Today’s Anniversary ~ Third Great Grandparents Louisa Gerbing and Johann Schuttler ~

1853 Chicago – Source: Wikimedia

On today’s date in 1853, my immigrant third great grandparents Louisa Gerbing and Johann Schuttler married in St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in Chicago.   They were my first American ancestors.

Marriage record that was saved from the Chicago Fire of 1871 by Reverend Wunder

At the time of their marriage, combined, they had both been in the United States less than 5 years.

Louisa Gerbing was born in 1836 in Vieselbach, Sachsen-Weimar (current-day Thuringia, Germany), and not in 1835 as it says on her marriage record, to Martha Nicolai and Johann Friedrich Gerbing.  Her father was a mason.

According to the other data transcribed on the marriage record, Johann Schuttler was born in 1829 in Wachenheim, Hessen-Darmstadt (current-day Rheinpfalz, Germany.)  Sadly, I do not know the names of  Johann’s parents, for he and his mother-in-law Martha Nicolai are the only immigrant ancestors whose parents I have been unable to locate.  Maybe someday, and hopefully soon, records for Wachenheim, Alzey-Worms, Rheinpfalz will be available online for oversea researchers. 

Johann and Louisa had the following children:

Christine Catharina (Katy) Schuttler (my ancestress), 1854-1915 m. immigrant Frederick “Fritz” Eckebrecht.

Karl Wilhelm (Charles) Schuttler, 1856-1896 m. Delia Bolton

Elisabetha (Louise) Maria Schuttler, 1858-1922 m. Edward Fuller

Loretta Schuttler, 1863-1864

In September 1864, my third great grandmother Louisa passed in the cholera epidemic in Chicago that also took her 1 year old daughter Loretta.

In early 1865, Johann re-married another German immigrant in St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church named Caroline Lehman.  She was already expecting a child who was born in early April 1865, named W. Frank Schuttler.  Johann had another daughter with his second wife.  She was also named Caroline (Lena).The same birthdate and birthplace was transcribed on that marriage record for Johann.

Johann passed away in Chicago as a retired wagon-maker from Peter Schuttler Wagon Company in 1906.  Johann and Louisa are both buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago.  Their children have many descendants living world-wide today.


1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900 Federal Censuses

Chicago City Directories (Records of St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church of Chicago)

Schuttler Family File, Graceland Cemetery, Chicago

Chicago Voter Registration records

Uncle John







Immigrant #28 ~ 2nd Great Grandfather Frederick “Fritz” Eckebrecht, Carpenter and Butcher

Uncle John researched his Thuringian, multi-faceted, immigrant grandfather Fritz Eckebrecht for decades.  Fritz was my second great grandfather and everyone in the family knows his name.  My little niece giggled when she heard his name for the first time.  From a young age we were told he was “taken” by Comanches in Texas and was made to be a butcher for them.  After he left Texas and the Comanches, he went to Chicago to work for hire “re-building Chicago after the fire with his carpentry” talents.  Later, he opened a butcher shop there, using the skills he learned while with the Comanches.  He spoke Comanche and when you read more of Uncle John’s research you wonder how much of a captive he really was.

Uncle John’s own words and research were posted here previously:

The Multi-Faceted Life Of Fred Eckebrecht 1848-1920.

The other day I was looking for Fritz’s obituary at and came across this intriguing little snippet from the January 6, 1888 edition of The Chicago Inter-Ocean:


This fell under the head for Cook County Criminal Court

Fritz, what went on there? 

I couldn’t help but notice this is the time period that Uncle John surmised my second great grandmother Katharina Schuttler had left him for a few years.  There was no other reference in the newspapers to this.  It looks like they were released on bond doesn’t it?  By the way, F.W. Westfall was a wealthy Chicago real estate developer.

So Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Archives has criminal records dating back to right after the fire of 1871.

Maybe we will be lucky and a copy of Fritz’s case still exists…

Union Soldier Peter Leies, 1841-1862, born in Nunschweiler, Germany and killed at Antietam

Our newly discovered Union Private Peter Leies was born at Huberhof, Nunschweiler, Germany in 1841 and killed in action at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 in the single most bloodiest day in American history.  Peter is our cousin and left no wife or children.  He enlisted at age 21 in New York City in the NY 4th Infantry, Company “D.”

Image from the Library of Congress

I found a little information about Peter in an American Civil War Research database.  I hope the link to him works for you before we hit a paywall.  The only other information I know about Peter and the war are the records I found pertaining to him on Ancestry.

His enlistment information from

The enlistment officer wrote his name as Peter Leas. His pension card had that noted as his alias.  LEIES also appears on the pension card, and with the names of his parents on the card, I knew he was the first cousin to my great great grandfather Johann Leies.  I have all of the Leies baptisms and confirmations from Nunschweiler, Germany in a file.  In my research experience, nobody but an actual relative of my grandmother spells their surname as L-E-I-E-S.

