My Ancestors by Andy Miller
What I know about my ancestors comes from obituaries, the Federal census, a little bit of hear say, a book "Dyersville; Its History and Its People", and we have various correspondence to and from the family of Margaret Wenner in the country of Luxembourg.
On my Fathers side, my Great Grandparents are Nicholas Pommes and Margaret Wenner.
Nicholas Pommes was born in 1842. He came from the country of Luxembourg (I assume with his parents) and settled in Cascade, Iowa. His parents (my great-great grandparents) were Henry and Jennette Pommes who were born in Luxembourg, he in 1809 she in 1795. He died June 16,1882 and she died March 2, 1883. They are buried in St. Pauls cemetery Worthington, Iowa. In 1868 Nicholas married Margaret Wenner, they were farmers near Worthington. Seven children were born to them; Mary (my grandmother), Margaret, Jennie, and four others who all died in infancy, they were Michael, Peter, Josephine, and one unknown. Peter died from Diphtheria when his Mother took him with her to Remsen Iowa to visit her brother. Nicholas died of a heart attack on January 18, 1884 while he was on his way to the creamery in Worthington. He fell from the sleigh he was using to haul his milk. Someone in the creamery saw him fall and ran to assist him but when he got there he was dead. He is buried in St. Pauls cemetery in Worthington.
Margaret Wenner was born in Trintingen Luxembourg on January 9, 1842. She came to this country in 1866. Her Grandparents (my great great great) were Suz Simminger born in 1782 and Bernard Wenner born in 1777. Her parents (my great-great grandparents) were Anna Mousel, born in 1820, and John Wenner, born in 1810. They lived in Trintingen Luxembourg, we have a picture of their house there. John and Anna had ten children; Margaret (my great grandmother) Magdalena, John, Henry, Mary, Elise, Anna, Babtist, Marie, Suzie. Three of them came to this country; Margaret and Henry in 1866 and Mary in 1871. Suzie was a nun, Marie was a professor, taught English and spoke seven languages. She visited her sisters and brother in this country in 1897. We have copies of some of her letters to her niece Margaret Pommes. Margaret (my great grandmother) and her brother left their home in Trintingen Luxembourg by rail to Antwerp on March 24, 1866. They sailed from Antwerp to Hartlepool England, by rail to Liverpool England, sailed to Ireland and then on to Halifax Nova Scotia on the steamer "England". During the trip cholera broke out and 380 of the 1300 on board died. They were held on an island off of Halifax while the ship was cleaned, then returned to the ship and on to New York where they arrived on April 21, 1866. However, they were quarantined on board for about two weeks after arriving in New York, I would guess to be sure that the cholera had run its course. We know this story from a letter, of which we have a copy, to their parents written by Henry. This story is also in Nicholas Gonners book "Luxembourgers in the New World". From there they came to Iowa. After Margaret married Nicholas Pommes and was farming near Worthington, her brother, Henry and his wife Anna lived with and worked for them. Henry moved to the western part of Iowa, a little town of Remsen. There, according to the book " The History of Plymouth County", he was one of the first settlers and was an influence on the developing the area and gained great respect from the community. After Nicholas died, Margaret married John Schmit in 1885. They had one daughter, Clara. Margaret died April 15, 1917. She is buried in St. Pauls cemetery in Worthington next to John Schmit.
Here is a challenge to anyone reading this: I heard as a kid that one of our ancestors was connected to royalty. And since then, we have a letter from my Aunt Amanda where she says that there was a Duchess in our relation, but she continues, that was a long time ago and drops the subject. Then we recently made contact with a third cousin, William J. Petesch, in California, who repeats the story, that Henry (my great grandmothers brother) always wanted to restore the honor to his Mothers name (that would be Anna my great-great grandmother). The hierarchy of the Luxembourg rulers is very vague and beyond me to figure that out. So if anyone is looking for something to do, try to establish some accuracy to this story.
The other Great Grandparents on my father's side are Nicholas Miller and Mary Diesburg.
