolt collapsed.
Ultimately. the revolution failed all over Europe. Farmers could not
compete with trained soldiers and soon large numbers of political
refugees headed for America. Behind them came masses of Germany's
poor. They had had enough. German emigration peaked in the
months between 1852 and 54 and the German immigrant went on to become
an important new force in American politics.
revolution of '48 introduced Germany to a new period of turmoil and
uncertainty. Once the rebels had been deposed Confederation princes
found themselves totally dependent on their Austrian and Prussian
allies to the east. The various duchies and principalities were
literally too weak to maintain order and thus the stage was set for a
new round of internal conflict and dissension from which the coldly
efficient Prussian machine would gain undisputed dominance over its
western dependents. For two decades Austria and Prussia would grapple
over the future of the Confederation. Prussian Junkers hoped to keep
it disunited, while strengthening their military presence in the
northern kingdoms. Frederick William IV (the Prussian king), however,
had romantic visions of a Holy Roman Empire restored; with himself at
its head, of course. The Austrian monarchy had plans to unite with the
Confederation in subduing Prussian power and in gaining control over
Hungary and the Balkans. And the remaining European powers could only
profit from a lack of German unity and, in most cases, France, Russia
and England actively pursued that goal.
In 1849 the question of Schleswig-Holstein sparked hostilities between
Denmark and Prussia, while Austria was engaged in a war with the
Piedmont region of Italy. In 1850 Prussia and Austria trembled on the
brink of war over the issue of Prussian intervention in the
disturbances of Hesse-Kassel. The refusal of both to become involved
in the Crimean hostilities of 1854-56 undermined their European
credibility and in 1859 war broke out in Italy again, this time
between Napoleon III and Austria. Prussian mobilization on the Rhine
followed and total war seemed imminent.
The war scare of '59 probably encouraged John H. M. Lenz and his
family to leave the country in 1860 but it certainly was not the
primary reason. Though son Henry was of military age and recent
changes in the conscription laws had made all Prussian citizens liable
to three years of service, other causes probably lay at the root of
their decision to depart. The revolutions of 1848 and ensuing
disturbances did little to relieve the problems of the lower class.
Jobs were few and far between, Prussian politics was becoming ever more repressive and, above all, the
overpopulation problem had made it almost impossible for a young man to
own land. Agriculture was the mainstay of the Prussian peasantry (in
1860 more than 75% of the German population was rural) and a love of
the land probably drove our ancestors to Illinois. Ironically, the
Lenz's chose a most inopportune time to emigrate.
No sooner did they get settled in the new country than Henry was
drafted into the Union army at the height of the Civil War. In 1864
Prussia defeated Denmark and the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein
were surrendered. German power struggle followed and war broke
out between Prussia and Austria in '66. The dispute lasted only three
weeks with Prussia rising victorious at the battle of Sadowa. Prussia
annexed Sleswig, Holstein, Hannover, Oldenburg, Brunswick and
Hesse-Kassel soon afterwards. In 1870 the long feared war with France
finally occurred and Prussian troops humiliated the French in short
order. The establishment of the Second Reich followed immediately as
Prussia completed its conquest of the German principalities below the
river Main. Prussia stood supreme and the German Empire steadily grew
in power until its disastrous defeat in the horrible fighting of the
first world war. In 1873 a financial crisis shook Germany and Christian
Nippe and family left their home land soon afterwards.
The German Empire of 1871
TO AMERICA -THE ILLINOIS TERRITORY
It is important to understand the conditions with which our pioneer
relatives had to contend. They were ferried, like cattle, across the
depths of the Atlantic in small, sometimes fragile, wooden vessels
that were disease traps, to say the least. Storms at sea, fire and the
plague were a constant menace. Sea sickness and lack of privacy were
day to day companions. But perhaps the most annoying inconvenience of
them all was sheer boredom. .~ typical Hamburg to New York trip took
about two months, and the voyage to New Orleans was even longer. An
English immigrant put it this ways:
long sea voyage is generally allowed to be a tedious time, and there
is some foundation for the remark, when it is considered how little
variety is there observable. The ship, your companions, the sky above
you and the 'dark blue ocean' below, with occasionally a solitary sail
gliding quietly along at a distance, constitute the principal objects
that come under the notice of ordinary travelers . . . The creaking of
the cables and the mast, the coarse discordant notes of the seamen and
the monotonous dashing of the waves against the vessel, are the most
common and almost the entire sounds that a sea-breeze can
No, an ocean voyage was not the fairy tale adventure that we now
envision it to be, but a harsh, sometimes terrifying experience that
drove many to despair and some to their deaths. But simple farmer had
a hope, the tailor had a dream, and our ancestors made their way to
the North American continent despite these difficulties.
