Tag Archives: Thomas Thomsen

Who was Anna Maria Celicia Thomsen Meyer?

Anna Maria Cecialia Thomsen Meyer was christened on April 15, 1860 in Ullerup, Aaberra-Sonderborg, Denmark. She was the fifth child of Thomas Thomsen and Anna Maria Brok or Brock and their third daughter.

She joined a brother Hans Jorgen (John) age 6, sister, Kristine age 4, brother, Thomas age 3 and a sister Katherine (Kate) age 2.  It isn’t hard  to imagine her addition made  an already busy household even busier.  None of her siblings were old enough to be much help.

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Photo of Ullerup church where Anna or Mary as she became to be known in the United States was likely baptized. Below is another photo of Ullerup.  It looks a lot like Wisconsin doesn’t it?The road to my parents land.

When Mary was only 4 years old the Prussian army marched in and took over the Schleiswig and Holstein areas of Denmark. Ullerup was part of Schlieswig.  She and her family probably saw  and put up with Prussian soldiers in their village that year.

My Grandma Rose left some brief notes about this family in a notebook my mother came to have.  Mostly she had used the notebook for household hints and things of that nature but near the end she had written down my Grandpa George’s, Mother’s family.  Although Rose made no mention of his name the 1880 census does show a son named Peter who would have been born in 1865.  The youngest son Christian was born in 1870.  Since the census records for Christian shows him born in Denmark the family must have emigrated after that date.

According the notes my Grandma Rose Meyer wrote down, Thomas and Anna did not want their sons to serve in the Prussian army and so the father immigrated with the sons first  with the women following later.  This also fits with the story my Mom frequently told us with regard to the Thomsen family.   Mary’s eldest brother would have been of conscription age about 1874.  So they most likely immigrated about that time.

My Grandma Rose wrote that the eldest daughter Kristine was ill and would not have passed the health inspection and was left behind with relatives.  Whether this is true or not can’t be verified but Kristine would have been around 18 or 19 when they left so perhaps she elected to stay behind. From the Danish parish records I was able to find that she did marry in 1883 to a Christian Bruhn, had 2 children, one of who was still alive when she died on Nov. 28th of 1885.

Thus far I have been unable to find  any of  the family in immigration records.  In the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census Mary gives three different years for her immigration being 1871, 1872 and 1875.  Sister Kate gives her immigration date as 1879 in both the 1900 and 1910 census.  Christian gives the date as 1874 and 1875 in the various census records.  And Mary’s obituary says she came at age 16.  I can find no positive proof for the eldest son in Wisconsin (his name would translate to John which is too common  of a name to identify without having something more to go on)   He is not in with the family in the 1880 census nor is someone with that name shown in Cascade or nearby areas.

My mother remembered that her grandmother said she arrived in the  U.S. as a teen and had to work in the fields etc. to help the family support itself.  Whatever the date it had to be between 1871 and 1879 as the family is found in Cascade, WI in the 1880 census records.  At that time Mary is living and working as a servant in the town hotel.

Near the hotel was John Meyer’s shoe shop.  In1881 the couple married.  They had four sons, William b. in 1882, Frank Charles in 1883, George in 1888 and Arno in 1893.  My mother recalled that she was a stern woman.  She said she had to be for her boys were full of mischief and got themselves into lots of trouble.  She recalled hearing them tell about times when they put  farmers wagons on top of their roofs as Halloween pranks.  She also recalled she was strict Lutheran.  My Mother also remembered her as an excellent cook.

After her husband died in 1926 she stopped taking good care of herself so the family helped her move to a home in Milwaukee.  From my Mom’s description of it, it sounds a lot like the retirement living places of today.  She had her own room with her special things and ate meals in a dining room. She still frequently visited friends and families homes. My Mother recalled her coming to stay at the farm often.  When my Mom went to stay at her Aunt Camilla’s and Uncle Frank’s in Milwaukee she would go to visit with her grandmother.  She remembered that she usually had some small trinket to give her and liked to show her off to her friends at the home.

