The Michael Mickan Mystery – There could be three of them!

Here is how the story begins:

On March 3, 1995 Kenneth (K.W.) Mickan asked Weldon Mersiovsky if he would help him identify the date and place of death of Michael Mickan, the immigrant ancestor of the Mickan clan. He had given his son Michael a copy of the “1965 Mickan Album.” On the first page, in a section called “Rare Records of Michael Mickan,” the writer, who may have been Cornelius Lottman, states, “Michael Mickan, born January 21, 1821 in the Gröditz (Graditz) area, Saxony, Germany. Michael Mickan married Magdalena Brochno in Germany. With their family they migrated to Texas with other Germans; along with the Wendish Lutherans in Reverend John Kilian’s party.” Michael, son of K. W., wanted to know where the elder Michael Mickan was buried as it was not identified in the “1965 Mickan Album”.

The results of the research is what follows. The “1965 Mickan Album,” on page 2 states that Michael Mickan and wife Magdalene (nee) Brochno Mickan had four children. They were Andreas, 1841; Anna, 1843; John, 1845; and Peter, 1847. Mr Lottman goes on to say, “(No index on step-brother Andreas. According to later information he did not leave Germany with the family.)” The above mentioned John, who married Maria Neitsch, is the male progenitor of all the Walburg Mickans, Anna married Carl G. Jungmichael, and Peter married Maria Deo and lived in Lee County. That Michael Mickan (born: 1821) married Magdalena Brochno is, it turns out, a false assumption.

Michael Mickan Number 1:

There was a Michael Mickan, born January 21, 1821 in Gröditz, who is listed in The Wends of Texas, by Anna Blasig, in Appendix II, An Abstract of the Original Ship Register of the Wendish Colonists of Texas of 1854, page 110, Number 114, “Mikan, Michael, Laborer, Gröditz, Saxony, Jan.21, 1821.” Dr George Nielsen, author of In Search of a Home, Nineteenth-Century Wendish Immigration, makes no mention of Michael Mickan in his Appendix and in his collection of research notes, “Nielsen’s Notes,” he has no further information on him than does Blasig. Modern digital research finds the Michael Mickan, born 1821, living as a widower, with the John and Amelia Kruse family, in Fayette County, Texas in the 1880 Census (Mikel Meken) and in the 1900 Federal Census (Mechal Mickon) living next to John and Elizabeth Kruse in Fayette County, Texas.

In a letter dated 11 Mar 1868 (Texas Wends: Letters and Documents, compiled by George Nielsen) Jan Kilian writes, “Michael Mickan is still living and is married and lives 15 English (3 German) miles from here, not far from the little town of Round Top in a settlement of Germans named ‘Zapp Settlement’. [Zapp Settlement has also been called Rock House, German Settlement, and Willow Springs] I heard through Johann Urban from Rakel, who lives here, that over the years he [Mickan] has received several letters from Gröditz. He did not have any church fellowship with me and my congregation all the time he lived in Texas. Therefore, I am unable to say anything about him. But when his brother writes to him he should address the letter as follows: Michael Mickan, P. O. Round Top, Zapp Settlement, Fayette Co., Texas.” In 1900 Michael Mickan, widower, born in Jan 1821, was living in Fayette County.

Michael Mickan Number 2:

In the 1870 Census there is a Michael Mickan (born:1825, Prussia) living with his wife Caroline (born:1820, Prussia) and their three daughters, Mary, 18, Sophia, 15, and Bertha, 12, (all born in Texas) near the Post Office of Archer’s Store. Whether this is the Michael Mickan (born:1821) is doubtful. By 1880 all the girls could have been married and his wife could be dead but someone is off the age by 5 years; however, if the girls ages are correct, the oldest would have been born in Texas in 1852, two years before the Wends landed in December of 1854.

Michael Mickan Number 3:

Dr Nielsen also records in his “Nielsen’s Notes” that there was a Michael Mickan, of Johann, who was born March 1, 1857 and died in Round Rock, Texas on May 21 1931. This Michael married Magdalena Winter on 29 August 1886 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fedor and were later divorced. Their wedding witnesses were “Herzog and wife” and “Benoffski and wife.” Magdalena was born February 24, 1864 in Austria and died June 14, 1937 in Thorndale. While “Mike” and “Lena” were living at Brushy Creek a son was born on 26 June 1887 and baptized on 2 October 1887 at Fedor. He was named Ernst Michael. His sponsors were Joh. Leschber and wife, Ernst Mickan (J Leschber’s ??) and Ernest Poldrack. When the Mickans were living in Thorndale a daughter, Emma Margaretha, was born on 2 Oct 1888 and was baptized on 31 November 1889 in Fedor. Sponsors were John Winter, P Symmank, Frau Heinze, and Frau Synnatschke. Emma married Charles Farris and had at least three children, one of which was a daughter Ruby Ella. Ernest married Anna Hildegard (Hilda) Schultz and had five children, Alfred D., Edward, Leroy Reuben, Alvira Doris, Alice Ruth, Alvadina Emma (Mrs Leo Henderson).

Magdalena Prochno’s husband was John Mickan.

