Left to right
Elizabeth Philippi and half brother
Elizabeth Philippi Pen nartz (center) with daughters
The family were successful merchants and educators.
passenger manifest in "Germans to
America 1850-1897" has the Matthias Philippi Family boarding the SS Jan
Breydel on in Antwerp, Netherlands, and arriving at the Port of New
York on May 25, 1883. The family members listed were Matthias,
Christine, Maria Anna age 4 and Joseph Philippi age 2. There were also
Christine's three children by her late first husband; Margaret age 12,
Catherine age 10 and John Mueller (Miller) age 9, however these three traveled using the Philippi last name. Oral family history
that the voyage was a very cold one for that time of the year, and took
longer than expected. Catherine was 38 years old, 7 months pregnant at
with her 6th child, and
tired from preparing for the voyage as well as
painting by Antonio Jacobsen
This ship carried the Matthias Philippi Family to America in May 25, 1883 to the Port of New York, USA.
While photgraphing the family gravestones something came to view. On the north face of the grave stone for Christina Brust Mueller (Miller) Philippi is an inscription for Mary A. Philippi. It is on the dark side of the stone and easily missed, except for the last few moments of illumination by the setting sun. This may be one reason succeeding generations had no knowledge of her. What is known now, come primarily from old documents recently researched.Maria Anna (Mary Ann) Philippi
Germany church records, Maria
Anna Philippi was the first child of Matthias and Christina Philippi,
in Niederheckenback, Rheinland, Prussia, July 04, 1879. She was also
on the passenger list, at age 4, with the Philippi family on
ship headed for the Port of New York in 1883. Prior to that sailing, a
photo was taken of her, showing a beautiful, serious looking child
on a chair at the photo studio. It has been the only likeness found of
Maria Anna Philippi
Grave Inscription of
Mary A. Philippi
daughter of M. & C.
Mary Ann, her "American" name, lived with the family on the first farm in New Frankin, Wisconsin, and moved to the new homestead in town of How, 1893. She died on July 26, 1894 and a record of her passing is briefly noted in the St. Michael Catholic Church book of deaths in Keshina, where the family first worshiped. Mary had just turned 16 years old. She was buried two days after her death in what was then the brand new St. Mary's Cemetery in town of How. It was renamed St. Michael Cemetery in 1907. There was no death certificate registered with either the county of Oconto or the state of Wisconsin. This was not unusual for that early time. The church record is the only documentation found and it provides only her name, her parent's names, the dates and place of death and burial.
Many members of succeeding family generations find it hard to believe she existed, since they heard not a word about her from the family members who lived with her. The only clue to surface so far is a conversation between Joe and Jack Philippi, overheard by one of Jack's sons in the later 1920's. This conversation took place in the milking barn at Jack's farm and the brothers did not know at first that anyone else was present. Jack and Joe were discussing their siblings as children growing up. The unseem observer to this conversation vaguely remembered the mention of someone named Mary. When the presence of the young observer was discovered by Jack and Joe, he was told in no uncertain terms that he was never to mention what he heard. It was during research of the family in the mid 1990's, some 70 years later, that this incident was told and the possible connection was later made to the grave marker inscription for Mary Ann Philippi.
It was thought at first that she had drowned. Further research uncovered that in her early teens Mary Ann Philippi had entered the Catholic Convent of the Order of St. Francis. Her older half sister, Sister Stephana, originally Catherine Mueller, the daughter of Mary Ann's mother Christina Brust Mueller Philippi, had already taken her vows to the Order. It was Mary Ann's wish to follow in those footsteps. The convent is still in Springfield, Illinois, where Sr. Stephana is buried. A short while after entering the convent, Mary Ann was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. She did not respond to the limited treatment of that day and was "sent home to die" in the care of her family. The trauma of watching her struggle and fade away was so devastating to members of the family that she was never mentioned. The memory of her was thus lost to descendant generations. Only her record of birth and baptism in Heckenbach, Germany, her name and age on the ship's manifest with the family, her entry in the Keshina St. Michael Church Book of the Dead, her grave stone carving and the haunting photograph of a beautiful little girl attested to her existance.
Philip Peter (left) and John Apollonarus Philippi
in Brown County, Wisconsin
At right is a photograph of John (right) and his younger brother, Peter Philippi. Given the approximate ages, it was taken about 1890 in Brown County, Wisconsin. The family lived on a farm in New Frankin, WI, for the first 10 years, 1883 - 1893. This is where John the two younger children, Philip and Christina Jr., were born. John was born two months after they came from Prussia. Their mother, Christina, had to hide her pregnancy beneath a cloak on board ship since the ship lines did not want to transport pregnant women. They attended St. Kilian Church there.
The following photo was taken not long after the family moved from Brown County to town of How in Oconto County, WI. Given the children's ages, and the fact that young Maria Anna is missing from the photo, I would date it 1895. It was early Spring 1893 and the land at the new homestead had only about 3 acres open with stumps, and no cleared land for crops. Joe was age 11 and Jack was 9 when they moved and a snow fell the night they arrived in the cabin. The boys were in tears that morning because they had left the green fields farther south and were sure the family would starve and freeze to death "way up north". They didn't of course, and planted between the stumps that year. The land was furtile and they did well, logging, clearing stumps, tilling and planting with very hard work.
