Telling my family's stories
On my granny’s side of the family, Augustine (or Augustin, Augustus, Gustave, etc.) Oreans is, except for maybe his wife, the most recent immigrant. He stands out for his path from Baden, where he was born on 30 December 1833, to London, New York, and southern Ontario, where his family settled and he met Bridget Ryan, to Ohio, where he finally settled down in the early 1860s and died 18 September 1906 in Toledo.
Augustine was born, as best as I have been able to establish, the third child and first son of Daniel J. Oreans. I don’t have any records of them in Baden, as yet; the first time Augustine is on my record radar is when he and his family arrived in New York in late 1847. Note that this is just a year before the 1848 revolution in Germany. I imagine things weren’t too settled back home, and the family, like the country as a whole, was feeling the squeeze. On November 12, their family was listed on the passenger list of the American Eagle, arriving from London:
Daniel (57), Franzeska (39), Sally Ann, Anna (15), Augustine (13), Franz (8), and Annalisa, who appears to have died at sea, are all listed. Augustin was about the age where most kids these days start high school. Later records show he was literate in English; I don’t know if he was also educated back in Baden.
Unlike many of my other ancestors, the Oreans family did not stay in the US, but made their way slightly north and west to settle in Ontario, just above Lake Erie and west of Toronto in the rural township of Wellesley in Waterloo county. By 1851 Daniel and Franceska, with Augustine, Frank, and newly born Anna Mary, were settled there and enumerated on the census.
In trying to understand the Augustine and his family’s migration path, I have found it has helped some to look at what his siblings did – where and when they moved.
Hints from Siblings
Augustine’s oldest sister, Catharine, married Michael Reidel in Germany and they immigrated a year before the rest of her family. Two of their children were born in Columbus, Ohio, before they also moved to Wellesley. Did Augustine also go to Ohio when he first came to North America? When he moved to Ohio in 1861, was he moving “back”?
Susanna Oreans appears to have immigrated with her family, probably as Anna. She married Thomas Linseman in . . . you guessed it . . . Columbus, Ohio. This was in September 1851, after the rest of the family had moved to Wellesley. Unless Susanna travelled by herself to stay with her sister Catherine, this suggests that Columbus really was the first stopping point for the whole family, with Susanna staying behind when her parents and younger siblings left for Ontario. Thomas and Susanna moved to Wellington county, Ontario in the mid 1850s.
Francis Carl “Frank” was on the ship with Augustine, and on the 1851 census in Waterloo. In the fall of 1861, however, he married Ottilia Huber in . . . the county Columbus is in. Maybe he moved along with Augustine and Bridget? In fact, in the 1870 city directory for Columbus, Augustine and Frank are living just across the street from each other:
Anna Mary, who appears to have been born in Ontario in 1847 or 1849, stayed in Wellesley township all her life as far as I can tell. She married August Herzog.
Life in Wellesley
According to information gathered on the 1851 census, Augustine’s took up farming in the rural community, which was a change from his occupation of miller in Germany. They lived in a one and half story log cabin.
The Oreans family had arrived right in the middle of the initial settlement of the area, and very much fit the profile, being German and Catholic. The 1851 Canada Census, unlike the 1850 American counterpart, indicates each family’s religious affiliation, and the Oreans family is unique among my many German ancestral branches in being Catholic. Augustin’s parents were members of the St. Clements Roman Catholic church, established in 1852. Both of Augustine’s parents died in this parish.
The Oreans crew probably lived not far from the town of Heidelberg (not coincidentally named after the city in Baden). If you look at this 1885 map of Waterloo county, you’ll notice all the other German town names in the area: Baden, Mannheim, Freiburg, Strassburg, etc. etc.!
Augustine as a young adult
I often wonder what Augustin’s life was like in the Wellesley area. Did he farm with his father? Did he have other training? Why did he decide to leave and move to the city? Because he did . . . though the records are scarce, we do have several of him in Brantford, ON, about 40 miles away. They start with have a record of Augustine marrying Bridget Ryan – a young Irish, apparently orphaned, woman, on May 15 1856 in St. Basil’s. Augustus names his parents as Daniel Oreans and Catherine Stuke.
The marriage of course raises another question: how did they meet? It seem like it must have been through the church, since they didn’t share a mother tongue or cultural background.
