Philip Slicker: Timeline

philip-slicker-timeline

Birth Year: The birth year was estimated by subtracting the age (45) given for Philip in the 1860 U.S. census from the year of the census. As age wasn’t always accurately reported to the census taker and/or the census taker may have made an error when recording the age, we cannot be hundred percent certain that Philip was born in 1815.[1]

Birthplace: Philip’s place of birth was recorded in the 1860 U.S. census, the death record of Philip’s son, John, and passed down the family through oral tradition.1, [2], [3]

Marriage: Although no marriage record has been found, it is most likely that Philip and Magdlena were married: they were living together as adults,1 it was customary for adult men and women to marry, and they were listed as father and mother of John Slicker in John’s death record.2

The information in the death record indicates a relationship of, at least, a temporary nature between Philip and Magdlena; it does not show evidence of a marriage. Thus, John’s death record, in and of itself, is not proof that Philip and Magdlena were married. However, when the relationships provided in the death record are linked to the information provided in the 1860 U.S. census and marriage customs of the time, it makes a stronger case for the existence of a marriage.

The date of the marriage was most likely after the birth of Mary Stinogle (1851) and before the birth of John Slicker (1857).  The question remains: Did Philip and Magdalena meet and marry in Germany or here in the United States?

Date and Place of Death: Since Philip appeared with Magdlena in the 1860 census, but not in the 1870 U.S. census; and divorce was highly uncommon, it is most likely Philip died sometime during this ten-year period. Since the family was living in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, it is most likely Philip was buried in this county.[4]

[1] 1860 U.S. Census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Baldwin Township, p. 51 (stamped), dwelling 635, family 608, Philip Slicker; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 27 December 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1,438.

[2] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 77633, John Slicker (1929); Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[3] Baker, Ruth, interview, between 1991-1994.

[4] 1870 U.S. Census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Forward Township, p. 105 (stamped), dwelling 218, family 213, Conrad Steingle, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 27 December 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1,761.

© 2016, Robin Slicker. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Magdlena Slicker’s Life in Pennsylvania

This is Part Three of a three-part series. You may want to read Part One, “Magdlena Friend Slicker’s Life in Nineteenth Century Germany” and Part Two, “Magdlena’s Voyage to a New Life” if you have not already.

Part one places Magdlena in the historical context and events of her home country. It covers the political, economic, and social context from the time she was born in 1819[1] until the birth of her daughter Mary in 1851[2]. In part two I attempt to describe as accurately as possible the conditions and methods of travel during the mid-nineteenth century. In part three I describe all I know of Magdlena’s life in the United States.

As you read you will perhaps realize there are many unknowns about Magdlena and her life. For example, I do not know whom with, if anyone, she traveled from Baden to the United States. Since it is unlikely that her three children ages three, five and seven traveled without adult supervision, I feel safe in concluding she traveled with them. However, I have not found any evidence that she traveled with her husband, John Joseph Steinogle or any other family members. For all I know John Steinogle died in Baden or sometime during the trip to the United States. Some additional unknowns include Magdlena’s date of marriage to Philip Slicker, the exact number of husbands, and the exact number of her children. I would further note that no document has been discovered that supports either marriage.

Let’s now turn to the last part of Magdlena’s story.

It was 1854[3] when the ship carrying Magdlena and her family sailed into a U.S. port. With the long ocean voyage behind them and new challenges in front of them, Magdlena, Conrad, Eva and Mary stepped from the deck of the ship to their first piece of solid ground in weeks. Surrounded by strangers and inundated by the new sights, sounds, and smells, Magdlena directed her three young children through the crowded port.

Three years later Magdlena and her second husband, Philip Slicker, welcomed their newborn child, John, into their home. A family of five was now six.

In 1860 Magdlena and her family were living in Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania[4]. While she cooked, cleaned, did laundry and cared for her youngest son, John, Philip and Conrad went to one of the nearby mines to put in a long day’s work. Conrad was only thirteen. Magdlena’s daughters, Eva, age 11, and Mary, age 9, were most likely attending school.

1860-census
1860 United States Federal Census. Philip and Magdlena Slicker are living in Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Although Conrad, Eva and Mary appear with the Slicker surname, their surname really is Steinogle.

