Wilhelm Heinrich Doerr and Anna Druffner Doerr
WILHELM HEINRICH DÖRR, son of Johann Adam Dörr and Maria Nahrgang Dörr
- born: 28 May 1827 in Niederklein, Kirchhain, Upper Hesse, German Confederation
- died: 17 Sep 1886 at the age of 58 in Festina, Winneshiek County, Iowa, USA (at the age of 58
- married: MARY ANN “ANNA” DRUFNER on 02 Jun 1850 in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA
MARY ANN “ANNA” DRUFNER, daughter of Johanna Drufner
- born: 26 Jul 1826 in Würtenburg, Roghwil, German Confederation
- died: on 23 Feb 1908 at the age of 81 in La Crosse, La Crosse County, Wisconsin, USA7
Wilhelm also went by the name of Wilhelm Heinrich Doerr, Wilhelm Henry Doerr and William Doerr. American records show the spelling Dörr as Dorr, Derr and Doerr. He had many older step siblings and an old brother and two older sisters when he was born.
Wilhelm Doerr's Correct Birth Year
All of the family records and even his tombstone shows that Wilhelm was born in 1828. He is listed as 18 on the passenger list of the Ship Johann Conrad that arrived in New York on May 30th, 1848, just two days after his birthday. If his age was 18 when the ship sailed, his birth year would be 1827. If when he arrived it would be 1828.
Thanks to Harald Dörr, who currently resides in Niederklein, I was able to obtain a copy of the pages where his birth was recorded by the church. This was clearly recorded under the year “Anno” 1827 and I have a copy of the full page in my possession.
Wilhelm and Anna Doerr Stories
Brief Timeline of Life Events
Wilhelm Heinrich Dörr was born May 28, 1827 in Niederklein. His father was 53 years old and his mother was 39 years old when he was born. He had at least 5 living older step-siblings and 3 older siblings living at the time he was born. His younger brother, Christian, was born when he was 2 years old. His father died at the age of 67 when Wilhelm was 14 years old.
Wilhelm Dörr left Bremen, Germany and arrived in New York May 30, 1846, just 2 days after his 19th birthday, on the ship Johann Conrad. The ship manifest1 shows him as
Wilh. Dorr, age: 18, sex: male, occupation: mason.
It appears he traveled to America on his own. From New York, he traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His brother Christian Dörr came to America two years later and became bartender before running his own Restaurant / Oyster Bar at 17 S. 15th street in Philadelphia. His sister, Elizabeth Dörr, also emigrated to America and settled in Philadelphia from about 1850-1854 with her husband Henry Ruehl.
Philadelphia is where Wilhelm met and married Anna Drufner. They lived in Philadelphia from 1846 to 1854. Not much is known about their time in Philadelphia. According to family lore, he made several attempts at different occupations, while in Philadelphia, but he must have saved up enough money to buy a substantial amount of property in Iowa by 1854. Philadelphia is where their first three children, Helena, Elisabeth and Mary Ann were born.
On March 19, 1852, Wilhelm was naturalized. His Naturalization Certificate shows his name as William Derr.
In the fall of 1854, William and Anna relocated the family to their farm in Military Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa. There are no family stories I could find about how they traveled or how they lived during the first few years, so I can only speculate. They most likely lived in a temporary cabin until he had time and resources to build a more permanent home. In addition to making sure they had adequate living quarters, they would also have to improve the land for farming..
The family became members of St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Seven Dolors Catholic Church in Festina and were active in this community. Their children would attend St. Mary’s Parochial school.
On November 5, 1855, just a year after moving to Iowa, they lost their daughter Mary Ann at the age of 1 year 7 months old. A month later on December 5th, their only son, William (Jr.) was born.
Between 1859 and 1868, they had six more daughters, Anna Mary, Catherine Caroline, Julia Pauline, Rosalie, Catherine Mary and Unknown daughter.
Wilhelm was 32 in 1861 when the civil war started. Although he did not serve, having a large family to support, but he most likely contributed to the war effort through the farm. Iowa sent large supplies of food to the armies and the eastern cities. The draft was not used in Iowa during the Civil War because Iowa had twelve thousand more men that the quota.
On March 23, 1863, they lost their daughter Elisabeth at the age of 10 years old.
Sometime before 1867 they lost their daughter Catherine Caroline before the age of 5. Death date unknown. Note that I am assuming that she died before their child Catherine Mary was born. It was not uncommon to name a child after a deceased child.
On June 2, 1866 they lost their daughter Rosalie at the age of 1 year 2 months old.
In 1868, another daughter was born and died shortly after birth.
On April 2, 1885, their daughter, Julia Pauline, wife of Theodore Uhlenhake, passed away at the age of 21. By this time, she had two daughters.
