Gustave Koerner – Emigration

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Gustave Koerner and fellow members of a German student group planned to overthrow the government in his hometown, Frankfurt am Main.  The coup in April of 1833 failed and Koerner was wounded in the fight. He escaped Germany dressed as a woman to pass by border guards. An arrest warrant was issued by Frankfurt officials. The bottom of the warrant lists Koerner’s physical description: Age 23, Height 5’2″, blond hair, brow/forehead-free, eyebrows- light brown, nose- average, mouth- average, chin- round, face- oval, face color- healthy, other identification- is wounded

He joined the Theodore Engelmann family in France and sailed to the United States, seeking a new life.  His new life would include Theodore’s daughter, Sophie Engelmann,  whom he married three years later. His trip from New York to St. Louis introduced him to scenes of American slavery, which he predicted would one day tear the nation apart. Arriving in St. Louis, Koerner witnessed slaves working on the riverfront and vowed he would not live in Missouri, a slave state, so the Engelmann party looked east and located a farm to purchase at Shiloh Valley, Illinois, which was a free state.  Complete details of Koerner’s student days and emigration are included in Volume 1 of his memoirs, which is available online. 

Following are accounts about life on the Engelmann farm, Shiloh, Illinois, beginning in 1833.

This is an excerpt of a letter styled from New Germany-Engelman FArm, March 1834, about ten months after they arrived at Shiloh Valley. The letter was sent to Gretchen, an Engelmann sister who remained in Germany.
The letter is dated March 17, 1834, from New Germany-Engelmann farm, about ten months after they arrived at Shiloh Valley.

The sisters take turns writing to Gretchen describing the farm work they do.
The work out of doors in the open we find pretty heavy but the air is so soft and pleasant and lasting and when we gradually see the results of the work of our hands we get a great deal of pleasure from it. Le me tell you what our dear ones are doing today-our dear mother – as you see- she wanted to write to you but her hand trembled so from her work- so she is washing the fine clothes; Lottchen (a sister) is cooking; Sophie, Betty and Marianne (also sisters) are at present digging in the garden; Theodore and Johann (brothers) are making fence. So frequently Theodore with his horses drives by my window and gets rails that they split last week. It is the hardest work that the American farmer knows- they split pieces six to ten feet long and three to six inches thick out of large logs. While the young men had very sore hands still they had made about 1,000 pieces. While Koerner is teaching the two children- George is busy helping with the fence. Father (Friedrich) who has not been quite well the past eight days is repairing and improving various tools, impliments and furniture, otherwise he is cutting trees, making plow and harrow, sleigh and yoke, and now is making a marker to lay off the rows for panting corn. He is a pattern of industry-only I sit here alone and write to you as mother will not let me work out of doors today, as I have not been quite well for several days- tho it does not amount to much, however I will help with the washing tomorrow. Diahrrea is a very common complaint here and at present Father, Theodore and I are suffering in various degrees….
If a block slides out of the wall into the yard it is just a stupid mistake of the builder-even tho the thermometer stands at twenty one degrees cold. In the warm season these little houses are all the better. We had four weeks of winter with some right fine cold clear days with deep snow and fine sleighing. On the 28 of December it was so warm we did not need a fire- and all of February was equally fine, with a clear sky and balmy air. March also, up to now has been pleasant and all the past week we have been digging in the garden and will get through today. We have sowed various things and one of these days will plant potatoes. We have some apple trees that will be in full bloom in eight days at the latest. Fruit tree seeds we have set out in abundance and last week Father visited the Hilgards (cousins who lived about two miles away) Edward and Theodore , the latter had another attack of fever. Edward gave him some buds for grafting; quince, pear and apple which was a real worth while present for without apples no orchard here is recognized as such.
Koerner has received an offer from a St. Louis publishing house to write a German column for an English paper (St. Louis Times.) He went to see about it- and while he did not take up their offer he made the man a proposition to write a complete German paper- very likely this will come to pass under good terms for Koerner. It will be decided in several weeks. The Americans have great respect for his knowledge and ability. The are also beginning to put much trust in the German doctors.
Just now everyone is very much taken up with the election of governor, there are three candidates. This morning Koerner was at the home of the one who will very likely be elected to buy a bushel of early potatoes. He lives four miles from us and is an industrious farmer, while he is rich he is reported to be very democratically minded. He is Master William Kinney.

