Hermann Hockemeyer born in 1808 in Bissendorf Germany and came to USA in 1846

Hermann Hockemeyer family

by: George Hockmeyer

Hermann Hockemeyer was born in 1808 in Bissendorf Germany. When he was 24, he married Catharina Maria Korten, who was not quite four years older than he. My grandfather, Johann Heinrich, was born to the young couple the following year. Hermann Heinrich brought his young family to the United States in 1846.

German genealogist, Wolfgang Dreuse, writes that the marriage to Katharina Marie Korte was in 1834 at the church at Holte which had a population of about 1,000. Wolfgang.Dreuse at t-online dot de | Email help

Fritz Hockemeyer
Fritz Hockemeyer
In 1837 another son, Milford's grandfather, Johann Friedrich (Fritz), arrived. He was followed by Anna Maria and, finally, came Johann Wilhelm. By German law, all children must have a German given name and it is apparent that the list of approved names was not extensive. Heinrich, Wilhelm, Gerhard, Hermann, Friedrich, Christian and Johann were popular names for boys. Some of the most popular names for girls were Maria, Catharina, Elisabeth, Eliesa, Anna and Wilhelmiena.

All of 3 Herman's sons were named Johann. His daughter and 4 of his granddaughters ( 2 sets of sisters ) were named Anna.

Tragedy struck the family in 1844, when little Anna Maria died at the age of four. She lies buried in Bissendorf.

Hermann Heinrich left Bissendorf and settled with his wife and young sons in Franklin County, Missouri in 1846. His travel pass from Germany listed his occupation as cabinet maker. On March 28th 1846 Hermann received permission from the Osnabrueck courthouse to emigrate to America. The very next day, he and his wife and three sons began their journey. You can view recent photos of Bissendorf here.

It took 71 days to travel from the port of Bremerhaven to New Orleans. Their final destination was Franklin County, Missouri, about 50 miles west of St. Louis.

In those days, the land east of the Rhine River, which later became known as Germany, consisted of over 300 small principalities, free cities and several kingdoms.

Around the beginning of the Christian era, the people of this region were made up of three basic language groups. There were the East Germanic, or Gothic; the North Germanic, or Scandinavian; and the West Germanic, from which developed primitive German, English and Dutch. This German group divided into a number of dialects as the tribes settled permanently in the various districts.

Although a number of dialects were spoken, the chief ones were the High German of the central and southern regions and the Low German of the lowland country of the northwest. They are known as Hoch- and Plattdeutsch, respectively. The terms "High German" and "Low German" have, therefore, a geographical, rather than a social, significance. But High German won out and it is now regarded as the official language of Germany. It is used in all German schools, on the stage, in the movies, on the radio and television and by most Germans.

A number of dialects are spoken in Germany but most speakers of dialects can converse in High German. They do so when they encounter other Germans whose dialects they don't understand.

For more than 120 years the kings of Great Britain were also German princes. They ruled the Kingdom of Hannover, which bordered Holland in northwestern Germany. This came about when George I, founder of the Hannoverian line, ascended the English throne in 1714. It ended with the death of his great, great grandson, William IV in 1837. King William of England was succeeded by Queen Victoria and, since the laws of Hannover forbade female succession, she was denied the Hannoverian crown.

It wasn't until 1871 that Count von Bismarck united all of the free cities, principalities, duchies and kingdoms into a single nation known as Germany. A number of thriving cities lie in what was once the Kingdom of Hannover. The city of that name is some 80 miles south of Hamburg.

Lying in a straight line and 40 miles to the west of the city of Hannover is Minden. Another 35 miles due west of here is Osnabrueck. Hockemeyers have recently been found in both of these cities, as well as in a number of the villages lying between them.

The first half of the 1800s saw an ever-growing stream of immigrants flowing into the United States from Great Britain and Europe. Most had been prompted by economic reasons. However, a desire for religious or political freedom played no small part. Many Germans had been influenced by the writings of the American writer, James Fenimore Cooper, whose book, "The Last of the Mohicans," had been published in 1827 and translated into many languages, including German. Cooper's stories were widely circulated throughout the lands which were later consolidated into the German nation and the imaginations of many young men and boys were fired by the exploits of the American pioneers fighting the Indians.

