Today’s blog post was written by Cal Eggers, and he tells the story of an Eggers. I find it to be a fascinating story. I think you will also. Thanks, Cal, for your contributions to our blog.
The word “pioneer” can be defined as: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area. The members of the Gesellshaft and other early immigrants to Perry County could be called pioneers, though I have not often seen that reference made; an exception was The Pioneer Tree in Stories in the Trees. In any case, the central figure in today’s blog was recognized as a pioneer in California. He only lived in Perry County for a short time, but I thought the story of his journey would be interesting to readers.
In reviewing the early branches of the Eggers family tree in records from Lamstedt, Koenigsreich Hannover or the Kingdom of Hanover (courtesy of Fred Buck) we assumed Hermann Eggers, born April 19,1823, to be just another in a long line of Harmans, Hermanns, Heinrichs, and Jacobs who had lived and died in Germany. Then, through the magic of Google we found the following in a description of the Centerville Pioneer Cemetery in Fremont, Alameda County, California.
The date of birth on his tombstone confirmed this to be “our” Hermann (aka Herman, aka Harman) from Lamstedt. But how and why did he get to California? A little more searching yielded the following biography in “History of Alameda County, California, Volume 2 (1883)”
Hermann probably came to Perry County because of his first cousin (and my great-great-grandfather), Claus Eggers, who had arrived there about two years earlier. We think the Claus Eggers family was among some of the earlier immigrants to Perry County from Hanover. (The Perilous Journey of Some Early Lamstedt Immigrants) We know from a document in that blog that Claus had been a Maurer (mason or bricklayer) in Lamstedt and perhaps he and Hermann had worked together.
The first record of Claus in Perry County is in the 1850 census when he lived of a farm in Brazeau Township, just north of the current location of the joint sewage treatment plant. Note that the entry above Claus Eggers that appears to be Andrew Bopp is actually Andrew Popp; his young wife, Catharina, is Claus’s daughter, whom Andrew married in 1848 after his second wife died.
In that same census we find Hermann in the 5th Ward of St. Louis.
The “1900” entry indicates that he owned real estate valued at $1,900 — one of only a few home owners on that census page. The ditto marks indicate that he and the two persons living with him were born in Germany, as were many of the others on that page.
That census did not include street names but a little research located the 5th Ward. At that time the wards of St. Louis were narrow strips running west from the Mississippi River to about Grand Avenue and about 8 blocks wide from North to South. The 5th Ward was roughly bounded on the North by Clark Avenue and on the South by Chouteau. I think Immanuel Lutheran Church was at that time located in the 5th Ward.
In November, 1850, (not 1852 as the biography states), Hermann married Marie (aka Mary) Catherine Doering. Below are two records of the wedding: The first is from an on-line index of official records of Immanuel Lutheran Church. The second is the state record; it appears from the dates that the good Rev. Buenger did not get to the Court House to record it until the following January.
Marie’s history is a mystery. I could not find her in the 1850 census or in any immigration records. The 1900 census lists her arrival as 1852 but that is not consistent with her marriage date. Coincidentally, in 1916, another Hermann (Wilhelm) Eggers of Altenburg married a Lena Doering of a Frohna family. There are 11 pages of Doerings in the German Family Tree and both Marie and the Perry County Doerings trace their ancestry to the Hesse states, but I have not been able to make a connection between them.
Not long after their marriage they must have started to plan for the Westward trip. Just a few years after a 50 to 60 day trip across the Atlantic from Bremerhaven to New Orleans one wonders how were these German immigrants ready for a 4 to 6 month trip across the country. And how did they make a connection with Mr. Blakow? Another article in the same Alameda County history provided some clues.
Not only do we learn that Blakow was a “serial pioneer” and perhaps a gold miner, but that his wife was Helen Catherine Doering. Despite the two different misspellings of Doering, this is not likely to be a coincidence — she must have been a sister or other relative of Mary Catherine. As with Mary Catherine, I have not found prior records of Helen Catherine. However, it interesting that these two, as well as a Mary Catherine Doering in Frohna had the same middle name. Perhaps somewhere in Hesse there was a beloved Grossmutter Catherine.
