Most of the story below was taken verbatim from Dorothy Beck’s genealogy source notes that were sent to me. I’ve added details about dates and places of their children being born as I’ve found more information through census data and other records.
When Heinrich “Henry” Wulfestieg became of age in Germany, his parents wanted him to join the Navy. This didn’t suit Henry so he left home and joined a merchant ship which was to sail to Brazil. The Brazilian government was offering land to whomever would settle there.
Sailing to Brazil on this ship was a family who had a daughter named Agnes Augusta Geier (born November 1846 in Saxony, Germany). Henry and Agnes fell in love on the voyage, and asked permission to marry. They wed aboard the ship and disembarked along with the other passengers at Blumenau, Brazil. Three children were born to them there: Johanna “Jennie” in April 1865, Amma, in 1868/1869, and Charles Henry in December 1870.
In 1871, they left Brazil due to shoddy treatment of the German Colonists by the local government.
[LISA’S UPDATE: The original family story said that they set sail to New Orleans, Louisiana. However, Gary Hesse, a fellow Wulfestieg descendant found information of their arrival in New York so I’m updating his blog post to show the new info.]
On March 23, 1871 the Wulfestieg family disembarked the steamer Merrimac at the Castle Garden immigrant landing depot at the southernmost point of Manhattan Island in New York. They were the only steerage passengers on the steamer, having embarked from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and stopping at Bahia, Para, and St. Thomas V.I. en route.
They landed in New York City at the (then) immigration point named Castle Garden at the south end of Manhattan Island. The ship’s manifest shows the Wulfestiegs on the upper third of the page.
They then traveled to St. Louis, Missouri (or possibly Illinois because that’s where their daughter Clara Marion, was born in 1878.)
Within a year of Clara’s birth, they moved to Marshall County, Kansas and settled in a German locality called Hermansberg in the Township of Marysville. Their daughter, Johanne (Jennie) Wolferstich (sic) was confirmed on April 6, 1879 in Immanuels Kirche in Hermansberg.
Leaving Kansas, heading west
This part is all of my notes from researching.
The 1880 Census shows Agnes and Henry still in Marysville, Kansas with another daughter, Ida, born there in 1879.
According to the 1900 Census, sons Bruno Joseph was born in January 1882 in Kansas and Adolf “Arthur” John was born in November 1886 in California. Agnes is shown as head of household as Henry had passed away earlier that year on February 25, 1900.
So, some time between January 1882 and November 1886, the Wulfestieg family moves to California. I couldn’t find any record of why they were in Kansas for only 3 – 6 years before moving on to California. I would love to know that story.
Agnes passes away seven years later on July 29, 1907. She’s buried in Fairhaven, part of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange County, CA.
From Germany to California
I have to admire the gumption of Agnes and her family to just pick up and start a new life half way around the world. Around 1863 she and her parents leave Germany to embark on a new life in Brazil. Maybe for the time and place it wasn’t very daring, but meeting and marrying someone she just met on board the ship seems kind of daring and adventurous to me.
Eight years later, in 1871, she’s on another ship heading from Brazil to America, and apparently doesn’t stay in one place very long as they continue west to Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and finally, California. All of this in a span of 20ish years!