The Life of John Slicker Part 2

This is part two of a two-part series narrating the history of John Slicker’s life. Part one of this series https://aslickerfamilyhistory.com/2017/07/12/the-life-of-john-slicker/ gives a brief narrative of John’s life from 1857, the year he was born, until 1890. This second part highlights events in John’s life from 1890 until 1929, the year he died. As you read part two, you may notice that I have not documented the sale of the property John and Malissa owned in Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. I’m not certain if I had a copy of that property deed and misplaced it; or I just didn’t look for it when I was at the Indiana County Courthouse. Nonetheless, I hope to find it. If I do, I will be updating this post to include the sale of that property. So, if you are interested in knowing about that sale, you may want to check back in a month or two.

August 30th, 1890 Malissa signed a property deed agreeing to pay three hundred and fifty dollars for two lots in Apollo Borough.[1] Five years and two months later – on November 5th, 1895- John and Malissa sold their two lots in Apollo for one thousand dollars.[2] They moved the family to Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. On December 10th of the same year, Malissa purchased eight acres and forty and six-tenths perches. Malissa agreed to pay four hundred dollars for this plot of land.[3] It is here, John and Malissa’s sixth son, William Eugene, was born December 13th, 1896.[4]

January 7th, 1892 John’s mother, Magdlena, passed away. John and Malissa were still living in Apollo. Although I have not found any written record, it is probable that John returned to Webster to attend the funeral service. Malissa who had just given birth three weeks earlier to their sixth child most likely didn’t make the trip, but rather stayed home to tend to the newborn and the other Slicker children.

The year was 1900. Twenty years had passed since John and Malissa were united in marriage. During these twenty years they had moved from Webster, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania to Apollo, Armstrong County to Conemaugh Township in Indiana County. Over the years John went from digging coal in the mines of Webster to working as a catcher in a rolling mill. His eldest son, Frank, now seventeen, joined his father in the rolling mill as a matcher. Malissa with help from son, Samuel, age 15, was farming the eight acres of land she and John owned. It seemed the family worked together to make life better, but it wasn’t easy. Both John and Frank had been unemployed eight months between June 1st, 1899 to June 1st, 1900. Although Malissa purchased the eight acres in 1895, they were still carrying a mortgage.[5]

The year was 1910. By 1910 Frank, Samuel, and Ruth had married and left home. Frank, Samuel, George, James and Ruth’s husband were working at the sheet iron mill. John Slicker had left the mills and turned to farming the land. Malissa and the younger two children were probably helping with the farm work. In the years following 1901, John and Malissa had welcomed young Fred Manners into their home. Fred was listed as an adopted son in the 1910 United States census. John and Malissa were still carrying a mortgage on their property.[6]

The year was 1914. On October 23rd, 1914 John and Melissa agreed to pay three hundred dollars for lots eighteen and nineteen in Washington Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Each lot had frontage of forty feet on a public street then called Brick Road. The lots extended one hundred twenty feet from Brick Road to an alley.[7] Those two lots would become Malissa and John’s last purchased property.

The year was 1917. On February 23rd, Eva Stinogle Vogel, John’s eldest half-sister passed away.[8] She was seventy years old. It is unknown whether John returned to Webster for the funeral service. Eva is buried next to her mother at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.

The year was 1920. It was the start of the Roaring Twenties. The coming decade of economic prosperity and political and cultural change began with women being granted the right to vote, and the enactment of the Volstead Act which closed every bar, tavern and saloon in the United States marking the era of Prohibition. A greater part of the population lived in the cities and small towns than on farms. An increasing number of women were entering the work force. Many American families had extra money to spend; and they spent it on consumer goods – electric washing machines, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners, radios, ready-to wear clothes, and automobiles.

Despite the major political and cultural changes taking place in America, one cultural norm remained almost intact – families living close to one another. And thus, we find John and Malissa Slicker living on Brick Road, Washington Township (now present-day borough of Oklahoma), Westmoreland County; nearby and on the same road, we find John and Ruth Slicker Hardwick and their four children, Albert and Matilda Slicker Seighman and their three children, George M. And Bessie E. Slicker and their two children, and Samuel and Ethel Hardwick Slicker and their five children and Ethel’s mother, Violet Hardwick. John and Malissa’s son, Frank is living with his wife, Estella, and their five children across the river in the borough of Apollo.

At the time of this writing, I have been unsuccessful in locating James C. and William Eugene in the 1920 census. William’s wife, Lela, and their six-month old son, Eugene, are living with Lela’s parents on the west side of Warren Avenue in Apollo.

