Friday, August 12, 2016

Olawsky: Polish or German ???

Not too long ago, my oldest asked at the supper table what nationalities we were.

As we walked through my side, we got him straightened out on his English-Norwegian-Danish-French background, with small traces of Welsh and Irish thrown in for good measure. Then Henry turned to his mom and asked "Mom, what are you again?"

Mom's answer- like it has been going back to elementary school- "mostly German, but 1/8th Polish."

As I got the youngest to bed that night, I started thinking about the Polish part of the family. Throughout his life, Grandpa Geidel talked about his mother being Polish. With a name like Olawsky, it definitely at first sounds like this would be the case.
But I got to wondering, why did a bunch of Polish people end up settling in the middle of bunch of Germans, including marrying into other families and being buried in a German Lutheran church cemetery?

It was time to see what we could find out about how Polish the family was in the records.

Census Records

First up, the 1920 Census records on Carl and Susanna Olawsky appear right where they should- Washington Township, Douglas County, South Dakota. The only problem- their birthplace and that of their parents is given as Germany. 

Let's see what they said ten years earlier in the 1910 Census. Germany as place of birth for both Carl and "Susie" Olawsky - their parents also were born in Germany. 

South Dakota's state censuses in 1905, 1915, 1925? German, German and German.

Something funny is going on here. Was Grandpa wrong? Time to dig deeper. On both Federal Censuses,  Carl and Susanna reported they had immigrated to the US in 1886.

Immigration Records

The National Archives has compiled an index of Germans immigrating to America from 1850 to 1897, again available from Searching for Olawskys immigrating in 1886 gives two results:

Name Karl Olawsky Suzanne Olawsky
25 20
Laborer Wife
Prussia Prussia
Immigration Date
25 Sept 1886
New York, New York
Hammonia (in case you want to see the ship and some info)
Departed from
Hamburg and Havre

Emigration Records

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Olawsky's gave a little more information when they got on the Hammonia in Hamburg. The Hamburg emigration records are available through  The originals are really hard to read given the handwriting of the port official, but they've transcribed it to make this somewhat legible.

"Zuname"VornameGenderAgeBisheriger Wohnort (Previous place of residence)Im Staate oder in der Provinz (In the State or province)
Source: Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.
Original Data: Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Bestand: 373-7 I, VIII (Auswanderungsamt I). Mikrofilmrollen K 1701 - K 2008, S 17363 - S 17383, 13116 - 13183.
We get a couple of interesting tidbits here.
1. we have a hometown- Gruntanne, Silesia.
2. we may have a travelling companion or two. Right above the Olawskys are two more people from Gruntanne. Daniel (age 45) and Rosina Singmann (age 60). They got on the boat in Hamburg together (Singmanns first) and they got off the boat in the same order in New York. Unfortunately, I haven't found anything more yet on these two except the fact they emigrated from Hamburg, arriving in New York. From there, they just disappear.


Gruntanne was part of the larger town of Peisterwitz and was part of Prussia from the early 1800's, so it was definitely was German territory. But Silesia is a complex region, even as late as the German 1905 Census, some 25% of the entire population (and over half of those listing east of the Oder River) usually spoke Polish or Silesian.  

After the German expulsion from Silesia after WWII, the area was re-settled by ethnic Poles and is now part of Poland. Places were renamed and Peisterwitz was renamed Bystrzyca.

So, German or Polish?

Short answer, yes. Geographically, the Olawskys were from the German state of Silesia, making them German. But it's quite possible they were culturally Polish.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Life They Left: What the Gehner Home Could Have been Like

Henry Gehner, Sr's 1911 Biography (History of Macoupin County):
"son of John Frederick and Ann Elizabeth (Steinberg) Gehner,...reared under the paternal roof, he secured his preliminary education in the common schools and continued at home until twenty-three years of age"

Generic Floorplan of a "Niedersachsenhaus"
Public Domain Image from
What was daily life "under the paternal roof" for him and his siblings growing up in Borgholzhausen?  What possibilities did he leave behind when he sailed for the new world and eventually Mt. Olive?

