Joseph Kurz Sr.
c: 1886 Tintype Photograph
Henry Kurz Collection
1820 - 1898
Peter Joseph Kurz
of Peter Joseph
Peter Joseph Kurz
WEBER - wife; daughter of Johann Anton WEBER and Maria
Kastellaun, Rheinland, now Germany.
Peter Joseph Kurz Sr. was born in Schauren, the southwestern Rheinland, in 1820. This is now in the state of Simmern, diocese of Kastellaun, in Germany. He was the youngest of ten children. At the age of 34, he emigrated from the Rheinland to North America. After traveling by sailing ship across the Atlantic, he landed in the Port of New York in May of 1854.
What is now Germany
was united in 1871
under the King of Prussia, who was then crowned Empire of Germany.
to the unification there had been as many as over 300 independent
States within the same land area. Only 20 years before Peter Joseph was
born, his part of that land was taken over (again) by the French under
Napoleon and the number of Germanic states was reduced to 38. Prussia
the land only a very few years before Peter Joseph was born and his
lost it's Rheinland independence. The Prussians of the northeast were
kind to the people of the western and southern German lands, often
them for "cannon fodder" in the front lines. The military leader Von
kept the men in mandatory service for as long as 20 years, to
the empire's economy, building roads and factories when they were not
Military training and the best equipment were offered only to the
Route from the Rheinland to Brown County, Wisconsin, USA
Bibelhausen family groups were the first to use this route to Wisconsin in 1842. Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz was age 9 in 1844 when her parents and oldest siblings came to homestead the dense wilderness of "La Baye De Pere" in Brown County, Wisconsin at #5 on the map. Peter Joseph Kurz used the same route in 1854. Starting at the Palatinate Rheinland, #1, he traveled to the Sea Port of Antwerp, Belgium, #2, and boarded ship for North America. Large numbers of alienated Rheinland emigrants used that port because it was in a neutral country where the Prussian Military did not screen passengers. Sailing through the English Channel and across the open Atlantic Ocean, he landed in Port of New York, #3, in May 1854. Using the Erie Canal boats he traveled to Buffalo, New York, #4, where he procured transport on a Great Lakes Windjammer to the newly developing Port of Green Bay, in Brown County, Wisconsin #5.
Since weather conditions factored heavily on scheduling travel at that time, the entire trip could take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks, with 7 weeks being about the average. No food was served on board any of the water craft or on land at that time and the traveler was responsible for bringing everything that would be needed. These included rice, boiled eggs, dried and cured meats, dried beans, hard bread (dried), dried vegetables, potatoes/roots vegetables and such foods with long shelf lives. Often food was stolen by crew members or other passengers. In the case of crew members, they would then sell it back to the passenger to make extra income, as there was little else these immigrants could do to survive the trip. Water was offered on board by the shipping line but had to be boiled to use as it was putrid after a few days. To lessen and avoid disease, wine and beers were brought to mix with drinking water, and even for use to reconstitute dried foods in cooking. On each trip lives were saved by the kindness of passengers who shared their sometimes meager rations with those who had not been able to purchase enough of the precious foods at greatly inflated prices before sailing. Just surviving the trips was considered a great accomplishment. Many didn't in these early days of mass transportation.
On long trips, everything
was carried in trunks and stowed below deck in the holds of the ship.
trunks would be stacked atop each other from ceiling to floor and
tightly together. If a person needed to get food or other items of
they would contract with a crew member to go down to the storage area,
where the passenger had to bargain with the crew member on an amount of
money to move each trunk necessary to get to their own. During this
in history, the "round top" trunk was invented. It had to be on top of
the stacks since nothing would sit securely on top, thereby lessening
amount the passenger had to pay, by reducing the number of trunks
each time necessities were needed. They were expensive to buy, but the
"round tops" were worth it in the long run, and many have been kept in
families for generations.
Not much is known
about this ancestor Peter
Joseph Kurz since his children rarely spoke about him. Bits and pieces
of information have been passed down through some of the descendancy
and combined with documents of the time, we can put together some of
life, beliefs and actions.