By 1870 Magdlena had become a widow. She was living with her two sons, Conrad and John in Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania[5]. Conrad was supporting the family from the wages he earned working in the coal mines. Eva had married in 1866[6]. She and her husband, John Vogel, were living in Webster, Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County[7]. The whereabouts of Mary, the youngest daughter, is a mystery.

1870 United States Federal Census. Magdlena Slicker is living in Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania with her two sons, Conrad Steinogle and John Slicker.  The census taker mistakenly recorded Magdlena’s and John’s last name as Steinogle.

On June 2, 1873, with six hundred dollars of their hard earned money, Conrad and his sixteen year old, half-brother, John, purchased lots 143, 144, and 147 at the north end of Webster[8]. This small village nestled between the Monongahela River and a hillside is the place Magdlena called home for the last two decades of her life.

In 1877, Conrad married Isabella Carmichael. In the spring of the following year, Conrad and his wife, using a quitclaim deed, conveyed the southern half of the three lots purchased by Conrad and his half-brother, John to John[9].

On January 13, 1880 John Slicker married Malissa Mansfield. Fifteen days later he sold the southern half of lots 143, 144, and 147 for six hundred dollars to his half-sister, Mary Stinogle[10]. Mary and her seven-year old son, John W., moved in to their new home. John and Malissa moved closer to the center of Webster. They were now living next door to John’s half-sister, Eva, and her family and about three houses from the home of Malissa’s mother, Nancy, and step-father, Samuel Haney[11]. John’s mother stayed with her daughter, Mary, and grandson on the southern half of those three lots at the north end of Webster[12]. Magdlena’s son, Conrad and his wife continued to live on the northern half of those same three lots[13].

 

1880 US Federal Census
1880 United States Federal Census. Magdlena is listed on the line marked with a red star. Her name is spelled Marthalena. She is living with her son-in-law, Abraham Sharrow, and her daughter, Mary. Her son, Conrad, and his family are listed on the four lines above Abraham’s name.

January 7, 1892, Magdlena’s life came to an end. She had spent her first thirty-five years in her homeland of Baden, a Grand Duchy of the German Confederation. The last thirty-eight years she spent in her new homeland, the United States of America. At her death she had four adult children and twenty-two grandchildren. Two grandchildren had preceded her in death.

Magdlena is buried in the Vogel plot at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Monongahela, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Magdlena Slicker December 6, 1819 – January 7, 1892

You can visit Magdlena’s Find-A-Grave memorial by clicking the hyperlink below:

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/126383026/magdlena-slicker

SOURCES:

[1] Saint Mary’s Cemetery (Washington County, Monongahela; located within the Monongahela City Cemetery), Magdlena Slicker marker; read by Robin Slicker November 2006.

[2] “1900 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Mary Hedge (age 49), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[3] “1910 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Eva Vogel (age 60), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[4] “1860 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Magdlena Slicker (age 46), Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[5] “1870 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Conrad Steingle (age 23), Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[6] “1900 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Eva Vogel (age 50), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[7] “1870 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Eva Vogle (age 21), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[8] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 77: 364, John Gilmore to Conrad Steinogle and John Slicker, 14 August 1873; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg.

[9] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 96: 38-41, Conrad Steinogle to John Slicker, 2 May 1878; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg.

[10] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 101: 439-441, John Slicker, et ux to Mary Stinogle, 2 July 1880; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg.

[11] “1880 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for John Slicker (age 23), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[12] “1880 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Marthalena Slicker (age 60), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[13] “1880 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02, December 2016), entry for Conrad Stinogle (age 34), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

© Robin Slicker, 2016. All Rights Reserve.

 

Magdlena’s Voyage to a New Life

This is Part two of a three-part series. You may want to read Part One, “Magdlena Friend Slicker’s Life in Nineteenth Century Germany.” Part One places Magdlena in the historical context and events of her home country. It covers the political, economic, and social atmosphere from the time she was born in 1819[1] until the birth of her daughter Mary in 1851[2].

Like part one, I have chosen to narrate this second part by placing Magdlena in the historical context of her time. Some of the narrative is hypothetical. My chosen style of narration is to help pull the reader out of present day and send the reader back to the proper time period. I hope this approach aids the reader to better visualize and understand the challenges our ancestors faced.