Wilhelm died at the age of 59 on September 17, 1886 in Festina, Winneshiek County, Iowa and is buried at St. Mary’s – Our Lady of Seven Dolors Catholic Church Cemetery at Festina, Iowa.
On June 26, 1890, Anna lost another daughter, Anna May “Sister Sebastian” Doerr, at the age of 31 years old.
Anna moved to St. Francis Hospital, La Crosse, Wisconsin where she died on February 23rd, 1908 at the age of 81. She is buried at the Catholic Cemetery on Losey Blvd., La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The following notes are quoted from a Family tree worksheet (author(s) unknown):
“Wilhelm and Anna (Drufner) Doerr were the maternal great grandparents of Rose (Burbach) Sudbeck. Wilhelm Doerr was born on May 28th, 1828, in Niederklein, Duke of Hessian Cassel, Darmistadt, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1836 [May 30, 1846] and settled in Pennsylvania.”
“On June 2nd, 1850 Wilhelm married Anna Druffner in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Anna was born in Württemberg, Roghwil, Germany, on July 26th, 1826. Wilhelm and Anna remained in Pennsylvania for about seven years before moving to Military Township Winneshiek County, Iowa.”
“Wilhelm was naturalized in 1852 [March 19th under the name of William Derr] and devoted his entire active life in Winneshiek County, Iowa, to community service and agricultural pursuits. Wilhelm and Anna were progressive and public-spirited citizens who took an active part in local affairs. Wilhelm eventually rose to prominence in Military Township and held various important official positions including that of school director.”
“Wilhelm had a sister, Mrs. Henry Ruehl [Elizabeth] and a brother, Christian, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
Their daughter, Catherine Mary Doerr became Sister Columba. She wrote the following about her parents:
“Family History of Sister M. Columba Doerr
Translated from the German text as typed on Sister Columba’s identification record.
Sister Clara Brill, FSPA [Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration] – Translator, September 2000:
My parents were simple rural people. Wilhelm Doerr, my father, was born in Niederklein Kurhessen, Germany on the 28th of May 1828 . My mother, Anna Drufner, born in Germany on the 26th of July 1826, was the small child in the family. Her father had an accident in the forest. My parents emigrated to America and found an occupation in Philadelphia, where they also entered the married state. After several attempts at different occupations, they moved to Iowa, and came to Festina, to the beautiful country parish of the Dear Sorrowful Mother. Here God gave them ten children, a son and nine daughters. However, death took half of the children. Frequently I heard my dear mother say: “The dear god had divinely evenly. Five children are in heaven and five he left for me.” Presently only three are still living (1926). I lived thirteen years in the circle of my dear one. Shortly after my entrance into the convent, my father died at the age of 58  years. After several years my mother came to La Crosse, where she spent her old age in the St. Francis Hospital. She died at the age of 82 years.
Submitted by the Sudbeck family”
From the History of Ossian and Military Township2 by C.C. Cornell:
We are indebted to Mrs. John Moellers for the minutes of a meeting held in 1875 for the purpose of forming school district no. 4. The records were kept by William Derr (sic). This district was known as: “The Collins School.” [Mrs. John Moellers was Helena Mary (Doerr) Moellers, wife of John Bernard Moellers and daughter of William Doerr Jr., son of Wilhelm.]
Mary Ann "Anna" Drufner Doerr
Anna Drufner was born July 26, 1826 in what is now Rottweil, Baden-Würtemberg, Germany to Johanna Drufner (father unknown). She was baptized July 30, 1826. At Hausen, near Rottweil. Johanna Drufner, was the youngest child of Mathias and Maria (Bippus) Drufner. Mathias was the son of Michael and Ursula (Ullmschneider) Drufner. Matthias was a Cobbler, born In Hausen, Rattweil, Württenberg, Germany. He died at the same place on December 26, 1816 at the age of 46. His wife, Maria (Bippus) Drufner was born June 13, 1745 in Mietersheim, Baden, Preußen to Anton and Theresia (Hausler) Bippus.
Early records show her as Mary Ann Derr. Later all records show her as Ann or Anna Doerr.
Anna came to America with her Uncle Johannes “John” Drufner and his family. They arrived in New York from Port of Havre, France on the ship Argo3 on March 13, 1845, planning to settle in Pennsylvania. They settled for a time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which is where Anna met and married Wilhelm Derr on June 2nd, 1850. Her uncle John and his family eventually moved and settled in Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio.
Anna Druffner’s birth certificate: Father unknown.
