The S.S. Angelo, built in 1874, carried my great-great-grandmother, Agnette, and her son Emil from Norway to America four years later. Later that year Agnette would marry my great-great-grandfather, Anders Roberg.
My great-great-grandparents, Anders and Agnette (Lien) Roberg, are buried in the South Branch Cemetery amidst rolling hills outside Newman Grove, Nebraska. Agnette’s half of the tombstone is detailed and written in Norwegian; Anders’s is simpler and lists only his dates of birth and death.
Both Anders and Agnette were born in Norway – Agnette in Biri, Oppland, on November 30, 1844, and and Anders, eleven years later, in Innvik, Sogn og Fjordane. Agnette married a Mr. Martin, and they had a son, Emil, on January 12, 1871. It appears Mr. Martin died, and in May 1878 Agnette and her young son sailed to America, arriving in Winona, Minnesota.
On December 3 of that year Agnette married Anders in Rushford, Minnesota. She was 34 and he was 23. He had emigrated to America in June 1875 along with his brother Arne. In May-June 1879 Anders, Agnette, and Emil traveled to Nebraska by covered wagon. The 1880 census finds the small family in Shell Creek , Boone County, Nebraska, joined now by the first of three children.
All three children were born in Boone County, Nebraska: Severin on February 17, 1880; Sophie Christine (my great-grandmother) on November 5, 1881; and Sena on June 2, 1884. In 1900 and 1910 Anders and Agnette were enumerated in Midland Precinct, Boone County. Agnette died of liver cancer on February 18, 1919. I have yet to find Anders in the 1920 census, but in 1930 and 1940 he was living in Newman Grove. He moved to the Newman Grove “Old Peoples Home” in May 1942 and died of chronic myocarditis on New Year’s Day 1943.
Graceland Cemetery in Fairbury, Illinois is the burial place for any number of my maternal relatives. The patriarch of this bunch was Jacob Hoffmann, born September 18, 1836 in Mackwiller, France. Jacob was married twice, the first time to Annette Meyer. Jacob and Annette had ten children: Lisa, Anna, John, Catherine, Magdalena, Sophie, Eugenie, Caroline, Marie, and Joseph. Annette died June 26, 1874 in Renaucourt, France, aged 46. Seven months later Jacob married Christine (or Christina) Schmidt, born March 26, 1851 in Butten, France. Jacob and Christine had seven children; the first three, Louise, Lydia, and Paul, were born in France. In 1881 Jacob’s daughter Anna, now married to Ferdinand Schott, emigrated to Illinois. In 1883 Jacob, Christine, and most of Jacob’s children, moved to Illinois as well. Only Lisa and John remained behind. Jacob and Christine had four more children in Illinois: Andrew, Maggie, Samuel, and Lucy.
Jacob and Annette’s daughter Catherine married Albert Carl Swing and had a son also named Albert Carl Swing. Albert Carl, Jr., had a daughter named Velma. Jacob and Christine had a son named Paul, who had a son named Joseph. Velma and Joseph married March 12, 1938 (75 years ago last March); they were half first cousins once removed, and my grandparents. This makes me, not my own grandpa, but my own half third cousin once removed. Grandpa Joseph Hoffmann died May 16, 1983, 30 years ago this month, and 100 years to the day after his grandfather arrived in Philadelphia on the sailing ship Zeeland.
According to Ancestry.com, the surname Hunkler is of Swiss German derivation, a shortened form of a Germanic personal name meaning either “giant” or “bear cub.” In the 2000 census, there were only 241 individuals in the U.S. named Hunkler.
Our Hunkler branch also hails from Switzerland – the earliest known ancestor by this name was John George Hunkler who was born in Switzerland and was apparently a bricklayer. He and his wife, Margaret Egger, had six children: Huldreich, Ursule, George John, Henry, John George, and Adeline. The three boys and Adeline (Adella) emigrated to the U.S. at various times in the 1880s or after. I’ve found the emigration record for John George, who was 15 when he sailed (apparently alone) on the ship Belgenland in 1886:
After arriving in the U.S. Adella married Fritz Meier and eventually settled in Michigan. She died in 1958 in White Pigeon.
The three Hunkler sons settled in Illinois. The eldest, my great-great-grandfather George John, born September 20, 1862, emigrated around 1883 and by 1886 was in Washington, Illinois. On December 14 of that year he married Maria Elisabeth Rusch, paying $19.78 for her passage on a Red Star Line steamer from Antwerp to New York or Philadelphia, and railroad fare from Basel to Antwerp and from New York or Philadelphia to Washington, Illinois. George and Maria had five children: Bertha Elizabeth (Bert), Matilda (Tillie), John George, Lena Agnes, and Hulda Catherine. George John died in 1934, Maria in 1948; both are buried in Glendale Cemetery in Washington.
Lena Hunkler at 15
Lena, my great-grandmother, was born December 22, 1892 in Washington and married Albert Carl Swing one hundred years ago this June 18. They had three children: Roy Albert, Velma Marie (my maternal grandmother), and Marilyn Margaret. Lena and Albert eventually moved to Harlingen, Texas, dying in 1969 and 1964, and are buried at Restlawn Cemetery in La Feria.
Henry Hunkler, born 1864, married Elizabeth Hess in 1891 and had four children: Elmer Henry, Irma Elizabeth, Arthur Melven, and Mildred Bernice. Henry died in 1928 in Washington, Illinois (Elizabeth in 1926), and is also buried in Glendale Cemetery.
John George married Bertha Geiger in 1904 and had two children: Agnes Alvina and Walter Eugene. John and Bertha are also buried in Glendale Cemetery after dying in 1955 and 1946.
My great-great grandmother, Mary (or Marie) Demler, was born in Baden, Germany, on 17 January 1855. She was the daughter of Johan and Catherine Marie (Reser) Demler. Johan and Catherine also had two sons, Wilhelm K. (b. 15 November 1847) and August Frederick (b. ca. 1849).
In 1864 the family moved from Germany to the U.S. They appear on a New York passenger list dated 3 December 1864 and were processed through the Castle Garden Immigration Center (precursor to Ellis Island). The manifest records the Demler family as follows: Johan, age 48; Maria, 40; Wilhelm, 18; August, 16; and Marie, 11 (though according to our records Marie was only nine years old). The ship that transported the family was the Jacob A. Stamler.
I was able to obtain a bit more information regarding this ship, which had a long and varied life. The Gotham History Blotter tells its story. It was originally launched 11 October 1856 so was a year and a half younger than Mary Demler. The Stamler followed a fixed route and schedule, originally to Antwerp and later to Le Havre (which is where our Demlers embarked). After years of transporting immigrants to America the Stamler was used for general shipping of merchandise until the turn of the 20th century. Then in 1899 a millionaire and philanthropist named John Arbuckle purchased the Stamler. Originally the ship was used to ferry men and women around New York Harbor, then later it was anchored in place and used as a “floating hotel” for the young working classes. Eventually only girls making less than $7 a week were allowed. Mr. Arbuckle died in 1912, and the Stamler was shut down a few years later as a potential fire hazard, having served for nearly 60 years.
As for our Demlers, they moved first to Washington, Illinois, and then in 1868 to Fairbury. On 24 November 1875 Mary married Samuel Slagel in Fairbury. Samuel and Mary had four children: Samuel (who died at age 4), Daniel, Emma, and Joseph. Mary died on 3 February 1928 at 107 East Walnut Street in Fairbury and was buried in Graceland Cemetery.