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Condon, Kleckner, Gilles, Ethen, Milton, Meyer, Mitchell, and Liston Family History

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Ethen stories

The following paragraphs were transcribed from a handwritten history of the Ethen family, and specifically the John Ethen family.  The author of the document remains unknown to me.  I've examined known writings of Sophie Ethen Finnegan and Fr. Roscoe Finnegan, who kept up on family history, and also of Laura Milton Ethen, wife of Louis Ethen, and her daughters, my aunts, Kate Nordeen and Barb Quinn, but their handwriting does not match, and no one seems to know who would have written this out.  Some notes in the margins, and the entire fourth page are by Betty Ethen Condon.  I've scanned the document and provide links, below, to the scanned images.

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"Ludwig and Catherine (Katerina [she was part French]) Ethen lived in Malmody [now spelled Malmedy], Germany, now in Belgium, near Aachan. Because the authorities began requiring young men to serve 3 years in the army they chose to bring their family, 6 boys, at least, plus girls, to the U.S., including John, who was 3½. They left Germany in 1849. Ludwig was a stone mason. Their fortunes brought them to Guttenberg, Iowa where he built a Catholic church, still standing, out of field stone [Old St. Mary Church; has been replaced by newer churches]. He saved money and came to Fort Atkinson in Iowa and stayed awhile because the Indians were in an uproar.

When possible they went on to St. Anthony, Minnesota, now Minneapolis. There he got the army contract to haul flour by wagon and oxen to Fort Pembina, North Dakota, at the corner of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Canada--a rough and long journey. Then, when he'd saved money he homesteaded around St. Joseph, Minnesota. There he built another church of field stone which is still standing.

Ludwig and Catherine died at 64 and 67 [actual ages -- Ludwig, 67, Catherine 60].

Son John homesteaded around Spring Hill, Minnesota. There he married Cecilia Spaethe [also spelled Spaeth, Spath]. They had 4 children-Joe, Mary, Tony, and Catherine. Cecilia died at 33 in childbirth. [When Cecilia died the band marched in her funeral.] Then he married Catherine Weber, daughter of Claudius Weber and Barbara Meyer. They had Alfonse-died in infancy, Frank-died of peritonitis, Rose, Sophie, Gene, Claude, Louis, Clarence-died 1966 throat cancer, Andy.

John died of throat cancer at 87
Catherine died of stroke at 77

After homesteading they moved to Richmond, Minnesota. Claudius Weber had the brewery in Richmond. John built a large hotel [the Central House] and livery there. They would occasionally have dances through the night. [They had to stop by 6:00 am on Sunday to go to church.] He sold that and had a small hotel and butcher shop in St. Cloud.

[Dad {Louie} says that he can remember being sent [to] the brewery for the bucket of beer for dinner. Everyone had a little bucket with a lid and got fresh beer each day.]

Dad's {Louie's} father's oldest daughter, Mary, by Cecilia, married Dad's mother's brother, Jacob Weber. They had 9 daughters-Cecilia, Theresa, Sara (Bloomer), Alma (Kolb), Connie (killed in car accident), Josephine (died young-water baby), Emalinda, Lorraine.

Cecilia and Theresa married brothers (Miller). Theresa married Mike Miller.
Cecilia's husband was brewmaster at Cold Spring Brewery, Minnesota.
Theresa ran a restaurant in Paynesville, Minnesota. Her daughter married a dentist in Phoenix.

Catherine [Weber] Ethen's brothers and sisters [children of Claudius Weber]:
Barbara Kirchner-Richmond, Minn.
Maggie Becker-repaired shoes; Richmond, Minn.
Jacob Weber-drey line; Richmond, Minn.
Tony Weber-lumberjack; Bemidji
William-lumberjack; Bemidji
William's daughter Clara was adopted by John and Catherine Ethen. She was a nurse who married a Chisholm from Bemidji.
Mary Becker-Menomini, Minn.
Lucas-drowned at 18
Elizabeth-married John Wink; St. Cloud; worked at Cold Springs Brewery.