Dr Nielsen, who in his research for In Search of a Home went to Germany and researched the ancestors of the Wendish immigrants for at least two generations, uncovered several interesting bits of information about the Mickan family corroborated by several other unconnected sources. Nielsen states that the husband of Magdalena (daughter of Johann Prochno and Maria Sobe or Dube), born on April 13, 1808 in Rackel and who died on August 1, 1881 in Serbin, was a Johann Mickan of Weigersdorf. They had three children, Johann Mikan, born December 20, 1845 in Weigersdorf, died April 17, 1894 in Walburg, and married Maria Magdalena Neitsch; Peter Mikan, born December 25, 1849 in Weigersdorf, died June 17, 1919 in Serbin, and married Maria Deo; and Hanna of Weigersdorf who married Carl Jungmichael of Bullfrog. Dr Nielsen goes on to say that Johann Mikan apparently died sometime before the Wendish migration of 1854 because the widow Magdalena married a widower Johann Symank who had a daughter Anna Maria. Dr Nielsen also records that Johann Simmank’s first wife was Maria Zieschang and she died in about 1851.

It appears that the following was the situation when the migration took place. “Johann Symank, 58, houseowner in Weigersdorf, and Magdalena Prochno, wife, migrated to Texas with Anna Maria Symank, daughter; Anna Mickan, stepdaughter; Mickan, 9, stepson; and, Peter Mickan, 5, stepson.” [Source: Nineteenth Century Emigration of “Old Lutherans” from Eastern Germany (Mainly Pomerania and Lower Silesia) to Australia, Canada, and the United States. Clifford Neal Smith.] This is a translation of a two volume study in German by Wilhelm Iwan in 1943, titled Die altlutherische Auswanderung um die Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts.)

The following are extracts from the Rev John Kilian’s marriage records of St Paul Lutheran, Serbin, Texas translated by Dr Joe Wilson, Rice University:

1861. Number 5. September 1. The church (place). According to the agenda, without marriage sermon. 12th Sunday after Trinity and the two following Sundays, threefold notice. Carl Gottfried Jungmichel, unmarried, farmer and tanner on the Bullfrog. Hanna, unmarried, surviving older daughter of the late Johann Mickan, former cottager in Weigersdorf (Prussia), now foster daughter of Johann Symank, resident here.

1866. Number 9. November 18. The church. According to the agenda, without marriage sermon. 23rd Sunday after Trinity and the two following Sundays, threefold notice. Carl Gottlieb August Rösler, unmarried, farmer in the Biegel Settlement near La Grange. Hanna, only daughter of Johann Symank, farmer at Serbin.

1872. Number 4. February 13. The church. According to the agenda, without marriage sermon. Septuagesima Sunday and the two following Sundays, threefold notice. Johann Mikan, unmarried, farmer on Wolf’s Branch, surviving older son of the late Johann Mikan, former garden owner in Weigersdorf, Prussia, now stepson of Johann Symank, farmer on Wolfs’ Branch. Maria Magdalena, unmarried, oldest daughter of Johann Gottlieb Neitsch, farmer on Rabbs Creek.

1872. Number 5. April 14. The church. According to the agenda, without marriage sermon. Easter and the two following Sundays, threefold notice. Peter Mikan, unmarried, farmer on the Bullfrog, surviving younger son of the late Johann Mikan, former garden owner in Weigersdorf, Prussia, now stepson of Johann Symank, farmer on Wolfsbranch. Maria, unmarried, surviving second daughter of the late Johann Deo, former renter on the Yegua.

From the Rev John Kilian’s death and burial records of St Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin, Texas translated by Dr Joe Wilson, Rice University:

1874. Number 7. July 11, 7:15 pm. (death). July 12 (burial). Brief funeral address at the home, blessing at the grave. and on July 19 funeral sermon. Johann Symank, former farmer at Serbin (Bullfrog Creek); brief funeral address: Psalm 90, 10-12; funeral sermon: Psalm 39, 6-9. 77 years, 9 months, 10 days. Loss of strength. The widow, 1 daughter from first marriage, 2 stepsons, 1 stepdaughter.

1881. Number 15. August 1, 5:30 pm. (death). August 2 (burial). Brief funeral address at the home, blessing at the grave, and funeral sermon. Magdalena, surviving widow of the late Johann Symank, farmer at Serbin. Brief funeral address: Hebrews 13, 14; funeral sermon: Psalm 90, 10-12. 73 years, 3 months, 18 days; born April 13, 1808. Nervous ailment. 2 sons, 1 daughter, 1 stepdaughter.

From the Rev John Kilian’s confirmation records of St Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin, Texas translated by Dr Joe Wilson, Rice University:

Wendish Confirmation, Serbin:

2. Johann Mickan, stepson of Johann Symank, born December 20, 1845.

Wendish Confirmation at Serbin, March 1863:

1. Peter August Mickan, youngest son of the late Johann Mikan, stepson of Johann Symank, born December 25, 1849.

(There is no mention of the confirmation of the two girls.)

Thus ends the “The Michael Mickan Mystery.” Who wants to take it up from here?


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