Written by Joseph Degenfelder, Ohio

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The guide is based on the extensive research by Ida Johengen Wells which commenced about 1975, 200 years after the birth of the Johengen patriarch, Jacob Johengen, Sr. The original documents of our first contact in 1979 are contained in the appendix, with Ida's original version of this family tree. In 1994 Ida published "The Johengen Family Tree", one-inch thick and all hand-typed. Ida's typewriter is now beyond repair, and this version is on a 1984 DOS computer, but we may have access to the 21st century Internet by other means. (Note: this version was transposed on March 25, 2007.)

I suggest that you now read the five page letter from Ida Wells of February 12, 1980, with a copy of her original family tree (pp Al-A6). Next read the list of passenger on the ship Austerlitz of New Orleans, 407 tons loaded and departed port of Havre de Grace for New York under master Samuel R.T. Adams, arriving August 8, 1936. Please review the ship's Johengen family and biographical sketches of each on pp A7-A12.

The Jacob Johengen family, at the time of their emigration to the U.S., had been living in the village of Schiffweiler in the Saarland. Schiffweiler is due east of Saarlouis on the Rhine, and a few km southwest of Ottweiler. Jacob moved his family from Remmesweiler, also in the Saarland, a few years after the death of his first wife, Anna Groot. The two oldest children from this marriage, Anna Maria Barbara and John Nicolaus, remained in Germany. John Nicolas had married in 1830 and begun his own family. Anna Maria had given birth to two 'natural' children, Peter in 1832 and Jacob in 1837, before her marriage in 1838 to Francis Peter, the acknowledged father of Jacob.

The first of our Johengens were traced by Ida Wells to the village of Daun in the Trier District of western Germany. Philip Johantges and Christina Neff appeared on the rolls of the Roman Catholic Church in Daun. Philip was the son of Andreas, and Christina was the daughter of Philip Neff. Christina's brother Philip (Jr.) acted as sponsor at the baptism of their daughter, Anna Catherina in 1695. For a record of this family, see p. Al3. The fifth child, Joannes Georgius baptized Oct. 29, 1703, married (Nov. 3, 1733) Anna Elizabeth Woll. The eighth children of this family are listed on p Al4. The first child, Joannes Jacobus Gehenge, baptized Feb. 26, 1738, married Margaretha Pressler on February 9, 1768, and their children are shown on p Al5. The sixth child, John Jacob Gehenge (Jr.), born Jan. 26, 1779, married Anna Groos on Sept. 7, 1801. Their seven children are listed on p. Al6, (which has more complete listing than p. A6). On Feb. 15, 1820, John Jacob Jehenge married his second wide, Angela Muller, and their four children are listed on p. A17. Ida's documentation of Johengen descendants in America is an excellent base for more modern updates.

The various spellings of the Johengen surname were first mentioned on page A4, with my great uncle Paul Bantle as the source. To this introduction, the various spellings in U.S. records as compiled by Ida Wells are shown on p. Al8.

An early tie in America was made between the Johengen and Nenno families, when two of the daughters of Jacob Johengen Sr. married two sons of John and Barbara Nenno. Of all the German families in Western New York, the Nennos have been the most active in the 20th century in tracing their genealogy. Nenno family reunions were held in the 1940s and 1950s (which I attended). Their arrival in 1833 on the ship, Ange Gardien from Havre de Grace, was discovered from microfilm in the Mormon Library in Williamsville, NY in the same month by Ida Johengen Wells and Elizabeth Nenno Wilson (see p. A19).

In this research in the 1978-1983, the family lore was that the original Nenno patriarch was "a carpenter from Lorraine". A clue to his origin was found in the 1877 census of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in New Oregon, NY, close to Langford and 20 miles southeast of Buffalo. As found by Paul Doherty, in this census Mickael Nenno, son of John the patriarch, gives his birthplace in February 13, 1818 as "Bous, near Saarlouis". After years of checking, Paul Doherty found the Nenno source in Berus in Saarland, Germany, about three miles from the (current) French border (see p. A20 as credit for this excellent research).

