The Nineteenth Century Pommeranian Families of Danville, Illinois
The Leverenz, Poll, Natho, Drews, and Hacker Families
Danville in 1911
There were a lot of good reasons to leave northern Germany (Vorpommern) in the mid-nineteenth century. Many believers of the Old School of Lutheranism felt torn away from the church they loved by the Prussian government "reforms." Others saw the democracy promised by the 1848 revolution in Germany slip away and Prussian autocracy restored. And yet others had a miserable life as impoverished peasants in the hard land of Pomerania on the north coast on modern Germany (Vorpommern in German). So they came to America looking for a way out of poverty, religious persecution, and political domination.
Danville Illinois was a good destination for Vorpommeran families such as the Leverenz, Poll, Natho, Drews, and Hacker families. Some of the Leverenz families were from Griefswald shown on the map following:
Some of their villages include Hienrchshagen, Poggendorf, and Sassen shown on the following map. Do note that your monitor my not show all the detail on either map well. If you have a good printer, just right click on either map, save it on your hard drive, and later print it. It will look a lot better.
Danville was easy to get to from a port like New York; it was on the railroad to St Louis. Or easy to get to by railway using the North-South route from Chicago. So there were railway jobs for many including that of young attorney Abraham Lincoln who represented the Illinois Central Railway In litigation at the Danville Courthouse.
Also there was work available coal mining. The coal mining in Danville in that era was open pit style coal mining where each worker gathered coal from the pit and was paid by the amount mined. No English skills were needed to be a coal miner either. And in Danville there was an area called Germantown so the German immigrants need not instantly learn English.
My interest in Danville comes from my great great grandmother Dorothea Leverenz and great great grandfather Johan Poll who lived in and were married in Danville. Click here to see their marriage certificate. And click here to see what Johan had to say to marry such a young and beautiful woman.
Finding out more about Dorothea and Johan turned out to be more complicated and interested than I anticipated. So the rest of this page is what I discovered.
There were at least four Leverenz families that migrated to Danville. Unfortunately all were headed by Carl/Charles/Christian (the names seemed to be used interchangeably) causing some confusion in the records.
Click here to see their descendents.
The Christian Leverenz family was from near Lahsen, Vorpommern. While it is not clear that Christian or his wife made it to Danville, their sons Carl (Charles) (wife Frederika Buhrow born in Vogsdorf, Pommern) and Johan T. (wife Maria Felgenhauer born in Illinois of Prussian parents) certainly did. The brothers were coal miners in Danville. Click here to see the descendents of Christian Leverenz. Contact Gene Defebaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Carl Christoph Leverenz (and his wife Dorothea Zimmermann) migrated from Vorpommern in 1875. They were from Sassan, Grimmen, Vorpommern. They had at least eight children including their son Johan (who married Frederika Mary Hacker from Vorpommern and owned a saloon in Danville - likely the one depicted in the Danville 1911 picture at the start of this web page). Carl Christoph Leverenz's parents were Johan Daniel Leverenz and Charlotte Schmid. Click here to see their descendents.
Christian Friederich Leverenz (and his wife Maria Sophia Pringke) did not leave Vorpommern. They were from Sassan, Grimmen, Vorpommern as was Carl Christoph Leverenz above; Christian Friederich Leverenz died in 1855 in Pommern so did not come to America. My great great grandmother Dorothea was their daughter; she migrated to America in 1864, married coal miner Johan Poll from Vorpommern, and ended up farming in Gillett, AR. Christian Friederich's father was Joachim Leverentz and his mother was Maria Lembke. Click here to see this family. Click here for pictures of Gultzow Parish, Vorpommern where they came from. Contact William Remus at email@example.com for more information.
- The Carl (Charles) Leverenz family (spouse Martha Holzhauer) was the first to settle (circa 1858). He was a shoemaker who had a shop on Vermilion Street and may even have serviced young attorney Lincoln. While Leverenz is a Pommern name, the Holzhauer name is usually associated with more southern German areas such as Hesse and Wurtemburg.
The Leverenz families married into the Poll, Hacker, and Drews Vorpommern families living in Danville. Here are details on those and other intermarried families:
Click here to see this family. Click here for pictures of the Desrekow Parish, Vorpommern where they came from. Contact William Remus at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Polls. My ancestor Johan Poll and his wife Dorothea Leverenz moved to Gillett Arkansas in the 1880's as did the Nathos and Rooks of Danville.
There were two Drews families from Vorpommern in Danville that married into the Leverenz families. Click on the Friedrich Drews family (wife Caroline Wendt) who migrated from Poggendorf, Vorpommern after 1859 or click the William Drews family (wife Caroline Glave) that migrated in 1880 from Germany for more details. Contact Gene Defebaugh at email@example.com for more details on the Friedrich Drews family.
The Johan Hacker family (wife Dorothea F. Leverenz) was early to arrive (1852) in Danville from Vorpommern. Their children had a major impact on Danville retailing as they formed the Chicago Fair Store of Danville (ca 1880) and W J Hacker Company as well as running grocery stores, saloon keeping and cigar making. Thus they were a full service retail family. Click here to see their descendents.
There was also a Fred Hacker family that migrated in 1858. Fred was a carpenter and produced many children with his first wife Martha and second wife Minnie Drews. Click here to see their descendents.
There were several Prussian (perhaps even Vorpommern) families in Danville with the name Anders. I only list that of Johan Anders as only did this Anders intermarry with the Poll and Leverenz families. Christine Anders married Johan Poll's brother Theodor Poll (a coal miner and later a saloon keeper) and Friedrich Anders (a railway worker) who married Mary Leverenz. Both families resided in Danville for many years. Click here to see their descendents.
The Lewis (Ludwig) Natho family (wife Mary Leverenz) also resided in Danville prior to migrating to Gillett AR with the Johan Poll (wife Dorothea Christina Leverenz) family in the 1880's. The Natho name may be a more southern German name but certainly Mary Leverenz was from Vorpommern. Lewis was also a shoemaker like Carl (Charles) Leverenz mentioned above. They were good friends with the Johan Poll family. Several of the Nathos stayed on in Danville. Click here to see their descendents.
- The Poll family was a large family originally from Vorpommern. His father's name was Johann Joachim Friedrich Poll and his mother was Maria Kamps. Johan migrated 1864 and married Dorothea Christina Leverenz above in Danville in 1867. Brothers Karl and Friedrich did migrate and were coal miners and railway workers in Danville.
The Vorpommern families were artistically inclined too. The Hacker Band was formed in Danville in 1878 and composed of the following members and pieces: F. C. Hacker, leader; A. Watson, drum-major; A. Hutter, E-flat clarionet; S. Reams, E-flat cornet; Joseph McAlefee, B-flat cornet; Charles Hacker, B-flat clarionet; Charles Roke (Rook), solo alto; Charles Leverence (Leverenz), first alto; Christian Leverence (Leverenz), tenor; John Lewis, baritone; John Anders, B-flat bass; Theodore Poll, tuba; C. M. Colter, tenor drum; Christian Evert, bass viol. The italicized were from Vorpommern and mentioned above or in the genealogies.
These Vorpommern families seemed to have a major impact on Danville life in the late 1880's. They provided Danville's heat, shoes, food, and dry goods while giving Danville smokes and booze (and music to do all the foregoing). And then they disappeared into the great American landscape.
Please send any information and queries to Bill Remus at
September 21, 2005