Upon his arrival, it soon became apparent to the newcomer that a great
number of obstacles would have to be overcome in his search for a new
home. Consider the plight of the 19th century immigrant. He was set
adrift in a new country with little money, no steady means of income,
little knowledge of the English language and he was faced with a whole
nevi set of customs to which he had to adjust. His clothes were
different, his religion was often an object of scorn and his eagerness
to work at almost any wage disturbed native Americans.
political parties arose in New York and other northern cities. They
initially called themselves Native Americans, then simply the American
party. They adopted the trappings of a secret order and, when pressed
about the details of their organization, would say they knew nothing.
This led to their being called the Know-Nothings. Their principal
belief was that some influence from abroad was sapping the life
of the nation from within. It might be the immigrants' Catholicism,
their rediness to work for low wages, or their radical ideas. Taken
together or singly, these qualities made the immigrant
Small wonder that the
immigrants usually became quickly discouraged. Their condition left
much to be desired and some gave up completely, returning home. The
vast majority, however, were doggedly determined to succeed. Our
ancestors chose a very exciting time in American history to emigrate.
Robert Kelly explains:
"The United States
underwent a major rearrangement in the balance of its internal forces
in the 1850's. Immigrants by the hundreds of thousands flooded the
northern states. A spurt in railroad building linked the Old Northwest
and the northeastern seaboard, forging one interrelated section where
formerly there had been two . . . a sudden influx of large supplies of
gold from California, combined with the arrival of immigrant labor and
the opening of western markets by the railroads, sent northern
industrial growth skyrocketing".6
The "Great Migration" would supply the essential reservoir
of labor required to fuel a great transportation network. In the 50's
nearly two and one-half million immigrants arrived, practically
drowning the northeastern ports. By 1860,4.1 million, out of a total
population of 31.5 million, Americans would be foreign born. St. Louis
alone, in 1860, was three fifths non-native.
Our ancestors chose to settle in the Illinois territory, of course,
but it is not known which route they took in their various travels.
There were three main highways to the land of the Illini, or
"Superior Men".7 The first, the overland route, required the
pioneer to foot his way across the Alleghenies and then ride the Ohio
river, by flatboat or steamboat, to the Mississippi (later the
wilderness road would be opened all the way to Vandalia, Ill). The
second took advantage of the newly built Erie canal, stretching
between Troy and Buffalo, New York. It connected the eastern sections
of the mountains with the Great Lakes, providing a convenient way to
Chicago. The third, and most picturesque was the trip up the
Mississippi, by way of New Orleans. Since this was the most expensive
we can probably be safe in the assumption that our ancestors took the overland routes. Nevertheless, the important fact
they did indeed make their way to the Illinois territory.
Wilbrand Stuckemeyer came to the area in the 1840's and the Lenzs,
Bernaus and Nippes came later in the 60's and 70's.
At this point it is only natural to wonder what it was that our
ancestors found so enticing about the Illinois country. What led them
to make their homes in this particular section of the New World?
Illinois is located, quite to its advantage, in one of the largest
river valleys of the world. Match less in its historical importance
and splendor the Mississippi river became the lifeline of a developing
America, and as such brought prosperity to the heart of a continent
destined to produce perhaps the greatest empire this planet has ever
known. In the early days of the nineteenth century the northern two
thirds of Illinois was flat, treeless prairie. The southern portion
was composed of rolling hills and beautiful forests. Both elements met
in an area later to become known as Effingham. Softly
undulating, criss-crossed by many streams and tiny creeks, both
flatland and forest could be found within the confines of this small
county. The land was extremely fertile and rich. Small wonder that one
of the earliest German settlements in Illinois was begun in this spot.
Though German immigrants were generally well accepted by their
English speaking neighbors, "because of their sober, quiet,
steady habits and their ability and industry"8 the foreign
born stuck together and the Effingham and Shelbyville areas later drew
many more German born Americans, including our ancestors.
Many areas of Effingham
county were swampy and they remained unsettled until the late 40's and
50's. This was especially true of the Moccasin area, which Wilbrand
later chose as his new home. Prairie held water, preventing the growth
of trees, and so had to be drained before it was of any use to the
farmer. The earliest settlers preferred to remain in the wooded areas.
The forest provided good hunting and protection from the elements.
Wolves and savages were only a few of the dangers that these settlers
faced. But by the late 30's the Indian was gone and newcomers were
forced out into the open when the woods became crowded. By 1840
approximately 40 families lived in Moccasin Township.
