The Tragic End of an Emigration

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•  Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Ihmsen was born March 23, 1804 at the glassworks Emde. His parents were Johann Carl Friedrich Ihmsen, Co-owner of the glassworks Emde, and his first wife Dorothea Louisa Henrici.

•  Nothing is known about his youth. Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm can be found again in 1826 in Niedervorschuetz, Hessia at his marriage. He is lessee of the Clausmuehle (Claus-Mill) there, and possibly is also administrator of a noble family's estate which can be deducted from his profession as economist. On April 21, 1826 he married  Elisabeth Henriette Wilhelmine Keil, born May 25, 1797. She died February 26, 1834 in Niedervorschuetz  at the age of 36 years.

•  Of this marriage three children were born: Wilhelm, born1827, Diedrich, born 1830 and died 1831, as well as Maria, born 1832.

•  What reason made him move to Mansbach 200 km East of Niedervorschuetz, is not known, neither is the exact date. He was a widower. This move must have happened after 1842, since his son Wilhelm was not confirmed in Mansbach, but probably in the beginning of the 1840s in Niedervorschuetz. The church books of that time though do not exist there any more. He must have moved there though before 1844, since the confirmation of daughter Maria is found in the church books of Mansbach. In Mansbach he must have been administrator of an estate either of the family of von Mansbach or that of von Geisow, since these were the only families who owned estates at this place. In the Brandy Tax List  (Branntweinverbrauchssteuerverzeichnis) of the lessees of noble estates of Mansbach he is listed in 1844.

•  .It is unknown if he worked both at Mansbach and Niedervorschuetz at the same time, or if he, sometime after mid 1840, gave up on Mansbach and returned to Niedervorschuetz. In the following extracts of documents of the State Archive Marburg about his application for emigration his place of living is given as Niedervorschuetz.

•  .There exist documents of the Oberen Verwaltungs-Behörde (upper administration authorities) at Fritzlar of June 13, 1849 where the economist Heinrich Imsen (47) of Niedervorschuetz asked to be released, together with his children, as subject of this country (Hessia). It is noted, that he is widower, with a son Wilhelm (22) and a daughter (17). Wilhelm had begun his military service on February 17, 1849 from which he was released early for the purpose of emigration under the condition, that he has to continue the service should the emigration not take place. Heinrich wants to emigrate to North America and there are no objections against this intention. He receives the certificate that releases him of his subjectivity on  June 25, 1849. Previously Wilhelm received his certificate of release from the military service on June 19.

•  .The reasons for the emigration of Heinrich were not recorded, but most likely the political and social circumstances of the time led him to his decision. On one hand there was much political unrest in Hessia, especially since the failed revolution of 1848, although the real causes for this lie even before this time. They were founded on the resistance of the Elector to grant his subjects those political rights they already had during the Napoleonic times. On the other hand the population did not fare well economically. Through the industrialization in England – mechanical loom (cotton gin), steam engine – the German, but especially the Hessian economy had suffered much, most of all the linen weavers, This in turn  extended to the agricultural cultivation. On top of this again and again there were crop failures especially with grain because of long, cold and extended winters and summers with too much rain.

•  .Heinrich surely could not be described as a man of means. According to the documents he owned cash valued at 1300 Reichstaler.  But he probably was able to afford more than the average emigrant of the time. According to different opinions the exchange rate to the Dollar at that time was between one and three, so that Heinrich's fortune was worth somewhere between 1.300 and 3.900 US dollars.

•  The emigration takes place. The crossing from Bremen to New York was undertaken by father and son as Cabin passengers on the three mast bark F. J. Wichelhausen under  Capt. Warnken. The price for a crossing with a sailing ship cost between 30 and 50 Talers.

•  After the departure on March 26, 1850 from Bremerhaven and a „satisfying“ trip the ship arrives on May 16, 1850 in New York together with Heinrich and Wilhelm and altogether 220 passengers on board. The daughter Maria is not with them, but there is information, that a certain William G. Hahn from Hessen-Cassel was married to a Mary Rebecca Ihmsen. It is unknown, when they came to the USA.