Theodore, Koerner’s university friend and brother-in-law, wrote to his sister Gretchen in Germany about the difficulty he experienced getting established in his new home. Theodore Engelmann, Gustave Koerner’s university friend and later brother-in-law, had a difficult time establishing himself in America. His father, Friederick, suggested he learn a trade and delay studying law. Theodore’s letters to his sister and fiancé in Germany paint a gloomy picture of becoming a success in America.
The first letter is to his sister:
Let me hint that a brooding mood of discontent has come over me which haunts me everywhere and makes this life hateful to me. I am a miserable, dependent man, without any will and any initiative of my own.
I have been trying to mingle with Americans to master the language . There is no opportunity for that on our farm, yet I wish to gain access to the sources of this country and to study them. So far I have not succeeded.
(Theodore says he found work as a tanner in Belleville) I would walk to the tannery early in the morning while the last stars shimmered in the sky and I would return when the setting sun’s trailing robe submerged behind the trees and the dark shadows of night draw near. There are no rest hours in America…I was so tired out that arms and legs were stiffened, and no desire left to linger long among the Americans for the sake of their language. There was even less thought of reading or writing-I sought my bed .(Theodore quit that job and returned to the farm)
I thought about being a storekeeper, but lived too far away from others. (He labors on the farm, which he says has poor soil) I waste my time and effort and I cannot go ahead following my own lights; yet (although I obey orders) it is rare that I earn Father’s approval. All this is disheartening to me, and all my thinking day and night revolves around the idea of how I could get away from home, find a way of earning my living and face the world on my own feet.
Quote from Sophie….”The more Germans come the nicer it will be. The Americans are very boring, particularly when you cannot talk with them.”
In 1838 Theodore wrote:: Germans of all classes and all degrees of education have congregated here. Some occupy a place next to the colored people; Germans are found in al classes of society and, finally, head the group of those concerned with science and scholarship. The American cannot understand how people from one and the same country can be so different, for the Americans are all on more or less the same level, having all had the same opportunities of schooling, and have used them equally; even lawyers and doctors do not train for their intellectual and scientific work any differently than shoemakers and blacksmiths do for their trade…Although the better people among both nations respect each other, they seek little contact except when their business requires it; in their social life they are completely separate….
Koerner helped him set up a business in 1835 in St. Louis, but it failed. This from a .January 20, 1836, letter to his sister in Germany: It is hard to think that a man of my age (28) should not be able to wrestle from fate a life satisfying and even comfortable in any county and among any nation. Ever since I broke away from home -where my strivings for independence and autonomy were constantly at odds with an unconditional obedience and submission to Father’s orders and dispositions- I have been of an even cheerful temper. The only thing that disturbs my serenity at times is the melancholy to which I give way in idle hours. It seems to me that I lead a worthless life; and indeed there can be no more pitiful lot than to be forced to work today so you can live tomorrow. If there weren’t the hope that later on one will be able to handle more liberally one’s activities, and their fruits, a man would do better to drown himself in the Mississippi…
(later he wrote of assimilating with Americans and learning the language) We, that is, Koerner and myself, figured that a person might be able to make quite a good living by being the agent in business deals between Americans and Germans, and doing jus t that and nothing else, and this induced me to open up an “Intelligence and Real Estate Office.” …Although my debts are still higher than my income, I see my overhead decreasing the more my business gets going, and I have every reason to believe that eventually it will be quite lucrative. I have at this moment over $100,000 of land for sale…My fee is four per cent on an average. Besides there is all sorts of incidental work: Make translations, write letters, transact business with th Justice of the Peace, hire out maids, etc. So far I have had to do may things gratuitously to win clients and the people’s confidence, but later I hope to secure business for which people ordinarily turn to a lawyer or a notary public.
Koerner explained why Theodore’s business did not prove lucrative : He was too straightforward, dislike to use persuasion, would not recommend a thing which he thought was not worth recommending-in a word, he was too honest to flourish in this line of business. He was not what the Americans call “smart.”
Theodore started a German paper in Belleville, Der Beobachter, in 1844.which lasted 13 months. It started again in 1849 and did better.
April 3, 1845, Theodore wrote to Hannchen Kribben, his fiancé, that he began his job as chief clerk of the Belleville Court and is sending her an engagement ring, By 1860, Theodore has a farm three miles south of Mascoutah and is growing grapes and bottling wine. Theodore died there in 1889.
Koerner and five other bachelors lived in the cabin on the upper farm. Sophie wrote December 10, 1833, : Koerner lives at the upper farm and comes down for meals only. He busies himself with literary work, the farm life is not at all to his taste. His mind wants food-and a farmer must almost totally starve his mind, for he is too busy by day and too tired at night to take time for it. Koerner wants to go to an American university this spring to train to be an American lawyer. Just now he is working on a critical evaluation of Duden’s work. You, my dear Hilgard, must not get angry over it (Duden’s book) until you have read Koerner’s essay and compared the two. Duden embellished things and lured many a family to come out here who would have done better to have remained in the Eastern states. For us, too, it might have been better by the beautiful waterfalls of the Mohawk than here in Illinois which has hills, but neither mountains nor water.
Lottchen Engelmann wrote :The laments that reach our ears here concern the household, the empty pantry, the boredom, the load of work, the poor quarters, and the joys we hear of. I ate a good squab today, coffee cake, etc. The chickens laid well, a cock was shot, or even a deer, the cows gave a lot of milk, the sun is warm today and we can dry the wash, etc. …I can assure you that I think by now it is good for us that we are here- in spite of al the obstacles, and griefs we have had to overcome, and will have to face in the future. I believe we shall live here very happily once you are all here and the dear families we are expecting (the Theodore Hilgard Sr. family) The essentials are here- a pleasant climate, if you adjust yourself somewhat to it in your housing and way of living; a rich soil, a pretty landscape, unlimited freedom and equality-everything else, beyond that rests within the power of those who live here, if God’s grace is with them.
Sophie’s older sister wrote of finding an acceptable suitor after fending off the advances of an elderly Polish military man: A moving contrast to these stories is Koerner’s and Sophie’s pure, innocent love. It does me good to watch them . I find a pure joy in their happiness-it brings up many a hallowed memory of similar emotions of my own.
Sophie wrote of the farm work routine to her sister in Germany in this January 1835 letter:

