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Michael and Katharina (Pitzen) Schaeffer

Michael M Schaeffer was born near Siebenbach, Germany. Katharina Pitzen was born in Niederbarr, Germany. Siebenbach and Niederbarr are about 5 miles apart. They were married in the parish of Wanderath, Germany. They farmed in Wanderath for 8-9 years after their marriage. But after numerous crop failures and a shortage of food, they decided to come to America as some of their family and friends had done so before them. Katharina's younger brother Johann Pitzen had come to America in 1879 and settled in Johnsburg, McHenry County, Il.

Along with their four children, in the spring of 1882, they immigrated from the Port of Bremen, Germany, 12 April 1882, aboard the ship Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm, arriving at *Castle Garden, NY on 1 May 1882. This information was located on the ships passenger list and also Michael's Declaration of Intent papers, on file at the McHenry County Courthouse. They settled in Johnsburg, Il with their children Emma, age seven, Katharina age five, Mathias age three and Johann about nine months. They had a farm of 103 acres, Sec 13 on the McHenry Tws 1892 Plat Map, a quarter mile west of the village of Johnsburg (along what today is Johnsburg Road, their farmhouse and barn is still there today and appears to be in very good condition). Three more children were born after their arrival in America, Mary, Peter and Josephine

Michael and Katharina farmed for nearly thirty years before retiring and leaving their sons to take over the farming for them. They never owned an automobile, and walked where they needed to go. Several of their children lived in Spring Grove, a distance of about five miles. They would walk to their childrens homes, and spend a few days before returning to their farm in Johnsburg. Michael and Katharina never spoke any English, they continued to speak in their native tongue, German.

Michael and Katharina celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary May 29, 1933. This memorable occasion was first celebrated with a special mass at St John The Baptist Catholic Church at 9:30 a m in Johnsburg, Il. Dinner was later served at the home of their daughter Katharina Nimsgern, in McHenry, Il. An anniversary cake was presented to them by their grandson Joseph Nimsgern, son of Katharina.

Michael and Katharina passed away shortly after celebrating their 60th Anniversary. Michael, age 87, at the home of his daughter Josephine May in Spring Grove, Il on Fri 22 Oct 1933. He was one of the oldest members of St John the Baptist Catholic Order of Foresters at this time. Katharina, at the age of 87, passed away on Sat 20 Jan 1934, just three months after Michael, at the home of her daughter Katharina Nimsgern, in McHenry, Il. Michael and Katherina had twenty two grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Both Michael and Katharina were devoted members of St John the Baptist Catholic Church for about 52 years. They are at rest at the St John The Baptist Catholic Cemetery, in Johnsburg, Il.

I would like to thank Al May, grandson of Michael and Katharina, for much of the information in this bio of Michael and Katharina. Al has the most extensive family genealogy collection on his family I have ever seen. I am fortunate to have met him and will always be grateful for the time he has spent with me this past two years sharing his family history with me. Michael and Katharina are my 2x great maternal grandparents, their daughter Katharina Nimsgern is my gr grandmother and a sister to Al's mother, Josephine May.

Photo of Port of Entry, Castle Garden, New York


Years before Ellis Island became the most important port of entry for immigrants, Castle Clinton in lower Manhattan served as the country's first processing point for millions of future Americans. The castle was built in 1807 as a fort against possible British invasion. In 1822, President J. Monroe decided it had served its purpose and the area was reborn as Castle Garden, a spot where New Yorkers were able to enjoy concerts and entertainment in a park-like setting. It's popularity declined as an entertainment park and by 1855, Castle Garden had become America's first receiving station for immigrants. Between 1855 and 1890, eight million new arrivals passed through its portals. Immigrant operations ended in 1890 and Castle Garden eventually reverted to its original name, Castle Clinton. In 1950, Castle Clinton was declared a national monument. The building now houses a museum which has fascinating exhibits of the immigrant experience in the late 18th century.

Information in Family Group Records was obtained from family members, church records, and obits.

Family Group Records

Michael Schaeffer
Son of Johann Schaeffer and Anna Margaretha Schemisch
Born 14 Feb 1846/Siebenbach, Germany
Married Katharina Pitzen 29 May 1873/Wanderath, Germany
Died 27 Oct 1933/Spring Grove, Il.
Buried at St John The Baptist Catholic Cemetery, Johnsburg, Il
Katharina Pitzen
Daughter of Peter Pitzen and Maria Wagner
Born 10 Sep 1846/Niederbarr, Germany
Died 20 Jan 1934/McHenry, Il
Buried at St John The Baptist Catholic Cemetery, Johnsburg, Il

Children of Michael and Katharina

1.Emma (Anna Maria)
Born 8 Dec 1875/Wanderath, Germany
Married Martin Jung (Young) 11 Nov 1897
St John The Baptist Catholic Church, Johnsburg, Il
Died 1953/Johnsburg, Il
Buried at St John The Baptist Catholic Cemetery, Johnsburg, Il

Born 6 Jan 1877/Wanderath, Germany
Married Frank Nimsgern 28 Nov 1899
St John the Baptist Catholic Church, Johnsburg, Il
Died 8 Mar 1942/McHenry, Il
Buried at St Peter's Catholic Cemetery, Spring Grove, Il

Born 15 Aug 1879/Wanderath, Germany
Married Rose Adams

Born 12 Aug 1881/Wanderath, Germany
Never Married

Born 12 Oct 1885/Johnsburg, Il
Married Mathias J May
Died Mar 1942/Spring Grove, Il

6.Peter M
Born 29 Aug 1886/Johnsburg, Il
Married Martha Mertes 30 Nov 1911
St John The Baptist Catholic Church, Johnsburg, Il
Died 15 Mar 1977/Crystal Pines Nursing Home, Crystal Lake, Il
Buried at St Patricks Catholic Cemetery, McHenry, Il

Born 7 Aug 1889/Johnsburg, Il
Married Peter May 24 Nov 1910
St Peter's Catholic Church, Spring Grove, Il
Died 2 July 1966/Spring Grove, Il
Buried at St Peter's Catholic Cemetery, Spring Grove, Il

Additional Family Group Records will be added, please check back for updates.

Photo of Michael and Katharina