|St. Birgitta, Weiberg
Their first 5 children were born in Germany: Johann Wilhelm in 1844; Aloysius Louis in 1848; Elizabeth in 1851; Mary in 1853; and Herman Conrad in 1855.
On 13 April 1857, a travel pass from the Royal Prussian government was issued to Conrad, granting permission for him and his family to emigrate to the United States. The pass indicated that Conrad was 5’6” in height with blackish hair and blue eyes, and was only valid for 40 days. The Woerdehoff family of 7 sailed from Bremerhaven aboard the sailing packet Ernestine the latter part of April 1857. There were 309 passengers on board the ship, which arrived in New Orleans on 17 June 1857.
|Ernestine sailing vessel
The Ernestine began its life as the U.S. ship Columbus, built in New York in 1834. These boats were called packets because their original purpose was for shipping mail and freight. In 1847, the Columbus was purchased by a Bremen firm, which renamed her the Ernestine.
|Ernestine passenger list
While the passenger list showed that the final destination of the Woerdehoffs was St. Louis, the family instead continued traveling up the Mississippi River to Dubuque. Many German immigrants entered the United States through the port of New Orleans and traveled by boat on this same route because they had heard of German settlements in Iowa, with the additional attraction of Catholic churches being built there.
|possible photo of Conrad ~1860
While the family became some of the first members of St. Boniface Church in New Vienna, they joined St. Francis Xavier Parish in Dyersville when that church was completed in 1862. They worshipped at St. Francis until Saints Peter and Paul parish was constructed in Petersburg in 1868.
Margaretha and Conrad had 5 more children who were born on the family farm: Margaretha in 1858; Anton in 1860; Bernadine in 1860 (Anton and Bernadine were twins); Catherine (whom I wrote about in Week 12) in 1862; and Henry in 1866.
|Conrad and Margaretha's children
Conrad died of pneumonia on 1 May 1870 at the age of 60. He is reportedly buried at St. Francis Cemetery in Dyersville, though there is no tombstone for him. Quite probably there was no money to purchase a stone. His widow, with 9 children still at home, managed to keep the farm and even pay off the mortgage. Margaretha died on 7 March 1893 at the age of 72. She is buried in the cemetery at Saints Peter and Paul.
|Margaretha Wübbeke Woerdehoff