Friday, December 19, 2014

#52Ancestors (50) Wilhelmina Stachel of Kreis Rosenberg

This week's ancestor is a maternal great-great-great-grandmother, Wilhelmina STACHEL.

You might tell by her name that she is part of my German ancestry. More precisely, she was born on the far eastern edge of West Prussia, near Gdansk in present-day Poland. I was fortunate enough (after a couple of false starts) to locate records of her parish on microfilm and gather numerous family records.

Wilhelmina was born on 29 January 1842 in the village of Peterkau (now Piotrkowo, Poland) in Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia. Her parents were Christoph STACHEL and Gottliebe SCHMIDTKE. Christoph and Gottliebe married in Sommerau, a nearby village, and had at least eight children. Christoph died in 1872 and then most of the family immigrated to the United States.

Wilhelmina married Friedrich KOPKAU of Peterkau in 1864. They had four children in West Prussia and five more in northern Michigan where they first settled.

Wilhelmina STACHEL and Friedrich KOPKAU, c 1895

The STACHEL's and KOPKAU's were part of a group of West Prussians who settled in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan. They practiced the Evangelical Lutheran faith and began their own church - Trinity Evangelical Lutheran - in Lansing. This was the same church my family worshipped in until they left Michigan in the 1950's.

While these Prussians may not have been a true endogamous population (endogamy: the custom of marrying within a particular social or cultural group in accordance with custom or law), they certainly married among their own, first in West Prussia then in Lansing for the first few decades after arriving in Michigan. There were several small villages they came from originally, and then they lived within walking distance of one another in southeast Lansing. The census pages prove it!

My family ancestry is filled with the STACHEL and KOPKAU names from many different branches of the old Prussian trees. Some of the other contemporary names are:
  • Laskofski
  • Rominski
  • Fetzke
  • Papke
  • Erbe
  • Massuch
  • Murawski/Morofsky
There are many instances of sibling pairs marrying sibling pairs and neighbors marrying next-door neighbors. There were also relatively few given names used. I have so many couples with the names Friedrich, Wilhelm, Christoph, Carl and August and wives Wilhelmina, Augusta, Carolina, Louisa, and Gottliebe. They are, I'm certain, the reason family tree software was invented!

As I dig deeper into my DNA, I have made a couple of connections where we cannot determine a matching surname, but we all descend from families of Kreis Rosenberg. Untangling THAT web may prove a real challenge! 

Wilhelmina lived the rest of her life in Lansing. She died on 12 Feb 1914 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery with Friedrich and most of her family.

© 2014 Sally Knudsen

Thank you FreeDictionary