Land was cheap in the 60's,
when Wilbrand decided to settle (in 1864 he purchased 80 acres of
Moccasin swampland at only five dollars an acre). Farming flourished
throughout Illinois, and she grew rapidly. The
invention of the steel plow in 1837 by a blacksmith
*** Note Page 17 is missing - it will be added soon ***
longer a German "peasant" or Prussian "serf."
He was an American; and that was enough distinction for any many.
The following pages contain
short descriptions of each family in our ancestral ascendancy.
Each family unit is defined by the head of the household. Names
of family members are given as accurately as possible. Remember
that these names may not be correct. In some instances they are
merely guesses. Birth dates are given in parentheses after each
name, where known. Again, some of these dates may be pure
speculation. Following this is a paragraph or two relating all
known acts about each family.
- Maria Trahm
- Catherina (Apr 6,1807)
Very little is known of Johann. Catherina's birth certificate is
the only known record that makes note of him.
n 1807, only seven months after Prussia had been humiliated by
Napoleon at Jena, he and his wife were living on the estate of Roddahn,
in the county of Quitzobel, Brandenburg. Johann was a farmer (probably
a share cropper of sorts).
Heinrich Wilbrand Stuckemeyer (May 10,1820 ?)
- Anna Marie Luroewiste (Jan 15, 1820)
- Heinrich Edward (June 25,1846)
- Elisabeth (Jan 15,1848)
- Hermann Rudolph (Dec 14,1849)
- Louise (Nov 2,1851)
- Johann Heinrich (Apr 17,1854)
- Heinrich William (May 27,1857)
- Johann Hermann (Feb 22, 1862)
Wilbrand is, perhaps, the most interesting member of our ancestral
tree. He was born into an upper lower class family in Bramsche,
Hannover, Germany in 1820 or 21. German sources indicate that his
father was a tailor from Westerkappeln and that Wilbrand was probably
the eldest of three children. In 1845 Wilbrand and Anna were
wed, just prior to their emigration. Records often identify him as
William Sr. or Wilhelm.
Upon his arrival, Wilbrand and his wife moved to St. Louis, where a
large number of German immigrants were concentrated ( in 1860 fully
three fifths of St. Louis' population was foreign born ). Legend
indicates that Wilbrand probably worked on a vegetable farm south of
the city. Missouri was a slave state at this time with 83,000 slaves
within its bounds.
Wilbrands first four children were born in St. Louis, but both
Elisabeth and Hermann died before their first birthdays. Sometime in
1852 or 53 Wilbrand moved to Washington County, Illinois where he
probably found work as a farm hand. Blue Point church records show
that his next three children were born there in a place called
"Elkhorn Prairie" .
Soon after John's birth Wilbrand moved north. In 1864, on March 16th,
he purchased some 80 acres of swampland for the sum of $ 422.41. The
land was gotten from Effingham County. For six years he worked and
prospered. In 1870 he acquired 200 additional acres for $ 1200.00. In
1872 he sold 80 acres to his son Henry and bought 80 more for $2000. Wilbrand was quite
a success. Within eight short years of backbreaking drainage, planting
and harvesting he and his family had come to control 360 acres of fine
Illinois prairie farmland. By 1886 Wilbrand would own at least 120
more acres, and his children would come to own much, much more. The
census of 1870 lists Wilbrand with property worth $4000 and a personal
estate estimated at $1500. This was quite a tidy sum for those years.
In 1865 Johann and J8 other men founded Blue Point Church.
On October 16, 1876 Wilbrand was declared insane by a jury of six in
Effingham County Court. Court documents show that he had been sick
" at intervals for about two years " and that the symptoms
of the illness included religious monomania. On October 18th he was
escorted to the asylum at Anna and remained there for nineteen years
until his death in 1895. In 1884, Louisa was declared insane and by
1895 Henry had also been pronounced a "lunatic." Blue
Point records show that Henry died at Anna like his father and a
newspaper article reveals that Louise was confined somewhere in Texas.
On June 20,1886 Anna died and John R. Stuckemeyer was named
administrator of her estate. In the fall of '86 John filed a report
with the clerk of Effingham Co. This report stated that at her death
Anna possessed approximately $ 2000 in assets. But it also showed that
her debts totaled $ 3500. In his report John requests that Anna's land
be sold at public auction to cover these debts. He met instant
opposition from Wilbrand and his children. Wilbrand, William, Henry,
Louisa, Harmon and Emil Ueckert (Louisa's husband and guardian) took
John to court to fight such a solution. Nevertheless, the court ruled
that the land was to be sold and this took place on the 26th of March,
A total of 175 acres were sold, but fortunately this land did not
leave the family. Harmon paid $460 for one piece of 35 acres and
William bought the other 80 acres for $1360. Anna was buried on Jun 22
at Blue Point.
