On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

German text

Published: 17. April 2021 updated: 17. Dezember 2023


During my research I come across emigrants from time to time, mostly to the US. I also receive inquiries from genealogists in the US, which have revealed interesting and remarkable life stories.

Although my current focus is on researching our ancestors rather than the descendants of the top ancestors, I dedicate a few lines to some interesting emigrants to the US.

The order is based on the time of immigration. The specified relationship is calculated from our current youngest Stern family members to the migrant. To better assign this relationship, here is the overview of our main lines…

Stern Family main lines

This map shows the places from which the people emigrated. The color of the pins corresponds to the colors of the ancestral lines…

Featured emigrants:

Anna Martha Koller (Reitz)

Anna Martha Koller belongs to the blue Stern-line and is a 2nd cousin of the 9th degree. Our common ancestors are the top ancestors of the Koller line, whose marriage took place before the beginning of the local church book records, which is why the names are not documented. The relationship emerges clearly from the naming of godparents of later baptized grandchildren of the couple…

Anna Martha Koller (Reitz) On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

„Lorentz Köller Zu Lantzegeses [=Lanzingen] ein Söhnlein getaufft hat sein Bruder Johannes gehoben und nach seinem Nahmen genannt Den 1tn Junii Anno 1670″

The following illustration shows their documented descendants…

Anna Martha Koller (Reitz) On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

Anna Martha Koller, who is not a direct ancestor of the Stern family and is therefore not included in our internet database, emigrated in March 1751 together with her husband Johann Georg Reitz and the two daughters from Büchelbach near Bieber (today Biebergemünd). Here are their ancestors in a graphic…

Anna Martha Koller (Reitz) On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

In the US

It is not known exactly where the Reitz family stayed in the US between 1751 and 1772 and the fate of the two emigrated daughters Elisabeth and Anna Margaretha is also in the dark. It is possible that they didn’t make it through the trip.

The two had further children in the US. The eldest son was baptized in Stouchsburg, another son in Rehrersburg near Bethel, Pennsylvania.

From 1772, shortly after Northumberland County was established in March, there is a document according to which Johann Georg Reitz owned land property on the south side of Line Mountain, about eleven miles east of the Susquehanna River. It is not known exactly when the family settled there.

According to another document, his son Andrew donated land to the Evangelical Lutheran Reformed Himmels Church, a little east of Rebuck, in 1790.

This information suggests that the family immigrated via Philadelphia and traveled on the Tulpehocken path, which led from Womelsdorf to Sunbury (formerly a native settlement called Shamokin).

The following map shows roughly the route of the Tulpehocken path. The places mentioned in relation to the Reitz family are marked with green pins.

For many German immigrants who lived in the Berks and Lancaster Counties, the route was a gateway to the north in order to buy farmland in the New Territory under the land contract of August 1749.

The following embedded video shows impressively how the region around the path looks like today. The historical places of the original path mentioned in the video are shown in blue on the map above and the clearly younger tank is shown in yellow…

The Tulpehocken Path ~ Pennsylvania Indian Trails
Alternatively, rather use the link to the video on YouTube?

A second cousin of Anna Martha Koller named Johann Thomas Nüchter left the region around Bieber towards Karlsruhe and married Maria Catharina Obermayer from Blankenloch in 1746, our 7th great-grandmother.

Her youngest brother Hannß (Johann) Georg Obermayer emigrated to America almost at the same time as the Reitz family.

Hannß Georg Obermayer

Hannß (Johann) Georg Obermayer therefore also belongs to the blue Stern-line and is our 7th great-great-uncle. Here is the graphic of his ancestors…

Hannß Georg Obermayer On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

Our common ancestors are Johann Georg Obermayer und Anna NN, the parents of Hannß Georg, here is an overview of their documented descendants…

Hannß Georg Obermayer On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

With regard to other descendants in the USA, I refer to the links in the list of sources below.

The Obermayers originally descended from Upper Austrian exiles, I have already dedicated a separate article to their exciting history…


The emigration of Johann Georg Obermayer, his eventful life as an emigrant in the USA and his descendants there were extensively described already in 1905 in the book „Overmyer History and Genealogy 1680-1905“ by Barnhart B. and John C. Overmyer. But this book contains some inaccuracies that have been corrected by recent research.