Koerner Ada Klett story

Robert deV. Brunkow
On 27 August 2007 the St. Clair County Board approved purchase of Engelmann Farm in Shiloh, Illinois, for a county park. This volume of the Journal of St. Clair County History is dedicated to the history of Engelmann Farm in recognition of the county’s decision. The farm is both a historical site and the location of a pristine woodland. The articles in this issue review the historical significance of the farm and provide a window into daily life on a late 19th-century farm of a prominent German immigrant family.
Political émigré Friedrich Theodor Engelmann (1779-1854) and his wife, Elizabeth Kipp Engelmann (1781-1861), immigrated to the United States in 1833 and purchased the farm in August of that year. In December 1833 their second oldest child, Charlotte (later Charlotte Ledergerber, 1805-1856), expressed the aspirations of the Engelmanns and the party of educated German idealists who came with them to Shiloh Valley Township. In exchange for the liberty that they had lacked in the Old World, she said they would employ the “art, science, and culture” they brought with them to develop the New World. She hoped that “our new country and our new Germany, as we call the region we inhabit now,… will grow in time as it takes in all those who sacrificed their security for the liberty of the country across the seas where liberty was born—those who were fortunate enough to escape from the Argus of prison and serfdom.” The first residents of Engelmann Farm referred to it as the “Refuge of Righteousness on the Mississippi (Herberge der Gerechtigkeit am Mississippi).” Here political exiles found a safe harbor in the 1830’s, and other immigrants found temporary quarters before moving on to permanent homes. As Charlotte had hoped, those associated with the farm and the immigrant community that developed around it in Shiloh Valley made contributions to the science, culture, and politics of their adopted home.
The immigrants who like the Engelmanns remained on their farms contributed to the economic development of the region. Their accomplishments rested on hard work. The Engelmann Farm that Friedrich and Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Anna Engelmann (1869-1960), described in recollections printed in this volume was an orderly series of gardens, fields, vineyards, and orchards in the 1870’s and 80’s. That is not the farm that the first generation found when they arrived on the land in 1833. Gustavus Koerner acknowledged that the farm then had a solid cabin and excellent peach orchard but found neglected fields, broken fences, dilapidated outbuildings, and failed wells. It was primarily the energy of Friedrich Engelmann that renewed farm productivity. His youngest daughter, Elizabeth (later Elizabeth Scheel, 1819-1883), late in the winter of 1834 enumerated his current projects: cutting wood and repairing and fabricating furniture and implements, including plow and harrow, sleigh and yoke, and a marker to lay off the rows for planting corn. Theodor (1808-1889), the oldest son, with grim humor reflected on the hardships of the early years. “It was with father a firm principle … that work was so much more deserving the greater the difficulties under which it was done and the poorer and more unsuitable the work tools were with which one did the work. His teaching was acquired through the circumstances, through bitter necessity….”
The first article in this journal documents the issues Charlotte raised. Written to explain the need to preserve the property from development when the farm’s future was uncertain, it summarizes the history and significance of Engelmann Farm, identifying people associated with the farm and their roles in the development of the county and the country.