This a photocopy of the original Petition of Intent for Citizenship signed by Peter Joseph Kurz in the Court of Brown County, Wisconsin, March 25th 1857. In the 1800's, procuring US citizenship was a two part endeavor. This Petition was the first step in declaring intent and was made two years after his immigration. The second step was the actual Declaration Application for Citizenship, and it would then be reviewed and awarded or denied by the county courts. Very few were ever denied in Wisconsin.
There were no set lengths of time involved in the processes but filing the Petition of Intent was encouraged immediately upon settling in one place. Many, like Peter Joseph, did not go through the second step in the process, since the birth of a son in the US gave the baby citizenship and the proof of ability to financially care for a family (having employment) meant that the immigrant could stay in the country as legal guardian of the minor citizen son. For the average German immigrant, deportation was not ever a legal consideration.
Women did not have their own Federal citizenship, even when born in the US, until 1920. Some states offered women state citizenship before then and the right to vote in state elections, but they were very few. A woman's citizenship was directly tied to her closest living male relative. So if she was born in the US and had an immigrant father or married a man who was not a citizen, she was also not a citizen. There was nothing she could personally do about it.
From the Henry Louis Kurz branch; Peter Joseph was a very strict disciplinarian in the traditional German mold. Only German was spoken in the household. He believed that " sparing the strap, spoiled the child". His punishments were long remembered and offered as a major reason for his older sons' departures from the family home at young ages.
Peter Joseph talked about the Bismarck of Prussia recruting men for army duty. He was known to say that he came to America because he would be "damned " if he "fought for Von Bismarck and the King of Prussia". Family history passed down through the generations tells us that a brother of Peter Joseph immigrated to Canada. Peter Joseph said he had been able to obtain a visa to study in London, England, and "somehow got on the wrong boat", arriving in Port of New York instead.
From the Veronica Kurz Holl branch; Only German was spoken in the home. Peter Joseph was of the old world belief that as long as children were living in the family home, they were the property of the father, as was the wife. All money earned by the offspring was to be entirely turned over to the father since his offspring's labors were also his property. The father decided what would be purchased, where and when it would be done. He handles all transaction for family members. Peter Joseph Sr. was privately educated in Germany and kept a book with such information as the names, dates and even some of the exact times of his childrens' births. Upon his death this book was left in the family of his daughter Veronica and partially translated by her daughter Margaret. However, only fragments of the information remain and the book has not been seen for many decades. It's present whereabouts are unknown. The belief has been passed along that originally Peter Joseph Kurz had planned to return to Germany to resume his teaching, but since the Prussian government continued to attain control over increasing numbers of small Germanic countries in Europe, he decided to go into farming in America while he waited.
From the Antone Kurz
branch comes the information
that Peter Joseph was a highly educated man, considered a Professor in
his original homeland. He came to North America in opposition to the
system of rule. This opposition first arose in the late 1840's among
students and teachers, taking the form of protests and strikes. Once in
America, after his marriage, he did not enroll his children in school
"they were going to be just farmers and would not need the education".
Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz, wife of Peter Joseph Kurz Sr. She was born in Valwig, diocese of Mörsdorf, Rheinland in 1835, as the oldest child of John Michael Bibelhausen and Katherine Kenali/Corneli. The family came to Brown County, territory of Wisconsin in 1844, before statehood, when she was age 9, homesteading the wilderness in De Pere at Pine Grove settlement. Katherine Bibelhausen was age 21 and her family had moved to Shawano County, Wisconsin in 1852, when she married Peter Joseph Kurz in Green Bay in 1856.
Mary Ferm Collection
In Wisconsin, Peter Joseph Kurz Sr. met and married Katherine Bibelhausen January 27, 1856. She was originally of the Rheinland and Pine Grove Settlement in De Pere, Brown County, Wisconsin. In 1852 her family had sold their farm in Pine Grove and resettled in nearby Shawano County, Wisconsin, Katherine was, by then, highly skilled in homesteading the wilderness and farming techniques.
