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.

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.

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 who, if anyone, she traveled with 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 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/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Slicker&GSfn=Magdlena+&GSby=1819&GSbyrel=in&GSdy=1892&GSdyrel=in&GSst=40&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=126383026&df=all&

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.