Sister Colomba wrote he “had an accident in the forest.” Reinhard Koch of Niederklein said he had heard stories of a rover who would work for a farmer, get a daughter in trouble, and escape into the woods. A number of such farmers discovered this was the same man and went searching for him in the woods. No report that they found him; but he never returned there.
Anna’s mother, Johanna later married Jakob Thalbofer on May 2, 1844.
Rottweil, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Rottweil is approximately 370 km. (230 miles) south of Niederklein.
In 1463 Rottweil joined the Swiss Confederacy under the pretense of temporary alliance. In 147 the Rottweilers fought on the Swiss side against Charles the Bold in the Battle of Morat. In 1512, Pop Julius II gave the city a valuable “Julius banner” for its services in the 1508-1510 “Great Pavier Campaign” to expel the French. In 1519, the Rottweilers left the old Swiss alliance. They joined a new one in which their membership was extended indefinitely – the so-called “Eternal Covenant”.
Rottweil thus became a center of the Swiss Confederation. The relations between the Swiss Confederation and Rottweil cooled rapidly during the Reformation. When Rottweil was troubled by wars, however, it still asked the Confederates for help.
Rottweil lost both its status as free city and its alliance with the Swiss confederacy with the conquest of the region by Napoleon in 1803.
Rottweil Witch Hunts!
In the Rottweil Witch Hunts from 1546 to 1661, 266 so-called witches, wizards and magicians were executed in the imperial city of Rottweil. On April 15, 2015, they were given a posthumous pardon. An official apology was given by the City Council about 400 years after their violent death.
It is the location that gives its name to the renowned breed of Rottweiler dogs, known to be intelligent, courageous, devoted, vigilant and hard-working.
Jeff Reinrart Pres. of Catholic Cemetary, La Crosse WI:
Anna is buried in Lot 51, sec. 6, of the Catholic cemetery on Losey Blvd. When the Sisters came in the 1800’s they started St. Frances hospital, made their convent there, and had 7 rooms on the top floor for people who needed a home. Anna was one of them. The Sisters were so poor and had no money, so they were given a plot of land in the cemetery called “Paupers Field.” This is where the first sisters, priests, and the 7 residents are buried. Those 7 rooms were a prelude to what today we call nursing homes.
The Doerr Farm
Wilhelm and Anna settled in Military Township, Winneshiek County Iowa in Section 18 in the fall of 1854. It appears that Wilhelm had purchased about 300 acres, based on the 1886 Township maps and a 1875 directory Military Township. The properties then went to their children and can be found in the 1886 Plat Map.4
- 181.5 acres owned by their son William Doerr Jr.
- 119 acres owned by their son-in-law Joseph Imohl [Imoehl] (husband of their oldest daughter, Helena)
A 1875 directory of Military Township lists name, occupation, town, acres, section and value. William Doerr [Sr] is listed as follows:
Doerr, William, farmer, Festina, 296 [acres], section 18, value $2,883.
By the time of William Sr.’s death in 1886, the property had transferred either by purchase or inheritance to son, William Jr. and son-in-law Joseph Imoehl (husband of daughter, Helena). William also owned his own place in section 33 that he sold soon after his father’s death.
I went back to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) records to find the earliest transactions for the Doerr Farmland to see if I could find Military Township, Section 18 land records.
From 1775 to 1855 the United states granted bounty-land warrants for military service, primarily to encourage volunteer enlistments, but also to reward veterans for service during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, The Mexican War, and a variety of Indian wars, Indian removals, and other military actions during the 1850s. Early warrants could only be used in military districts, principally in Ohio and several other public land states in the former Northwest Territory [which must have included Military Township in Iowa]. Eventually, Congress expanded eligibility to include service in the Regular Army and the Navy, as well as volunteer militias. The Government ceased issuing bounty-land-warrants after 1855.
A veteran requested bounty land by filling an application at a local courthouse. The application papers and other supporting documents were placed in bounty land files kept by a federal or state agency. If the application was approved, the individual was given either a warrant to receive land or scrip which could be exchanged for a warrant. Later laws allowed for the sale or exchange of warrants. Only a few soldiers actually received title to the bounty land or settled on it; most veterans sold or exchanged their warrants.
The family moved to Military Township in the fall of 1854, so the original acquisition took place prior to this time. He must have later purchased additional acreage or possibly did some horse trading with neighbors using roads as boundaries, based on the 1886 Plat Map. By 1875 he owned 296 acres.
