09 March 2010

Fearless Females: Day 9

Yesterday's prompt for the Fearless Female Women's History blog challenge was:
March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

Let's start with an announcement from the NY Times of 25 Jun 1858 of the arrival of the ship Charles Cooper. This comes from the on-line NY Times article archive.

The ship left from Antwerp, Belgium on 8 May 1858 and arrived in New York about 6 weeks later. "Coffin" refers to the ship's captain, Rufus Coffin. That makes it a much better kind of Coffin ship.

Here is the header and a bit of detail from passenger list.

The names of interest are Helena SCHMIDT(my great-great-grandmother, Anna Helena SCHMITT) and Christina FITZLER and her 5-year-old son, Wymer. Christina is the sister of my great-great-grandfather, Johann Wimar "Wymer" FITZLER.

Helena came from the village of Eishceid in the Rhein Province of Prussia. The Fitzler's from nearby Wolperath. They all would have attended the Catholic church in Neunkirchen-Seelscheid. So did Helena know the Fitzlers before they departed? I'm guessing that Helena and Christina traveled to Antwerp together, along with others from the area. There are several names on this passenger list that appear later records of Marshall Co., where these two women settled.

Only sixteen days after their arrival, on 10 Jul 1858 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in LaSalle, IL. Christina married John SCHLOSSER and my great-great-grandparents married.

Did Helena SCHMITT come to America specifically to marry my great-great-grandfather? Had she known him back in Prussia? Or did Wymer's sister convince Helena to travel with her and marry her brother sight-unseen?

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