You may note the strange spelling of Magdlena’s name. You may think it should be spelled as Magdelena. You may be right. However, I have chosen to spell it as it appeared in the 1860 Federal Census (see image below)[3] and on her grave marker[4].

slicker-family_1860-census

Lines 6-11 of the 1860 Federal Census for Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania accessed at Ancestry.com on 19, November 2016.

Now let’s turn to the narrative.

When we consider the hardships Magdlena would have to face to make the journey with three small children from her home in Baden, Germany to her new home in the United States, we can only imagine what ignited the strong desire that propelled her forward from the known to the unknown. Many challenges awaited her as she departed her home in Baden. Yet the fear of confronting such challenges did not hold her back.

Regardless of the level of hardship Magdlena and her fellow Germans experienced in their home country, they would have never left all they knew unless a better life existed elsewhere. That better life with the potential to earn a higher standard of living, to own land, and to realize entrepreneurial opportunities with few restrictions waited on the other side of a massive body of water in the lands of a young nation. So across this massive body of water Magdlena would travel with her three young ones at her side.

Upon her departure, Magdlena confronted her first challenge – leaving behind who and what she knew. To whom did she bid farewell? Her parents? Her grandparents? Her siblings? Or did some or all of these family members go with her? Would her husband be traveling with her? Or did he go in advance to find employment and to prepare the start of the family’s new life in the United States? Perhaps Magdlena was a widow at this time.

After bidding farewell to the people she had known all her life, Magdlena confronted her next challenge – the journey to the port of departure. Living in southwestern Germany, Magdlena had a long way to go. The trip from Karlsruhe, then capital city of Baden, to Bremen, a popular port city in the north was three hundred seventy-three miles. If Magdlena lived farther south from Karlsruhe, then the distance to port could have easily been longer than four hundred miles.

But which port of departure did Magdlena choose? The port of Bremen seems most likely since Hamburg, another popular German port city, was farther to the north. The port of Le Havre, France was another possibility and a popular choice among those who lived near the border of France as Magdlena and her family did. Again for comparison, the trip from Karlsruhe, Germany to Le Havre, France was four hundred seventy-two miles.

Magdlena with her three young children, Conrad, Eva, and Mary made the long and arduous trip to port either by train, horse-drawn vehicle or on foot. If they made the trip on foot, it would have taken weeks across rough and uneven dirt roads. They would have had to endure all of what nature would have delivered. Although they may have spent some nights in the safety of an inn, it is likely they spent some nights outdoors in unfavorable conditions. But in spite of the difficulties, travel by foot or horse-drawn vehicle provided the most economical form of travel.

Weary from weeks of travel, Magdlena and her children arrived to their chosen port of departure. Since shipping companies didn’t have regular schedules to follow, it is possible that Magdlena spent days or even weeks at the port waiting for a ship to come available. Before boarding the large ship they would call home for several weeks, Magdlena and her children had to undergo and pass a series of physical examinations. To travel one had to be healthy and free of disease.

When the day finally came and Magdlena and her three children, Conrad, Eva, and Mary stepped on-board of the ocean-going vessel that would carry them across the rough waters of the Atlantic to the land of opportunity, they joined one of the largest peaks in German emigration. Unknown to these emigrants, their descendants would help form the largest ancestry group – German Americans – in the United States as reported in the 2010 census.

With the physically demanding land trip behind her and the dangers and discomforts of sea travel in front of her, Magdlena was standing at the point of no easy return. Surely she had heard of all the stories of ships lost at sea, and the large number of deaths due to ship fires and the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhus, and yellow fever. Did Magdlena make the right decision to risk the safety and comfort of all she knew for the hopes of a better life in a foreign land?

From the deck of the ship, Magdlena took one last look at her homeland, a land she would never see again. Did her heart fill with sadness at the thought of leaving her home country? Did she feel relieved for making it this far? Was she feeling uneasy about crossing the Atlantic? Was the flame of desire that initially propelled her forward still burning strongly?

As the ship pulled away from the dock, Magdlena gathered her children and guided them to an area of the ship they would call home for several weeks. This area was most likely below deck. In this dim-lighted, most likely over-crowded living space, Magdlena and her children would eat, sleep and pass their time with hundreds of strangers.

