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J. C. Mueller Family - Part 4: Early Years In The United States: New York

Part 4 of "The J. C. Mueller Family"

THE J. C. MUELLER FAMILY

IV. Early Years In The United States: New York

There is no information known on J. C. Mueller and Louise Schirmer and their life or years in the State of New York. We have only the family tradition of their marriage in New York, but nothing can be verified nor documented concerning how long, when, or why they were in New York. Other than the fact that Louise Schirmer's sister was living in New York, presumably about the time that Louise came to the U. S., there is no evidence nor documentation of their having been in New York.

Hence, this is more a report on records that have been studied and searches that have been made, rather than an account of information that has been found. A more appropriate title for this section might have been "The Borner Family in Staatsburgh" (The town is spelled both with and without the final "h.")

According to family tradition, as indicated in the Mueller Chronology by Carl Edward Bock (see Chapter I), both came in 1867, when J. C. Mueller was 20 and Louise Schirmer was 18. This appears logical enough, and it would be easy to accept this as a fact, except there is no documentation to back up the date. This also leaves the years between 1867 and 1872 unaccounted for. It is difficult to believe that there would be no record nor evidence of where they were for the five years in advance of their marriage in 1872. Furthermore, if they were in the U.S. in 1870, neither name has been located in the 1870 census.

(There is no "Soundex" index for the 1870 Census; this makes the search for their names very difficult. There is a "Soundex" index for the 1880 Census, by which time they were living in Travis County, Texas, but their names do not appear. Entries in the 1880 Census have been scanned, but their names have not been found. See Chapter V, below.)

Extensive searches of records by William H. Hunter, the Methodist minister in Coxsackie in 1970-71, and by Mrs. Barbara Smith Buys of Fishkill, N. Y., in 1980-81, revealed no records of their marriage (see below). Mrs. Buys located a great deal of information about the Borners (Boerners, and other versions of the name), but nothing on J. C. Mueller and Louise Schirmer.

Mrs. Buys searched an incredible amount of church records, newspapers, and official documents without finding one line about J. C. Mueller or Louise Schirmer. It seems it would be impossible for them to be completely omitted from any record. Yet, on the other hand, as newly arrived German immigrants passing through, who would have taken note of them?

How and when J. C. Mueller and Louise Schirmer came to this country, how they met, why they chose Coxsackie to be married, and why they selected Austin or Travis County as a place to live all remain unanswered questions. During my childhood there were at least several occasions when the reason for J. C. Mueller's coming to this country was given as his desire to avoid military service. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870, other conflicts of the 1860's, and the possibility of his conscription into military service may have had a direct bearing on his coming to this country. However, since the year of his arrival is not precisely known, any relationship can only be an assumption.

(Carl Mayer, 1847-1916, a citizen of the nearby Grand Duchy of Baden, and born the same year as J. C. Mueller, was conscripted to report Oct. 21, 1867 (University of Texas translation reads "1869"). It may have been the practice to require military service before the age of 21. If this was the law in J. C. Mueller's area of Germany, support is given to his arrival in the U. S in 1867, as family tradition suggests, to avoid military service. The daughter of Carl Mayer, Leona, became the wife of J. C. Mueller's son, Robert.)

(It is somewhat ironic that in World War II, six of J. C. Mueller's grandsons served in the United States forces in the war against his fatherland. No sons served in World War I, since most were married with dependents, and only Leo Mueller was close to being called into service.)

The only firm information that we have on Louise Schirmer's (or "Louisa;" The name is spelled both ways in records and notes, and the German pronunciation of "Louise" would approximate the English pronunciation of "Louisa.") arrival in the U. S. is the 1900 Census. In the space to indicate year of immigration to the U. S., she gave 1872, and in the space to indicate number of years in the U. S., she has "28." This is the most reliable information that we have on the date of her arrival. In the same document, however, she gives March, 1850, as the year of her birth, which is one year later than she was actually born. Louisa Schirmer apparently came to the United States two years after her older sister, Amelia, and although no motive for her coming can be established, perhaps it was the desire to be with her sister, or the possibility of better times in the U. S.

The distance between Ober-Ingelheim and Wünschensuhl (or Weimar or Eisenach) is far enough that J. C. and Louisa probably did not know each other before coming to this country. Also the fact that Louisa went to Ober-Ingelheim in 1905 to meet J. C.'s relatives for the first time suggests that they were not acquainted in Germany. (She and Tillie introduced themselves as Mrs. Mayer and Miss Mayer, and continued the playful deception for two hours!) A ship-board romance can easily be imagined, but there is no factual basis for this assumption. If we accept J. C. Mueller's year of arrival as 1867 ("at the age of 20"), and Louise Schirmer's year of arrival as 1872 (1900 Census), it was obviously impossible! Since they were married on March 29, 1872, a "whirlwind" courtship must have taken place!