The translation from German on the marker at the entrance to the cemetery pays tribute to the Engelmann group and reads: Once upon a time, many years ago, from the Rhein’s vine-crowned banks came pilgrims traveling over the sea to found a home in a free land. Yet, already, long ago, their steps were silenced on the path to the great heavenly sea. In a still house in the middle of a forest, their graves lie around you here.

St. Clair County leaders saved the Engelmann Farm from becoming a residential development by purchasing the land from the developer in 2007. Entry to the park is along a heavily wooded chat road with the home on the left, and driving further, two small pavilions with picnic tables It is a quiet space that gives proper respect to its historical significance. Pictured are a walking path along the forested edge of the upper farm. The lower farm is now a beautiful meadow that looks toward the “Bachelor Hall” residence of Theodore Hilgard who arrived before the Engelmann family to select a farm east of Belleville on Route 177. The gate to the Engelmann family cemetery and grave markers is surrounded by wrought iron fence. And, a plaque in German rests near the front entrance. The bottom of it is dated 1903 with the initials, R E R, Roderick E. Rombauer, Sophie Koerner Rombauer’s husband.
Part of the significance of the farm rests on the historic buildings on the property. The second article describes the two 19th-century homes on the farm.
Since much of the journal publishes recollections of Anna Engelmann, the third essay sketches her life. She was the last of the Engelmanns to own the farm. Her recollections—published here for the first time—provide in the three articles that follow a richly detailed account of daily life after the Civil War. She describes the farm layout and agricultural practices and even identifies the flowers in the garden. She delineates the network of friends and relations the Engelmanns established. The importance of the extended family is evident in her writings, and the reader learns from her of the role of family in caring for orphans. What the family ate, read, and celebrated is described in Anna’s writings. The Engelmann children were home schooled as well as attended public school, and Anna documents their education. Far from being an isolated, self-sufficient economic unit, Engelmann Farm was economically, politically, and culturally integrated into Shiloh, Belleville, and St. Clair County affairs.
Alice Lienesch, who was born on the farm, wrote the final article in this journal. She knew Anna Engelmann and recollects life on the farm in the 1930’s and 40’s.
Preservation of Engelmann Farm provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice, the ability, and the ideals of those who came before us. A walk through the woods the Engelmanns knew and past the buildings they erected may lead us to ask the question, “Do we measure up?” And, perhaps, it may inspire us to greater endeavor.

