It's Not About History, It's about KEEPING IN TOUCH!!!



Reunion Page
An Incredible Find
2007 Reunion Photos
2011 Reunion Photos
Do You Know
Bad Billy Treasure Hunt
Letter from Jeane
Photo Albums
Family Artists
About Me
Photo Gallery


Jeff's Information Page

October 2006 - after the reunion.
10/16/2006 ---
I have made a timeline for Frank's Life. The key dates that tie the Siefkes family and the Todden family together is in 1854 when Frank's father, Albert, and Etta's father, Remington, both purchase land in the Pekin, Tazewell, Illinois area. More than likely the two families met at a community/social event or probably at the local church. Anyway the dates and the places on the land deeds show that the Siefkes and Todden Family were in close proximity of each other. Then there is the March 31, 1855 marriage between a Frederick Sifkis and Atye Taden, which I am now convinced is our Frank and Etta Siefkas.
Ironically there was a Frederick Siefkes that married an Etta Janssen. But I have collected several clues that eliminate this couple. For one thing Etta (Janssen) Siefkes' 1935 obituary states she was 85 years old when she died putting her birth year around 1850. She would of been too young to be the Atye in the 1855 marriage and the surname Jannsen is not close to the surname on the 1855 marriage entry anyway. Also according to this Frederick Siefkes' death certificate he was from Haage, Germany and his parents were John Siefkas, and Jennie Hippens. I might of misspelled his mother's name for it is hard to read on the death certificate. But the name is definitely not Janna Munks, which is the mother of our Frank. But I am hoping to find out for sure who this Fredrick Siefkes and Etta Janssen is before next years reunion. 

Frank Siefkas Time Line  - This is a .pdf file. for a link to download Acrobat Reader for .pdf files. 

10/18/2006 --- 

I received two documents from Jeane and Lew Kearney which are key to showing when Frank and Etta moved to Clarke County, Iowa. The first one is Frank's Obituary. It states the he resided in Clarke county, Iowa for 25 years which would make it about 1871 when they moved to Clarke county. The second document is a land deed. Frank and Etta Siefkas sold their land in Nodaway County, Missouri to a Levi Barton on August 10, 1871. They must of moved shortly afterwards to Clarke County, Iowa. I have inserted that date into Frank's timeline.
The earliest date that I have for Nodaway county still is 1867 when Englebert was born. The last date that I have for Livingston County, Illinois is 1864. So Frank and Etta moved to Nodaway county sometime between 1864 and Engelbert's birth. I am hoping to narrow the date down to at least a year.
All these documents have Etta name spelled several different ways. I didn't know a name could be spelled so many different ways. I am pretty sure she could not read and write and her own pronunciation and her own accent caused people to spell her name various ways. Her are a few ways Etta has been spelled: Ecka, Eckey, Hette, Ackey, Atchie, Atye.........................



AUTHORS NOTE: This is a fictitious story based on facts collected from documents on the Siefkes family.


          The Siefkes family of Engerhafe, Germany was just like any other Ostfriesen family.  They worried about what laid ahead and the future for their children and their families yet to be.  The political atmosphere in Germany was getting worse.  Those who spoke the truth and yearned to be free feared the possibility of the gallows.  The economical situation in Germany made life in Germany unbearable.  People were poor, hungry, and looking for a better life.  The potato blight gripping Europe at the time just added to the misery.

            Mr. Albert Siefkes saw no promising future in his beloved Ostfriesland where he grew up as a child.  He missed going to his father’s bakery in Norden when he was a small child.  His father was now long gone and he had just lost his mother five years back in 1844.  She had lived to the ripe old age of 90. He himself was no longer a young man.  He was now in his mid fifties and had lost his beloved wife, Janna, of twenty years in 1839.  For a while, he and his five children were all alone until one day he met his future wife, Fenntje Dirks Kalkwarf.  She was a new inspiration in his life.  Someone to love, cherish and to spend a lifetime with.  Someone his children admired and adored.  Albert Engelbert Siefkes and Fenntje Dirks Kalkwarf were married on March 2, 1840 in his beloved village of Engerhafe, Germany.

            Constant good news from the New World brought hope to Mr. and Mrs. Albert Siefkes.  Nevertheless, the agonizing decision between staying in the fatherland and trying to start a new life in a new country was one of great burden.  There was a lot to think about.  The family and friends they would leave behind, the uncertainty of what lay ahead in a new location, the voyage across a vast ocean.  However, in the end after all advantages and disadvantages were weighed he decided it would be best to take his family and move.

