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 (
Apr 112017
Three Generations

Mary (Bittner) Pohl, her daughter Ida Stewart, and her daughter Ruth Voisin (standing)

“Glück Auf” has been the traditional greeting used by miners. No doubt my ancestors, who were coal miners, used this expression daily. In German, it means “good luck.” Not only did miners wish each other luck in finding and extracting the minerals they sought, but it was a wish that they also come back alive.

Pécsbánya is a coal-mining district about three miles northeast of Pécs, Hungary. The area was also called Pécsbányatelep. Literally translated they mean Pécs-mine and Pécs-mine-settlement. Pécs was known as Fünfkirchen by the Germans. For 250 years, more than 35 different coal mines operated at one time or another and 40 million tons of coal were produced here.

The Danube Steamship Company (Dunai Gőzhajó Társaság, or DGT) was a large consumer of coal. In 1852 it expanded into ownership of coal mines. To house workers for its growing operations, DGT started a “colony” in 1855, named Colonia. It was located on Gesztenyés hill ridge near the András (Andrew) mine. The first settlers there were Hungarians, Germans, Czech-Moravians, Slovakians, Bosnians and Slovenians.

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Jan 272017

Maria “Mary” Pohl, early 1940s

It happened again. This time Zsuzsanna Jácint contacted me with information about my ancestors. She lives in Hungary and it turns out we are distant cousins. My great-grandmother Mary (Bittner) Pohl (1867-1944) is the younger sister of her great great-grandmother, Julianna (Bittner) Szeidl (~1857-1916).

Zsuzsi even provided an image of the elusive marriage record of Mary to Albert Pohl, for which I’ve searched a long time. She provided Mary’s birth record too. There’s no doubt now about the parents of both Mary and Albert.

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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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Apr 242012
Ida (Pohl) Stewart

Ida (Pohl) Stewart, about 1909

The 1910 Federal Census lists the occupation of my grandmother Adelheid T. (Pohl) Stewart as a Taper at the Electric Works.  She was 19 then, just prior to her marriage with John Galbreath Stewart later that year.

I’ve been curious for some time.  What was a Taper?  No doubt the “Electric Works” was Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It was a short distance from Turtle Creek, where my grandmother lived.

Through the wonders of the Internet I happened upon a short video clip produced in 1904 that explains a lot.

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Sep 212011
Pohl Homestead

Albert and Mary Pohl Homestead

This is a case of genealogical serendipity.  I set out to determine the precise location of the house where my maternal great-grandparents, Albert and Mary Pohl, lived.  In this picture taken about 1909, the Pohl family posed in front of their house.1

From something unexpected, I uncovered a trail of bread crumbs that led me to their doorstep.

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  1. The original is in the possession of Mike Voisin (mounted on cardboard, 5-15/16 by 6-15/16 inches).
Aug 152011
Adelheid (Pohl) Stewart

Adelheid "Ida" (Pohl) Stewart

I recently noticed added more Hungarian records.  I quickly found a new lead in the search for the birthplace of my grandmother, Adelheid “Ida” (Pohl) Stewart.  She immigrated to America in 1893 when she was but 2 years old along with her mother and two older siblings.  They departed from Hamburg, Germany, where the ship’s manifest listed them as living in Fünfkirchen, Hungary.

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Apr 192007

There are two previously unrelated Pohl families in our family tree.

On my paternal side, Nicolas and Catharina Pohl immigrated from the Eifel region of Germany in 1840 and settled in Westphalia, Michigan.

On my maternal side, Albert and Mary Pohl immigrated probably from Austria-Hungary in 1892 and settled near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.