|The Widmann New York Passenger List|
Widmann patriarch Conrad has the ignominious distinction of being the oldest of our ancestors to emigrate (outside of a couple men who joined their childrenís families), and with the largest family! It makes me wonder how intolerable life in Zuffenhausen must have been for Conrad, the oldest of three brothers, to leave the family home of 150 years, at this age with this number of children, to become a laborer. Brother Fred emigrated* first with his family, 13 years earlier in August 1854, planning to settle in Oswego, NY. Fredís plans changed quickly: his wife died, the family moved to Dubuque where he worked as a shoemaker, and he remarried just four months later (December 1854). After brother Johannís wife and daughter die in Germany in 1868, he also emigrates* to Dubuque with his two young sons two years after Conrad. Catherine too is leaving her long-time homeland; her family had been in nearby Haubersbronn for 150 years.
It was not passed down as to why the Widmannís moved; not even William Widmann's son Elmer knew why in 2002. While it is possible that part of the impetus was to avoid military service for the two oldest children, it seems more likely that there were economic reasons, as American industry flourished after the Civil War. Also, Dubuque was the center for the German Lutheran religion, and this might have been an important factor for Fred (we would like to think these matters were carefully weighed, while in fact, many immigrants decided their locales in America on not much more than a whim). Since the passage for all seven would likely have cost 6-12 monthís salary, the move would not be made impetuously. Plans may have been delayed during the Civil War, when immigration enthusiasm was dampened, or perhaps they would not leave while Conradís parents were still alive (Jacob Widmann died in 1843 and Magdalena Widmann in 1860). (Catherineís father Johannes Fezer died in 1849, but her mother, Maria Katharina Fezer died on June 1, 1867, at age 77, their first day in America!)
Four babies had been buried in Zuffenhausen, and Sophie dies in Dubuque in 1869 of pneumonia, age 5. One more child, Anna, is born in Dubuque in June, 1868. In 1870 the whole family moves to Waterloo, where son William works for the Railroad. Conrad dies in 1877, Fred also dies in the 1870ís, and Johann in 1888. Sadly, the cousins, and perhaps even the brothers, lose touch sometime after the move to Waterloo, a mere three years after immigration.
*(Jacob) Fridrich Widmann: emigrated 8/21/1854, sailing ship Lamont, Havre to NY, age xx with wife Sophia, age xx, and two children -- son xx and daughter xx -- Sophia died enroute or shortly after landing.
*Johann Gottlob Widmann: emigrated 6/10/1869, on the SS Bremen, Bremen to NY, age 41, with sons Heinrich 6 and Gottlieb 4.
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, and a summary of the history of Germany in the middle of the 19th century.