Neither the port of arrival nor the name of the ship that brought them here have been determined. (An extensive search in the National Archives in Washington in 1984 was fruitless; Temple University is attempting to sort out the passenger lists for the pertinent period, which are not available at present. See below.) Perhaps they met through mutual friends in the German communities in the U. S. to which they were undoubtedly attracted. There is also no knowledge of how they came to Texas after they were married, whether they came overland or most likely, by sea, perhaps from Baltimore to Galveston.

Records from Coxsackie are not available because a disastrous fire in 1883 destroyed town and village records. (Letter, Town Clerk, Town of Coxsackie, Aug. 12, 1969) There are no records available either from the State of New York, whose records begin in 1880. (Letter, Department of Health, State of New York, August 28, 1969). Some "church records, marriage bonds, and newspaper records" are in the Manuscript and History Section of the State Library, State Education Department, Albany, N. Y. (Letter previously cited).

An extensive search for information on J. C. Mueller or Louise Schirmer was made by William H. Hunter, pastor of the United Methodist Church in Coxsackie. Hunter reported in a letter dated Sept. 4, 1971, that he had covered "all extant records in churches in the Town of Coxsackie," and "all possible references in Village and Town offices," as well as some material of the Greene County Historical Society.

Another, more extensive search for information on J. C. Mueller or Louise Schirmer in the Hudson River area was made in 1980-81 by Mrs. Barbara Smith Buys, a specialist in American history and genealogy. Mrs. Buys, a resident of the area (Fishkill, N.Y.), reported considerable information on the Borner (or Boerner) family, but found no records or newspapers pertinent to J. C. Mueller or Louise Schirmer.

According to Mrs. Buys, many German immigrants settled along the Hudson River during the 19th century, and Louise Schirmer's sister, Amelia, was apparently living in Staatsburg, Dutchess County, N.Y., at the time of the marriage of J. C. Mueller and Louise Schirmer.

Records examined by Mrs. Buys include the following:

"A. Church Records Examined:

Greene County:

  • Reformed Church, Coxsackie (2nd)
  • Reformed Church (1st), West Coxsackie
  • Episcopal Church (Christ), Coxsackie
  • St. Patrick's Church, Catskill (and smaller churches in its charge in Greene County)
  • St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Catskill
  • Reformed Church, New Baltimore
  • Reformed Church, Catskill
  • Athens Episcopal Church, Athens
  • Several others whose names I neglected to make note of....

In addition, I checked some of the back county churches: Leeds, Cairo, Greenville, Oak Hill, Durham, Prattsville...."

"These records were checked in two places: the N. Y. G. and B. [Society] [Vosburgh Records] in N. Y. C., and the New York State Library, Albany, N. Y."

"Locally I checked

  • Methodist Church, Staatsburgh
  • Reformed Church, Hyde Park
  • Methodist Church, Hyde Park
  • St. James' Episcopal Church, Hyde Park
  • Additionally, all other Episcopal, Lutheran, Reformed Churches in the Red Hook, Rhinebeck area, copied by Arthur C. Kelley (these indexed)."

"B. Newspaper records checked:

  • Marriage Records from the Rhinebeck Gazette, abstracted by the Rhinebeck DAR (Chancellor Livingston Chapter) and in their collection at Rhinebeck. (Many from both sides of the river).
  • Newspaper marriages from Greene County, a very small group, it turned out to be, at New York State Library, Albany.
  • Poughkeepsie Newspapers, obituaries for the Borners. Did not find the obit cited in your records."

In her letter of January 29, 1981, Mrs. Buys states, "I suspect that they [J. C. and Louise Mueller] were married by a Justice of the Peace. Some of those records have survived, from quite an early time, even Colonial, but I failed to find any for Greene County." In her report, she states, "Deeds and Mortgage Libers were checked in Catskill, Greene County, to see if evidence of their residence in Greene County could be found...." None was found.

Information on the Borner family is not directly related to the J. C. Mueller family, except that Uncle Gus was a Borner. There is also a possibility that information on Louise Schirmer's sister might lead to information on J. C. Mueller and Louise, specifically, on their dates of arrival in the U. S.

In New York City, Mrs. Buys looked for Johann Karl and Louise in the 1870 Census for Greene County but their names were not found. The Borners were not found in the 1870 Census either.

