The following was relayed by Catherine Herzinger Ebrecht to her granddaughter, Jennie Edwards on 4 August 1915:
My maiden name was Catherine Johanna Doretta Herzinger. I was named after my grandmother Doretta, and Johanna after her sister, Johanna Weisgarber. My mother's name was Gertrude Halter. I was born in Frankfort on the Main. Before I was born my father (we lived in Wechterspach) was recalled into the army, so my mother went to live with her sister in Frankfort until he was again discharged. It was here I was born [on 7 July 1831].
When Germany took Alsace my mother's grandfather held land and was a nobleman with the title Von Halter. He, with other noblemen, revolted against the King, but the King overcame them and took their land and title from them. He kept his personal belongings of course, and because of losing his lands and title, he grieved and grieved and would hardly ever talk of it. He soon died. His son inherited those personal belongings. My mother's father's brother, or her uncle, was a missionary sent to Africa, and afterward to Greenland.
I was the oldest of my family. I had three brothers: Lewis [born in 1834], Adam , and Fred .
My mother's father [Ludwig Halter b: 1788] wanted to know about this country [America] so he sent my father here to find out about it. He came and stayed here a year before we came. My mother, we three children, Catherine Halter (who later married a Plach), Elizabeth, my grandfather Halter, and his two sons Jake [b: 1814] and Adam Halter [b: 1822] came.
Jake, the oldest, was serving in the army, and Grandfather tried to buy him out, but couldn't so he deserted, and they concealed him in a hog's head. They smuggled him through from Frankfort to Holland where we boarded a ship for this country. Going down the Rhine, before we'd come to a town, the Captain would stop, let him off, and he'd be taken around by land so the authorities wouldn't discover him. He got by safely, but it cost Grandfather lots of money.
At the last place where we stopped on the Rhine, the little river boat drew near the shore to wait for Uncle Jake, so all of us children got out of it, and hunted pretty shells on the banks. I found so many and had my apron full, and all at once I looked up and saw the boat leaving the shore! They had not missed me, and I hadn't heard the bell for I was so intent on gathering shells. Down I dropped them all and ran screaming along the bank after the ship. Just then my mother missed me, and the Captain sent a boat after me. I was seven years old then; it was in 1838-I was born in 1831.
On board the big ocean ship, we brought our personal belongings. We had to sell everything. My grandfather had a bakery, a mill, and a store to sell, and we did not come on a ship which we had intended coming on. Our intended ship was burned at sea. My father saw the account in the paper, so thought that we were all dead until he saw us. My father was at Jackson, Missouri, and when we finally arrived at Cape Girardeau, the shore keeper there, who also thought us dead sent for father who threw off his shoe-maker's apron and came as fast as he could to see us.
We had been on the ocean four weeks, and landed at Baltimore. On the way over I had a large doll, and was playing with it one day and laid it behind me. When I turned to pick it up it was gone!
One time during a storm a sailor fell from a mast and was killed. Later when they were going to bury him without a prayer, Grandfather was so shocked, and he offered to say the burial rites.
My father was a shoemaker in Jackson, and had a big shop. We got there two weeks before Christmas. During the first year so many Indians were led by white men from Missouri through Jackson. [This was the forced removal of American Indians in 1838 to 1839 from their ancestral homelands in the southeastern United States that has become known as the Trail of Tears.] I was so afraid of them when they would feel of my long yellow braids if I'd be on the street.
Grandpa bought a farm near Jackson and lived only one year; he died of pneumonia. He was so homesick for Germany and always said he was going back. When he died, Grandma gave up the farm, and lived with us.
The Indians I spoke of had my father make shoes and boots for them, and when he'd tell them the cost, they'd make him take more. He sometimes made a hundred dollars a day. The Indians were passing through for two weeks.
Later on my father entered a partnership with another man, and they built a distillery. Mother didn't want him to, but he laughed at her. He didn't run it but about a year. The building was three stories high and made of Poplar logs. When his partner, Warner, saw that they were not making much, he took all that he could and went away. My father went into debt then, and lost his big farm, and finally all of his lots in Jackson.
When I wasn't quite eighteen, I met Fred Ebrecht, who had come from Germany, too, and I married him. I had gone to Mine La Motte to see Uncle Lewis Herzinger, who was working there. I married Fred in Mine La Motte. We lived there for two months. Then we went to Pilot Knob where my husband worked in the iron mines. We lived over a year and a half there, and my oldest son, John, was born there. We then went to Fredericktown, where my husband clerked in his Uncle Fred Herzinger's store. Then as he had a land warrant for land, we entered it on land below Farmington. He had this warrant because he had been a soldier in the war with Mexico. He stayed as clerk in the store for eleven years while I ran the farm. He'd come home on Saturdays.
When I was a girl in Jackson, after my grandmother's death, while we were all at her funeral, someone broke into our house and stole a chest of silver, which my mother's grandfather had when he was a nobleman. The silver was all marked with his crest, and his coat and pants with golden buttons were taken, too. We tried everywhere to find who had stolen it, but could never get a trace of it. There were enough dishes to set a table. The papers, showing that my mother's grandfather was a nobleman, were allowed to decay and fall apart. The ink faded so they could not be read, too.
During my married life eleven children were born to me. John; Frederick; Lewis, who died when he was 2 years 5 months old of membranous croup; Carrie; Charlie, a boy who was born dead; Mary, who died of summer complaint; Henry; Maggie; Emma; and Katie.
Maggie, your mother, was born during the war. When she was three or four days old, and we were in the bed, the soldiers came on Saturday night. We had just baked so much for we expected company, and the soldiers came and ate everything. They asked me for money, and before this we had sold a fine horse in Farmington but my husband left the money all in Farmington except $10, which he brought home to pay the hired girl. This Saturday night my husband was so sick with flux, and the soldiers wanted the money for it must have been that someone of the neighbors who knew of the sale of the horse were among them. They threw Maggie down to the foot of the bed, and held a pistol to my head and demanded money. I had stuck the $10 bill into the bolster, which buttoned up. They threw this bolster around, and when they were gone I found the money near the opening. It was a wonder they did not get it. They helped themselves to the boys' clothes, too. I had the first sewing machine in the neighborhood, and then I sewed and made clothes for almost every family around. We had one of the first organs, too.
During the war Helterbrand so often came through our land but he never took anything. He killed my husband's brother, Charley Ebrecht, though. H was in a field and they shot him, near Farmington
By father had dropsy and died five years before Mother. He was also five years older than she. She died of pneumonia in Mine La Motte. They are both buried in the graveyard there. I was 23, I believe, when Mother died.
Submitted by: Roger Hayes
[Submitters Notes: While researching my wife's family, I came upon the above document and thought you'd be interested. It was told by Catherine Johanna Doretta Herzinger, 1831-1916, to her grandaughter, Sarah Jane Edwards, 1885-1976. Cartherines family arrived in Jackson from Germany in 1837. Catherine's father, Henry Herzinger, born in Germany in 1810, was a shoe maker in Jackson. I have added comments in brackets for informational or clarifications purposes. Otherwise the text comes from Catherine Johanna Doretta Herzinger, who was probably 8 years old when the trail of American Indians traveled through Jackson.]
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