Wilhelm Neisel History Luise Caroline Wilhelmine Ackerhaus History Family Photo Tree Reunion Photos 2000, 2010, 2011 Neisel/Neusel Book 2005 in: More Downloads
Wilhelm Neisel

Birth Date: 2 Sep 1853
       Birth Place: Prussia (Germany)
       Death Date: 19 Jan 1912
       Death Place: Massillon, Ohio
       Burial Date: Jan 1912
       Burial Place: Massillon Cemetery, Section 4
       Occupation: Neusel/Neisel family
   Naturalize: 8 SEP 1892/Canton -- Stark County, Ohio

The Neisel histories are written by me, Verna M. (Neisel) Lann.  My purpose in doing this, is to try making each person (both living and dead) as realistic as possible, so that our descendants will have a "thumbnail sketch" of what some of their ancestors were like.  Some of you who read this in the present day (1998) may resent the fact that there is too much of me in it.  Let me explain:  you will notice as you read, that a few people contributed greatly -- and to those, we owe a GREAT deal of thanks!  In some cases, I barely knew people, and had no info except my scant knowledge.  I didn't intend to slight one single person; however, in a project this large, I hope everyone will understand that I did the best I could.  I have read several unrelated family histories, and found that most of them are greatly influenced by the writer.  My personal notes on individuals may seem too "glorified" to a reader who does not find that particular person all that wonderful; conversely, some may find that I left out a lot of good things about someone whose notes are scant.  You will also find duplicate info. While I have included some info about new spouses and step-children, the printout does not include those who are "once removed", unless they are directly related to a Neisel; but in most cases, I was able to include them in personal notes of their nearest relative.

IMPORTANT:  It is my hope that each person (or at least each family) will add to this in any way they see fit, down through the ages.  The Neisels were of good German stock -- possibly even descendants of royalty.  Of course, we only KNOW with certainty of the Neusels first generation in America -- the "Massillon Neisels".  But they were very hard- working, strong, stern, generous, ambitious, caring -- and yes -- penny-pinching, eccentric, and wealthy people.  We can be very proud of our heritage.  But equally important is each individual life which
descended from them.  To each family, I beg you to jot down stories, personalities, additions, and statistics of your family members, and keep it with this record.  If anyone is so inclined, I would be delighted to receive copies of these additions.

I wish it were possible for everyone to study the few, rare, old photos I have.  The resemblances in appearance to many of us living today is uncanny.  As you read about the eight Massillon Neisels, do not be surprised if even their character traits match someone you know.

Research is based on information found in the Neisel Family Bible, old letters, copies of death certificates, word of mouth info which has been passed down from generation to generation, newspaper clippings, Latter Day Saints (Mormon) records, family documents, a Family Tree which was created and submitted by Kenneth W. Betsh, husband of Pauline (Polly) Neisel Leister, and miscellaneous sources.  Where there is uncertainty as to truth, I have tried to indicate as such.  Much of the anecdotal-type information has been told identically by more than one person; however, sometimes I was unable to recall who gave the info, and was almost always unable to recall -- to a certainty -- more than one of the sources.  I have not embellished any of the information -- it is recorded as acurately as my information permits.  I have made tape recordings of all my aunts and uncles who are still living.  Instead of retyping the tapes in their entirety, I have put excerpts into the records.  Due to limited computer space for these inputs, I sometimes had to put some of the information into the spouse's or children's

About the Bible:  It was a very large book, written in German.  Most of the pages were destroyed in one of several fires; however, the family records were, for the most part, still intact.  Our name "Neisel" was originally "Neusel" (pronounced Noi'-cel).  This was the German spelling and pronounciation.  Apparently, they used the name of Neusel until sometime after the youngest child (Maria Paulina, who we knew as "Pauline") was born; because when Wilhelm became a citizen on Sept. 8, 1892, his name was Neusel, and in the family Bible, all the children are listed as Neusel.  Pauline was born Dec. 15, 1897, so it was sometime after that, that they changed the name.