Mrs. Buys located the graves of the Nicholas and Barbara Borner next to the graves of George and Amelia Borner in the Cemetery at St. James' Episcopal Church, Route 9, north of Hyde Park, New York. The inscription on one tombstone reads: "Barbara C. Kraus, wife of Nicolaus Boerner, born Nov. 25, 1819, died Nov. 7, 1891 / Nicholas Boerner, born Oct. 13, 1810, died Dec. 7, 1906." (Periods and commas added; Mrs. Buys notes show the two different spellings of Nicholas.) The other tombstone reads: "George Borner 1837-1904 Amelia Schirmer his wife 1844-1912." In Mrs. Buys sketch, each name is in a heart, and the monument further inscribed, "In Memory of BORNER." Notice that the spelling changes on the tombstones from Boerner to Borner in the younger generation. (The father lived to be almost 100 years and outlived his son by two years!)

The death certificate of Barbara C. "Borener" has a number of misspellings, and it is not clear if the mistakes are in the original or if they are errors made when copied in 1980. Her age is given as "72 years and 1 month," and the certificate shows a date of Nov. 4, 1891 as the date of filing [before her death, obviously incorrect!]. Her birthplace is given as Saxewaemar (="Saxe-Weimar"). "Died in the Town of Staatsburg Daughter of Grange Kraees [a misspelling or misreading of "Kraus"], Germany, and Christianna Spangler, Germany; resident of N. Y. 24 years, buried St. James Church, Hyde Park, N. Y." (Punctuation added).

Mrs. Buys located the following obituary of Amelia S. Borner on microfilm at the Adriance Memorial Library, Poughkeepsie, N. Y.

"Borner, in Staatsburgh, N. Y., Feb. 2nd, Mrs. Amelia Schirmer Borner, aged 67 years. Funeral Services will be held at the last home of the deceased at 2 o'clock, Monday, Feb. 5th. Relatives and Friends are invited. Interment in cemetery in Hyde Park." (Áïõòéåò, Sunday, Feb. 4, 1912, published at Poughkeepsie, N. Y.)

Several words did not convert properly when I attempted to convert this file using WordPort. The line above is one example. RBM

Amelia Schirmer's death certificate gives her date of birth as Sept. 24, 1844, age, 67 years, 4 mos. 9 ds.; occupation, Housewife Birthplace, Germany, Name of father, Schirmer, maiden name of mother, Schols [=Schrön], and Germany as the place of birth for both her father and mother. Her date of death is given as Feb. 2, 1912, cause of death, Bright's Disease, burial at St. James. Information was supplied by August Borner. From the death certificate of Nicholas Borner, Mrs. Buys copied the following: "d. Dec. 7, 1906, 97 years, b. Germany, here 40 years, buried St. James." For George Borner's certificate, the following: "d. Oct. 28, 1904, 67 years., son of Nicholas and Barbara Borner, here 35 years, buried St. James."

From this information from the death certificates and tombstones, the following can be summarized:

Nicholas Borner, born Oct. 13, 1810, died Dec. 7, 1906 (tombstone)

Barbara C. Kraus, born Nov. 25, 1819, died Nov. 7, 1891 (tombstone)

Death Certificates: Nicholas was a resident of New York for "40 years" (=1866 arrival); Barbara was a resident of New York for "24 years" (=1867 arrival).

George Borner, their son, 1837-1904 (tombstone), married Amelia Schirmer, 1844-1912 (tombstone).

Death Certificates: George Borner "here 35 years" (=1869 arrival) Amelia Schirmer Borner 67 years, born Sept. 24, 1844, died Feb. 2, 1912 (The 1912 form for the death certificate does not show years of residence.) From her obituary: "here 42 years" (=1870 arrival)

[HM note: There are two obituaries preserved in family clippings. One states that she had been a resident "41 years," the other, "42 years."]

It is interesting to note that in counting back the year of arrival for each couple, there is a variation of one year. From these facts we might assume that Nicholas and Barbara arrived in 1866 or 1867, and that George and Amelia arrived in 1869 or 1870, probably the latter, because August, the last son to be born in Germany was born in 1869. If the hypothesis is carried farther, and Louise Schirmer arrived in 1872, there was a five or six year flow of Borners and Schirmers to the U. S.: the Nicholas Borners in 1866-67, the George Borners in 1869-70, and Louise Schirmer in 1872. It might even be possible that J. C. Mueller met the Nicholas Borners en route to this country in 1867!

