The earliest known Meidinger on this family tree is George Meidinger who was born about 1627 in Neipperg, Kr. Neckar, Wurttemberg, Germany. His wife Anna, whose last name remains unknown, was born about 1631 also in Neipperg. George and Anna had two sons, George Ludwig, born May 24, 1655 and Johann Bernhard, born in about 1658. Neipperg is a small village located about 10 miles southwest of Heilbronn in the northern part of Wurttemberg, Germany. It is nestled in a narrow valley with vineyards covering the surrounding hills. The Meidingers worked as serfs for the Dukes of Neipperg, who owned the land and resided in a castle overlooking the village. A prominent feature of the village, as in most German villages, is the steeple of the Katharina Evangelische Church which was built in 1476. It was this church that the Meidingers attended and where the baptisms, marriages and deaths were recorded.
In 1976 while living in Germany, Jon Ammon, who was originally from Wishek, ND, spent some time researching the Meidinger lineage in the parish registers of the Katharina Evangelische Church. It is Jon who we can thank for tracing the Meidinger family. In the book entitled, "1985 - Our People One Century after the arrival of Friedrich and Katharina Meidinger", Jon provides some additional interesting information about Neipperg and our Meidinger ancestors. The Meidingers supposedly came from Switzerland after the 30-year war (1618-1648) and remained in Neipperg for six generations until 1831 when they immigrated to Kassel in southern Russia.
The first generation of Meidingers to immigrate to Russia included Johann Gottlieb, the 6th great grandson of George Meidinger. Gottlieb was born April 14, 1815 in Neipperg and died in Kassel, Odessa, a province of the Ukraine in Russia. He married Elisabetha Maria Schnabel on February 18, 1840 in nearby Glückstal. She too was born in 1815. They had eleven children, seven sons and four daughters. One of the sons, Peter, my great grandfather, was born on July 25, 1853. He served in the Russian Calvary for five years. On November 23, 1881 he married Christina Gramm, daughter of Jakob Gramm and Barbara Brandt, who also was born in Kassel on April 24, 1862.
Kassel was one of four communities in the Glückstal District which was founded in 1810 by Evangelical Lutherans from various areas of Germany and Poland. It was situated in the Kumurovka valley of the Dniester River, an agricultural area about 20 miles northwest of Tiraspol. Besides crops of wheat, rye, barley, corn, potatoes, and melons, the area was known for its wine grapes. A 1848 report describing the history of Kassel gives some interesting information about its background and conditions at that time. Additional information about Kassel and the other Glückstal colonies, as well as its inhabitants, can be found by linking to the various Germans from Russia resources. Pictures of the former church in Kassel can be seen on Harold Ehrman's website.
By the second generation after the Meidingers arrived in Kassel they began to immigrate to the United States. Peter and Christina, accompanied by her mother and their eight children, immigrated to the United States in 1903. At least four of their children, Friedrich (b. August 24, 1882), Jakob (b. April 25, 1885), Gretchen, and Johnny died prior to their leaving Russia. One can only wonder what it was like to travel with eight children from Russia to Bremen, Germany (presumably by train) and then overseas to New York. On March 24, 1903, the family boarded the SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse in Bremen along with perhaps as many as 1500 other passengers. The US manifest at Ellis Island indicates that Peter was traveling with $900, a good sum of money at that time. The family members and their ages were listed as Peter 50, Christina 40, Katharina 19, Christina 14, Friedrich 12, Johann 10, Lidia Maria 4½, Elisabetha 3, Karolina 2, and Jacob 6 mo. Not all the ages agree with their birthdates as we know them. Barbara (Brandt) Gramm was listed as a 74-year-old widow. The text version of the Ellis Island manifest has her name transcribed incorrectly as Kramp, the Meidinger family name as Maidinger and Friedrich's age as 17 rather than 12. [Note: I will submit these corrections to the Ellis Island Foundation. GM 11/1/2010]
According to Christina's obituary, 16 children were born to this union. Of those born and died in Russia, only Friedrich's date of death on September 24, 1882 in Kassel is known. Neither the birth nor death dates are known for Gretchen and Johnny or the three unknown children. It is assumed Johnny was born and died before 1891 because another son born that year was also named John. Peter and Christina's last child was a girl named Maria who was born April 05, 1908 in Streeter, ND; however, she died August 02, 1911 at the age of 3. [Information on Friedrich, Jakob, and Katherine comes from the St. Petersburg Records Database for Glueckstal Colonies. In 1980, Elizabeth (Meidinger) Stolz told us about Gretchen, Johnny and Maria but she did not know the names of her other siblings who died in Russia]
The manifest stated that Peter and Christina were headed for Lehr, ND. Whether they had any prior contacts in that area isn't known, but they settled on a farm about 20 mi. north of Lehr (six miles south of Streeter, ND). Their first home in America was made of sod. Later, they built a two-story wood frame house and a barn. On June 17, 1909, Peter was granted a homestead certificate for 160 acres lying in the east half of the northeast quarter and the east half of the southeast quarter of section 20, township 136, range 69. The farmstead is located in the NE 1/4 about 3 mi south of Hwy 46 and about 1/3 mi west of Hwy 30 in Logan County.
