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Johann Heinrich Görger / Henry Goerger 
Born: 1 October 1814, Westpahlia, GERMANY
Died: 16 April 1894, Clear Lake, Minnesota
Parents: Arnold and Maria Görger
Biography compiled by Jeanne Goerger, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota: 
Johann Heinrich Görger, son of Arnold and Maria Görger, was born somewhere in Westphalia, Germany October 1, 1814. Family stories relate that he worked on the docks in Hamburg at twelve years of age. At this same time he decided to go to America and devised several large barrels to hide in during the trip. When he was ready he hid in the barrels until into the journey when he was found out by several sailors. He made an arrangement with them to do their work for food and to keep his presence a secret. Once they reach New York harbor, the sailors smuggled him through customs onto the streets to find the way on his own.

In approximately 1837, Henry joined other Germans settling in Clinton County, Illinois, near the newly formed village of Germantown. Here he married a widow, Catherine Lors Kniepmann, at St. Boniface  Catholic Church on February 1, 1842. Several children were born in Germantown: Gertrude born August 19, 1943, Edward born December 18, 1844, and Anna Margaretha born august 24, 1850.

In 1842 Henry and a neighbor rode by horse to Chicago (a three day trip one way) to help form the first Union Stockyards. Henry raised cattle and oxen to two years of age for plow and wagon. Around 1850 Henry joined Colonel Wingate's wagon train and headed to California for gold. When they reached South Pass, Henry and others parted from the company to follow rumors of gold in Oregon's Columbia Gorge. Their party was hijacked, so they walked the rest of the way to Oregon. Having found no gold, they traveled to Seattle, then obtained work on a freighter going to San Francisco. They found no gold here either, so hooked up again with Col. Wingate's train and worked their way home as scouts for the wagon train. On the way there they were caught in a blizzard several days ahead of their train and would have perished had not the Paiute Indians rescued and nursed them back to health. Henry returned to the gold fields some years later and did find some wealth. One example is the purchase of a large brooch that Catherine reportedly wore everywhere.

Early in 1855, Henry's family traveled up the Mississippi River by steamship to Stearns County, Minnesota, homesteading near St. Cloud. He became a naturalized citizen September 18, 1860, and gained title to 160 acres of land July 1, 1861. By now, other children had been born: Bernard (Barney) June 19, 1855, St. Cloud, MN; William F., born 1863 St. Cloud, MN; Anna, George, and an unknown Mrs. Garlins. Five year old Anna Margaretha had been left with Anton and Christina Dietz in Germantown, Illinois, when the family migrated to Minnesota. She later married Henry Duepmann and their descendants still live in the Germantown area. William migrated to Ione, Oregon, while Bernard and Edward established their lives near St. Cloud. Many of their descendants still reside in those areas. Catherine and several daughters returned to live near St. Louis, Missouri, while Henry and sons stayed near St. Cloud. 

Catherine died in St. Louis about 1897. Henry died in Clear Lake, Minnesota, of dropsy at eighty years of age on April 16, 1894. He is buried at Mary Help of Christians Cemetery, St. Augusta, Minnesota.

More in the Goerger family can be found at

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