Seidel Family History
This is a history of the Seidel family of Swauger Valley Road, at Minford (Scioto County), Ohio, descendants of Henry Seidel who emigrated from Baden-Baden, Germany in 1852, along with his brother, Benedict.
The peak year for German emigration to America was 1851. That year alone, more than two hundred and twenty-one thousand persons emigrated to America, most for economic reasons, but many also for religious persecution, and political oppression.
Baden-Baden Germany, which is listed as Henry's birthplace, is in southwest Germany on the Rhine River. The Seidels were Roman Catholic. After the Reformation, most Catholics lived in the southern areas of Germany or the Rhineland, with the rest of Germany being mainly Lutheran.
Prussia was the largest of the German States; its capitol was Berlin. Prussia occupied more than half of Germany including much of the north central areas as well as the state of Hohenzollern in southwest Germany.
Before coming to America, Henry served for two years as an aide to a general in the Prussian Army. Prussian armies were among the most rigidly drilled and disciplined in the world. The Prussian generals owned most of the land. Men who worked the farms had no land of their own, and served in the Prussian army about eight or nine months each year. Schools were designed to make people better soldiers; as a result, more people learned to read and write in Prussia than any other country in Europe in the 1800's. The people had little voice in their government and as they became more educated, they grew increasingly dissatisfied. Beginning in 1844 harvests were poor and business activity decreased. Many Germans were hungry and out of work and they began to revolt. Perhaps it was due to these circumstances that Henry and Benedict Seidel decided to emigrate to America.
Ocean voyage during this time involved unbelievable hardships and suffering - overcrowding, improper food and water, typhoid, scurvy, pox, etc. A fast-sailing ship in the 1850's took at the very least six weeks from Germany to America, but there many delays which usually made the trip much longer. The journey down the Rhine to Rotterdam included passing 26 custom houses. Ships were often detained at each of these, forcing passengers to spend much of their money. This part of the journey alone sometimes took 4 to 6 weeks. When they arrived in Holland, they were likewise detained 5 to 6 weeks.
The second stage of the journey was from Rotterdam to an English port where they would again be detained for up to 2 weeks waiting to pass through custom houses or waiting for favorable winds. From there, it took from 8 to 12 weeks to reach Philadelphia. Many people arrived very ill and without funds; many did not survive.
Such was the case of one young man named Knecht who was traveling to America with his wife, Catherine (Daniel) Knecht. They were expecting a child. Mr. Knecht died during the voyage and was buried at sea. Traveling on the same ship was a young man named Henry Seidel, who later married the widow Knecht. The child, Leopold, was born December 26, 1852. Because of the circumstances of Lepold's birth and his father's death, we are able to pinpoint the exact year of emigration as 1852.
The Seidels first lived around Altoona (Blair County), Pennsylvania, so it is likely that they entered the country through the Philadelphia Harbor (the busiest colonial seaport at that time). The port of departure from Germany is unknown.
The 1870 Census lists Henry (Sidle) with his second wife, Mary (Brooker) living in Harrison Twp., Scioto County. Both Henry and his wife, Mary, are listed as 35. Henry's age (80) was given by a family member for his official death record in 1898. If this is correct, his birth would have been around 1818. Also, if he had been only 35 in 1870, he would have been only 17 at the time of immigration, and this is not likely because he had already served two years in the military before emigrating.
[Ed. note: Subsequent research has determined that Henry was born 12 Jul 1821, in Oberschopfheim in the state of Baden, Germany. He would have been 49 on the 1870 Census, and 77 at his death in 1898.]
Henry worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania and Kentucky. His grandson, also Henry, remembers that his grandfather worked as a builder of charcoal furnaces. He also said that the family had lived at a place called Honeywell, KY (near Ashland) around 1868. However, Henry married Mary Brooker in 1861 in Ohio, so perhaps Henry had to move back and forth to find work. They lived for a while at Scioto Furnace, then at Tick Ridge, and finally moved to Harrison Furnace in 1882 where they remained until their deaths.
Henry obtained some land through the Homestead Act which was passed by Congress in May of 1862, which provided that any person over 21 who was the head of a family, and either a citizen or an alien who intended to become a citizen, could obtain 160 acres of public land if he lived on the land for five years and improved it.
Henry's grandson (William's son, Henry) remembers his father's and Aunt Elizabeth's stories about the original log home at the homestead on the same property which is still owned by Henry's grandson, Karl, which is located on the Swauger Valley Road at Minford, Ohio. The first log home was smaller and closer to the road than the current one. Henry's grandson told of a large fireplace along the north wall of the house in which they would burn an entire log. He said they would hitch a horse to the log and drag it inside. he also remembered his father and Aunt Elizabeth's stories about sleeping in the loft on bedding made from corn husks stuffed into bags to form a mattress of sorts.