Unlike your modern-day Royal Caribbean Cruise where vacationers enjoy exquisite foods and fine wine, sleep in clean, soft beds in private cabins and enjoy a number of fun-filled and relaxing activities on the deck of the cruise ship, mid-nineteenth century passengers endured horrible traveling conditions. They most likely survived on bread, biscuits, potatoes and foul-smelling water. They slept in narrow, closely packed bunks. There was little to do to pass the time.

The strong rocking of the ship often made standing or walking around impossible. Many passengers became nauseous from the swaying of the boat. As the days slowly drifted one into another, the living space below the deck would fill with the stench of body-odor, vomit, and urine. The air would often be stifling. The poor conditions often led to an outbreak of illnesses and diseases that would spread throughout the tight living quarters. Of those who became ill, a number of them would never step foot into the new homeland. But this was not the case for Magdlena, Conrad, Eva, and Mary. They endured it all.

It was 1854[5] when Magdlena and her three children stepped off the ship. Surrounded by new sights, smells and sounds, Magdlena must have immediately realized she was in a strange land. A strange land she would come to call her home for the second half of her life.

To learn more about German Americans and the Immigrations Experience, click on the hyperlinks given below:

Adams, Willi Paul (1993). The American edition by Rippley, LaVern J. and Reichmann, Eberhard. The German Americans: An Ethnic Experience. http://maxkade.iupui.edu/adams/cover.html.

Huber, Leslie Albrecht. Understanding your Immigrant Ancestors: Who Came and Why. http://www.understandingyourancestors.com/ia/who.aspx. 2006-2008.

Huber, Leslie Albrecht. Understanding your Immigrant Ancestors: Voyage to the U.S. http://www.understandingyourancestors.com/ia/shipVoyage.aspx. 2006-2008.

Huber, Leslie Albrecht. Understanding your Immigrant Ancestors: Daily Life. http://www.understandingyourancestors.com/wea/daily.aspx. 2006-2008.

Sources:

[1] Saint Mary’s Cemetery (Washington County, Monongahela; located within the Monongahela City Cemetery), Magdlena Slicker marker; read by Robin Slicker November 2006.

[2] “1900 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20, November 2016), entry for Mary Hedge (age 49), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[3] “1860 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20, November 2016), entry for Magdlena Slicker (age 46), Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[4] Saint Mary’s Cemetery (Washington County, Monongahela; located within the Monongahela City Cemetery), Magdlena Slicker marker; read by Robin Slicker November 2006.

[5] “1920 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20, November 2016), entry for Conrad Stinogle (age 72), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

© Robin Slicker, 2016. All Rights Reserve.

 

 

 

 

Magdlena Friend Slicker’s Life in Nineteenth Century Germany

Like her husband’s, Philip’s, life story, I didn’t want to tell Magdlena’s story as a list of events and dates. Boring! Lacking the colorful details of Magdlena’s personal life, I decided to place her story within the context of Germany’s history. It’s a simplified version, of course. Nonetheless, it will hopefully make Magdlena as a person seem more real and her story more interesting. 

The reader should take note of the words that convey possibility. To make the narrative more meaningful, I have mixed unsubstantiated information – like her father’s possible occupations – with the facts of Magdlena’s life. I only hypothesized about our ancestors’ lives when there was enough information to support it. For example, in 19th century Germany, most people worked as a craftsmen or peasant.

It was a cold December day in 1819[1] when Magdlena Friend was born in the Grand Duchy of Baden, an independent country in the southwest region of what is present-day Germany. Only four and half years had passed since Baden along with 38 other German-speaking states formed the German Confederation.

germany-1855-modified-1
Attribution: Joseph Hutchins Colton [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons accessed and modified November 3, 2016
After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire and the defeat of Napoleon, these thirty-eight German states formed an economic union to help trade and to give a mutual defense system among member states. Although economically connected, each member state preserved its political independence.

This was Magdlena’s Germany, a loosely organized confederation of sovereign states.

Magdlena’s home was nestled somewhere in the landscape of Baden. She along with her family most likely attended the Catholic Church. Her child-hood was an era marked by political and social unrest. Change was in the air as the middle class pushed to have more participation in government, a unified Germany, free markets, freedom of speech, press, and religion.

Magdlena’s parents’ economic-social status determined the family’s lifestyle. Her father most likely worked either as a craftsmen or a peasant. If he belonged to the peasant class, he may have worked for one of the wealthy landowners of rural Baden; or perhaps, he was one of the luckier peasants, who worked their own small plot of land.