On October 18, 1886 John and William were appointed conservators of
Wilbrands estate. In this capacity they were required to keep detailed
records of any transactions involving that estate. These records were
periodically reported to the probate court and reside there to this
day. They show that on Feb 21, 1887 Wilbrand's real estate consisted
of 500 acres of land valued at $ 9100.00. In 1892 a total of $ 55.55
was paid in real estate taxes. On the 9th of August, 1892, lightening
struck a barn on Wilbrand's property and insurance money recovered
totaled $ 268.50. A new and larger barn was built on the spot for the
sum of $ 600.00 and a crib and grainery were also built, at the same
time, on the N one-half of the NE one-half of section 15. Throughout
1892 a large number of checks were issued by John and William for
services rendered the estate. These checks included sums for
attorney's fees, lumber, nails, rock, mending fences, butchering, etc.
For example: $9.50 was paid to Herman Stumeyer for three loads of sand, one load of lumber, one load of lime and
one load of paint.
On May 1,1895 Wilbrand died at Anna. His body was returned to Blue
Point where he was buried, in "gottes acker," on the 5th (
the pastor at that time was Daniel Graef ). His estate was immediately
settled and a balance of $1376.85 was paid to each of his heirs,
except William, who allegedly owed Wilbrand the remainder of a $1000
note. William said that he had paid most of the loan but,
unfortunately, his father had torn up the note, in a fit, and so the
court decided that William would have to repay $600 and the debt was
evenly divided between the other four heirs.
Heinrich Magnus Lenz
- Catherine Herper (Apr 6,1807)
- Elisabeth (May 19,1840)
- Heinrich (Feb 20,1843)
- John (Sept 23,1852)
Johann and Catherine were both born in Roddahn, where they were
married. They apparently attended a Lutheran church in Rohlsdorf, near
family legend tells us that in 1860 Johann, his family and son-in-law
came to Chicago by way of the New York-Erie Canal-Great Lakes
waterway. William Vogel, Elisabeth's husband, purchased a plot of land
near Strasburg (one and one-half mile south and one mile east) and
built a small log cabin on that spot. In '61 the family walked from
Chicago to Strasburg and occupied the Vogel residence until a
temporary dwelling of their own could be constructed. Their new home
was "a small building about 14x30 feet with side 10 feet high . .
. constructed of small poles or trees cut square to about 4 and
one-half x 4 and one-half inches . . . These were mortised lengthwise
in between the upright poles which were about 4 feet apart . . .
"10 In 1862, they built a proper dwelling, a log
cabin ( see photo on following page ). This cabin, at first, had one room upstairs and two downstairs. Later
made and white washed wooden siding eventually. covered the logs. This
house remained occupied until 1938 and was disassembled in 1975.
Although no land deed records, in Johann's name, have yet been found,
abstracts show that, at his death, Johann owned 120 acres (see figure
on following page) that subsequently went to his heirs.
Johann died on Feb 27,1865 and was buried in the old St. Pauls
cemetery ( section 11, township 11, Range 5, Richland township, one
and one-half miles south of Strasburg ). This cemetery was later moved
to its present location and some bodies were exhumed, but Johann's
remained. This land is now under cultivation and the exact location of
his grave is unknown. His wife, Catherine, is buried at St. Paul's
(present location), the date of her death remaining unknown also.
Nippe (Apr 20, 1827)
- Katharina Gabke
- Auguste Alwine Julie (Dec 4, 1855)
- Carl Friedrich Rudolph (March, 1860)
Christian Nippe was a farm hand oh a large farm in Neukirchen near
Seehausen, East Germany, about 100 kilometers northwest of Berlin.
Legend has it that Christian was a goose herder.
Sometime around 1875 he and his family made the journey to the states
and settled near Strasburg (having made their way to Chicago, III by
the great lakes). In 1889, Fred bought 60 acres for $ 260 and at
the same time Charles purchased a lot in Strausburg proper ( see
Christian died on May 20, 1887 and is buried in St. Paul Lutheran
cemetery, Strasburg. It is not known when his wife died nor
where she was buried. Apparently Christian never owned any land
of his own and he probably spent his final days living with his
Bernau (1834 ?)
- Marie Brockmeyer (1835 ?)
- Sophia Catherine (Sept. 23.1860)
Louis Bernau is reputed to have been born in Holzhausen, Hanover.
