Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chain migration at its finest: the Daft and Jahnke families

gottfried daft pauline kading oconto falls lena michael gottlieb
The Daft family in 1935.
I've always wondered why my immigrant ancestors came to the United States, and my thoughts have usually focused on my paternal line, the Dafts. With my great-grandmother and great-great-grandparents arriving in 1912, they are the most recent immigrants in my direct family. Having recently solved part of the puzzle, it turns out that the Dafts were only the last link in a much longer chain that involves family, family of family, and family of family of family.

There may be more out there to discover, but for now, the chain begins with Gustave Carl Witzke. Gustave was born in Russia on August 1, 1873, and arrived in the United States on May 1, 1888. His sister's husband, Adolph Jesse, came next in July 1892, then his sister Eleanora (Witzke) Jesse on May 2, 1893, followed by his younger brother Edward Witzke on May 25, 1898.

On July 11, 1899, Gustave Witzke was living in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, when he sponsored his mother Wilhelmine (Selert) Witzke Jahnke and stepfather Karl Ludwig Jahnke to join him. Karl and Wilhelmine didn't stay in Cleveland for long, moving to Roberts, Ford County, Illinois, by 1907. They also took more Americanized names - in the 1910 census, Karl became Charley and Wilhelmine became Minnie.

Fall 1907 was a busy time for our chain. On October 17, 1907, Karl paid for his brother Albert Friedrich Jahnke to join him in Roberts, followed on November 26, 1907 by Albert's wife Emilie (Schmidt) Jahnke and four of their children, Augusta (Jahnke) Rohwedder, Albert Jahnke, Anna Augusta (Jahnke) Fuoss, and Ida Bertha Louise (Jahnke) Hasbargen. And less than a week later, on December 1, 1907, Karl, Albert, and their families were joined in America by Gottfried Daft, the stepson of their sister Carolina Wilhelmine (Jahnke) Daft.
carolina jahnke daft cycow oconto falls
Carolina Daft was an
important link in the chain.

Gottfried - my great-grandfather - having had his passage paid for by his stepuncle, went right to work saving up money to bring over the rest of his family. He hit his first goal when, on March 23, 1909, his brother Gottlieb Michael Daft landed in New York and joined him in Roberts. Though the Jahnkes remained in the area around Roberts, where their descendants still live, the two Daft brothers went on the move. In the 1910 census, Gottlieb was enumerated at a lumber camp in Lakewood, Oconto County, Wisconsin (I have not been able to find Gottfried in that census). Oconto County was heavily populated by ethnic Germans coming from the same region that the Dafts and Jahnkes had come from - what then was Russia, but is now eastern Poland.

While the Daft brothers prepared to move their family to the United States, their sister, brother, parents, and other relatives continued their lives in Russia. Pauline (Kading) Grams Daft, the woman Gottfried had promised to marry, married a man named Grams, with whom she had a daughter, Emma. Mr. Grams (first name unknown to me) died soon after the wedding, leaving Pauline and her daughter to stay with the Daft family, who had not lost their attachment to the woman who had been engaged to their son.

gottfried daft pauline kading keding cycow grams
The marriage banns of Gottfried
Daft and Pauline (Kading) Grams.
In 1912, Gottfried was ready for the next step. He returned to the town of Cyców, Cyców, Łęczna, Lubelskie, Poland to bring his parents to a new life. Only one thing stood in his way. His stepmother Carolina had raised Gottfried and his siblings since their mother died when they were very young. And Carolina refused to go without Pauline. So in late April or early May of 1912, Gottfried and Pauline were married in Chełm, Chełm, Chełm, Lubelskie, Poland, and only weeks later, the family - Gottfried, his bride, his one year old stepdaughter, his father Michael Daft, and his stepmother - was boarding the S.S. Neckar in Bremen, Germany, bound for Philadelphia. They arrived on May 28, 1912, seventy-five years to the day before I was born.

In the meantime, Albert Jahnke sponsored his daughter Mathilda (Jahnke) Preising Morrow Modlin. She arrived in New York City on April 23, 1909. Karl Jahnke also sponsored his sister's foster son, Arthur Richert, who arrived on September 12, 1912.

After the Daft family had all settled in the area around Oconto Falls, Oconto County, Wisconsin, there were still two more links to forge in the Jahnke-Daft migration chain. In March 1913, Gottfried sponsored the husband of his wife's half-sister, Johann Christoph Teske, who lived with Gottfried, Pauline, and their family for several years. Johann tragically died in 1919, before his wife and children were able to join him in America.

Later in 1913, Gottfried sponsored his sister, Anna Christine (Daft) Kardoskee, her husband Julius Kardoskee, and their young children Ida Hedwig (Kardoskee) Fischer and Emil Edmund Kardoskee. The Kardoskees arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on June 6, 1913 and settled in Oconto Falls soon after. Gottfried also sponsored several other distant cousins, friends, and former neighbors, some of whom lived with his family for brief periods.

And in all these travels, the family connections were not broken. My grandfather - Gottfried's son - Henry William "Hank" Daft had a friend named Alfred Herbert "Al" Fuoss who lived in Illinois. It is only recently that I realized Al Fuoss was not only a friend, he was family. Al's grandfather was Albert Jahnke, my great-grandfather's stepuncle, making Al and Hank second cousins.

All told, more than 20 members of the Jahnke and Daft families were able to immigrate to America, and their descendants in this country number in the hundreds. All because of Gustave Witzke, the first link in the chain.

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