All the Slicker men, except John, were working in a steel mill. John was a general merchant and owned his own shop. His adopted son, Fred R. Manners was still living with John and Malissa. Fred was seventeen and working as a utility boy for the railroad.[9]

The year was 1921. John must have received the news from his half-sister, Mary, about the passing of his half-brother, Conrad Stinogle. Conrad, a retired coalminer, left this earth on May 22, 1921.[10] He is buried in the Monongahela City Cemetery, in Monongahela, Pennsylvania.

The year was 1924. Mary, John’s half-sister, sold the property she had purchased from John and Malissa in 1880.[11] In 1930 Mary and her two sons, Samuel and James, moved to Butler, Hancock County, West Virginia. Twelve years later Mary, who was living with her son, James in Holidays Cove, Hancock County, West Virginia, passed away.[12]

The year was 1929. On July 31st, about three months before the Roaring Twenties were to come to a crashing halt, John Slicker, our ancestor, left his earthly journey.[13] The second generation of this branch of the Slicker family tree was laid to rest in the Vandergrift Cemetery, in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.  Malissa would join John twenty-nine years later.

You can visit John’s and Malissa’s Find-A-Grave memorials at:

John Slicker’s Memorial Page at Find-A-Grave

If you know additional details or have a story about John Slicker’s life and would like to share, please do so in the comment section below.

References:

[1] Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 75:75, S.M. Jackson to Melissa Slicker, 13 August 1890; Recorder of Deeds Office, Kittanning.

[2] Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 84:196, John Slicker to Esther Owens, 4, November 1895; Recorder of Deeds Office, Kittanning.

[3] Indiana County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 6976:296, Julia A. Hartlett to Malissa J. Slicker, 10 December 1895; Recorder of Deeds Office, Indiana.

[4]  “1900 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25, July 2017), entry for William E. Slicker (age 3), Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

[5] “1900 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25, July 2017), entry for John Slicker Family (9 members), Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

[6] “1910 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25, July 2017), entry for John Slicker Family (7 members), Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

[7] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 554:137, John Orr Chambers to John Slicker, 23 October 1914; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg

[8] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 25302 (1917), Eva Vogel, Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[9] “1920 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25, July 2017), entry for John Slicker Family (3 members), Washington Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

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

[11] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 791:59, Mary Sharrow to Paul Tomecko ET UX, 3 September 1924; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg

[12] West Virginia State Department of Health, death certificate 7484 (1942), Mary Sharrow, Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[13] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 77663 (1929), John Slicker, Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

© Robin Slicker, 2017. All Rights Reserve.

The Life of John Slicker (1857-1929) – Part 1

John Slicker, son of Philip and Magdlena (Friend) Slicker, was born March 17th, 1857 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania[1]. John may have been Philip’s first and only child. He was Magdlena’s fourth living child. Although it is unknown where in Allegheny County John was born, the 1860 Federal Census for Allegheny County shows John, age four, living with his parents and half-siblings, Conrad, Eva and Mary Steinogle in Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania near Library.[2] So this is where I will start the story.

The year was 1861. Thirteen days after Abraham Lincoln began his first term as president, John reached his fourth birthday. A few weeks later the young independent nation John’s foreign-born mother, Magdlena Friend Slicker, came to call home engaged in one of its bloodiest wars.

There is no evidence that Philip, John’s father, was ever called to enlist in the Union Army. If not called to take up arms, Philip must have continued picking and shoveling out a living in a nearby mine. As the 1860 Federal census shows Philip’s step-son, Conrad, 14, joined Philip in this physically demanding work.[3]

The year was 1870. The war between the North and South had ended five years earlier; and the nation was reunified. John, age 13, was living with his mother and his half-brother, Conrad Steinogle, in Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. His father, Philip, was no longer with the family.[4] Did he die from a mining accident? Or did he pass from natural causes? Whatever the reason, it must have been hard on the family to lose their loved one and the main breadwinner at such a young age.

The burden of supporting the family fell on Conrad.  It is unclear if John, who was of legal age to work in the mines, was working alongside his half-brother. The 1870 Federal Census lists no occupation for John; and the column for documenting school attendance within the past year isn’t marked either.[5]

In the years following 1870, Conrad, John and their mother moved to Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County Pennsylvania.

