Page Six
The Vollkommers
Chapter Notes

     1. Passenger manifests of the ship Preciosa, C. H. Mallien, Master. Inserted among the Vollkommer names on the list is a second Andreas, 24, whose last name appears to be Falkner; he may have been a link to a family who had migrated earlier, a family that might have offered to facilitate the settlement of the Vollkommers. But there is no Falkner listed among the families residing in their native village, called Bruenn, at the time.
     2. Most of the information on Bruenn in this account comes from Brunn: Dorf- und Familiangeschichte, a village and family history written in 1966-67 by a local high school teacher, Willy Bergmann, who resided at that time in the village. Hereafter cited as Bruenn History. On my brief return to the ancestral hunting grounds in early November 2002, I visited the town of Hofstetten, the village - only eight kilometers or so from Bruenn - listed as Margarethe Becht’s place of birth on her and Sigismund’s marriage record. In Hofstetten, I discovered that the name was written with a ‘P,’ and that the last of the Pecht’s died there in the 1990's. I would subsequently find a Pecht tombstone in Lohr, an even closer neighboring village to Bruenn. Later I cleared up the spelling mystery somewhat by discovering at the Parish House of Sankt Kilian Church in Pfarrweisach, that the same name was often spelled with a “B” by local folk belonging to this extended family.
     3. The immigrant reception center at Castle Garden opened in 1855; Ellis Island assumed this activity in 1891.
     4. Little Germany: Ethnicity, Religion, and Class in New York City, 1845-80, by Stanley Nadel, University of Illinois Press (1990).
     5. See e.g., the photo collection of Jacob Riis for the de-romanticized version; or with considerably more sentimentality, the innumerable memorializations in popular culture of Italian or Jewish immigrant life on the Lower East Side, such as Godfather saga or, in one of its earlier renditions, Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer.
     6. This total did not include the inhabitants of what are today the city’s other four boroughs, at that time comprised of many independently incorporated villages, such as Brooklyn and Williamsburg.
     7. Birth certificate for Sigismund Vollkommer, April 4 1787, Diozesan-Archiv Wurzburg, hereafter DAW.
     8. Bruenn History. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Franconia as “one of the five great Stamm or tribal duchies of early medieval Germany... a royal demesne nurturing no strong ducal dynasty, and their tenure of it provided a support to German kings and Holy Roman
     9. Bruenn History.
     10. Ibid.
     11. Ibid.
     12. Pfarrweisach Parish Register (henceforth, Register). According to the parish secretary, there is every reason to assume that this record is incomplete. For whatever reason, some births, marriages and deaths simply went unlisted.
     13. Marriage record for Joseph Vollkommer, September 4, 1754 (DAW).
     14. I have depended on a paper written by Dr. Georg Fertig of Muenster University during his doctoral studies for my comment on the historical patterns of internal migration within the German communities, “Transatlantic Migration from the German-speaking parts of Central Europe, 1600-1800: Proportions, Structures, and Explanations.”
     15. It is conceivable, even plausible, that Anna Maria died in childbirth.
     16. I will sometimes follow the convention of placing the date of birth, where known, of a given individual being referred to; there are innumerable repetitions of first names within this family over the generations covered in this narrative.
     17. There is a death listing in the Register for a Joseph Vollkommer who died in Bruenn in 1772 (presumably not a child, since the word Kind is not appended, as is the custom in this church book), and also of an Anna Vollkommer, who died there in 1790, whether mother or daughter - or someone entirely different - one cannot determine from this record.
     18. The social distinction between rich and poor peasants was relatively slight. The Vollkommers, in possession of two houses within the village, and of a decent land holding of over fifty hectares, when compared with the average holdings of their neighbors, would seem to have been among Bruenn’s more prosperous residents. Bruenn History.
     19. Bruenn History.
     20. Marriage certificate for Andreas dated June 10, 1776 (DAW).
     21. Recorded in my notebook from microfiche data in the DAW. The Register lists two Vollkommer deaths in Bruenn for 1800, both of whom presumably died at birth since they are not given first names. One of these would likely have been the Anonymous listed above. While there is no reference to their deaths in the Register, the twins also died at birth, since they are also recorded as nameless in the birth registry.
     22. I am only suggesting Eva Barbara’s early departure from life as a ‘for instance,’ to introduce the comment about ‘naming.’ I have no factual evidence of her death in either infancy or childhood; in fact, there is an undated reference in my notes to an Eva nee Vollkommer who married and settled in the neighboring hamlet of Lohr. In this case, Eva Barbara may have been considered an ‘Eva,’ not a ‘Barbara.’
     23. Robert W. Lee. Population Growth, Economic Development and Social Change in Bavaria 1750-1850, p.283. New York: Arno Press, 1977.
     24. DAW.
     25. The Register lists the death of a Veit Vollkommer in 1814; this is probably the son, since it is known that Veit senior moved his family to the nearby village of Unterpreppach sometime around 1836, when the house he apparently shared or co-owned in Bruenn with Sigismund Vollkommer, #8, was sold to a family named Schramm.
     26. Birth record, DAW.
     27. Marriage record, DAW.
     28. This farm today is quite active; it is surrounded by an open landscape of green and rolling fields, with many contiguous acres of fenced in pastures, over which various herds of animals roam and feed together: goats, sheep, cattle... and large Elk-like critters with imposing racks of antlers, apparently a source of domesticated venison.
     29. There is some reference to the presence of Jews, and their role as traders in the Bruenn History. The history of a rather substantial Jewish population, at least throughout this region of Lower Franconia, is a subject of considerable interest, but one which is beyond the scope of this narrative.