Eventually Mary’s health failed and she went to a nursing home where she died in 1941.Her obituary in the Sheboygan Falls newspaper described her as a kind thoughtful person who liked people and had a friendly disposition.  She was survived by 3 sons and her brother Christian who lived in NJ.  She was a loyal member of St. Paul’s Lutheran church in Cascade and St. Mark’s Lutheran church in Milwaukee.  She is buried at St. Paul’s cemetery in Cascade, Wisconsin along with her husband and infant son William.

Why Cascade?

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(Home of John and Mary Meyer in Cascade abt. 1912)

Growing up my family never celebrated old customs or made traditional foods the way many of my friendsdid. We were American, that was good enough.  And it was – except I wanted to know more.

My paternal grandfather told me his family had come from the south. He thought they might have owned a plantation and had moved North because of slavery. But he had no idea where or when they had originally came here.

My mother, on the other hand, knew her grandparents had come to the U.S. as children. She thought they’d come from Prussia to avoid it’s warring ways. Why they’d chosen to live in Wisconsin or if they’d ever lived elsewhere in the U.S she couldn’t say.

She’d heard the Meyer’s were somehow connected to the Roosevelt’s of NY and her Dad had two cousins who lived in upper NY by the name of Edith and Pierre. She thought they might be rich as they wintered in Florida. Later she remembered that her grandpa Meyer had come from Alsace Lorraine and his wife from Denmark. And there had a been some kind of remarriage in the family with a his, hers and ours sort of family. She thought it was probably John’s parents and that one of them had returned to live in Europe. Two things she was sure of, her grandfather had been a shoemaker and he and his wife, Mary Thomsen had raised their family in Cascade.

While she didn’t know much about her grandparents my mother did know lot more about her Meyer uncles. She knew the oldest had been born inn 1883 and a still older son had died as an infant.That meant John Meyer would have had to have married no later than 1880-81. My first search was to see if I could find him in the 1880 census.

Today I could pull up the record quickly using my computer but In the 1990’s I had to find both the Wisconsin 1880 census and it’s index in a library. Lucky for me my local branch had both. Scrolling through the microfilm I found a John Meyer,living in Cascade, single, age 35, boarding with a August Hafemeister. Both men were shoemakers and John had been born in France. Since Alsace was part of France, he sounded like my man. Better yet, a few entries down was a Mary Thomsen, age 20, a servant for the hotel keeper. Schleswig, a part of southern Denmark, was listed as her place of birth. Chances were she was soon to marry the shoemaker.     
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I felt sure I had the right people but I needed more proof. Plus, I still wanted to know when had they come to Cascade and who were their parents? Had they come alone as teens or with families?  I decided to write to the Sheboygan county genealogy society and see if someone could find their marriage record.

(The below photo if beside in the yard of John Meyer. He is the gentleman on the far right)

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While I waited for an answer I shared the information I’d found with my mother.  She in turn unearthed a scrapbook her mother had kept. It was a mish mash of stuff, most having nothing to do with the family, but in the very back she had written down the names of the Thomsen side of the family. Now I had Mary’s parents and siblings names and birthdates. No town name was given but she did say they had come from Schleswig a part of Denmark.

Meanwhile I went back to the 1880 census for Cascade and found Mary’s parents Thomas and Anna Thomsen. He was a wheelwright. Not long afterwards I received the marriage record in the mail. A John Meyer, son of Johannes Meyer and Marguerite Sontag, had married an Anna Mary Thomsen of Cascade. John’s birthplace was listed as Airshiem, Alsace. Also enclosed was a newspaper clipping from their 25th wedding anniversary and an ad for John’s shoe shop.

The 1890 census had been lost in a fire so the next census I could consult was 1900. It would, if I could find them, tell me how long they’d lived in this country. I found John and Mary still in Cascade along with their three sons. John’s arrival was listed as 1848 and Mary, or Anna M. as the census listed her, as coming in 1874. Both had their place of origination shown as Germany but since both Alsace and Schleswig were under German jurisdiction in 1900 it wasn’t unexpected. Neither the 1880 census or the 1900 census had any indication of John’s family living nearby. If he had arrived in 1848 he’d only have been 4 or 5 years old. Where was his family? What had happened to them?  And how did the two NY cousins fit in? To learn I was going to have to dig farther back into time.  The question was where?