[John Ethen's family]:
Frank - married Ann Anderson who had Billy - adopted him
John & Bob - Lived in St. Paul
Rose - Rosemary, Shirley, Sara Lou, Dick, Jean, Tom, Doreen
Sophie - Roscoe Finnegan (Buster)
Gene - Christine McLeane, John
Claude - Laura [1st wife], Gladys [2nd wife], Claude Jr.
Clarence - [wife] Hilda, Dorothy, Donald, James, Jeanne
Andy - [wife] Gertrude Kosel, Kathleen (Bill Johnson), Mary Ann (Norman Berkeley), Francis

A bit more information about a hotel John Ethen operated was provided by Mary Kay Amberg (translated by Bill Steeber) in January, 2016. The following article appeared in the German-language newspaper Der Nordstern, St. Cloud, Minn. in July, 1890:

We refer our readers to the new announcement of Mr. John Ethen, who took over the so-called Commercial Hotel on 6th Avenue, formerly (owned by) Andr. Krämer. The business has undergone a complete renovation, to serve as a pleasant place to stay for each guest.  Beds and special facilities are there for everyone as desired and to the guest as a licensed business, there is for each customer the friendliest service. Mr. Ethen has operated a similar business in Richmond in this county a full seventeen years, and he knows how to make his house a pleasant home for outside visitors. With the hotel stables (are) in included.

The account above, which mentions the ancestral homeland of the Ethens, is fairly accurate. New research has provided us with the names of the villages in the area of Malmedÿ, Belgium, which can be seen at this page: Ethen Origins.

Thanks to Tom Steichen, Kathy Severance, and especially Mary Kay Amberg, I've been able to further piece together the story of our Ethen family in this country.  From a paragraph in what was probably a Stearns County business atlas it was revealed that the Ethen family immigrated to this country in 1852. This is verified by a passenger manifest from the ship Maria that arrived in the U.S. on June 23, 1852 from Antwerp, Belgium. Details of this list are shown on the Ethen Origins page.  They first settled in Guttenburg, Iowa, in Clayton County, where a 39 year-old H. Ludwig Ethen signed a Declaration of Intentions, on July 20, 1852,the first step in the naturalization process.  Note that the Declaration was signed 'H. Ludwig Ethen', probably indicating that he went by the name Ludwig, not Heinrich or Henry.  His tombstone is also inscribed 'Ludwig Ethen', supporting that notion.

On April 15, 1853 a land transfer from Samuel Wardall, a Private in Captain Hook's Company of the Maryland Militia in the War of 1812 was made to Henry L. Ethen.  This document, along with the Declaration of Intentions, firmly establishes the Ethen family in the Guttenburg area in the early 1850s.

Additionally, the IAGenWeb Project shows records for an 1854 census in Jefferson Township, Clayton County, Iowa.  The record is for a Henry L. Ethen, with 9 males and 3 females in the household.

A few words are appropriate here concerning how the Ethen family came to be in the Guttenberg area.  A valuable resource is the document "Guttenberg, Iowa, The "Limestone City" of Clayton County, Its Architecture and History, 1854-1951" written by James E. Jacobsen in 2001.  This document was prepared under provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 in order to inventory the historic resources of the Guttenberg area and to suggest preservation efforts.  The following excerpts are from that document; the document is available through the Guttenberg city web site.

"The earliest Euro-American occupation of the narrow floodplain along the Mississippi is not well-documented but probably occurred shortly before or after eastern Iowa was opened to white settlement by the Black Hawk Treaty of 1833. A seasonal campground of the Sauk and Mesquakie tribes in the 1820's, this area may have hosted Indian traders in those years, who viewed the plain, with narrow creek valleys opening into it from between high limestone bluffs, as a good place from which to conduct business and gain access to the prairie interior to the west. The tiny settlement which grew up on the plain was called Prairie la Porte, and as the largest population center in newly-established Clayton County, was designated county seat in 1838. This status was not long retained, however, as movement of settlers into western portions of the county resulted in removal of the county seat to more centrally-located Garnavillo in 1843. Within a few years, Prairie la Porte was almost totally abandoned."

