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Monday, May 1, 2017

Helerius Rockweiler Shoemaker to Farmer

When Helerius Rockweiler was born on February 19, 1822, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, his mother, Anna, was 36. He had three sons and five daughters with Frances Hafner between 1848 and 1868. He died on September 30, 1912, in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, at the impressive age of 90.

Helerius Rockweiler

When Frances Hafner was born on February 18, 1828, in Amberg, Bavaria, Germany, her father, Peter, was 30. She had three sons and five daughters with Helerius Rockweiler between 1848 and 1868. She died on January 15, 1892, in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, at the age of 63.

Franziska Hafner Rockweiler


Arrived w/ wife & 4 y old dau. Maria, a few years after potato famine peak in Germany. He had 150 German marks. Traveling together: Hilare Rockwell 31, Franca " 24, Alagth " 4, John Haffner 27, Conrad " 20, Anna " 19 (from pass. ship list). Ship 'F. Gross

Nearly 6 million Germans came to the United States between 1820 and the onset of World War I in 1914. The largest wave arrived after the Revolutions of 1848, in which the 39 German states sought democracy and increased political freedoms. Nicknamed the “Forty-Eighters,” these immigrants were typically professionals, journalists, and politicians. They came to the United States with money—an advantage over most European immigrants of the 19th century, which gave them the option to migrate further west. While some remained on the East Coast, many chose to settle on farms in the Midwest, where they hoped to return to a more simple life. By 1900, the cities of Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and St. Louis boasted high numbers of German Americans.

The German Revolution of 1848 took place within Germany’s major cities. Barricades were set up in the streets and gunfire rang through residential areas, often taking the lives of innocent civilians. 1848, Austria. Credit: DEA/A. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini/Getty Images

Even with all the bloodshed and fighting, the Revolution of 1848 failed to unite the German-speaking states into a single nation. March 18, 1848, Berlin, Germany. Credit: Culture Club/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Many German immigrants often settled in the Midwest, as can be seen on this population density map from 1872. 1872. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

German Immigrants in the Midwest

Helerius Rockweiler moved from Germany to the American Midwest in 1858, during a wave of German immigration.

John Deere

In 1858, Helerius Rockweiler was living in the Midwest as John Deere’s new plow made a farmer’s work easier, resulting in substantial agricultural progress.

The Peshtigo Fire

Helerius Rockweiler was living in Wisconsin in 1871 when a fire ripped through the state.

H Rockwiler 50, Baden, farmer, $1000 real, 235 pers., US citizen; Francisca Rockwiler 43, Baden; Frank Rockwiler 15, NY; Cathrine Rockwiler 10, WI; Trasa Rockwiler 8, WI; John Rockwiler 6, WI; Anna Rockwiler 3

Often overlooked because it happened the same day as the Great Chicago Fire, the Peshtigo Fire was equally devastating, consuming 1.2 million acres of forest in Wisconsin.

Its fierce breath swept off the green leaves and roared through the forest like a tempest,” recounted Reverend Peter Pernin, who witnessed the most devastating forest fire in U.S. history. October 8, 1871, belongs primarily to the Great Chicago Fire, but it was also the day that some 1,500 perished in Wisconsin, when 1.2 million acres went up in flames. Peshtigo was a young village of 1,700 residents, settled along a flowing river that provided transportation for nearby harvested pines. Logging was the heart of the town and lumber provided the perfect fuel for the fire. Some residents managed to escape by jumping into the icy waters surrounding the area, only to face hypothermia. “Only one structure, a partially constructed house, remained standing,” recounted Reverend Pernin. Most relief efforts focused on Chicago, but Peshtigo managed to rise from the ashes—though it would take three decades for its population and industry to recover.

 Before the fire, Peshtigo, Wisconsin, was a small village surrounded by woods. Although forest fires were a natural occurrence, the number of blazes that ravaged the Midwest that day caused some to speculate that meteorites or UFOs caused them. 1871, Peshtigo, Wisconsin. Credit: Historic Map Works LLC

Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and the surrounding areas were known for their pine trees. Logjams were common and could be devastating, like this one at Chippewa Falls Boom, Wisconsin, that was nearly 15 miles long and 30 feet high. June 5, 1869, Chippewa Falls Boom, Wisconsin. Credit: Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000/

The Cheese Industry in Wisconsin

Helerius Rockweiler was living in Richland, Wisconsin in 1880, when cheese dominated the state’s industry.

