The Kansans and Whence They Came – Brox-Kessler Research
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Source Citation:
Richard Wilson, "", The Kansans and Whence They Came, Internet: (accessed ), < sites.rootsweb.com/~wilsweik/queries/Brox.htm >.

Zwittau Emigrants

Which Austrians in Atchison County, Kansas, emigrated from the group of villages north of Zwittau, Bohemia, Austria, and which of these were related to John Brox or Anna Kessler

Chain Migration

In 1875, Johann Prax/John Brox and his family emigrated directly to Shannon Township, Atchison County, Kansas, from the village of Altwaldek, Bohemia, Austria. This village was one of a cluster of villages immediately north of the small city of Zwittau, including Altwaldek, Neu Waldek, Körber, and others. This family arrived near the end of a chain migration that began as early as the mid-1850's. So upon their arrival, there were already many others in the neighborhood who are known to have come from the same villages. There were also others with the relatively uncommon surname of Brox who are assumed to be related to John and to each other. One has been proven to be John's younger brother, Franz Prax/Frank Prox. The original and still the ultimate goal is to find out if and how the others are related to John. Over time, the search has spread to include determining who else in Atchison County came from the same area of Austria. This has been interesting in itself, but it has also proven helpful to the original search.

Sources

There have been two major sources of information to help resolve many of the questions. One is the church records for the villages where these people had previously lived in the current Czech Republic. As with most German records of the time period, the now disused cursive handwriting can be very difficult to decipher. However with a little knowledge of German and some practice, priceless information can be found.

The other major source is the passenger lists of immigrant ships arriving in the United States and ships leaving from Hamburg, Germany. They have allowed me to see who traveled together, and therefore can be assumed to have come from the same location. The Hamburg records are particularly helpful because they tell the name of the passenger's home village. The American records, except in one rare instance, only tell the home country. From this research, it appears that a majority of the dozens of Austrians in Shannon Township, Atchison County, Kansas, originated in the Zwittau area.

Teresa Brox

Teresa Brox is almost certainly related to John Brox, but no definitive proof has been found. According to census records, Teresa was born 28 Nov 1854 in Austria, and she had lived in Missouri before coming to Kansas. One census says that she immigrated in 1855, but another says 1865. In 1870, she was living in Shannon Township with the Austrian family of Wenzel Keeler who may have been from the Zwittau area.note1 In 1875, she was living with the family of John and Mary Drimmel who are the earliest known immigrants to the area from Zwittau, arriving in America in the 1850's. Theresia (Kessler) Gergele and her infant son were staying with this family at the same time. This Theresia was a sister-in-law of John Brox and had just arrived in the country aboard the same ship as John. This is very promising as it puts Teresa Brox in a household from Zwittau along with a member of the John Brox family.

Teresa then married Raymond Kauer 7 Aug 1880 and moved to Missouri. She died 13 Jul 1938 in Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri. Her death certificate shows her father's name as Antoine Prock, which must be an Anton Prax. Her mother's name was Teresa. Teresa and Raymond had the following children:

  1. Emma Kauer (1886-1968) who married Edwin Francis Sibert c.1906 and died in Warrensburg.
  2. Henry Kauer (1890-1970) who married Henrietta A. "Herma" Coffman.

Later generations of the Brox and Kessler families married into the Keeler family. In 1894, John Joseph Brox, a son of John Brox, married Elizabeth Keeler, a daughter of Wenzel Keeler. Then in 1898, Mollie Kessler married Robert P. Keeler, one of Wenzel's sons. In 1933, a grandson of John Brox married a granddaughter of Wenzel Keeler as well.

