The Story of Wilhelm Kuhlmann
From The Kuhlmann Genealogy
From The Kuhlmann Genealogy by Delmar and Elizabeth Kuhlman
He came to this country in 1843, at the age of 18, on a ship called CHANCE, destined to land in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He sailed from Rotterdam, but then the ship was in a severe storm and was blown off course, landing along the coast of Florida. Wilhelm was very sick on the trip across and at one time the doctor felt that he was not going to live. After the ship landed, he made his way to the Mississippi River and then up the Missouri arriving at Hermann, Missouri.
At the age of 29 he bought some land seven miles southwest of Hermann from the Pottebaum family who had obtained it from the government nine years previous. At the age of 30 he married Sophia MUELLER age 18. They settled on the land which he had purchased the previous year. His wife’s parents, Gustove and Catherine Mueller, had come to this country in 1844 and had settled on land adjoining this land which they also had obtained from the government in 1844. These two farms were later known as the Wilhelm Kuhlmann Place. To this union were born seven children.
William was noted for his aggressiveness. He built the farm buildings, cleared the land, raised good crops and made most of his tools. During the Civil War when the soldiers came through, he took his mules and hid them in the bluffs so they could not find them. The soldiers took the hams and bacon from the smokehouse and the canned fruit from the cellar.
Sophia’s parents came from Alsace. In researching the Mueller family, we find that Sophia’s grandfather’s name was Bernard, and that two of his brothers were two of the many emigrant families that had faith in Catherine of Russia Manifesto. Relying on her promises, they sold all their belongings and migrated to Russia to settle east of the Volga River.
In 1856, Sophia’s parents changed their name from Mueller to Miller. Her mother suffered from terrific pains for some time before she died. Sophia died at the age of 36, and the land that her parents obtained from the government went to the four sons.
Let us pause here and study the above words about Sophia Mueller. She must have been a wonderful person. She was only nine years old when her parents came to this country. Those of you that have been to the place where her parents settled can visualize what it was like to clear the land and build a home.
We do not know how long Sophia went to school, as the school house was not built until she was fifteen years old and it was two miles from where they live.
When she was eighteen years old, she married Wilhelm and they started to farm on land next to her parents’ farm. Four years later her father died. Her brother, age nineteen, and sister, age sixteen, died three years later. Her mother then lived with her as she was not well and died five years later. She then was the only one left as her entire family had died.
During these years she had six sons. Two of them died in infancy. Then finally she did have a girl, but she also died in infancy. Sophia died three months later.
Sophia was not of the Catholic faith. All three of her children that died in infancy were baptized in St. George’s Catholic Church and are buried in the old Catholic Cemetery. The four sons that survived her were educated in the Catholic faith and became men, that we all know, she would have been very proud of had she lived.
Wilhelm’s second marriage was to Henrietta Hoevels. She was born in Germany and came to America after her parents died. Three of her sisters had come to America previously and lived near Starkenberg. Just how Wilhelm and Henrietta met has more or less been a mystery to all of us. Wilhelm lived six miles southwest of Hermann, and her sisters lived on the north side of the river. It was twelve miles to Starkenberg and the only means to get across the Missouri River was by a skiff. We are quite certain that we now know how they met. Henrietta worked several years before she was married for the people who owned the Brewery at Hermann and she was an excellent cook. She was a good Catholic and attended church services; the same was true of Wilhelm. They could have very easily met at church or through the priests, after all she was 34 years old and Wilhelm needed someone to care for his four sons. After they were married she always took butter, eggs and vegetables to the priests. They were married in the Catholic Church at Starkenberg. After their marriage her brother-in-law took them to the north side of the river in a farm wagon. They crossed the river in the skiff. Wilhelm brought his new bride home in the spring wagon drawn by a pair of mules.
While Henrietta was living in Germany, she planted flax and hemp. She spun the yarn, wove the material for her trousseau, and hoped that she would someday live in America and get married. She also spun the wool into yarn to weave yards and yards of woolen material. Some of the linen that was made into tablecloths and dresser scarves is still being used by her granddaughter Anna Belle Smith. The trunk that she used when she came to America is a treasured possession of her grandson, Winfred Schmidt.
To this union were born seven children that reached adulthood.
Wilhelm was an honest, conscientious, hard-working and a very successful farmer. He did not waste anything and what they had came from hard work. They enjoyed life and thanked God for all their blessings. He saw to it that the whole family prayed together. He was a very strict father and very particular about table manners. When they prayed before meals, he usually filled his plate while he and the family prayed together. No one would think of taking food before he did, but he was not a greedy man.
He made a fifteen gallon copper kettle out of sheets of copper and rivets. It is still being used by his grandsons, the Rost brothers’ families, to cook apple butter. The bottom of the kettle is worn so thin that a steel support has been added.
Even though the second family consisted of all girls, they all worked n the field, planting seeds and hoeing. They had a large orchard with all kinds of fruit and berries and also a big garden. They had a 3-seater spring wagon, room for nine people, drawn by mules. (Wilhelm never owned horses.) This was the only means of transportation they had to Hermann to do their shopping and attend church services.
The girls used to ride the mules side-saddle to Hermann. It must have been an interesting sight to see Henrietta and Wilhelm with their seven daughters all dressed up in the Sunday best coming to church in the ‘topless spring wagon’; the girls holding up their umbrellas so that they wouldn’t get sun-tanned.
The road at that time went up on the hill at their place and followed the ridge all the way to Nagel’s place where it met the Coles Creek Road.
At the age of 83, Wilhelm died on the farm that he had purchased forty-five years previously. Delmar [Kuhlmann] was only three years and eight months old when he died, but can still remember when his uncle Philip Meyer lifted him up to see his grandpa in the coffin. Berenice (Sennewald) Billings, only four years and seven months old, also remembers it as if it were just yesterday.
His wife, Henrietta, held a public sale and sold the farm to her late husband’s son, Bill, who in 1891 bought his three brothers’ shares of the land that they had received from their mother. It was then known as the ‘Bill Kuhlmann Place’ and later the ‘Joe Kuhlmann Place’. It is now owned by Allen Priess (1972).
Henrietta then moved to Morrison, Missouri where she lived until the time of her death at the age of 87.