Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More roots across the seas

We've touched into my Irish roots...and there are many more than last post talked about I'm sure.

How about another area from which ancestors came?  Germany is easy.  My very great-grandfather (who I never knew) came from Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, which is a large area much like a state in the US.  Unfortunately I don't know much beyond his census records.

He had a sister who was mentioned in his obituary in San Antonio, TX, but I have been unable to find any records of her life...Mrs Dora Lawnon.

I know he changed his name from Mueller to Miller, the anglicized version of the same name.  And there were a lot of Germans coming to central Texas both before and after the Civil War.

As always, early dates seem pretty confusing, and are mainly from census records.  He may have been born July 1868, and immigrated in 1871 at age 3.  But there is also a record stating he immigrated in 1865, before he was even born according to the other record.  Unfortunately Charles Herman Miller was not a very unique name, especially if the middle name wasn't included in a record. I did honor his birthday back in July HERE (which has other areas of interest about him)

I even found there was a man of the same name who was living in the same city (San Antonio, TX) who was about 10 years his junior, in a US Census.

I do believe he was a Mason.  And I was told he was a conductor for the railroad all his life...which is substantiated on various census records.

But let me learn a bit about German roots now.

There was a census taken "... of citizens of Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin as of 2/3 December 1867. Authorized enumerators, went from house to house in their appointed areas, recording in a “household list” of each person who was present at the time in the apartment or house."  If my grandfather had left in 1865, his household would no longer have been there.  (The link is here, giving another link to a German language list by area.  Since I have no idea of the area within Mecklenuerg-Schwerin that the Muellers came from, I'm up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  There are several hundred lists to chose from.)

Wikipedia speaks of Mecklenburg-Schwerin thus:

History, 1621–1933

"Like many German territories, Mecklenburg was sometimes partitioned and re-partitioned among different members of the ruling dynasty. In 1621 it was divided into the two duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Güstrow. With the extinction of the Güstrow line in 1701, the Güstrow lands were redivided, part going to the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and part going to the new line of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
In 1815, the two Mecklenburgian duchies were raised to Grand Duchies, and subsequently existed separately as such in Germany under enlightened but absolute rule (constitutions being granted on the eve of World War I) until the revolution of 1918. Life in Mecklenburg could be quite harsh. Practices such as having to ask for permission from the Grand Duke to get married, or having to apply for permission to emigrate, would linger late into the history of Mecklenburg (i.e. 1918), long after such practices had been abandoned in other German areas. Even as late as the later half of the 19th century the Grand Duke personally owned half of the countryside. The last Duke abdicated in 1918, as monarchies fell throughout Europe. The Duke's ruling house reigned in Mecklenburg uninterrupted (except for two years) from its incorporation into the Holy Roman Empire until 1918. From 1918 to 1933, the duchies were free states in the Weimar Republic.
Traditionally Mecklenburg has always been one of the poorer German areas, and later the poorer of the provinces, or Länder, within a unified Germany. The reasons for this may be varied, but one factor stands out: agriculturally the land is poor and can not produce at the same level as other parts of Germany. The two Mecklenburgs made attempts at being independent states after 1918, but eventually this failed as their dependence on the rest of the German lands became apparent."

I won't assume that my grandfather had any relations who were royal, so we can skip all the hooplah about family crests.  The family name speaks of being Millers, at some point in his ancestry.  So my conjecture is that someone he was descended from had milled either grains or lumber.

Here's some great information about immigration...

