Sunday, August 14, 2011

Henry Lorig, The Immigrant

A pencil drawing on a very thin sheet of wood not paper is thought to be of Henry Lorig and simply has the name Lorig written on the reverse. The neck beard and the clothing date the portrait to circa 1875 when Henry would have been 53 years old. His face looks fairly youngish but the beard is gray so it seems to fit.

Henry and his twin sister Anna Maria were born 25 November 1822 in Biewer, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, the tenth and eleventh of twelve children born to Francisci (Frans/Franz) Lorich and Maria Angela born Zimmer. Biewer is a small town located just outside of the larger city of Trier. In today’s terminology it would perhaps even be called a suburb.

Other children in the family:
  • Angela born 1803
  • Margareth born 1806 (died young)
  • Henricus born 1808 (died young)
  • Margaretha born 1810
  • Johannes born 1812
  • Catharina born December 1814 and died March 1815
  • Mathias born 1816 (died young)
  • Mathias born 1817 (died young)
  • Mathias born 1820 died 1829
  • Eva born 1826
Half the children in this family died before they reached adulthood and most likely when they were quite young children. The infant mortality rate for the early 1800s was 50% making this family average in terms of loss. Today it would be unimaginable to lose half your children to childhood diseases, infections, and accidents.

If there were land to be passed to the next generation the oldest son would have the advantage. Younger sons had to hope for a good marriage or an apprenticeship that would give them opportunity for a better life. As the youngest son, Henry’s prospects were not particularly good. His poor economic position and the ever-present threat of conscription into the army would be incentives for migrating to America.

Perhaps this is a good place to say something about the Lorig name. The name itself and variants are found as early as the 1500s. Because there were no standardized spellings for names it was just written down more or less phonetically and appears most often as Lorig, Lorich, Lorick, Loriitz, Louich, Loehrig, and Lorice. When Henry arrived in America the immigration processor asked him to say his name and then asked him how he wanted it spelled telling him that if he wanted it pronounced with a “G” sound he should spell it that way hence while the name is often seen spelled Lorich it sounds like Lorig and that is the spelling that Henry chose. Similarly with his first or given name he changed from the German Heinrich to the Americanized Henry. Lorich is the name of another small town near Trier and may be where the family originated as families quite often took the name of their town as the last name when surnames were enforced.

When Henry left Germany for America he traveled with Adolph Schloeder and Adolph’s sisters, Catharina and Agnes. Henry later married Catharina or Katie as she became known in America. They had their first child Anna in New York 10 April 1854. It is apparent that Catharina was expecting this child before they left Germany since they arrived in New York the end of October 1853 and Anna is born less than six months later. There is no record in Biewer or Neumagen-Dhron (where Katie and her family lived) of the marriage and they are listed individually on the ship’s manifest so either they married at sea or after arriving in New York making it seem likely that they were running away to get married and start a new life together. Adolph continued to follow Henry and Katie as they moved here and there but it is not known what happened to Agnes.

Why did Henry, Adolph, Catharina and Agnes go to Buffalo, New York? One possible answer is that a colony of Germans settled there in 1852. Immigrants often felt more comfortable living with people who spoke the same language. The colony in Buffalo was a religious communal self-sufficient group looking for people with a variety of skills and occupations. They advertized in newspapers to encourage new German immigrants to come to New York. In 1854 this same group bought property in Iowa that had just opened up land at reasonable prices. They formed the Amana colonies, seven villages, along the Iowa River. Our ancestors did not join the religious group but they with other Germans soon followed and settled in several different areas of Iowa. Why? Because the land was plentiful and cheap, there was employment and there were people who spoke German.

Their second child, Elizabeth or Lizzie, was born 1856 in Pennsylvania as they began their westward trek. Henry and Katie had their third daughter, Mary Magdalene in 1859 shortly after arriving in Iowa. By 1860 they had bought property in the town of Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa and there the remaining children were born, Margaret Mae or Maggie in 1861; Edolph or Edd in 1865; and Martha or Mattie in 1868. It is interesting to note that Edd’s name on the christening record is Edolph after his uncle Adolph but the family always assumed his name was Edward and he never corrected anyone as far as I know. His sister Maggie refers to Edd as Pete in one letter and no one knows where that nick name came from. We always knew him as just Edd (with two Ds).

Katie’s brother Adolph lived in Mt. Pleasant and married first Sarah (last name unknown) and later Martha McPheron. Henry Lorig did not serve in the Civil War but Adolph did. Adolph enlisted in the Union Army as a private in the Iowa 4th Cavalry Regiment, Company C on 5 January 1864 at the age of 34. He was severely wounded on 10 June 1864 at Guntown, Mississippi. There is a Brice’s Cross Roads National Battlefield site located 14 miles from Guntown. Even though the Union forces lost the battle of Brice’s Cross Roads they were still able to prevent supplies from reaching the Confederate troops. Adolph was hospitalized on 18 February 1865 at Keokuk, Iowa and then transferred back to the 4th Cavalry Regiment on 1 March 1865. Both he and his widow, Martha McPheron Schloeder received benefits from a Civil War pension.

Katie, who was born 26 November 1826 in Neumagen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, died in Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa on 18 March 1893. Some time after her death Henry moved to Chicago, Cook County, Illinois to be closer to his daughter, Mattie, where he died 12 March 1910 while living in a Catholic nursing home. He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Chicago. Adolph Schloeder died 7 January 1881 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

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