The year was 1873. The national economy had taken a downturn; but this did not stop John, now 16, and his step-brother, Conrad, from agreeing to pay $600 for three adjacent lots at the north end of Webster, a village nestled between a steep hillside and the mighty Monongahela River.[6] Conrad and John shared ownership of those three lots until one month after John’s 21st birthday in 1878. In 1878, John and Conrad signed two quitclaim deeds dividing the three adjacent lots into two parcels. Conrad and his wife, Isabella took ownership of the northern half of those three lots. John took ownership of the southern-half of those three lots.[7]

The year was 1880. In the cold month of January, John married Malissa Jane Mansfield, a daughter of John and Nancy Mansfield. About two weeks after their marriage, John and Malissa sold John’s southern part of the three adjacent lots he jointly purchased with Conrad. They sold the property for $600 to John’s half-sister, Mary Stinogle.[8] John and Malissa moved to a house a few streets away. They rented a home near John’s half-sister, Eva and her husband John Vogel. Malissa’s mother, Nancy, and step-father, Samuel Haney, lived about a small-village block away.

John, continued work as a coal miner. But the work was not steady.  The 1880 United States census shows that John was unemployed for six months between June 1st, 1879 and June 1, 1880.[9] He was not alone. By 1880, periods of unemployment in the coal mining industry had become common. These periods of unemployment were not a result of decrease in demand for this fossil fuel. On the contrary, demand for coal was increasing. The technology for mining had improved; but the coal mining industry of the late nineteenth century, like the oil industry of today, experienced periods of boom and bust.

The severest winter weather ever experienced in the United States arrived in the fall of 1880. By October bitter cold and white blizzards began swirling their way across the land dumping massive amounts of snow. The snow and cold continued through October… through November…through December. And into this white, wonderland came Milford, John and Malissa’s first child. What should have been a moment of joy was briefly lived if lived at all. This tiny life, unlike the snow and cold of that winter, did not linger.

The year was 1882. John and Malissa had moved from Webster, Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County to Apollo, Armstrong County. It is probable that John found employment in the Apollo Iron Company, later renamed the Apollo Iron & Steel Company. As the year came to an end, John and Malissa welcomed with joy their son, Frank Walton Slicker, into their lives and home. It was December 30th, 1882.

On January 4th, 1885 John and Malissa welcomed their third son, Samuel John Slicker, into the world. In the eight years following, John and Malissa added a child to the growing family every two years. Their first daughter Ruth Elizabeth arrived September 17, 1887. George Mansfield Slicker arrived on July 29th, 1889. And James Clifford was born December 18, 1891. Matilda Belle, the second daughter, was born November 14th, 1893. The Slicker household was filled with six sons and daughters ranging from infant to eleven years of age.

[1] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 013051 (1917), John Slicker, Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[2] “1860 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11, July 2017), entry for Johny Slicker (age 4), Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[3] “1860 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11, July 2017), entry for Conrad Slicker (age 15), Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[4] “1870 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11, July 2017), entry for John Steingle (age 13), Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[5] “1870 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11, July 2017), entry for Conrad Steingle (age 23), Martha Stengle (age 49) and John Steingle (age 13), Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[6] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 364:77-78, Captain John Gilmore and wife to Conrad Stiernogle and John Slicker, 2 June 1873; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg.

[7] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 96:38-39, John Slicker to Conrad Steinogle, 19 April 1878; Recorder of Deeds, Greensburg. And Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 96:40-41 Conrad Steinogle and his wife, Isabella, to John Slicker, 19, April 1878; Recorder of Deeds, Greensburg, PA

[8] Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Deed Book 101:439-441, John Slicker and Malissa Slicker to Mary Stinogle, 28, January 1880; Recorder of Deeds, Greensburg.

[9] “1880 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11, July 2017), entry for John Slicker (age 23), Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

2017 © Robin Slicker, All Rights Reserved.

John Slicker: History of John’s First Property

This is part two of a three-part series narrating the history of John Slicker’s first property. Part one of this series John’s First Property – Purchased at age 16 narrated the purchase of his first property in 1873 and includes images of the property deed and present-day photos. The third post narrates the sale of the property in 1880. Part two narrates the 1878 events related to the property.

In 1878, thirty-three days after John’s twenty-first birthday, John and Conrad signed two quitclaim deeds dividing the three lots. Conrad took ownership of the northern part of the three lots. And John took ownership of the southern part of the three lots. Read on to learn how this division took place, who received the larger of the two portions and to learn exactly where the division line was drawn.

The year was 1873. John, Conrad and their mother, Magdlena Slicker, had been living in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania for three years or less¹,² when John and his step-brother, Conrad, signed a deed agreeing to pay $600 for three lots in Gilmore’s Addition. Gilmore’s Addition was at the northern end of Webster, Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Here is what the property looks like today:

2017 view of property once owned by John Slicker.
Here is the property taken from a different angle. The yellow house barely visible on the right side of the concrete building sits on lot 148. Source: Photo taken by Robin Slicker, April 2017.