"The Western Settlement Society of Cincinnati was a semi-charitable organization founded to aid German immigrants who wished to settle in the American Midwest. In 1844, the Society purchased three hundred acres to the north, and 160 acres to the south, of the Prairie la Porte plat, and the next year acquired the plat as well. Five German families arrived in March 1845, the most determined of an original band of 200 souls, most of whom had remained behind in Burlington, Iowa. By 1851 the town had grown to nearly 300 people, and by 1856 to over 1500, only a few of whom were not German immigrants. The new settlement was appropriately renamed "Guttenberg", and the name was accepted by the State Legislature."

"Perhaps the most striking feature of Guttenberg's architectural landscape is the large number of limestone structures, the majority dating from before the Civil War and some perhaps built as early as the mid-1840's. They represent a rather extensive use of a locally-available but unwieldy, building material, possibly even in preference to equally-available timber. Examples of stone construction include not only industrial and commercial buildings (where the material's load-bearing and fire-retardant qualities would have been most appreciated) but also houses, large and small. Use of limestone is not unique to Guttenberg it is found in many eastern and central Iowa communities, and as in Guttenberg was most commonly used in the 1845-70 period, but the high proportion and variety of stone structures remaining in Guttenberg sets this community apart from many towns of its age in the state."

The significance of these excerpts is that the second paragraph explains the probable mechanism by which the Ethen family emigrated from Europe to this country.  Europe was in turmoil in 1848, undergoing a wave of political unrest across much of the continent.  Although the revolutions ultimately were short-lived, the uprisings caused economic uncertainty and unemployment throughout the area.  Additionally, the oral history of the Ethen family, cited above, mentions that young men were subject to the draft, and Ludwig would have been 35 years old in 1849.  Moving to America must have been a difficult decision, especially with a family of seven children, but finding a sponsor such as the Western Settlement Society must have eased the process considerably.

Also interesting is that the oral history mentions that Ludwig was a stone mason.  Perhaps this skill facilitated his selection as a suitable applicant for relocation to the Guttenberg area, since limestone structures were important there.  He certainly could have played a role in building the original St. Mary's church in Guttenberg, although probably not using field stone, but rather, dressed limestone.

A daughter, Maria or Mary, was born to Ludwig and Catherine in Clayton County, but the family soon moved to Stearns County, Minnesota, where their youngest child, Joseph Clemens, was born.  He was said to be the first white boy born in St. Cloud.  Joseph was born in 1856, so the move to Minnesota occurred fairly soon after the family's arrival in this country.  Stephan Schafer has discovered and provided a scan of Joseph's birth record.  This record is significant, in that it provides documentation of Joseph's parents names and the date of Joseph's birth.

On March 18, 1859 Ludwig signed a second naturalization document, which was also signed by his son Peter and an Anton Smith, who testified to the good moral character of Ludwig.  Peter had signed his own Declaration of Intentions in 1858 in Stearns County.  Son Stephan's naturalization papers were signed on August 11, 1868.  They indicate that the family arrived in the U.S. on June 15, 1852.  [Other documents and census records spell his name as 'Stephen'; however, his own signature is spelled 'Stephan'.

In all, we have records for 9 Ethen children, although a tenth, possibly named Henry, has also been suggested.  The Steichen family history indicates that three Ethen brothers married three Schäfer sisters, one of the Ethens being named Henry.  The census data don't indicate a child by this name, so perhaps this Henry was unrelated to our family.

