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John and Hildegard Boerner

October 23, 2011

John Boerner arrived in Wisconsin from Germany with his mother and younger brother in 1899. He was raised in Niagara, WI and as a young man he returned to Germany to marry his cousin, Hildegard Boerner (that was also her maiden name), and bring her to the United States. They arrived back in the U.S. on May 21, 1912 on the ship, the Kroonland*, but were detained for one day. They were considered “LPC” or “Likely Public Charge.”

Ship's Manifest for the Kroonland
Ship’s Manifest showing John and Hildegard detained for “LPC.”

In 1891, the U.S. Government added another filter to the flood of immigrants coming into the country by considering if they had means or potential for becoming productive, gainfully employed citizens. If they had family in the country who would help them get established or if they had some wealth of their own, they would be admitted into the country; if those conditions were not met, they could be detained and/or deported so that they did not become a “public charge,” i.e. someone needing the welfare care of the state. John and Hildegard fell into that category until they could prove otherwise. It took only a day for them to show they either had some means or family to help them; they were admitted into the country the next afternoon. It was noted that John was a U.S. Citizen and Hildegard either was a U.S. Citizen or was in process (I am not able to make out the hand-writing).

When World War I began, there was a national draft and John registered for the draft** like other young men. He was employed at Kimberly-Clark in Niagara, WI as a labourer [sic] at that time. His Registration Card noted that he had been born in Gaulsheim, Rheinhessen, Germany, was married and had two children.

By 1930, the couple had moved to Kohler, WI. They established themselves there and were raising their children to be active participants in the community. (There are hundreds of times their names are listed in the Sheboygan Press, the county-wide newspaper, reporting the different ways they were engaged in community activities.) The 1930 U.S. Census reported that 41 year-old John and Hildegard (age 38) lived on West Park Lane in Kohler with their five children Martin (16), Jacob (11), Margaret (9), Elizabeth (7), and John, Jr (1 yr, 1 month). Also living with them were two brothers-in-law of John’s (presumably Hildegard’s brothers) John W. (age 51) and Joseph (25), both single. The Census also tells us the couple both spoke German in their homes before coming to the U.S. and that Hildegard was naturalized in 1912, the same year as her arrival in this country. John worked as a grinder and Hildegard was also working outside the home doing clerical work.

1930 Census for Boerners
1930 U.S. Census for John and Hildegard Boerner Family

A question which still needs more digging: when and where did John and Hildegard marry? I have reviewed the available data I know and find no hints. More to come . . .

*New York Passenger Lists, 1820 – 1957.
**WWI Draft Registration Cards

From → Boerner/Storch

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