In 1865, his mother Louisa Knerr Leies applied for his pension after the war ended.  PeterLeiesPensionCard.PNGIn 1874, his father then applied for the pension, probably after his mother passed.

I found Peter quite by accident last night.  I was chasing down the Leies relatives of Grandma in NYC and trying to prove Peter’s brother Jacob Leies enlisted in the Union Army.  I wasn’t looking for Peter until I found his parents listed on his pension card.  We have long known we had no direct ancestors in the United States Civil War.

I wonder now what possessed the ethnic Germans to enlist in the Civil War and desire to learn more about the Battle of Antietam.  I found a reference to Peter’s Company “D” on another Civil War page saying it was formed with the intent of being a solely German company.  I know that didn’t work out because there is a shamrock on the monument to his regiment at Antietam.  Follow this link to the memorial.

According to the 1855 NY State Census, Peter and his brother Jacob had been living in NYC since 1852.  I found a Jacob Leies enlisting in the NY 159th in 1862.  The problem is that on that enlistment record Jacob has his birthplace listed as Brooklyn.  I have Jacob’s baptismal record from Nunschweiler.  So I wonder if they put Brooklyn on the record if Jacob no longer had the German accent.  I will have to research Jacob some more.  He is the one that led me to Peter.

Grandma’s great grandfather Johann Schuttler made supply wagons for the Army of the Potomac at Peter Schuttler’s wagon company in Chicago during the Civil War.  See: What Grandma said: “SUPPLIED THE UNION ARMY DURING THE CIVIL WAR – SCHUTTLER WAGONS”.  A man that I have been trying to prove is his brother drove wagons in the Illinois 24th Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and was promoted to a Corporal.

With the United States Army Heritage Center so close by, I intend to take advantage of the opportunity to research Private Peter Leies further because, he is a Leies and he died in action.  He gets his own research binder.

In case you are wondering how we are related, Peter Leies and my great great grandfather Johann Leies shared the same grandfather.


On This Day in 1852…

On this day in 1852, my 16 year old great great great grandmother Louisa Gerbing departed from Hamburg, Germany for Quebec City, Canada with her parents Friedrich and Marta, and her 4 siblings Franz-19, Christian-17, Dorothea-12, and Maria-7 on the ship the Anna Catharina, piloted by Captain Gehm.  Friedrich’s occupation was maurer or mason.  According to the manifest, his place of birth was Vieselbach, Preussen.  It is a tiny town outside of Erfurt.


Hamburg Passenger List


It was cheaper for them to take a ship to Canada and the trip would have lasted around 90 days.

The final destination of the family was Chicago.

Immigrants 21 and 22 ~ Fritz’s brothers Eduard Eckebrecht of the 4th Cavalry Regiment and Heinrich Ferdinand Christoph Eckebrecht a Druggist

My great great grandfather Fritz Eckebrecht had 5 siblings.  Carl, Auguste, Wilhelm, Heinrich Ferdinand, and Eduard.  His brothers Edward and Henry Ferdinand arrived in New York City on May 25, 1866 aboard the Jennie with him.  Edward was the baby of the family.  You can see him on the far left of this photo taken sometime between 1868 and 1875.  Henry is likely the tallest pictured in the middle back OR the gentleman on the far right.


Edward Eckebrecht

Edward was born in 1859 in Schwarzburg, Thuringia.  He was only 6 or 7 when he came to America with his family.  He looks very young in the above photo!  By 1880, he was living with his brother Wilhelm and working as a harness maker because his mother Marie Louise, seated above – middle, was already deceased.  His father Quirinus, seated above, was living with his oldest son Carl.  On September 27, 1880, at the age of 21, Edward enlisted in the United States Army in St. Louis, Missouri.  His profession was recorded as harness maker and he was listed as 5’5″, having blue eyes, light hair, and possessing a light complexion.  He was put into the cavalry, naturally, because he was a harness maker.  Of the 41 enlistments on the page I found him, he was 1 of 19 men born outside the United States.

Edward Eckebrecht.PNG

Edward was part of a famous regiment – the 4th Cavalry Regiment, Company B.  Edward would have enlisted at the time the United States was engaged in various struggles with Native American resistance in the West.  In fact, Edward enlisted in the 4th Cavalry Regiment at the time they had been sent to Colorado to “subdue” the Utes and then to Arizona to “subdue” the Apache. In Company B he would have served directly under then Colonel Ranald S. McKenzie, aka “Bad Hand/No Finger Chief”.  In October, the 4th Cavalry under MacKenzie was sent to New Mexico to “subdue” White Mountain Apaches, Jicarilla Apaches, Navajos, and Mescaleros. Edward deserted the United States Military on May 5, 1881.  About 1/3 of the page of enlistments where I located his name had deserted.

