Hubert Kohlgraf (1814-1899)

 Hubert Kohlgraf was born on 17 May 1814 in Sinsteden, to Mathias Kohlgraf and Maria Catharina Könen. He was baptized on 18 May 1814; his baptism is recorded in the records of the Catholic Church of Rommerskirchen. His godfather was Lambert Kohlgraf.  Limited information is available for Hubert’s childhood years.  His father, Mathias, died between 1816 and 1823; Hubert would have been between two and nine years old when he lost his father. He apparently never learned to write his name, because subsequent documents are signed with an "x" and labeled "his mark" so it is likely that he did not have the opportunity to attend school. Interestingly, his uncles and at least some of his first cousins could sign their names on documents. 

Hubert married Anna Maria Brüggen in Freimersdorf on 04 Feb 1843. Anna Maria was born on 25 Aug 1816, to Christian Brücken and Elisabetha Kronenberg of Baumberg.  Her birth was recorded in the Monheim Zivilstandregister. The civil marriage record states that Hubert was 28 years old, he lived at Widdersdorf, and his occupation was listed as "Knecht," a farm worker. Anna Maria was 26 years old, living in Stommeln. Their church marriage was recorded in the Catholic Church of Stommeln on 07 Feb 1843. Witnesses at their church wedding were Christian Brüggen and Johann Brüggen. After their marriage they lived in Sinsteden, and had seven children.

Their first child, Catharina Hubertina, was born on 22 Dec 1843, in Sinsteden. Hubert was 29 years old, and his occupation was day laborer; Anna Maria was also a day laborer at this time. Their second child, Elisabeth, was born 4 Oct 1845. Hubert was 32 years old, and was a “small merchant” or shop keeper. Elisabeth died on 12 Jul 1848 at the age of 33 months. Martin Jungverdorben, a twenty-nine year old farmer from Sinsteden, was a witness for the civil death record. Hubert and Anna Maria’s third child was a son named Wilhelm who was born 30 Nov 1847 and died less than a week later, 6 Dec 1847.

On 22 Feb 1849, Gerhard was born, followed by Christina, born 28 Sep 1852. When Hubert was 40 years old, Philipp was born,11 Feb 1855. One of the witnesses was Philipp Könen, a farmer residing in Sinsteden. Later, Hubert was identified as a farmer at the time Adam, the youngest child of the family, was born on 26 April 1857.

On 15 July 1857, Hubert Kohlgraf obtained documents to enable his family to travel to America. This documentation names Hubert Kohlgraf, Anna Maria (Brücken) and their five children, Catharina, Gerhardt, Christina, Philipp, and Adam, as well as Hubert’s mother, Maria Catharina Coenen. Christian Brueggan, Anna Maria’s father, and Martin Jungferdorf and his family obtained emigration documents on the same date. No blood relationship has been established between the Kohlgraf and Jungferdorf families. However, they seem to have been friends and neighbors for two or three generations in the Büsdorf and Sinsteden areas. Hubert’s father, Mathias, was included as a witness on the civil birth record of Martin Jungferdorf, 05 Nov 1816. In the next generation, Hubert and Martin served as witnesses for each other on some civil registration documents. Hubert was a witness for the birth record of Cecilia Jungferdorf, born 05 Mar 1843; Martin served as a witness for the birth record of Elizabeth Kohlgraf, 05 Oct 1845.

Why did this group decide to leave their homeland and make the long journey to the United State?  Perhaps it was the same as some other emigrants indicated as their motive  for leaving: “Kann nicht mehr leben. ” “I can no longer make a living.”

In the fall of 1857, Hubert, his family, and his mother traveled to Antwerp, Belgium. They boarded a ship called the "David Hoadley" and sailed to the United States of America. There were 254 people on this ship, including Christian Brüggen, his son Wilhelm and his family, and Martin Junverdorf and his family.

The United States of America




Hubert Kohlgraf and his family arrived in New York on 18 Nov 1857. Most likely they entered the USA at Castle Garden, the main port of New York at that time. Castle Garden was opened on 01 Aug 1855. It occupied the southwest tip of Manhattan.

Kohlgraf family members are listed on the ship’s manifest, which was written by the ship’s captain upon arrival in port. Hubert and Anna Maria are included, along with their children: Anna, 13; Gerhardt, 7; Christina, 5; Philipp, 3, and Adam, who was 6 months old. Hubert’s mother, Maria, is also listed. Also included on the manifest for this ship were Wilhelm Brüggen, Hubert’s brother-in-law, and his family, and Martin Jungferdorf and his family.

Hubert’s name on the manifest was written as “Lambert Kohlgraf.” It is possible that his name was copied from the family’s emigration papers. On these documents, his name was handwritten in a script that forms the capital “H” in a way that could be read as an “L.” Another explanation may be that when information was given orally, spelling errors or variations and misunderstandings were common. 

From New York, the Kohlgrafs and Brüggens traveled to Chicago, Illinois. There is no indication as to whether or not the Jungferdorf family traveled with this group, although it seems likely that they did. This group had arrived in Chicago by 30 Nov 1857, as son was born to Wilhelm and Gertrude Brüggen on that day in Cook County.  On 16 Dec 1857, Hubert Kohlgraf filed a Declaration of Intent in Cook County, the first step toward becoming a citizen of the United States.








This group of immigrants then traveled on to Wisconsin and settled in Monroe County, Wisconsin, where they lived near the settlement of St. Mary's Ridge.  They joined a number of other settlers who had arrived in previous years.  Several of them were from the Stommeln and Rommerskirchen areas.

