THE WEBERS FROM GERMANY,
AND VARIOUS PLACES
On July the 4th, 1852. JOHN MICHAEL WEBER (my g-g-grandfather) landed in
New Orleans, and became the first immigrant of our Weber line. He had
departed Germany on 28 March, of that year. I haven't been able to
ascertain where he departed Germany or the name of the ship, because the
records of New Orleans ship arrivals burned from July 1 through December of
that year. Wouldn't you know it?
Obituary of John Michael Weber
According to his obituary, (see copy) which was in the "Arkansas Methodist"
September 1, 1888, he was born in Heddesbach, Germany. That's a very
small town 30 miles east of Heidelberg, in the State of Baden. (See
pictures) In 1994 I walked the streets of Heddesbach and saw the church
where all my ancestors in this line had walked, worked, and lived. There
were no old buildings. They must have been bombed during the war, but it
was the neatest, cleanest little town I ever saw. There wasn't a scrap of
paper or trash anywhere. The lay of the land reminded me of Northwest
Arkansas, where they settled here in the states. A valley nestled in a
ring of hillswith farm land and pasture. Very green, with scattered copses
of trees. Two old men were sitting on a bench in front of the post office
and my son, who was my interpreter, engaged them in talk. They said there
were still some Webers in the valley. I looked for stones in the cemetery,
but the earliest grave was in the 1930's. So it, too, was newer. There
was a large plaque inscribed with the names of the men who died in the war,
and there were several Webers on the stone.
Heddesbach, Heidleberg, Baden, Germany, July 1994
Home of the Weber family
John Michael was a blacksmith and built a shop in Dutch Mills. It was in
conjunction with a wagon shop, owned by Nicholas. He also purchased 80
acres of land in S1/2 SW1/4 Sec 21, Twp 14 N. Range 33 W., not too far out
of town on a hill. The western boundary of the farm is the state line
between Arkansas and Oklahoma (then Indian Territory) He was a member of
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 328. In April 1857, he declared his intent to
become a citizen of the United States in Circuit Court, and in Book H, p
311, Circuit Court Records, dated Oct. 28, 1859, he is declared a citizen.
He died in Dutch Mills, Washington County, Arkansas 22 May, 1888, of
Sign in present day Dutch Mills, Arkansas
Circa 1854/55, after he arrived in Arkansas, he married a "Nancy" who was
born in Tennessee. Much research has been done, trying to determine the
surname of Nancy but to date no records have been found. However there is
a theory that has been developed. Nancy would have been 15 in 1850, so I
went to the 1850 census of Washington County and looked for Nancy's, born
in Tennessee who were 15 years old. There were 2. I don't remember the
name of the other, but the one I decided was she was Nancy McAmish,
daughter of Robert and Sarah. The reasoning behind this assumption lies in
the naming pattern of their children. They named their first son John
Robert, after the 2 fathers and their first daughter Sarah. Doesn't that
seem like more than a coincidence? John Robert was born in 1856 and died
in 1910. Sarah was born in 1858 and died in 1922. The third child, James
Thomas, was born in 1861, and I believe that Nancy must have died in
childbirth or shortly thereafter, because John Michael remarried in
December 1863 to Emily Hodges. John and Emily had several children, Eli,
George Edward, William J., Annie E. and Mary J.
When I discovered the birthplace of John Michael, I found the church
records in the Latter Day Saints Family History Library. They are in Old
German Script, but with the help of a friend, some of the records were
translated. John was born March 21, 1830 to Johannes Weber (27 Oct 1801-12
Feb 1831) and Eva Elisabetha Sauer. Johannes' father was Adam Weber and
his mother was Eva Margaretha Fischer. I believe that Eva's father was
Nicholas Sauer and her mother was Salomaa Gartner. I'm still in the
process of having the records translated, so that's as far as I've gotten,
but there are many many more pages to go and undoubtedly there will be
further information. John Michael's father, Johannes, died 12 February
1831, at 10:30 in the evening. (John Michael would have been only one year
old). So, unless Eva was pregnant when Johannes died, John Michael has no
siblings. This decries the tradition that Nicholas Weber, who is by his
side all through the years in Washington County, was his brother.)
Nicholas is five years younger than John so unless he's a half brother, he
is not a sibling.
John Robert their first born, married first, Mary Gertrude Williams, the
daughter of two early Washington County families; Margaret Shannon
(daughter of Alexander Shannon and Perniza Oliver) and Elbert Severe
Williams, son of Ira Williams and Winna Pogue). They had seven children:
Roxie L. (1878), John Albert (my grandfather, 1880-1952), Gertrude (abt
1882), Thomas (1883), James Ira (1885-1959), George Edmond (1888-1940) and
Pearl B. (1890-1913). Sometime prior to 1900, Mary Gertrude died. She is
not with him in the 1900 census. In July1900, John married Nancy Elizabeth
Rich and they had four children, Charley, Otis, Ann and Ethel. John Robert
had diabetes. A horse fell back on him and hurt his leg. Gangrene set in
when it would not heal and caused his death.
Next, I'll go to Grandad and Grandma Weber. JOHN ALBERT WEBER and LAURA
CLEMINA KEY. I never knew Grandma because she died with breast cancer when
my oldest brother was less than a month old. But I remember Grandad
because so much of my younger life he lived with us.