I find it incredibly interesting this Eckebrecht tale was lost to my side of the Eckebrecht family considering the fact that about ten years earlier his brother, my great great grandfather Fritz, was a “captive” of the Comanche in Texas. Uncle John had doubts about the word “captive” too.  See: The Multi-Faceted Life Of Fred Eckebrecht 1848-1920  If Fritz was a “captive” I never understood how he was allowed to visit a German family for Sunday dinner once a week.  Don’t forget the tale about our Fritz… during a civil case before a judge he spoke with his thick German accent.  A lawyer told him to speak more clearly – more “real American.”  Fritz replied in Comanche.  The lawyer asked him what he had said.  Fritz said, “That was real American, from the people who were here before we came…”

Nobody views desertion positively, right?  Since Edward was part of a military unit that at that time was forcing the Native Americans to reservations, there is no fault in his desertion…  That being said, unless the digging pans out with the potential brother of Johann Schuttler, a.k.a. “The Gigantic Brick Wall” ancestor, Edward was the first of the first in the Ferraro ancestry that served in any capacity in the United States Military.*  Edward Eckebrecht was an immigrant that enlisted to serve his new country.  He deserted for a reason we will probably never know.

*My 3rd great grandfather Johann “The Gigantic Brick Wall” Schuttler made wagons for the Union Army but never served. I am on the trail of a potential close relation to him that served in the Civil War for Illinois as a wagoner.

After he left the army, Edward married Mary Ruebhausen, a German-American.  They had two children:  Loretta and Elmer. By 1900 Edward was a machine engineer for a bank. He had a stepdaughter through that marriage – Sophie Eckebrecht.  Sophie married Gerald Brown.  Edward died in 1926 in Chicago.

Henry Ferdinand Eckebrecht

Researching Fritz’s brother Henry Ferdinand Eckebrecht gave me a hint about the migration of the Eckebrecht family to Chicago.  I always thought the Eckebrechts stopped off somewhere between arriving in NYC in 1866 and appearing in Chicago on the 1870 census.  I found the confirmation of Henry Ferdinand in the St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in Chicago with a date of April 5, 1868.  So Quirinus and Louise Eckebrecht already had the family in Chicago by 1868.  I believe at this point that our Fritz was wandering around the Post-War South picking crops.

Henry Ferdinand was in the medical profession, the only sibling of Fritz that didn’t work in a laboring capacity.  He was a pharmacist. In fact, he was comfortable enough in the 1900 census to have a servant.  Henry Ferdinand married a German-American born in Wisconsin named Theresa Louise Engleman.  They had three children:  Henry Frederick, Theresa, and Albert.  Henry Ferdinand has many descendants on the West Coast today. Below is a photo of his son Henry Frederick that I retrieved from his Seaman’s Certificate application on Ancestry from 1918.

Henry Frederick Eckebrecht, 1918


Fritz has one sibling left.  Wilhelm.  He will be featured later in the year.  Follow this link to read about his brother Carl.  Follow this link to read about his sister Auguste.

Researching Edward Eckebrecht was a surprise for me.  You have to read everything on a military record!  I have not found any biological descendants of Edward alive after 1920.  I would like to research more about Edward’s time in the United States Army to find out what his Company did while he served. 


New York Passenger Lists

Chicago City Directories

United States Federal Censuses

Chicago Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes

United States Social Security Death Index

Chicago 1892 Voter Registration

National Archives, U.S. Army Register of Enlistments

Father John G. Leies (Uncle John)

St. Paul’s First Lutheran, Chicago

Wikipedia – Ranald S. MacKenzie

Wikipedia – 4th Cavalry Regiment


Coming: Carmine’s sister Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia.

I do plan to do write-ups on the Gerbing immigrants (the family of my third great grandmother.) Her siblings had huge families, who had huge families, who are now allover the country.  They may likely come last.


My 2017 Genealogy Resolutions

Happy New Year!  Feliz Anno Nuovo!  Frohes Neues Jahr!

new years.PNG

Will it be this year?  Will the USCIS fulfill my request for Angelo’s Board of Special Inquiry hearing file in 2017?  Will it happen this year?

It is the start of a new year and time to make our firm oaths of intent to better ourselves in the coming year.  So I ate the lentils to ensure wealth this year.  In the genealogy world that means I resolve to spend less money on genealogical research.  I resolve spend more time sorting and organizing records (yeah right!), maybe have the cash to join a genealogy society or two, including one that concentrates on Italian-American research, and going forward this year in my family history research I prudently resolve to do the following:

In my Swiss German line ~ ~

Finish reading the books I already have on Bernese Anabaptists from Masthof Press before I try to get my hands on more.  Gerichtsshoffe Balthasar Rubli’s parents were banished from the Emmenthal Valley in Canton Bern by the Swiss government sometime between 1675 and 1689.  They left with no possessions and walked for two weeks with the clothes on their backs with hundreds of other refugees towards the promise of religious freedom in the German Palatinate where they raised Balthasar, my 6th great grandfather.  He left the Anabaptist faith and married into a Catholic family.

