Life in New York

When we last left off, Johannes and his family were standing on the docks of New York City. Whether they had purchased the land for their new home while still in France or after their arrival in New York is unknown. However,we do know French land agents worked hard enticing Alsaceian families to settle in Lewis county, New York.

According to Johannes’ grandson Pierre, they had either settled first in Belford, which would have been in New Jersey or more likely Belfort, Lewis county, New York. Since it was already fall the family must have had enough additional money to buy most of the provisions they would need to survive until the next year.

They built a log home on the property which was what most families in the area had. In the spring of the following year Marguerite,Johannes’ wife, died.The cause of her death is unknown. She was buried in a clearing near the log home.

Did the lost of his wife make Johannes ponder the wisdom of moving his family? Did a hard winter and a lack of enough resources contribute to her death or had some epidemic rage through the community? We will never know but Johannes was now left with 6 mother-less children ranging in ages 2-12 and a farm with poor soil.

He moved his family to Naumburg, another small village in the area, in 1851 or 1852. There he married Julia Schlieder Seyfarth, the widow of Frederick Seyfarth. She owned the farm adjoining his new property.

In the fall of 1953 Johannes began building a very fine home. According to his grandson Pierre it was larger and bigger than most of the homes of the time. Travelers often mistook it for a tavern. Today a large farmhouse exists on this same property. Further research needs to be done to determine if this is the same house.

The new farm was in Croghan, Lewis County, NY and is described as being lot 5 of Mocombs Purchase. From a Croghan pamphlet dated 1858 we know there were 500 European families in this area most from E. France or adjacent Germany. In 1848 the population of 1,168 were broken down to 646 American and 522 as French.

In 1854 Johannes and Julia had a son they named Charles Julius. Later that same year Julia’s daughter Wilehmina married Ferdinand Sonatag.

In the 1855 census New York census Johannes is listed as John Mairars age 37. His framed house is marked with a value of 600$ considerably more than the log homes of the rest of the area. He has 40 improved acres and 110 unimproved acres. The total value of the farm is given as $2,200. He has another $190 in stock and $50 in tools.

Crops were listed as wheat, oats, potatoes and hay. He owned one head of cattle, 2 butter cows, 2 sheep, 2 swine and one working ox.

In 1856 another son Augustus Lewis was born. At the age of 6 months Johannes and Julia allowed Augustus to be adopted by Julia’s daughter Theresa. The family story was that she and her husband Fredrick Hoffman were unable to have children.

In Feb. 0f 1862 Julia’s son Fredrick married Johann’s daughter Anna.

In May of 1863 Johannes and Julia sold their land in New York and moved with their unmarried children to Wisconsin where they settled near Lima township, Sheboygan county. Their now married children – Anna Meyer and Fredrick Seyforth – either went with them or came the same year.

Their new property was near what is now Kohler state park. It would need to be researched more but it is possible part of his land is now within the park boundaries.

In 1865 Johannes’ daughter Margaret married Phillip Welter in Sheboygan Falls, later the same year his daughter Catherine, married Fredrick Sauer in Lewis County, New York. In 1866 his daughter Maria Meyer married Wilhelm Demand in Sheboygan, Wi.

It is not known why but sometime before 1870 Johannes and Julia decided to move back to New York. This time to a small farm in Wayne county.

In 1870 the couple decided to separate and split their assets with Johann moving back to Alsace to live with a brother while Julia took their son Charles to Watertown, NY to live.

When Johannes got back to Alsace, he only stayed 2 days before war broke out. He returned to the U. S. living for times with each of his married children until 1872 when the war ended. Johannes then returned to Alsace to live the rest of his years with his brother.

He died around 1906. A document found in Sheboygan shows that one of his daughters was appointed to see to the dispersal of his small estate. The lawyer handling his affairs in Alsace was from Neiderhausbergen (a small town near Strassburg) indicating that was where he was living at his death.

We have now documented 8 children and 35 grandchildren for Johannes Meyer.

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