•  How the Ihmsens continued their travel from New York onwards could not be ascertained. There were several possibilities for them:

    - over land with a stagecoach

    - via canals, lakes and rivers with a steam boat

    - via train

    - possibly a combination of the above possibilities

•  The choice of the way probably depended on the amount of luggage they carried along with them. The trip along the waterways was more comfortable and also less expensive. Here one could take along the most luggage. The train though must have been the fastest way of travel. Surelymuch also depended on the kind of advice they received and what kind of travel information they found after their arrival in New York. If they were capable of speaking and understanding English, at least partially??

•  If the Ihmsens went to Ohio, as noted on the passenger list, their stay there was only of short duration, since already during the immigration year of 1850 their presence in the neighboring state of Indiana can be proven.

•  Heinrich handed in his Declaration of Intent to become a U.S. citizen on June 17, 1850, and Wilhelm, now Americanized  „William“, on September 11, 1850 at the “Court of Common Pleas” in Brookville, Franklin County, Indiana.

•  During the following 10 years only one piece information about the Ihmsens could be found: OnOctober 12, 1857 William / Wilhelm Ihmsen applied for a passport. Here he is described as person with brown hair and darkbrown eyes, with the height of 5' 5'' tall. The passport was issued on January 6, 1858 in Brookville, Indiana. It is not known for what purpose William ordered this document. Perhaps he accompanied his sister and his brother-in-law William Hahn to Germany.

•  Finally Heinrich, now Americanized as well as „Henry“ could be found in the 1860 Census of St. Peter, Highland Township, Franklin County, Indiana: Henry Ihmsen, 59, male, Farmer, 2300 [$ real estate], 300 [$ Cash], from Hessia.

•  In a neighboring, southern county William could be found as well: He must have married in 1858 or 1859 and had a daughter - Wilhelmina. Her birthdate supposedly was May 24, 1859. His wife was Elisabeth Hahn, a sister of the husband of Williams sister Maria / Mary - William Hahn - and supposedly was born October 14, 1839 in Hessen Cassel:

1860 Census, Kelso Township., Dearborn County, Indiana

    Ihmsen, William, 32, male, Farmer, 1500 [$ real estate], 200 [$ Cash], from Hessen-Cassel, did not marry within this year.

    Elizabeth, 20, female, from Hessen-Cassel, did not marry within this year.

    [Wilhel]Mena, 1/12, female, from Indiana.

•  Shortly after the census Heinrich got married again. Henry Ihmsen and Margaret Bensing married in Brookville, Franklin County, Indiana on July 24, 1860. She also was a widow, her husband Mathias having died the same year of 1860.

•  Apparently the daughter of Heinrich, Maria, came to Franklin County, Indiana as well, but it is unknown at what time. Anyway, her marriage certificate could be found. On July 29, 1852 the license was issued for William G. Hahn and Mary Ihmsen. William and Maria had to travel to Germany once more in 1857 / 58 in a matter of inheritance. While on the return trip to the USA on board the ship their daughter Eliza was born in 1858.

•  William Julius Hahn was born June 13, 1828 in Kassel in Hessen. From him as well there exists a Declaration of Intent.  It is dated June 17, 1852. It is interesting to see, that his name was given as William Julius Hahn but then the name „Julius“ was crossed out and replaced by „Giles“.

•  William Hahn and Maria Ihmsen had the following children:

    1. William Hahn, born 11.March.1856

    2. Eliza Henriette Hahn, born 12.April 1858, Ont., Canada (Born at Sea?!  According to this it is assumed that the Hahn family on the return voyage from Germany did not travel via New York, but via Canada.)

    3. Charles Hahn, born 02.May.1860

    4. Mary E. Hahn, died 26.March 1863

    5. Michael Hahn, born 07.September 1865

•  They lived in Southgate, Highland Township, Franklin County, Indiana, probably on their own farm.

•  William Ihmsen and William Hahn both participated in the American Civil War. 1861 they got registered in Indianapolis. Most of the military documents for William Hahn exist, while those for William Ihmsen so far could not be found. William Hahn signed up for the Union Army on August 24, 1861 in Indianapolis for a period of 3 years. He started his service August 25 in the rank of Sergeant. In the course of his career he rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

•  In February 1863 an incredibly terrible occurrence happened in Highland Township, Franklin County on the farm of Heinrich Ihmsen. The reason for this lies in the dark and it is uncertain if this incident will ever be explained properly.