The story of the persecution of the Rubeli or Rubli appear in these two books:

The Rubeli are also in the Palatinate Mennonite Census of the late 1600s and early 1700s. My ultimate goal is to find the first Swiss Anabaptist in this line.

In my German lines ~~

For Johann Schuttler, my first American ancestor, I am proud he made wagons for the Union Army.  I resolve to never again ask a descendant of his son if they took an Ancestry DNA test, knowing Johann’s second wife, and the son’s mother, was 7 months pregnant when Johann married her, and knowing they had to swear out an affidavit to have him buried in the Schuttler cemetery plot when he died.  Now I know why I never heard from that researcher again!  I just wish I could find the names of Johann’s parents and will not pay a researcher in Germany to do that.

If possible this year, I resolve to fill out more family in the line of the Schultheiss (Mayor) Johann Valentin Helfrich. He was my 8th great grandfather.  His family appears in their own section in this free history book downloadable from the town of Leimen:


Valentin’s ancestors appear in another German language publication called Die Helfriche im Grafensteiner Amt that a distant cousin was nice enough to email to me in spurts because neither his nor my email could support it in all in one email.  Valentin descends from a German Junker.  That is a minor nobleman –  something like a squire.  Junker Helfrich was born around 1430 and is my 15th great grandfather.  The book says he was from Leinengen, Germany.  I offered to translate some of the book for my distant cousin.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  It takes me at least two hours to translate one page and there are about 75 pages in the book!

In another German line I resolve to begin research on Marie Louise Koppel, my 3rd great grandmother, mother of the Fritz Eckebrecht from Thuringen.  I would like to work on her ancestry, not the Eckebrechts which dear cousin Frank already researched.  She owned a mill according to Frank.

She is the woman seated in the center in this photo:


In my French lines ~ ~

There is a 9th great grandfather of mine named Gall Budel.  He was a miller with a first name I have never encountered before.  There is an odd rumor floating around the French-speaking internet that he was also Maire or Mayor of Haspelschiedt, Moselle, France.  I cannot confirm that and resolve to research that.

In my Italian lines ~ ~

I resolve to request the pension record of Angelo Ferraro and to figure out a way to push for Francesco Antonio Ferraro’s military record for his service in the Bourbon Army.

I resolve to continue to search for descendants of Angelo and Filomena in America while waiting for Caserta and Napoli records to go on Antenati.

I resolve to continue to add more ancestors in my Farindolesi and Pennesi tree because it is so simple to do with the records Antenati has online for Pescara.

Speaking of the Farindolesi tree, because my combined trees approach 3000 individuals, and I don’t believe it has been done before with the any of these Italian lines, I resolve to work towards preparing at least one of my trees put into the next new thing in genealogy sites on the world wide web, my own database.  I think it will make researching easier for those that ask me which Antonio Cirone in my tree is theirs because I have at least 5 Antonio Cirone in my tree.  I have used these databases when I work on trees for my relatives, but, none of my ancestors are in one of those.

Finally, when I get the genealogy attention deficit disorder problem I usually get every two weeks or so, while working on any resolutions above, I resolve to finish my cousin’s tree and finish the other tree of a relative who descends from the Soderini of Florence are the subject of this book that I was able to find used for a cheap price:


Yes, his ancestors were right there with the Medici.  Happy ancestor hunting!










Schuttler Wagons, Chicago – For as long as I can remember I had heard that I had an ancestor named Schuttler and he worked for Schuttler Wagons and the pioneers used them to go West.  I knew he wasn’t in the Civil War but I heard that they supplied the Union Army with wagons.  I can remember sitting there in my grandmother’s cottage, as she sat in the chair by the lake window telling me and my siblings of this ancestor that lived in Chicago.  Then she would talk about her ancestor that was taken to live with the Comanches as their butcher that later opened a butcher shop in Chicago.  Then she would talk about ice-skating two blocks away from the Valentine’s Day Massacre and then how she met grandpa.  It was so important about my Schuttler ancestor that Grandma typed it up for her descendants to have.

Schuttler Wagon

When I started my genealogy I found numerous articles about Peter Schuttler and his wagon company.  John Schuttler, my 3rd great grandfather, was his company foreman for many years which included during the Civil War.  I was dismayed to read the Wikipedia entry involving Peter Schuttler and the wagon company where John worked.  It stated they didn’t make supplies for the Union Army.  This was stated many places on the internet.  Wagon collector blogs stated the same thing as did the article on the Chicago History Museum website.  (They all copied Wikipedia!) No really, they all copied it.

I remember Grandma saying “he built the things that the cannon would fit on on a wagon…”  I remember this.  I remember this.

