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Jacob Zahn


Posted By: John Kohl (email)
Date: 1/27/2007 at 09:43:16

A History of Jacob, Marie, and Minnie Zahn
Immigrants from Germany to Clayton County, Iowa

Jacob Zahn was born Sept. 2, 1853 in Hockenheim, Germany to Johan Michael and Anna Katharina (Walter) Zahn. He was the youngest of eight children born to Michael and Katherine. Althrough we know little of his growing up years, we do know that Jacob served in the German King’s Dragoons Calvary prior to his emigration to America. The King’s Dragoons were heavily armed men capable of fighting from horseback or on foot. His daughters, Katherine and Magdelena (Lena), said he told them he had not wanted to stay in the cavalry as he would have had to do had he remained in Germany.

In 1880, Jacob immigrated to the U.S. with his young wife, Marie (Rupp), settling in McGregor, IA. NOTE: In Germans to America, Vol. 35, p. 223, a record of “Jacques” Zahn with wife Marie is shown leaving from LaHavre, France and arriving in New York on 1 May 1880. Census records show that Jacob and Marie lived at first in Mendon Township, Clayton County with his brother, Bernhard, and wife Lizzie. Bernhard’s occupation is listed as a cigar maker.

Jacob was married three times. His first marriage was to Marie Rupp on 11 Oct 1877 in Germany. It is believed the Rupps were also from the Hockenheim area. A stillborn birth is recorded to Jacob and Marie on 23 Mar 1878 in Hockenheim. The following year a son, Johann Thomas, was born 5 Apr 1879 in Hockenheim and died shortly after birth. Marie, died at about 36 while giving birth to their son, George Jacob who also died shortly after birth.

From Clayton County Courthouse records we learn of his second marriage on Nov. 6, 1892 to an older widow of 55. We speculate that the second marriage was probably, at least initially, one of convenience in order to have someone to care for his young children. It is interesting that his second wife, Mina (or Musa; maiden name, Conrad) was also of German heritage and the widow of a David Bertschinger. We find no record of her death, but she is not shown in the Jacob Zahn household in the 1895 census. As an older woman, could she have died giving birth?

The 1895 census records list Minnie Miene as a housekeeper in the household. Jacob and Minnie were married in September of that same year. In March of 1901, having sold the farm in West McGregor, Jacob set out with his family of 10 to Canistota, SD where both Jacob and Minnie had relatives who had immigrated from Germany. The family with all of its possessions traveled by wagon. Jacob was 46, Mary was 20; Frank was 18; Louise was 15; Carl was 11; Walter was seven; Anna was five; Jacob was three; Katherine was one; and Minnie, Jacob’s 25 year old wife was seven months pregnant with Lena. The trip was long and hard, about 500 miles; roads were dirt and gravel. March and April were snowy, rainy and cold months. With a wife and mother in her last months of pregnancy, much of the work of attending to four small children, seven years of age and younger, fell to the two older girls, Mary and Louise--not an easy task under the circumstances. Frank, at 18, had to help his Dad with the wagons and the horses. Just the task of keeping the family fed and healthy was no small accomplishment.

While in South Dakota, Magdalena (Lena) and two additional sons, Henry and Hugo, were born to Jacob and Minnie. The 1910 Census lists Jacob and his family renting a farm at Zell, Faulk County, SD. But, farming in South Dakota, with a large family to provide for, proved to be a losing proposition. So in the spring of 1911, the family moved back to West McGregor. On 2 May 1911, Jacob paid $4000 for property in West McGregor, IA purchased from Edward and Margaret Bertschinger (We speculate that Edward was a relative of his second wife, Mina. The property records show two different spellings: Bertschinger and Bertsinger.)

A farmer, Jacob raised a large family, fathering 15 with 11 offspring living to adulthood. They had to be strong people who made difficult but necessary choices in order to survive and raise their family. Neighbors, the Durrs, saw Jacob as a stern, rather large and imposing man, and recall seeing a picture of him in his King’s Dragoon Cavalry uniform and mounted on a large black horse. After returning to West McGregor in 1911, he remained there for the rest of his life and is buried by his first wife, Marie, in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery in McGregor, IA as are many of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his wife, Minnie.

While traveling in Germany in 1999, we visited Hockenheim, a lovely town very near Heidelberg. One of the first streets we encountered was Zahn Strasse. There were many Zahns in the telephone directory. We stopped at a store with a sign for Zahn and found an old gentlemen. He did not speak English and our German was limited, however, we were able to explain that we were looking for our Zahn ancestry. He graciously put us in touch with Peter Zahn who had edited a book of the Zahns in Hockenheim. We were able to purchase a copy and found the record of ‘our Jacob’s” parents. Although we did not find Jacob listed among the 13 children, Brian Zahn later located his birth record in the Hockenheim church records. We had been confident of his birth to Michael and Anna Katharina (Walter) Zahn since all records, legal and those handed down thru the generations were consistent. The Michael and Katharina Zahn given names’ for their children also mirrored the names used by Jacob for many of his children. The last son listed for Michael and Katharina in the Zahn book was a Bernhard born 14 Jun 1851 who went to America. An older son, named Friedrich Peter, is also listed as going to America. The Zahn book shows the direct lineage going back to Martin Zahn, a farmer in Hockenheim first mentioned in records in 1613. Another McGregor resident and buried in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Peter Jacob Zahn, born 27 Feb. 1863, is also listed in the Zahn book, coming from a town nearby Hockenheim. Surnames in this early Jacob Zahn family lineage include: Schrank, Hoffman, Stumpf, Fieser, Walter, Christ, and Auer.

