Born April 10, 1833 Bernitt, Gustrow, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
Died May 27, 1871 Winona, Winona, Minnesota, USA
Married to: Dorothea Maria Friederike Krohn
June 26, 1863 Moisall, Gustrow, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
Johann Eggert, his wife Dorothea and their four children Maria, Johann, Wilhemina, and Carolina arrived on the Steam Ship Thuringia in New York Harbor on November 11th, 1871 from Hamburg, Germany. After clearing immigration they traveled across country to Winona, Minnesota where there were jobs to be had for industrious workers.
1871 SS Thuringia Passenger List
While the family dreamed of prosperity, fate would deliver a hard blow, with the death of the father Johann Eggert after only a few months in his new country.
In May of 1871 the Winona & St. Peter Railroad had opened a railroad crossing across the Mississippi River. Unfortunately the bridge was faulty and collapsed as the first train attempted to cross. The bridge was in the process of being rebuilt in 1872 when Johann was hired and put to work as a laborer. As a railroad worker he would have been on the crew that moved large replacement girders into position. The boats would have been precariously loaded and very top heavy, a contributing factor that would undoubtedly lead to Johann’s accidental death in 1872.
Winona Daily Republican May 27, 1872
“DEATH BY DROWNING”
“A skiff containing seven railroad laborers, among whom were August Hagadorn, Hans Nielson, and a German, named Egert, was capsized while crossing the slough at the extreme lower end of the city, this Monday, morning. The boat struck the bushes and, being pretty heavily freighted, and in a strong current, at once turned over. All managed to cling to the boat save Egert, who was drowned, he came over from the old country only last Summer, and leaves a wife and family near the Third ward park, to who the blow will be most severe. The deceased was an industrious man and had every prospect of doing well in the new home which he sought. A party of men went down this forenoon to recover the body if possible.”
Winona Daily Republican May 28, 1872
“A SAD CASE”
“The body of the unfortunate German, Egert, who was drowned in the river below this city, on Monday, has not yet been recovered. His poor wife was overwhelmed with grief when the news was brought to her, and it was feared for a time that her reason would be impaired, but to-day her grief is more subdued, though none the less deep and poignant. She is left in poor circumstances with a family of four children, the oldest nine years old and the youngest a year and a half. Rev. Phillip Von Rohr has kindly interested himself in her behalf and has already succeeded in raising a liberal contribution for her relief. It is a case which appeals strongly to the sympathies of our citizens, and it is hoped the response will be characterized by that noble generosity which the touching circumstances suggest. Donations left with Mr. Von Rohr will be gratefully received by the afflicted woman, who is left with her little ones without relatives in a strange land.”
Winona Daily Republican June 3, 1872
“The body of John Egert, the German man that was drowned last week, at the lower end of the city, was found, on Saturday night, about a hundred yards from where he was drowned. Mr. Turnqinst, of Homer, who discovered the body, made it fast to the bushes, and, on Sunday morning, notified the officers in this city. Marshall Chappoll and Coroner McGaughey went down, and an inquest was held, the jury returning a verdict of death by accidental drowning. The body was then brought to the city and interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in the afternoon. Rev. Philip Von Rohr performed the funeral services. The wife of the unfortunate man was agitated with uncontrollable grief, and her distress at the grave was heartrending to behold. Even after the ceremonies were concluded the poor woman could hardly be persuaded to leave the spot, but at last she was gently led away by two of her friends and returned to her desolate home.”
Johann Eggert was buried in the Potter’s field section of the Winona cemetery… One month later
Winona Daily Republican July 22, 1872
“ A juvenile imposter, in the shape of a little German girl, about twelve years of age, has been duping our citizens by representing herself to be the daughter of Mrs. Eggert, whose husband was drowned in the river below this city, a few weeks ago. The girl has obtained considerable money, clothing, etc., thought the sympathy excited by her pitiful tale, but none of the things have ever found their way to the place intended by the givers. Mrs. Eggert has never sent her child out to ask alms; more than that, her little girl cannot speak English. If the little imposter continues her business she should be at once reported to the police, as she is unquestionably sent out by unprincipled person, who deserve punishment for thus obtaining aid under false pretenses.”
The next trace of the family was found on a marriage license for Dorothea stating that she had married Karl Frederick Lange (a widower with two daughters) on July 10, 1873, a little more than a year after Johann’s death. The combined family of 6 was soon joined by 5 more children. In 1879, the Lange family moved to Barnes County, North Dakota where they homesteaded. In a tragic turn on December 4, 1894 Charles Lange succumbed to a final crop failure and took his own life. Dorothea Maria Friederika Krohn passed away on October 17, 1903 near Valley City, North Dakota.
The eldest of the Johann’s children married Julius Nicoli (A widower, whose first wife had recently died in child birth of his 5th child). And bore him an additional 11 children. The second child Johann married Augusta Billet and had three children. The third sibling Wihelmena, married Frederick Neustel and had 9 children. The youngest child, Carolina married Frederick’s brother Johann Neustel and had 8 children. These 4 children of Johann along with their step and half siblings spread his descendants, numbering in the thousands, across the USA and Canada.