Grandma told us because it was the truth and it is proven according to this Chicago Tribune article dated November 15, 1912 that was describing the razing of the mansion Peter Schuttler used to live in.  My 2nd great grandmother, Katharina Schuttler Eckebrecht, lived there during the Civil War when her mother died.


This is the most important snippet:


And proven again in this beauty of a snippet from the Chicago Inter-Ocean dated July 13, 1913:



I have a letter to write to a museum in Chicago.

Related: John Schuttler and Louisa Gerbing


Next up (for real this time):  Who is the Daddy?




The Mysterious Appearance of Native American DNA in My DNA

There is Native American DNA in my DNA.  I don’t know which ancestor gave it to me.  Last year for fun I bought an Ancestry DNA test when they were on sale and tested myself.  It was not much of a surprise except, it was lacking.  I didn’t test as 100% European.  It came back 88% Europe and 12% West Asia.  The largest European extraction was, not surprisingly, Italian.  After that was Western Europe.  Following behind that was Caucasus in the Western Asia proportion.  Then I heard that you could upload your Ancestry results into Gedmatch for free and get some more results and all I can say is wow.  The shocking result was the small percentage of Native American DNA showing in the various admixtures of my DNA as American, American Indian, Beringian (the Bering Strait land bridge), Mesoamerican, South American, and Oceanian.

See for yourself in the Punt DNAk10 Admixture from Gedmatch:

Oceanian .60, Beringian 1.54, American Indian .96


Also, here in the Harappa World Admixture:

American .56, Beringian .24

Other various Admixture test results that showed my Native American DNA:

0.83% American Indian – DodecadWorld9

0.80% Meso-American – MDLPk23

0.65% South American Indian –MDLPWorld22

0.27% American Indian – MDLPPlain

Just for fun is the breakdown of my Eurogenes in their k36 admixture which is incredibly more thorough than Ancestry’s test:



Look at that wonderful breakdown!

So does this mean that so-and-so was not so-and-so’s father?  To the best of my knowledge, my first American ancestor got here in 1849 from Germany and he married another German immigrant.   Wash, rinse, and repeat with my other German, Swiss, and Italian immigrants.  My last immigrant ancestor arrived in the 1950s.  It is impossible that this is paternal DNA, if that is 100% Abruzzese Italian right?  Here are some possibilities I have come up with so far to explain this, some of which are very far-fetched:

  1. One of my Chicago ancestors was adopted and nobody researching our genealogy knew about the adoption.
  2. A paternity secret.
  3. I had a French ancestor that took a Native American lady home after visiting the New World.
  4. I have a German Palatinate ancestor that brought a Native American home after spending some time in the New World.  My Schuttler ancestors were known as “dark Germans.”  What does that mean?
  5. In 2013 a mummified boy, frozen over 25,000 years ago in Siberia, was tested and his Eurasian DNA closely matched those of modern Native Americans. 
  6. The scant amount of Scandinavian blood I have boasts Viking blood and a mixture of Native American blood because they brought some back to Scandinavia after visiting Vineland before Columbus.

#5 makes the most sense and it is true!  #1 is a possibility for sure.  I doubt I have a close Native American ancestor, if one at all.  Unless?  I wonder…Afterall, I did end up with ridges on the back of my incisors and have the shovel teeth that are common in Native Americans.  But wasn’t that just a coincidence?  There are just more questions than answers.


The Multi-Faceted Life Of Fred Eckebrecht 1848-1920

The Multi-Faceted Life Of Fred Eckebrecht 1848-1920 My Grandfather

By John G. Leies October 1995

This is the story of my great great grandfather, Fritz Eckebrecht, told in the words of Uncle John.

Polls say that for many Americans, if they had to rescue something from a fire, the first thing would be the family album of pictures.

We have very very few photos of Grandpa. In fact, I know of only one, and in that one, we cannot identify several persons, and we have no date on which the photo was taken.

Eckebrecht family photo.  Date unknown.  Fritz is seated on the right.  We think Katy Schuttler is the shorter woman seated in the middle.


In recent weeks, I have received additional details of the life of my maternal grandfather, Grandpa Eckebrecht. I would like to add these details to the ones we know, and blend them into one account.

Grandpa Eckebrecht had kept a rather complete diary unfortunately after making a summary of it, then destroyed the original. I got hold of the summary from my Aunt Lottie, and translated it from the German. This was in 1953.   I had circulated this summary to some of the members of our family.

Recently I received from Dr. Josephine Schulte, of our University faculty, the shipping lists of the year 1866 with Eckebrecht family mentioned in the list. Other details come from the recollections of M. Kinzig, my sister and A. Ferraro, also my sister. Other persons have contributed precious details.

I will double space the details which I have received from family members as also my own recollections.

For surmises, conjectures, etc. I will mark an underline under these contributions.