The (Texas) German Belt is the product of concepts and processes well known to students of migration, particularly the concept of "dominant personality," the process called "chain migration," and the device of "America letters." Voluntary migrations generally were begun by a dominant personality, or "true pioneer." This individual was forceful and ambitious, a natural leader, who perceived emigration as a solution to economic, social, political, or religious problems in his homeland. He used his personality to convince others to follow him in migration. In the case of the Texas Germans, Friedrich Diercks, known in Texas under his alias, Johann Friedrich Ernst, was the dominant personality. Ernst had been a professional gardener in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg in northwestern Germany. He immigrated to America intending to settle in Missouri, but in New Orleans he learned that large land grants were available to Europeans in Stephen F. Austin's colony in Texas. Ernst applied for and in 1831 received a grant of more than 4,000 acres that lay in the northwest corner of what is now Austin County. It formed the nucleus of the German Belt.
In the late 1830s German immigration to Texas was widely publicized in the Fatherland. The publicity attracted a group of petty noblemen who envisioned a project to colonize German peasants in Texas. The nobles hoped the project would bring them wealth, power, and prestige. It could also, they thought, alleviate overpopulation in rural Germany. Their organization, variously called the Adelsverein, the Verein zum Schutze Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas, or the German Emigration Company, began work in the early 1840s. They chose Texas as the site for their colony, in part because of the favorable publicity surrounding the Ernst-inspired migration and perhaps because Texas was an independent republic where the princes might exercise some political control. Though the Mainzer Adelsverein was a financial disaster, it transported thousands of Germans, mostly peasants, to Texas. Between 1844 and 1847 more than 7,000 Germans reached the new land. Some of the immigrants perished in epidemics, many stayed in cities such as Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio, and others settled in the rugged Texas Hill Country to form the western end of the German Belt. The Adelsverein founded the towns of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg.

"By 1850, when the organized projects ended, the German Belt in Texas was well established. America letters and chain migration continued through the 1850s but stopped with the Union blockade of Confederate ports. During the 1850s the number of German-born persons in Texas more than doubled, surpassing 20,000.

"From 1865 to the early 1890s, more Germans arrived in Texas than during the thirty years before the war. The number probably reached 40,000. Many of them settled in the rural areas and towns of the German Belt. Interestingly, the postbellum immigrants generally avoided the Hill Country.
SOURCE: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/png02
The original German settlers in Texas weren't from Mecklenberg-Schwerin however, so it stands to reason that the Miller family came after hearing about the success stories of other Germans in central Texas. 

Since he married a woman (non-German descent) in Hillsboro, Texas when he was 28, I was looking into the families from Germany which settled there.  But my source (above) says there wasn't much influx of German immigrants into Hill County Texas after the Civil War.  

It goes on to say...
By the 1880s German ethnic-islands dotted north central, northern, and western Texas. Ethnic islands failed to develop in East Texas, the Trans-Pecos, and the Rio Grande valley, however.
 By the 1890s sizable German elements had appeared in Texas cities, particularly in San Antonio, Galveston, and Houston. As late as 1880 the population of San Antonio was one-third German. By then a greater percentage of Germans lived in towns and cities than was true of the Texas population at large. German immigration to Texas tapered off during the 1890s.
But being a railroad conductor was already his occupation when Charley H. Miller (as his census name is listed) had been married just 3 years, as listed in the 1900 Census of Hill County, TX which includes his oldest daughter at 2, who would become my grandmother.  That census also states that he'd been born in Texas, though his parents had been born in Germany.  Their neighbors tended to be tradesmen and laborers.  A nearby baker with 7 children came from Bohemia, which I think of as Czech, but everyone else was from a southern state.

Later Census reports show his family in Smithfield and then San Antonio, Texas.

How about the Texas railroad history?
The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company was known as M-K-T or Katy.  I saw and heard of Katy, but never remembered it was the name of the railroad.  It was the first railroad to enter Texas from the north, replacing the cattle trails that had historically brought beef to the northern packing houses. It took many years, many political and corporate squabbles to work out ownership, taxation, leases and all kinds of typical Texas power struggles over who owned what.  It was part of the struggles of a new empire in Texas.  Passenger trains were where my great grandfather worked, however, as a conductor.  All Aboard!


Leslie Lowrey Neilson said...

Hi Barbara, I'm your cousin--Pat's daughter, Rowena's granddaughter, Mozelle's great-neice. I would love to talk to you. leslien417@aol.com

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Super glad to have you connect here. I'll be emailing you in a few minutes!