I have talked about Barbara Lauer before. She was my Grandpa Lueders’ mother. But now I am ready to talk about her parents and siblings. Turns out, she came from a very large family that had a long and full life in Germany before coming to America.
Her parents were Johann Lauer and Catharina Kuhn. Catharina was born in Weierweiler, which is a small village in southwest Germany; about 20 miles from the French border. In fact, when I finally found Catharina’s birth record it was in French! How could that be? I have always said I was half German because all eight of my gr-gr-grandparents on my mother’s side came from Germany around 1850. But here it was, instead of Johann Peter Kuhn, as I expected, her father’s name was recorded as Jean Pierre. But, not to fear, I am still half German. If I had stayed awake in history class I would have remembered something about Napoleon and the French occupying parts of Germany after the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire. Well, that occurred right around the time when Catharina Kuhn was born in 1808. Earlier and later records are in German; but her birth record is in French and much easier to read.
In 1826, Johann and Catharina were married, also in Weierweiler, and over the next 25 years, they lived in that community and had 11 or more children. Several of them died young, but still, they were a large family and I believe there was extended family in the area as well.
For whatever reason, in 1851 Johann, Catharina, and 6 of their children, ages 3 to 23, left their little village and made their way some 200 miles to Antwerp where they boarded the passenger ship Atlantic and set sail for America. They landed in New York on May 5, 1851. Upon arrival they most likely took a river boat up the Hudson River and through the Erie Canal to Buffalo, NY. From there they would have boarded a steamer ship that made its way through the Great Lakes to Milwaukee.
Unfortunately, the New World did not treat them as well as they had hoped. In July of 1852, a year or so after arriving, 17 year old Maria Lauer died of cholera. Less than a week after that, 4 year old Wilhelm Lauer died; also of cholera.
Milwaukee was hit very hard by cholera from 1849-1854; and in the midst of that epidemic, Catharina was about to have another child. Barbara Lauer, my Great Grandmother, was born in September of 1852. Weeks later, Catharina Lauer also died.
So Barbara Lauer never knew her mother. She only knew 2 or 3 of her siblings. And Johann, her father, died when she was a 13. As far as I know, she never went to Germany, so she knew little of her family’s previous life. She was born into a large family, but she was never really part of it.