The log cabin that they are in front of was replaced with the present large white Victorian house in 1896, as was the log barn to the left rear of the photo. The original buildings were built by a French Canadian fur trapper, named Pecor, from which they purchased the land. These buildings are no longer standing.
Joe and Jack had attended school at their first farm in New Frankin, and although there was a new school only a quarter mile from their new home, they were not permitted to attend since so much work was expected of them. Their father, Matthias, was already 63 years old in 1893 and in failing health with lung problems. He worked as hard as he was able and mother Christine, age 48, did field work just as the men did when needed, while raising 4 young children. Older sons from the first marriages of Matthias and Christina (both widowed before their November 07, 1878 marriage in Prussia) helped out. Catherine's daughter, Maggie, lived with them and was a second mother to the five youngest children, as well as taking on many of the chores. Starting at ages 9 and 11, in the winter, Joe and Jack hiked daily to the local lumber camps and worked, cutting large limbs from logged trees into firewood for the companies to sell. They soon became the top cross cut saw team in the area and over the years, they won many local logging competitions.
two brothers were close, but
also very competative with each other as young boys growning up. They
delight in playing practical jokes on each other. One involved the back
packs that carried their food and supplies for each cold day at the
They each had one to carry on their hikes back and forth. There was a
competition to see which one hiked to the camp fastest and first. One
when Jack was not in the kitchen, Joe went outside and collected rocks
to secretly put in Jacks back pack, hoping the added weight would slow
him down. The boys made it to camp at the same time that day, and later
when Joe opened his pack to get out his lunch, he found his own pack
with rocks. That is where Jack had been while Joe was busy in the
in town of How, Oconto County, Wisconsin
Pictured from left to right: John Mueller (Miller) about age 19, Margaret Mueller (Miller) about 24. These were children from mother Christina's first marriage. Not on the family photograph was middle daughter, Catherine Mueller (Miller), pictured at right, who was then age 22. She was studing for sisterhood at the Franciscan Convent in Springfield, Illinois. The three Mueller children used the name Philippi when the family came from Prussia and Matthias always thought of them as his own, even in his last Will. Third from left is Jack, at about age 11, Peter, about 8, Joseph about 13. Next, seated, is father Matthias, then the youngest, Christina, about 6 and mother Christina. Daughter Mary Ann is not pictured in this Spring photograph. She had passed way the summer before and would have been age 16 at this time. It was always a very clean, tidy and welcoming home to friends, family and new neighbors.
Matthias was first married to Gertrude Lambertz June 28, 1856 in Heckenbach. They had six children before Gertrude died in 1877. She had been in gradually failing health for the last years they were together; particularly after the birth of their last child in 1871. Gertrude Lambertz Philippi died in 1877.
In 1876 a widow by the name of Christina Brust Mueller, who lived with three very young children in the nearby village of Copel, was hired to do the domestic work for the Philippi household. They had been members of the same church in Heckenbach.
Brust was first married to
John Mueller in 1870. They had two children and the third was on the
when John died in late 1875. Three months later, John Mueller Jr. was
In order to keep her little family together in difficult local
times, Christina took a job as a domestic in the Matthias Philippi
walking 5 miles daily each way, to and from her own home.
Christina and Matthias Philippi
Silver Wedding Anniversary
Both widowed, Matthias Philippi and Christina Brust Mueller married at the church in Heckenbach November 07, 1878. They had a daughter, Maria Anna and a son Joseph in Neiderheckenbach, Rheinland before leaving for the Wisconsin. Three more children had followed in New Frankin, Brown County, Wisconsin. John was born two months after the family entered the Port of New York and arrived in Wisconsin. Peter (Phil) and Anna Christina Jr. soon followed.
The photograph to the left was taken of the couple 25 years after their marriage, in 1901. That was three years before Matthias passed away. In the photograph Christina was age 56 years and Matthias was 71.
Philippi 1898 barn in 2005
Oconto County Reporter
Volume: 33 Issue: 49 Date published: 1904-10-14
Last Friday old Mr. (Matthias) Phillippi died of old age and was buried Monday in the
Catholic cemetery at the west end of the town. Father 31050 of Keshena conducted the funeral ceremony (St. Michael's Catholic Church there. Burial in St. Mary's [Later St. Michaels] Catholic Cemetery in town of How, Oconto County)..
Oconto County Reporter
December 2, 1904
[First publication Nov. 25, last Dec. 23, 1501.]
Estate of Mathias Philippi—Notice to File Claims.Letters testamentary on the estate of Mathias Philllpi. deceased, having been issued to Christina. Philippi.
Oconto County Court—In Probate.
In the matter of the estate of Mathias Philippi, deceased.
It is ordered that six months from this date he and are hereby allowed and limited for the creditors of said Mathias Phillppl, deceased. to present their claims for examination and anewance.
It is further ordered that the claims and demands of all persons‘ ainst said deceased be received. examined an adjusted by this Court at its court room, the probate office, in the city of Oconto, in said county, at a regular term thereof appointed to be held on the rst Tuesday of June. 1905, and all persons are hereby notified thereof.
Ordered. further, that notice of the time and place when and where said claims and demands will be received. examined and adjusted as aforesaid and of the time hereby limited for creditors to present their claims be given by publishing t is order and notice four successive weeks in the Oconto County Reporter. a newspaper pubiished at city of Oconto, in said count . the first publication to be within ten days from the date hereof.
Dated this 22nd day of Nov. 1904. By the Court, 11. F. JONES, County Judge.
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