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Sunday, January 26, 2014

52 Ancestors: #4 Mary Steinmetz

Mary Steinmetz

1899 - 1971

Daughter of Russian Immigrants

Mary Steinmetz was born in Pond Creek, Oklahoma to John and Anna Catherine (nee Hergert) Steinmetz. She was my maternal grandmother and married Mitchell William Hoag (grandson of Sarah Holly Graves).  I have conducted very little research on this family myself, other than finding the ship manifest showing the arrival of her parents aboard the steamship Stutgart on 8 Sept 1892.  Her parents immigrated with their only surviving child, John, age 6. (His age is not accurate, as he was born on Oct 17, 1883) They landed at the port of Baltimore and spent two weeks in quarantine living in a box car.  In 1970, Mary Steinmetz Hoag wrote a short family history assisted by her sister, Ida, and "others."  The original destination from Baltimore was Woodbine, Kansas.  Anna's two brothers, Jake and George Hergert were already established there; George paid for their passage to America.  George immigrated in 1876 aboard the S S Hermann landing at the port of New York.  These families were from the German colonies located in the lower Volga region of Russia.  They resided in the colonies of Brunnental and Walter.  A great resource for more information is the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. I was blessed with copies of two surname charts created by hand by Igor Pleve, who conducted extensive research on the Volga colonies.
 This is the wall chart for Johann Casper Hergert and his descendants.
This is the wall chart for Johann Phillip Steinmetz and his descendants.

In 2003, these charts were available for purchase, but I didn't find them listed in their online store.
When I received the copies I have they had been folded for quite some time and I wanted to preserve them, so I enveloped them in clear vinyl contact paper.  Then I rolled them up, I was unable to remove the fold lines but after over 10 years they still look great!  This is such amazing hand work!  

According to the family history written by Mary, John Steinmetz was the son of Adam Steinmetz and Marie Kester.  She writes, "The Steinmetz and Kister families were probably among the original founders of the mother Colony of Walter which was established August 25, 1767."  Mary doesn't include a bibliography for the quoted material in her written history.  Mary never had a middle name, neither did her brother John. When John was older he added Henry as his middle name to distinguish himself from his father. Makes me wonder if he chose Henry because of the phrase: 
John Henry is what the cowboy calls his signature. He never signs a document, he puts his 'John Henry' to it!
After Mary's parents arrived they were blessed with more children.  They left behind three children, one who died in 1890 of smallpox and two who were born prematurely and lived less than one week. Ida was the first child born in America, making her debut on the 21st of December, just a few months after their arrival.  A son, Benjamin arrived in 1894 followed by Emma in 1896.
Emma (seated) and Mary Steinmetz

Uncle George Hergert moved from Woodbine, Kansas  to Pond Creek, Oklahoma in 1894 and John and Anna went with them.  John wanted to repay the passage fees to George and so worked on his farm in Pond Creek.  Esther was born on 21 May 1898 but lived only two days. By the time Mary was born on the 15th of June in 1899, John had repaid his brother-in-law.  As land opened up in the West, three families from Pond Creek decided to stake a claim out in western Oklahoma, John Steinmetz, Henry Zeiler and John Zeiler.  The three families arrived on the 10th of March in 1900 and staked their claims three miles west of what is now known as Vici in Dewey County.  Vici was established after their arrival. A son, Solomon, arrived on the 22nd of July in 1901 and Lydia followed on the 19th of February in 1903.  Samuel arrived on the 20th of June in 1905.  John became a citizen of the United States of America on the 24th of September in 1906.  His homestead was approved on the 7th of June in 1907. Dora arrived that same year on July 24th.  This was the same year that Oklahoma achieved statehood. 1907 was a landmark year for the Steinmetz family!  Their last child, Sarah, was born in 1909 on the 19th of July.  They lost their son, Benjamin, to pneumonia on the 3rd of February in 1910, at the age of 14.  All of the Steinmetz girls learned to play the organ and both parents were talented vocalists.  Vici was hit by a tornado on May 10, 1910 at 6:00 pm.  The tiny town was wiped out and rebuilt one-fourth of a mile north of the original location.  Solomon went to California and acquire a job with some tree surgeons.  He fell to his death while topping a tree on the 4th of January in 1940.

Anna Steinmetz became ill with pneumonia in the spring of 1936, she did recover but not fully.  She died the following year of liver cancer on May 22, 1937 at the age of 72.  John Steinmetz died of stomach cancer at the age of 76 on the 4th of May in 1939.  Mary Steinmetz Hoag died on the 17th of March in 1971 following a heart attack.

There have been many books written about the Volga Germans and there are many societies dedicated to them.  I hope to read more about their lives in Russia, I have watched documentaries on PBS in the past that really portray the struggles these Germans faced on the Steppes of Russia.

The Steinmetz descendants have a reunion every two years at Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, Oklahoma over the Labor Day Weekend.  The next reunion will be held in 2015.  All of grandmother's generation are gone and my mother's first cousins are staying connected through these reunions.  My generation of cousins are hit and miss.

This photo was taken at the reunion in 1976.  It was held at Boiling Springs State Park, near Woodward, OK.  The reunion was moved the the Electric Cooperative building in Woodward after that and continued there for many years.
(Left to Right) Emma, Lydia, Samuel, Sarah and Dora.

I also have the original reunion register that has entries all the way back to the 1950's.   They have always had a good time at their reunions and stories include boating and games. At the 2013 reunion we played board games including Scattergories and Jinga.  






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