In April 1878 – thirty-three days after John’s twenty-first birthday ³, John and Conrad signed two quit-claim deeds with the purpose of dividing the three lots they purchased in 1873 (4, 5).

Note to the reader: I have included images of different sections of the two quitclaim deeds. For those who aren’t interested in reading the fancy handwriting of the past, I have included transcriptions for each deed image. In the transcriptions of some of the deeds, I have highlighted lines I thought might be of interest. I also hope the highlighted lines help to distinguish one deed from the other. I have attempted to transcribe as is – leaving the original grammar and punctuation.

1878 Quitclaim Deed: John Slicker to Conrad Steinogle, Deed Book 96, page 38

1878 Quitclaim Deed with John as Grantor.
This is the first paragraph of one of two Quitclaim Deeds signed by John and Conrad in 1878. John is the grantor and Conrad the grantee. Source: Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 96:38-39, John Slicker to Conrad Steinogle, 19 April 1878; Recorder of Deeds, Greensburg.

This part of the deed states:

This indenture made the nineteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy eight. Between John Slicker of Webster, Westmoreland County and state of Pennsylvania, miner, of the first part and Conrad Steinogle of the town county and state aforesaid party of the second part. Witnesseth that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of one dollar in hand paid by the said party of the second part…

 

1878 Quitclaim Deed: Description of the Property, Deed Book 96, page 38

1878 Quitclaim Deed page 38 of Volume 96.
Description of property that John Slicker quitclaimed to his step-brother, Conrad. This is the beginning of the description that appeared in the deed book on page 38. See next image for the rest of the description.

The description on page 38 reads as follows:

…to the following described piece or parcel of land to wit part of three certain lost of ground situate in Gilmore Addition to North Webster in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania which in the general plan of said town are numbered Nos. one hundred and forty seven (147) one hundred forty four (144) and one hundred and forty three (143). bounded and described as follows to wit. Starting at the corner of Lot No 148 on first Street thence along said Street one hundred and fifty 150 feet to the corner of Lot no one hundred and forty (140) thence along said lot one hundred 100 feet to Water Street thence along said Street one hundred and fifty 150 feet to the corner of Lot no one hundred and… (cont. on page 39).

 

1878 Quitclaim Deed: Description of the Property, Deed Book 96, page 39

Description of property that John quitclaimed to Conrad Steinogle.
This is a continuation of the property description started in the previous image. This part of the description appears on page 39 of deed book 96.

The description on page 39 reads as follows:

… forty eight. thence along said Lot one hundred 100 feet to first Street the place of beginning. Which John Gilmore and Susannah Gilmore his wife by deed dated June second of 1873 conveyed to Conrad Steinogle and John Slicker recorded in deed book vol 77 page 364 date Aug 14th 1873 as by reference thereto will fully and at large appear. Starting on first Street at the N.E corner of the said three lots. thence along said street seventy 70 feet and seven inches thence on a line parallel to the line of said Lots from first to water street one hundred feet thence along said street seventy 70 feet and seven inches to N.W. corner of said three lots aforesaid conveyed by John Gilmore and Susannah Gilmore his wife June second of 1873 to Conrad Steinogle and John Stickler of which this is a part thence by line of said Lots 100 feet to first street at the place of starting. the said division line passing through the hall of the Mansion house close to the partition separating the north rooms from said Hall. To have and to hold…..

 

1878 Quitclaim Deed: Conrad Steinogle to John Slicker, Deed Book 96, Page 40.

1878 Quitclaim Deed between Conrad and John.
This is the first paragraph of one of two 1878 Quitclaim Deeds signed by Conrad and John. Conrad and his wife, Isabella, are the grantors. John is the grantee. Source: Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 96:40-41 Conrad Steinogle and his wife, Isabella, to John Slicker, 19, April 1878; Recorder of Deeds, Greensburg, PA

This part of the deed states:

This indenture made the nineteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy eight. Between Conrad Steinogle and Isabella Steinogle his wife of Webster, in the County of Westmoreland County and state of Pennsylvania, parties of the first part and John Slicker (miner) of Webster in the county and state aforesaid party of the second part. Witnesseth that the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar, lawful money of America unto them truly paid by the said party of the second part…

Note: Conrad married Isabella Carmichael December 10, 1876 (6). They had their first child, Margaret, in November 1877 (7).