On the other hand, Magdlena’s father may have worked as a craftsman. Craftsmen began as apprentice. Through training they advanced to journeymen and ultimately a few advanced to master. Although craftsmen were respected throughout their community, their living standard varied greatly. Whether he was a craftsmen or peasant, Magdlena’s father most likely worked long hours to provide economic support for the family.

During the nineteenth century young Germans who were not able to economically provide for a family would often wait until their late twenties to married. They would work and save money until they could afford to establish an independent family.

So, in July 1847, we find Magdlena at age twenty-six married to John Joseph Steinogle[2] and giving birth to her son Conrad. As she cared for her new-born, Magdlena must have wondered about the uncertainty of his future. Unemployment and political and social discontentment were on the rise. The mood throughout the German Confederation was very similar to the mood experienced throughout other countries in Europe.

Restlessness ignited on February 4th, 1848 in Paris and continued throughout the month. A result of this month-long political agitation was the overthrow of France’s King Louis Phillipe. As the fire of political revolution continued to stir in France, a spark landed in neighboring Baden. In a few unorganized instances, peasants living in the northern territory of Baden burned mansions of local aristocrats. From here the fire of revolution spread to other states in the German Confederation.

Despite the fact the Grand Duchy of Baden had the most liberal constitution among the states of the German Confederation, it became a hot bed of activity as the middle class formed convenient alliances with the working class. The alliance was a shaky one as the middle class consisting of well-educated students, intellectuals and businessmen demanded political reform and the working class sought radically improved working and living conditions.

Out of fear, the princes and rulers of the German Confederation gave in to many of the demands and began to carry out reforms. But recognition of freedom of religion and freedom of assembly among other basic reforms were not enough for many of the revolutionists. Many revolutionists of Baden further demanded a republican government while the rebels of other German states preferred to keep the hereditary monarchy.

Throughout 1848 and 1849. bloody battles were fought throughout Baden and other states of the German Confederation. Thousands of lives were lost. Many of the surviving rebels were forced into exile.

In May 1849, as the political turmoil continued, Magdlena was expecting another child. Her son, Conrad, was walking. Her husband, despite the civil unrest, no doubt ventured out every day to his place of employment – a living had to be earned. Leopold, the Grand Duke of Baden had fled the country.  In his absence, the revolutionary forces formed a provisional government. They were moving close to obtaining the republican government they desired.

In June, the Federal Troops of the German Confederation accompanied by the Prussian Army Corps and a body of Hessian troops invaded Baden. Bloody skirmishes were fought throughout the month. The revolutionists who were never well-coordinated and had failed to agree on a common set of outcomes began to fall apart. The Federal Troops and Prussian Army captured and executed many of the rebels. In July as those rebels who were not captured exited Baden, Magdlena was welcoming her daughter, little Eva[3] into a world restored to peace.

In 1851 the third Steinogle child, Mary, was born[4]. Mary is a fascinating story. As if she were a magician, she performed a little hocus-pocus and mysteriously disappeared for a moment in time. But when she reappeared, she did not come alone. A rule-breaker – intentionally or unintentionally – and bathed in an aura of mystery, Mary is not your ordinary 19th century gal.

But now is not the time for Mary’s story. Her story must wait until another time… another post. For now, let’s get this family to their new home in Pennsylvania.

In the years after the 1848-1849 Revolution, German experienced its largest flux of emigration. It was at the tail end of this peak when Magdlena with her three children embarked on a journey to a new life in the United States.

Bibiography

Huber, Leslie Albrecht. Understanding Your Ancestors. http://www.understandingyourancestors.com accessed 5, November 2016

Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baden_Revolution accessed 5, November 2016

Wikipedia. German Revolutions of 1848-49. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_revolutions_of_1848–49 accessed 5, November 2016

Wikipedia. Grand Duchy of Baden. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchy_of_Baden accessed 5, November 2016

Sources

[1] Saint Mary’s Cemetery (Washington County, Monongahela; located within the Monongahela City Cemetery), Magdlena Slicker marker; read by Robin Slicker November 2006.