In September, 1985, this hypothesis was verified from the 1900 U. S. Census in the National Archives, Washington, D. C. In the 1900 Census, Nicholas Borner indicated 1867 as the year of his arrival in the U. S., and George and Amelia S. Borner indicated 1870 as the year of their arrival. Louise S. Mueller's date of arrival, 1872, had previously been known, if we accept her statement in the 1900 U. S. Census.

It has been more or less assumed by the family that Gustave Borner, our "Uncle Gus," was born in Staatsburg, N. Y. His brief obituary describes him as a "native of New York." The Bock Chronology (See Chapter I) merely states "of Staatsburg, N. Y.," but does not specify a place of birth.

The following information from census reports was secured by Mrs. Buys. (The first four columns on the left, below, are from the census form.)

        ±¸¸° Áåîóõó, ¶¯±¯¸°   age  [implied/actual birth date]
   Berner, Nicholas    W   M   70   = 1810   Oct 13, 1810
   Berner, Barbara     W   F   60   = 1820   Nov 25, 1819
   Berner, George      W   M   42   = 1838           1837
   Berner, Amelia      W   F   35   = 1845   Sep 24, 1844
   Berner, Walter      W   M   15   = 1865       ?
   Berner, Gustave     W   M   13   = 1867   Dec  4, 1867
   Berner, August      W   M   11   = 1869       ?
   Berner, William     W   M    8   = 1872   Jul 14, 1871
   Berner, Frederick   W   M    3   = 1877       ?

Notice that Louise, born Aug. 27, 1873, is not listed. The spelling, "Berner," is an approximation of the pronunciation of the name with an umlaut over the "o." Barbara and William's ages are correct, because they had not yet reached their birthdays on June 1st.

The census entries above seem to be from a state census, but was not specifically identified as such by Mrs. Buys. The U. S. Census for the same year lists the same ages as given above. Under "Place of Birth," Nicholas and Barbara indicate "Prussia," but George, Amelia, and all of their children indicate "New York." Perhaps they did not understand the question; they had only been in U. S. for ten years, if they came in 1869-70. In the space for the birthplace of the parents of the children, Prussia is indicated, which was correct for the parents, but not consistent with the parents indication that they were born in New York (not correct). As occupations, Nicholas, George, and Walter are listed as "Laborer," Barbara and Amelia as "Keeping House," Gustave and August are listed as "At School," and the spaces for the two youngest are blank.

Additional information provided by Mrs. Buys is from a New York State Census or an "Enumeration of the Inhabitants...on Feb. 16, 1892, Dutchess County, p. 4." There are seven Borners listed, as follows:

     Nicholas Borner   m  81      Germany  c
     George Borner     m  54         "     c  Laborer
     Amelia Borner     f  47         "     c
     Gustave Borner    m  24         "     c  Waiter
     August Borner     m  22         "     c  Laborer
     William Borner    m  20 United States c  Laborer
     Frederick Borner  m  17       "       c     "

Column 4 is headed "In What Country Born," Column 5, "Citizen or Alien," and Column 6, "Occupation."

Nicholas was the father of George Borner; George and Amelia Borner are the parents of the four sons who are listed. From this listing of the country of birth (Col. 4), we can assume that George and Amelia Borner came to the U. S. with four sons before the birth of William. (Walter, an older son, who was 15 in the 1880 census, is not listed in this "Enumeration." He may have been living elsewhere, or he might have died. He is not listed as a survivor of Amelia Borner in her obituary of 1912.)

From the records of St. James Episcopal Church, Hyde Park, N. Y., we know that a "Charles William," [son of] "John George E. and Amelia Boerner," was baptized on Dec. 4, 1874, by Rev. J. S. Purdy, D. D. The record also shows that he was born on July 14, 1871. We can assume from the 1880 census (above) that the last Borner son listed as born in Germany was born in 1869. This suggests rather strongly that the Borner family came in 1870. This date is borne out by the obituaries of the parents, which suggest 1869-1870 as the year of their arrival.

Also baptized the same day (Dec. 4, 1874) as Charles William was a daughter, "Louise," perhaps the namesake of Amelia's sister, our grandmother. Louise Borner was born August 27, 1873, and the names of the parents are the same as for Charles William. I have found no further reference to Louise. A picture of the Borner family in the family collection, formerly in the possession of Robert Mueller, Jr., includes four young children, but it is not possible to determine if the two youngest shown are male or female.