Exactly why Hermann Heinrich decided to take his family from Bissendorf to America isn't known. However, James Michener's thoroughly researched historical novel, "Texas," may throw some light on what actually happened. As Michener reported, there was a large influx of Germans into Texas during the ten years of the Texas Republic, from 1836 to 1846. This was the time after the Texans had won their independence from Mexico but had not yet joined the Union.

Germans had been entering the United States through the eastern seaboard ports for some time, but they eventually began entering through the ports on the Gulf of Mexico. These included Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston and, further down the Texas coast at Matagorda. The immigrants entering the Texas ports of Galveston and Matagorda spread inland and settled such Texas towns as Fredericksburg, Weimar, New Braunfels, Schulenburg and many others. Other families, as did ours, landed at New Orleans and went up the Mississippi to Missouri and other midwestern states.

Michener describes the experiences of a fictional German family, the Allerkamps, who emigrated to Texas.

In the border province, where the Allerkamp family lived, the Margrave was in trouble. Not only did an economic crisis grip the Rhineland, but a frightening surplus of population inhibited the normal functioning of society.

Unemployment was rampant and many young married couples had difficulty finding homes. The land itself remained divided because no strong central power had as yet arisen to force consolidation of the many provinces.

The situation could have been relieved had families emigrated, but the Margrave was reluctant to allow this because of the ever present possibility of war with France, Russia or Vienna. Should this unhappy event occur, young men would be needed for the army.

Now, Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer had three sons, two of them approaching military age. He could have well been in the position of Ludwig Allerkamp and decided to start life anew in America.

Another book which was widely circulated among the German states in 1840 was "A Practical Guide to a Wealthy Life in America."

This book related the experiences of 16 German families in the New World and advised newcomers as to how they could strike their fortunes there.

Travelers were advised what they must take for such areas as Pennsylvania, "the most hospitable of the states and the most like Germany; Missouri, the state with the most attractive free land and the greatest opportunity for getting rich; and Texas, the most exciting land, an independent nation now but likely to become a part of the United States."

Osnabrueck Courthouse
The Osnabrueck Court House was built about 1500.
Perhaps Hermann Heinrich and his family were permitted to emigrate because his three sons were only 8 and 11 years and 16 months old, well below military age. The age of the oldest boy, Johann Heinrich, was shown as 9-1/2 on the travel pass issued at Osnabrueck. He was actually 11. This could have been a clerical error but perhaps his father simply moved his age back so he could qualify for a child's fare.

There was hardly a family in the Osnabrueck area that didn't have a relative or acquaintance who had emigrated to America. It is unlikely that people living in the tiny village of Bissendorf would have ever heard of Franklin County, Missouri if they didn't already know someone living there. And the Hockemeyer family did know someone in Franklin County. Their cousins, the Hagebusch family, had preceded them to a farm near Union, Missouri.

On the 7th of June in 1846 the motorized sailing ship BREMEN arrived at New Orleans. At that time the port city at the mouth of the Mississippi river had a population of around 120,000. Although the BREMEN was presumably a German ship, the captain was apparently not German. He was Captain H. W. Eater (Exter) and his handwritten notations on the ship's manifest were in English. Listed were 191 persons and two babies, including Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer, his wife, Catharina Maria, and their three children. Also listed, but not by name, were 189 persons traveling in steerage. It is doubtful if many passengers held a round trip ticket as there was probably only a meager return traffic. The ships arriving at the Gulf coast ports returned to their points of origin laden with American exports, chiefly cotton.

Webmaster note:
The ISTG™, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, has listed the Herman Hockemeyer family along with other passengers on board ship Olbers from Bremen. There were several ships named Olbers. The ship that the Hockemeyer family sailed on is the 2nd one described here. You can search for other immigrants at the ISTG home page.

On the 11th of June, four days after their arrival in New Orleans, the family arrived at St. Louis by river steamer. After 1812 St. Louis had attracted many settlers, including a big foreign element, which in the 1820s and 1830s was predominantly German. However, by 1830 few German immigrants had ventured into the rural areas surrounding the city. In 1846, St. Louis had a population of around 55,000. After a week in St. Louis, the Hockemeyer family journeyed westward by wagon to Franklin County, some fifty miles away.