Digging deeper into the above history, we learn more about a third member of the wagon train group.
From this we learn the exact dates of the journey which took bout 28 weeks but – look who his wife is – Anna Eggers, though the marriage date must be wrong. The Lamstedt records verify that Anna was a sister of Herman, so this road trip was very much a family affair.
Wagon trains typically comprised many – perhaps 100’s of — families and likely that was the case with this one. The planners had prudently embarked in the spring so as to arrive in October before severe winter weather hit the mountains.
We next see Herman and Mary in the 1860 census with 3 children and two farm workers, one from Pennsylvania and one from Mexico.
Altogether, Herman and Mary had four sons and three daughters: George (1854-1862), Louis (b. 1856-1935), Edward (1858-1885), Mathilda (1861-1940), Franklin (aka Andrew) (1862-1924), Alice (1865-1928) and Helen (1864-1956). Some records have Louis and Edward both born in 1858 but the 1870 census shows them at ages 14 and 12 respectively, so I have used that as a basis for the above tabulation.
Hermann died in November, 1897, at the age of 74 and was buried in the Centerville Pioneer Cemetery. Here are some parts of the inventory of his assets filed as a routine part of the probate process.
The farm was left to his wife and the living children. Mary Doering Eggers died in 1906. From census records it appears that the family stayed on the farm at least through 1910, but by 1920 Louis and Franklin had non-farm employment. There is no record of any of the women marrying or working outside the home. By 1930 Louis (recently widowed), Mathilda, and Helen had moved to a home in Piedmont, some distance from the farm. Helen outlived her siblings by 16 years, until 1956. Of Hermann and Mary’s children, only Louis married and he had only one son, Everett, who died at the age of 16, so this Eggers line leaves no living descendants
Today, if you (or your drone) flew over the location of the Eggers farm you would see the Glenmoor subdivision of Fremont, California, near I-880, with main streets named “Blacow Rd.” and “Eggers Drive.” Looking at a random home on Eggers Drive, Zillow.com reports that it was built in 1955 with 1467 sq. ft., and is today valued at over $1 million.
Now, briefly back to Hermann’s sister, Anna Eggers Emerson. Like with the other two brides on the wagon train, I could find no definitive history of Anna before the journey to California. There were two entries for a woman by that name in the index of Immanuel Lutheran marriage records but I have tentatively concluded they are for another person.
For their part Anna and James Emerson raised a large family. At the time of the 1880 census they farmed two census stops away from her brother and had eight children, including Ralph Waldo Emerson – no, not the poet you may remember from 10th grade English, but probably named after him.
Based on family trees on ancestry.com it appears that there are multiple branches and generations of the Emerson family alive to this day. Recently, a member of this extended family appeared as a “DNA Relative” of mine on “23 and Me.”
Given the passage of time and space, these photos of Anna and James that I borrowed from ancestry.com are the only ones I have for this blog.
Wagon trains were an important factor in the settlement of the western United States. Not long after the Blakow group made their wagon train trip, the “Iron Horse” began to develop as a much faster and safer route for the migration. The seminal date was May 10, 1869, the driving of the Golden Spike to connect the western and eastern railway systems. I believe that many of families that traveled from Perry County to places such as Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, and Oklahoma must have traveled by rail, though I have not read anything to support that belief.
Hermann Eggers most likely immigrated to the United States in search of steady employment and a better life. Though he apparently found a measure of those things (including a bride) in St. Louis, he was drawn to travel to California. As a pioneer there, he turned a land grant into a productive farm that appears to have supported his family throughout his life and well beyond. He is remembered by a street in a busy subdivision and a modest tombstone, but not by any living descendants.
The Teacher in Ecclesiastes (3:9) wrote: “What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”