The Seders (Söder in German) and Related Families
Beste, Grantham, Hartge, Keikhofer, Niemeyer, Saxer, Schaper, Stieve, Trope, Vosshagen

    The Seders, an American Family and its German Roots, tells the story of a family that originated in Hesse, Germany, in the seventeenth century, emigrated to the United States in 1846, settled in Wisconsin and later lived in Minnesota and Illinois. The narrative begins with Curt Söder (died 1693), and follows with George Söder (1667-1725), Hans Söder (1713-1780), Johannes Söder (1757-1821), August Söder/Seder (1791-1864), Louis Christian Seder (1830-1863), James I. Seder (1859-1937) and concludes with Arthur Raymond Seder (1889-1969). A Table of Ancestors and a Family Tree may be accessed from the menu above. In addition, charts showing the immediate family of each ancestor may be accessed by clicking on the name of that individual in the narrative that follows.

    Chapter One provides a short overview of the family and especially its origins in Germany. It first explains the problem of German names, both given and surnames; then outlines the family genealogy and gives a brief background of social conditions in Germany for families like the Seders (Söder in German), who were struggling weavers and small farmers.
    Chapter Two is a short introduction to German history, designed to orient the reader to the geography and political history of Germany. It also discusses the Protestant Reformation and its effect on the many German principalities, bishoprics, etc.; the development of the German language and the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).
    Chapter Three introduces the first of the Söder line, Curt Söder, identifies the village in Hesse-Kassel where he lived and names the members of his family. His son, George Söder is next considered along with his wife, Anna Christina Emmicke and their numerous children. The life of George Söder's son Hans Söder is then reviewed, including his service in the Hessian army in the Seven Years War (1756-1773) and the effects of that war on the population of Hesse-Kassel and other German principalities.
    Chapter Four is devoted to an examination of life in Hesse-Kassel in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Söders' home villages are located, and the system of land ownership and the condition of the peasants is detailed. This includes the relationship of the landowning Lords and the peasants, the backwardness of the farming system and a description of peasant life.
    Chapter Five takes up the family story by narrating the life of Hans Söder's son, Johannes, who was a soldier in the Hessian army sent to America in 1776 to assist the British in quelling the American Revolution. The narrative reviews the background of the "soldier trade", Johannes Söder's recruitment, the voyage to America and the experience of Hessian soldiers in America.
    Chapter Six follows Johannes Söder's life after returning to German, his move from Hesse-Kassel to the neighboring kingdom of Hanover, his occupation as a linen weaver and his marriage to Katherine Elisabeth Beste. The genealogy of the Beste family is also examined. The book identifies Johannes and Katherine's children and locates on a map the villages in Hanover where they lived.
    Chapter Seven takes up the life of Johann August Wilhelm Söder, who was known as August. It was he who, with his family, emigrated to America in 1848. This chapter first relates the circumstances of August's three marriages. Because the Seder line followed here descends from August Söder's second wife, Sophia Stieve, the genealogy of her Stieve,  Hartge and Seumenicht ancestors is described and the circumstances of their lives are related..
    Chapter Eight describes life and politics in Hanover in the early nineteenth century. It first recounts the effect of the Napoleonic wars, the beginnings of change in rural life, the linen weaving trade, in which August was involved and the reasons why August and his family emigrated to America.
    Chapter Nine relates the story of the Söders' emigration to America. (In America the spelling was changed to Seder). It examinations the pre-embarkation problems faced by emigrants, describes how August Söder/Seder and his family reached the point of embarkation at Bremen, recounts the fearful circumstances faced by families crossing the ocean in steerage and refers to circumstances upon arrival in New York. The chapter next reviews the route by which the family traveled from New York to Wisconsin and August Seder's settlement in Columbia County, Wisconsin, near the town of Portage. The narrative next discusses the circumstances of life for pioneers in central Wisconsin and concludes with references to August Seder's children and his death in 1864.
    Chapter Ten is about August Seder's son Louis Christian Seder and Louis' wife, Ursula Saxer. Louis, who emigrated to America with his father in 1848, was very religious and became an ordained minister of the Evangelical Association. The history of that denomination is covered, and Louis's experiences as a minister serving frontier communities in Wisconsin are detailed. The chapter then reviews the genealogy of Louis' wife, Ursula, and tells of the Saxer family's (and others') emigration from Switzerland to a Swiss community in Sauk County, Wisconsin. The final sections set out in detail the circumstances of Louis' death at the hands of Sioux Indians during the New Ulm (Minnesota) Massacre of 1862. The lives of Louis and Ursula's children are also summarized, saving their son James life and career for the next chapter.
    Chapter Eleven concerns Louis Seder's son James I. Seder and his wife, Wilhelmina (Minnie) Kiekhofer. It details his early life, his success as a young businessman and his change of career.  At the insistence of Minnie James entered the ministry, completing his training at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. Minnie's family, the Kiekhofers, are then traced from their home in Pomeranian Germany, with an account of their travel to America. James ministerial career, including missionary work in Japan, is set forth but that career took an abrupt turn and James became an executive of the Anti-Saloon League. The history of that organization is reviewed. James Seder's death at the hands of kidnappers is reported in detail. The chapter ends with a discussion of the character of Minnie Kiekhofer Seder and details of the lives of their children, saving their son Arthur Raymond for the concluding chapter.   
    Chapter Twelve concludes the story of the Seders with an extended discussion of the lives of James' son Arthur Raymond Seder, his wife Mary Aline Grantham and their family. Ray Seder's early life and education are chronicled, as well as the circumstances of his meeting and marrying Aline Grantham, whose family history is set out in some detail. (For a full account of the Grantham heritage, see my book, The Granthams, Seven Generations of American Frontiersmen. Click here.)
    Chapter Twelve continues with the story of Ray and Aline's married life, early career as a railroad executive and the family's life in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ray's promotion and move to Chicago, Illinois, the family's wartime experiences and Aline's illness and death in 1944 are recounted. Ray's later life and his marriage to Dorothea Zehnder are also noted, and the chapter includes an appreciation of the lives of Ray and Aline. The book ends with accounts of the lives of Ray and Aline's five children.

 

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