Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bernard Husum, America-bound in 1855

Bernard Husam was my two-times great-grandfather. He was born Johann Bernard Husam in the little village of Albersloh. This small village is located a little less than 8 miles southwest of modern-day M├╝nster, Germany (see map below). When Bernard was born, the area was the Province of Westphalia and a part of the Kingdom of Prussia. I am indebted to June Markus Hoopes, who traveled to Germany about 1986 and collected some genealogical information on the Husam and Markus families. From a pedigree  chart that she constructed, I learned that Bernard was born on 7 February 1825. From that information I was able to find the microfilm of that record. His parents were  Johann Theodore Husam and Anna Maria Catharina Husam. One very interesting observation is that Bernard’s father, Johann Theodore, was actually born with the surname of Grosse Minerup! In some cases, the husband took the surname of his wife [Husam] if she had inherited property. This may have happened with Johann Theodore!
To understand why Bernard may have come to America, you have to understand the world in which Bernard came of age. He was age 23 when there were revolutions in central Europe. After Napoleon was defeated in 1815, there was a conservative push to return Europe to the control of the “rightful” monarchs who Napoleon had defeated. The Austrian Empire led this charge, but at the same time, Prussia was seeking more power. The liberal revolutions of 1848 that attempted to spread democracy were defeated and that  sent many people packing to the United States. I do not know what part, if any, that Bernard may have played in this conflict. He was old enough to be in the military at that time and he may have been. I have a clue but no evidence that he was in the military in Prussia. A letter dated 25 March 1898 was sent to Bernard from his nephew, Anton, who lived in Albersloh in 1898. In this letter to his Uncle Bernard, Anton states, “Your army picture from Potsdam ’48 hangs in our living room, and we take good care of it.” To me, this indicates that he was in the Prussian army in 1848. I can only speculate it was the Prussian army because Potsdam is located near Berlin.

I have several other letters that were sent to Bernard from relatives in Albersloh and the area. My Aunt Hansi [Joan] Schell painstakingly translated them all several years ago and I have used them several times in researching the Husam family. There are thirty letters dated from 1866-1901 and an archivist at our local university advised me on how to best preserve these treasures. I have scanned them and put them on a CD.
Bernard stated on the 1900 US Federal Census that he arrived in America in 1855. He was 30 years old at that time. It is very possible he may have left to avoid any further military service in Prussia. He was probably still eligible. However,  I remind you that that is purely speculation at this point. But for whatever reason, he did leave Prussia in 1855. I have a passenger record for a “Bernhard Husum”, age 30, a farmer from Prussia arriving in New Orleans on 30 November 1855. Most everything points to this being our Bernard- he is the right age, he is from Prussia, and it agrees with the information he gave the census taker in 1900. But there are a couple of problems that I have not worked out yet. Along with him was an Anna Husum, age 26 and another Anna, age 3. It could be a wife and daughter, but he married Elizabeth Jacobsk├Âtter in 1858 in Adams Co., Illinois and probably in Quincy. So, if this Anna was a first wife, there should be a death record in Adams County. Anna could also have been a sister traveling with him and later returning to Prussia. 

Another problem with this passenger record is the intended destination.....Cincinnati! It is very possible he could have changed his mind. He could have met someone aboard the ship who was headed to Quincy. It will be interesting to check that passenger list more carefully to see if someone else is heading for Illinois and shows up in Adams County. I have not done that research yet- it will take some time and perserverance.  Again, all of this is speculation. But that’s what makes genealogy so much fun…..searching for the answers to these mysteries!

As I speculated before, Bernard may have come to America to avoid further military service in Prussia. But if that was his reason, he didn’t escape military service. By 1865, he is a soldier for the Union army in the Civil War. Stay tuned….that will be the subject of my next post.