On May 4, 1751 Johann Georg received a certificate from pastor Johann Christian Ebersold of Blankenloch, which gave him a respectable service and praiseworthy behavior as well as especially his knowledge and his commitment to the Lutheran Protestant religion was confirmed.

According to his diary entries, he went to the church in Blankenloch for the last time on May 9, 1751. His notes describe that once again the familiar hymns were sung there and the sermon began as follows:

But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, „Where are you going?“

John 16, 5-15

On May 12, 1751, he received the necessary documents. In the book „Overmyer History and Genealogy 1680-1905“ the content of his „passport“ is printed:


Inasmuch as the above mentioned John George Obermayer, native of Blankenloch, has resolved by the grace of God to leave this province to go to the New Country, the colony of Pennsylvania, and has most respectfully besought and petitioned us as the representatives of this Court for an honorable dismissal and certificate of good character, and we cannot justly refuse, but on the other hand, we cheerfully testify upon the ground of truth, that he has in his service in our midst conducted himself as a Christian, as steadfast, honest, trustworthy and industrious.

We therefore wish Mr. Obermayer not only all temporal but also eternal blessings. We therefore beseech all respective persons, whether of high or low estate, with this charge of duty, not only to permit him to pass free and unmolested wherevei he may choose to go, but also without suspicion, kindly to receive and entertain said Obermayer in whatsoever place or locality he may announce himself, for which we shall ever be the indebtors.

In the name of this Court of Justice, we still remain the humble servant.

Judge Bierich, Attorney, Kintzma.
School Supt. Feigler, Clerk of Court.

Blankenloch, May 12th, 1751.“

On May 14, 1751 Johann Georg Obermayer said goodbye to his family and left Blankenloch. Four days later he sailed with the other passengers on the Rhine from Rheinhausen towards Mannheim. On May 20, 1751 they were in Worms, on the 4th of June they passed the „Binger Loch“ and the rapids at the Lorelei, where his sister’s descendants settled around 150 years later. Amsterdam was reached on June 16, 1751. They went on to Rotterdam and from there by the ship „Brothers“ via England to America.

On September 16, 1751, after about 86 days at sea since leaving England, and 125 days since leaving Blankenloch, the „Brothers“ under Captain William Muir reached the Port of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

Strange in this context is that in the very comprehensive local chronicle of Blankenloch „Vergangenheit und Zeitgeschehen“ by Heinz Bender, which is – related to the emigration in the 18th century – closely to the book „Die Auswanderungen in Baden und in dem Breisgau im 18. Jahrhundert“ by Werner Hacker, is no mention of Johann Georg Obermayer even though other people of Blankenloch are listed on the passenger list.

Also in other emigration lists of Blankenloch no evidence can be found.

Maybe that’s because Johann Georg was not a citizen of Blankenloch, but a „Beisasse“ (resident without or with lesser civil rights).

In this chronicle the name Obermayer is mentioned only once in context with the occupation of the community tasks, according to which on January 6th 1799 „Jacob Obermeier“ – he was a son of Hannß Philipp Obermayer – was entrusted with the responsibility of the „mouse catcher“.

In the US

Johann George Obermayer married his first wife, Eva Maria Magdalena Rosenbaum, on Jun 3, 1754 in Bethel and moved then to Paxton Township.

He later settled at Sweitzer’s Run, at the point where this trickle flows into Penn’s Creek, near New Berlin in Union County.

It is quite possible that Johann Georg Obermayer also used parts of the Tulpehocken path. In the map above, the additional Obermayer locations are shown with red pins.

Since the German-speaking immigrants often moved together in groups at that time, it is possible that the Obermayer and Reitz families met. However, it is questionable whether they knew of their (in-law) relationship.

In 1755, the French and Indian War was raging on the Pennsylvania frontier. On October 16, Native Americans massacred 24 settlers near Penn’s Creek. No doubt tensions were high among the settlers throughout the region.
According to the 1905 Overmyer History, Johann Georg Obermayer began his military service as a captain in this war.

When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, he was commissioned a captain in the Pennsylvania militia, then later as captain of a company that was part of General George Washington’s Corps of Rangers.

Obermayer’s house and community were under constant threat of attack, particularly by hostile Native Americans. Because the Overmire home had thick walls for protection, it made for a solid defensive structure and was affectionately known to the locals as “The Overmire Fort“.