Anton Brox

Like Teresa, Anton "Anthony" Brox must be related to John Brox, but no proof has been found. According to his death certificate, Anthony Brox was born 10 Jun 1854 in Vienna, Austria, but it seems unlikely that he would have come from a major city. On the 1920 census, one of his daughters said that her father's mother tongue was Bohemian. Vienna was in Austria, but not in Bohemia. According to census records, he immigrated c.1866. He is found in Shannon Township in 1870. He was living and working as a farmhand at the age of 16 or 17 years old which suggests that perhaps his parents were deceased or at least far away. On 5 Feb 1880, Anton married Harriet "Hattie" Martin in Doniphan County, Kansas. During the census, they were living in Wolf River Township in the same county. A man named Christopher C. Naylor had been working with Anton in 1870. Now his brother, John Naylor, was living with Anton and Hattie here. A third brother, James W. Naylor, was now only two farms away as well. These were all sons of Isaac Naylor. By 1885, Anton and Hattie had moved to Sumner County in southern Kansas where they were living next to the first brother, Christopher. It is not known if there is a connection to the Naylor family, but these repeated associations suggest that there may have been one, perhaps through Hattie. From here it was a relatively short trip to Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, where they moved between 1890-92 and remained. Anton died here 14 Sep 1935 and Hattie died in 28 May 1944. They were both buried in the Hennessey-Calvary Cemetery. The names of their children are:

  1. Josephine Brox (1881-1958) who married Winfield G. Swartz 4 Jun 1921 in Anadarko, Caddo County, Oklahoma and lived in Lawton, Comanche County, Oklahoma. They had no children.
  2. Arthur J. Brox (1882-1938) who married Della A. Troyer 29 Mar 1911 in Hennessey, Kingfisher County, Oklahoma.
  3. Jessie Vienna Brox (1888-1948) who married Joseph Ehler 9 Dec 1909 in El Reno, Canadian County, Oklahoma.
  4. Edna Rue Brox (1890-) who married Roscoe Henry Owens 18 Aug 1909 in her parents' home in Hennessey. They lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  5. Grace Ruth Brox (1892-1964) who married four times. She first married John Bailey 25 Dec 1912 in Hennessey, Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, with whom she had two children. She second married Ernest Green 27 Jun 1923 in Hennessey. She third married Harry Ehler 19 Jul 1930 in Kingfisher, Kingfisher County, Oklahoma. She finally married William Smith Martin 27 Jul 1947 in Hennessey.
  6. Hugh Brox (1894-1894) who died in infancy.
  7. Roy Henry Brox (1897-1938) who served in France during World War I. He married Veda Carrie Shelton 18 Mar 1920 in El Reno, Canadian County, Oklahoma. They lived in Tulsa.
  8. Joseph Irvin Brox (1900-1964).

The Henry Myers Farm

The family of Henry Myers provides a loose connection to both of the previous individuals as well as to Frank Prox, John Brox's brother. Henry was born in Hannover, Germany, so he is not part of this chain migration. However, he had lived in Rush Township, Buchanan County, Missouri, at the same time as others who are part of it. By 1870, he owned a large farm in Shannon Township, Atchison County, Kansas. At this time, a teenage Anton Brox was a laborer on his farm while Teresa Brox was living only a few farms away with the Keeler family. Five years later in 1875, Frank Prox was living as a farmhand on the same farm. He was working with both Christopher and John Naylor who, as previously discussed, are associated with Anton Brox. Teresa had moved in with the Drimmel family by then, but she was still nearby.

Two children in the Brox and Kessler families later married into the Myers family as well. In 1888, Mary Anna Brox, a daughter of John Brox, married John Myers, a son of Henry Myers. Then in 1893, Theresa Kessler married Henry B. Myers, another son of Henry Myers. Theresa was a daughter of John Kessler and a first cousin of Mary Anna Brox.

Anna Prax

The third and final unknown individual in the area with the Brox/Prox/Prax surname is also the one who is documented the earliest. Anna Prax and her new husband, Joseph Zalfler, were issued marriage license No. 1 in Atchison County, Kansas, on 4 Mar 1867. The true name of Anna's husband was most likely Joseph Zölfel (also spelled Zölfl). This was a common surname in records from the area where the Broxes had lived near Zwittau. There were also several young men with this surname who had come to the area around this time. One of these was a Joseph Zölfel of Neuwaldek who had arrived aboard the "Gutenberg" in 1865. Also on this ship were John and Veronica Woletz, the couple with whom the family of John Brox stayed upon their arrival in Kansas ten years later. Unfortunately, no later records have been found of Anna and Joseph together, therefore it is impossible to confirm if this is the correct Joseph. Of the others in the area with the same surname, their spelling was typically changed to Zelfel. For Anna and Joseph to have married without parental consent, she had to be born before 1849 and he before 1846.