Grandpa Eckebrecht was born in Thuringia, Germany (Central Germany) on January 18, 1848. No other details do I know except for the fact that he was baptized in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The shipping lists the steamboat JENNY gives these names:

Quirinus Eckebrecht       Age 49 Baker

Louisa Eckebrecht            Age 48

Auguste Eckebrecht        female, age 20

Fritz Eckebrecht                male, age 17

Wilhelm Eckebrecht        male, age 15

Heinrich Eckebrecht        male, age 9

Eduard Eckebrecht       male, age 7

2nd Class Passenger List on the “Jenny”


Let’s compare this list with the one which I have received for our “family tree”. The list comes from mother, relatives, etc.


SHIPS LIST                                                                                           Family Records



Auguste                                                                                               Augusta

Fritz                                                                                                       Fred

Wilhelm                                                                                               William

Heinrich                                                                                               Henry

Eduard                                                                                                  Edward

Charles (listed as the oldest of the children)

I cannot account for the fact that Charles is not listed on the shipping list. The family record states that Charles, William, Henry, Fred, Edward and Augusta were later on, married. 

The JENNY lists all of the ones on the list as destined for Ohio.

The Eckebrecht family cross the ocean on the “JENNY” arriving in New York on May 23, 1866. Grandpa in his diary says that the voyage took 87 days. So subtracting 87 from May 23, we have February 4, 1866 as the date of leaving Bremen for New York.

On June 29, 1866 Fred arrived in Chicago. He got a job as a carpenter for $2.00 a day and ten hours of work a day.

Did he leave the family in Ohio? Or go to Chicago all alone? He is a 17 year old, showing in subsequent events that he knew how to get around show proper independence.



In 1868, Fred left Chicago for work on a farm in Mississippi and got work planting cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, watermelons, and oats.

The next year, on October 16th he went to a farm in Walden, Mississippi, then left for New Orleans, where he stayed for two days and then left for Galveston, Texas. And then moved to Houston.


Near Houston, Fred was captured by Indians and stayed with them until May 30, 1870.

Were these Comanches? Judging from several details it would seem very possible that they were; the Comanches did reach East Texas.  

In any case, these roving Indians did need a butcher, and this lively young German suited the bill. 

I would surmise that this “captivity” was benign; after all, he got permission to visit a nearby farmer, and to have Sunday dinner with the German-speaking man. 

Soon after his “captivity”, Fred managed to escape. He visited the German-speaking farmer for several Sundays escorted by the Indians (on horseback.) While he visited and ate dinner with the farmer, the Indians waited near their horses. One Sunday, with a pre-arranged plan, Fred walked through the house, mounted a horse that was waiting for him, and rode off to freedom. The Indians found out only later that Fred had escaped. I just hope that they did not wait hours and hours.


Grandpa did learn some Comanche words and used them at least on

one occasion. It seems that on one occasion (a civil suit) where as it

proceeded, Grandpa said something to the German-speaking judge.


A rather brash young lawyer broke into the conversations and said:

“Why don’t you speak real American?” Grandpa said some Comanche

Words, and as the young lawyer asked “What was that?” Grandpa simply

stated “That was real American, from the people who were here before

we came….”



Grandpa after his “escape”, wandered around for some time, until October 2, 1871, when he heard about the great fire in Chicago.

He left for Chicago immediately knowing that carpenters would be needed after the fire, to build and rebuild. As a carpenter he wanted to save as much money as possible.

Grandpa was a good butcher….and a master carpenter (all of this before he was 23 years old.)

Grandpa stated that he arrived three days after the fire. Did he means after the fire burned itself out, or three calendar days?

He told me that they traveled in those days in “third class”, that is in open “gondolas”, the railroad cars which haul gravel, coal, and similar goods. One prayed for good weather…tried to brave out the rains and cold, and sitting on the floor of the car, trying to take care of health needs and sanitation. The train trip took some 70-80 hours.

1871-1876: Grandpa married to Katharina (Katy) Schuttler in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

1876: my mother (Caroline) was born.

Caroline Eckebrecht Leies


Now comes a good bit of surmise: It seems that after some altercation and perhaps some physical abuse, Katy left him for several years. Someone surmised this was true because the next child was born after four years. But subsequent births of the next children was in two instances 6 years apart. 

Caroline 1876

Lottie 1880

Fred 1882

George 1888

Frank 1894 

The Leies family has nine children, and always two or three years between children; never more than three; never less than two. 

After 1876, Grandpa moved around quite a bit. Was he a restless young adult? Restless at age 25? Were his skill as butcher and master carpenter so honed that he could find work anywhere? 


1876: Grandpa started a butcher shop in Mattison, Illinois (Cook County.)

1878: as a butcher he sold sausage (and processed hides, pigs, and calves.)

1881: he sold the business “family affairs demanded his attention” is the entry in his summary diary.

Here we may surmise that his wife wanted some arrangement of living in Chicago and so he moved back to the city.

1881: Exercising his good skills as a butcher and carpenter, he went into partnership with Gust Resthof on North Avenue fronting Market Street. This partnership lasted two years.