There were a number of small towns by that name in Hannover at that
time and the correct one has not yet been positively identified,
although it was probably near Minden. It is not known when or where he
married. Marie, his wife, was born in Brandenburg.
Louis apparently immigrated to the St. Louis area because Sophia was
born in Calhoun County, Ill. Soon afterwards, in 1863, Louis
died in Clay county. His wife is said to have moved to the Blue Point
area to live with a daughter. In 1870, on Jan 31, she also died.
The place of her burial remains unknown.
Lenz (Feb 20,1843)
- Auguste Alwine Julie Nippe (Dec 4,1855)
- Wilhelmina (Oct 5,1876)
- Sophie (Sept 16,1878)
- Julie (June 27,1881)
- Marie (Nov 8,1884)
- Albert (Sept 30,1887)
- Rosetta (July 24,1891)
Henry was born and baptized in Roddahn, Germany. In 1857 he was
confirmed in a church at Rohlsdorf (on Palm Sunday). In 1860, he
accompanied his family to the states. His future wife. Augusta, and
her family followed in about 1875.
Henry settled with his parents near Strasburg in 1861 (at the age of
18) and in April of that same year the nation exploded into civil war.
Zealous German regiments marched off to do battle with the rebels but
Henry remained at home. An insufficient knowledge of the English
language and the unestablished condition of his family probably kept
him there. In '64, however, troops were badly needed. As the bloody
conflict wound to a close Henry was drafted and on October 18,1864
reported for duty in Company K, 31st Illinois Infantry as a private.
At that time the 31st was part of 17 Corps the Army of the Tennessee,
under Sherman. The 31st,
known as the old "dirty first" , was badly in need of
recruits, having sustained heavy losses (135 men) at the battle of
Ezra Church in July. Archival records show that Henry was with
his company from November of '64 to March of '65, after which he was
pronounced absent due to sickness.
Company records describe Henry as 5 ft., 7 and one-half inches tall,
with light hair, light complexion and gray eyes. It is not known
if he actually joined his unit at Atlanta, Georgia but records show
that the 31st followed Sherman in November on his fabled march to the
sea. The 31st participated in the siege of Savannah in December and 17
Corps crossed the Combahee River in January and passed through River
Bridge and Salkahatchie, South Carolina in early February.
Sherman left a path of destruction 50 miles wide and for most of his
recruits the march was a "wild adventure". The victorious
procession led Sherman to write:
next day we passed through the handsome town of Covington, the
soldiers closing up their ranks, the color bearers unfurling their
flags, and the band striking up patriotic airs. The white people came
out of their houses to behold the sight, spite of their deep hatred of
the invaders, and the negroes were simply frantic with joy."11
The holiday air led a captain of the Second Massachusetts Volunteers
natives were accustomed to bury provisions . . . These subterranean
stores were readily discovered by the practiced 'Yankee' eye . . . If
any antiquated militia uniforms were discovered, they were promptly
donned, and a comical procession escorted the valuable train of booty
to the point where the brigade was expected to bivouac for the night.
On March 3rd Henry became absent due to sickness. The nature of his
illness has not been determined, although pension records later
mention a hernia. Nevertheless, he remained absent until his mustering
out at Louisville, Kentucky in July of 1865. He returned home to find
that his father had died in February. Henry was now the man of
the family and he proceeded to make his fortune.
On Feb 22,1866 Henry sued John H. M. 's estate for work done before
his enrollment. He was awarded $368 by the court. In Aug of '71 he
purchased 40 acres of land from the Illinois Central Railroad for the
sum of $ 480. In 1885 he bought 40 more for $850. On Nov 25, 1875 he
married Auguste Nippe and settled down to the life of a farmer. As the
years passed Henry raised a sizable family and acquired additional
On Nov 19, 1912 Henry composed his last will and testament. The next
day he died. At his death Henry's personal property had an
estimated value of $1847.89. He also left 100 acres of real estate to
his heirs. His personal possessions included six horses, six hogs,
four cows, a disk, plow, planter, wagon and seeder, 12 and one-half
bushels of clover seed, 943 bushels of corn and 50 bushels of oats.
Henry left everything to his wife. Augusta followed him in death on
Feb 18, 1949. Both are buried in Grace Lutheran Cemetery, Strasburg.
Henry Stuckemeyer (May 27, 1857)
- Sophia Catherine Bernau (Sept 23, 1860)
- Henry (Jan 14, 1886)
- Louis E. (Jan 1, 1887)
- Augusta (Jan 25, 1888)
- Martha (Mar 25, 1889)
- Edward (August 25, 1890)
- George (March 18, 1893)
- Herman (Dec 22, 1894)
- Emma (Aug 4, 1896)
- Lorah (May 16, 1898)
- Ludwig (Feb 2, 1900)
- Frederick (Apr 23, 1901)
William was born in Washington County, Illinois. Shortly
afterwards his family moved to Moccasin Township in Effingham County.