[2] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 49167 (1921), Conrad Stinogle, Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[3] “1900 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5, November 2016), entry for Eva Vogle (age 50), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

[4] “1900 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5, November 2016), entry for Mary Hedge (age 49), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

© Robin Slicker, 2016. All Rights Reserve.

The Elusive Life Story of Philip Slicker

Note on name spelling: The names in this post are written exactly as they appeared in the documents from which they were taken. In the 1870 Federal Census, Magdlena’s name was written as Martha.

The last time I checked the dead weren’t talking. Thus, if we want to learn the life story of our ancestors, we must rely on historical documents to provide the details that will tell us their stories. The more historical documents we find and the more the factual information varies within those documents, the greater potential we have to weave an elaborate, more reliable life story about our ancestors. Even when there are only a few documents, we can still piece together a short narrative about those who came before us. And so it goes with Philip Slicker.

Like treasure hunters diving to the bottom of the ocean to search for buried riches among a more than one hundred-year old ship wreckage, my mother and I have spent countless hours in various repositories searching for that treasure trove of historical documents that would enable us to piece together – gem by gem[1] – the life story of Philip Slicker.

In our exploratory search, we were able to discover three documents containing several genealogical gems: the 1860 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, the 1870 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, and Philip’s son’s death certificate.

From the 1860 census we can begin to piece together a life story for Philip. According to this collection of historical records, Philip was 45 years old and working as a coalminer. Given Philip’s age and the census year, we can estimate that Philip was born about 1815. The census also shows there was an adult female, Magdlena, age 46, living in the same household and bearing the same surname as Philip. Magdlena was most likely his wife. Both Philip and Magdlena were born in Germany.

In addition to Philip and Magdlena, there were four children bearing the Slicker surname listed as a part of the household in 1860: Conrad, age 15, working as a miner; Eve, age 13 or 14; Mary, age 10; and Johny, age 4. The three oldest were born in Germany while Johny was born in Pennsylvania. The family was living in Baldwin Township near Library,[2] Allegheny County, Pennsylvania the day the census was taken: August 17, 1860.[3]

The second useful document was John Slicker’s death certificate. The informant for the certificate, A.G. Seighman – most likely Albert Grant Seighman, John’s son-in-law – reported Philip Slicker as John’s father and Magdalene Slicker as John’s mother. A.G. Seighman also reported Germany as the birthplace of both parents[4], [5].

I believe we would not have found Philip’s family in the 1870 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, the life stories of Conrad, Eva and Mary Steinogle or the burial site of Magdlena, had it not been for Ruth Baker who willingly shared a bit of oral history that has passed from generation to generation.

In the first half of the 1990s, my mother and I had a sit down interview with Ruth. Ruth, the daughter of Matilda Belle Slicker and Albert Grant Seighman, told us Philip and Magdlena had been born in Germany and had lived in and was buried in Webster[6], Pennsylvania. Ruth also told us that Conrad, Eva and Mary were Philip’s step-children and their surname was Steinogle. This little bit of information was enough for us to locate most of Philip’s family members in the 1870 census.

According to this census year, the family household consisted of Conrad Steingle, age 23, born in Germany and working as a miner; Martha Steingle, age 49, born in Germany; and John Steingle, age 13, born in Pennsylvania. They were living in Forward Township, Allegheny County[7]. Eva, Philip’s step-daughter, was married to John Vogle. Eva and John were living in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County[8]. Mary, Philip’s youngest step-daughter, couldn’t be found in this census year. Since Philip did not appear in the 1870 Federal Census, it is most likely he passed away. But when and where?

Based on the information at hand, we can estimate that Philip most likely passed away in the decade between 1860 and 1870. He would have been between the ages of 45 and 55. The answer to where did Philip died is not so easy. It is highly probable he died somewhere in Allegheny County perhaps Baldwin Township…maybe Forward Township.

Three historical documents and a bit of oral history have made it possible to develop a short narrative about Philip Slicker. This life story, although appearing elusive in nature, is not as comprehensive as I believe it could be. Other documents containing their own genealogical gems surely exist. Documents containing factual information that would make Philip’s life story more elaborate… more complete.

Those possible documents include ship passenger lists, naturalizations records, bible records, and church records. There may be a standing grave marker carrying Philip’s name and date of death. The gems to be found within these documents and on his grave marker may include Philip’s arrival date to the United States, the port he arrived to, when he was born, when he was married, when he died and the name of his parents. In fact, with the right documents in hand it would be possible to trace Philip’s life story to the motherland – Germany.