About the Author
Robert deV. Brunkow holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. For 20 years he was a civil service historian for the U.S. Air Force. He was involved in the effort to preserve Engelmann Farm. He resides in Belleville, Illinois.
Translated and quoted in Ada M. Kett, “Belleville Germans Look at America (1833-1845),” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 40 (1947), 23-37, at 35.
Gertrud Baecker and Fritz Engelmann, Die Kurpfaelzischen Familien Engelmann und Hilgard (Ludwigshafen am Rhein: Richard Louis Verlag, 1958), 47, 78 (hereafter Kurpfaelzischen Familien); Gustav Koerner, Das deutsche Element in den Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika, 1818-1848 (Cincinnati: A. E. Wilde & Co., 1880), 318. Near to the Engelmann home in Rhenish Bavaria was the castle of Ebernburg. During the Reformation the castle received the appellation of “Refuge of Righteousness” because a number of Protestant reformers found safe haven there. The story was well-known, so that the political reformers of the 1830’s could readily apply the term used by religious reformers of the 1520’s to their own haven above the Mississippi. Kurpfaelzischen Familien and some Engelmann descendants prefer the translation to read “Harbor of Justice on the Mississippi.” “Sickingen,” Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon,; Roland Paul, Institut fuer Pfaelzische Geschichte und Volkskunde, conversation with Robert Brunkow, 22 Oct 2008; Mary Armstrong to Robert Brunkow, “Your Manuscript” (E-mail, 11 Nov 2008).
Gustavus Koerner, Memoirs of Gustave Koerner, 1809-1896, Life-sketches Written at the Suggestion of His Children, ed. Thomas J. McCormack, 2 Vols (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1909), 1: 291, 300 (hereafter Memoirs).
Elizabeth Engelmann to Margarethe Hilgard (Translated typescript, 17 Mar 1834).
Theodor Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” ed. Joseph C. Kircher, trans. Joseph Casimir (Typescript, 1951), 45.
Belleville Cultural Enrichment Organization DBA Koerner House Restoration Committee,
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The Gustave Koerner House Restoration Committee.
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Robert deV. Brunkow

Executive Summary
Shiloh possesses a major historical resource in Engelmann Farm. Acquired by Friedrich Engelmann in 1833, the farm provides an example of an early farmstead. It represents the first great surge of the German migration to Illinois, a state where Germans have been the largest ethnic group. The first residents of the farm were the educated “Latin Farmers” who would go on to influence the development of politics, science, education, and culture in both state and nation. The farm consists of about 150 acres. It includes two historic houses and outbuildings, woodlands—including virgin forest, and farmed land.

Decision to Immigrate
In 1833 Friedrich Theodor Engelmann resigned his lucrative and prestigious position as superintendent of forests at Winnweiler in Rhenish Bavaria for the uncertainties of life in the newly-settled, trans-Appalachian West. As his obituarist observed, Engelmann immigrated “on account of his political principles.” After long deliberation he fulfilled his desire “to live in a republic himself and to secure a home in a free country for his numerous children.” His hopes that the revolutions of 1830 in Europe would usher in republican government in his homeland were dashed as democratic gains in some of the German states were quashed by repressive governments. Hereditary princes and oligarchs would continue to rule with few restraints; their subjects would continue to obey.

Migration of the Latin Farmers
Engelmann and his family were in the vanguard of a migration to America of well-educated German political refugees who abandoned the homeland in the wake of the collapse of democratic reforms. Many had university educations and were professionals in the old country—lawyers, doctors, and academics—who had a knowledge of Latin. Some of them initially took up farming in their new home and were dubbed “Latin Farmers.” A colony of them formed in St. Clair County’s Shiloh Valley, east of Belleville, Illinois. Not all took to the farming life, and many dispersed throughout the region. But wherever they went, they enriched their communities with their political theories and political acumen, their knowledge of science, their business savvy, and their appreciation for education and the arts.

Settling on a Farm
Friedrich, his wife, Elizabeth Kipp Engelmann, nine of their children, friends, and neighbors, including the Henry Abend family, John Scheel, and Gustavus Koerner, departed the harbor at Le Havre, France, in May 1833. Their immediate destination was St. Louis, Missouri. The Engelmann party arrived in St. Louis in July 1833 and scouted for a suitable location to settle in Illinois. Two factors drove their decision to leave Missouri. Koerner recalled that sight of the evils of slavery en route to St. Louis convinced the members of the group that they could not live in a slave state. Friedrich’s eldest son, Theodor, recollected that the Engelmanns determined to move east because Edward Hilgard and Theodor Hilgard, Junior, great nephews of Friedrich, had bought farmland in Shiloh Valley earlier in 1833 after extensive travel in the United States. The Engelmanns in quick succession purchased two adjoining farms in Shiloh Valley from American settlers in August. Benjamin Watts, Senior, sold them 105 acres located on a rise. This tract, called the “upper farm,” contains the site of the log house used by the bachelor residents during the first years of Engelmann Farm. It is the location of the county historical society landmark house, a later house, and Engelmann Cemetery. [The county has acquired this “upper farm.”] Benjamin Watts, Junior, sold 107 acres on the prairie below, the “lower farm,” which was the location of a small dwelling that housed the immediate family. It was here in 1833 that the family decorated a sassafras tree to serve as a Christmas tree. Koerner suggested that this was the first Christmas tree in the Mississippi River Valley.

