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The Picklers from Karlsbad
 
This history is written by Meg McGowan.  Family members are free to cite it with permission and proper attribution.  It is a work in progress and will be updated as new information become available. For this reason, please do not copy the material and post it elsewhere, as the material may be outdated over time.  
 
 
 
Life in Bohemia
 
One branch of the Nolan family is descended from Joseph Pichler, a handschumachermeister, or master glove maker, from the spa town of Karlsbad, Bohemia.  Bohemia was part of the Austrian Empire until the end of the World War I, and Karlsbad was a summer retreat for many of the titled and wealthy of Europe during the imperial era.
Joseph Pichler’s great granddaughter Bertha Pickler described some of the Karlsbad visitors: “have seen most all Royal Blood at our home--like Bismarck and old King William, King of Sweden, Emperor William with all his sons and the late Empress, Franz Joseph, Emperor of Ostrieich and all the Russian Emperors which were killed and many others. . .”
 
Joseph lived in Karlsbad, perhaps from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. We can learn something of life in Karlsbad from a 1847 book “The Kingdom of Bohemia,” by J. G. Sommer, trans. Urs Geiser.  He describes a city of “558 houses with 3395 inhabitants,” including  “581 masters, some in guilds and some not, and other owners who together with 154 fellows and 281 apprentices and other aides operated the police, commercial, and free trades and commerce.”  Among the commercial tradesmen of the time were nine glovemakers.
 
Joseph and his wife Joanna (Pecher) were the parents of a daughter Magdalena, who was an unmarried mother of a daughter Amalia, born Jan. 4, 1829 and a son Franz (Frank), born in 1824.  Amalia was the unmarried mother of Bertha Laura Anna Pickler, born July 3, 1854.  As scandalous as this might seem, a native of Karlsbad explained the relationship between the city families and their wealthy summer visitors.  Some of the merchant families “had intimate contact with the nobility over many years due to their trade, and often these nobles added generously to their income by helping them establish B&Bs in patrician houses which were not necessarily theirs, but were leased with the help of the nobles because they wanted a house for themselves.”  In some cases the relationship may have gone further:
 
“If a young man of royal blood became infatuated with a Burgher girl, the parents of the young man would come to an arrangement with the family of the girl. Either it was totally discouraged, and most of the time it was just that, but since these nobles were also investors and if a business enterprise connected between them and the girls family, . . .plush quarters, usually on the third floor, provided the Karlsbad family a permanent residence year round. . . The agreement was that the name of the noble was never mentioned to his progeny. “
 
Bertha’s parentage was explained within the family and described by her granddaughter Margaret Nolan McGrann.  A wealthy young man, never named, had come to Karlsbad to treat his respiratory ailments. He and Amalia had planned to marry but he died before they were able to do so.  Bertha’s status did not apparently cause her any stigma in Karlsbad society. Her father’s sisters provided financial support for nice clothes, music lessons, and travel within Austria.  The photo above shows Bertha in nice clothes as a young child, either with her mother Amalia or perhaps her grandmother Magdalena.  Bertha described in a 1927 letter that she had been chosen to open a ball  hosted by the Emperor and Empress of Brazil, Dom Pedro II and Theresa Christina of the Two Sicilies.  She also reported being invited by the Brazilian empress to visit that country, but that her mother had not allowed the trip. A photo of Bertha and Amalia with two other women raises more questions about the family connections.  Two unidentified women in the photo on the right could be Bertha’s unnamed father’s sisters.  However, the two women do not appear to be related, in fact the one in the rear left does not appear to be European.
 
Joining Family in Minnesota
 
Amalia later married Joseph Peyer, and they had two daughters, Hedwig (called Hattie) about 1861, and Amalia (called Malie or Mollie) about 1866.  Amalia and her three daughters emigrated to Minnesota in April 1870, according to her naturalization record.  Apparently, Bertha’s aunts provided financial support for the move, to free Amalia and her daughters from Amalia’s unsuccessful marriage, according to family lore.  Bertha reported that her uncle (whom she doesn’t name) sent a Mr. Sommers to meet their ship in New York and help them on their way to Minnesota.  
 