The records from St. James Church were located by Mrs. Buys. The source of her information: ҁåãïòäó ïæ ôèå ԁï÷î ïæ ȁùäå Ёáòë¬ āõôãèåóó Áïõîôù, edited by Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Dutchess County Historical Society, Collections of the Dutchess County Historical Society, volume 3, Hyde Park, N. Y., 1928. Mrs. Buys also reported that she found no listing of any Muellers or Mullers in the volume. "This unindexed volume contains various Hyde Park records, including records of the Hyde Park Reformed Church, Hyde Park Methodist Church and St. James Episcopal Church. Many Staatsburg people were members of these nearby churches." (from Mrs. Buys)

Staatsburg and Hyde Park seem to be very close, perhaps only a few miles apart. Hyde Park is, of course, the site of the Roosevelt home and his place of burial. Both towns are near Poughkeepsie, on the East side of the Hudson River, across from Kingston, New York. Poughkeepsie is approximately 75 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. Coxsackie, where the J. C. Muellers were married, is on the west side of the Hudson River, perhaps 25 miles farther up the river from Staatsburg.

The fact that the Borner children were baptized in the Episcopal Church may indicate that there were no Lutheran churches near. One obituary, however, mentions Amelia Borner's interest in the German Lutheran church. The reference is not clear, however, and could be interpreted two ways. "Deceased was a true christian woman, and was an active worker in the German Lutheran Church in her foreign home, her husband being organist in the church for many years." Later Borner descendants were members of the Methodist church and St. James Episcopal Church, and it is in the church yard of St. James that Mrs. Buys located the graves of the Nicholas Borners and the George Borners, as indicated above.

Additional information on Borners from Mrs. Buys:

Records of the Methodist Church, Staatsburgh, N. Y., 1852-1913:

 
List of members, p. 1, probation, Gustave Borner, 1906;
                                  Allan W., 1913.
No Muellers or Mullers listed.
 
Marriages: No Mueller/Muller
 
Baptisms: 1897, July 14, Parents August and Phoebe Boerner,
                         Child, Donald Kidder
          1899, May 29,  Parents, August and Phoebe G. Boerner
                         Child, Alla (sic) Wilfred
                         [=Allan Wilfred, above, later, "Fred"]
                         [Wilfred Borner, 1899-1957, buried
                         in Rhinebeck Cemetery. See obituary.]

Two undated obituaries and one card of thanks (dated Feb. 5, 1912) from the death of Amelia Schirmer Borner were preserved in family sources. Both obituaries indicate 1845 as the year of her birth, rather than 1844. One obituary previously referred to gives Weimar as her place of birth and describes her parents as "the wealthiest and most influential residents of their native home" at the time of her birth. George Borner of New York City is listed among those attending the funeral from out of town.

"Mrs. Borner was the soul of generosity, no one in need ever appealed to her in vain, and her greatest pleasure in life was to be alwayssurrounded by her children, and their great devotion was shown during her long and trying illness, they giving her the best of care and nursingand engaging some of the best physicians in the country in her behalf. Besides a large circle of friends, deceased is survived by four sons, Gustav, August, Frederick, and William Borner, and four grand children, also one sister [Louise Schirmer Mueller] who resides in Texas."

Another obituary refers to her surviving sister, "Mrs. Mueler [sic], of Austin, Texas," and her four sons. In addition, it states: "She came from a very prominent family in the old country, her father having served as Judge in his native home for several years."

The obituary of Wilfred Borner, son of August Borner, and grandson of Amelia Schirmer Borner, has also been preserved. He was born in Staatsburg, March 4, 1899, and died at the age of 58. The obituary is undated and the newspaper not identified; presumably the year was 1957. Wilfred Borner's baptism was noted by Mrs. Buys (see above). His parents were "August and Gertrude Cline Borner." (The church records at baptism indicated "Phoebe G. Boerner" as his parents. The "G." must have been for Gertrude.) Wilfred Borner is described as a former councilman for the Town of Hyde Park and as owner and operator of the Miles Hughes general store, Staatsburg. "Mr. Borner formerly had played the organ in St. Margaret's Episcopal church, Staatsburg, in St. Paul's Lutheran church, Red Hook, and in the Dutch Reformed church Rhinebeck." Among the survivors listed are an uncle, Fred, a son, Alan R. Borner, and a daughter, Mrs. William Geiger, all of Staatsburg. Burial was in the Rhinebeck Cemetery.

As of APR. 3, 1989


Owner/SourceHarold Mueller
Date3 April 1989
PlaceCoxsackie, New York
Latitude42.3509179
Longitude-73.8029028
Linked toGeorge BORNER; Philippine Eva MUELLER; Johanna Henriette Christina Emilia SCHIRMER; Louisa Friederike Wilhelmine SCHIRMER

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