My Maternal Third Great Grandmother

Sophia Maria (Steffes) Koehn

Sophia Steffes

August 10, 1813 Germany – April 24th 1885 North Dakota

Sophia was another of the remarkable pioneering woman of my family. Born in Germany she was married at age 17 to Emmerich Kohn (Koehn) in 1830 in Müllenbach, Germany. She had 13 children, Six of which died before their second birthday, which was not that unusual for the time period.

In 1863, her husband died leaving her with three children still in the household (My 2nd great grandfather was married and living in a separate household). In 1866, the widowed Sophia departed for New York, with 2 young daughters and a 24 year old son named Anthony after selling everything they owned.

Landing in New York, the four rented a place to stay and young Anthony went out to see the city. Nothing was ever heard of him again. Unfortunately Anthony had been carrying the cash for the journey leaving the others penniless in New York. Luckily Sophia was able to gain employment as a housekeeper/laundress that provided food and a place to live.

Meanwhile back in Germany, Nicholas Koehn’s first wife passed away in 1869 leaving him with two small boys. Nicholas decided that he too would come to America. He set his path to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he had heard there were good jobs to be had in the copper mines. He contacted his mother in New York and had her and her daughters join him in while he worked in the mine.

After a number of years, Nicholas heard of the opportunity to homestead in North Dakota and the entire family followed their dreams into the west.

Sophia passed away at the age of 72 in Hobart Township in Barnes County, North Dakota.

6 thoughts on “My Maternal Third Great Grandmother

  1. Hi, my name is Sylvia Langen Kretzschmar, and I live in Sudbury, Ontario which is north east of Lake Huron (great lake). Sophie Steffins Koehn was my great great grandmother. Her daughter Margaret was my great grandmother (Nicholas’s sister). Margaret married Theodor Thiele Kiser and my grandmother Mary Ann Kiser was one of their younger daughters. The story we have is close to yours regarding the uncle who disappeared in New York except that his name was Anton Koehn. If you would like to contact me for more information let me know. My uncle, Robert Langen who is 97 years old wrote a book about the family history as he remembers it and it’s wonderful for us to have. We traveled from Sudbury to Valley City, North Dakota last week then up to Saskatchewan to visit our daughter.

    • I would love to get a copy of Robert Langen’s. I do have Mary Ann Kiser and Ole Andrew Langen in my family tree records along with their children Agnes, Harold, Adolph, Helen and Havard. But that is when my information ends on that branch of the family. I would love to get your families information. Contact me at I am originally born in Valley City, ND and currently live in Minnesota.

      • Hi, I am Harold’s daughter. Ole Anders Langen and Mary Ann Kiser were my grandparents. Anders was his middle name which is the Norwegian version of Andrew. I am 56 years old and my father was 51 when I was born. He married my French Canadian mother at the age of 35 and had 12 children. Ole and Mary Ann’s children were Agnes, Harold, Adolph, Helen, Howard, Robert and Lloyd. Mary Ann had been married before to August Becker who died in 1904 and had two sons from that first marriage they were named Ted and Otto.
        I resemble Mary Ann and so does one of my 9 sisters. I also have two brothers. I can probably get a PDF version of the book for you. It’s mostly about the history of Mary Ann and Ole but there are a few pages dedicated to the Koehn family. There is also a section in the book which is an account of the family history according to Marian Koehn Kramer who was Nicholas’s younger sister.

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