 

1878 Quitclaim Deed: Description of the Property, Deed Book 96, page 40

Description of property in Webster
Description of Property in Webster. Source: Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 96: 40-41, Conrad Steinogle to John Slicker, 19 April 1878; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg.

The description on page 40 states:

…to the following described Lot, piece or parcel of land. To wit: (a part of three certain Lots lying contiguously to each other, fronting on First Street one hundred and fifty (150) feet and running back one hundred 100 feet to Water Street, being in Gilmore addition to North Webster, and in the general plan of said town Numbered Nos. one hundred and forty seven (147), one hundred and forty four (144), and one hundred and forty three (143) being each fifty feet front on First Street and running back one hundred feet to Water Street. The part _____ revised and quitclaimed commencing on First Street at the South East corner of the said three Lots, thence along said street seventy nine feet and five inches to a stake. Thence through the Hall of the Mansion house and close to the partition separating said Hall from the North Rooms, and continuing strait and parallel with the line of said Lots from First to Water Street. the same being the Southern portion of the above described three Lots of ground, which John Gilmore and Susannah Gilmore his wife by Deed bearing date Junes Second one thousand eight hundred and Seventy Three ( June 2 1873) conveyed to Conrad Steinogle and John Slicker, the present grantor and grantee, which deed is of Record in the Office for Recording Deeds in Greensburgh in said County in Book 77, page 364 ….

In conclusion: John and Conrad purchased three lots in 1873. Together the lots measured 150 feet by 100 feet. In 1878, John and Conrad signed two quitclaim deeds dividing the three lots into two portions. Conrad took ownership of the northern part. This part measured 70 feet, 7 inches by 100 feet. John took ownership of the southern part. This part measured 79 feet, 5 inches by 100 feet. The size of the parts seem to have been determined by the division line which “passed through the Hall of the Mansion house.” Given the property description and location of the division line, it seems there was one dwelling structure shared by both John, Conrad, their mother, Conrad’s wife, Isabella, and Conrad’s daughter, Margaret.

What event triggered the division of ownership? It appears that John’s twenty-first birthday was the trigger for the dividing of the property. There is no other event that I am aware of. It couldn’t have been Conrad’s marriage to Isabella. Two years had passed since the date of their marriage. It most likely wasn’t the birth of Conrad’s and Isabella’s first child. Eight months had passed since her birth. The number of occupants living in the “Mansion house” did not change upon the division of ownership. It remained the same. Thus, the changing size of Conrad’s family doesn’t seem to be the trigger for the division of ownership.

Since the division of ownership occurred thirty-three days after John’s twenty-first birthday and nineteenth century law required a male to be twenty-one of age or older to own property, John’s age seems to be the trigger for the division of ownership.

Finally, a question remains: Did the 1873 purchase of lots 143, 144 and 147 include the “Mansion house,” or did John and Conrad build it?

If you have an answer to the question above or have any thoughts, questions or comments that will add to the story, feel free to share in the comment section.

Source Citations:

¹“1870 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21, May 2017), entry for John Steingle (age 13), Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

²Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 364:77-78, Captain John Gilmore and wife to Conrad Stiernogle, 2 June 1873; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg, PA.

³Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 77633 (1929), John Slicker, Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

(4)Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book, 96:38-39, John Slicker to Conrad Steinogle, 19 April 1878; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg, PA.

(5)Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book, 96:40-41, Conrad Steinogle to John Slicker, 19 April 1878; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg, PA.

(6)WikiTree, Isabella (Carmichael) Stinogle. WikiTree, (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Carmichael-1641: accessed 21, May 2017).

(7)WikiTree, Margaret (Stinogle) Kesterson. WikiTree, (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stinogle-3: accessed 21, May 2017).

© 2017, Robin Slicker. All rights reserved.

John Slicker: First Property – Purchased at Age 16

The year was 1873. The economy which had flourished in the years following the end of the Civil War was coming to a slow. But that slowed economy didn’t stop John Slicker, 16, and his step-brother, Conrad Stinogle, 26, from purchasing a property from Captain John Gilmore and his wife, Susannah.  The property, a part of Gilmore’s Addition, was located at the north end of Webster, a small village in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

1876 Atlas Map of Webster and Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, PA

Webster, Westmoreland County, PA 1876
The black arrow points to the approximate location of the property purchased by John Slicker and Conrad Stinogle in 1873. Copied from Atlas of Westmoreland County 1876, Reading Publishing Company, 1876 (Public Domain).