     30. This would seem to be partially confirmed by a comparison of the DAW record, with dates, for Andreas and Joseph, with the duplicates of these names and dates (here only the year) appearing on the Registry which provides Gueckelhirn as place of birth. That is, before seeing this registry, I knew Andreas was Sigismund’s son, but did not know he was born in Gueckelhirn.
     31. To include the microfiche reference noted above opposite the name Georgius in the list of Sigismund’s sons.
     32. See appendix. How many of his (Georg 1796) children, or grandchildren, if any, subsequently migrated to the U.S. cannot be determined through my records.
     33. There is one single tantalizing reference in the 1860 to a Joseph Vollkommer, aged 59, peddler, living in Brooklyn. His listed age might place his year of birth as 1802, depending on when the census was conducted. Could this be Sigismund’s baby brother Karl Joseph?
     34. Adding to the mysteries is the strong possibility that there were other families named Vollkommer, either distantly linked or completely unrelated to the Franconian clan. Barbara Volkomer turned up the record of a Lutheran christening for one Eva Vollkommer, born to a Georg and Catharina Vollkommer September, 1821, in York, Pennsylvania (see appendix). This reference pre-dates the 1836 arrival of Sigismund and his family by fourteen years.
     35. Personal communication from Dr. Berninger.
     36. I have consulted many texts in the literature of migration history germane to the general scope of this discussion. See, for example, European Migrants: Global and Local Perspectives, edited by Dirk Hoerder and Leslie Page Moch (Northeastern University Press, 1996). Between 1824 and1924, 52 million Europeans left the continent for the Americas, most for the U.S. As Leslie Page Moch describes it (p.131), “About one person in five on the globe lived in Europe in 1800; that population rose to one in four by 1900.”
     37. Nadel, ob cit.
     38. Information provided to Barbara Volkomer in letter form from Most Holy Redeemer Church.
     39. Nadel ob cit.
     40. Most Holy Trinity 150th Anniversary program.
     41. The actual baptismal record lists baby Margaret’s sponsors as Sigismund Vollkommer and Margarethe Jaeger, perhaps the baby’s maternal aunt or grandmother.
     42. The record in my possession ends in 1875. This baptismal registry lists only the names of the child and father. I was able to place the mother, Margaret Yaeger’s name with Joseph’s child through the actual birth record.
     43. Information in the preceding paragraph comes from the website,
     44. A more or less complete set of these directories can be found in the Long Island Historical Society Library, located in Brooklyn Heights, New York City.
     45. My own best guess is that this is also a brother to Joseph and Peter. There is a passenger manifest listing the arrival of a George Vollkommer, wife Henrietta, both 39 and three children in 1851. That would place this man closest in age to the George who was born in Gueckelhirn in 1811. The phrase ‘day laborer’ is roughly equivalent to the German Tageloehner, an occupation more and more prevalent by the mid-1800s throughout Germany with its rapid population growth and subsequent scarcity of farm land.
     46. There is some evidence to support this claim, which is referred to below.
     47. In the marriage record, Joseph is duly recorded as a Wittwer, a widower, and it is here that we discover the names of both parents, including Sigismund and Margarethe Becht, and the name of their native village, Bruenn.
     48. Trish Vollkommer of Woodstock, Illinois, who has collaborated in this enterprise, has traced the descendants of a John Vollkommer, believed to have been born in Bavaria on June 11, 1823, but for whom no birth record has been found. Therefore we cannot determine if this “John,” is perhaps the Matheus, son of Sigismund, for whom my records list the birth date as June 12, 1823. The same 1881 directory also lists an Andrew Vollkommer in the “meat” business at 299 Rivington Street, the heart of the old immigrant neighborhood of Kleindeutschland. This sighting may be supportive of my earlier speculation that Sigismund’s son Andreas stayed in Manhattan when most of his other close relations moved to Williamsburg, this Andrew being certainly a namesake, and perhaps his son or grandson.
     49. While my index of births from MHT ends at 1875, I have a copy of the actual birth certificate for this particular child.
     50. According to the substantial memorial gracing their grave site, Joseph’s dates are given as: Born March 4, 1817 Died Dec. 30 1882; and Katarina’s as: Born Aug. 21, 1830 Died May 21 1900. Neither Joseph nor Katarina’s names appear in the 1880 census at their last known address together, 112 Messerole St., Williamsburg, the house that came into the possession of their son Joseph (1852).
     51. The names and confirmed dates come from the MHT registry; those names that remain somewhat under speculation as far as the exact nature of their kinship - whether offspring, stepchildren, cousins - though most probably offspring - are listed as members of the Vollkommer/Jaeger household in the 1850 census. It is believed that both the mother and the child, Barbara died at or near the time of birth; neither appear in the 1850 census, by which time Joseph is remarried to Katarina.
     52. These names come from the same set of sources. Those marked with a + are confirmed deaths in infancy. Many of the names of the female siblings, Cate, Barbara, Amalia, Minna, are familiar to me from stories told by my mother, these being her great aunts with whom her family was in close contact. And, of course, Barbara Regina - whose name was mysteriously reversed by the time she married in 1882, was my mother’s grandmother. I am also informed through the oral record that Josepha, known as Josephine or Josie, “died of TB at the age of 17.”
     53. See appendix.
     54. Information on the Saal family in Germany comes from the Bruenn History, DAW and the Pfarrweisach Registry.
     55. A Johan Adam Saal was a witness to the wedding of Joseph (1852) and Mary Raber in 1876. This may be the Johan Adam for whom two sons born to Joseph (1817) and Katarina Saal, who did not survive, were named.
     56. The great grandson of Joseph (1854), Father Andrew Vollkommer, has compiled an interesting set of documents for this branch of the family.

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