About the names:  Each individual record of Wilhelm, Wilhelmina, and all their children, is shown exactly as they were written in the family Bible.  You will note that, in some cases, their "given" names bear no resemblance to the names they went by.  There is also a  small Bible (now in the possession of Gregory Neisel, or his mother, Geraldine Fliger-Thompson), which, as near as I can figure, was given to Wilhelmina when she was a child in Germany.  In it, there are inscriptions, written in the old-style German script.  Even if one is able to read German (which I can't), you really have to study it, because some of their letters are written very differently from the way
we write.  I mention this,  because on Wilhelm's application for citizenship, he wrote in that style.  I found it  interesting that he signed "Wilhelm", but all the other handwriting on the documents were written by someone else, and they wrote "William".  It may have been at this time that he began going by the name of William.  In 1993, I received an updated copy of the Neisel family tree from Kenneth Betsh, husband of Pauline (Polly) Neisel Leister.  In it, Ken showed the given German names of most of these children.  I included these names as a note in each of their records.  I believe that whoever wrote the names in the family Bible has probably mixed the German names with the Americanized names, which is why you will find several variations of some.

One time at an airport restaurant, I was sitting next to a man and woman who had just arrived from Germany.  We struck up a conversation.  They both declared that "Neusel" was a "famous" name in Germany.  They even
spelled it correctly without my telling them, and they told me the correct pronunciation.  I thought they might be misusing the word "famous", but they spoke English very well.  I did find, in the Latter-Day-Saints records, many, many Neusels in Germany.  (LDS records are the primary source for genealogists, because they keep all the records they receive.  They believe that everybody in the world is connected.)  Although I found many Wilhelm Neusel's in their records, I was never able to find OUR Wilhelm Neusel.  I did, however, find Wilhelmina's parents in Germany.

Our Wilhelm Neusel, according to GERMANS TO AMERICA, came to America on a ship called the Nova Scotian.  Whether he had spent some time in Canada, or simply made a transfer there, is not known.  The itinerary of his ship was from Halifax, Liverpool, and Newfoundland.  I would guess that this is in reverse order.  In other words, I believe his last point, before entering the United States, was probably Halifax -- the capital of Nova Scotia, Canada.  He arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on April 26, 1881.  He was 27 years old.  I do not know the port he left Germany from, nor the ship.

Wilhelm, and his wife, Wilhelmina (Mina or Minnie), had ten children, possibly twelve.

Carolina Anna Louisa, born October 20, 1879 in Germany, died August 5, 1881 in Ohio. Mathilda, born March 19, 1884, died January 24, 1886. Then came Annie, Fred, Charlie, Ott, Louie, Tillie, Bill, and Pauline.

Strangely, there is no record showing that his wife, Wilhelmina, travelled with him.  One relative recalled a rumor that she was a stowaway; so perhaps it is true.  Also, Mina (as she was called) was hunchbacked, which also lends credence to the rumor; because, I have learned from a television documentary that passengers who travelled in the "economy" class, were put into the bowels of the ships where they were unable to stand fully upright.  They stayed in these conditions, sometimes for as long as two months.  As a result, many immigrants were hunchbacked.  There is also no record of their 1-1/2 year old daughter, Anna, being on the ship.  Or -- perhaps she and Mina came later.

Re the Massillon Neisels (a rough sketch), according to Frederick Carroll Neisel: Only three of the eight Massillon children ever married:  Annie, Fred, and Tillie. Pauline, Ott, and Bill lived on the family homestead for many years.  The kitchen caught fire, but they continued to live there.  (Louie had his own estate, and Charlie had left home at a young age, embarrassed by a stupid accident)  The homestead -- which by this time resembled a haunted house high up on a hill with a windmill -- caught fire a second time on a Friday night, about February 8, 1963, and did $1,000 damage.  At this time, Bill bought his own farm, and Pauline went to live with him.  (I'm not sure where Ott went at this time.)  The homestead property was then sold to the Oster Gravel Co.  After Annie's husband died, she went to live on one of the farms, too; but I don't recall if she went to Bill's place, or to Louie's place.  Finally, Louie's place burned to the ground, and Louie was never seen again.  (More about this in the record of August Servis (Louie) Neisel.)