On Dec 4, 1884, at Blue Point Lutheran Church, Altamont, he and Sophia
On March 26, 1887 he purchased two tracts of land at the auction of
his mothers estate. The first was the SW quarter of the SW quarter of
section 10 in Moccasin Township for $ 560. The second was the East
half of the NW quarter, section 15, for $ 800. Later
William came to possess the SE quarter of section). All told his
holdings totaled at least 280 acres.
An interesting story told by several relatives relates how one day
William decided that he was tired of the dull daily routine and
refused to get out of bed. From that time on he seldom left the
security of his bedstead, literally giving up. Some suggest that he
was henpecked to such an act. Others guess that he was a bit
"touched" .Still others think he had been bedridden as the
result of some sickness. Nevertheless, he died on Dec 11, 1939.
His wife preceded him in death on Dec 3,1935. Both are buried at Blue
Point Lutheran Cemetery, Altamont.
William Stuckemeyer (Jan 14,1886)
- Dorothea Rosetta Lenz (July 24,1891)
- Verna (Nov 27, 1915)
- Melvin (Aug 4,1912)
- Viola (July 27,1919)
- Donald (June 23,1921)
- Dorothy (Apr 10,1923)
- William (Nov 30,1924)
- Glenn (July 17,1926)
- Gilbert (May 22,1929)
- Lester (Nov 26,1930)
Henry was born in Moccasin Township, Effingham County, Illinois. He
was christened at St Paul's Lutheran Church, Blue Point, on February
7,1886. He married on January 6,1915 and proceeded to raise a
large family. Dorothea was christened on Apri16,1905 at Grace
Lutheran Church in Strasburg.
Henry died on Nov 5,1957, preceded in death by his wife on May
21,1936. Both are buried in Grace Lutheran Church, Strasburg.
The Stuckemeyer name, in its-many forms, is at least 335 years old.
As such it is difficult to trace its precise origins, although the
root words "Stuck" and "meier" suggest a
translation like "part of the earth" or, more realistically,
"peasant "bound to the earth." Indeed, the name
hints at a lowly background, perhaps even serfdom, but that is only
speculation. Family legend and oral tradition can give us a glimpse of
our more immediate past but if we are to turn back the pages of the
centuries, to ascertain the facts, then we must rely on more
In this respect we are extremely fortunate in our German inheritance,
for throughout history the German peoples have been known for their
excellent bookkeeping. It is through family registers,
marriage announcements and state tax lists, dating as early as 1494,
that we can begin to reconstruct a hazy picture of our ancient
Archival records kept by the Ev. Lutheran Church in Bramsche,
Niedersachen, West Germany suggest that the Stuckemeyer family
originated in Westerkappeln, Nord- Rhein Westfalen, just northwest of
Osnabruck. On December 1, 1821 one Heinrich Wilbrand
Stuckmeyer ( possibly our great-grandfather) was born or
baptised. His father was Johann Heinrich, a tailor, and his
mother was Marie Elisabeth Burlage. Johann was born in
Westerkappeln while Marie was from Rieste. Various records from
Westerkappeln (church and state) support the theory that our family
began there and some of the facts are discussed in the following
The name of "Stuckemejer" appears as early as 1643 in the
Bauerschaft (subdivision) of Hamburen and Handarpe, in Westerkappeln.
Europe was engulfed in the throes of a religious war at this time
which would later become known as the Thirty Years War. At its
conclusion, in 1648, nearly one third of the German populace would be
dead. The powderkeg of Lutheranism had ignited the contest between the
Holy Roman Catholic emperor and the protestant princes of his northern
states. The emperor was eventually defeated, but the anti-reformation
efforts of the Jesuits, prior to 1648, had reconverted a majority of
the area surrounding Westerkappeln, and Osnabruck became an
remained an isolated pocket of Lutheran resistance and there can be no
doubt that our ancestors felt the ever threatening influence of that
catholic presence. The records tell us that the "Stuckemejer"
family owned one cow, one horse and one "Sterken."