The Engelmanns and some of the immigrants who traveled with them to the New World immediately took up farming on the property. Friedrich proved to be one of the successful Latin Farmers and made farming his career. “He attended closely to his farm and hardly ever left it.” But the farm was more than an economic unit. Under Friedrich’s paternal guidance it became a harbor for political refugees who shared the Engelmanns’ convictions, a way station for new settlers in a foreign land, and a cultural center for the Germans of the region. The farm hosted gatherings of as many as 400 Germans from as far away as St. Louis who came to celebrate their community values, including group singing.

The importance of Engelmann Farm is not confined to its existence as an early family farmstead. The farm is a milestone to mark the starting line of the first large wave of German immigration to Illinois. Specifically, it provides a focal point to recognize that group of educated, idealistic refugees whose deeds radiate to the present, for many who sojourned at the farm, or walked through its gates, led lives that helped shape the American nation.

People Associated with Engelmann Farm
Some of those who lived at the farm or spent significant time there include the following.

Gustavus Koerner. Koerner immigrated to the United States because of his friendship with the Engelmanns. After the failed uprising in Frankfurt-am-Main to replace the German Confederation Diet with a more democratic government, Koerner fled with his long-time friend and accomplice Theodor Engelmann. Koerner had to decide between seeking refuge in Switzerland to await additional opportunities to further democratic reforms in the German states or traveling with Theodor to link up with the Engelmann family as they prepared to depart Le Havre for the United States. As Theodor remembered it, Koerner finally declared, “I go along to America.” One might also consider the role of Sophie, one of Friedrich’s daughters, in Koerner’s decision, for Koerner was friends with her in Germany and married her in Illinois. One may speculate how the course of American politics might have differed had not the Engelmann connection drawn Koerner to Illinois. Would support of the German element for the new Republican Party, for Abraham Lincoln, and for the Federal Union during the Civil War have been as decisive under another’s lead?

Sophie Engelmann. In 1836 she married Koerner and made her own contribution to the cultural development of St. Clair County. In 1874 she became president of the newly-organized Kindergarten Association in Belleville that would build a schoolhouse and begin offering classes in 1875.

Theodor Engelmann. Like Koerner a failed revolutionary, Theodor rejoined his family in Le Havre, immigrated to the United States, and settled on the farm. He moved to St. Louis where he held a variety of jobs, including librarian for what would become the Mercantile Library. He returned to Illinois to practice law and established the Belleviller Beobachter in 1844, the first German newspaper both published and printed in Belleville. (Koerner had published in Belleville but printed in St. Louis the first German newspaper in Illinois, a campaign newspaper supporting President Martin Van Buren’s unsuccessful reelection campaign in 1840.) He later established the Belleviller Zeitung, which would eventually have the highest circulation of any paper in southern Illinois. He became clerk and then chief clerk of the St. Clair circuit court. Theodor subsequently became a law partner of Koerner before withdrawing from public life to farm in Engelmann Township south of Mascoutah.

Adolph Engelmann. Friedrich’s youngest son, Adolph, moved to Quincy to work as an attorney but almost immediately volunteered to fight in the Mexican-American War. After the war’s conclusion he was stirred by reports of revolution in Europe in 1848 and returned to the German states. He joined the forces attempting to liberate Schleswig Holstein from Danish rule but returned to Illinois after Prussia and Austria compelled the rebels to desist. He took over the family farm and became active in the Farmers and Fruit Growers’ Association. With the outbreak of the Civil War, once again Adolph volunteered for military service and rose to the rank of colonel. He was discharged as a brevet brigadier general. Toward the end of his life he accepted appointment as Belleville postmaster.

John Scheel. After living on the farm and marrying Elizabeth Engelmann, Scheel opened a country store in Mascoutah. He became a civil engineer for the ambitious but financially-flawed state program to build a railroad network across Illinois in the 1830’s. County assessor, county clerk, county surveyor, state representative, and federal tax assessor for southern Illinois, Scheel turned to a career of public service.