The Bark "Norma"

The earliest passenger list of interest is from the Bark "Norma" which landed in Baltimore on 12 Sep 1864, over ten years before the arrival of John Brox. The clerk in charge of this list did not seem to do a very good job of reading the passengers' original German documents. For instance, all passengers were listed as being from Germany which is not the case. It contains at least fifteen individuals who were traveling together.

The Anton Kössler family first lived in Buchanan County, Missouri. They then moved to Atchison County, Kansas, before later venturing off to Doniphan County, Kansas. The Franz Braz listed here is Frank Prox, the brother of John Brox. Anton and Anna Zölfel were probably not a married couple, but they were more likely to be brother and sister. Anton was found on the 1870 census in Atchison County without Anna. She may have married soon after arriving,note2 before the first license was issued to Anna Prax. The Demel family shown here (it has been spelled many different ways) has not been located in Kansas, but they were in Buchanan County with others from the Zwittau area. It is a surname that is associated with the group in Kansas.

The S.S. "America" and Anton Prax

The next passenger list is particularly intriguing. The S.S. America landed in New York on 3 Jul 1865 with nineteen individuals aboard who were traveling together from Bohemia (Austria). More than half have been located in and around the city of Atchison, and most of the surnames were common in the Zwittau area.

Of this list, all of the Philipp and Antel family members have been found in Atchison County. Neither Zeit has been found, but there were others in Atchison County with this surname. Theresia could have died before the next census, and Victoria could have married. Otherwise, the Anton Prax family is a curiosity. Anton, in fact, is another potential brother of John Brox and Frank Prox. This Anton is the same age as their brother found in the church baptism records in Körber. Church records also show that his first wife was named Theresia, and they had children named Anton and Theresia. His second wife was named Anna, and they had a child named Franz. These names all match the passenger list. His wife and two older children, Anna, Anton, and Teresa Prax/Brox, could account for all three mystery Broxes discussed earlier. Unfortunately, the ages of the older children do not quite match up with records found afterward in America.note3 If it is assumed that their ages on the manifest are incorrect (which is uncommon), it is not difficult to fit everything else together. Anton Sr. could have died soon after arriving, leaving his wife, Anna, to remarry to Joseph "Zalfler" in 1867. She could have then died as well or relocated. This would have left Anton Jr. and Teresa to fend for themselves, which could explain why they were living with other families while in their mid to late teens. It could also explain why no alternate immigration records for the three have been found. The date this ship landed also roughly coincides with immigration dates shown on census records for both Teresa Brox and Anton Brox, both discussed earlier. This argument is further strongly supported by the Missouri death certificate of Teresa Brox that shows her father's name to be Anton and her mother's name to be Teresa.

The Bark "Gutenberg"

Another important list is from the bark "Gutenberg" which landed in Baltimore on 11 Aug 1865. Instead of listing only the country of origin for each of its passengers, it named their village. Therefore everyone listed here is definitely known to be from the correct area without any guesswork involved. They also traveled 2nd class instead of the usual "between decks" of most immigrants.

Johann and Veronica Woletz are the couple with whom the John Brox family lived upon their arrival in Kansas in 1875. The Joseph Zölfel shown here is the possible husband of Anna Prax discussed previously. The others on this list were definitely from the correct area, but they have not been located afterwards.

In Summary - Who Is from Zwittau?

Finally, dozens of people have been investigated in the search to answer the original questions. It would be tempting to say they all had come from the villages around Zwittau, and eventually perhaps that will be possible. However they currently tend to fall into one of three categories, definitely, maybe, or maybe not from Zwittau.