1883: he started a butcher shop alone in Clyborn, south of Sheffield Avenue. He made so much money that he bought a lot on Willow Street, east of Sheffield.

1883: with the help of his brothers, Grandpa started to build a house on the lot on Willow Street.

1884: the house was completed November 1. He started a butcher shop which lasted until 1892. He then started a butcher shop on Western Avenue and Belle Plaines. Times were hard.

1892: Grandpa started a butcher shop on Roscoe and North Lincoln. It lasted till 1895.

1895: he sold the business to a brewery, and had to vacate quickly. He found a furnished house. Times were still hard. The boom after the fire (building and furnishing) was over.

In summary, from 1876 till 1895, Grandpa had moved again and again. Times were hard, and because he had exhausted the thousand and more dollars he had saved. So he went to work and “up-to-date”, worded as a carpenter. I know very little apart from the above last-mentioned item, what his history was. 


Grandpa died September 19, 1920. I have no recollection of his funeral, although I was 11 years old at the time.

Previously, (1916 to 1920) Cousin Harold and I played in the attic of 930 Willow Street. The attic was spacious and with a pair of cowboy chaps, we raced around, playing cowboy. And both of us had vivid imaginations.

Grandpa had five children: Caroline, my mother; Lottie who married Mr. Bransford and had one child Thelma. Fred who married Mamie Meyer, George who married Aunt Annie and Frank who married Emily.


Grandpa Eckebrecht was baptized in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. He married Katharina Schuttler in the same church. As much as I know, the other children (my cousins) were raised in the Lutheran church.

The one exception was Caroline (my mother) who was baptized in the Catholic Church prior to her marriage to my father in Ohio. The wedding was in Canton, Ohio and the baptism in Wooster. My uncle Frank, brother of my mother told me several times: “Lena (her name among the family members) sure practiced her religion, to a fine point; but she never pushed her religion on the others in the family. (Frank’s son, Frank Jr. became a Catholic a few years ago after years of praying and assisting at Catholic services with his wife, Jackie.)


Writing this history of my Grandfather Eckebrecht has been a real pleasure and challenge. It gave me memories and also surprises.

I had always pictured Grandpa as coming alone to this country alone and aged about 25 or so. And going straight to Chicago.

The Jenny shipping list tells us that he came with his family: parents and siblings. He landed in New York and I presume he went with the family to Ohio. But he is in Chicago within 36 days.

The difference between the Jenny list and the family tree which had puzzled me. Where did Charles come from? And one or more siblings are mentioned only once in the summary-diary.

The activities of Grandpa at the early age of seventeen surprised me. Perhaps we tend to read only into early accounts our present situation where college youth find it hard at the age of 22 to select a major in their studies. I saw Grandpa at 940 Willow Street as quiet, reserved, calm and content to live a life of quiet.

What surprised me also is the fact that Grandpa ventures into the South so soon after the end of the Civil War. But away he went for monotonous work and adventures.

Grandpa’s experiences with the Comanches can so easily be expanded into a rather romantic episode. I surmise that the Comanches needed a butcher and Grandpa came into their lives and they “captured him”. The very fact that they allowed him to visit the nearby German-speaking farmer depicts a mild form of captivity.

The next part is hard for me to write. Interpretation is difficult. But the other evening my sister told me that Grandpa left the family for five years. He started a business in Mattison (Cook County) and then returned to Chicago. It seems Grandpa “raised his hand” to Katharina and she left him, taking along Caroline, my mother. Caroline was only a year old, at most. Note that Grandpa says in his summary – diary: “family affairs demanded my attention.” So he sold the Mattison shop and returned to Chicago. What was the “raised the hand to Katy?” A mere gesture or some physical harm? I write this in the wake of the Simpson verdict and consequent turmoil in the ranks of some women, that physical abuse would not be a strong argument in the courts of law. Katy was a strong woman, coming from a strong family. She would not accept rough treatment without some strong response. And going off and leaving her husband was the answer.

One more “surprise.” I have the accounts of the years up to 1890 or so. What did Grandpa do from 1895 or so until his death in 1920? He was old in the terms of the times but after three decades of moving about, starting new businesses, he was ready to rest.

Katy died before Grandpa did, and we do not have the date of her death at hand. I had heard years back that she died of a massive and sudden heart attack. The long diary would have had some details of the character of Katy showing her stamina and moral strength.

I feel that deep down, Grandpa was a sincere and loving Christian, and had a strong belief in a future life. Persons of his social level often joined “lodges” so that proper burial would be taken care of.  

And so we say: “Eternal rest for you, Grandpa, and may your memory flourish. And we will meet in heaven where I will have some pertinent questions to ask of you.” 

p.s. You will find some errors in typing the preceding pages. I am in the mid-eighties and taking rather strong cardiac medicine.  

The End.