On June 2, 1873, John and Conrad, who were working as coalminers and supporting their mother, Magdlena, signed their name to a deed agreeing to pay $600 for three adjacent lots: Lots 143, 144, and 147. Each lot was 50 feet by 100 feet.

2017 Image of Boundary Lines for Lots 143, 144 and 147

2017 GIS Tax Map of Lots 143, 144 and 147.
Here are lots 143, 144, and 147 as they appear on 2017 GIS tax map of Webster, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Note the dotted lines on lot 144. These are the original boundary lines that separated lot 144 from lots 143 and 147. Source: Westmoreland County. GIS Maps. wcgis.us/apps/public, accessed May 15, 2017 for Lots 143, 144 and 147 of Webster, Westmoreland County, PA.

Although these three lots were originally equal in size, overtime their boundary lines shifted. Today the lots sizes are as followed:

Lot 143    38 x 100

Lot 144, PT LT 143 and 147     76.79  x 100

PT Lot 147     35.29 x 100

 June 2, 1873 Property Deed

1873 Property Deed, Book 364, Pages 77-78.
Source: Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 364:77-78, Captain John Gilmore and wife to Conrad Stiernogle and John Slicker, 2 June 1873; Recorder of Deeds Office, Greensburg.

You can read the description of the property in the image of the deed given above, or read it below. As you read it, try to follow the boundary lines on the image of the GIS map given above.

Starting at the corner of lot No (148) on first street thence along said Street one hundred and fifty feet to corner of lot (140) Thence along said lot one hundred (100) feet to water street Thence along said Street one hundred fifty feet to corner of lot one hundred and forty eight (148) Thence along said lot one hundred feet to first street the place of Beginning

Unfortunately, I do not have an 1873 photo of these three lots; but I do have 2017 photos. The down-side: the “Mansion” house that John, Conrad and Magdlena called home is gone.

Present-day View of Lots 143, 144 and 147

2017 view of property once owned by John Slicker.
Here is a 2017 view of the property once owned by John Slicker and his step-brother, Conrad Stinogle. The deteriorating concrete building on the right is sitting on lot 147. The wooden fence on the left marks the approximate border of lots 143 and 140. Source: Photo taken by Robin Slicker, April 2017.

 

2017 view of property once owned by John Slicker.
Here is the property taken from a different angle. The yellow house barely visible on the right side of the concrete building sits on lot 148. Source: Photo taken by Robin Slicker, April 2017.

I have added a few more photos for those who are not able to travel to Webster to view the town John Slicker and his mother, Magdlena, called home.

The View East of the Three Lots

View on east side of property purchased by John Slicker.
This is the view John, Magdlena and Conrad would have seen from their front porch. It no doubt looks different today then it did in 1873. Source: Photo taken by Robin Slicker, May 2017.

 

North end of Webster looking back towards Webster

View from north end of Webster looking towards town.
This photo was taken across from the east boundary of lots 143, 144 and 147 looking back toward present-day Webster. Of course, in 1873 there were no paved roads; and as seen on the 1876 Atlas map of Webster there was only one road entering Webster from the north end. Source: Photo Taken by Robin Slicker, May 2017.

 

Webster, PA – Late 1800s.

Webster, PA late 1800's
This is a photo of Webster, Westmoreland County, PA. It is believed to have been taken in the late 1800s. John’s and Conrad’s property is not visible in this photo. Source: Public Domain.

Should you want to find lots 143, 144 and 147 on Google Maps or to drive out to see them in person, here are their present-day addresses:

Lot 143   vacant lot    Nulled Address

Lot 144, PT Lots 143 and 147 with mobile home   121 Bargehr Lane, Webster

PT Lot 147 with Building    123 Bargehr Lane, Webster

(to be continued in the next post)

© 2017, Robin Slicker. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

An Analysis of Magdlena’s Life Events – Part 2

Children of Magdlena:

Conrad Stinogle was born in Germany (Bayron) in 1847.

Eva Stinogle was born in Germany (Baden) in 1849.

Mary Stinogle was born in Germany (Bayron or Byron) in 1851.

 

Marriage:

Although no written records of marriages have been found, there is a high probability – based on customs – that Magdlena was married to the fathers of her children. Since marriage records have not been found, I will use other documents to prove the relationships between Magdlena and her children’s fathers. I will begin with the death certificates of Conrad and Mary, two of Magdlena’s children.

The death certificate of Conrad Stinogle names John Joseph Stinogle as Conrad’s father and Magdelena Friend as his mother. The death certificate of Mary Stinogle Sharrow names Conrad Stenogale as Mary’s father and Magdeline Cripps as her mother. From these facts of familial relationships, several questions arise.