The following people have been proven to be from the Zwittau area. Documents have been found specifically connecting them to one of the villages or to others who have been documented:

Name(s)

documentation/info

immigration

when known in KS

John Drimmel & Mary Karn church records, Theresia Gergele lived with them immediately after arriving in 1875. between 1854-1858
Frank Prax/Prox/Brox church records. 1864 aboard "Norma" 1875 [MO ?]
Anton Kessler, Anna Antl & children church records, lived Rush Twp, Buchanan Co, MO 1870. 1864 aboard "Norma" 1875 [MO 1870]
Anton Zölfel church records. 1864 aboard "Norma" 1880
Franz Antle, Rosalia Zeit & children daughter's baptism in church records. 1865 aboard "America" 1870
Veit & Theresia Antle Veit was uncle of Johann and Franz Prax. 1865 aboard "America" 1880, possibly 1870
Theresia Antle Arrived with Veit & Theresia Antle 1865 aboard "America" probably 1870, but wrong age listed
Joseph & Anna Philipp & son church records, son's obituary states he was born in Körber. 1865 aboard "America" 1880
Franz & Marie Philipp 1865 aboard "America" 1875
Johann & Veronica Woletz ship list shows Ueberdörfs, John Brox family lived with them immediately after arriving in 1875. 1865 aboard "Gutenberg" 1875
Joseph Zölfel ship list shows Neuwaldeck. 1865 aboard "Gutenberg" 1867?
Johann Carl Kessler & Victoria Rutter known to be brother of Mary Anna Kessler, obituary. 1875 aboard "Nurnberg"
Franz & Marie Schlinger arrived same ship as Johann and Victoria Kessler, surname appears in church records. 1875 aboard "Nurnberg"
John Brox & Mary Anna Kessler church records, passport, obituaries of children. 1875 aboard "Braunschweig"
Theresia Kessler Gergele church records, known to be sister of Mary Anna Kessler. 1875 aboard "Braunschweig" 1875 [MO 1870]
Joseph Zeit & Johanna Huschka. church records 1876 aboard "Leipzig"

Who Else Might Be from Zwittau?

This list is people who are probably from the Zwittau area due to their assocations with those who were or because of who else was on the ships on which they immigrated. No documentation has yet been found to prove the connections though:

Name(s)

documentation/info

immigration

when known in KS

Anna Prax married a Joseph Zalfler (probably Zölfel) in Atchison County 1867. before 1867
Anton Brox worked on same farm as Franz Prax/Frank Prox. before 1870
Theresia Brox lived with John & Mary Drimmel and Wenzel Keeler. before 1870
Wenzel & Anna Keeler several family members married into families from Zwittau area. Küller a surname frequently found in the Czech church records and an ancestor of John Brox and Frank Prox. before 1870
Mrs. Theresa Frodl married Franz Antle, surnames Frodl and Antle both appear on passport of John Brox and frequently in the Czech church records. ?

Other Austrians

The final list is that of Austrians who have had less direct interactions with those on the previous two lists. Some of these could be from Zwittau, or it could just be that they preferred the company of other Austrians:

Name(s)

documentation/info

immigration

when known in KS

Johann & Anna Bittner lived in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas. Surname Bittner appears frequently in the Czech church records. Newspaper death memorial says came to Atchison in 1859. 1854 1859
Frank & Rosie Kramer lived in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas. Variations of the surname Kramer appear frequently in the Czech church records. Arrived in U.S. 1 Sep 1855 on the "Orpheus". Four individuals who are almost certainly from the Zwittau area lived with this family in 1875. 1855 c.1860
Joseph Watowa lived in Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas. Before 1854
Johann & Anna Prohaska Franz Prax/Frank Prox lived with him and his second wife.

Zwittau Emigrants Selected Documents

Immigration

'Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1891', U.S. Customs Service.

Bark Norma, from Bremen, Germany, to Baltimore, arrived 12 Sep 1864, pp.5-6.