[1] In the field of genealogy, gem is used as a synonym of fact or good-find.

[2] Baldwin Township covered a larger geographical area in 1860 than it   does presently. Library is presently located in South Park Township, Allegheny County.

[3] “1860 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7, October 2016), entry for Philip Slicker (age 45), Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[4] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 77633, John Slicker (1929); Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[5] Although the informant of John’s death certificate, A.G. Seighman, most likely presented an accurate account of the names of John’s parents and their birthplace, the information must be treated as suspect. Mr. Seighman, given his date of birth could not have known Philip and Magdlena. Thus he was relying on information passed down through generations which is less reliable than an eyewitness account.

[6] Webster is in Westmoreland County.

[7] “1870 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7, October 2016), entry for Conrad Steingle (age 23), Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[8] “1870 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7, October 2016), entryfor Eva Vogle (age 21), Westmoreland, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

© Robin Slicker, 2016. All Rights Reserve.

He Came From Germany

The Not So Complete Life Story of Philip Slicker

The following story is being related in narrated form to make it more interesting to the reader who otherwise may fall asleep upon reading lists of facts. The reader should take note of the numerous words that convey possibility and uncertainty. I don’t know the mode of transportation Philip used to move from seaport to Western Pennsylvania; but naming the possible modes of transportation –  automobiles and planes weren’t options – helps the reader to place Philip in the context of his time. Likewise, the description for the working life of nineteenth century coalminers has the purpose of placing Philip in the appropriate historical context as well as making the narrative more interesting to the reader.  For those who want to read all the known facts of Philip’s life and view the citations of documents supporting those facts, the next post will make that possible.  

Born in Germany about 1815, Philip Slicker crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the United States in a ship powered by wind or steam. He most likely landed at one of the eastern seaports – Boston, New York, or Philadelphia. From the seaport, Philip made his journey in-land.

Depending on the year and from which port he started his land trip, Philip may have traveled in a wagon, stagecoach, or train. He may have even made the trip via the Pennsylvania Canal, a complex system of canals, dams, locks, towpaths, aqueducts and viaducts.

Between the years of 1851 and 1856, Philip met Magdlena. To this union, she brought three children from a previous marriage – Conrad born in 1847, Eva born in 1849 and Mary born in 1851. All three were born in Germany. Their father may have been Joseph John Steinogle.

The three Steinogle children arrived to the United States in 1854. They most likely traveled with their mother, Magdlena. It is unknown whether Philip met Magdlena in Germany or in the United States.

March 17th, 1857, Philip’s and Magdlena’s son, John, was born in Allegheny County bringing the family total to six members.

In 1860, Philip Slicker and his step-son, Conrad Steinogle, age 15, were earning a living as coalminers in Allegheny County. The hours were long and the pay, based on production, was low. Six days a week, they were up and started before daylight. They worked until physically exhausted which was usually sometime after sunset. The work took place in small confined areas; much of the work had to be done lying on their side.

Working in small, poorly ventilated areas, Philip and Conrad were exposed to the coal dust stirred up while they worked. That constant exposure placed them at risk for developing pneumoconiosis, more commonly known as black lung disease. Other risks they faced included death and injury from collapsing walls and ceilings, haulage accidents, flooding and explosions.

They had only simple tools – a pick, a shovel, a hammer, a sledge, wedges, a hand machine for drilling, a drill, a crowbar, explosives, an oil can and lamp – with which to work. With their meager pay, they were required to buy their own tools and supplies.

Philip’s home, most likely leased from the owner of the coalmine, was in Baldwin Township near Library. This was in the days before the company town – in some areas known as patch towns.

It appears Philip departed from life between 1860 and 1870. In 1870, Philip’s wife, Magdlena, his step-son, Conrad, and his son, John were living in Forward Township near Elizabeth. Conrad was still entering the mines to support the family. Philip’s step-daughter, Eva, was married to John Vogle. They were living in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County. The whereabouts of his step-daughter, Mary, in 1870, is unknown.

To learn more about Philip Slicker and his family, be sure to read the next post.

© 2016, Robin Slicker. All Rights Reserved.