The influx of European immigrants and the decline of wheat made Wisconsin the “dairy king” starting in the late 1800s. German, Swiss, Dutch, and Italian immigrants flocked to the lush northern farmlands, lending their unique cheese blends to the state. The first large cheese factory opened its doors in 1864 in Ladoga and soon hundreds followed suit. By the century’s end, Wisconsin was winning international awards and today is home to more than 10,000 dairy farms producing more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese each year.

Although the cheese industry took root in other states like New York and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin remained king, claiming both national and international recognition for its spreads. Today, Wisconsin produces 25 percent of all domestic cheese. About 1925, Pennsylvania. Credit: FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Death of Wife

His wife Frances passed away on January 15, 1892, in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, at the age of 63.

Frances Hafner



Helerius Rockweiler died on September 30, 1912, in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, when he was 90 years old.

The notation on the back of this primitive painting of the log house, built by Hilarius circa 1868-69, indicated that Anna got homesick for it after she married and moved to Madison. She did the painting herself. The house was built on Hilarius' farm, 1 1/4 miles west of Cazenovia. From

Hilarius 4 generations
Four Generation Family: Hilarius, 90, Frank, 57, Joseph, 29, and Alfred, 8 months August 1912 - Cazenovia, Wisconsin

Helerius Rockweiler lived here when he was a shoemaker

Naturalization Papers

Helerius Rockweiler family

Helerius Rockweiler Death Cert

Special Note:
History of the Rockweiler Lineage
Highlights   The surname Rockweiler, a rare name, is a Swiss derivative and was spelled variously as Rockhweiler, Roggwiller, Roggwyiler, Rogweil, Rugwell, Rockweil, and Rockweiler. The name cannot be translated. The earliest bearer is assumed to be a man from a town, hamlet, or farm in Switzerland by the name of Rockweil or a variation of that name. 
   The spelling of the name today in Switzerland is Roggwiller. The predominant spelling of the name today in Germany is Rokweiler, and to a lesser extent, Rockweiler. It is one inter-related family. And in the United States, it is Rockweiler.
   There was a considerable Swiss immigration into southwest Germany following the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648.  Many Swiss emigrants settled in the under-populated area of southwest Germany.
   Hans Caspar Rockweiler, born circa 1630 in Sonnental, near Wil, Switzerland, emigrated to southwest Germany about 1665, first to Setenhart, and later to Roth. His third child, Maria Anna, was born on 17 November, 1665 and was baptized at St. Remigius Catholic church in Setenhart, which marks the emigration date. His fourth child, Maria Magdalena, was baptized at St. Sebastian's Catholic Church in Sauldorf in 1666.  Members of his and three succeeding generations in Europe were herdsmen and farmers.
   Unless you have a detailed map of the area, you will have some difficulty locating the small towns. The map exhibits pinpoint their location. On a larger map, locate Stuttgart, go south to Singen (via the autobahn), then east to Stockach and north to Krumbach, just a few miles from Sauldorf, Roth, and Setenhart. Lake Konstantz on the Boden See with the Swiss border is about a twenty-minute drive south of Sauldorf and Roth. 
   Wil in Switzerland, province of St. Gallen, is about a forty-minute drive to the German border. The countryside on both sides of the Boden See looks a lot like Wisconsin's Richland and Sauk counties, mostly farming areas. 