Anton Kösgjer [Kössler], age 44, male, farmer, origin Germany, destination United States.
Anna Kösgjer, age 41, female, origin Germany, destination United States.
Therese Kösgjer, age 19, female, origin Germany, destination United States.
Rosalie Kösgjer, age 16, female, origin Germany, destination United States.
Veronika Kösgjer, age 6, female, origin Germany, destination United States.
Maria Kösgjer, age 3, female, origin Germany, destination United States.
Anton Zölfel, age 18, male, baker, origin Germany, destination United States.
Anna Zölfel, age 24, female, origin Germany, destination United States.
Franz Braz [Prax], age 25, male, miller, origin Germany, destination United States.
Johann Damel, age 46, male, farmer, origin Germany, destination United States.
Marie Damel, age [obliterated], female, origin Germany, destination United States.
Johann Damel, age [obliterated], male, origin Germany, destination United States.
Joseph Damel, age 11, male, origin Germany, destination United States.
Wenzel Damel, age 7, male, origin Germany, destination United States.
Marie Damel, age 1, female, origin Germany, destination United States.

'Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897', U.S. Customs Service.

Steamer S.S. America, from Bremen, Germany, to New York, arrived 03 Jul 1865, p.13.

463. Franz Philipp, age 31, male, farmer, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
464. Maria Philipp, age 20, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
465. Theresia Zeit, age 67, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
466. Victoria Zeit, age 29, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
467. Joseph Philipp, age 29, male, farmer, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
468. Anne Philipp, age 28, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
469. Alois Philipp, age 5, male, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
470. Franz Antel, age 30, male, farmer, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
471. Rosa Antel, age 26, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
472. Aloisa Antel, age 3, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
473. Marie Antel, age 6 mos, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
474. Anton Prax, age 35, male, farmer, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
475. Anna Prax, age 29, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
476. Anton Prax, age 7, male, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
477. Theresia Prax, age 6, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
478. Franz Prax, age 5, male, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
479. Veit Antel, age 56, male, farmer, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
481. Theresia Antel, age 56, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.
482. Theresia Antel, age 7, female, origin Bohemia, destination USA.

'Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1891', U.S. Customs Service.

Bark Gutenberg, from Bremen, Germany, to Baltimore, arrived 11 Aug 1865, p.1.

13. Joseph Zölfel, age 29, born Austria, last residence Neuwaldeck, destination Baltimore, occupation farmer.
14. Johann Woletz, age 39, born Austria, last residence Ueberdörfs, destination [Jo?a], occupation farmer.
15. Veronica Woletz, age 41, born Austria, last residence Ueberdörfs, destination [Jo?a], no occupation.
16. Johann [Schwager?][partially obliterated], age 28, born Austria, last residence Neuwaldeck, destination [Jo?a], occupation farmer.
17. Wenzel Trod[er/en?], age 28, born Austria, last residence Kleinhermigsdorf, destination [Jo?a], occupation farmer.
18. Barbara Philip, age 40, born Austria, last residence Körber, destination [Jo?a], no occupation.

S.S. Braunschweig, from Bremen, Germany, to Baltimore, arrived 9 Apr 1875, p.6.

Johann Prax, age 41, male, from Bohemia, weaver.
Anna Prax, age 36, female, from Bohemia.
Maria Prax, age 11, female, from Bohemia.
Johann Prax, age 5, male, from Bohemia.
Anton Prax, age 3/4, male, from Bohemia.
Theresia Gergele, age 33, female, from Bohemia.
Johann Gergele, age 1 1/3, male, from Bohemia.

Steam Ship Nurnberg, From Bremen, Germany, to Baltimore, departed 28 Apr 1875, arrived May 1875, p.7.

Johann Kössler, age 31, male, laborer, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Victoria Kössler, age 27, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Theresia Kössler, age 3, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Kössler, age 7 months, male, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Schlinger, age 35, male, farmer, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Maria Schlinger, age 34, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Schlinger, age 9 years 9 months, male, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Anna Maria Schlinger, age 6, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Johanna Schlinger, age 60, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Urban, age 28, male, farmer, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.