Home Life in a "Low German House"

While we don't have definitive proof of Johann Fredrich Gehner's occupation, remaining facts can lead to the reasonable conclusion he was a farmer:
1. the family residence on all the christening records was listed as Berghausen (one of the small neighborhood villages in Borgholzhausen) which even today is a small group of houses surrounded by farm land.
2. family lore passed down through Edward Gehner's family indicates he was a farmer.
3. his occupation in America primarily was farming.

If this is the case, the paternal roof that would have been most common in this part of Germany at the time was a combination house and barn known as either a Niedersachenhaus
("low German house") or a Fachhallenhaus (loosely translates as "bay hall house").  Either way, the house was one story with a loft above; two rows of timbers down the middle held up the loft and the roof while the outside walls may have been mud, brick or stone.  It'd be about 35 by 55 feet shared by the farmer's family and their livestock.

The largest open area between the posts in the middle was the main work space on the farm- a stamped clay floor with a large door (einfahrtstor on this diagram) being the "barn door" with stalls for the animals on either side.  Here's where threshing, flax breaking and implement fixing occurred, along with family celebrations and in-home funerals. The futter is the feed storage area and the gesinde is for "servants" (who knows if the Gehners had any.)  The crossing area is the kitchen, with a raised stone heath fireplace in the center for both heat and cooking. No chimneys- smoke drifted through the doorways (including the seitentor side door), up into the loft (where the children often slept) and sometimes out through an hole in the gable ends of the loft roof. The remaining living quarters (the stubes rooms) were often slightly raised on flagstones.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

a Whodunnit in the family tree?

Dakota Territory of the 1880's was the frontier... but was it a lawless frontier? Was mob justice the way of the west?

I had access to a new collection of Mitchell, SD newspapers going back to 1885 a couple weeks ago, with a really good search engine for finding names in the articles. As I went through the results for Geidel a mystery started to emerge... a murder mystery.

The Bechtel Murder Trial Comes To a Close

The Mitchell Daily Republican
Friday April 2, 1886
Page 1 (Accessed from

"The attention of the court was occupied all of Thursday in the trial of R. S. Imelli and others, who were indicted last July (1885) for participating in a riot on or about May 1st 1884... the principle [sic] witness of the prosecution is Leonard Bechtel who says that he was at his brother's house on his claim in Davison County and that a body of men,  ten or more in number came there and demanded that they should tell them the whereabouts of John Smith, who had been missing for about two weeks.... they came from the direction of Charles Smith's pace. Geidel came up and tied his horse and said: "we've got you now."
"The case went to the jury last night about 9 o'clock and up to the time of going to press nothing has been heard from them."

A Geidel involved in a murder trial? This gets interesting.
What happened in 1884? Who is this Geidel? Unfortunately, the article of the trial said "as the particulars of the case have already been given several times in the Republican it is unneccessary to go over them in detail." So there's nothing in this article, and the other mentions of Bechtel and Imelli included in the online collection (from 1885 on) are just short pieces about the indictment and further minor proceedings.

Off to Google to see what we can find.The best source comes from a reprint hosted on the Davison County section of Genealogy Trails from the Daily Huronite, February 9, 1886, page 1.
The Enemy Creek Tragedy
"Mitchell, Feb. 8.—Sheriff Allerton returned to-night from Washington territory with R.S. Imelli, a German jeweler, who has been under indictment here for a year past for riot and assault. In March, 1884, a party named John Schmidt, living on a claim near Enemy creek, about nine miles south of Mitchell, disappeared suddenly and no trace was ever found of him. His children were transferred to the neighbors and his property sold. One of his neighbors named Mike Bechtel was suspected of the murder, and several weeks after Bechtel’s body badly mutilated and bound to heavy stones, was discovered in what was known as the “deep hole” in the James river, several miles from Schmidt’s house. It afterwards transpired that a mob of Schmidt’s neighbors had gotten together and partially hung Bechtel several times, stabbing him with a bayonet, and otherwise tried to make him confess that he had murdered Schmidt. This he did not do, and threw his body into the river. It was claimed that Imelli, who had a grudge against Bechtel, had led this mob. Sufficient information leaded out upon which the grand jury indicted Max Geidel, Charles Smith, Joseph Scheick, George Krug, Fred Esser, Frank Young, Chas. Kolley and R. S. Imelli. These men, except the last, gave bail in $500 and are now awaiting trial. Imelli, hearing a warrant was out against him, fled. The sheriff has been long on his track, and at last found him about two weeks since at a small town in Washington Territory carrying on the jewelry business under a slight change in his name. He gave bail tonight in the sum of $500. He has engaged Dillon & Preston, of this city, to defend him. The case will be tried at the March term of court."


