|TheDickenhorst New Orleans Passenger List -- Quarterly Abstract Only|
Margaretheís life story is incredibly tragic. Margarethe GrŁngras was supposedly a lady-in-waiting (minor royalty) in Westphalia in the 1830ís. Her family supposedly disowned her upon her marriage in 1840 to the commoner Hermann Dickenhorst (however, to date, I have not been able to uncover any evidence of the veracity of these stories told by Margaretheís daughter Maria Dankenbring to her own daughters and granddaughters). Hermannís older brother Friedrich had emigrated four years earlier, in December 1847 at age 34, with several German friends to settle in the Concordia, Missouri farming area, undoubtedly due to his cousin, Caroline Dickenhorst Frerking who had emigrated 6-8 years earlier.
This was a time of famine in Germany, which was likely the impetus behind leaving not only your town, but your country, especially since two older brothers, with their rapidly growing families, were both living in the ever-smaller family home (#21 Spenge). Hermann and Margarethe left in September, 1851, with their three young daughters (ages 3, 5, and 9), and Margarethe nine months pregnant! Son Henry was born on board in the first month of the trip! Life must have been hard on the trip over, but it was only to get worse.
In the next nine years, by the time of their first census* in America, the youngest daughter died in St. Louis, two more daughters were born, Hermann died too, and Margarethe remarried and had one more daughter. Then, life became unbearable: the Civil War started, and Concordia was a prime target for the Kansas-Missouri bushwackers led by Quantrill and Poole (including many of the Concordia non-German neighbors! - all pro-Confederacy); whenever they were bored they would decide to wreak some havoc on the German community, even murdering German-Americans at christenings. Friederich Dickenhorst was murdered in the Concordia massacre of October 10, 1864. His nephew Henry, the only remaining male Dickenhorst, grew up, married, had four sons, but only one of those sons had a son, and this last American male Dickenhorst died in January, 2002.
There are still many Dickenhorstís in Germany today, but somehow, it is not surprising to me that other Dickenhorstís declined to emigrate, after the life events of our ancestors. It is hard to imagine that Margarethe and the Dickenhorst brothers did not rue their decision to emigrate. (revised September 2003) There were special state censuses in 1852 and 1856, but both were destroyed for most of the state, including Lafayette County. The oldest daughter married in 1860, but died childless 1870-73.
Another genealogist who was researching his great-grandfather leaving Westfalen in 1859 stated the following to me in an email:
In Prussia, young men had to get permission from the government to leave. According to Prussian law ("Allgemeintes Landrecht vom 15 September 1818") a person between the age of 17 and 28 years was not allowed to emigrate. As a penalty, the current property was confiscated, including possible future inheritance. Later, in 1850, this penalty was replaced by a monetary penalty. The Prussian government wanted to be sure all the young men served in the Military (six years mandatory service, and a very good possibility of being killed in a war) and had all the taxes due the government paid before they would allow them to leave. In other words, you had to have a "clean slate" before you left.
A brief history lesson: In the Napolean (1769-1821) era, 3,000 young Westfalen men were drafted into his army, only 30 men returned after the war. So that made most young men want to avoid the army. Of course, many young men (my great-grandfather included) left 'without consent' of the government; i.e., illegal emigration to avoid the military service. In Westfalen, there are lists of those that left legally (with consent) and illegally (without consent) of the government and these lists have been published by some genealogists. Mueller, Friedrich, 1980-1981, Westfaelische Auswanderung im 19. Jahrhundert. Auswanderung aus dem Regierungsbezirk Minden, I, Teil, 1816-1900 (Erlaubte Auswanderung). Beitraege zur westfaelischen Familienforschung. 38-39: 3-711. Mueller, Friedrich, 1989-1990, Westfaelische Auswanderung im 19. Jahrhundert. Auswanderung aus dem Regierungsbezirk Minden, II, Teil, 1814-1900 (Heimliche Auswanderung). Beitraege zur westfaelischen Familienforschung. 47-48: 7-762. Here is a sample from these books, showing my great-grandfather Joh. Franz Kroeger, his birthdate, father's and mother's names, year he emigrated illegally, and place he immigrated to: #11727 a) Joh. Franz Kroeger aus Dorfbauerschaft Ksp Delbruck b) 29.10.1837 c) Christoph Kroeger u. Angela M. Kroening o) 1859 p)Amerika
If the young man did not show up for the draft, the police would knock on the door of the parents and ask where he was, and they would say he went to the USA or Australia. Then he would become 'illegal' and his name would go on the 'left without consent' list.
There is also an overview of some of the reasons why our ancestors emigrated, a list of the sources used in data collection and summaries, a description of the hazardous steamboat voyage up the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis, and finally, a summary of the history of Germany in the middle of the 19th century.