Anna Ficker Fritscher & Family
Johanna (later called Anna) Ficker / Fiker* was the daughter of Franz Ficker / Fiker and Johanna (Anna) Giesl /Gisl/ Giessl.** She was born and christened as Johanna in Kaltenlautsch, Moravia, Austria, a village now called Studena Loucka, February 19, 1828, but by the time of her wedding and thereafter, she was known as Anna. In June of 1846 She married Johann Fritscher (born 1810) in Kaltenlautsch at the age of 19. Since she was not yet of legal age, which at that time was 24, her father had to give his permission for her to marry. He signed with his mark. The marriage was witnessed by Anton Fritscher, the village magistrate or "Ortsrichter", and another man named Anton Fritscher, a tenant farmer or "Inwohner", both of Kaltenlautsch. It is likely that at least one of the men named Anton Fritscher was her uncle, but we cannot be certain. There were four children born to Johanna and Johann: Anna, Johann Baptiste, who died as a child, Josef, my direct ancestor who was born in 1852, and Joannes Nepomuck Bernardinus. It was in 1859, when her three children were only eight, seven, and two years of age that, according to church records in Kaltenlautsch, Anna's husband committed suicide and died in there. He was buried in the cemetery outside the village several days after his death. Under normal circumstances, Johann would have been buried the day after he died, according to the laws at the time. However since his death came as a result of suicide, the burial was postponed. After that, Anna continued working at the wind mill that the family owned until four years later when she finally sold it to her nephew. We do not know how Anna managed to support herself and her young children after that time, but it must have been extremely difficult for her, even though there were many family members living in the small village. Then when her youngest son was nineteen years old, the family made the decision to emigrate to America. It was both exciting and frightening to make such a move, but the family had heard of the rich and abundant land in the western areas of America. They had likely received letters from other family members who had made the trip a few years earlier, and were encouraging their friends and family members to come join them in the new land.
The family left Kaltenlautsch, Austria, their homeland, traveled to Bremen, Germany, and boarded the S.S. Oder for the trip to America. They arrived in the United States on May 28, 1876 at the port of New York. Anna Fritscher, age 48, along with her two sons Joseph, 24, and Johann, 19, and her daughter, Anna, recorded on the ship's log as age 17, made the trip together. (See the S.S.Oder passenger information page.) The family traveled to far southwestern Minnesota to join other members of their extended family. In earlier years, the immigrant's journey to Minnesota included traveling by rail to Buffalo and then boarding a ship for the remainder of the trip to Minnesota. But by 1876 when the Fritschers made the trip, the immigrants were generally met by trains which carried them west to Minnesota or other mid-western states. The Fritschers were Catholic, and their church records of baptisms, confirmations and marriages are found in the Catholic parishes in and around Heron Lake , in Jackson County. They were first recorded on the census of 1880 in Alba township, Jackson County, Minnesota.
Since she was a widow, Anna became a naturalized citizen on her own and was able to purchase a homestead in Minnesota. She purchased land in the far northwestern corner of Jackson County in the township of Alba. Eventually both of her sons were able to purchase land on adjacent sections, so that the family held a full half section.
The Catholic community was slowly developing as more and more German speaking Catholic families moved into the area. At first the family worshiped in homes nearby, and a visiting missionary priest came to say Mass for them. Eventually a church was established in Brewster, originally called Hersey, which was in Nobles County and only a mile or two from the Fritschers' homestead.
On May 23, 1882, Joseph, the oldest son of Anna, married Theresa Appel, in St.Adrian Catholic Church in Adrian, Minnesota. They made their home in Jackson County where they began to raise their family. A few years later, Anna's youngest child, John married Francisca Pelzl at Sacred Heart Church in Heron Lake, Minnesota, and they made their home on land adjacent to Joseph's and began to raise their family as well.
Anna remained close to her children and eventually moved with Joseph's family when they made the move to Denton County, Texas in 1892. Anna lived a long and full life, and finally died in Pilot Point, Denton County, Texas in 1911 according to her burial record located at Pilot Point. Her grave is located in the cemetery across from the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church there and is marked with a small grey stone that says simply, "In Loving Memory of Great Grandmother".
* Church records in Kaltenlautsch refer to this family alternately as Ficker or Fiker. For continuity, I have chosen to use Ficker.
** Church records in Kaltenlautsch refer to this family as either Giesl, Giessl, or on older records as Gisl.