Sherlock Holmes would say to examine the scene of the crime; it looks like we have two crimes here- the disappearance of John Schmidt and the riot/assault at the Bechtel farm. Since these are early in the days of white settlement in Dakota, the records from the General Land Office in the Bureau of Land Management will help.

I searched the records at for Davison County, South Dakota to get the legal description of any claims for these individuals, then used Earthpoint to get the locations in Google Earth for each claim.  Opening the KMZ file if you have Google Earth installed will fly you to that location in Google Earth. Note these dates are when the claim was "proved" up and the land was free and clear to them- either by meeting the homesteading requirements, or outright purchase.
John Schmidt 4/10/1884 Schmidt.kmz
Michael Bechtel 2/15/1888* Bechtel.kmz
All known Geidels (for reference) 8/20/1888 and later
Max Geidl4/10/1884Geidl.kmz
 *Since Bechtel is deceased at this point, we have to assume this is to his heirs.

Given the crimes happen just north of Ethan, SD, we're a significant distance from the settlements of the Geidels that this blog has included up to now. So we have a couple of options to consider:
1. Coincidence. Since this is the newly opened land to settlement, and the 1870's and 1880's are a big wave of Germans, so it's pure coincidence that another Geidl was here.
2. Mix-up. It's hard enough now to keep these names straight- it may be a typo in the newspaper that never got corrected.
3. Cousins.

A possible match?
In the 1900 Census we find a Max Geidl living in Nez Perce County, Idaho; married with children.
Name Role Gender Born Birthplace
Max Geidl Head M Aug 1845 Germany
Walalburga Geidl Wife F Oct 1847 Germany
Joseph Geidl Son M June 1875 Illinois
Maggie Geidl Daughter F Nov 1877 South Dakota
Wally Geidl Daughter F June 1880 South Dakota
Max Geidl Son M Feb 1880 South Dakota
John Geidl Son M Oct 1882 South Dakota
Tracy Geidl Daughter F July 1884 South Dakota
Anna Geidl Daughter F Apr 1886 South Dakota

So we have a Max Geidl with kids who were born in South Dakota between 1877 and 1886. Googling his wife's unique name lead to Anna's tombstone record on, which links back to the the 1880 census entry for the family living in rural Hutchinson County, Dakota Territory- east of Tripp. The same Findagrave article lists Max's birthpace as Rudershausen in Niedersachsen, which is 90 miles from the area the Geidel family came from. Coming from hometowns 90 miles apart would appear to dismiss any close relationship between the two families, especially since the Geidels immigrated some 30 years earlier.


The next day's Mitchell paper reports the eight were acquitted due to lack of evidence. When Max Geidl leaves Dakota Territory is unknown, but he shows up in 1900 in Idaho. Even if found not guilty, staying around the area would have been tough. Both the Schmidt and Bechtel murders were never solved.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Crash of 1940
photo by Rick Doty

The Henry, Bertha and Nadine Gehner headstone in the Immanuel Cemetery always made me stop and read it... a father, mother and daughter dying within a couple days of each other.

Driving to Edwardsville,  Eldon would point out where the accident that happened on old Route 66 northeast of town.  I always wondered how this all happened. Recent searches in the online collection of helped me piece together some of the story of the Crash of 1940.

"Two in Family Fatally Injured in Auto Accident"

Efforts Being Made to Locate Driver of Red Carnival Truck Who Forced Car From Pavement
 Edwardsville Intelligencer, July 1, 1940, page 1
"Two persons were killed and four others injured when the automobile in which they were riding collided with one driven by Richard H Johnson, Urbana, Sunday morning. The accident occurred on Route 66 near Mayle Road, northeast of this city."

