Monday, August 01, 2005

When did Henry Kolm come to America?

According to a family story, when Carl Heinrich Christian "Henry" Kolm came to America, he first stopped in New York, then took a ship to New Orleans. After sailing up the Mississippi River, he got off the boat in Mendota - unfortunately it was Mendota, Illinois, rather than his goal, Mendota, Wisconsin. What we don't know is when Henry Kolm arrived in America. Some records indicate that he may have arrived in 1859.

Carl Heinrich Christian "Henry" Kolm married Maria Dorothea Caroline "Doris" Luneburg on June 23, 1862 in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin. At that time, Henry was living in Middleton, working as a carpenter. It is unclear how long Henry lived in Wisconsin prior to his marriage. According to the 1900 census, he arrived in America in 1859, but do we have any evidence of this?


If Henry Kolm arrived in America in 1859, he should be listed in the 1860 U.S. Census. Searches for "Henry Kolm" do not turn up any entries. However, the name "Kolm" is not very common, and census transcribers (and indexers) often spell it wrong. A common mistranscription is "Kohn", since a handwritten lm looks very much like a handwritten hn. Many other spellings are found as well (Kollm, Kelm, even Rolm, when "K" is mistaken for "R").

In the 1860 Census there IS a Henry "Kuehn" living in Madison, Wisconsin (page 456):

Levi S. Vilas _ 49 M __ farmer _____ Vermont
Ester --- ____ 40 F _______________ Vermont
William --- ___ 20 M __ Attorney ___ Vermont
Henry --- _____ 18 M _______________ Vermont
Levi --- ______ 16 M _______________ Vermont
Charles --- ___ 14 M _______________ Vermont
Edward ---- ___ 7 M _______________ Wisconsin
Henry Kuehn ___ 23 M ___ Laborer ___ Germany
Margret Malene _20 F ___ servant ___ Germany
Rebecka Merricin 20 F __ servant ___ Connecticut

Henry 1860?The handwriting on this entry is difficult to read, and Henry's last name could be Kuihn, Kuelm, or some other variant (it's indexed as Kucker).

Is this our Henry? Without additional information it's almost impossible to know.

Castle Garden Immigration Records.

Castle Garden, located at the tip of Manhattan, was the first official immigration center in America, and operated until the opening of Ellis Island in 1892. The Castle Garden database includes ship passenger lists from 1830-1913.

A search of the database turns up one Kolm entry from the late 1850s or early 1860s: W. and Dorothea Kolm, ages 32 and 30, who arrived from Germany on 6/21/1861 on the ship Electric. This is probably Henry's brother William and Dorothea (Wetger) Kolm, who settled in Two Rivers, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.

A search for likely spelling variants turns up a possible entry on the passenger list of the Ship Oder, that arrived in New York on June 15, 1859:

Christ. Kohn Carpenter 22 M Germany

Why is this a likely entry?

- Henry's full name was Carl Heinrich CHRISTIAN Kolm, so it is not unreasonable that he could be listed as Christian.

- "Christ. Kohn" was a carpenter, as was Henry Kolm

- Henry Kolm was born in August 1837, so he would almost have been 22 in June 1859.

- The ship Oder left from the Hamburg, which probably would have been the closest port to Henry's home in Warlow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin. (more about Mecklenburg emigration)

Further research (perhaps in the Mecklenburg-Schwerin permissions to emigrate) is required to determine whether the listings in the 1860 Census and on the ship Oder are our ancestor.

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