Some ties between the Nenno, Johengen and Degenfelder families were provided by Thomas Nenno Wheeler (b. July 24, 1928) in an interview with me on February 14, 1984 in Long Beach, CA. He was the son of Andrew Nenno, Jr, sonof Andrew Nenno Sr., "who was killed by a falling tree". He remembers both his mother and grandfather Andrew talking about Andrew Sr's death. Andrew Jr. recalled how black his father was before he died (probably from massive internal injuries). As described by Kathryn (Nenno) Hubbard in her personal letter of February 18, 1980: "Grandpa (Andrew) was killed Nov. 24, 1862 age 53 years by felling a tree (that struck him) in woods for firewood. His son Frank was with him, age 10 at the time, and dragged his father to house; snow on the ground. Quite a long ways from the house. What an experience for a boy 10 years old."

Hazel Inez Nenno and Kathryn Nenno Horning in California kept in touch with the family in the East. Tom Wheeler recalled my great aunt Anna Degenfelder and Lavina Johengen visiting in a new 1932 Ford in 1932. The pictorial record of this trip is kept in a photo album by Aunt Anna, now held by Theresa Degenfelder Denea. In 1937 Aunt Anna and Lavina Johengen again visited the Nennos in Monterry Park, CA. Both of his parents, Hazel and Mark Nenno, were school teachers, so they could travel in the summer. Tom Wheeler recalled his visit to Western new York in 1938 with his parents. They took the El Capitan streamliner from Los Angeles to Chicago, where they visited George Degenfelder and family. They went on to Detroit where his father bought a new Chrysler. Then they drove to New York and visited Joseph and Mary Bantle Degenfelder, the John Winter family, and the Nennos where they could see Lake Erie (the hills outside Forestville, NY). My father, Richard J. Degenfelder, remembers this trip.

Tom Wheeler's mother always said that her family came from "a long line of draft dodgers". In reality, since Napoleon was always recruiting men, he probably was impressing new men into his army. She said that the Nenno's came to this country to avoid conscription, passed on by her grandfather to her.

In tracing back the Johengen line, it should be recognized that a country including all German people did not exist until the 19th century. England and France have long histories, and Northern Germany was established by the Hohenzollerns as Prussia in the 16th century. Lower Germany was first established by Napoleon Bonaparte as the Confederation of the Rhine in the 1806, as a counter-balance to Prussia. The Johengen family came from the area of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, famous because they were either German or French in the 18th century, depending on who had the upper hand in the last war. See “History of Germany before the Great Wave of Immigration to America”, Joseph R. Degenfelder, October 1997.

John Nenno is said to have left his home in 1828 to start for America, probably influenced by economic forces and the location of Berus in an area of traditional conflict between France and Germany. He and his wife, and the seven youngest of his nine children, sailed from the port of Le Harve, France on the "Ange Gardien" (Guardian Angel), and arrived in New York City on August 21, 1833. They lived in South Buffalo for a few years before settling in Langford.

According to Erasmus Brigg's "History of the Original Town of Collins", John's son, Andrew (b. 1815), acquired 60 acres of land in Collins in 1838. John Nenno applied for naturalization papers on June 10, 1837 and was naturalized on Oct. 6, 1842. His signature is recorded as an X, indicating lack of schooling in Europe. The land records in Erie County Town Hall show that John Nenno bought land in the Town of Collins on March 31, 1851.

The second common German ancestor was Jacob Johengen Sr. in 1837, as described in the first part as a compilation of research by Ida Johengen Wells.

Prepared July 14, 2000

Joseph R. Degenfelder

cc: Ida J. Wells, Lin Benzin, Thomas Wheeler, Donald Gentner, Kathryn Hamberger

Note: This version was edited on March 25, 2007
cc: Tom McFarland, Paul Doherty, Ida J. Wells