Leipzig, from Bremen, Germany, to Baltimore, arrived 19 may 1876, pp.10-11.

374, Josef Zeit, age 31, male, from Bohemia, laborer.
375, Johanna Zeit, age 36, female, from Bohemia.
376, Anton Zeit, age 9, male, from Bohemia.
377, Theresia Zeit, age 7, female, from Bohemia.
378, Maria Zeit, age 11/12, female, from Bohemia.
379, Anton Zeit, age 24, male, from Bohemia, laborer.
380, Ferdinand Huschka, age 36, male, from Bohemia, laborer.
381, Johanna Huschka, age 34, female, from Bohemia.
382, Josef Huschka, age [?], male, from Bohemia. [age partly obliterated.]
383, Franz Huschka, age [?], male, from Bohemia. [age obliterated.]
384, Johann Huschka, age 9, male, from Bohemia.
385, Ferdinand Huschka, age 5, male, from Bohemia.
386, Franz Huschka, age 6/12, male, from Bohemia.
387, Josef Hiller, age 41, male, from Bohemia, laborer.
388, Anna Hiller, age 39, male, from Bohemia.
389, Josef Hiller, age 12, male, from Bohemia.
390, Anna Hiller, age 8, male, from Bohemia. [female]
391, Johann Hiller, age 6, male, from Bohemia.
392, Theresia Hiller, age 3/12, female, from Bohemia.

Census

'United States Federal Census Records, 1790-1940', U.S. Census Bureau.

Apr 1870, Shannon Township, Atchison County, Kansas, p.18/343B.

Hansel Keller, age 28, male, white, farmer, $400 pers. prop., born Austria, parents of foreign birth. [should be Wenzel]
Annie Keller, age 32, female, white, keeping house, born Austria, parents of foreign birth.
Mary Keller, age 1, female, white, born KS, parents of foreign birth.
Tracy [or Trucy] Brax, age 15, female, white, nurce, born Austria, parents of foreign birth.

'Kansas State Census, 1865-1925', State Board of Agriculture.

1 Mar 1875, Shannon Township, Atchison County, Kansas, p.17.

John Drimmel, age 46, male, white, farming, $4000 real estate, $900 pers. prop., born Austria, to KS from MO.
Mary Drimmel, age 45, female, white, born Austria, to KS from MO.
Sophrone [Veronica] Drimmel, age 21, female, white, born Austria, to KS from MO.
Anthony Drimmel, age 17, male, white, born MO, to KS from MO, school 6 mos.
Florience Drimmel, age 13, male, white, born KS, school 7 mos.
John Drimmel, age 11, male, white, born KS, school 8 mos.
Arnold Drimmel, age 8, male, white, born KS, school 3 mos.
Francis Drimmel, age 6, male, white, born KS.
Louis Drimmel, age 3, male, white, born KS.
Tharesia Brox, age 20, female, white, laborer, born Austria, to KS from MO.
Tharesia Gergele, age 33, female, white, $260 pers. prop., born Austria, to KS from Austria.
John Gergele, age 1, male, white, born Austria, to KS from Austria.

Notes

  1. [The original spelling of Keeler may have been Küller which is the surname of John Brox's paternal grandmother.]
  2. [A good candidate to be Anna Zölfel is an Anna Dosser who seems to fit all the requirements on subsequent census records. She is the correct age, married her husband c.1865, and in 1875 lived next to a household full of people known to be from Zwittau.]
  3. [Anton Brox's birth date shown on his Oklahoma death certificate is 10 Jun 1854, but Anton Prax's birth date shown on his baptism record in Körber is 9 Jun 1853. That is a somewhat explainable difference of 1 day and 1 year. Teresa Brox's birth date shown on her Missouri death certificate is 28 Nov 1854, but Teresa Prax's birth date shown on her baptism record in Körber is 26 Jan 1856. This is a more significant and random difference.

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