Nicolas I. Pohl & Anna Catharina Mauren

My great, great great-grandparents were Nicolas and Catharina Pohl.

Nicolas I. Pohl was baptized September 8, 1795 in Müsch, Germany. He was a son of Johann Joseph Poll and Anna Margaretha Marx. He married Catharina Mauren January 8, 1822 in Müsch. Anna Catharina Mauren was baptized December 5, 1800 in Müsch, Germany. She was a daughter of Peter Joseph Mauren and Anna Maria Minwegen.

A wave of German emigration occurred during the years 1820 to 1871. Many Germans left due to the poor economy and crop failures, and to avoid military service. These emigrants were mainly from Rheinland, Hessen, Baden, Württemberg, and Elsaß-Lothringen. Most of those who came to America settled in the areas of Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

Nicolas and Catharina Pohl came to Michigan. They received papers to emigrate from Germany in July 1840. Nicolas, a farmer age 44, Catharina, 39, and their four children ages 15, 7, 3, and 1 departed from Müsch on August 3, 1840. They arrived in America probably at the Port of New York sometime in September 1840 through February 1841. They then probably traveled to Buffalo, New York via the Erie canal, which many immigrants did.

Signature of Nicolas Pohl
Signature of Nicolas Pohl

In February 1841, Nicolas sent word to his younger brother Johann Peter Pohl, who lived in Antweiler, Germany. This was probably via a letter from Johann Fuchs to his children. The Fuchs family was travelling with the Pohl family, at least from Buffalo onward. Mr. Fuchs wrote impassioned letters home that persuaded many of his relatives and friends to emigrate from the Eifel region. He wrote, "Eine Arbeitsame Hand ist ein Reichtum in Amerika," an industrious hand means riches in America.

Signature of Catharina Mauren
Signature of Anna Catharina Mauren

In his letter, Mr. Fuchs suggested his children and their families leave from Le Havre, France and sail to New York. This implies the Fuchs family along with Nicolas and Catharina Pohl made the same journey.

In the spring of 1841, the Pohl family made their way to Detroit, Michigan, probably traveling by steamship across Lake Erie. The lake was open for navigation about April 28 of that year. While in Detroit, Nicolas bought 87 acres of land located in Westphalia Township, Clinton County, Michigan. He bought it for $200 from Francis C. Lackner and his wife Rosalia on May 22, 1841. Seven days later on May 29, the Pohl family arrived in Westphalia, Michigan. Presumably Nicolas bought the land sight unseen. This was perhaps through an arrangement with members of the Catholic church in Detroit. The land was originally purchased from the United States government by Joseph Platte, one of the founding fathers of the Westphalia settlement.

Also arriving in Westphalia on May 29 were Johann Fuchs and Anna Maria Schuller, with five children, plus their son Anton Fuchs, a widower; Johann Lehman and Anna Katharina Buechel, with three children; and Johann Buechel. These families probably traveled as a group. Later that year on September 13, 1841, Nicolas sold 29 acres of his land for $67 to John Lehman. Father Anton Kopp witnessed the transaction.

Nicolas' younger brother Johann did eventually emigrate along with Johann Fuchs' daughters and their families. On April 1, 1841 Johann Pohl applied for emigration in Aremberg, where he apparently mentioned the letter from Johann Fuchs. He received a passport on May 13, 1841. He and his wife Maria Catharina Hellenthal sailed from Le Havre on June 28, 1841 on the ship Louis Phillippe. They arrived at the Port of New York on August 9, 1841 and in Westphalia on September 12, 1841. They settled in section 9 on 26.3 acres, about a mile from his brother Nicolas.

In 1864 a Michigan agricultural census was taken. The Nicolas Pohl farm in Westphalia Township section 5 is listed as having 49 acres, 20 acres of which was improved land. 6 acres were then sowed with wheat. During the preceding year (1863), they harvested 2 acres of corn (50 bushels), 4 acres of wheat (8 bushels), 30 bushels of potatoes, 10 bushels of other grain, and 1 ton of hay. During that same year they marketed 150 pounds of pork, made 60 pounds of butter and 9 pounds of sugar. They had 4 cattle, 2 work oxen, 2 milk cows, and 6 pigs.

Nicolas and Catharina attended St. Katharina's Catholic chapel when they lived in Müsch and St. Mary's Catholic church in Westphalia. They had twelve children, at least five of whom died as youngsters. Their son Johann married Katherine Freund and moved to Beal City, Michigan. They donated five acres of land there upon which the first Catholic church, St. Philomena was built. One of Nicolas and Catharina's youngest daughters, Anna Margaret Pohl, was my great great-grandmother.

Catharina died on December 13, 1880, and Nicolas on February 5, 1886. They are likely buried in St. Mary's cemetery in Westphalia, Michigan, although their tombstones are not recognizable. One story says Nicolas became sick and moved to Isabella County to live with one of his children. He may be buried there.

-- Mike Voisin


  • Antweiler Ahr Kirchenbuch, 1533-1929 (LDS microfilm #0572082).
  • Scheben, Joseph, Untersuchungen zur Methode und Technik der deutschamerikanishen Wanderungsforschung. (Bonn: Ludwig Röhrscheid Verlag, 1939), pp. 54-55.
  • Michigan State Archives, Census of Clinton County 1864 (LDS microfilm #915297).
  • Pohl, Allan Robert, Pohl: From One Small Acorn Grows a Large Oak. A Verbal Portrait of the Descendants of Johann Peter Pohl and Maria Catharina Hellenthal 1841-1992, 1992.
  • Weiland, Evelyn A. (ed.), Of Pilgrimage, Prayer and Promise: A Story of St. Mary's, Westphalia [Michigan] 1836-1986.
  • Westphalia [Michigan] Centennial 1836-1936.
  • Clinton County, Michigan Deeds, Volume B 1841-1844, (LDS Microfilm #0987112), p. 285 and p. 482.
  • United States Bureau of Land Management, Land Patent of Joseph Platter [sic], Document 344, Dated August 25, 1841. <> (June 4, 2003).

Contact: Mike Voisin

Revised: November 16, 2010
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