Questions to be Answered

First, did the informants (providers of information) for the death certificates accurately name the parents of Conrad and Mary? Was Stenogale a typo, or did the informant erroneously give this family name? If Stenogale is inaccurate and the correct spelling is Stinogle, then did Magdlena marry two men with the family name Stinogle? Finally, with the family names of both sets of parents being different I ask, are Mary and Conrad related?

Conrad and Mary, siblings?

Let’s begin with answering are Mary and Conrad siblings? Many sources taken together seem to support this relationship. The first source, the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, shows the following people living in the same household in Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania:

Philip Slicker, age 45, born Germany

Magdlena Slicker, age 46, born Germany

Conrad Slicker, age 15, born Germany

Eva Slicker, age ?, born Germany

Mary Slicker, age 10, born Germany

Johny Slicker, age 4, born Germany

The fact they are living together suggests a family unit. You may have noticed everyone has the family name Slicker. Where is the family name Stinogle? The answer: record keepers were not always accurate. Also, recordkeepers had to rely on the accuracy of the person providing the information. All family members were born in Germany.

 

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census, shows the following people living together in Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania:

Conrad Steinogle, age 23, born Germany

Martha Steinogle, age 49, born Germany

John Steinogle, age 13, born Pennsylvania

Conrad was listed as head of the household. It may explain why his mother and John was listed with the family name Steinogle and not Slicker.

 

In 1872, Conrad Stinogle and John Slicker purchased property together in Webster, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

In April 1878, using quitclaim deeds, Conrad Stinogle and John Slicker divided the ownership of the property they purchased together in 1872.

In January 1880, John Slicker sold his property in Webster to Mary Stinogle. This same year Mary married Abraham Sharrow. The 1880 census shows Mary’s mother, Magdlena Slicker, is living with Mary and Abraham. Mary’s son, John W., age 7 is also living with her. Magdlena’s name was spelled Marthalena, similarly to the spelling in the 1870 census.

 

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census shows the following people living in the same household in Webster, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania:

Henry Hedge, head, age 48, born 1851 in England

Mary Hedge, Wife, age 49, born 1851 in Germany, immigration date 1854

Mago Hedge, daughter, age 17, born 1883, in the state of Indiana

Sam Sharrow, step-son, age 16, born 1883, in Pennsylvania

James T. Sharrow, step-son, age 10, born in 1889, in Pennsylvania

 

February 9th, 1905, the Daily Independent of Monessen, Pennsylvania reported that Sam Sharrow was visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hedge.

Thursday, April 25, 1907, the Daily Independent of Monessen, Pennsylvania reported that Henry Hedge left his home on Tuesday and did not say where he was going. This was the last time anyone had seen Hedge. He never returned.

August 7, 1905 the Daily Independent of Monessen, Pennsylvania reported that Miss Bessie Sharrow had spent a couple of days at the home of her aunt Mrs. Henry Hedge.

In 1911 Mary Stinogle, now a Hedge, mourned the death of her eldest son, William J. Slicker. Mary was the informant for her son’s death certificate. She listed Mary Stinogle as John’s mother. She signed her name as Mrs. Mary Hedge and listed Webster, Pa. as her place of residence.

In 1921, Conrad Stinogle passed away. Mrs. Mary Hedge provided the familial information for Conrad’s death certificate. In the certificate, Mary named Webster, Pa. as her place of residence.

 

The 1930 U.S. Federal Census, shows the following people living together in Butler, Hancock County, West Virgina:

James T. Sharrow, head, age 40, born Pennsylvania

Mabel Sharrow, his wife, age 33, born Pennsylvania

James Sharrow, son, age 10, born Pennsylvania

Mary W. Sharrow, mother, age 79, born Germany, immigration date 1853

 

June 18, 1942 Mary W. Sharrow’s obituary appeared in the Weirton Daily Times. The obituary reported that Mary had lived with her son James T. Sharrow since 1927 when she came to this city (Marland Heights, West Virginia) from Webster, Pa. The obituary stated Mary was the wife of the late Abraham Sharrow.

 

Conclusion – Conrad and Mary, Siblings?

If we were to view each source above separately, we would find it difficult to show a sibling relationship between Conrad and Mary. But as we consider the facts in all the records given above, we can build a case for a sibling relationship between Conrad and Mary. Many of the records mentioned above help to show that Mary Stinogle, Mary Sharrow and Mary Hedge are the same person. Mary Stinogle while Mary Hedge, was the informant for Conrad Stinogle’s death certificate. As is still true today, informants for death certificates were usually family members.