Sparing the details of injuries (which papers in the 40's appeared to always mention):
  • Bertha Gehner died instantly
  • Nadine Gehner was taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital and passed away a couple hours later.
  • Henry Gehner and the other Gehner children was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield
  • The driver of the other car (Richard Johnson) was treated and released from St. Elizabeth's.
What Happened?
From the Intelligencer article; "The accident occurred when a large red truck, unidentified, passed the Gehner car, forcing it from the pavement. As Gehner drove back onto the highway, he crossed the black dividing line and was struck by Johnson's automobile, which was approaching from the opposite direction...
"Deputy corner B.H. Weber said that the red truck involved in the accident was probably owned by a traveling carnival outfit."
Johnson gave a statement to the deputy coroner on Sunday, summarized in the article.  Johnson was driving north on 66 and the Gehners were approaching from the north.  "The red truck was behind the Gehners, but the truck then passed the Gehner car.  Johnson slows down, but then the truck cut the Gehners off, forcing the Gehner car off the road."

So where's the truck?

The next day's Intelligencer provides some insight:
Edwardsville Intelligencer July 2, 1940. Page 1.

Third in Accident Died at Litchfield

Henry L. Gehner, 45 Mt. Olive coal miner and fruit grower, died Tuesday at St. Francis Hospital at Litchfield.
"[Deputy Coroner B. H.] Weber said Wednesday that John Robert Ball, 22 St. Louis, has been connected with the accident as the driver of an amusement truck which figured in the accident. The trash between the cars of Gehner and Richard Johnson, Urbana, occurred after Ball drove around the Gehner machine."

Who is this John Robert Ball?

First of all, he's not related to me; no branches of my family would be in St. Louis in 1940 that I know of. There are no John Ball's the right age in the 1940 Census in St. Louis, and none that really match in Missouri.  There is however a John Ball in Vandalia, Missouri (aged 28 at the time of the census) whose occupation is listed as a truck driver.  The age is wrong,  no middle initial is given and he's listed as driving truck for a soda company as of the end of April (when the census was taken). Given the truck was from a carnival it's possible the John Ball involved in the accident was not home at the time of the census, and as a young man may have only been in a boarding house and not really had an address in St Louis at all.

The Last Part of the Tale

Edwardsville Intelligencer Feb 10, 1941, page 1.

Man Asks $10,000 Damages, Three Killed

"Richard H Johnson, Urbana, filed suit in circuit course here Monday against the Oliver Amusement Company, St. Louis, John Robert Ball, a truck driver for the company, and Arthur F. Gehner, Mt Olive, administrator for the estate of Henry Gehner, for injuries suffered on June 30, 1940 in an automobile accident on Route 66... Johnson says an injury to his left knee prevents him from following the work of a refrigeration expert through which he earned $350 monthly."

Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer. digitized by

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Henry Gehner had a Farm. E-I-E-I-O

Farming creates a crop of paperwork too. I have some of my grandfather's pocket record books from the 1930's and 1940's (how much a load of wheat sold for, how much a month's supply of coal cost) and they give a great window into the daily life on the farm.

While Henry Gehner's detailed records are lost to history, we can get an idea of his farm records from the 1880 census, which included 100 questions in the supplemental items for farmers to report on the production and value of their farm in the prior year (these numbers are in addition to the 6 Gehner kids on the farm in 1880).

Notice that the hired man was also Henry.  I can't imagine how confusing this would be for Caroline yelling "Henry!" out the door and having three men respond.

Henry Gehner Age 49
Born in Germany
Caroline Gehner 28 wife Germany
Henry Gehner (Jr.) 19 son Illinois
William Gehner 16 son Illinois
Sarah Gehner 10 daughter Illinois
Charlotte Gehner 7 daughter Illinois
Herman Gehner 5 son Illinois
Ludwig Gehner 2 son Illinois
Henry Henrik 33 Hired Man Germany
"United States Census, 1880." Index and images. FamilySearch. : accessed  24 Feb 2014. Citing NARA microfilm publication T9. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. 

Henry Gehner Had a Farm... E I E I O.

  • Acres Improved (tilled fields): 120
  • Acres of pasture, meadow, orchard or vineyard: 7
  • Woodland/Forest acres: 200

And on his farm he had some...

  • Horses: 8
  • Cows: 3 milk cows, 17 other
    • With a moo moo here
      • a total of 200 pounds of butter were made in 1879.
      • 2 calves born
      • 1 cow purchased
      • 1 slaughtered.
  • Sheep: 18 on hand 6/1/1880 
    • With a baa baa here
      • 18 fleeces weighing 90 pounds
      • 7 lambs in 1879
      • 3 sheep slaughtered
      • 2 killed by dogs 
  • Pigs: 43
    • no details were asked for in terms of piglets or number slaughtered
  • Chickens: 10
    • producing 20 dozen eggs

And on his farm he grew some...