Henriette Catharine Groß (Call)

Henriette Catharine Groß was the grandmother of Walter Elias „Walt“ Disney and our 5th cousin of the 5th degree…

Henriette Catharine Groß (Call) On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

She belongs to the green Nassau line and emigrated from Miehlen with her parents in childhood in the early 1840s to the USA. Here is the overview of her ancestors…

Walt Disney (born 1901 in Chicago), his family business and the many cartoons he created, everyone knows.

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney
Walter Elias „Walt“ Disney

New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Fisher, Alan, photographer., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Alternatively, rather use the link to the picture at Wikimedia Commons?

Our common ancestor Marx Groß (born around 1615) also came from Miehlen and is as well an ancestor of Johannes Bückler, better known as „Schinderhannes„…

Henriette Catharine Groß (Call) On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

There is a separate article on the „Groß complex“ from Miehlen…

Johann Philipp Gemmer

Johann Philipp Gemmer belongs to the green Bauer-line. He is a 5th cousin, 6th degree, the common ancestors are his parents Hanß Henrich Gemmer and Agnes Euphrosina Koch. The two came from Nochern and Welterod. Their documented descendants are shown in the following graphic…

Johann Philipp Gemmer On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

The ancestors of Johann Philipp Gemmer are shown in this overview…

Johann Philipp Gemmer On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

He was born in Lollschied and later lived in Rettert, where his parents bought a farm that was left behind by a family who emigrated to the USA. After his mother’s death, he and his father emigrated to Boonville Missouri via New Orleans and St. Louis in 1855, where several families who had emigrated from Rettert lived, including the previous owners of the farm they had bought.

The father married a Swiss emigrant in Boonville.

Johann Philipp Gemmer learned the trade of gunsmith. In 1858 he worked for a year in the arms store of Emanuel Kleinhen in St. Louis and then switched to the renowned manufacturer Hawken. In 1862 he took over this company as the owner.

Hawken Rifle
Hawken Rifle

Mcumpston, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Alternatively, rather use the link to the picture at Wikimedia Commons?

When he realized that muzzle-loading weapons were technologically obsolete, he began to redesign them into breech-loading weapons. His arms business could not stand against Winchester, why he restructured his shop as a sports shop. From 1865 to 1915 he ran the „Hawken Gemmer Shop“. He died four years after it’s closure and was buried in St. Louis.

Even today, a muzzle-loading shooting club in St. Louis is named after Johann Philipp Gemmer.

Dr. Kurt Heinrich Debus

It can certainly be argued whether Operation Paperclip was an emigration in the classical sense, but be that as it may, one of the scientists who came to the US in this way was our 4th cousin and in another line 6th cousin 4th degree Dr. Kurt Heinrich Debus. The common ancestors in the more distant line are Johann Emmerich Debus and his wife, in the closer line it is Johann Philipp Debus, whose documented descendants are as follows…

Dr. Kurt Heinrich Debus On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

Dr. Kurt Heinrich Debus is not in the internet database but his ancestors, who are assigned to our green Bauer-line, are shown in the following graphic…

Dr. Kurt Heinrich Debus On the trail of the emigrants to the United States

He was born in Frankfurt am Main and later became an engineer and rocket pioneer. From 1943 he belonged to the Peenemünde Army Research Center and was – subordinated to Wernher von Braun – significantly involved in the development of the Aggregat 4 (V2). From 1944 to February 1945 he was head of test stand VII.

Kurt H. Debus
Kurt H. Debus

NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Alternatively, rather use the link to the picture at Wikimedia Commons?

After moving to the US in 1945, he worked in Fort Bliss, Texas and Huntsville, Alabama. From 1662 to 1974 he was director of the Kennedy Space Center.

Kurt H. Debus sits next to President John F. Kennedy (September 11, 1962)
Kurt H. Debus sits next to President John F. Kennedy (September 11, 1962)

NASA/photographer unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Alternatively, rather use the link to the picture at Wikimedia Commons?

Under his leadership succeeded the following missions:

He died in 1983 in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Regarding the genealogy of Dr. Kurt Heinrich Debus, I have already written a more detailed article…

Other emigrants

In addition, there have been other interesting people over the centuries who mostly have more distant connections to our family but – at least temporarily – have lived in the USA, such as Hans Kudlich and Karl Follen (Prießnitz/Altvater, red Swatosch-line) or Paul Bender (Goethe, both Bornich-lines).

Information and family photos exist of other emigrants, but little is known about their whereabouts or our exact family relationship. This applies, for example, to the Kritzler family from Wertheim am Main, who emigrated to New York at the turn of the century 1800/1900 (yellow Dosch line).