The current home was originally a log home as well, but is now covered with wood siding. It is approximately 100 years old at the time of this writing in 1995.
After settling on the land that they received through the Homestead Act, Henry began farming. He and Catherine Seidel had four children. Catherine Daniel Seidel apparently died between 1859 and 1861, after her last child, Josephine, was born and before April 1861, when Henry married his second wife, Mary Brooker Seidel. Perhaps she died when her last child was born?
Henry is found in the 1870 Census with the following people living at home: (Information for the census was not always correct; information was taken from whomever happened to be available - Henry and Mary were both older than 35 at this time).
Henry and his second wife, Mary (Brooker) Seidel had six children:
Four of Henry's children died within 9 days during the winter of 1875 due to a smallpox epidemic. They are buried at St. John's Church; both the church and its records were destroyed by fire. Two children, Clara and Lizzie, also came down with the disease, but survived.
Henry died of congestive chill on 11/11/1898 at the age of 80 (from official probate court death records). (Church records say he died in July). He was buried at St. John's. His parent's names are not listed on either record.
Mary Brooker Seidel died of cardiac dropsy on August 22, 1915 at age 85 yrs, 6 mos, 10 days (born about 2/12/1830, which means that her age on the 1870 Census (age 35) was incorrect). Her death record indicates she was born in Pennsylvania. She is also buried at St. John's. Mary and Henry were married in 1861 by Father Donahue, who founded St. Peter's in 1856 (Porter Twp., Scioto Co.). Mary's church death record says her birthplace was Germany. Her parent's names were not listed on her death record (at St. Peter's Church).
William Seidel (son of Henry and Catherine Daniel Seidel)
William was born 8/19/1859 in Ohio. On 12/24/1886 he married Dora Steward at Coalton, KY. Dora was born on 2/1/1865, died 3/23/1900. She was the daughter of Charles (1834-1891) and Emma (1834-1905) Steward of Beuchtel (Athens County), Ohio. The Stewards supposedly ran a general store there. William and Dora also settled there after their marriage. They had four children, all born at Beuchtel:
Dora died a few days after the birth of Karl, her fourth child. William took the children to his family home in Scioto County where they lived with their grandmother, Mary Brooker Seidel and their Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle John (William's sister and brother, neither of whom had married; both lived at the family home until their deaths.) William left the children at the old home and went to work in the coal fields in West Virginia. He died of cerebral atrophy at the family home on 8/24/1920.
The children grew up in the old family home. William's son Karl married Eva Marie Snyder, a young woman who was a teacher at the one room school house at Harrison Furnace where she taught all of the grade levels in one room, at the same time. Karl and Eva raised their family at the old home. Aunt Lizzie remained with them until she died in 1955. The family raised their own food. At one time, they operated a dairy. With a lot of hard work, they provided a good life for their large family.
In 1992, at the age of 92, after living alone in the old house for about 10 years after Eva died, Karl finally left the old home where he had spent his entire lifetime and went to live with his son and daughter-in-law, David and Phyllis Seidel, just across the road and a short distance from the old family home. In March, 1995, he will be 95 years old.
For a while, the old home stood empty and it had a lonely, abandoned look about it until Karl's granddaughter, David and Phyllis' daughter, Amy and her family, moved into the home. Once again it rings with the laughter of Seidel children and shelters the descendants of Henry Seidel.
Benedict Seidel (Brother who emigrated with Henry)
Benedict's wife, Mary Ann, and son, William, came to America with [Henry]. According to Benedict's age on later census records, he was about 36 years old at the time of emigration (born 1816). The Census records also indicate he was born in Baden. Son William was also born in Baden about 1849.
Although no Seidels are listed on the 1860 Census of Scioto County, Ohio, they were there in 1861 as the History of Scioto County says that Benedict was a trustee and building committee member that year at St. John's Catholic Church at Tick Ridge.
Benedict's wife, Mary Ann, died of consumption in Bloom Twp., Scioto Co., on 2/29/1880, at the age of 68 yrs, 2 mos, 15 days (born about 2/14/1812). That same year, the Census shows Benedict living with son, William and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth (Will) Seidel. At that time, William and Elizabeth had three children (John 4, Annie 3, and Frank 1). Frank died of pneumonia at age 21 on April 14, 1900, buried at St. John's.
Benedict died in 1888 on August 20, at the age of 72 yrs, 6 mos, 8 days (born about Feb. 12, 1816). Buried at St. John's. Also at St. John's is grandson, George (son of William) who died eight days after Benedict's death. (Gravestone Inscriptions from Madison and Harrison Twps, Ohio Historical Society.