 The following was inserted in Uncle John’s 1995 Grandfather’s biography and also included in Frank Eckebrecht’s family research on their ancestor Fritz:

1961 – About the time of my mother’s funeral, and shortly thereafter, I received some material from Uncle Frank and Aunt Lottie about mother’s parents. I thought that you would appreciate seeing a copy of this material before I return it to Uncle Frank and Aunt Lottie.

Frederick Eckebrecht born January 18, 1848 in Saxon, Germany; passed away September 19, 1920.

Data from the writings (diary) of Mr. Eckebrecht, mother’s father:

“On the 29th of June 1866, after a trip of 87 days on the ocean, I arrived in Chicago on Friday; Monday, I carried brick at Michigan and Clark Street, and did this for two weeks.

Then I got a job as a carpenter for two dollars for ten hours a day. I worked at this until 1868. On the 27th of December, I went to Mississippi; here I worked on a farm planting cotton, brown corn, sweet potatoes, watermelon and oats. At this I worked until the 16th of October 1869.

From Warden Mississippi (Carroll County) I went to New Orleans, and stayed there two days; from New Orleans, I went to Galveston, Texas. I could not get work. From Galveston, I went to Houston, Texas.

From there I was taken along by Indians; I stayed with the Indians till May 28, 1870. I secretly made my escape from the Indians, and came again to Galveston; from there, to New Orleans; from there to Mississippi, and up to Vicksburg. There I worked for four days, on the docks. Then I went by boat to Water Valley, Mississippi.

There I worked for about two days, but could not find any work. I wandered about until October 2, 1871. On the 9th of October 1871, the big Chicago fire took place. I came to Chicago, as three days after the fire, work started and the carpenters all had the work they could do; there was work day and night, and as much money saved as possible, until March 1872.

Upon the request of my father, my brothers and I started to build a house on North Avenue, fronting Orchard Street. As soon as the house was finished, I worked again as much as I could find to do, and worked until Christmas, 1872. Then I got a job in a butcher shop to make sausage, until 1873. Then I worked again as carpenter until fall.

Then the job in the butcher shop was again open for me, making sausage, until March 1874. In April I got the job of selling meat and other articles in the same place. And I stayed there during the next months; I was married on June 13, 1875 to Katy Schuttler, German-American, born in Chicago. I was in the same business until 1877 in January.

Then I started a butcher shop until April 1878. But the butcher business was no good; I could not make any profit from it. Then I again worked at the butcher’s, making sausage, until March 1879.

In April 1879, I started a butcher shop in Matteson, Illinois, and also bought up cows, pigs and calves and hides, as there was not enough to do in the butcher shop.

On account of family affairs, I sold the business and came back to Chicago, in May 1881, and started a partnership with Gust Resthof on North Avenue fronting Market Street, for two years.

In April 1883, I started a butcher shop alone on Clyburn Avenue, south of Sheffield, and I made in a short time so much that I bought a lot on Willow Street, east of Sheffield Avenue.

I started to build a house on this lot. The lot was completed on November 1, 1884. I started a butcher shop in this house, until 1892. Then I started a butcher shop on Roscoe and North Lincoln until 1895.

Then I sold the house so quickly to a brewery that I had to move within ten days. I looked around and found a completed house on North Western Avenue and Belle Plaine Avenue and here I started a butcher shop and grocery. But times were hard and there was no work.

I had a thousand to twelve hundred dollars cash but it was not long and my money was gone, and as I did not want to borrow some customer’s money, and all was gone, from that time I went to work and up to date, have worked as a carpenter.”-End of diary insert.  

*Uncle John mentions that the Eckebrechts went to Ohio before they got to Chicago. On the Jenny manifest it was clearly stated as Chicago.  Frank Eckebrecht researched the family for years with Uncle John.  I believe they collaborated on some details.  In the lengthy report Uncle John wrote on his other immigrant grandfather there are a few more details of Katy and Fritz’s life together which will be transcribed and shared here at a later date.



Uncle John and the Places His Ancestors Were Buried


Uncle John kept graphs and maps of where his ancestors and cousins were buried.  On the world-wide website Find-A-Grave his Leies, Schuttler, Gerbing, and Eckebrecht ancestors’ graves are now accessible online.  I have been requesting to manage as many Find-A-Grave burials to update, correct, and continue what Uncle John had started.  I await transfer of management for Cesidio Marcella.  Meanwhile, I have updated Katharina Schuttler Eckebrecht’s memorial, which is in the previous post.  I have corrected the misspelling in Helen Kirsch Ferraro’s memorial but have not updated the page.  I have updated Filomena Napolitano’s memorial that can be accessed by your click here. It will take time to update and correct the lot of them.


Finally, I hope to receive transfer of management for the memorial of Fr. John G. Leies’s (Uncle John) memorial that you can view by clicking here.  I wonder if he knew his gravesite would be on the internet after he passed away.