That year Iowa became the 29th state, the Pennsylvania railroad began, the Smithsonian Institution was founded, Milwaukee was incorporated, the publishing house of Charles Scribner was founded and a portable hand-cranked ice cream freezer was invented by Nancy Johnson in New Jersey.

More than 25 states have a county named after the printer, publisher, statesman, scientist and revolutionist, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin County was originally a part of St. Louis County, which was formed in 1818 with the city of that name as the county seat.

In 1819, 866 square miles in the west of St. Louis County were cut off to form Franklin County, which was comprised of 12 municipal townships, all lying south of the Missouri River. Today, a large portion of the population of Franklin County is of German descent but this was not always the case. Missouri was originally settled by people from Pennsylvania, however Franklin County had a large influx of Virginians.

The majority of the population of Franklin County identified with the South but the newly arrived Germans wanted no part of the movement to secede from the Union. Missouri was a slave state but sentiment was divided between the North and the South, with the German-Americans opposing slavery.

The Hockemeyers settled first in the vicinity of the town of Union, probably to be near their Hagebusch cousins.

Tragedy struck the family again when the infant boy, Johann Heinrich Wilhelm, died on July 14th, less than a month after their arrival in their new country. He lies buried near Union, probably in the churchyard of the old Evangelical-Lutheran Church of St. John's township. This church had been founded in 1843 and services were conducted in German. The Hagebusch family was listed as members.

On March 9th, nine months after their arrival in Franklin County, Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer and his wife purchased a 17 acre farm near Union from Lanslott M. Drace, a 30 year old farmer from Virginia.

Hernann Heinrich had been trained as a cabinetmaker and he continued in this line of work in the New World. He made most, if not all, of the furniture used by his family on the farm.

In addition to cabinet making and farming, he began the practice of homeopathic medicine, which was flourishing in rural areas, where medical school trained doctors were something of a rarity. The system of therapeutics known as homeopathy was based on the idea that "like is cured by like." Practitioners believed that if a drug could induce certain symptoms in a healthy person, the same drug could relieve a sick person of these same symptoms and restore him to health. Some of the drugs used were opium, aconite (a plant from the buttercup family), nux vomica (an emetic), belladonna (used to check spasms and cardiac arrest) and cannabis (marijuana). Most of these substances were dissolved in alcohol, whose effect itself is well known. Many a fever would have probably run its course, with or without homeopathic treatment. But the physical reactions caused by these concoctions, together with the placebo effect, were impressive enough to win many converts to and believers in this kind of therapy.

We don't know when Hermann Heinrich began his "practice," but an account book he left shows an entry he made as early as November 21st 1862. His patients were relatives and neighbors and his fees ranged from 10 cents to a dollar. In one case, he charged 50 cents for making a house call by horseback 12 miles away.

In 1866 a cholerea epidemic took the lives of 120,000 in Prussia and 110,000 in Austria. It spread to America, where 50,000 died, 2,000 of which were in New York City. Deaths in the midwest, including Missouri, were so numerous that Hermann Heinrich began to apply his woodworking skills to the making of caskets.

It was while they were living on and working the farm near Union that Hermann Heinrich's two sons, now known as John Henry and John Frederick, or "Fritz, grew up and married.

In 1863 Hermann Heinrich, anticipating the need for more space for the three families, purchased 163 acres of timberland for $1,600 in Lyon Township near the little settlement of Campbellton. This was just west and a little north of Union Township in Franklin County. The land had originally been deeded to a George F. Dudley in 1836 by the then president, Andrew Jackson.

In March of 1864, during the War Between the States, the three families moved to their new home and they cleared five acres and planted tobacco, which sold for one dollar per pound. In a short time he was able to pay off the mortgage. Hermann Heinrich divided the land among his two sons, giving 83 acres to Fritz and 80 acres to John Henry. The latter received a little less than his brother because his land bordered on Bucklick Creek and the soi1 there was considered to be a bit better.

Milford Hockemeyer writes that on October 1st 1864 soldiers in the Confederate Army took all of the Hockemeyers' horses and held Fritz hostage. He was released some six miles from his home and had to walk back. Quoting Milford:

1n February 1865, Fritz received his draft notice. HHH (Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer) must have been quite upset. To think that he had left Germany so that his sons would not have to face military conscription, and now his son was being drafted for military duty with the Northern forces.

