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The Nineteenth Century Pommeranian Families of Danville, Illinois

The Leverenz, Poll, Natho, Drews, and Hacker Families

Danville in 1911

There were a lot of good reasons to leave northern Germany (Vorpommern) in the mid-nineteenth century. Many believers of the Old School of Lutheranism felt torn away from the church they loved by the Prussian government "reforms." Others saw the democracy promised by the 1848 revolution in Germany slip away and Prussian autocracy restored. And yet others had a miserable life as impoverished peasants in the hard land of Pomerania on the north coast on modern Germany (Vorpommern in German). So they came to America looking for a way out of poverty, religious persecution, and political domination.

Danville Illinois was a good destination for Vorpommeran families such as the Leverenz, Poll, Natho, Drews, and Hacker families. Some of the Leverenz families were from Griefswald shown on the map following:

Some of their villages include Hienrchshagen, Poggendorf, and Sassen shown on the following map. Do note that your monitor my not show all the detail on either map well. If you have a good printer, just right click on either map, save it on your hard drive, and later print it. It will look a lot better.

Danville was easy to get to from a port like New York; it was on the railroad to St Louis. Or easy to get to by railway using the North-South route from Chicago. So there were railway jobs for many including that of young attorney Abraham Lincoln who represented the Illinois Central Railway In litigation at the Danville Courthouse.

Also there was work available coal mining. The coal mining in Danville in that era was open pit style coal mining where each worker gathered coal from the pit and was paid by the amount mined. No English skills were needed to be a coal miner either. And in Danville there was an area called Germantown so the German immigrants need not instantly learn English.

My interest in Danville comes from my great great grandmother Dorothea Leverenz and great great grandfather Johan Poll who lived in and were married in Danville. Click here to see their marriage certificate. And click here to see what Johan had to say to marry such a young and beautiful woman.

Finding out more about Dorothea and Johan turned out to be more complicated and interested than I anticipated. So the rest of this page is what I discovered.

There were at least four Leverenz families that migrated to Danville. Unfortunately all were headed by Carl/Charles/Christian (the names seemed to be used interchangeably) causing some confusion in the records.

The Leverenz families married into the Poll, Hacker, and Drews Vorpommern families living in Danville. Here are details on those and other intermarried families:

The Vorpommern families were artistically inclined too. The Hacker Band was formed in Danville in 1878 and composed of the following members and pieces: F. C. Hacker, leader; A. Watson, drum-major; A. Hutter, E-flat clarionet; S. Reams, E-flat cornet; Joseph McAlefee, B-flat cornet; Charles Hacker, B-flat clarionet; Charles Roke (Rook), solo alto; Charles Leverence (Leverenz), first alto; Christian Leverence (Leverenz), tenor; John Lewis, baritone; John Anders, B-flat bass; Theodore Poll, tuba; C. M. Colter, tenor drum; Christian Evert, bass viol. The italicized were from Vorpommern and mentioned above or in the genealogies.

 

These Vorpommern families seemed to have a major impact on Danville life in the late 1880's. They provided Danville's heat, shoes, food, and dry goods while giving Danville smokes and booze (and music to do all the foregoing). And then they disappeared into the great American landscape.

Click here for the Interactive Family Tree for These Families

 

Please send any information and queries to Bill Remus at

Remus@hawaii.edu

September 21, 2005