My great-grandmother, Wilhelmina, was born in Germany in 1841. Her fiance died before they could be married and she had a child when she was 20, but she was fortunate to meet another man who was happy to marry her and they had four other children.
Wilhelmina’s brother August emigrated to the US and settled in northern Michigan, and Wilhelmina and her family decided to follow them. They went to Bremen and booked passage but her husband died while they waited for the ship. Wilhelmina buried him, decided to proceed with the journey, arrived in New York on October 20, 1881 on the SS Ohio and made her way with the children to Tawas City, Michigan.
At about the same time her other brother, Ferdinand, and his best friend Wilhelm decided to come to the US as well, and they too went to Tawas City. Guess what! Wilhelmina and Wilhelm met and married and had two sons, one of whom was my grandfather.
I know the details of Wilhelmina’s journey because several years ago my husband found her in the great reference source “Germans to America,” which gives the passenger lists and arrival dates of every ship that left Germany for several decades in the 19th century. Couldn’t find August, Wilhelm or Ferdinand, or many of my other ancestors in those books, but perhaps their names were misspelled or we had fallen asleep in the library and overlooked them.
A couple of weeks ago we were in Germany and found the little village, Lanze, where Wilhelmina was born. It’s outside the town of Lauenberg on the Elbe River in what appears to be a rich agricultural area. Even today there are barns inside the village, and cows grazing a few feet from the road. I was happy that they were Holsteins, my favorite cow, but not surprised, since after all we were in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.