Augustus and Bridget had two children in Brantford, Catherine, b. 18 April 1857; and Anna Maria, b. 28 Feb 1859. While these two were still toddlers, and with Bridget likely expecting their third child, they moved yet again — this time to Ohio. Due to impeccable “ancestor” timing, they managed to avoid both the US census in 1860 and the Canada census in 1861! In addition to their third child Therese being born in Columbus, I also have Augustine in the 1862 city directory for Columbus:
The Civil War
One thing Augustine didn’t manage to avoid, however, was service in the Civil War. Although few battles were fought in Ohio during the Civil War, the state mustered an enormous number of troops, including this 3rd-great-grandfather of mine, who enlisted August 5th, 1862 in Company C of the 95th Ohio Infantry Regiment. Here’s a description of the regiment from ohiocivilwar.com:
On August 20, 1862, officials dispatched the 95th to Lexington, Kentucky. The regiment then advanced to Richmond, Kentucky with nine thousand other Union soldiers, driving Confederate soldiers from this community. On August 30, 1862, a Confederate army under the command of General Kirby Smith attacked the greatly outnumbered Union soldiers at Richmond. At the Battle of Richmond, the Southerners drove the Northerners from their position, resulting in the capture of 120 members of the 95th. . . At the Battle of Richmond, the 95th had eight men killed, forty-seven wounded, and six hundred soldiers captured.
On November 20, 1862, Confederate officials exchanged the captured soldiers of the 95th. The regiment drilled and reorganized until May 25, 1863, when the organization moved to Memphis, Tennessee.
As you can see, this regiment had significant casualties early on. Augustine was one of these, being mustered out Jan 8, 1863, just over 5 months after he joined. I don’t know much about his short military career. (I know where those records are, but I still have to come up with the money for them! 🙂 ) I’d really like to find out where he was, if he was one of the captured or wounded in the Battle of Richmond — I have to guess he was when I consider his early discharge! I wonder how he was injured, and, since he was unable to return to service, how it impacted him the rest of his life.
I do have a few hints from a short stay in the Sandusky Military Home (one of several nursing homes for veterans). On the home records, they have an entry for Augustine Orians showing his military history, including the fact that he was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate, that he had a pension of $12, and that he was suffering from rheumatism.
The home was also kind enough to record details of his home life, including his birthdate, his living family including nearest living relative (he listed his daughter Catherine), and his home, which he clearly considered Hillsboro.
Augustine was only in the home for about a year, and then was discharged, when I think he went back to family.
Bridget Ryan died in late 1879, apparently somewhat unexpectedly. I suspect it was due to complications in childbirth, since it was about two years after their last recorded child was born, but I’m not sure about that. Augustine never remarried, though he was only in his mid-forties. Neither did he maintain a separate household as his children reached adulthood; rather, he appears to have spent time staying with his daughters in turn – Anna (Oreans) Volk and her family in Toledo; Catherine (Oreans) Maher and her family in Hillsboro and Toledo; Therese (Oreans) Phibbs in Toledo. Although official records place him in Toledo, there are multiple mentions of him in the local Hillsoboro newspaper, so he seems to have maintained his community connections there. He was a labourer, a teamster, which probably meant long hours and not a huge amount of pay. He remained a practicing Catholic throughout his life, and all of his children, except Mary Jane, also married in the church.
Augustus died on September 18th, 1906 in Toledo of Heart Disease. Two days later he was buried back in Hillsboro. A short note in The News-Herald of Hillsboro, notes on Thursday, September 27th “Augustus Oreans and M. Maher, who were called here last week by the death of the former’s father, Augustus Oreans, returned to Toledo on Sunday.”
Because we don’t have any of the German records so far, I’m not sure if the Catherine Stuke recorded on Augustine’s marriage record and the Eva Stark recorded on his death record are the same woman as Franceska Staeger who was clearly the mother in the family at the time they immigrated, and who died in Wellesley twp. It seems possible, since the last names are close, and may have been recorded by people who did not speak German, leading to all kinds of mistakes. Since many Germans have multiple given names, Eva and Catherina and Franceska could in fact be Eva Catherina Franceska or Catherina Franceska Eva or Franceska Eva Catherina or so on. But especially given that Franceska appears to be about 16-18 years younger than Daniel, it’s also very possible that she is his second wife, and Eva Catherina is his first.
A question for anyone reading this: If you’re descended from Augustine, or any of his siblings, do you have any records where a mother’s name is given? Or any records where any of the Oreans family was located in Baden?