  • Corn. 40 acres produced 1000 bushels
  • Oats. 15 acres produced 300 bushels
  • Wheat. 45 acres produced 900 bushels
  • Potatoes. 1/4 acre produced 25 bushels
  • Apples. 36 trees in a 1 acre orchard produced 5 bushels

And on his farm they made some...

  • Molasses 35 gallons of sorghum molasses

And on his farm they cut some...

  • Wood. 12 cords of wood (worth $30)

Henry Gehner had a farm. E I E I O.

Total asset values:
  • $6000 Land, buildings, fences 
  • $185 Machinery
  • $965 Livestock
  • Fence (repair & building) $30
  • Paid labor: $145 (12 weeks)

Income from selling farm product:$1600

Illinois Non-Population Census Schedules. 1880 Census: Agriculture Schedules for Macoupin County.. Accessed 23 Feb 2014

Data for both Henry Gehner and his brother Casper's farm is found on image 167 of Macoupin County's 1880 agriculture schedule.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hacking through the Camp/Gehner Farm Cemetery

Note: This post isn't related (at least by blood) to any of the families.  It is however related by land; the descendents of Henry Gehner, Jr.  will know at least part of the story of the cemetery out in the pasture on the Gehner Farm.

The Camp/Gehner Farm Cemetery
Camp/Gehner Cemetery
December 2013

As kids, many Gehner cousins have hiked out there; played in the trees and walked around the cemetery in the back of the pasture.  They've looked at the stones, traced their letters. We've all wondered "who are all these people and how did they end up here?"

A combination of plants going dormant for the winter and my brother-in-law's summer project to clear some of the brush and make the trails accessible again made it possible to walk to the cemetery again for the first time in a couple years.

The trail of land ownership

Bureau of Land Management records for the purchasers of the land from the government after it was surveyed are available online from The quarter of land that will become the core of the Henry Gehner, Jr. farm was sold by the government as three separate land parcels. Clicking on the purchaser's name below will take you to the original patent records
Parcel Purchaser Purchase Date Highlighted
NW quarter of the NE Quarter Pickens Camp 2 Dec 1839 Red
SW quarter of the NE Quarter William Henderson 25 May 1841 Yellow
East half of the NE Quarter Telemachus Camp 15 October 1835 Blue

FYI: The SE quarter of the section (the square mile of land) was part of the thousands of acres of land in Macoupin and Madison Counties purchased by Elias Dorsey, father of Benjamin L. Dorsey.

Gehner Farm (1993) with original patents overlaid.
"Grandma Gehner's house" and the outbuildings are on the line between blue/red.
Source image from Google Earth
Telemachus Camp was one of the earliest settlers to southern Macoupin County, settling near Staunton around 1820 with quite a history. While Telemachus' land purchases adds up to some 20 parcels from the government, and possibly more from other buyers, his son Pickens Camp has a smaller operation, all in Cahokia Township. (one piece is just east of the Gehner farm, while the other is the section to the northwest)

The Burials

The best source on this cemetery is the WPA report on the cemetery, done sometime around 1938-1939 as part of WPA's historical records project.  The original reports for Macoupin County are available at the County Archives and have been transcribed and put on line by volunteers of the county genealogy society.

The Camp Family

A detailed listing of burials from the WPA shows infant twins of Pickens Camp were buried here in 1847, the first burials in the cemetery. This stone is somewhere out there, probably buried under a couple inches of sod.

Telemachus Camp, father of Pickens Camp appears to be next in 1849. His stone is one of the ones that has survived, but not in its original place- it was leaning on one side (partially sunken into the ground) against the cedar tree in the middle of the photo at start of this post- which is why the one side is discolored.

Four more of Telemachus' grandchildren (Pickens' kids)  are buried out here until Pickens dies and is buried out here in 1867.

Other burials

The WPA report from 1938-1939 lists additional family names buried out there including Garowne, Allen, Ozment, Henderson, McPeek, Dunce and Stull. In an editorial moment, the WPA report says "the names are strange" and aren't those of anyone living in the area then.