Congress had earlier passed a law that said that any male drafted for military duty could be exempted from such duty provided he furnished an acceptable substitute to serve in his stead. The substitute had to be a person not subject to the draft. With two small children and a farm to clear and plant, Fritz opted to buy such a substitute. For the payment of $515, one Benjamin Rook agreed to serve in my grandfathers place for a period of one year. The war ended just two months later.

On this farm, five more girls and two boys were born to John Henry and Miena and five girls and three boys were born to Fritz and Maria Engel.

Hermann Hockemeyer
Hermann Hockemeyer
Catharina Hockemeyer
Adjoining the Hockemeyer property was a small log building which served as a schoolhouse. The Hockemeyer children attended this school until a larger brick building, known as the Bucklick School, was erected in its place.

Bucklick School

More about Bucklick School & closeup of students

   Salem Church / Casco Church   

The church attended by the Hockemeyer families is still standing and in use today. Known as the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, it is located in a district known as "Casco," not far from the Hockemeyer farms. It has an interesting history.

When the Hockemeyers moved to Lyon Township in 1864 they joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the nearby area known as Port Hudson.

According to the book, "The History of Franklin County," published by the Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888, the Salem Methodist Church was organized in 1871 by Reverend John Meyer, following a dispute between members of the church at Port Hudson. Quoting from this book:

"Reverend Benjamin Link, a Presbyterian and school teacher, while engaged in his profession as teacher, was, on several occasions, invited to the homes of his patrons to hold prayer meetings in the evening. On such occasions the neighbors would come to spend the evening. Among them were members of the Evangelical Church. The preacher of the church was much displeased and complained bitterly; and when one of his church members, P. Schmidtkamp, died, the remains were refused admittance into the church. Upon this refusal, Reverend John Meyer mounted the wagon on which lay the corpse and paid the last tribute of respect for the dead. Feeling their religious freedom outraged by the pastor of the Evangelical Church, those who had attended the prayer meetings of Reverend Benjamin Link came together and organized the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church."

Casco Methodist Church
Fritz Hockemeyer gravestone at Casco Methodist Cemetery
Milford Hockemeyer had first heard this story from his father in the early 1950s and later came across it at the Denver library in the book published by Goodspeed. Listed among the charter members of the Salem Methodist Church at Casco were Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer and his sons, John Henry and John Frederick.

The Casco Methodist Church was built in 1871 in Lyon Township of Franklin County, Missouri. Charter members include Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer, his wife and their sons, John Henry and John Frederick. All members of the Hockemeyer family were eventually members. Church photo by Robert Miller

The gravestone pictured at the left is for John Frederick "Fritz" Hockemeyer and his wife Maria.

Fredrich J Hockemeyer
born Apr. 8, 1837
died May 17, 1919
Marie A. Hockemeyer nee Wiemeyer
born Feb. 23, 1843
died Apr. 2, 1930

Also buried in the same cemetary is Fritz's daughter, Wilhelmina Sophia, and Fritz's parents, Hermann Heinrich Hockemeyer and Catharina Maria.

The gravestone photo was taken by Donald Hoeman in 2002 who writes;

"The Casco church has a web site and seems to be an actively functioning church. It is "just down the road" from the Port Hudson Evangelical Lutheran Church where we attend the Sausage Supper every October (This church has a lot of memories for my family)."

Shortly after the Salem Church was built, the congregation purchased a small reed pump organ from the Western Cottage Organ Company of Mendota, Illinois. A label in the organ gives the date it was tuned: November 1886. So it was probably this year that it was purchased. It was shipped by rail to New Haven and the Hockemeyers pulled it 12 miles by sled through the snow to the church. John Henry's daughter, Anna Hockemeyer, served as the first organist. Anna's grandson, Robert L. Miller, of Washington, Missouri, himself a gifted professional organist, purchased and restored this old organ in 1967.

The woman on the porch of the brick house may be a Hockmeyer. Phyllis Karsten says the back of the photo says only "Edw.A. Zoff. Photographer, Washington, Mo". Robert Miller astutely observes that this is probably the Fritz Hockemeyer farm house pictured here.

Most of the information on this page is from a book by George Randolph Hockmeyer.

Big Hockmeyer list | HOME

[an error occurred while processing this directive] since 1997