Mary’s Family Name – Stinogle or Stenogale?

Next I will address the family name Stenogale by looking at two death certificates. When Mary died in 1942, her son, James T. Sharrow was the informant for Mary’s death certificate. James reported Conrad Stenogale as Mary’s father. Mary’s father disappeared from the family story in the 1850’s. James was born in 1889. He had never known his grandfather. How could he be certain of his grandfather’s name?

In 1911, Mary’s eldest son, William J. Slicker – research has shown William to have been born out-of-wedlock – passed away. Mary, then Mrs. Henry Hedge, was the informant for William’s death certificate. For his death certificate, Mary reported herself as mother of William – William appeared in the 1880 census as John W. –  and her family name as Stinogle. Now I ask, who is more likely to know Mary’s family name, Mary or her son, James? Mary, of course. Thus, it is almost certain that James, perhaps suffering from a memory lapse, erroneously reported Stenogale as Mary’s family name on Mary’s death certificate.

Before moving on, it is interesting to note that the U.S. Federal Censuses show that James Sharrow lived in Webster, PA in 1900 and 1910. We can conclude from these two records that James lived in Webster for at least these ten years. Records for his uncle Conrad Stinogle show that Conrad lived in Webster starting around 1872 until his death in 1921. Point being, James most likely knew his uncle; and therefore, it seems he would have known his mother’s family name was Stinogle.

Furthermore, in his mother’s death certificate, James reported his mother’s birthplace as Berlin, Germany. Berlin is near the northwest border of Germany – near the border with Poland. It has already been established in other posts that Mary, her mother and her siblings were from the southwestern region of Germany – near the border of France, far from Berlin. Mary died during World War II. Did James, known his mother was born in Germany, just add Berlin to her birth place due to hearing the name in the news? Although I would never want to – without sufficient evidence – rule out the information that James provided in his mother’s death certificate, for now, I choose to go with the information his mother has provided as being the more solid facts. These facts support Stinogle as Mary’s family name.

The Father’s First Name – John or Conrad?

Now I have established that Mary’s family name is Stinogle, and Conrad and Mary are siblings, it is time to decide on a first name for their father.

Mary, as the informant of Conrad’s death certificate, reported their father’s name as John Joseph. James T. Sharrow, as the informant for his mother’s death certificate, reported his grandfather’s name as Conrad. Since it is more likely that Mary would know the name of her father better than her son, James, and I have already shown reasons the information James provided may not be reliable, I choose to use John Joseph Stinogle as the name of Mary’s, Conrad’s and Eva’s father.

Summary of Marriage Events

Magdlena married John Joseph Stinogle about 1846-47. They were the parents of Conrad, Eva and Mary. John disappeared from his family’s life somewhere between the Fall of 1853 – after the conception of Mary Stinogle – and about June 1856 – before the conception of John Slicker. Since divorce was rare in the nineteenth century, it is highly probable John died.

Magdlena then married Philip Slicker sometime during the same period in which John Stinogle disappeared from Magdlena’s life. The son of Philip and Magdlena, John Slicker, was born March 17th, 1857.

Date and Place of Death:

Magdlena Slicker died January 7, 1892. She is buried next to her daughter, Eva Vogel, in the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. The dates on the grave marker are the only records of Magdlena’s birth and death that my mother and I have found. We found Magdlena’s place of burial by understanding the custom that people are often buried near other family members. Thus, we followed Conrad’s life right to his burial-place in the Monongahela city cemetery, but Magdlena was not there. Little did we know, we were just a little more than a stone’s throw from her burial-place. We then followed Mary Stinogle all the way to the St. Paul’s Cemetery in Weirton Heights, West Virginia, but still no Magdlena. Finally, we followed the life of Eva. We found her death date and ordered or death certificate. From her death certificate, we learned Eva was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Monongahela, Washington County, Pennsylvania. After learning this cemetery was next to and overtaken by the Monongahela city cemetery, my mother and I headed back to Monongahela. And there we found, Magdlena Slicker buried next to her daughter, Eva and just a little more than a stone’s throw from her son, Conrad Stinogle.

Magdlena’s place of death is unknown. However, from our research it seems Magdlena lived in Webster from around 1872 until her death in 1892. In the nineteenth century, it was common for people to die in their homes. Thus, it is highly likely Magdlena died in her home in Webster, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

© 2017, 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.