Gottfried or Henry as he called himself was the first of our Nutsch immigrant family to leave Germany in search of a better life. People knew him as “Old Henry” not to be confused with his son, Henry Hannah, who was known as “Young Henry” and “Rooks Co. Hank”. When you realize the history of his native country and those that his family endured during the first years in this new world you must conclude that life in Germany had to have been pretty horrific if this was considered better.
Gottfried was born 5 Sep 1844 and raised in Ohlau, Schlesien, Prussia. Prussia has become a byword for Germany. It was first developed on the southeastern Baltic shore distinct from the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire hence many of our German ancestors were Roman Catholic. Prussia’s association with central Europe comes from the Hohenzollern dynasty, which came to rule both it and most of north Germany and helped forged areas into a major European power.
Culture in Germany at the time was rigid. As previously discussed, the young men were all required to have a trade and Gottfried was a Furrier. My Grandfather Henry Nutsch told that they were always at war over something and they were always building an army. At a young age boys were made into soldiers with no other choice. The soldiers were treated very badly and with unreasonable requirements. According to oral history passed down through the generations, one day Gottfried saw a group of soldiers ordered to walk out into the water (supposedly to teach them to swim). These soldiers were ordered to continue walking into deep water. Those that could not swim and attempted to return to shallow water were shot or shot at. As Grandpa told it that once they had a good army, like a well oiled machine…they would have to go out and test it. Gottfried, knowing that he was of draft age, and due to be drafted at anytime, made the decision to leave Germany and start a new life in America.
In the middle half of the nineteenth century, more than one-half of the population of IRELAND emigrated to the United States. So did an equal number of GERMANS. Most of them came because of civil unrest, severe unemployment or almost inconceivable hardships at home. From 1820 to 1870, over seven and a half million immigrants came to the United States — more than the entire population of the country in 1810. Nearly all of them came from northern and western Europe — about a third from Ireland and almost a third from Germany.
IN the decade from 1845 to 1855, more than a million Germans fled to the United States to escape economic hardship. They also sought to escape the political unrest caused by riots, rebellion and eventually a revolution in 1848. The Germans had little choice as only the United States and few others allowed German immigration. Unlike the Irish, the Germans generally had enough money to journey to the Midwest in search of farmland and work. The largest settlements of Germans were in New York City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Milwaukee. German immigrants became known a reputation for being hardworking, thrifty, and law-abiding people. The Germans made numerous contributions to American culture, including inventions, traditions, sports and food. The flooding of German immigrants to America was the result of long-term social, religious, and economic changes occurring throughout the German states and news of the conditions in the US seemed much more favorable. .
With the vast numbers of German and Irish coming to America, hostility to them erupted. Partly because of religion with most being of the Roman Catholic faith, and parltly because of the political opposition. Most immigrants living in cities became Democrats because the party focused on the needs of commoners. Americans in low-paying jobs were threatened and sometimes replaced by groups willing to work for almost nothing in order to survive. Signs that read NINA — “NO IRISH NEED APPLY” — sprang up throughout the country.
Ethnic and ANTI-CATHOLIC RIOTING occurred in many northern cites, the largest occurring in Philadelphia in 1844 during a period of economic depression. Protestants, Catholics and local militia fought in the streets. Sixteen were killed, dozens were injured and over 40 buildings were demolished. “NATIVIST” political parties sprang up. The most influential of these parties, the KNOW NOTHINGS, was anti-Catholic and wanted to extend the amount of time it took immigrants to become citizens and voters. They also wanted to prevent foreign-born people from ever holding public office.
Though we have always referred to ourselves as coming from German ancestry. We are actually Prussian as Germany didn’t actually exist before 1871 but this area later became Poland, so it’s probably better for us to claim Euopean as our derivative. According to the information published by Phyllis Reedy in the Reedy, Schuessler, Nutsch and Kochs of Washington Co. , Kansas. Gottfried arrived in New York on April 13, 1866, aboard the Athena, under Captain Shilling. The Breman records were destroyed by fire, so no departing German manifest have been found from the Bremen port. Oral history, in reference to this part of Gottfried’s life, has two versions. One is that he was a stowaway and the other is that he worked his passage way to America. Most likely both are true. Either way he was listed on the arriving list in New York as: Gottfried Nutsch, age 21, male, occupation: Tailor (furrier), Destination: USA. Gottfried arrived in his new country penniless, could not speak English, and knew no one in this strange land. The first year he spent in New York he almost starved. The next year he went to Wisconsin and worked in the lumber business, and barely survived the winter. This does not coincide with the information I have found as you will see below.