Re carrying on the Neisel name: Since Frederick William Neisel was the only son who ever married, (and we are the descendants of him), as far as I know at this time (June 1998), the following descendants of two of his sons are left to carry on the family name: Son, Calvin Eugene has one son and one grandson. Son, William Emerson (deceased) had two sons, William Richard and Gary Nelson.  William Richard (deceased) had one son.  Gary Nelson had four sons, and four grandsons.

The death of Wilhelm (William, in English) was very questionable.  His death certificate reads:     The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows:  Concussion of brain following R.R. accident.

Some of his grandchildren have told me that they were told that Wilhelm was found lying beside the railroad track with a big hole in the back of his head.  Pauline Neisel Leister said he was thought to have been shot for being a German sympathizer.  He died prior to World War I, when there was considerable hatred in America for German immigrants.  There, indeed, had been incidents where Germans in America were wrongly killed, because they were loosely suspected of being German spies and/or sympathizers.  Wilhelm was said to have hated the Germans.

The following is a reprint from the Massillon newspaper:

              WILLIAM NEISEL The death of William Neisel, aged 59, a prominent stock raiser, living a mile north of the city, who was hurt early Thursday morning when a Baltimore & Ohio freight train struck him, occurred at 4:30 o'clock Friday afternoon at the Massillon city hospital. The cause of death was concussion of the brain.  The deceased is survived by a widow and several children.  He was born in Germany but has lived here for a great many years.  The funeral will take place Monday afternoon from the late residence, the Rev. J. E. Digel

Then this article:

The funeral of William Neisel, who died Friday afternoon from injuries received when a railroad train struck him was held from the late residence north of the city, Monday afternoon, the Rev. J. E. Digel, of St. John's Evangelical church officiating.  Interment was made in the Massillon cemetery.

Note:  The date of his birth is shown in the Family Bible as September 2, 1853.  His death certificate shows September 1, 1852, age 59 years, 4 months, 19 days.  Since the June, 1900 Census record shows 1853, age 46, I have used 1853 as his date of birth.  (His tombstone shows 1853 also.)  Therefore, he would have been 58 years old when he died.

The year of their marriage, 1878, is deduced from the fact that the 1900 census shows they were married 21 years in 1900, and they had a daughter born in Germany in 1879. This daughter, Carolina Anna Louisa Neusel, died in America on August 5, 1881 -- only three months and four days after they arrived in America.  A second child, Matilda, born in America, died when she was not quite two years old.

It is possible that Wilhelm and Mina lived a few months in the Baltimore area, or elsewhere, before coming to Massillon, Ohio.  The Family Bible shows that their daughter, Carolina Anna Louisa died at Warmington, Ohio.  I believe there is (or was) a Farmington, Ohio, but I don't know what part of the state it was in.  I couldn't find it on the map, but I recently heard of it on television.

Note:  Some of Wilhelm and Mina's children are shown as having been born in Crystal Springs, instead of Massillon.  All three of the Neisel estates were just outside of Massillon, and a Massillon genealogist told me that this part of Massillon used to be called Crystal Springs.  So, it is all one-and-the-same location.

There are two stories as to why they came to America.

Frederick Carroll Neisel said they were invited by the "Massillon Colony" (a colony of German immigrants), to teach the Americans of Massillon how to make German foods.  Wilhelm and Mina taught people to make schwatemauga and apple butter.  I do not know the correct spelling of the first food, but Fred said it is a hog's stomach -- they'd turn it wrong side out, and stuff it with sausage, then bake and slice it.  Fred said, "Boy, that was g-o-o-o-d!"  Robert Keller Neisel and his wife, Shirley, until a few years ago, continued the tradition of making large vats of apple butter every year at an autumn festival in Petersburg, Ohio.  Fred said that the invitation to America was framed, and he had personally seen it after the last fire; but nobody knows where it is. He also wonders whatever happened to the cane of twisted glass that Uncle Bill (Wlliam Edward) used to use.  Supposedly, there is still a framed document of Wilhelm's Honorable Discharge from the Prussian Army, signed by the King of Prussia, somewhere in our family, but no one knows where it is.  Also, Fred C. said that this copy of the invitation to America was signed by the Queen of England.  (My question:  why the Queen of England?)  He said it was a framed document, and remembers seeing it.

