Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From Whence I Came...August Gottlieb Kolberg

My maternal great-grandfather, August Gottlieb Colberg (Kolberg) was born on November 24, 1854 in Klein Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern. He was christened the following day, November 25, 1854, at the Evangelical Church in Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern. His sponsors were (1) August Colberg-likely the brother of his father, (2) August Goll, (3) Helene Litwinke.

Jasia, please note this birth certificate from a German, Lutheran church is actually written in Polish which owes to the fact that the village is now part of Poland and the churchbooks are housed in the Catholic church there!

Birth Certificate of August Colberg
November 24, 1854

August was the 3rd son of Friedrich Wilhelm Colberg, Sr. and Henriette Amalie Kautz of Klein Tuchen. This couple would eventually have 12 children with 11 sons and 1 daughter. Four sons and the one daughter died in childhood with 7 sons living to adulthood.

On October 4, 1878, in Groß Tuchen, August was married to Bertha Kramp at the above named Evangelical Church.

Evangelical Church of Groß Tuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern

They had at least 3 children while still living in Germany with 2 of the children dying in infancy.

August, Bertha and 3 year old daughter, Hedwig, immigrated to America on the ship Lessing arriving at the port of Castle Garden in New York on November 28, 1883. They had traveled from the port of Hamburg in Germany, on to the port of Havre in France and then on to the US. Their name was spelled "Colberg" on the ship passenger list. Bertha's sister, Emilie Kramp, and Emilie's future husband, Friedrich Skibbe, also traveled with them on the same ship. Upon arriving in New York, they traveled on to Lincoln Township in Berrien County, MI to join August's younger brother, Heinrich, who had arrived a few years earlier.

Over the course of their years in the US, August and Bertha had a total of 6 more known children with one son dying in infancy. Times were hard, farming did not produce much income but the family still grew.

In 1903, August owned 17 acres of land in Lincoln Township according to a plat book in the St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI. The farm, home and property were located on Cleveland Avenue between what is now Rockey Weed and Linco Roads in Lincoln Township (Stevensville). I have searched for this property and located it by going out Cleveland Avenue, towards the town of Baroda and found the property on the left side of Cleveland Avenue, the third farm before Linco Road.

By 1917, August was a laborer and tenant farmer with a house and lot on St. Joseph Avenue in Stevensville.

Besides farming, August was a cabinetmaker and made such items as coffins.

While I don't have much definitive information on his life, the facts that I do have don't display a very happy lifestyle for August & Bertha. While August and his 4 brothers all became farmers in Berrien County, August's farm was probably the least productive. His wife, Bertha, had to supplement the income by picking berries on farms of the other brothers and then selling them for additional income. It also did not help that August had a propensity for alcohol and his wife, Bertha, certainly did not have a happy life.

Bertha Kolberg passed away first on February 26, 1915 and, interestingly, each of the 5 Kolberg brothers lost their wives at early ages. It would appear that the hard work of farming alongside their husbands, coupled with the enormous number of children that they had, made the lives of the Kolberg spouses hard and short.

In later years, August lived with his daughter, Amelia Mielke, and her family in Stevensville...

August Kolberg
ca 1918
Stevensville, MI

until his death on April 24, 1920 in Stevensville. He and Bertha are buried in City Cemetery in St. Joseph, MI.

While I was growing up, my grandmother, Ella Kolberg Kijak, never shared any information with me on either of her parents. While she was the baby of their family and was undoubtedly special to her mother, it just was something she never discussed. I only have the two above photos of August and only the one of Bertha but I am pleased to have what items I do possess and to have the limited knowledge of my great-grandfather that has been shared with me.

Above photos/documents from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte


Jasia said...

Thanks for sharing the birth certificate Cheryl. It's interesting to see! In spite of the fact that all my ancestors came from Poland, only a few of their birth, marriage, or death records are in Polish! Those from what was the Austrian section are in Latin and the post 1868 records from the Russian section are in Cyrillic. Only the one line of my family from the pre-1868 time period have records in Polish. :-)

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comment, Jasia. Even more amazing is that the actual church books there ARE in German. Evidently the priest took the time to convert the certificates he sent me into Polish before mailing them off. The microfilms, also, from SLC from that village display the records in German and, of course, they microfilmed the records from the actual church books.