I believe Wilhelm obtained his land by purchasing it from a combination of veterans, most likely through a broker. Below are the BLM records for Section 18 that were granted to veterans. He most likely made the original purchase from the first four in the list, perhaps obtaining additional acres from Josiah Butterfield later on. John C. Huggison is most likely a broker: 6
- August 1, 1853 – John Lewis: W ½ SE ¼; E ½ SW ¼
- September 10, 1853 – John C. Huggison and Sullivan Burbank: NW ¼ SW ¼
- October 1, 1853 – Henry Walt; Roswell Nelson: S ½ NE ¼
- October 4, 1853 – John C. Huggison and Samuel Fields: S ½ NW ¼
- March 1, 1855 – Josiah Buttefield E ½ SE ¼
You can find these BLM records for Winneshiek County, Iowa, Township 96, Range 8, Section 18 at this link.
On the 1886 Plat map, Joseph Imohl [Imoehl] and Wm Doerr Jr. own a combination of 300.5 acres. This is most likely Wilhelms acreage split between his daughter, Helen Imoehl (wife of Joseph) and William Doerr Jr.
Wilhelm Doerr Census Records
Census records are great sources for genealogy research. They can give you many tips to further your research. However, the information given to the census takers can be given by anyone in the household, or even a neighbor. Also, especially in the early years, our german ancestors had heavy accents and the information was dependent of the census takers interpretation.
1850 US Federal Census, District of Penn in the County of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, enumerated on 5th day of August 1850. Household members:
- William Derr, age: 22, Laborer
- Mary A. Derr, age: 24
1856 Iowa State Census, Military Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa.
- William Derr, age: 28, married, birthplace: Germany, Farmer, Naturalized
- Mary Ann Derr, age: 29, married, birthplace: Germany
- Ellen [Helena] Derr, age: 5, birthplace: Pennsylvania
- Elizabeth Derr, age: 4, birthplace: Pennsylvania
- William Derr, Age 0, birthplace, Iowa
- William Derr, age: 29, Farmer, value of Rreal Estate $1,100, Value of Personal Estate: $500, born in Hesse-Cassel [Germany]
- Mary A., age: 32, born in Wurtenberg [Germany]
- Ellen [Helena] , age: 11, born in Pennsylvania
- Elizabeth, age: 7, born in Pennsylvania
- William, age 4, born in Iowa
- Anna, age 1, born in Iowa
1870 US Federal Census, Military Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa, p 111, enumerated on the 24th day of August 1870. Post Office: Ossian.
- Herman [Wilhelm] Doerr, age: 42, farmer, real estate vallue: $17,000, Personal estate value: $2,000, born in Prussia, of foreign birth, citizen of the US.
- Anna, age: 45, keeping house, born in Prussia
- Ellen [Helen], age: 19, at home, born in Pennsylvania
- Wm., age: 14, farm laborer, born in Pennsylvania [Iowa]
- Anna, age: 8, born in Iowa
- Julia, age: 6, born in Iowa
- Catherine, age: 3, born in Iowa
- William Doerr Sr., age: 52, Farmer, birthplace: Duc of Hesse [Germany]
- Anna, age: 55, wife, keeping house, birthplace: Wurtenberg [Germany]
- Anna, age 20, daughter, at home, birthplace: Iowa
- Julia P., age: 17, daughter, at home, birthplace: Iowa
- Catherine, age 15, daughter, at home, birthplace: Iowa
- Wilhelm Dorr, ship manifest, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Schooner Johann Conrad, Bremen, Germany to New York, 30 May 1846, retrieved from immigrantship.net website online at https://immigrantships.net/v5/1800v5/johannconrad18460530.html (Accessed 20 June 2019).
- Cornell, C. C, “The History of Ossian and Military Township” p. 33, Transcribed by ABBYY fineReader® 12, Adapted to the Web by Bill Waters. Retrieved from http://iagenweb.org/winneshiek/History/Ossian/WebHTML/Page033.htm (Accessed 22 June 2019).
- Anna Druffner, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Ship Argo, Port of Havre, France to New York, arriving March 13, 1845. Ancestry.com, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.Original data – Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls); Records of the U.S. Customs Service, R), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1846. (Accessed 20 June 2019).
- Plat book of Winneshiek County, iowa, 1886. Warner & Foote’s 1886 Plat book of Winneshiek County, Iowa. The university of Iowa Libraries, Iowa digital Library. Plat of Military Township 96, North. Range 8West of the Fifth Principal Meridian. Winneshiek Co. Iowa. (http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/atlases/id/2420/rec/2, Accessed 20 Jun 2019).
- Cornell, C. C, “The History of Ossian and Military Township”,p.35. Transcribed by ABBYY fineReader® 12, Adapted to the Web by Bill Waters. (http://iagenweb.org/winneshiek/History/Ossian/Stub.htm, Accessed 22 June 2019).
- Bureau of Land Management website: https://glorecords.blm.gov/search/default.aspx (Accessed 20 June 2019).