The other story as to why they came to America is that Mina was so heartbroken over the death of her two children, that she wanted to get away.  Supposedly, she could see their graves from her kitchen window, and everytime she saw the graves, she broke down.  See the note in record of Louise Carolina Wilhelmine Ackerhaus regarding this story.

After the funeral of William Richard Neisel, I was told some things about Mina Matilda Neisel-Leister, by her daughter, Pauline "Polly" Leister-Betsh.  One thing I recall her  saying, was that Matilda's first husband (name unknown) was a brother to the Kaiser in Germany.  More recently, when I talked with her on the phone, Polly told me that HER father (Benjamin P. Leister) used to tease Matilda by calling her "Queenie" or "Princess" because SHE (Tillie) was a descendant of royalty!

If this second story is the true one, that would mean that our Wilhelm was a brother of the King (Kaiser) of Prussia (royalty).  More about Prussia-Germany later.  Polly's husband, Kenneth W. Betsh, told me he had heard that our name was once Von Neusel, in Germany.  (Von, when it precedes a German name, does indeed depict nobility, or wealth.)

We do know that both Wilhelm, and Wilhelmina, were from Prussia at one time or other. Wilhelmina was christened Dec. 12, 1858 in the Evangelisch (church, or religion??) in Hoerde, Prussia (now Germany) in the county of Westfalen.  As for Wilhelm, his naturalization documents show Prussia/Germany.  Also, the letters below, from relatives, were from Dortmund-Horde.  The nearest airport to Horde (or Hoerde) is Dusseldorf.

About Prussians, according to my encyclopedia notes:  they were regarded as harsh in discipline, militaristic, arrogant.  (Does this sound familiar to those who remember our ancestors??)

In 1862, Prince Otto von Bismarck (The Iron Chancellor) was appointed President of the Council of Ministers by the Prussian King.  He was a conservative, and united Germany. General von Moltke won a victory over France on May 10, 1871, and there was peace. The Prussian King became first Emporer, or Kaiser, as Wilhelm I.

Prussia was the kingdom in North Europe (East Germany) between the Elbe River and the Baltic Sea 1701-1871, and the dominant state of the German Empire 1871-1919.  Prussia was formally dissolved in 1947.

One important note:  It seems that there was a long period of time when Germany was also called Prussia, and vice-versa; therefore, it gets confusing.  When you see "Prussia" on Wilhelm's naturalization documents below, it does not necessarily mean that he was from East Germany.  In fact, I do not believe he was, unless it was early in his childhood.  ________________________________________________________________________

This is a mysterious letter to the Neusel (Neisel) family in Massillon from two young women in Germany who were related to the Neisels in some way.  A photo accompanied the letters.  The two women were sisters. Incredibly, one of them looks like our Minnie Neisel-Baker, and the other one looks like my sister, Glenda Neisel-Hughson!  Anna Mary Neisel-Courtright recently wrote to Horde, Germany, seeking info on them, but received no help from Horde.

First, there was a two-page letter written in German, signed by:  von Eurer Ingeborg Bangert, which I have retyped in English from her sister Gerda's translation.  The top of Ingeborg's letter shows: Dortmund-Horde (Germany) 22 Febr. (19)48.

