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.