Wednesday, September 8, 2010

John Christian & Hellena (Becker) Wurm

John Christian Wurm was born about 1798 in Germany.  His wife, Hellena Becker was born about 1800.  Family stories state that the Wurms lived near the Rhine River, but efforts to find their hometown in Germany have so far been unsuccessful.  In 1835, John Christian, Hellena, and their children left Bremen, Germany on the ship Copernicus.  The Copernicus arrived at New York on October 25, 1835.  The arrival list shows John Christian, Hellena, and four children:

J.C. Worm - male, age 37
H. Worm - female, age 35
J. Worm - male, age 14
J.C. Worm - male, age 12
M. Worm - male, age 10
J. Worm, male, age 7

An old family story tells that John Christian and Hellena had a fifth child, a son who was about 4 or 5 years old when the family came to America.  According to this story, the captain of the Copernicus took a special liking to this child.  He disappeared just before the ship reached New York.  The captain allowed the entire ship to be searched, except his personal cabin.  The captain concluded that the boy had fallen overboard, however John Christian and Hellen felt that the captain had stolen him.

The family traveled from New York directly to Seneca County, Ohio.  John Christian purchased land in Venice Township of Seneca County on January 18, 1836.  Daughter Maria Wurm was baptised at St. Mary's Catholic CHurch in Tiffin, Ohio on November 3, 1836.  A son, Thomas, was baptised at St. Mary's on April 7, 1841.  John Christian and Hellena are mentioned several times in St. Mary's church records.  It is from these records that Hellena's maiden name of Becker is taken.

John Christian disappears from all Seneca County records sometime between 1841 and 1850.  Family stories state that he returned to Germany, although there is some disagreement as to why he made this return trip.  In some branches of the family the story is that John Christian made this trip following the death of his father to claim his inheritance.  Other branches of the family say the trip was made to bring back carpentry tools that John Christian had left behind in 1835.  Whatever the reason for the trip, all versions of this story agree that John Christian never made it back to Seneca County.  Exactly what happened to him is unknown, but family presumed he was a victim of robberty on his way back to America. 

Hellena can last be found alive in the 1860 census, in which she is shown living with her son John's family.  The records of St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Venice Township include the death of a Helena Wurm on 12 March 1866 who was buried in the parish cemetery on 14 March, 1866.  This is probably Hellena (Becker) Wurm, although the record does not include any other details that would help verify her identity.

John Christian Wurm and Hellena Becker had six known children:

1 - John Wurm (20 April 1822-3 Sept 1877)
2 - John Christian Wurm (27 March 1823 - 9 March 1860)
3 - M. Wurm (about 1825 - ?)
4 - J. Wurm (about 1828 - ?)
5 - Maria "Mary" Wurm (8 Sept 1836 - after 1880)
6 - Thomas Worm (7 April 1841 - 1 Feb 1939)

Because I have been unable to find any non-anecdotal record of his existance, I have not included the son supposedly lost on the voyage to America in the above list.  The two middle children on this list are known only by their inclusion on the Copernicus's arrival list.  I suspect that these two sons may have died sometime between 1835 and 1840, as they are not included in the enumeration of the family in the 1840 census.

The surviving four children - John, Christian, Mary and Thomas - all married and raised families of their own, which will be featured in future posts.

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea to post these stories on a blog! Adeline Engemann, wife of John Christian Wurm, is part of my Engemann family tree. Anyway, I'm at the local FHC looking through Bavarian records from the Eggenfelden area and came across a marriage record for Anton Wurm and Anna Mueller. It's from 1862--a little late for your Wurms. But it might be a clue for looking for where your Wurms came from. Maybe Niederbayern? The film number is 1337649.This Anton Wurm was from Zeitlarn and those church records are online at Anna Mueller was from Peterskirchen--also in the same diocese (Passau).