May 302017

Families of emigrants camped at the port of Le Havre, 18431

Johann Fuchs (1777-1847) and his wife Anna Maria (Schüller) Fuchs (1788-1860) immigrated to America from Langenfeld, Germany in the fall of 1840.  They probably made their way via the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York, where they spent the winter of 1840/1841.  Johann wrote several letters home to his grown children, and his relatives and neighbors.  In these glowing letters he espoused the abundance and virtues of America in hopes of persuading them to make the same journey.

In the 1930s, researcher Joseph Scheben solicited letters received by families in Germany from their relatives in America.  He studied several hundred such letters to trace the origin and final destination of German emigrants in America.  One community he studied was Westphalia, in Clinton County, Michigan just west of St. Johns.  It so happens Johann and Anna Maria Fuchs settled in Westphalia in the spring of 1841.  Scheben studied at least one letter by Johann Fuchs and found it so endearing that he transcribed it in his book about the community.  He calls Johann Fuchs the Father of Immigration.

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  1. New York Public Library Digital Gallery, Digital Image ID #833602 (
May 022017

Bird’s eye view of St. Charles

Sacred Heart Catholic parish has been a fixture of the Mount Pleasant, Michigan community for generations. You may not know that it began as St. Charles parish. In the late 1860s and early 1870s, a priest would come from a neighboring town like Saginaw, and several families celebrated mass held at various homes. About 1872 they decided to build a church. After obtaining the land and raising the money, construction started on January 25, 1875. The church was a wooden structure that measured 38 by 60 feet and was 24 feet high.1

My great-grandparents, Joseph and Mary Ann (Yuncker) Voisin were married in this church on February 16, 1885. This was a few years after the church was completed about 1877. They were married by the first resident priest of the parish, Reverend James J. McCarthy. (Although Joe and Mary lived near Beal City, a church there would not be built until 1892.)

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  1. Isaac A. Fancher, “Past and Present of Isabella County Michigan” (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen and Company, 1911), pages 237-239.
May 062015

000665-01It’s been one hundred thirty-one years now. Proof enough that death does do us part, but that love lives on and never fails.

This story begins in 1881 when Mr. Jacob Yuncker purchased farm land near Beal City, Michigan. It happened to be across the road from a then 23-year old pioneer farmer named Joseph Voisin. Mr. Yuncker had a daughter, Mary Ann. She lived with her extended family on her grandparent’s farm down in Westphalia, Michigan near St. Johns.

Mary probably visited her father in Beal City and at some point she met Joe Voisin. They probably met a few times more. Joe played music at Indian dances and at square-dances. Mary attended some of these social gatherings, but since Joe was playing, they couldn’t spend much time together. This probably went on for some months.

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Apr 162015

Trade TokenAnother of my great-granduncles, Louis William Yuncker (1877-1963), was my paternal great-grandmother’s younger brother.  He is mentioned in his mother’s 1921 obituary as living in Saginaw, Michigan.  A quick search online revealed unique items with a connection to the past.

Two trade tokens bear the name L. W. Yuncker’s.1  It turns out Louis William Yuncker owned a meat market in Saginaw.  He undoubtedly used these very same tokens in the family business.

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  1. Richard Greever, Token Catalog ( : downloaded 19 March 2015), L. W. Yuncker’s trade tokens, TokenCatalog #10252 and #312386.
Apr 242013

WPA Propery InventoryIn the late 1930’s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted property inventories of rural Michigan. This project was in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Treasury. I was able to locate the homestead of my great-grandparents, Joseph and Mary Voisin, near Beal City, Michigan. It is interesting to learn about their home and farm.

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Mar 262013

google-earth-00In a past posting I described how I located the homestead of my great-grandparents Albert and Mary Pohl near Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania.  I’ve since found that Google Earth is another tool to further visualize the location.  It is helpful in modernizing old maps to better understand where my ancestors lived.

What I did is add an overlay of an old map to the modern world shown in Google Earth.  This allows you to see precisely where a road, building or property once stood in relation to what’s there now.

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