Peter and his mother-in-law, Barbara Gramm, petitioned to become US citizens on April 27, 1908 and were granted citizenship on September 7, 1908. [Click here to see both Peter's petition and admitting order and Barbara's petition and admitting order] On her petition, Barbara states that her husband, Jacob, died in 1901. [Note: the date on the petition looks like 1911, but that would have been 3 years after the petition was filed] A certificate of naturalization includes Peter's wife, Christina, and seven of their children. Katharina, the oldest child, was already married by this time to Jacob Frey.
John, the second oldest son, was born on November 23, 1891. He and Katherine Just were married on January 21, 1913 in the St. Andrews Lutheran Church of rural Zeeland, ND. The country church is located in the NW 1/4 of section 1, township 130, range 73 in McIntosh County. ND. John and Katherine lived on his parents farm in the summer kitchen, a separate building, until after Lydia and Ted were born. The summer kitchen, which was Lydia and Ted's birthplace, is gone now but a photo of the building taken in 1987 exists. It is not known how long Peter and Christine lived on the farm but they were living in Streeter in 1920 when Peter died on February 12. Jakob, the youngest son, married Martha Schnabel on March 30, 1924 and lived on the home place. Christina died on November 6, 1937.
In about 1915, John and Katherine Meidinger moved to a farm located in the SW 1/4, Sec 30, T136 R69 in Logan County, about 2 mi SW of the Peter and Christine Meidinger Farm . This farm is located on the east boundary of an area known as "The Flats" and can be reached by going 2 mi south of Hwy 46 on Hwy 30, then 2 mi west and 3 mi south on gravel roads. The farm is at the base of the hills 1/4 mi to the east and is currently (1998) Walter Miller's place. The original house and barn are still there and it appears that the summer kitchen is also still there. The garage was destroyed in a storm and a picture window was added to the house. Emma, Bertha and Pete were born on this farm. The school they walked to was located somewhere between the Peter Meidinger and John Meidinger farms. Once during a blizzard they all had to stay overnight at the school. Lydia doesn't remember when they moved from this farm but remembers being at least 10 years old.
One mile straight west of the farm in the SW 1/4 of Sec 25, T136 R69 is the original site of the Hope Evangelical United Brethren Church and Cemetery where the Meidingers attended church. The church was organized in 1891, built in 1905, improved in 1950 and then merged with the Ebenezer Methodist church in 1968. The church building was moved to the Walter Miller farmstead and is being used as a machine shed. It is believed that John and Katherine's sixth child, a stillborn girl, is buried in the Hope cemetery but no marker has been found.
In about 1925, the John Meidinger family moved to a farm located 4 mi west of Streeter on the north side of Hwy 37 just across the county line in Kidder Co. in SE 1/4, Sec 24, T137 R70. The original barn was still there in 1998, but the house is new. The kids first attended a school a couple of miles to the southeast but because they lived in Kidder county, they transferred to a school 3 miles due west in the NW corner of the NW 1/4, Sec 27, T137 R70. Only the foundation and a brick chimney remain. Lydia and Emma remember having to walk to this school. In the winter they took a buggy pulled by a team of horses. They, and Bertha, recall that more than once, after the gate at the road was opened, the horses took off on their own as fast as they could for the barn about 300 to 400 yards away. In 1998, the old road was still visible inside the fence, but there was a new road a few yards east of the original road.
When Lydia and Ted were 12 or 13, the Meidingers moved to a farm located on the southwest edge of Streeter in SW 1/4, Sec 26, T137, R69 in Streeter township. The house was still standing in 1998, but was unoccupied. They lived there only a short time before moving to Sinclair township in Stutsman County.
John and Katherine Meidinger moved to a farm located on south side of Hwy 38 in NE 1/4, Sec 35, T138 R67, Sinclair township, Stutsman County in about 1928 and lived there until about 1933. Currently (1998) the farm is owned by Orlo Sund. The original barn is still standing, but the house was replaced with a new home. The Meidinger kids went to a one-room school located across the road on the SE corner of the SE 1/4 of Sec 26. This school, which is gone now, was the last school that Ted, Lydia, and Emma attended.
In 1933, John and Katherine Meidinger moved to a farm located in NW 1/4, Sec 7, T137 R64, Severn township, Stutsman Co. The buildings are all gone but they were just west of the Buffalo creek. The creek once crossed the road to the south and back again, but it appears to have been rerouted to the north side of the road when the road was rebuilt. While living here Lydia met Walter Maas who lived 2 mi east and 1-1/2 mi north on Sec 33, T138 R64. And Emma met Francis Letcher who lived one mi east and 1/2 mi north in SE 1/4, Sec 6, T137 R64. No one is certain when John and Katherine left this farm and moved to Gackle, ND.
John and Katherine Meidinger lived last at 308 First Ave. East in Gackle. They also lived for awhile across the street from 308 but the house is now gone. Katherine died on December 04, 1964 in Jamestown, ND. John died two years later on November 25, 1966 in the Wishek Hospital, Wishek, ND.
- Gene Maas
rev. 5 Nov 2010
ALT, BRANDT, BURKHARD, FREY, GABEL, GRAMM, JUST, MAIER, MEIDINGER, MULLER, MUTH, NESTEL, RUDOLF, RUDOLPH, SCHMID, SCHNABEL, TROJAN, WEINS, ZIGENHAGEL, ZIMMERMAN
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