He was probably the neatest Grandad a kid ever had. First of all he played
any musical instrument he touched. He could make a guitar, banjo,
mandolin, or fiddle sing. And he played the piano, horns, and anything
else. Secondly, he could carve anything out of wood. He would take
slippery elm branches, and carve piccolos that actually worked. He would
take a cedar shingle and carve a violin for us kids, string it, make a bow,
and we could really play it.
By vocation, he was an engineer in the mines around Webb City, and Joplin,
Missouri, but he was a talented cabinet maker (he actually built his own
piano), an electrician (he wound armatures for generators for years), and a
superlative story teller. He would have loved television and all the
make-believe. He would tell us kids about when he was roaming through the
jungles of Africa and swinging through the trees with Tarzan the Apeman and
all his animals. He'd let loose a Tarzan yell that would raise my Dad up
out of bed and cause a summons to his bedside. At 11:00 at night when we
kids were supposed to be sleeping, he would tell us about the times he
spent with Nanook of the North and his dog team, crossing the icy tundra.
He would yell "MUSH" at the top of his lungs to illustrate his adventures,
at which time Dad would threaten him with battle, murder and sudden death
if he didn't shut up and let us kids get to sleep. I think he could have
gone on all night.
I remember he and Dad talking in Cherokee. Several of the words I picked
up by hearing them so often in my young years. The story he and Dad told
was that Grandma was 1/2 Cherokee Indian; that her father, Sylvester Key,
was a full-blooded Cherokee. Her mother, Grandma Key (Jo Anna Jennings)
(later Collins) was so ashamed that she had married an Indian that she
signed away all her children's role rights and benefits forever. She told
Mom of the times she would look up and an Indian would be standing in her
door. She would put her small children behind her and pick up a butcher
knife to supposedly protect her babies. The Indian would get food and then
We now know that Sylvester was born in Unionville, Putnam County, Missouri,
right on the Iowa line and that he died in 1890 in Crawford County,
Arkansas. So, this being the case, he had no Cherokee blood in him at all.
That's how those stories get started. Their children William Jessie
Irving Key(1887-1970), Laura Clemina (1888-1931) and Orpha (1889-1924) were
all born in Crawford County, Arkansas. To date, I have been unable to
discover the place of JoAnna's birth, other than Illinois, because I have
four last names for her; Leggo, Laylow, Jenne and Jennings. I don't know
which is correct, but I suspect it is Jenne. Later she married a John
Collins, and in 1900 her children were going by the last name of Collins.
Dad said that his Mom was a devout Nazarene who would put up with nothing
sinful. She kept a spotless house and loved her kids devotedly. Other
than what I've written, I know nothing about her.
Four children were born to them. Velma (1906-1919) who died of consumption
when she was a young girl, Jesse Herbert (nicknamed "Dutch) (1909-1986),
Loren Doyle (nicknamed "Doc") (1913-1946) and 10 years after Dad was born
they had another daughter, Vera Dorothy (Living).
Jesse, Vera and John Albert Weber, 1950
Grandad was stiff-legged. When he was 19 years old, he was crossing over a
fence with a rifle in his hands when he tripped and the rifle went off.
The bullet hit him in the knee cap. When he sat down and crossed his leg,
it stuck straight out in the air. I bet I rode a hundred miles on that
leg. You'd think it would have restricted his movements, but I never knew
it to hold him back. Every 4th of July we all went to Shoal Creek in
Joplin for an overnight camping trip and picnic. Grandad always swam with
us. He said it was his annual bath, whether he needed it or not. He
always wore khaki pants and shirts. And he was a BIG man, standing over 6
feet 3 inches tall. When he died in 1952 from cancer, he had a large shock
of iron gray hair. He needed teeth, and Dad was in the process of buying
them for him when he died. He ate with a broad blade kitchen knife. When
he had peas, he mixed them with his mashed potatoes so he could pick them
up on the knife. He loved onions and couldn't chew them, so Mom would put
them through the food grinder so he could eat them. He didn't like drip
coffee, so every morning Mom would make coffee in the dripolater and pour
it into the percolator. He would smack his lips and talk about good old
perked coffee. This was the time when milk was no longer in bottles but
came out in cartons. He told everyone he could taste that old cardboard,
and wouldn't drink it, so every morning Mom would pour the milk into a milk
bottle. He would go on and on about good old bottled milk. It got to be a
game with Mom to try to fool him. He would look in a pot and say, "What's
that slop?' Mom would tell him and he'd say, "I wouldn't eat that slop."
Then he'd eat a bait that would founder a horse. He used a big cup and
saucer to drink his coffee. He poured the coffee into the saucer, blew on
it and sipped it.
He loved good whiskey, and at one time he and Uncle Doc made their own in a
still. Until the revenoors found it and destroyed it.
Dad said because Grandad was an engineer, he appreciated cars. Therefore
he had one of the earliest autos in his area. Dad said he always had nice
cars, and he drove big ones like Packard Roadsters.
After Grandma Weber died, he married a widow, Mary Van Volkinburg. Her
son, Alonzo had already married Grandad's daughter, Vera, so the families
were joined twice. Grandma Mary Weber loved me far more than my Grandma
Wiseheart/Blehm. She helped me decorate my bedroom, helped me make my
white eyelet graduation dress, and just pampered me anyway I needed. And I
needed a grandma who loved meas I loved her.
Well, this brings you down to my generation. If you're still curious, let
me know and I'll fill you in on the story from there. Keep watching my
page for more "Goodies". I have only just begun.
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