In 1673, in the same subdivision, "Stuckmeyer" was taxed 1
thaler. Other persons in the area paid from one to six so it is
obvious that the Stuckmeyers were by no means affluent. Indeed,
these two entries suggest that they were living near bare subsistence
level. This is not surprising, however. A.J.P. Taylor explains:
the course of the hundred years after Westphalia (the end of the
thirty years war) the German princes attained without effort to the
unchecked absolutism which in France needed a great revolution for its
accomplishment . . . Serfdom was reintroduced, often introduced into
districts where it had not previously existed . . . the German
princes, impotent in the great world of states, found consolation in
conquering their own subjects. By the end of the eighteenth century, a
harsh inescapable feudalism held most of Germany in its grasp."
The peasants were taxed into destitution and though this was a period
of relative peace it was by no means one of prosperity for the lower
classes. Oppression was their daily companion. These years would later
become known as the Age of Reason for the rest of Europe in Germany,
however, it was the age of the local despot.
In 1755, the "Stuckmeyer" household was composed of one
adult male, one adult female and three daughters. In 1756 the
Seven Years War (known to Americans as the French and Indian War)
broke out. Great Britain and Prussia had allied themselves against
France, Austria and Russia. Soon Hannover, of which
Westerkappeln was a part, was occupied by the French. I n 1758 and 59
the enemy was finally swept away but not without sad consequences. In
'59 the Lutheran church in Westerkappeln recorded 103 births while it
buried 167 of its members. In 1763 (the year the war ended) it
recorded 109 births and 222 deaths. Clearly this was a period of
crisis for the villagers. The legacy of war had brought them
pestilence and tragedy, the affects of which must have taken years to
In 1774, two years before the Declaration of Indep endence was written
in far off Philadelphia, Wester- kappeln tax lists show that household
number 31 was inhabited by "Stuckmeyer." The farm is
shown to be com posed of gardenland, meadows and cornfields. Church
records of this period also show many births to the "Stuckemeiers"
indicative, perhaps, of family growth. But the specter of death
took its toll again and in 1786 203 burials were recorded. Every
death in the family, during this period, was that of a young child.
For 150 years our arncestors labored under thecurse of a system that
often treated them little better than slaves. This was especially true
in the great Prussian estates to the east, from which the Lenz and
Nippe families would later come. For decades ruthless landowners,
known as Junkers, had waged campaigns of extermination and subjugation
against the hated slavs. The local peasants that survived were
transformed into landless servants and German colonists (freemen) were
brought in to replace those that had not. We cannot be sure if our
eastern ancestors were colonists or not, but it made little
difference. Whether free or otherwise the lower classes remained poor.
This was generally true throughout the principalities, east and west,
and it took the ravages of a continental struggle to alter the system.
On July 14, 1789 French peasants, suffering the effects of an '88 crop
failure, stormed the Bastille in the opening riots of a great and
bloody revolution. "Liberty, equality, fraternity" was the
battle cry as heads rolled and aristocrats fled for their lives. On
August 4 the National Assembly of France passed the Declaration of the
Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The so-called "Third
Estate" , containing 97% of the French populace, had risen
triumphant in its demand for political reform. The words of this
Declaration echo their victory; "men are born and remain free and
equal in rights . . . every citizen may . . . speak, write and print
freely," and every man must "be presumed innocent until
judged guilty."14 The old French order, the Ancien Regime,
now lay in ruins and soon hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic
peasants would rise in an effort to rid Europe of its remaining
The traditional, absolutist monarchies of the Holy Roman Empire to the
east looked upon this rabble with contempt. As far as German leaders
were concerned the unpredictable, undisciplined mob on their borders
was the common man's evil nature unleashed and the prospect of
restoring the French aristocracy to its rightful place began to occupy
their thoughts. Scattered German insurrections, immediately following
Bastille Day, rein- forced German fears that the existing European
order was under attack and military intervention became a virtual
certainty. Prussia and Austria mobilized, but on Apr 20, 1792, France,
aware of German intentions, declared war first and soon the
"Grande Armee" was in the field.
this time Westerkappeln and Bramsche were part of the Kingdom of
Hannover. Roddahn and Neukirchen were located in Prussia. Though
neither area was situated near any major battlefields, and
consequently avoided the worst horrors of war, both were certainly
subjected to the tragedy and uncertainty that war will always bring.
In 1803 Hannover was occupied by the French; in 1805 it was traded to
Prussia in return for her neutrality; in 1810 it was recaptured and
annexed to France. After the war Westerkappeln remained under
Prussian control and Bramsche was returned to Hannover (ruled by the
King of England). In 1807 Neukirchen would become part of Westphalia
(a French possession), ruled by Napoleons brother, King Jerome, until
liberated in the Prussian counter-attack in 1813.
