Benton County Missouri GenWeb
Early Life in the German Settlement
(1) Excerpt from an autobiography written by immigrant Claus Albers in 1889:
"I came to America in 1836. Rebecca Knoop my wife was the second daughter of John & Anna Knoop.
Rebecca Knoop came to America with her parents, brothers, and sisters in 1838. My wife's father died
of bilious fever in Benton County, Mo in 1843. Her mother died near Versailles, Mo of dropsy of the heart
We Claus Albers and Rebecca Knoop were united in marriage 1839 in Cincinnati, and moved to St Louis
Mo where I engaged in the grocery business for a half year and then removed to a farm in Benton County
Mo near my wife's parents and brothers, where we resided about 8 years in the primitive fashion of the
pioneers, in a log house first consisting of one room but soon enlarged to two. Here I shot turkeys from
the door and deer from the farm yard.
At this place in 1844 we united with the German M. E. Church, having previously been members of the
Lutheran Church, and our house became a preaching station for the Methodists, until the little society
consisting of about eight families built a log church on our farm." (Albers family left Missouri three years later)
(2) Excerpt from a family record written by immigrant Peter Mueller's grandson in 1946:
"Our grandfather, Peter Mueller, came to America in 1838, shortly after he had married Anna Schnackenberg.
The young couple was accompanied by his mother and brother Johann Heinrich. (His brother Cord had come
to America the year previous.) After a six weeks journey on a sailboat they landed at New Orleans, December
18th, 1838. They remained in New Orleans for three months. Then they were induced to move to Benton Co.,
Mo. by David Holsten, who had settled there a few years previous. They made the trip from New Orleans to
St. Louis by boat on the Mississippi River, thence on the Missouri to Boonville, Mo., arriving there in spring of
1839. By ox-cart they traveled 65 miles over wild prairies. Johann Heinrich Mueller remained two years in
St. Louis, but joined them in Benton Co. in 1841. Our great-grandfather and grandmother both took up
Government land, each 160 acres, and began their home life. Both farms were well located – at the edge
Poverty was the order of the day among those settlers. However, there also were advantages. Missouri timber
offered them the finest building material for houses and barns. They were practical people. Bedsteads, tables,
chairs and other articles for home use were built by grandfather. The homes were generally built of logs.
To supply the family with wearing apparel was a job assigned chiefly to the mothers. Wool produced by the
sheep served to make material for clothing. The wool was washed and then spun into yarn. For dye they
used the hull of walnuts or oak bark. After the yarn was dyed it was woven into cloth on the weaving-loom.
(The weaving-loom was built by grandfather. It was a complicated construction, huge, indestructible, made
of the most beautiful walnut lumber.) To produce stockings, socks, mittens, shawls, and caps constituted
the family’s knitting project. Father, mother, sons, and daughters would sit around the table in the evening
knitting. Light was furnished by a "Kruesel" (grease pot?) or candle. Visits in the neighborhood were frequently
made during winter on moonlight nights. Even while visiting they took to knitting, with an occasional recess to
eat apples or crack and eat nuts. Walnuts, hickory nuts, and hazelnuts grew in abundance in Missouri timbers
and every family laid in a full supply in fall for the winter. Pete reports - When I was eight years old I had to learn
the precious art of knitting. I knitted my own stockings and mittens until I was 14 years old. Until that age all
the clothes I wore were made by Mother."