            Albert announced the decision he had made to his family.  He explained to them why he thought it was the best course of action for his family.  He then took his eldest son, Engelbert, aside to discuss some man-to-man issues.  His son was a responsible young man in his early twenties who could handle things on his own.  It was time for his son to take on more responsibility and to prove himself a man.  He asked his son if he was willing to go to abroad and set things up for the rest of the family.  There were always ships going to the United States.  He had heard that some of his friends and neighbors were preparing to go to there very shortly and so arranged for his son’s passage.

            The wait was agonizing. It had been months since he had heard from his son.  Did, Engelbert, made it or did he meet his demise?  He had heard of the deplorable conditions that plagued passenger ships.  Hygiene was poor, diseases ran ramped, food and water was scarce, and overcrowding was very common on passenger ships.  However, her  long awaited letter had finally answered his prayers.  Englebert  had made it and had everything arranged.  He described how great and beautiful the United States was and how a man with nothing could make something of himself. Albert was pleased with his son’s letter and decided it was time for his family to pack and leave for a new life in a new country.

            It was a cold, crisp, windy December morning when Albert, his wife, Fenntje, and their seven children, Jaabje, Antje, Freerk, Jacob, Magdalena, Janna, and Dirk boarded the Bremen bark Columbia.  The ship lay in the Weser River at the Port of Bremen awaiting yet another voyage.  It was a new ship, which helped to ease Albert’s worries a little. Built in 1846, the ship had taken its maiden voyage from Bremen, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland under a Captain Sievert Geerken.  He had heard that Captain Sievert Geerken was a good Captain, a man that knew his way around a ship.  After what seemed to be a long agonizing day the Columbia finally lifted her, anchor and set sail for the New World.

            After several weeks of being out to sea, the Columbia finally docked at the port of New Orleans on January 12, 1850.  The trip had been long and hard.  The Siefkes family had seen and experienced a lot in the past few weeks.  Things they had never experienced before and things they would probably never experience again. However, through it all no one had died.  The shores of their new home was something to behold for all passengers of the Columbia.   Before them was a new beginning, a place they would soon call home.

            A steamboat was already waiting for the immigrants to board, a reoccurring ritual that would repeat itself for years to come.  The trip up the Mississippi River proved to be a slow process due to the steamboat’s strenuous struggle against the strong current of the mighty Mississippi.  However, it gave the family time to reflect on what had been and what lay ahead.  It also made them realize how far they had come and how close they were to their new home.  After a long, hard trip across the vast Atlantic Ocean, a few more days on the mighty Mississippi River would not diminish their newfound hope of seeing their new home in Illinois.  

Jeffrey S. Siefkas


Click on  the blue boxes to see Hi res copies.  They are large so be prepared to wait.


The Bremen bark COLUMBIA was built at Vegesack/Grohn by Johann Lange, for the Bremen firm of D. H. Wätjen & Co, and was launched on 17 October 1846. 213 Commerzlasten; 33,8 x 9,0 x 5,2 meters (length x beam x depth of hold). 1 December 1846, maiden voyage, Bremerhaven - Baltimore, under Capt. Sievert Geerken. Until 1853, the COLUMBIA served as a "packet sailor", sailing twice a year with emigrants to New York and returning to Europe with a cargo of tobacco or cotton. After 1853, her cargo was chiefly tobacco. In 1854, Hinrich Semcken became her master.

In 1861, the COLUMBIA was sold for 12,000 taler to the Brödrene Röd, of Tjöme, near Tonsberg. She was commanded, in turn, by O. Röd, B. Röd, R. Röd, and O. J. Röd.

In August 1879, bound from London to Quebec in ballast, in approximately Lat 49 N, Lon 36 W, the COLUMBIA sank after colliding with a whale; the crew was rescued by the steamer P. COLAND.

Source: Peter-Michael Pawlik, Von der Weser in die Welt; Die Geschichte der Segelschiffe von Weser und Lesum und ihrer Bauwerften 1770 bis 1893, Schriften des Deutschen Schiffahrtsmuseums, Bd. 33 (Hamburg: Kabel, c1993), p. 211, no. 189.




Columbia Records


Section of Ship's Log

A Page of the Ship's Log

Section of Tazwell 1850 Census

A Page of the Tazwell 1850 Census


A Map

I pulled a map off of Mapquest and I believe I have figured out the name of the town on the passenger list.  The name of the town is Aurich.  I know the town of Engerhaffe is not shown on this map but I do hve it on another map and Aurich is about 10 miles east of Aurich.  They might of actually lived somewhere between Engerhafe and Aurich and since Aurich was basically the major town in that area they used the town of Aurich on the Ships manifest.

Then you will notice that the port of Bremen is about 70 miles southeast of Aurich. 

--Jeff  7-8-05

webmaster -