The couple settled
soon after their marriage
on land near New Denmark, southeastern Brown County, Wisconsin, where
older children were born. They were on that land during the 1870 US
even though the son who was born that year was listed in neighboring
County, Wisconsin. Very shortly after that, they sold their farm and
to Red Springs Township in Shawano County, Wisconsin where their
children were born. Old family correspondences and photo collections
that his wife Katherine stayed close to her Bibelhausen siblings and
families, many of whom had established farms, shops and private
in Shawano County by this time.
Henry Kurz Collection
110+ year old photo looking northwest:
This is a c:1880 photograph is believed to be of the Kurz Farm in Shawano County, Wisconsin. It was in the township of Bella Plaine where the youngest Peter Joseph and Catherine Bibelhausen Kurz children were born.
In 1873 the Kurz
family west moved to a
homestead in Shawano County, Wisconsin, puchasing the land from Julius
Buttner. This was, and remains to this day, a very furtile area for
The land was originally heavily forested in evergreens with scatterings
of mixed hardwoods. Setters began to homestead this area in the 1840's.
Logging the land provided the earliest settlers with the money to begin
their homesteads. At first, crops were often planted between the
until they could be removed to clear the land for crops fields and
By the 1870's the log cabins and barns were being replaced with milled
lumber, wood framed buildings. Newly removed tree stumps, with tangled
roots still attached, were placed close together along the field edges
and used as the first fences to keep cattle from wandering
These were being replaced by split rail and post made from the trimmed
larger branches of the logged timbers. "Shakes" were hand cut for
shingles, which replaced the flattened peeled bark pieces originally
on the cabins.
Almost 30 years
after resettling in Shawano
County, Peter Joseph was found unconscious October 01, 1898. He was
in the potato field and collapsed. Taken into the house, he passed away
before a doctor could make it out to the farm. He was buried in St
Catholic Cemetery in town of How, Shawano, Wisconsin, near the home of
his daughter Veronica Kurz Holl. His gravestone is written in German
Geb 2 Nov. 1820
Gest 4 Okt 1898
(top) Hier ruht in Fieden
hat er ausgelitten
"Patiently has he suffered,
Rita Neustifter Collection
The first farm of Peter Joseph and Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz was established in the mid 1850's near the settlement of Pine Grove in Brown County, Wisconsin #1. The family sold that farm and moved to Bella Plaine township in Shawano County Wisconsin #2 just after 1870 and owning that farm until just before 1900 when the widowed Mrs. Kurz sold it.
It was not always customary for land sale deeds to be registered at the county courthouse at the time of sale and the Kurz property was not registered there until right after the death of Peter Joseph Kurz. Widow Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz then made out a Will leaving the farm and possessions to their three youngest children, still living at home. The 1900 Census has widow Katherine, daughter Josephine and sons Henry and Vincent living in town of Hutchins, Shawano County, Wisconsin, in the northwest corner of the county. The sons were working as laborers.
By 1902, widow
Katherine was living with
son Henry, who was working at a Meat and Grocery Store in Ladysmith,
County, Wisconsin. Also living with her was youngest daughter Josephine
and son Vincent. The Kurz Brothers Meat and Grocery Store was soon
by Henry and Vincent Kurz in Ladysmith on Miner Street.
Bibelhausen Kurz passed away June 22, 1915 at the home of Henry Kurz
is buried at Riverside Cemetery, Rusk County, in the family plot that
the Flambeau River.
Rita Neustifter Collection
Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz
at Riverside Cemetery near Ladysmith, Rusk County, Wisconsin
Some of the Peter Joseph and Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz children had spread out across the western wilderness in establishing their families and homesteads, while others built extensive farms or bought and managed businesses in Wisconsin. Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz's abundant collection of her children's adult family photographs, sent to her over the decades, has been carefully kept by grandson Henry Kurz and used with his permission in these postings.