•  The „Franklin Democrat“ newspaper, Brookville of March 20, 1863 reported that William Ihmsen came to his fathers house on Monday the 16th February 1863. Apparently the family sat at the dinner table, when a quarrel between father and son broke out. The quarrel must have been very severe, so that the son in his rage jumped up and ran to the upper floor of the house. There he grabbed his revolver, ran back to the dining room and shot his father twice. After that he fled from the house.

•  A reason for the quarrel could have been the war. In the article in the „Franklin Democrat“ it is mentioned that William probably "is or was" a member of Willich's regiment. Did he maybe desert? This article presently is the only indication at all that William Ihmsen served in the army.

•  With the shooting of Henry the tragedy has not ended though. William was on the run for one week. Most likely he was searched for and hunted by the sheriff`s men. Finally, probably realizing that a permanent flight was impossible, he returned 5 days later, on Saturday, February 21, to his fathers farm, where he shot himself on February 22. The Democrat reports about this on February 27.

•  On March 6, 1863 there are two reports in the Franklin Democrat of the Justice of Peace about the occurrences:

    Coroner's Inquest: At an inquest held on the 17th day of February, 1863, at the residence of Henry Ihmsen in Highland Township, Franklin Co., Indiana before a Justice of Peace on the body of the aforesaid Henry Ihmsen, there lying dead, a lawful jury being impanelled and sworn, returned as their verdict, that the deceased came to his death by receiving two shots; one in the left arm, and the other in his left side, which caused death instantly; and the jury further think, that William Ihmsen is the person who shot said Henry Ihmsen. The deceased was sixty-two years of age.

    Coroner's Inquest: At an inquest held on the 22d day of February, 1863, at the house of Henry Ihmsen in Highland Township, Franklin Co., Indiana before a Justice of Peace on the body of William Ihmsen, there lying dead, a lawful jury being impanelled and sworn, returned as their verdict, that the deceased came to his death by shooting himself in his left side, the ball entering between the second and third ribs of his body.

•  William Hahn, at the front, read in a newspaper of these terrible happenings and asked for a 15 day leave on March 2, 1863. The leave was granted to him on March 8. March 23 he should have returned to service again, but this did not happen. Surely this time frame to settle and clear all affairs had been calculated too short. He only returned on April 17 to his unit, where he promptly was accused and convicted. The charge surely was for desertion, which would have caused a death sentence. Luckily, probably because of the circumstances of the prolongation of the leave without permission, and probably also in face of his military career that so far had been faultless the sentence was revoked by General Rosenkrans. He continued his military career and was finally, after having been promoted to the rank of Captain, released of service in 1864.

•  In Franklin County this family tragedy occupied the court until 1865.

•  On March 3, 1863 Margaret Ihmsen appears in the Court of Common Pleas in Brookville, Franklin County, Indiana and asks for appointment of a custodian for the estate of Henry Ihmsen, who died intestate, and on the same day Bradbury Cottrell is named as custodian. He vouches for this task with $ 600.00, secured by John L. Case.

•  On March 5, 1863 the custodian Bradbury Cottrell deposits a list of the personal belongings of Henry Ihmsens, that got estimated by John L. Case and William Wood. The value of the estate inventory was $ 423.52.

•  On March 10, 1863 Elise Ihmsen, widow of William Ihmsen, appears at court and asks for the appointment of a custodian for the estate of William Ihmsen. The court determines as custodian Nicholas Bath who vouches for $ 400.00 and this security is protected by Francis Knecht and John B. Morman.

•  Since despite of the tragedy life went on and people have to care for their living, already in April 1863 a wedding takes place. Elise Ihmsen marries, probably also to secure the support of her little daughter, Michael T. Hertel on April 28, 1863. Wilhelmina though does not get adopted by him and keeps the name of Ihmsen. She marries a Daniel Kuehn and both live with their children on a farm in Kelso Township, Dearborn County, Indiana. This probably was the farm of William Ihmsen that Wilhelmina received after she reached majority.




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Last Change: 07.11.2011 (© Hans Ihmsen)