Recently, I’ve been on a great+ grandmother research kick. Minnie Igle is a 3rd great grandmother to me, and one I know little about. Is her real name Minnie or is that short for, say, Minerva? I’m not even sure of her parents. So I’ve been delving a bit into census records to see what information I might have missed. Luckily, the few siblings of hers I know about have been a tremendous research asset. So I began my search with them.
From the 1870 census, I knew that Minnie and an assumed brother, Andrew b. 1849 were both living with a Kutchler family in Illinois. And from the census’s following Minnie’s husband, John Wesley Wildrick’s death (1920,1930), I know that she lived in Long Beach, California with her older sister, Catherine.
So I started with the 1920 census. From there, I learned many things. It listed the sister’s immigration date as 1871. I know that can’t possibly be accurate, because of the 1870 Federal Census where Minnie and her brother Andrew are living with a Kutchler family.
From the 1920 census, I also learned that while Katherine’s native tongue prior to immigrating is listed as French, Minnie’s was listed as Dutch. Both sisters list their father as being from Cologne, Germany with German as his native language and their mother as born in France with French as her native language.
Jumping to the 1930 Federal Census, Katharine and Minnie list their immigration date as 1860 and both are listed as speaking French prior to coming to the United States.
One note I find interesting: in all but the 1870 census (where she is listed as birthplace = At Sea), Minnie is listed as being born in Holland.
Additionally, searching Minnie’s recently discovered sister, Fannie, leads me to a clue as to who their parents might be. Fannie’s marriage record to Nathaniel Sheldon lists a Maurice and Catharine Igle as her parents. I’ve been unable to locate any records for either a Maurice of Catharine Igle, leading me to believe they either didn’t immigrate with the children, or perhaps, passed away soon after arriving in America.
And, searching the 1900 census for Nathaniel and Fannie Sheldon, I found that she listed 1850 as her year if immigration, which would’ve been around the time that Minnie was (potentially) born at sea.
So I decided to do a little historical digging into the 1840s in Europe for additional leads. The Rhine Crisis of 1840 began the decade of turmoil for most families living in the France-German area. The French minister, Adolph Thiers wanted the river Rhine to be reinstated as the French border. However, the crisis passed without war breaking out. But the French/German (Prussian) border remained unstable for years to come, erupting in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war . France was defeated, and as such, was forced to relinquish claim over the German-speaking areas of Alsace-Lorraine.
However, it was the the revolutions of 1848 that caught my attention. Following the American and French Revolutions, much of Europe followed suit, wanting change. The German states especially favored a more democratic government, and, upon the disappointment at the failed revolutions attempt to bring reform, many chose to immigrate to America.
Minnie’s parents, Maurice and Catharine would’ve had at least two children alive during this time, and Catharine would have been pregnant with Andrew. Is it possible that they were numbered among those who chose to leave Germany for attempts at a better life within a democratic society?
Until I find more information, immigration records for Maurice, Catharine, Minnie and her siblings, I can’t say for certain. I’ve been trying to locate any other possible Igle descendants, but I’m afraid that I’ve hit a dead-end. Fannie died without any offspring, and I only know of one child of Minnie’s sister, Catharine, who died as an infant. I need to do further research into Andrew and see if he has any possible descendants who might be able to verify my assumptions.
Until then, I’ll just keep on digging.