Dragorius Family

Dragorius Family Folder
The Dragorius family came from the Posen region - further south and closer to Poland. The ethnic mix was around 50% Germans who had migrated there in the 1600s and 50% Polish.  The family settled in Kreis Czarnikau located along the Netzte river. The family name has had many spellings over the years in both Germany and the USA. The one that Erna Boldewahn remembers is  "Drigolias".  However other variations included ""Dragolis" "Dragorus", "Dragores", "Dragoras" and even "Tragorius" and "Gragorius". Erna Boldewahn's mother was Ernestine Dragorius. This is a photo of her in the 1890s. A photo of Ernestine in her later years. Ernestine's famiy was from a village called "Romanshof" located in Kreis Czarnikau, Posen.  Czarnikau was both the name of the Kreis" (county) and the name of a nearby town. The region was called Posen and it was originally under Polish rule until 1772 when the area was divided between Russia, Germany and Austria. The area would switch back and forth multiple times through the 1800s. At the same time cholera epidemics began sweeping through Europe, all of which led to the massive German emigration of the 1800s. The 1848 cholera epidemic in the town Czarnikau claimed 1000 lives in a town with around 2000 people.
Czarnikau Map 1902. The majority of German settlers arrived in the late 1500s from Brandenburg, Pommern  (Northern Prussia) und Schlesien. Many of the settlers were clothiers and weavers and were prized for their skills. The Polish nobles often sent flyers promising religious freedom and reduced taxes. Posen was around 50% German and 50% Polish. The town Czarnikau was also 10% Jewish. Map of Romanshof village. The settlement was founded in 1796. It was situated on cliffs overlooking the Netze river and backed up against the Romanowo forest. It started with 120 settlers and by the late 1800s it had around 1800 inhabitants. Google Earth Map of Romanshof as it is today in Poland Upper Romanshof looking towards the river Netze (2015) via Google Earth
Ernestine Wilhelmine Dragorius was born on Sept 12, 1859 and baptized in the Protestant church in Czarnikau, Posen. Her parents were Friedrich Dragorius and Caroline Koenig. In 1865, a Friedrich Dragorius, his wife Louise and his daughter Ernestine came to America via Canada, leaving Hamburg May 1, 1865 on the sailship Othello. Although the wife's name does not match, the daughter's age matches Ernestine and the emigration year matches the dates she gave in the 1900 US census. The family arrived near the end of the US Civil War. He lists his occupation as "worker" and his home town as Putzig Hauland, Posen, Germany. The other family from Putzig Hauland on the ship went by the last name "Hoeft". The town also went by the names "Pützighauland" and "Putzig Hauland". Hauland is a somewhat common village name forthe region indicating that the town was built in the Dutch or "Holland" style. This area of Putzig and surrounds of Putzighauland, Ascherbude, Follstein, Gross Kotten, Stieglitz, is about half way between Berlin, Germany and Warsaw, Poland. The area was former day Prussia and parts even bordered Pommerania. Today, this area is within modern day Poland. From 1818 to 1887, the Kreis (county) that covered this area was Czarnikau. It split in 1887 so that the west half of the same physical area that was previously called Kreis Czarnikau was now named Kreis Filehne, and, the end half retained the old name, Kreis Czarnikau. This combined area lies directly west of the a city also named, Czarnikau. Prior to 1818, this was known as the Neztedistrict (names after the river Netze). The town is now called Gajewo and it is located in Poland. You can read more about the village here (site is in German): http://www.netzekreis.de/ortschaften/putzighauland/putzighauland.html While the Netze River valley was already largely populated in the Filehne area, the Czarnikau section around 1760 still had unsettled land, especially between Putzig and Hammer. The village Putzig Hauland was founded by Behle Andreas Radolinski in 1763. Seven German settlers were initially given temporary settlement rights. Each settler had to make a one-time payment (deposit) of 6 Reichsstalern, furthermore each house owner had to pay an annual head-money of 6 Gulden. Every 6 years interest in the amount of 50 Gulden was due. The villagers also had to tithe one goose, two chickens, two almond eggs, and butter and chaff. Mandatory labor was required: plowing 4 days per year, 8 days of manual work, 1 day haying and 1 day fishing. The amount of livestock was also limited. Per each pasture hectare:  6 cows, 2 calves, 2 sheep, or 2 pigs. The number of horses was not limited, so that the mandatory labor could always be fulfilled.  	 In 1773, ten years after the founding, the settlers complained to the officials of Frederick the Great, that they had not received some of the promised land.
It is not clear how long Friedrich Dragorius and his family lived in Putzig Hauland. By 1930, 557 people lived in the village on 971 hectares. By 1939 there were 42 farmers who owned horses. The Protestant parish was called Runau. After the Germans were expelled from Prussia, 27 villagers died during the exodus in 1945. The family's entry on the Othello ship registry. The family name has been spelled many different ways: Dragoras, Dragors, Dragorias, and even Drigolias. In one Oshkosh City Directory the name was spelled with a "T" The ship traveled from Hamburg and arrived in Quebec Canada on June 24, 1865. From there he traveled across the Great Lakes and entered through the port of Milwaukee. In November 1867, 3 years after he arrived in the port of Milwaukee, Friedrich Dragorius signed his Declaration of Intention To Naturalize. His name was spelled "Frederick Tragorius" at the top. It states he arrived in July 1864. If “Milwaukee” is noted as the port of entry, it is likely that the immigrant actually arrived at the port of Quebec, Canada, and then came through the St. Lawrence/Great Lakes to enter the United States at Wisconsin. This was an important route particularly for the Norwegian immigrants. The family's name first appears in the 1868 Oshkosh City Directory. Friederich is listed as "Frederick Dragorius" working at a saw mill and living at 85 Ninth Ave. There are over 10,000 people living in Oshkosh at the time.
In the 1880 Census, the family was still living in Oshkosh Wisconsin. Ernestine was 20 years old and was working in a match factory. Her mother is listed as "Louise" which confirms the 1865 ship listing. Ernestine's father (age 56)  had been out of work 5 months and was suffering from rheumatism. In the 1870 Census he had been working in a saw mill. They lived at 85 9th Street. A few doors down at 81 9th Street lived the "Bigaski" family.  The families would have several run-ins with one other over the years until the Boldewahns moved to Vinland, WI. Ernestine's mother passed away in 1881. She was 51 years old and was buried in Riverside Cemetery in the potter's field. Ernestine's father passed away in 1882 at age 57. He too is buried in an unmarked grave in Riverside Ceemtary. Both her parents died within 2 years of her marriage to Wilhelm Boldewahn. In a later court case, Ernestine testified that her father left her a parcel of land worth $500 and $450 in cash. In today's dollars this would be an estate of around $26,000. She would almost lose half of the estate when her husband was sued for assaulting a co-worker in the 1890s. Here is an example of what life was like in Romanshof in the 1800s. This is a letter written in 1888 by the Schlender family to their US relatives. Translations follow.  Source: Schlender Family Tree,  Ancestry.com
Page 1 of the 1888 Romanshof letter (translated) Page 2 of the 1888 Romanshof letter (translated)