Of Ludwig and Catherine's children, we know that only one, Maria, died in childhood, which was remarkable for those days.  Records are incomplete for two other children, Nicholas and Sebela [Sybilla].

As the children grew up they married and established their own households.  I've gotten some interesting homesteading patent documents from the General Land Office for land obtained by various Ethen men and for Claudius Weber (father-in-law of John Ethen) and for John Meyer (father-in-law of Claudius Weber). Homesteading was done from the years 1865 through 1888, in the terms of Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Grover Cleveland.

For reference, the farms of Ludwig (in Le Sauk township) and Peter (in St. Joseph township) were located about 6 miles northwest of St. Cloud, and about 5 miles apart. Joseph's land was 7-8 miles southwest of St. Cloud (in Rockville township), and Stephan's another 6 miles southwest of Joseph's (in Maine Prairie township). The land John settled was farther to the west--about a mile north of and 35 miles west of St. Cloud; 1½ miles due west of Greenwald (in Grove and Getty townships). The land homesteaded by Claudius Weber was just southwest of Richmond (in Munson township).  I've plotted the general locations of the farmsteads on an old railroad map of Minnesota. (Note: each square on this map is a township--6 miles x 6 miles.)  Not shown on the map is the location of John Meyer's land.  It was about midway between Peter and John's, northwest of the town of Albany.

By date, the patents were issued to: John Meyer (1865), Claudius Weber (1865), Ludwig (1865), Peter (1866), Stephan, (1866), John (1873), and Joseph (1888). The patents issued to Claudius, Ludwig, Peter, and Stephan were under the 1820 Cash Entry Act, which was based on a claim and auction system of transfer; the patents issued to John and Joseph were under the 1862 Homestead Act, based on a combination of outright sale or on transfer for a small fee after residence and improvement of the land for 5 years.

These documents can be accessed from the Historical documents page.

The following tables are some census data collected by M.K. Amberg.  I'm showing the spellings of the names as the original documents showed them.  Note that there are several variations of some names, especially for Catherine, the wife of Ludwig.

1860 U.S. Census, Minnesota, Stearns County

Name Age Sex Occupation Birth place
Clinton P.O.
Etton [sic], Henry 47 M farmer Prussia
Catherine 47 F keep house Prussia
Peter 25 M laborer Prussia
Nicolas 22 M laborer Prussia
Sebela 18 F laborer Prussia
Stephen 16 M laborer Prussia
John 14 M laborer Prussia
Anton 12 M   Prussia
Mathias 10 M   Prussia
Mary 6 F   Iowa
Joseph 4 M   Minnesota
Hellin* 27 F   Prussia

*No real knowledge of who this 'Hellin' is.  Perhaps a servant or niece?

1865 Minnesota Census, Stearns County

St. Joseph Twp
Ethen, Ludwig
Ethen, Peter
Henry Ludwig

1870 U.S. Census, Minnesota, Stearns Co.

Name Age Occupation Birth place
Town of St. Wendell
Ethen, Heinrich, L. 56 farmer Prussia
Katharina 56 keep house Prussia
Mathias 19 farmer Prussia
Joseph 14   Minn
Maine Prairie Twp
Eten [sic], Peter 32 farmer Nothing recorded
Anna 22 keep house "
Heinrich 9   "
Susanna 7   "
Margaretha 5   "
Anna M. 3   "
Katharina 5/12   "
Lesch, Peter (father-in-law) 54 farmer "
Town of Getty
Eaton [sic], Stephen 28 farmer Prussia
Susan 26 keep house Prussia
John 2   Minn
Mary 1   Minn
Cecelia 5/12   Minn
Town of Getty
Ethen, John 23 farmer Prussua
Cecelia 22 keep house Bavaria
Henry L. 2 farmer Minn
Joseph 8/12   Minn

