Tell It Like It Was

Estel Kramer marriage
Estel-Kramer marriage

I am posting this blog under my own name today, not the Research Crew, because I will be stating some of my opinions, not just the facts.

Today’s story begins with the fact that Friedrich Immanuel Estel was born on this day, April 30, in 1832, before he came to America as part of the Saxon immigration of 1838-1839.  Sometimes a starting point such as this leads to many other story lines.  The story of Immanuel Estel’s birth leads to a story that is agonizing to tell.

As you can see in the church record above from Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Immanuel Estel married Wilhelmine Kramer on October 23,1856.  Let me first say that Immanuel came to America at the age of six with the rest of his family which included eight children in all along with his mother and father.  It was not so with Wilhelmina.  For one thing, in several historic records, by 1856, she also went by the name, Wilhelmina Nitszchke.  Let me explain.

Wilhelmina came to the United States aboard the Johann Georg with her mother, Rosine Kramer.  These immigrants, usually called the Gruber group, arrived in Perry County in December, 1839, and most of these immigrants settled in what in now called Uniontown.  Wilhelmina had been born on May 31, 1839, so when she arrived here, she was a seven month-old baby.  Also, her father, Gottfried Kramer, did not accompany the mother and baby.  That is because not long before the immigration, Rosine and Gottfried were divorced.  This is the painful part of this story.  It seems almost certain that Rosine and Gottfried had divorced over the issue of the immigration.  Mom wanted to go, and Dad did not.  By the way, Rosine was a Kluegel, and several others in her family were also part of the immigration.  Also, after his death in 1858, Gottfried left his estate to his daughter, Wilhelmine in Perry County.

So think about it.  A mother with her firstborn child felt it was important enough to journey to America and was willing to get a divorce to make it happen.  A father also would rather divorce his wife in order to stay in Germany.  He also had to watch not only his wife, but also his new daughter, depart from Paitzdorf to head halfway around the world.  I do not like this story.

We also know that this is not the only story like this which is told about the immigration.  Especially after the leader of the immigration, Rev. Martin Stephan, was sent across the Mississippi River in disgrace, Rev. C.F.W. Walther was tormented by the fact that several families were split apart in the immigration.  He saw the agony in the faces of these people and at times he regretted being part of the leadership of this endeavor.

Now for some better news. After arriving in Perry County, Rosine married Julius Nitzschke, a merchant-turned-schoolteacher in 1843, and Wilhelmine had a new stepfather.  She often is recorded as Wilhelmine Nitzschke.  And Wilhelmine met Immanuel Estel.  They not only married, but they had several children.  Below is a photo of their family which was taken at Perryville in about 1904.

Immanuel Estel family

This looks like a happy ending to me.

Sometimes when you telling stories about the past, you wonder whether some of them should be told at all.  The story of Martin Stephan’s downfall is not a pleasant story to tell, but it must be told.  And every effort should be made to tell it accurately.  There are valuable lessons to be learned from such a story.  This story about the Estel/Kramer/Nitzschke families is not easy to tell either.  We shouldn’t add unsubstantiated facts to it, nor should we take anything away from it.  I think you have to tell it like it was.

History is what it is.  It is the responsibility of the storytellers of history to tell it like it was.  It should not be sugar-coated.  Nor should facts be added or emphasized in order to advance an agenda.  There are always lessons to be learned from history.  It is what it was, and we should honestly tell the stories.

3 thoughts on “Tell It Like It Was

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. Only recently did I find that my 3rd great grandparents were on that same ship with the Gruber group. (Michael Hopfer and wife Justine Quaas Hopfer). Growing up I never knew I was related to the Hopfer’s. Thanks again as I love reading about our heritage be it happy or sad. Darlene Kutscher Daniel


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