Like most of us, my mother had two parents, four grandparents, and eight great-grandparents. Her parents and grandparents were all born in Milwaukee or Chicago; but her Great-grandparents, all eight of them, were born in Germany and immigrated to America between 1851 and 1854.
I have discovered the towns or villages where most of them came from and would love to visit those places someday.
Peter and Anna Roth were from Kinheim and Johann & Catharine Lauer were from Konfeld. Those were both small villages in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate which borders on Belgium, France, and Luxembourg.
George Rauch was from Kalmünz and Anna Mühl was from Oberhof, two small villages in the southeastern state of Bavaria which borders on Czechia, Austria, and Switzerland. They were not married yet when they left Germany, but that is a story for another day.
Paul A. Lüders, was from Retgendorf in northern Germany not far from the Baltic Sea.
That only leaves Kathrina Günther who later married Paul A. Lueders. I believe she arrived in America about a week before Paul and, of course, on a different ship. I have no evidence that that had met before before arriving in America, but they were married in Milwaukee a year and a half later. Everything I have found so far indicates that Kathrina was from Bavaria; but nothing is more specific than that. However, I may have found a clue!
This picture of Kathrina Lueders is on the wall above my desk. It has been there for years. A few months back, as I was mindlessly staring at it, I saw something I had never noticed before. She is wearing a piece of jewelry on her lapel. Curious as to what it was I zoomed in and found this.
Yes, the image is a bit fuzzy, but across the top are the moon and seven stars. Below that are a beehive and a dove. Those are all symbols used by the Daughters of Rebecca who were the women’s auxiliary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Kathrina must have been a member of The Rebecca’s. The general duties of the members were to:
“To live peaceably, do good unto all, as we have opportunity and especially to obey the Golden Rule, Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.”
That sound refreshingly wonderful, but more importantly to me, if she was a dedicated and respected enough member to wear the pin for a family portrait there could be some new information about her on file someplace. Maybe even a biography that includes where she was born.
I have since been in contact with the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin and they do, indeed, have older records. Whoo-hoo! Unfortunately, they are stored in a nursing home and inaccessible due to the pandemic.
So I wait. But at least I have a plan in mind. And, someday, I may yet know where all my German ancestors were born.