Category Archives: Immigration

Emigration Records Found for Matthias Hannemann

For years, family genealogists have searched in vain for the emigration records of Matthias Hannemann, the earliest known ancestor of the Hanneman family of central Wisconsin. Over the years, the registers of hundreds of immigrant ships were searched, covering tens of thousands of names belonging to people who came through ports in New York, Baltimore and New Orleans. But no Matthias.

All of that changed several nights ago. During a routine search of newly transcribed records from the Port of Hamburg, Germany, I found Matthias’ name. He and his second wife, Caroline, traveled with their son, William, daughter Justina Louisa Henrietta Saeger and her family. They were among 474 passengers aboard the SS Hyram when it sailed from Hamburg on April 19, 1866. Matthias is listed on the register as a schwiegervater, or father-in-law, referring to his son-in-law, John Saeger.Hyram Ship Register

It was a long journey aboard the segelschiff, or sailing ship. The ship docked at Grosse Isle near Québec on the St. Lawrence Seaway on June 4, 1866. Grosse Isle served as a quarantine station for ships destined for the Port of Québec in Canada, to prevent the spread of disease. Grosse Isle was the site of tragedy in 1847, when more than 5,000 Irish immigrants escaping the famine in their homeland died from typhus and other diseases upon reaching Canada. A large Irish cemetery and two monuments bear witness to those sad days.

Eight passengers on the Hyram died during the journey in 1866. Two children were born onboard ship. Once the 10 members of the Hannemann and Saeger families disembarked, they likely continued traveling by boat along the St. Lawrence River, across Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. From Detroit, they might have traveled by rail to Chicago and then Milwaukee on their way to tiny Kellner, Wis.

The Hyram’s ship registry is among the earliest documentary evidence of the Hannemann family’s exodus from Pomerania to Wisconsin. We know at least two of Matthias’ other children arrived in America in 1861, but their travel records have not been found. The earliest emigration record from this family is that of Michael Friedrich Ferdinand Hannemann, who arrived aboard the ship John Bertram in May 1863 with his wife, Wilhelmina and infant son, August.

Matthias’ emigration record is the most significant find since we discovered his long-lost grave site in Portage County in 2009.

©2013 The Hanneman Archive

Martin Hannemann’s $2.68 Tax Bill for 1868

We have further evidence that our earliest Hanneman ancestor to come to Wisconsin went by the name “Martin” rather than his given legal name of Matthias.

The 1868 tax roll for the Town of Grant in Portage County says Martin Hannemann had property with an assessed value of $49.00. On that amount, he paid a tax of 98 cents for the school district, 66 cents for the township and 62 cents in other local taxes. His total tax bill was $2.26.

This is at least the third piece of evidence that Matthias Hannemann was known by the name Martin. On the 1870 U.S. Census he is listed as “Mart Hannemann. His name was also listed as Martin in a newspaper obituary for one of his children.

The tax document also establishes that Matthias was in America as early as 1868. We have yet to locate documentary evidence of his emigration from Kreis Regenwalde, Pomerania. We know two of his daughters came to Wisconsin in 1861.

[Update: Since this post was originally published, we found the 1866 emigration records for Matthias (Martin) Hannemann]

Ostermann Family Traced to St. Bernhard, Thuringia

The Ostermann family of Wood and Portage counties is one of the Hanneman-related lines still shrouded in some mystery. But we’re getting a much clearer picture thanks to research by an Ostermann descendant from Madison.

The Ostermann family is related to the Hannemans primarily through Rosine Bertha Henrietta (Osterman) Hanneman, the mother of Carl Henry Frank Hanneman (1901-1982). She was the daughter of John Christian Ostermann (1844-1887).

According to new research done by Chris Bartosh of Madison, the Ostermann family originated in St. Bernhard, a small rural village in the German state of Thuringia. Thuringia is known as the “green heart of Germany” for its heavy forests. St. Bernhard, with a current population of 275, is about 75 miles northeast of Frankfurt, Germany.

Like the Hannemann family in the village of Zeitlitz in Pomerania, the Ostermanns were long established in St. Bernhard and surrounding villages. The patriarch of the Wisconsin family was Johann George Ostermann (1817-1894), the father of John Ostermann. The church register has listings for his father, Johann Martin Ostermann (1766-1844) and mentions his grandfather, Nikolaus Ostermann.

The Ostermanns had lived in Beinerstadt, a village less than a mile north of St. Bernhard. Johann Martin and his father Nikolaus were both born in Beinerstadt.

Johann George Ostermann’s occupation in St. Bernhard is listed in the church register as a “webermeister,” or the foreman in weaver’s shop.

George Ostermann, his wife Dorothea Frederica, and their four children applied for permission to emigrate to America in February 1852. On June 4, 1852, the family arrived in New York City aboard the brig Charles and Edward. The journey took 44 days from Bremen to New York. From there they headed west for Wisconsin.

The 1855 Wisconsin state census lists the George Ostermann family as living in the Town of Norway, Racine County. They lived in the Village of Wind Lake until 1858. By 1860, the family had moved, settling in the Town of Linwood, Portage County.

As a result of this new research, we have more surnames to add to the family database, including Popp, Schad and Zehner. Like the Hanneman family, the Ostermanns eventually dropped the second “n” from their last name.

Matthias Hannemann Grave Discovered in Portage County, Wis.

For decades, the records of St. John Lutheran Cemetery in Kellner, Wis., did not include a location for the grave of one of the church’s old settlers, Matthias Hannemann. His funeral and burial in May 1879 were recorded in the church register, but with no indication of burial location.

This more than century old mystery has been solved, however, and we now know where this early Hanneman forebear is laid to rest. As part of a research project for a forthcoming Hanneman history book, we found the grave location at the cemetery just southeast of Wisconsin Rapids.

The grave site of Matthias Hanneman is at left center, indicated by the partially excavated stone.
The grave site of Matthias Hanneman is at left center, indicated by the upturned earth of the partially excavated stone.

Matthias Hannemann (1794-1879) is the earliest known ancestor of the Hanneman families of Wood and Portage counties of Wisconsin. He was the great-grandfather of Carl F. Hanneman of Mauston, Wis. Matthias came to America before June 1870 from Meesow, county Regenwalde, Pomerania, to settle with his children in north central Wisconsin.

During a site visit to St. John cemetery in July 2009, we determined that the earliest burials at the cemetery were physically arranged by date of death. Based on that, we determined Matthias would have been buried between August and Augusta Knoll (April 1878) and Carl Schmidt (October 1878). There was an unmarked grave in this spot, with a small portion of headstone poking above the grass.

Once we found a portion of stone poking above grass level, we pulled the grass back to reveal the headstone.
Once we found a portion of stone poking above grass level, we pulled the grass back to reveal the headstone.

We pulled back the overgrown grass and weeds and a light layer of sand to reveal a 1 foot square remnant of headstone. Some hints of lettering were visible on the badly weathered and corroded stone face. We photographed the stone and applied a variety of filters and effects to the photo file, but could not make out a name.

We asked Sue Alft, head of the St. John Cemetery committee, to visit the site. She agreed that the plot was the burial place of Matthias and his second wife, Caroline (Steffen) Hannemann. Coincidentally, Alft is descended from Matthias Hannemann through his daughter, Friedericke (Hannemann) Kruger (1825-1918).

©The Hanneman Archive