In a news article from 16 April 1936, we learn that Jacob Wiesner had 19 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren. So, now I ponder how many great great grandchildren can also claim a direct ancestry link to Jacob Wiesner, Sr. ? I don’t know the answer to that exact question, but I do know that my son-in-law is one of Jacob’s great great grandsons. What do you know about Jacob? Are you also a direct ancestor? Please write and let me know! Any family photos, documents, links, or stories would be welcomed.
Jacob’s story started in 1842. He was born in Bavaria and arrived in the US at approx. age 2. The fact that he had a foreign birth must not have been a popular story for this family and therefore in later accounts (including a 1936 news article) there is a claim Jacob was born in New Jersey. I don’t think so. Most of the U.S. census records point to a different story and a birth in Bavaria. Why would this fact be “re-written”? That is an open ended question!
According to census records, I believe that Jacob Wiesner was born on June 28, 1842, in Bavaria. At the time of Jacob’s birth, his father, Michael “May”, was 25 and his mother, Margaretha Stehren, was 24.
Jacob’s father Michael “May” is laid to rest in Sturgeon Bay, Door County, Wisconsin. https://billiongraves.com/grave/Michael-Wiesner/15388483?referrer=myheritage#/
I believe that Jacob would have been the oldest of six children.
What can I discern about his childhood? There is so very little information on his family that might help to answer that question. The 1850 census shows the Michael Wiesner family living in Milwaukee. Jacob would have been 8 years old at the time of this census and he is not checked off as attending school. I don’t know if this is because he did not attend a school or because the census taker simply did not check this off.
An 1860 census states that Jacob (now 18 years old) is a farm laborer and that leads me to believe that he might have been working his father’s farm. That is only my hunch. This same 1860 census shows that the family now lived in West Bend, Washington County, Wisconsin. Clearly, the family had moved during the 10 years time from the time of the previous census when they had been in Milwaukee.
In the 1870 census for Michael Wiesner (Jacob’s father), Michael was then age 53. Jacob is not listed in this census record as he no longer lived at his father’s home. Michael lists his occupation as farmer. Jacob’s siblings George and Catharina were still at home and recorded to be in school. The value of Michael’s real estate was 3,000 (higher than most in the area they lived). Michael still resided in West Bend, WI.
It is finally from the 1900 census that I am able to tell when Michael immigrated to the United States. There he lists his date of immigration as 1844 and we know that his son and the study of this blog, Jacob Wiesner, was born in 1842. Thus, I conclude that Jacob was born in Bavaria and brought to the states at a very early age.
I chanced upon some newspaper articles that help tell a story about Jacob and contain the only photographs that I have found of him. From an article in 1936 we learn that as a youth, Jacob ran away from home to join forces with the Union army in the Civil War. His parents found him and brought him back home, but he would later re-enlist and served (mostly with the 48th Wisconsin) until the end of the war. ” With Sheridan he helped hold Missouri in line with the Union cause” He was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth.
Jacob and Wilheimme “Minnie” had 8 children. I have accounts for only 5 of those children. In Wilheimme’s obituary it says, “five of eight children survive their mother.” This causes me to think that there may have been child or infant deaths of the 3 children that I cannot account for in my research. So, to review the relationships to our family, Jacob and Wilheimme were direct ancestors and great great grandparents of my son-in-law. It was their child Jacob “Jake” Wiesner, Jr. who would be the great grandfather of my son-in-law. Yes, Jacob was a very popular family name!
The children of Jacob and Wilheimee “Minnie” Wiesner were:
CHILD 1 (Our direct ancestor)Jacob “Jake” Wiesner, Jr. 1879-1953 married Emma Wilhelmine Caroline Bork
CHILD 2 Christine Wiesner 1873-? (no other information available)
CHILD 3 Johanna Wiesner 1876-1957 married John Sperber
CHILD 4 William Wiesner 1880- ? Married Mary Petersilka
CHILD 5 Minnie Wiesner 1884-1948 married Fred Sperber (she married a brother of her sister Johanna’s husband)
Jacob was 77 years old at the time of his wife’s death. He lived until age 93 and became one of the oldest living Civil War veterans of his time.
In the 1910 census we find Jacob and wife Minnie living with son William (a farmer) and William’s family in Door County, Nasewaupee, WI. Jacob was 67 years old at this time and now lists his birth place in the census as New York (in other words, he changed the story). Perhaps, in the sense of an immigrant, this was a type of “birthplace” for him. Jacob does say that the birthplace of his parents was Germany.
In the 1920 census Minnie and Jacob are in their 70’s and now reside in a rented home. Once again, Jacob lists his birthplace as New York while Minnie lists hers as Germany. At this time, Jacob lists his occupation as “retired.”
In the 1930 census, Jacob is a widower and lives with his daughter Johanna “Hanna” and her husband John Sperber in Door County, WI. Finding this census was confusing as all other written news accounts say that from the time of Minnie’s death in 1920, Jacob Sr. had lived with his son Jacob “Jake” Jr. Another question to explore…
It does appear that Jacob died at the home of his son Jacob, Jr. with a legacy of being one of the first pioneer farmers and a Civil War veteran of the Union Army. Also, a direct ancestor of our family line.
It has been a pleasure to explore Jacob’s life. I hope that this story will reach out to others who share Jacob as their direct ancestor!