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.
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