One potential clue:
Mary Stull's headstone
Peter H Stull purchases 40 acres in section 36  (this would be across the road to the east of the farm) on 1/1/1851.  Mary Stull is one of the burials listed on the WPA report, with her stone being the oldest identified from September 1851, aged 68. She's listed as the wife of John Stull in the cemetery records; could this be Peter's mother?

Other Details from the WPA Report

A transcription of the WPA report is available from the Macoupin County Genealogy Society's website.
The condition of the cemetery when the WPA staff inventoried the cemetery was about the same is it is now-"The cemetery on the Gehner farm is really in an abandoned condition.  Livestock are free to run over the burial grounds" 

This isn't the only pioneer cemetery in this shape.  The MCGS cemetery list has entries for 15 cemeteries in Cahokia Township- of these seven more are in condition similar to the Camp/Gehner Farm Cemetery.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Day of Research....

I've seen t-shirts that say "a bad day of fishing is better than a good day working."  I don't know if that's necessarily true, but a bad day of genealogy research is still a good day- even if you don't find everything you had hoped.

The headquarters of the St Louis County Library has amassed a large collection of genealogy resources and has a special focus on regional populations, including Germany. While we were at the Gehner Farm for Christmas, I had a chance to to spend a morning digging into their genealogy collection. I had a to-do list of things I wanted to use to try to find out more about the families; some things were successful, some not

1. Henry Gehner Sr's lost brother?

Swing and a miss.
Baptism records in Borgholzhausen list two Frederich Wilhelm Gehners born in 1824 and 1827 to the same parents as Henry Sr. (Given the short time between their births, I suspect the first one died young), and an intriguing possible match kept appreaing in St. Louis for a William Gehner. Unfortunately his death notice in the Post-Dispatch lists him as about 4 years too young.

2. Henry Gehner Sr- Marie Schweppe wedding?

Found it.
St Louis City/County Marriages for 1857
bottom of page 452. 

Notice this entire page are marriages performed in the past couple months by the same pastor (Fr. Picker??), all recorded by the clerk on the same day. A quick Google search lead to this forum on Rootsweb that Pastor Franz Picker founded the Independent German Evangelical Protestant Church in downtown St. Louis, now in Florissant which split off of Holy Ghost Church in 1856. 

Sidebar: Given the timing of the split, it is quite possible Henry Gehner, Sr who was living in St. Louis at the time was a member of one if not both of these churches. If Henry, Sr. was part of the founding of the Independent German church, this would make the number of churches he help found as the result of splitting off another congregation two. It would appear he took his theology seriously.

3. Deutsches Geschlechterbuch 


Deutsches Geschlechterbuch (German Lineage Book) is an ongoing series of published family histories; researchers have been submitting their family histories to be published in this series since 1898, which now is in 220 volumes.  The focus of this series are German non-noble, middle class families- often farm families.  Each article includes an introduction about the family (the meaning of the name, a narrative history) and then a family tree as far back as recorded documents go.

Luckily, the first 160+ volumes are on CD and as they digitized them, they indexed the names listed in the old volumes.  Even then, there are hundreds of thousands of names (common names like Schwartz are 20+ pages of index entries).  Having relatively unique names helped, there were few entries for each family.  However, I didn't hit the mother lode of a published genealogy for the Wegehaupt, Geidel or Gehner families.  The entries I did find were for marriages of women in the family subject to the article to men with these last names.  The Geidel and Wegehaupt lines did have mentions of men in the right areas of Germany in the early 1600's, but without any lineage to the families when they arrived in the 1800's, this isn't much to go on.

4. New Haven, MO books.

Really cool stuff.

While not related to us directly, New Haven, Missouri has some information for us.  About 100 miles west of St. Louis, New Haven, MO has a sister city relationship with Borgholzhausen, Germany- the ancestral home town for Henry Gehner and his first wife Maria Schweppe.  The reason?  Many of the settlers in New Haven came from Borgholzhausen in the late 1840's- just before Henry Gehner, Sr.  The St Louis County Library has two books written about the settlers in New Haven which describe the conditions and daily life they had in Borgholzhausen.  Short of finding Henry Sr.'s diary or a stack of letters from him, this is probably as close as we'll get to a detailed description of Gehner life in Germany in the 1830's and before.  That's the next post.