Other ROCKWEILER Emigration to America
In the process of developing the Rockweiler lineage, there were records that indicated a number of Rockweilers emigrated to other parts of the U.S. in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The earliest Rockweiler birth found in research for this web site was Othmar Rockweiler, who was born in 1657 in Moos, Mogelsberg St. Gallen, Switzerland.  This is in the same sector as Sonnental where our ancestors originated. As noted in the web site, Hans Caspar Rockweiler was born about 1625 though no precise record is available for that period.
Hilarius, wife Franziska, and daughter Maria, arrived in America in May 1853.   Several Rockweilers also emigrated to America in the nineteenth century and settled in the coal mining region of Pennsylvania, in the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area.
George and Margaret Rockweiler emigrated from Germany, from the same state as Hilarius, and were parishioners at St. Mary's of the Assumption church in Scranton. The author of this site visited the Catholic cemetery on Stafford Avenue in Scranton in 2004, en route to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
The photos of the cemetery and the tombstone can be seen here.  For clarification the inscription on the marker reads:
George Rockweiler
DOB   5 Dec 1830 in Baden

 DOD    6 Dec 1903
Margaret Rockweiler
 DOB 20 Jul   1839 in Bavaria

 DOD  20 Sep 1926
They had two daughters, Barbara and Mary, born in 1878 and 1879 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The death certificate indicates that George died of pneumonia and Margaret died of pleurisy.
Richard Rockweiler, born in 1847 in Baden was buried in Luzerne County, Wilkes-Barre, PA., in the Hazelton region. According to an account of a local newspaper, he died of a heart attack on a main street while entering a store. The article lists a date of April 12, the year indistiguishable.
Elias Roggwiller arrived in 1848 from Switzerland and lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. notes that most Rockweiler families living in the US in 1880 lived in Pennsylvania. Wisconsin has one Rockweiler family in that census, Hilarius and Franziska (Hilary and Frances) Rockweiler.
The 1890 Pennsylvania Business Directory lists Edward Rockweiler, born in 1865, a resident of 746 Walnut Street, in Northampton county, South Bethlehem, PA, as a cigar manufacturer.
Emil Roggwiller, born about 1862 in Switzerland, was documented in the 1910 census as a resident of the Third Ward in Denver, Colorado.. And in 1920, he is listed at the same address under the name of Emil Rockweiler.
Ernst Roggwiller was born in Switzerland about 1865 and arrived in 1881. In the 1920 census, he had a residence in Denver, Colorado.
Jean Roggwiller was born in 1892 and his wife Georgette Rockweiler was born in 1893 in Lecouer, Switzerland. They lived for a time in South Africa. Their departure for the U.S. was from Le Havre, France, and they arrived in the U.S. on 20 April 1953. At the time of their arrival, the author of this study was a graduate student at Columbia University in New York City and totally unaware of their arrival. So he was not at the port to greet them as is customary for US relatives living in the same city. Note that their surnames on the ship's roster are spelled differently.
In 1920 Missouri and Colorado had two Rockweiler families and Iowa and Illinois had one each.
The New York census of 1930 lists a Marie Rockweiler, age 29 from Switzerland , born in southwest Germany, working in New York city as a maid.
US phone and address directories list a Philippe Roggwiller in Lafayette, Louisiana. He had a tannery plant in Paris and later went to Louisiana where he had a tannery and alligator farm. His grandparents were Jean and Georgette Roggwiller and the distant Swiss relatives believe that they founded the tannery in Louisiana. The network of Roggwiller shops today extend to France and Italy.
Three Roggwillers are listed as having a residence in British Columbia, Canada, between 1995 – 2002.
David McCullough's 2011 book entitled, "The Greater Journey" (Americans in Paris) describes the great majority of people crossing the Atlantic in both directions still traveled by sailing ships, and notes that by far the greatest number of those passengers were headed in the opposite direction from Americans bound for France. They were sailing for America in steerage, fleeing famine in Ireland and revolution in Europe – over 200,00 Irish in the peak year of 1851, and even more, 350,000, from Germany in 1853 and 1854.

Hilarius' gingerbread house on County Trunk V, was built circa 1909 when this photo was taken. Seated with his pipe is Hilarius. To his right are son Frank and wife Catherine, Mary, Joseph, John, and Theodore. Front row: Nicholas, Agnes and Margaret. From: 

I love this photo. Look at his pipe, very elaborate
gives me goose bumps. I just love it.

and special thanks to

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