Nicholas was born in 1823, we don't know where or when he came to this country. Except the 1860 Federal census shows that he was from Prussia and was in this country farming near Cascade in Dubuque county, Iowa. He married Margaret Diesburg December 14, 1857 in Dubuque Co. Iowa. They had four children; Peter (my grandfather), Mary, Catharin, and John P. This John P was called Peter also, his middle name was Peter. We have a letter from Mary Palmer who is a grand daughter of Mary, who said they called him Peter #2. The 1870 census lists two Peters, one eleven and one five years old.
Margaret Diesburg was born in 1830 and according to the 1860 census is also from Prussia. She died May 5, 1868 and is buried in St. Francis cemetery Dyersville, Iowa
Nicholas married Caroline Renker March 10, 1870. They had eight children Nicholas, John, Frank, Joseph, Elizabeth, Henry, Anna, and Rose. They farmed near Cascade and Worthington. Nicholas died December 19, 1884 and is buried in St. Paul's cemetery in Worthington.
Caroline was born in Oldenburg Germany on August 4, 1847. When a young lady she immigrated to this country and settled in Dubuque Co. After Nicholas died, she continued to farm with her boys near Worthington until she retired and moved to the town of Worthington. She died December 19, 1927 and is buried in St. Paul's cemetery in Worthington next to Nicholas.
There is something mysterious about the relationship between Nicholas first and second family. Mary Palmer said that Peter and Mary were "put out of the house at an early age" and were raised by different families. Mary made out O.K. though. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Georgen of Rockville raised her. They sent her to college at Mt. St. Joseph in Dubuque, now known as Clarke College. She married and lived a comfortable life. Peter didn't make out as well, the 1880 census has him listed as working as a farm hand for John Maiers. Nothing was said about Peter #2, he became a banker in Dyersville. We don't know anything about or what happened to Cathrin. But the second family seemed to stick together; five of them were with Caroline on the 1990 census.
My Grandparents are Peter Miller and Mary Pommes.
Peter was born in 1857 at Worthington. On January 20, 1889 he married Mary Pommes. They farmed near Worthington. To this marriage five children were born Andrew (my father) Emma, Amanda, Mary (known as Babe), And one unknown who died as an infant. In 1899 Peter and Mary separated. According to the 1900 and 1910 census he worked as a farm hand for Conrad Schumucker in Bremen Township of Delaware Co. He died March 29, 1915 in Waterloo at the age of 58. I can only guess that he was in Waterloo looking for work. He was brought back to Dyersville and buried in St. Francis cemetery. Mary was born on February 6, 1870 at Cascade. On April 15, 1899 she filed for divorce from Peter in Dubuque Co. She lived with her four kids in Worthington and made her living as a seamstress. She also must have had a small farm or a few animals and chickens in town because Aunt Amanda in a letter from her enclosed a story to her grandkids about her youth and tells about milking a cow, making butter, gathering eggs, and selling the surplus. She moved to Dyersville in 1915 with her youngest daughter and lived there until 1938. I can remember going to visit her when we lived at Earlville. Also, I remember that there was a flood in Dyersville and she was flooded out, but I'm not too clear on that. In her last years she lived with her daughter Emma (the Whites). I remember she lived with us at Earlville for a little while, that may have been only over a weekend or it may have been for a longer time, I can't remember. She died January 20, 1941 at Independence while living with the Whites. She is buried in St. Francis cemetery In Dyersville.
This must have been one stormy relationship. In the letter from Mary Palmer, she says that Peter was treated very cruelly by his wife and was put out of his home and left to shift for himself. The divorce was dismissed in 1903, but they never got back together again. When we got together with our cousins and the conversation turned to Grandma Miller there were always giggles, snickers, and laughter regarding her relationship with Peter. The comment that she couldn't stand his drinking was always replied to with "you would drink too if you had to live with her". And the White kids would complain what a pest she was to live with. Poor Peter was kicked out of his home when he was a kid and then when he was married, it happened again. Mary Palmer, in her letter, Said that her Grandmother (that would be Peters sister Mary) and his brother Peter #2 buried the poor fellow. He is buried in one of the first rows of the cemetery with a very small stone to mark his grave. Mary left instruction (I assume with the Whites) that she was not to be buried next to him, They honored that request and she is buried next to Ermma White, her grand daughter.
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