French leaders drew heavily on the conquered German provinces for both
troops and supplies. The massive French armies needed constant
reinforcement (throughout the wars over 2 million Frenchmen would
serve). Conscription was heavy, casualties were un-believable
and many young Germans died for their French overlords. In 1812, for
example, Napoleon entered Russia with an invasion force of 430,000
French, Austrian, Prussian, Saxon, German and Italian troops. Only
50,000 would stagger out alive. In 1806 Prussia also began mass
conscription and by 1813 she could boast of an armed force of 300,000
men, 99% of whom were drill hardened peasants.
Our ancestors served Napoleon with practiced indifference:
any movement of the masses against the French there was no trace at
all. The French were never troubled in Germany . . . by guerillas.
French civil officials were unquestionably obeyed . . . Men will rise
to defend old and cherished institutions or to furthur new and
inspiring ideas. In Germany there was neither one nor the other.
In the three hundred years since the time of Luther, the German
princes had deprived Germany of all her traditions; there was nothing
left to call forth a stubborn conservative rejection of foreign ways .
. . Germany was not stirred by the ideas of liberty . . . In the world
of politics, the Germans knew nothing but authority" .15
Once the conflict was brought to a successful conclusion most Germans
returned to their villages uninspired, relieved that their ordeal had
come to an end. Most of them cared little for political contests and
the vast majority had no use for so-called "human rights."
The peasant found his comfort and happiness in his family, his church
and his fields. Centuries of experience had taught him that to
do otherwise would be foolhardy.
The German masses, nevertheless, did not emerge completely unaffected.
As the war progressed harsh Junker oppression gave way to a more
civilized govern mental attitude as officials began to realize that
the immediate survival, as well as the future industrial growth, of
their respective domains might well rest with the unskilled peasantry.
The tactics of the "ordre profond," and the mass
conscription that it required, had forced German military leaders to
look to the morale and physical well being of their inferiors. The
highly disciplined army of the well fed, oft beaten foreigner had been
replaced with one of bright eyed school boys and aging gentlemen. The
new soldier had to rely on his love of the fatherland, rather than
fear of punishment, for his courage. In the civilian world the west
Germans could not remain totally unmoved by the flood of French ideas
that had inundated their homelands during the occupation and once the
French were defeated radical student societies would draw on the power
of those ideals in their fight against absolutism. Although largely
unchanged Germany had been imperceptibly altered. Like it or not the
German citizen had returned home with the knowledge that he did count,
that he had saved his country from the French menace, that he was
somebody. When the mailed fist of tyranny fell again this he did not
Tacitus. The Agricola And The Germania. trans. by S. A.
Handford and H. Mattingly (Aylesbury. Bucks. Great Britain: Hayell
Watson and Viney Ltd. 1976), p 104- 115.
Franklin L. Ford, Europe 1780-1830, (London, England: Longman
Group Limited, 1975 ); P 373 .
Verlag Asckendorff, Westfaelische Auswanderer 1803- 1850 (Muenster,
Rebecca and Edward Burlend, A True Picture of Enmig ration (New
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Robert Kelly, The Shaping Of The American Past. Second Edition
(New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.,
1978), p 287.
Robert M. Sutton, ed., The Heartland. Pages from Illinois History (Lake
Forest, Illinois: Deerpath Pub. Co., 1975), p7.
Ibid. , 81.
Kelly, p 290.
Edward Lenz, "History of The Lenz Family."
Steele Commager, ed. Volume Two: The Blue and the Gray The Battle
of Gettysburg to Appomatox.
(Indpls: The Bobbs-Merill Co., 1973, p 346.
A. J. P. Taylor, The Course of German History
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Sherman's March Through The Carolinas. Chapel Hill, Univ. of N.
Carolina Press, 1956.
Rebecca and Edward. A True Picture of Emigration. New York:
Citadel Press, 1968.
Winston S. The Great Democracies. New York: Dodd, Mead and
Company, Inc., 1958.
Winston S. The Age of Revolution. Neew York: Dodd, Mead and
Company, Inc., 1974.
Henry Steele, editor. The Blue and The
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Franklin L. Europe 1780-1830. London: Longman Group Ltd., 1975.
Hermann and Werner Hilgemann. The Atlas of World Historv, vols I and II. New York:
Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974 and 1978 (respt.).
Robert. The Shaping Of The American Past. Englewood Cliffs, New
Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1978.
J. German Family Research Made Simple. 2nd
Falls, Ohio: Summit Pub. Co., 1977.
William Henry. History of Effingham County, Illinois. Chicago:
O. C. Baskin and Co., 1972.
Robert M., ed. The Heartland. Pages from llinois History. L.
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A. J. P. The Course of German History. New York, Capricorn
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