IMMIGRATION TO AMERICA
Peter and Julianne came from a town called Lindenau Prussia. The location of Peters home town created a problem in that there are twelve Lindenau's in Prussia. Furthermore all these towns are so small they cannot be found in a world atlas. The library at the University of Cincinnati has a German atlas, which was published in 1914, with all the Prussian boundaries in tack which helped locate all Lindinau's. There are clues which help to make an educated guess as where to start.
First of all I have determined there are four distinct Pestinger clans in the United States. There is Peter's clan and there is also the Washington, PA, and West VA Pestinger's. I have the family histories for the Washington and PA Pestinger's. The only surviving West VA Pestinger has no idea of his families' origins. I will work on West VA later. The Washington Pestinger's originate in Altwasser Silesia a few miles from the Czechoslovakia border. The patriarch of this family was Josef Pestinger born 22 March 1825. The PA Pestinger's originated in Albendorf Silesia which is on the Czech. border and just south of Altwasser. The patriarch of this family was Wilhelm Pestinger born 6 January 1805. My guess, for now, is that Peter came from Lindinau Silesia which is approximately 20 miles south west of Altwasser. To support my assumption I have a letter which was written to Dora Pestinger from a cousin on Juliane's side of the family. The letter was from a cousin Filli who lived in Jaromer Czech. which is only about 10 miles from the border and Albendorf. Juliane Rada was supposed to be from that area of Czech.
WWII complicates the search since Prussia was split up after the war and most of Silesia was given to Poland. Poland then changed or translated all the Silesian names to Polish. For example Grottkau became Grodkow, Landeshut was changed to Kamienna Gora and Waldenburg became Walbrzych. These are important cities since they are like our county seats and should have records of our family. Silesia is also spelled Schlesien which is probably the old German pronunciation.
Peter and Julianne left Hamburg Germany on July 5th, 1870 on a steam ship named Westphalia. The New York ship record does not show any children on board with Peter and Julianne but the Hamburg manifest shows a son Albert. The ship stopped over in Le Havre, France and left for America on the 9th. The ship carried merchandise and 479 passengers to Kunhardt & Co. During the first part of the passage they experienced light westerly winds, but the latter part was constant dense fog. At 2 P.M. on July 9th, in dense fog, the Westphalia collided with the brig Prairis (Norway) Marcusson, from Morlaix, France for Sundsvall, Sweden. The Prairis sank immediately but the crew was saved in the Westphalia's life boats. The accident is said to have occurred off the Caskets but I can find no reference to the location on a map. I imagine that it occurred in the English Channel some six hours out of Le Havre, France. This should have put the Westphalia approximately 80 miles out of port, assuming a 12 knot (13.9 mph) speed. On the 17th of July at latitude 42° 28', longitude 52° 55' they passed bark Sparkenhoe of Quebec, bound west. It was on the next day that Albert died and was buried at sea. At this point they were about two days out of New York, approximately 550 miles from port.
Peter arrived in New York on July 20th, 1870 after an 11 day sea voyage. From this point until he settles in Montgomery County IL I am unable to account for his activities. Interesting facts on the day of his arrival: the high temperature was 84° in New York that day; the New York Times was only eight pages in length and cost 4 cents. I will continue my search to determine what Peter did from July 20th, 1870 to some time in 1872 when he arrived in Illinois.
Peter lived in Montgomery County, IL around 1872. He applied for citizenship on September 25, 1874 at Hillsboro, IL, the county seat. I found this information as a result of a picture sent to me by Duane Dunn. The back side of the photo listed the photographer as Fields & Hays in Irving, IL. This is only 6 miles from Hillsboro and is just a wide spot in the road nowadays. The first time I drove to Irving I missed it. There is only a feed store, a small convenience market, and a few homes in the town. As expected there is no trace of the photo studio of Fields & Hays.
The county seat did not keep records prior to 1876 so there are no birth records for August and Bertha. Some members of the family believed that they, along with Albert, were born in Germany. The fact they were not on the ship manifest verifies they were born in the United States. The 1880 census listed, in Peter's own hand, that August and Bertha where born in IL. I searched the tax records and found that Peter had paid personal property tax in Montgomery County in 1873, 74, and 75. Peter and Julianne probably arrived in the area after the taxes were collected in 1872 and Julianne was probably pregnant with August. Since August was born on June 18th, 1872 we can assume they were there for several months. It is unlikely they made the trip to Illinois when Julianne was late in her pregnancy. I have a complete family history of August's wife, Agnes Henning. Agnes Henning and Frank Pestinger's wife, Mona Fay Chambers, were related. Agnes was Mona's Aunt.