Although we do not know much about Marie’s ancestry, we know that there were many Rupps living in the Hockenheim, Germany area and assume that she also came from the area -- perhaps the nearby town of Altulssheim. There are, in fact, several marriages recorded with Rupp lineage in the Hockenheim, Germany Zahn book. In 1865, a Maria Katharina Esther Rupp, born Dec. 25, 1843 in Altlulssheim married a Johann Georg Zahn, born June 19, 1841 also in Altlulssheim. This Maria Katharina Rupp was the daughter of farmer Chrisoph Heinrich Rupp and Maria Ballreich. In 1895 another Johann Georg Zahn, born Nov. 11, 1872 in Altlulssheim married Katharina Kohler, the daughter of Joh. Konrad Kohler and Maria Barbara Rupp. We do not know how they may have been related to Maria, first wife of Jacob Zahn.

Much more information is available on the ancestry of Wilhelmina “Minnie” Miene. Minnie was born April 5, 1876 in Nienberg, Hanover Province, Germany. She was the daughter of August Diedrich Wilhelm Miene and Maria Dorothea Wilhelmina “Minna“ Reinhardt At the age of 15, young Minnie, along with her brother Otto Fredrich, born July 18, 1874, came to the U.S. They sailed August 10, 1892 from Bremen on the ship, Gera. The story was relayed by daughters, Lena and Katherine, that after getting off the ship in New York, Minnie saw a vendor selling bananas. Buying one, she peeled it, threw away the banana inside, ate the peel, and thought it tasted horrible!

Minnie’s father, Wilhelm Miene was born May 25, 1842 in Dresden, Hanover, Germany. He worked in a flour mill in Germany prior to his immigration to the U.S. in 1893. He and the rest of his family initially settled near National, IA and later moved to a farm of their own near McGregor. Wilhelmina Charlotte Dorothea Reinhardt was the second wife of Wilhelm Miene. They were married in 1873 and had nine children: Fredrich, Anna, Minnie, Louise, George, Marie, Lena and Louisah. Wilhelm died March 15, 1919.

Minnie Miene Zahn’s mother, Wilhelmina (“Minna”) Charlotte Dorothea Reinhardt was born Dec. 2, 1850 in Schlessinghausen, Hanover, Germany, the daughter of Dietrich Frederich Conrad Reinhardt and Dorothea Wilhelmina Charlotta Engelhardt. Her parents came to the U.S. in 1881 and settled near National, IA on a farm in Farmersburg Township, Sec. 12. Eight
of Minna’s siblings also immigrated to the U.S. She died April 16, 1911 at her home near McGregor of heart disease and inflammation of the lungs.

Many of Minnie’s family also immigrated to the United States and to NE Iowa, although some migrated on into South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado. One of Minnie’s aunts, Sophia Reinhardt married Ernest Schlueter. They moved to South Dakota in 1889. Another aunt, Maria Dorothea Louise Reinhardt married Heinrich Schlueter and moved to the Dakotas in 1899 and on to Nebraska in 1904. Census records also show Auer families residing in South Dakota during the same period. These family members of Minnie’s and Jacob's may also have played a hand in their move to South Dakota in 1901.

The Children of Jacob Zahn:
-Stillborn birth born Mar. 23, 1878
-Johann Thomas, born Apr.5, 1870; lived only a few days.
-Mary Anna, b. Feb. 1, 1881; d. Mar. 1 1954
-Baby Girl, b. Sept. 28, 1882; d. Sept. 29, 1882
-Frank, b. Sept. 27, 1883; d. Aug. 15, 1944
-Louise Katherine, b. Aug. 28,1885; d. Sept 19, 1847
-Carl Frederick, b. Aug. 5, 1889; d. July 14, 1961
-George Jacob, b. July 28, 1892; d. shortly after childbirth
-Frieda, b. 1893 or 1894; d. July 17, 1896
-Walter, b. Mar. 14, 1894; d. June 24, 1966
-Anna Margarette, b.March 24, 1896;d. July 24 1959
-Jacob Fredrich, Jr., b. Sept. 17, 1897; d. June 13, 1934
-Katherine Emily, b. Sept. 28, 1899; d. Dec. 1, 1995
-Magdalena (Lena), b. May 3, 1901; d. May 8, 1894 (a typo, should be 1994)
-Henry (Hank), b. Nov. 24, 1902; d. April 17, 1958
-Hugo (Hooks), b. Mar 15, 1904; d. Oct. 24, 1953

-------Research and biography by John and Joye Kohl

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