Saturday, March 22, 2014

52 Ancestors- #12 Carl Moritz Liebe, Immigrant Ancestor

The immigrant ancestors of my family cover a wide span of years. Quite a number of them were a part of early colonial America, while others made their way across the water two centuries later. All of them arrived before Ellis Island became a part of the immigrant experience.

From my observation, our immigrant ancestors were of adventurous, hard-working, sturdy stock. After all, look what it took to leave friends and family behind, survive the months-long journey to blaze a trail to an unknown life in the new world.

Carl Moritz Liebe, Immigrant Ancestor

The first immigrant ancestor I will consider is my paternal great-great-grandfather (my great-grandmother's father), Carl Moritz Liebe. 

The name "Liebe" means love in German. Carl seems to exemplify this quality, though I never knew him. After all, he fathered fourteen children, thirteen of whom lived to adulthood. Of those thirteen, eleven went on to have families of their own, extending Carl's legacy for generations to come. And that legacy includes long life. Carl lived to be 74 year old, two of his children lived to age 66, three lived into their mid-70's, seven into their 80's, and one made it to 91. The combined lifespan of these thirteen children is an amazing 1,032 years.

Carl (Charles) Liebe was born on 17 November 1831 in Sachsen, Germany, to John Gottlieb and Christiana (Muller) Liebe (although I have yet to locate them in German records). I don't know what his childhood was like, how many brothers or sister he had, or whether he was an older or younger child in the family.

Life Between Deck

The first reference to him is in February of 1853, when at the age of 21 he departed from Bremen, Germany aboard the barque "Kosmos", bound for America. He was listed as a "smith", and as a passenger "between deck", the area immediately below the main deck which was used to accommodate passengers travelling on the cheapest class of ticket. Passengers in this area were "offered only the most basic amenities, typically with limited toilet use, no privacy", and "miserable food dealt out of huge kettles into the dinner pails provided by the steamship company." 

The ceiling height of the between deck was 6-8'. The double-deck bunks, made of rough boards, were set up along both sides of the ship, with only a small corridor between bunks. Each bunk was intended to hold 3 to 6 persons, and these were often called family bunks.
The bunks had straw mattresses, which was often home to lice and fleas. Passengers spent most of the two-month voyage in this dark, crowded, smelly room. The only light and fresh air came from the hatch, then entrance from the deck. During rough weather, this hatch had to be covered to prevent water pouring in, making the air barely breathable.

Making the New World His Own

Carl arrived in the port of New York City on 22 April 1853, with his destination listed as "Wisconsin". He wasted no time getting there, probably traveling up the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal to Lake Erie, and sailing to Wisconsin without having to travel over land. He settled in Sheboygan County in the township of Mosel, where "Moritz Liebe" purchased the original 40 acres of his homestead for $192 on 19 July 1853, just three months after his arrival in America.

Mosel was largely inhabited by German immigrant families. One of these was the family of Lorenz and Ernestine Schaaf, from Eischleben, Sax Gotha. Carl fell in love with their oldest daughter, Wendelina Augusta Friederike, and they were married on 22 April 1856. 

Carl built a two-room, "wattle-and-daub" cabin on his homestead. It was built without nails, of logs, clay and straw, and the original roof was thatched with rye straw. Like the other hard-working German immigrants, Carl farmed the fertile soil. By the 1860 census, the couple had three daughters, the value of their real estate was $300, and their personal estate was $230. Ten years later, his real estate was valued at $1200, and personal estate at $575, and there were now 7 daughters: (Thekla Hulda, Emilia Minna, Augusta Ida, Amelia Dorothea (my great-grandmother), Rosalia Laura, Amalia Therese, and Ernestina Marie. The eighth, Elisabeth, lived for only one month). By 1882, two more daughters and three sons would complete Carl and Wendelina's family of 14 children: (Carl Otto, Ernst Ferdinand, Laura Theckla, Gustave Adolph, Bertha Louise and Adolph Carl). 

Carl & Wendeline with daughter Amalia (Molly)
In front of their vine-covered cabin

Some of the Liebe children and their families
On February 4, 1940, the surviving seven children were the subject of a cover article of the Milwaukee Journal. This picture was featured, and the title read: 
The "Youngest" of This Family is 57; Add Them Together- 767 Years

Rosalia Laura, Amalia Theresa, Ernestine Marie, Carl Otto, Ernest Ferdinand, Laura Thekla Paulina, Bertha Louise.

I don't know whether Carl ever became a citizen of his new country, but the 1900 census states that he had applied for his papers. On 10 March 1906, Carl Moritz Liebe passed away, and was buried in the Emmanuel Lutheran Church Cemetery at Mosel.

In Memory of Chas. M. Liebe

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