1880 U.S. Census, Minnesota, Stearns Co., Maine Prairie Twp.

Name Age Occupation Born Father born Mother born
Eathen [sic], Peter 41 farmer Prussia Prussia Prussia
Anna 32 keeping house Prussia Prussia Holland
Henry 19 son Minnesota Prussia Prussia
Susan 17 daughter Minnesota " "
Margaret 15 daughter Minnesota " "
Mary 14 daughter Minnesota " "
Catherine 10 daughter Minnesota " "
Sybill 9 daughter Minnesota " "
Anna 8 daughter Minnesota " "
Madaline 6 daughter Minnesota " "
John 4 son Minnesota " "
Joseph 2 son Minnesota " "
Eliza 7/12 daughter Minnesota " "
Rosa 7/12 daughter Minnesota " "
Loesch, Peter 69 father-in-law Prussia Prussia Prussia

1885 Minnesota Census, Stearns County, Maine Prairie Twp.

Name Age Sex Birth place
Ethen, Peter 47 M Germany
Anna 38 F Germany
Loesch, Peter 74 M Germany
Ethen, Henry 24 M Minnesota
Susan 22 F Minnesota
Catherine 15 F Minnesota
Sybil 14 F Minnesota
Anna 12 F Minnesota
Lena 11 F Minnesota
John 9 M Minnesota
Joe 7 M Minnesota
Elizabeth 5 F Minnesota
Rosa 5 F Minnesota
Zilla 4 F Minnesota
Nick 1 M Minnesota

1900 U.S. Census, Minnesota*
*Original list includes 9 individual Ethens, ranging in age from 17 to 39, and classified as student, servant, hired man, or boarder.  These individuals may or may not be related to our family of Ethens.  Data are insufficient to say for sure.

Name  Relationship Birth date Age Birth place
Meeker Co., Watkins City
Ethen, Stephen   July, 1844 55 Germany
Susan W Jan, 1844 55 Germany
John S Sept., 1867 33 Minn
Celia D Oct., 1869 30 Minn
Stearns Co., Richmond City
Ethen, John   Dec., 1848 51 Germany
Catherine W June, 1865 34 Minn
Frank S Mar., 1884 11 Minn
Rosalia D Dec., 1894 5 Minn
Sophia D Feb., 1896 4 Minn
Eugene S Feb., 1899 1 Minn
Stearns Co., St. Cloud Twp.
Ethen, Matthew   May, 1851 49 Germany
Magdalena W Oct., 1851 49 Pennsylvania
Constant A. S Jan., 1880 20 Minn
Joseph S Aug., 1886 13 Minn
August S June, 1888 12 Minn
John S June, 1890 10 Minn
Barney S June, 1890 10 Minn
Edward S Sept., 1892 7 Minn
Stephen S July, 1895 4 Minn

1920 U.S. Census, Minnesota*
*There are several other Ethens on this census, some individual and some families, not all of whom are related to our family of Ethens.  I only showed the families with children that are related.

Name Relationship Age Birth place
Stearns Co.
Ethen, John   73 Germany
Katherine W 53 Minn
Sophia D 22 Minn
Claude S 19 Minn
Clarence S 14 Minn
Louis S 16 Minn
Andrew S 12 Minn
Weber, Clara Niece (adopted) 14 Minn
Crow Wing Co., Brainerd
Ethen, John (son of Peter)   43 Minn
Francis W 42 Bavaria
Frank S 18 Minn
Anna D 16 Minn
Margretta D 12 Canada
St. Louis Co., Duluth
Ethen, Anthony (son of Stephan)   43 Minn
Katy W 43 Minn
Susan C. D 17 Minn
Agnes M. D 16 Minn
Aloise N.G. S 14 Minn
Frances C. D 8 Minn
Stearns Co., St. Cloud
Ethen, Anton C. (son of Mathias)   40 Minn
Anna W 45 Minn
Mathias S 15 Minn
Caroline D 14 Minn
Florence D 12 Minn
Alfred S 9 Minn
Theresa D 7 Minn

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