Amalia’s brother Franz/Frank preceded her in emigrating to Minnesota in 1854 at the age of 31.  He traveled from Bremen to Baltimore on the ship Adler.  He may be the 35 year old farmer named Frank Pickler listed on the 1860 US Census, living in Lexington Township, LeSueur County, Minnesota.  Franklin Pickler of LeSueur County was inducted into the 3rd Minnesota Infantry, Company I,  as a Private on October 11, 1861.  He was discharged for a disability on Feb. 10, 1863.  The Minnesota Third Infantry fought at Murfreesboro, Tennessee in July 1862, but returned to Fort Snelling, Minnesota in October to help put down Indian raids.  The regiment fought another battle at Murfreesboro in January 15, 1863.  This could be where Franklin Pickler incurred the disability which led to his discharge.  
 
(There may have been two Frank Picklers in the county. The 1865 Minnesota State Census for Montgomery township in LeSueur has a Frank Pickler in Montgomery Township of LeSueur County, with a family which includes Jane, Margaretta, Louis, Clara, and Frank.  )
 
In 1870,  Frank Pickler, 46, farmer, born in Austria, lived alone in St. James, Watonwan County, where his sister Amalia joined him around 1870. In 1872, he married a widow, Grace (Kreozing) Pattinger, who had a 2 year old daughter, and on May 1, 1873 he acquired a land patent for land in Watonwan County. On the 1875 Minnesota Census, he and Grace resided in Oshawa in Nicollet County.  They then had two daughters, one unnamed age 6 and Sophia age 1.   In 1880, the family lived in Jordan, Scott County.  Later, the family moved to Chamberlain, South Dakota, where they resided for the remainder of their lives.
 
Amalia’s daughter Bertha described their family’s arrival in the US and move to Minnesota:
 