In November of 1860, Hubert obtained 40 acres of land in Ridgeville Township; his name on these land documents is spelled "Kuhlgraf.” On this land he built a small house and broke land for crops. The house was 14 x 20 feet, with two windows and one door.  It had a board roof and a board floor. He also built a stable, and ploughed and fenced 8 acres. He and his family are included in the 1860 Federal Census for Ridgeville. His name is written as "Robert Colgrave,” age 46 years. Anna Maria’s father, Christian Brüggen, was living with the family as a farm laborer. The next entry on the census page is Hubert’s mother, listed as Catharina Colgraff.

On 15 Jun 1863, Hubert settled on land in Jefferson Township, Monroe County. He built a frame house, 18 x 12 feet, with a shingle roof and two floors. This house had two windows, and one outside door. He also built a stable and a granary and continued to earn a living as a farmer. In March of 1869, Hubert received his Certificate of Naturalization at Sparta, Wisconsin, prior to applying for the patent on his land in June 1869. He received the patent, Certificate #600, on 02 May 1870. The 1880 Census of Monroe County, Wisconsin, includes Hubert, age 66, his wife, Anna Maria, age 63, and their son, Adam Kohlgraf, 23 years old. According to the census information, Anna Maria had “rheumatism.”



Dakota Territory




In the spring of 1882, Hubert and Anna Maria, along with their youngest son Adam and his wife Katherine, left Wisconsin and relocated to Spink County, Dakota Territory, and obtained land near the recently established settlement of Zell. Hubert was 68 years old at this time.

The area around Zell was settled by a group of immigrants from Stiermark, Austria, Bohemia and Luxemburg.  One of these settlers, Matt Heppler, owned much of the land in the town of Zell. Tradition says Mr. Heppler hoped to establish a Catholic, German-speaking community. He would meet the train in nearby Redfield and greet prospective settlers, “Bist du Katholischer?” If the new arrivals understood the question and showed interest, he would try to persuade them to settle in Zell. Perhaps Hubert and Anna Maria were greeted by this question when they arrived in Dakota Territory. In any event, they became part of this community.

Land documents state that Hubert and Anna Maria first settled on their claim on 23 May 1882. The land was about two miles southeast of the settlement of Zell. All lumber used in building had to be hauled by horse and wagon from the city of Redfield, a distance of about 10 miles.

On 15 Apr 1883, a group of pioneers gathered together to organize a Catholic parish in the village of Zell. They decided to build a convent to serve as a school and church. The parish was established, and Hubert and Adam are included in a list of the first members of St. Mary’s Parish. Priests from Aberdeen came to Zell on occasion to minister to the new parish. A Baptism record for Francis Joseph Kohlgraf, born 29 Apr 1884, baptized 1 May 1884, was found in the records of Sacred Heart Parish, Aberdeen. He was the son of Adam Kohlgraf and Katherine Edrich of Zell.

On 7 Jan 1885, Martin and Sophia Jungferdorf celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. A mass was said to celebrate this event. Afterward, family and friends attended a reception at their home. Hubert and Anna Maria must have been among the guests at the celebration.

Anna Maria died on 24 Oct 1886.  She was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Zell, South Dakota, where a large white headstone marks her grave. She was the third person buried in the parish cemetery.

In the months after Anna Maria’s death, Hubert went to Durand, Wisconsin, where he lived with his daughter Christina and her family. During this time he engaged in some land transactions with his property in Spink County. He received the patent for the land in 1887, and he sold it in 1889.  In 1892, he moved to Cascade, Iowa, when Christina’s husband was transferred by the railroad. He is included in the 1895 Iowa State Census, under the name “Hubbard Calcraft.”

Hubert died on 7 Jun 1899 at the age of 85 years. His obituary appeared on 10 Jun 1899 in the Cascade Pioneer. It is interesting to note the spelling of his name, “Hubbard Kolegraff.” On his headstone, “Hubert Kolegraff” is written. We do not know if he chose this spelling of his name in later years, or if it is perhaps due being spelled as it may have sounded. Also, Hubert’s obituary contains some discrepancies in the dates and places mentioned. Research has shown that Hubert was born in Sinsteden, and he and Anna Maria were married in 1843. They came to the USA in 1857. His obituary is reprinted here:




Mr. Hubbard Kolegraff Passes Away At The Age Of Eighty-Five.




Wednesday, June 7, at 10:55 p.m., the spirit of Hubbard Kolegraff winged its silent flight from its tenement of clay to the realms of eternity. The infirmities of age and the weight of his eighty-five years was the cause of his death.




Hubbard Kolegraff was born in Kellendorf, Prussia, in 1814. In 1841 he was married to Miss Mary Briggen, and in 1853 husband and wife came to America to better their fortunes in the great western hemisphere. They settled in St. Mary's Ridge, Wisconsin, and followed the occupation of farming. Following the tide of western emigration they moved to South Dakota, settling on a farm near Zells Station. At this place Mrs. Kolegraff died 14 years ago, and since then the subject of this sketch has made his home in Cascade with his daughter, Mrs. Joseph Gross. Two sons and two daughters survive their aged father, viz: Philip Kolegraff, Zells Station, S.D.; Adam Kolegraff, Hopesdale, N. Dak.; Mrs. Christina Gross, Cascade, and Mrs. Kate Filber, Watertown, S.D.




Funeral services will be held this morning at 9 o'clock in St. Mary's church, of which deceased was a consistent member, Rev. Father John B. Albers officiating."


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