Gerda's translation is as follows:

The same in English: You can hardly imagine what surprise and what joy we had this week when the postman handed us a card from the Care-association. We learnt that we could collect a food parcel from Dortmund-Hafen sent by the family Neusel.  As quick as possible and in breathless suspense, I went to that place and when we three loosened the package, we were highly pleased and really touched about all the delicacies, which your parcel contained. A tin of coffee, cocoa, fat, sugar, dried milk and eggs  luxuraries the names of which we have almost forgotten and were deprived of for so long a time.  Awise on the bottom we found a fine bar of chocolate.  To-day - Sunday we could afford a fine cake and then we often thought of you in America. The distance from you is so far and the great lake is between us.  part of the delicious things we put aside to make a birthday cake for our father, who will celebrate his 75th birthday neset (next) month.  Now we write to you for the second time, but we do not know anything of you, who made that big fun for us. We should like to know about you a little. How are you and how do you live over there? What are you doing?  Is it still the former abode you are living at (doing) where your grandparents or perhaps even great-grand-parents settled down?  What is your age? We are so curious and interested in learning something about our relatives in America. I enclose a little photo of myself.  I thank you once more very heartily and send you my kindest regards.
                                                                                               Ingeborg Weiskamp

Next is a note from Gerda:

Dear family Neusel,      I have just translated my sister's letter and should like to add a little.  First of all I should like to (restate?) that we cannot thank you enough for your kindness.  Joy is so rare nowadays but you could give us this pleasure.  It was like a good omen announcing that things would get lighter in future.  Just as my sister I am very anxious to hear some particulars about yourselves.  May we hope that  we'll soon receive a letter from you in which you satisfy our curiosity?  We should be glad if you tell us about yourselves and your ancestors backwards who made the journey and about their lives in America. Certainly we have heard and read a lot of things in America but we have never had personal touch with your country and that makes a great difference.
                                                                                              With love, Gerda Bangert
My father sends his kindest regards.

Verna's note:  In the LDS records, all I found was this: Elisabeth Neusel (Prussian) married Engelbrecht Bangert in 1640.  Yes, 1640! Also, note that the letter written in German was signed "von Eurer Ingeborg Bangert" -- the "von" means "of nobility" according to my Webster's Dictionary, and also from what I have been told by
Kenneth Betsh. ________________________________________________________________________

In The National Geographic magazine (March 1930 issue) there was a picture of Wilhelm, poised with an axe, ready to chop the head off a huge turkey.  Standing by, with her hands covering her eyes, was his daughter, five-year-old Pauline.  There is another man in the photo, who Fred C. Neisel says looks like Wilhelm's son, Charles (Karl Henry Neisel); however, the photo was taken in 1902, and Charles would have been only fifteen.

There is a group picture of this large family taken in the lawn, just outside the family home.  It appears that the house was well-kept when Wilhelm was still alive.  Wilhelm had a thick, white beard.  Robert K. Neisel told how his Grandpa Wilhelm and sons would go down to the railroad tracks and steal coal out of the cars.  Even so, they were quite well-off -- note that the death notice called him a "prominent stock raiser".  However, Wilhelm did not live to see their future "greater" wealth.

There were three Neisel estates, all situated on many acres of "prime" lush, green, rolling hills just outside of Massillon, Ohio.  I do not know when the following things took place, but eventually, the B & O Railroad would buy right-of-way through some of their properties, as would a highway (it was either Route 21, or I-77).  Also, there was oil!  One of the sons, William Edward (Uncle Bill) bought a new Touring car in 1916 for $710.

When Uncle Louie disappeared, I recall a headline in the paper which called him a "millionaire".  This was accumulated wealth, for he was the last of the ten to die, and apparently, nobody -- at least not Louie -- had paid any taxes; so, that diminished the heirs' inheritances a great deal.

As you will read in other records, the Massillon Neisels did help our family a good bit.  I think that Wilhelm's son Fredrick (from whom we are direct descendants), and his daughter Anna were the worst off -- probably because they were the only ones who married, except Matilda -- and her husband was a Certified Public Accountant.  The Great Depression came along when Fredrick was raising a large family of his own.  Anna was married to a man, who, according to her letters, must have been rather shiftless.  Even Matilda suffered hard times on her farm in Maryland after her husband died.

For more info, see record of Luise Caroline Wilhelmine Ackerhaus.