Johann Michael Zwiebel was the second child born to George Zwiebel and Katherine Salome Metz, and the first of four sons. Born on Christmas Day in 1806 in Lichtenberg, he would be the first Zwiebel to leave.
As a young man, he relocated to Rothbach, a small town just south of Lichtenberg, where at the age of 23 he would marry Magdalena Schneeberger on 9 July 1829. The second daughter of Johann Ludwig Schneeberger and Maria Magdalena Koll, Magdalena was born in Rothbach on 14 January 1810. Her family is well known in the area and dates back to the 17th century when her great great grandfather, Hannss Michael, was born on 20 September 1671.
Johann Michael and Magdalena would begin their family in Rothbach with the birth of their first daughter, Magdalena Lana, in 1830. Magdalena would be followed by two sons and three more daughters over the next 15 years. Shortly following the birth of their daughter Christine in 1845, the family would make a move that would change their lives forever.
Michaels exact reasons for leaving France are unknown, but the pioneer spirit and his quest for a better life for his family led them on their journey to America. Like so many immigrants of the time, the promises of freedom and land in the new frontier seemed to provide more than he could ever attain in his homeland.
It is uncertain as to exactly when they arrived in America, but the birth of Catherine in France in 1845 and their first son, Michael, in the new country in 1848, places their arrival around 1846. A check of the indexed passenger arrivals for all U S ports at the time show no Zwiebels arriving prior to 1846. Family members have indicated that they settled in a place called Pendicost, Pennsylvania, prior to their arrival in Ohio. Though several attempts have been made to locate this town, it does not appear anywhere in Pennsylvania in this time period. There was a Penticost in Susquehanna County in northern Pennsylvania, but it was not established until 1879 and changed its name to Forest City in 1886.
The first recorded reference to Michael was found in a land record dated 16 February 1848 in Allen County, Ohio. According to the record, Michael and Magdalena purchased a piece of land from George Delong near Lima, Allen County for $280.00. The sale was officially recorded on 21 April 1848 and witnessed by Daniel Bitter and Ludwig Helmlinger.
It is uncertain how long the Zwiebes stayed at this location, but Auglaize County birth records and St. Marks Lutheran Church records show their son Michael was born in Clay Township, Auglaize County on the 24th of June 1848, and christened at St. Marks on 30 July 1848. The U S Census for Ohio in 1850 shows Michael Swivel, age 43, living in Clay Township with his wife Magdalena and six children. Michas occupation is listed as farmer, and the value of his property was $1200.00. Catherine and Christina do not appear in this census, and no record has been located as to their deaths or burial in France or Ohio. Several people died on the trying journey across the Atlantic, and this may be what happened to the two young daughters. The possibility that the Zwiebel family did stop in Pennsylvania and the children died there is still unproved.
On the 18th of February 1851, Michael and Magdalena purchased another piece of property from Jacob Helmlinger in Auglaize County for $70.00. It is uncertain exactly where the property was located, but it consisted of ten acres and was recorded on 18 February 1851. On the 7th of September in that same year, Auglaize County birth records show the couples last child was born in Clay Township. Louis Arthur Zwiebel was christened at St. Marks Church on 7 October 1851.
The following year, tragedy struck the family on the 16th of May 1852 when Michael passed away. While the new country had been good to him, he never really had the opportunity to experience what he had strived for. To date, no actual record of his death has been located in Auglaize or Shelby Counties, but several family members have visited his grave in the cemetery next to St. Marks Church.
Magdalena was left with four young children to raise, as Philip was only 16 at the time of his fathers death. It is uncertain if George, who was 20 when his father died, was still at home to help his mother. On the 18th of December in that same year, the first daughter of Michael and Magdalena would marry, and two years later, in 1854, their son George married.
A strange event occurred in 1856, and the records do not show what may have led to the situation. On the 7th of February, Magdalena, acting as guardian to Philip, Michael, and Louis, filed a petition with the Court of Common Pleas in Auglaize County against her son George and his wife Sophia Zwiebel. The petition asked the court to force the sale at auction of property in George's name in Auglaize County. On 28 June 1856, the court ordered the sheriff to sell at public auction the property located on Pusheta Creek, and it was sold to Christain Elsass for $1500.00. Somewhere between the sale of the property and March of the next year, George and his wife and one son relocated to Papillion, Nebraska.
In February, 1858 Michael and Magdalenas daughter Sophia married; two months later, in April, their son Philip married and joined his brother George in Papillion. Magdalena, with two young sons to raise, appears to have gone to work as a governess in Clay Township. The 1860 U. S. Census shows her living in Clay Township with Michael, age 12, and Louis, age 7. At age 50, her occupation was governess. Her real estate was valued at $1300.00 and her personal property at $75.00.
In 1867, according to another land record, Magdalena appears to have sold the balance of the Zwiebel property in Clay Township. The record filed on the 8th of October shows Magdalena Zwiebel, wife of Michael Zwiebel, received from Christian Elsass the sum of $400.00 for eighty plus acres bordering on Pusheta Creek. Sometime between the sale of the property in Clay Township and 1870, Magdalena moved to her sons home in Port Jefferson. The 1870 U. S. Census taken on August 2nd shows Magdalena enumerated with Michael, his wife Sophia, and one son, Lewis. Before the census taker could reach Pusheta Township on the 24th of that same month, Magdalena had moved in with her daughter Sophia, her husband, and five children. The same census shows her oldest daughter living on the next farm with her second husband and sevenchildren. Her age is shown as 60, and she is still working as a domestic servant.
Magdalena apparently remained with Sophia until her death in 1894, as she was enumerated there in the 1880 U. S. Census. Auglaize County death records show she passed away in Pusheta on the 24th of August 1894 at the age of 84 years 6 months and 16 days. Her body was laid to rest in St. Marks Cemetery, thus bringing to a close the eventful journey that started across the Atlantic some 44 years previous.
Submitted by Gary Carlsen