In the mid 1800’s there were “Immigrant trains” organized for the western movement. The government gave the immigrants land grants to homestead, for the purpose of populating and building the nation. This opportunity was offered to other immigrants as the railroads expanded further west. It is believed that Gottfried came west on one of those trains. He received a land grant from the Concordia Land Office on May 20, 1862.(note the above date of his arrival) The description of this grant is as follows: north west quarter of section eighteen in township three south of range one west in the district of lands subject to sale at Concordia Kansas, containing one hundred and fifty acres and eleven hundredths of an acre. Gotfried Nutsch Land grant
Gottfried’s first homestead was 150 acres in Republic Co., Kansas near Cuba. He had a neighbor close by on another 160 acre homestead, Louis Stulle, who had married Barbara Rychtarik on April 11, 1873 in Republic Co., Kansas. According to their marriage license, Louis was age 29 and Barbara was 17. This marriage was short lived as soon after their marriage there was a prairie fire and Louis died as a result of fighting that fire. Barbara stayed on their 160 acre homestead and on November 30, 1873, Barbara and Gottfried were married. Their marriage license reads: GH Nutsch, of Republic Co., age 26 years, and Barbara Stulle of Republic Co., age 18, were married November 30, 1873. There is conflicting information regarding Barbara’s date of birth. Inscribed on Barbara and Gottfried’s tombstone is Gottfried H Nutsch Sept. 5 1844 – January 14,1928. And Barbara Rychtarik January 1 1847 – August 20, 1944.
In the Washington Co. records listing the people that came into the county each year, G. H. Nutsch is shown to have arrived in Washington County in 1873. He is also listed in another book of records as first arriving in Washington Co., in 1879. Regardless of the exact date, the family did move from Republic Co., to Washington Co. Their new home was in Lowe Township, near Morrowville. They built a two room dug out on the land and started their life as Kansas farmers.
There has been some mention through family ties that Gottfried was a boot legger during the prohibition. One of my favorite stories that has been passed down was that Gottfried, as you can see from his pictures, always wore a long beard. During one of his episodes of over indulgence he ticked Barbara off royally with some shinanigan. After he went to sleep or passed out whichever the case may be, she cut one side of his beard off really short. When he awoke and saw what she had done he simply said ” if she likes it that way that’s the way I will wear it” .
In 1877 Gottfried applied for naturalization papers. This was important in order to be able to help the rest of his family come to America. The first to arrive on May 26, 1880 was his sister and her family, Robert and Marie (Nutsch) Seidel, with one daughter that was eleven months old. In succeeding years, all of Gottfried’s siblings with the exception of his sister Rose, arrived in America. At least three, possibly more, came to his and Barbara’s two room dug out home.
Gottfried and Barbara became large land owners in Kansas. It has been said they owned over 4,000 acres. This also included the land in Rooks Co., Kansas, however that is oral history. The records show Barbara’s name on most of the land in Washington Co.,
Although Gottfried was a furrier by trade in Germany, he became a cattleman and farmer in America. In later years Gottfried and Barbara built a larger house and a barn. They were also among the families that built the St. Peter and Paul Catholic church in 1886-1887.
Gottfried and Barbara’s Children
Joseph Nutsch who married Marry Elizabeth Coufal
Katherine “Katie” Nutsch married John Keperta
Marylee “Marlinka’ who died as an infant.
Henry Hannah Nutsch “young Henry” or ” Rooks Co. Henry” married Eleanor Rea
Benjamin Franklin Nutsch married Christina Killover and Bessie King.
Adolph Edward never married and died in an automoblile accident.
Mary Barbara Nutsch married Frank Henry Weir
Arena “Annie” Lillian Nutsch married Frank Matthew Burke
Maude Agnes Nutsch married Frank Joseph Zach
Wilhelmina “Minnie” Nutsch married to William M. Burnham
I personally photographed all the graves at the St. Peter and Paul Cemetery near Morrowville, Ks. for find a grave and for my own personal records and I found only two graves in the cemetery that were NOT related to our Nutschs. In saying that I might add that I was not able to find a relationship. One in particular was a Mueller…which I suspect could be a cousin to our family but I have not found the link as of yet.
I hope you enjoyed the read. If so leave me a comment below or share a story if you have one.
As Always, Happy Hunting
The Pierce family Historian