Those days Minnesota was a very hard place and not much inside, so the New York people didn't want us to go any further, but Mama brought 14 poor relatives along, and she had to take care of them as she had a home build for them, and we landed first in Mankato over night. There was no train to St. James till the next day, at noon we started for our new home, but what a disappointment for us. When we landed the whole country or city was at the depot to receive us--they expected Germans with wooden shoes and short skirts. But where (wear) dresses to(o) fine for them for that part of Country, but they had a big Banquet arranged in the Hotel for us, and we all where most heartbroken to come to such a place--but we didn't lost our fiat in God and sure, he helped us wonderful. Anyway the People and good neighbors tried to make it as pleasant as they could, and to my good friend Mr. J. W. D. we have to be thankful. He seen right off, and take us in Fall to St. Paul, made a home for us there.
Move to St. Paul
The Peyer family was first listed in the Saint Paul City Directory of 1873 though they may have arrived earlier. They were listed under the name Beyer, operating a boarding house at 15 St. Peter Street, on the corner of Fourth Street. The household  included five men and five women, including Amalia and her tree daughters. It was one of 57 boarding  houses in the city that year.  Among the boarders was Henry Theviot, a salesman at H.R. Moore & Sons.  
Henry had emigrated from Beuel, Prussia, traveling from Bremen on the ship Anna, arriving in New York 3 May, 1867.  He first traveled to Iowa to join his uncle Peter J. Theviot, who was farming in Dubuque County, Iowa.    By 1871 he had moved to St. Paul, and was operating a soda fountain, confectionery, fruit and  stationery stand at the Post Office. He was boarding at the home of the artist Henry Koempel on Marshall Avenue.  
Henry and Bertha Picker were married in St. Paul on Jan. 23, 1873.  Initially, they lived at Amalia’s boarding house, and later moved back to the Koempel residence.  In 1874, Henry joined the Post Office as a clerk, and he and Bertha Theviot built their own home on Von Minden Street, in the Uppertown neighborhood of St. Paul.  Their first child, a son named Henry, was born that same year.  Bertha recalled that Henry “overworked day and night and took ill, so Doctor advised him to go to California, where they had a position for him in the [Custom] house, but his friends talked him out of it and we stayed in St. Paul.  He went into the dry goods business with B. F. Zahn and Co., on seven corners.”
In 1875, Henry’s brother John had arrived from Prussia and was boarding at Amalia Peyer’s boarding house.  He was working as a clerk at J. Mainzer.  Henry and Bertha moved back into Amalia’s boarding house in 1876, apparently having sold their home in anticipation of the move to California.  Bertha described her own health about this time:  “After a while my health went back on me, selling our home and yet not to go.  I got nervous frustration and we had to change in the country where doctor said it would be the only thing for me.  And we landed in my dear old Belle Plaine where my health came back and many happy days.”  
The move to Belle Plaine was in 1877.  Bertha reported that Henry had a General Merchandise business in Belle Plaine for seven years.  He was part of the general business community and on the board of the Belle Plaine Hall association.   Two more children were born during this time, Eleanora Marie, on October 15, 1879, and William in 1881.  Bertha may have chosen to deliver the children in St. Paul, near her mother.  Bertha reported that she studied voice and piano with the nuns in Belle Plaine and worked in her husband’s store.
In St. Paul, Amalia’s boarding house may have been on the same corner of 4th and St. Peter Streets for several years, until 19882-83, although the address seemed to be renumbered frequently.  Amalia and her daughter Hattie were involved in social events in the German community in St. Paul.  In September 1880, they are listed in the St. Paul Daily Globe among the guests at a large wedding  at the Athenaeum, a building designed for German lectures and cultural events.  In April 1882, Hattie Peyer performed a duet with another woman at the Athenaeum, as part of a concert by the Great Western Band.
John Theviot appears to have boarded at the home of his brother’s mother-in-law most of the time, even with various address changes.  He was working at a clerk at J. Mainzer in 1875-76, and at  John J. Penner, in 1879-1881.  He became a travel agent at M. A. Schultz & Co., in 1882 through 1885.  John Theviot’s naturalization record indicates he applied for citizenship on  September 6, 1878 in LeSueur Co., and may have gone to stay with Franklin Pickler at that time.  While living in the Peyer boarding house, John was in contact with his sister in law’s half sister, Hattie, and the two married on Feb 27, 1883.
Move to Brainerd
Bertha, Henry and their three children moved to Brainerd Minnesota in October, 1882.  Their daughter Eleanora (Nora)  reported that her father had gone to Brainerd a year before the rest of the family.  He saw a bright future for the town which was a hub for the Northern Pacific railway.  Henry bought a lot of property and built a general merchandise store. Nora’s recollections of the move and the town are available here.
The Theviot-Peyer families suffered a major loss in 1883, less than a year after the move to Brainerd.  In July, a diphtheria epidemic raged, and son Henry caught the disease and then perhaps passed it to his younger brother Will, only two years old.  As Nora Theviot recalls, her grandmother Amalia came from St. Paul to get her out of the house, and she was handed out the window to Amalia.  Nora was less than four years old at the time.  Both boys died and their mother was distraught for months.  Nora stayed with her grandmother in St. Paul for a year.  
By 1884, John and Hattie Theviot moved to Brainerd, and the two Theviot brothers were in business together.  John and Hattie’s  daughter Amalia (nicknamed Mimi) was born in Brainerd in June of that year. William Theviot, probably a son of Peter J. Theviot of Iowa and thus a cousin,  was living with John and Hattie in 1885. The John Theviot family moved back to St. Paul  by 1886-87 where John was working as a travel agent at Koehler and Hinrichs.   By 1888, the marriage of John Theviot and Hattie Peyer was over. The St. Paul Daily Globe has a notice on September 2, that Mrs. John Theviot and her sister Amalia, now Mrs. C. H. Marden, had just returned from Europe.  On Dec. 12, 1888, there is a marriage record for Hattie Theviot, described as a widow, and George Koehler, co-owner of Koehler and Hinrichs, John Theviot’s employer.  A daughter Adeline was born to the Koehlers on Jan. 26, 1889, about a month and a half after their marriage.  The St. Paul City Directory for 1889-90 lists John Theviot as having “removed to Brainerd, Minnesota.”
The family matriarch, Amalia Pickler Peyer, died of diabetes in St. Paul on Nov. 28, 1889 at the home of her youngest daughter Mrs. C. H. Marden, in the Hotel Barieau at the corner of Ninth St. and Smith Ave.  The funeral was held the following day at Assumption Church in St. Paul.  She was buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul, and her gravesite is on record, though the stone appears to have disappeared.
John Theviot died of consumption in Brainerd Feb. 3 1890, not long after his former mother-in-law.  The Brainerd newspaper reported, “He had not been in good health for some time and an attack of the prevailing epidemic hastened his death.  Knowing that he had but a short time to live he came to Brainerd from St. Paul some days before his death as he desired to be with his brother’s family during his last hours.”
Hattie Koehler applied to the Probate Court on Nov. 13, 1890 to be appointed guardian of her six year old daughter Amalia Theviot, noting that she was entitled to personal property valued at about $2000, most likely her father’s estate.  
 
To be continued.