Source documents and background reading

Author(s)TitlePublisher / OfferYearISBN/ISSNRemarks
Bender, Heinz650 Jahre Blankenloch 1337 - 1987Gemeinde Stutensee1987-
Bender, HeinzVergangenheit und Zeitgeschehen. Eine Chronik. Blankenloch, Buechig, Schloss StutenseeGemeinde Stutensee1995--
Brückner, ReinerOrtsfamilienbuch der evangelischen Kirchengemeinde Bornich im Dekanat St. Goarshausen der Jahre 1708 – 1900 - sowie Erklärungen zu den Bildern der Bornicher KircheBornich | DER BUCHLADEN, Schulstr. 1, 56348 Bornich2009--
Gemmer, GerhardJohann Philipp Gemmer, der dankbare AuswandererRhein-Lahn-Kreis Heimatjahrbuch, Verlag + Druck Linus WillichIssue 2015, pages 70 onwards0931-2897-
Givaudan, ScottJohann Georg (Obermeyer) Overmire (1727 - 1805)WikiTreelast modified 9 May 2018
created 4 Mar 2016
retrieved 6 August 2018
Kerchner, Charles F.
Merkel, Matthew
Ristenbatt, Donna E.
Passagierliste "Brothers" von Rotterdam nach Philadelphia, Ankunft am 16 Sep 1751---Kerchner
McCleskey, Carey M. | Christensen, David L.Dr. Kurt H. Debus: Launching a VisionInternational Astronautical Federation (IAF), Paris2001--
Overmire, LaurenceCapt John George OvermireFind A Graveadded 23 Sep 2005
retrieved 6 August 2018
Overmire, LaurenceCapt John George OvermireRootsWebupdated: 2017-11-12 17:37:12 UTC (Sun)
retrieved 6 August 2018
Overmyer, Barnhart B. | John C.Overmyer History and Genealogy 1680-1905Chas. S. Beelman, Printer, Fremont Ohio1905-
Scheidle, Walter AugustOrtssippenbuch Blankenloch - Büchig und dem StudtHeimat- und Museumsverein Blankenloch-Büchig20013-00-008164-X-
The Wandering WoodsmanThe Tulpehocken Path ~ Pennsylvania Indian TrailsYouTube Video Einbettungembedded 3 April 2021--
Watkins, WalterJohn George Obermeyer 1727-1805 Early German settler in Union County, PA (Article 64)Union County Historical Society---
Zorbach, MaritaDebus-Krater „hinter“ dem Mond? | Verbindung nach Bornich mit Besitzrechten?Vierteljahresschrift:
„Initiative für Bornich
– Magazin

56348 Bornich
Issue No. 1, October 2010, pages 6 and 7--
Wikipedia authors, see respective version historyWikipedia, Die freie EnzyklopädieWikimedia Foundation Inc.
149 New Montgomery Street Floor 6
San Francisco, CA 94105
--The used articles are linked.
VariousFamily Search DatabasesFamily Searchretrieved June 2022-
VariousMy Heritage DatabasesMy Heritageretrieved June 2022-
VariousWalt Disney | Find a Grave DatabaseFind a Graveretrieved June 2022-
VariousWiki Tree DatabasesWiki Treeretrieved June 2022-
-Auswanderer aus Blankenloch leobw
Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg
Eugenstr. 7
D 70182 Stuttgart
retrieved 24 June 2018--
-Church booksArchion
Kirchenbuchportal GmbH
Balinger Str. 33/1
70567 Stuttgart
--The pictures of church books contained in the article are taken from official pdf downloads. I have written permission to publish. Please follow the copyright notice.
-La Famille DisneyChronique-Disneyretrieved June 2022--
-New Berlin Beginnings (Article 13)Union County Historical Society---
Various genealogistsPersonal communication with other genealogists.----

Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag
Dieses Werk ist lizenziert unter einer CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Lizenz. Ggf. zu beachtende andere Lizenzrechte bleiben hiervon unberührt. Dies gilt insbesondere für Fotos aus Kirchenbüchern und die Verwendung unseres Familienwappens (siehe Impressum)!
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 License. If applicable, other license rights remain unaffected. This applies in particular to photos from church books and the use of our family coat of arms (please refer to the imprint)!
Copyright © by Jens-Peter Stern | familie-stern.de