Katherine Bibelhausen Kurz
Mary Ferm Collection
Generation No. 1
Generation No. 2
2. JOHANNES2 BIBELHAUSEN (BIBELHAUSEN1) He married MARIA GERTRUDE ZENZ 22, November 1796 in Valwig, Rheinland, Preussen.
of JOHANNES BIBELHAUSEN and MARIA GERTRUDE ZENZ is:
Generation No. 5
6. JOHN MICHAEL5 BIBELHAUSEN (JOHANNES NICOLAS4, JOHANNES3, JOHANNES2, BIBELHAUSEN1) was born August 28, 1803 in Berglicht, Rheinland, Prussia, and died March 29, 1889 in Shawano, Shawano County, WI. He married CATHARINE KENALI/CORNELI February 10, 1835 in Valwig, Rhineland, Prussia, daughter of CLEMONS CORNELY and CATHARINA ZENTZ. She was born August 31, 1816 in Valwig, Rheinland, Prussia, and died April 24, 1875 in Shawano, Shawano County, WI.
Children of JOHN
BIBELHAUSEN and CATHARINE KENALI are:
Generation No. 6
7. CATHERINE6 BIBELHAUSEN (JOHN MICHAEL5, JOHANNES NICOLAS4, JOHANNES3, JOHANNES2, BIBELHAUSEN1) was born November 25, 1835 in Prussia, and died June 22, 1915 in Ladysmith, Rusk County, WI. She married PETER JOSEPH KURZ February 05, 1856 in Green Bay, Brown County, WI. He was born October 04, 1820 in Kastellaun, Koblenz, Rheinland, Prussia, and died October 07, 1898 in town of How, Oconto County, WI.
of CATHERINE BIBELHAUSEN and PETER KURZ are:
8. JOHN6 BIBELHAUSEN (JOHN MICHAEL5, JOHANNES NICOLAS4, JOHANNES3, JOHANNES2, BIBELHAUSEN1) was born January 31, 1842 in Germany, and died February 05, 1912 in Shawano, Shawano County, WI. He married HENRIETTA DEGENER November 26, 1874 in Shawano County, WI. She was born 1851 in Tolz, Kreis Stargard, Pommen, Prussia, and died 1925.
Children of JOHN
BIBELHAUSEN and HENRIETTA DEGENER are:
9. VERONICA6 BIBELHAUSEN (JOHN MICHAEL5, JOHANNES NICOLAS4, JOHANNES3, JOHANNES2, BIBELHAUSEN1) was born March 27, 1846 in Pine Grove, Brown County, WI, and died September 21, 1927 in Tomahawk, WI. She married (1) SORAA SCHAA. He died in Oshkosh. She married (2) MATHIAS JOSEPH SCHRAA. He was born January 26, 1832 in Staffel, Adenau, Germany, and died August 06, 1884 in Green Bay, WI.
Child of VERONICA
BIBELHAUSEN and MATHIAS SCHRAA is:
10. JOSEPH6 BIBELHAUSEN (JOHN MICHAEL5, JOHANNES NICOLAS4, JOHANNES3, JOHANNES2, BIBELHAUSEN1) was born December 05, 1848 in Pine Grove, Brown County, WI, and died November 23, 1912 in Shawano, Shawano County, WI. He married (1) CAROLINE BOENIG WEITZEL November 05, 1873 in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. He married (2) MRS. MONTOUR September 11, 1901 in Milwaukee.
Children of JOSEPH
BIBELHAUSEN and CAROLINE WEITZEL are:
11. ANTON6 BIBELHAUSEN (JOHN MICHAEL5, JOHANNES NICOLAS4, JOHANNES3, JOHANNES2, BIBELHAUSEN1) was born October 12, 1853 in Shawano County, WI, and died November 22, 1893 in Brown County, WI.
Child of ANTON BIBELHAUSEN
12. FRANCIS J.6 BIBELHAUSEN (JOHN MICHAEL5, JOHANNES NICOLAS4, JOHANNES3, JOHANNES2, BIBELHAUSEN1) was born December 28, 1855. He married MARGARET HARTMAN January 13, 1878 in Shawano County, WI, daughter of JACOB HARTMAN and SOPHIE. She was born July 13, 1860 in Silver Creek, Sheboygan County, WI, and died June 07, 1949 in Shawano, Shawano County, WI.
Children of FRANCIS
BIBELHAUSEN and MARGARET HARTMAN are:
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