The following is the information I extracted from the tax record in Montgomery county Illinois:
Pessinger Peter (name misspelled in book)
Personal Property $62 and 1 dog
State Tax .31
County Tax .09
Town Tax .03
School Tax .76
Road Use Tax .13
1874 Page 42 of Personal Property Tax
Fillmore, Montgomery County
In Town 7, Range 2 School district 6
Prestinger Peter (name misspelled in book)
Personal Property $105 and no dog
State Tax .25
County Tax .29
Town Tax .05
School Tax .31
Road Use Tax .13
1875 Fillmore, Il.
Personal Property $119
State Tax .41
County Tax .41
Town Tax .05
School Tax .31
Road Use tax .26
There was a note in this tax record: Gone to Kansas-no personal property left.
The tax information along with the census proves conclusively that Peter lived in Illinois and that August and Bertha was born there. I have a copy of the citizenship he filed in Hillsboro which reinforces the other information. I checked District Map I and found that Range 2, Town 7 was in an area known as South Fillmore. On an Illinois map this is located in the south eastern tip of Montgomery County near a little town of Van Burensburg. Peter probably worked as a farm laborer at that time.
I searched the local Catholic churches for birth and baptismal records of August and Bertha, but none could be located. I talked with a priest in Nokomis, IL about the alternatives. He suggested that since they were from Prussia they may have been members of an Easter Rite Church. There was such a church in the area during those years. It was the Byzantine church which later closed and the records were sent to Parma, OH. I will contact this church later. Most of the parishioners went to the Catholic Church and some brought in a Russian Orthodox Priest.
From the note in the tax records I know that Peter left for Kansas some time in 1875. They waited until the birth of Bertha and until the mother and child was healthy enough to travel. I would imagine they left before winter, but at this point it is only speculation. At this time I would approximate their arrival in Kansas around September of 1875. Tax records of the area could be of some help in this area.
Peter Pestinger became a naturalized citizen in District Court 15 Judicial District in Mitchell County, Kansas on August 6, 1878. The application for citizenship was filled out in Hillsboro, Illinois and a copy is attached to this document. He homesteaded three quarters of a section. The first was on April 21, 1881, the second August 19, 1882, and the third on June 23, 1886. On November 19, 1887 he bought three more quarter sections, making a section and a half the total the land he owned. He also bought three blocks of land in Tipton, Kansas. This was all sold at an auction on May 5, 1913 when his estate was settled.
Julianne had a very long illness and Oscar and Susan were just married, so they moved in with Peter and Julianne to care for her. After she died, Oscar and Susan moved to Kingman County and bought a home. Peter sold the farm and he and the three youngest boys, John, Fred, and Frank moved into Tipton, Ks. Three years later Peter died. John was twelve and he went to live with another brother, Peter, in Pawnee City, Nebraska. He later married Dora, a local girl, and they made their home in Pawnee. The twins, Fred and Frank, were ten years old and went to live with Oscar and Susan. They lived there until they were drafted in World War I. Oscar did not like Kingman, so in 1921 he moved his family to Tipton, KS. Peter Moritz, Susan's father also lived in Tipton at the time. Moving during those days was not easy; Oscar took a train back to Kingman and loaded all their possessions on to a hay barge and hitched a team to it. He and his dog Rover made the one hundred fifty mile trek to Tipton. They probably took about a week to make that trip. Oscar's family kept in contact with Fred's family and visited them at least once a year.
Irene Shea writes that "her dad, Oscar, was a large man but he was one of the kindest and loving men I have ever known. He made sure we had an enjoyable childhood and he gave us everything he possibly could. I have much to be thankful for in my childhood."
Herman died young of blood poisoning. August and his wife moved to Wichita and very little contact was made since the family typically was not close. Anna died from childbirth the day after infant Spears was stillborn. Apparently no sex of this baby was ever determined because the grave is also inscribed Infant Spears. Bertha married John Wiese and moved to Canada with family where they homesteaded. I will write more about Bertha later. They had two sons and neither is alive, but the Wiese family is alive and thriving in Canada.
The following is information I gathered in talking to different members of the Pestinger clan in Kansas and Nebraska.
John Wiese borrowed money from his brother Bill to go to Canada. He could not pay the money back right away so Bill went to a lawyer in Beloit to see what could be done. The lawyer sent a letter to John demanding payment. Bertha wrote back a couple of times trying to stop all the ill feelings between John and Bill. No one knew at the time what Bertha was writing about. The father of John and Bill saw the letter in the 1920's and paid Bill the money and declared the debt paid. There is supposed to be a letter in a sister-in-law's safety deposit box but no one has seen it. Apparently the ill-feelings in the Wiese family were resolved.
When Bertha was a young woman, her sex life was pretty good. Bill and John Wiese both dated her. Bill married another woman and John married Bertha about three years later. When John and Bertha were first married she stepped out on him because he would not have sex with her. She was going with a veterinarian and later the vet put a note under John's door telling him what they were doing. John nearly killed the guy and would have gone to jail, but he was told to get out of the country, so he did. He went to Canada where he took up a homestead. John would not let Bertha practice her Catholicism since he was an atheist. It is thought that this is the reason she committed suicide. She jumped into a river near their home and her body was never recovered.
(TO BE CONTINUED)