Georg Engelmann. A physician trained in Europe, Friedrich’s nephew, Georg, had arrived in the New World to collect specimens of flora and fauna of the frontier in 1832. He joined his uncle’s group in St. Louis and moved to the farm, where he continued to make scientific observations and gather specimens. He lent the funds that permitted the Engelmanns to buy the lower farm. Georg described botanical species new to Western science and authored texts on American flora. Botanical and geological specimens he sent to the east coast and Europe expanded the borders of scientific knowledge. To facilitate the growth of science he helped found the National Academy of Sciences and the St. Louis Academy of Sciences. His meteorological observations were used by John C. Fremont and other explorers of the American West. Georg settled in St. Louis, where he practiced medicine but also continued his other interests, serving as the main scientific advisor to Henry Shaw: he ensured that what would become the Missouri Botanical Garden would be a botanical research facility as well as a delight to the eye.

Wilhelm Weber. Arriving on the farm in 1834, political refugee Weber would move to St. Louis, where he would became publisher of Anzeiger des Westens, with the assistance of Theodor Engelmann. Koerner considered this newspaper to be the “leading organ of the Germans of the Mississippi Valley.”

Edward Abend. While a boy, Edward’s family migrated with the Engelmanns to the United States and settled on a Shiloh Valley farm. Abend was schooled for a time on the Engelmann Farm by Koerner. Abend moved to Belleville and became a major economic force. Early on he promoted the toll road to St. Louis and later served as president of the first street railroad, Belleville Water Company, and Belleville Brick Company. He was a major force behind the Belleville Gas Light and Coke Company and Belleville Savings Bank. Abend was a significant land developer in the town. He was mayor of Belleville for four terms.

Latin-Farmer Neighbors of the Engelmanns
Georg Bunsen. Trained in Europe in the theories of educational reformer Johann Pestalozzi, Bunsen initially farmed in Shiloh Valley. He reverted to teaching. He taught in Belleville, becoming first superintendent of Belleville public schools and then St. Clair county school superintendent. He opened a school to train teachers and later helped organize the State Normal School at Bloomington. He was also a member of the state board of education.

Anton Schott. A doctor of philosophy and religion, Schott was a professor of history at Frankfurt College before settling in Shiloh Valley. His love of books and learning made him in 1836 the driving force to establish a subscription library, the German Library Association of St. Clair County. This institution became the nucleus of the Belleville Public Library. He served as first librarian and housed the books at his farm. Members of the society included Friedrich Engelmann, Gustavus Koerner, Georg Bunsen, and Adolph Reuss. Schott also served on the district school board.

Adolph Reuss. Trained as a physician in Paris, Berlin, and Goettingen, Reuss became a country doctor after purchasing a farm in Shiloh Valley. He was a founder of the St. Clair County Medical Society.

Reading the Landscape
Traversed by foot, hoof, and wheel for close to 200 years, the road in Engelmann Farm cuts deep. The woodland through which it runs was an asset valued by Friedrich Engelmann, for he knew that it would supply the lumber, fuel, hides, and meat necessary for successful farm operations. Some of the trees are old growth and may well bear silent witness to the passing of the German immigrants. Foresters who have lived on the farm for a number of years have identified 68 species of trees in the woods and suggest that some trees may be 300 years old. There are contenders for inclusion on the Department of Natural Resources Illinois Big Tree Registry: The Farm Bureau at one point documented that the farm contains the third largest Osage orange tree in the state of Illinois. To turn off of Shiloh Station Road onto the Engelmann Farm road is to enter a time capsule. It is the landscape that drew immigrants to Illinois.


Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 13; Koerner, Deutsche Element, 246-247; Kett, “Belleville Germans,” 24-25.
“Theodore Frederick Engelmann [sic],” Belleville Weekly Advocate, 30 Aug 1854, 2 (hereafter BWA).
Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 30; Koerner, Deutsche Element, 246.
Georg Engelmann, “Die Deutsche Niederlassung in Illinois, Fuenf Meilen Oestlich von Belleville,” Westland (Heidelberg: Joseph Engelmann, 1837), 281-311, at 294-295; Oswald G. Villard, “The ‘Latin Peasants’ of Belleville, Illinois,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 35 (1942), 8-20, at 8-9, 12-13; Virginia Blair, “Latin Farmers of Shiloh Valley,” St. Clair County Historical Society Journal, 2 (1970), 1-18. See also, Douglas Hale, Wanderers between Two Worlds: German Rebels in the American West, 1830-1860 (Xlibris Corp, 2005).
Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 25, 41-44; Koerner, Deutsche Element, 245; Benjamin Watts, Sr., and Elizabeth Watts to Friedrich Theodor Engelmann, Warranty Deed, signed 5 Aug 1833, St. Clair County Recorder Deed Book G: 187 (hereafter StCCRDB); Benjamin Watts, Jr., and Lucinda Watts to Friedrich Theodor Engelmann, Warranty Deed, signed 10 Aug 1833, StCCRDB G: 193; Mary Armstrong to Robert Brunkow, “All Dressed Up and No Place to Go” (E-mail, 24 Feb 2007); “Shiloh Valley, the Cradle of German Culture in Illinois,” Iliniwek, 11:4 (1973), 30; Memoirs, 1: 284, 291-293, 330; Kurpfaelzischen Familien, 78-79.
Theodore Hilgard, Sr., Meine Erinnerungen (Heidelberg: G. Mohr, ca 1858), 317-318.
“Theodore Frederick Engelmann [sic],” BWA, 30 Aug 1854, 2.
Koerner, Deutsche Element, 247, 318; Memoirs, 1: 342; Fuenfzigjahriges Jubilaeum der Belleviller Zeitung (Belleville: Belleviller Zeitung, 1899), 42.
Memoirs, 1: 217, 224-220, 235-236, 240, 252-254; Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 29, 37.
Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 39.
Memoirs, 1: 258; Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 32.
BWA, 13 Nov 1874, 1; BWA, 25 Dec 1874, 1; “Kindergarden [sic] Association,” BWA, 17 Nov 1876, 1.
Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 29-48; Koerner, Deutsche Element, 248; Fuenfzigjahriges Jubilaeum, 4; “Pioneer Gone,” Mascoutah Herald, 15 Mar 1889, 8.
BWA, 13 Nov 1874, 1; “Death of Col. Adolph Engelmann,” BWA, 10 Oct 1890, 8.
Koerner, Deutsche Element, 250; History of St. Clair County (Philadelphia: Brink, McDonough Co., 1881), 202 (hereafter 1881 History); Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 26.
Michael Long, “George Engelmann and the Lure of Frontier Science,” Missouri Historical Review, 89 (1995), 251-268; Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 44; Koerner, Deutsche Element, 265, 327-331; Memoirs, 1: 291-292; “Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences,” 37th Congress, Session 3 Chapter 111, 12 Stat 806, 3 Mar 1863.
Engelmann, “Reminiscences,” 73; Memoirs, 1: 404; Koerner, Deutsche Element, 318.
A. S. Wilderman, and A. A. Wilderman, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Vol 2: History of Saint Clair County (Chicago: Munsell Publishing Co., 1907), 968 (hereafter History of Saint Clair County); Koerner, Deutsche Element, 253.
Deutsche Element, 254-255.
Ibid., 253-254; 1881 History, 190; Portrait and Biographical Record of St. Clair County, Illinois (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1892), 522.
1881 History, 245-246.
Kate Muerer to Robert Brunkow, “Engelmann Trees” (E-mail, 22 May

Belleville Cultural Enrichment Organization DBA Koerner House Restoration Committee,
37 N. Douglas, Belleville, Illinois 62220. Phone: 618. 235.6471
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The Gustave Koerner House Restoration Committee.
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The restoration of Belleville’s Gustave Koerner home, on Mascoutah Avenue at Abend Street, will stand as a testament to one of Belleville’s most illustrious citizens. Koerner joined Abraham Lincoln, Horace Greeley and others who, fired by the passions of the times, came together to create the Republican Party in 1856. Koerner became a close Lincoln confidant, helped write the 1860 Republican Party platform, and managed Lincoln’s drive to the presidential nomination at the party’s convention. Koerner was an ardent anti-slavery proponent and, as a German emigre, played a key role in allying western America’s German population with the Union cause.

The Koerner House Restoration Committee, working with a team of consultants, has prepared an Historic Structure Report. Selective demolition of the structure’s modern components commenced in May 2005. Once complete, the home will be opened as a museum, where Koerner’s life and political career will be interpreted.

The Gustave Koerner House

200 Abend
Belleville, IL 62220

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Restoring this important piece of Illinois history is a labor-intensive yet very worthwhile endeavor. Please consider donating any amount to help us preserve this important historical treasure.