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Spouse: Luise Caroline Wilhelmine Ackerhaus
She was called Mina, Minnie, and Wilhelmina. I have found no record of her becoming a United States citizen. Since one of the requirements is that you must speak English -- and Mina did not -- it is very unlikely that she was naturalized. Her children, who as far as we have proof, were all born in America (except Carolina Anna Louisa Neusel). They would automatically be citizens. The original family tree given to us by Kenneth Betsh shows Mina's maiden name as ACKERHAUER; however, I have found two other sources which showed her name was ACKERHAUS. Also, in the Latter Day Saints records, her christening date under the name of ACKERHAUS corresponded with her birth. There is one discrepancy: in the Bible record, the name was spelled AKERHAUS.
See note in record of her husband, Wilhelm Neisel, for more information about her.
Frederick C. Neisel, grandson of Mina, recalls that she could speak a few words in English when she chose to. He said she always gave him a dime when he came to visit.
There is a 1989 entry in the Latter Day Saints (LDS) record showing that she was christened in Prussia. (More on this as you read on.)
Interestingly, the LDS records show the feminine names ending with "e", and in the Family Bible records, they end with "a" -- except Wilhelmine's name. We have a French friend from Paris, France, who has studied French and European history for many years. He says that the French end the feminine names with "e", and the Germans end them with "a", but the pronunciation is the same. Example: in France, Nadine ends with an "e", but is pronounced Nadina. He says that if our ancestors had some connection to the Alsace-Lorraine part of France, it would account for the two different spellings in our records, because during two different periods of history, Alsace-Lorraine was German territory. It is currently owned by France.
Even though I was seeking information regarding the fact that some records show the feminine names ending with "a" and other records end them with "e", the explanation created more questions for me, because: Luise Caroline Wilhelmine Ackerhaus is shown in the LDS records as having been christened Dec. 12, 1858, Evangelisch, Hoerde, Westfalen, Prussia. Hoerde, Prussia (now Germany) is not in the Alsace-Lorraine area. These records show that her mother's name was Pauline Philippine Stoebener -- French-spelled given names with a German surname -- therefore, I am guessing that our Mina's ancestry was French on the maternal side, and German on the paternal side. OR -- her mother may have been born in the disputed Alsace-Lorraine area.
Further info on Mina's family in the LDS records show that her father, Ernst Philipp Ackerhaus (German through-and-through), remarried (assuming it was after his wife, Pauline's death) to a Caroline Stoebener -- probably a sister or a cousin of Pauline's. Ernst and Caroline then had a son -- Georg Heinrich Wilhelm -- christened May 17, 1868, Evangelisch, Westfalen, Alperbeck, Prussia.
On the Neusel side, there was one story which Lillian Pauline Neisel (now deceased) related, which she said she had been told by someone, possibly her mother, when she was in the seventh grade. The story goes like this:
When Uncle Louie (August Servis Neisel, or August
Ludwig -- Ludwig being German for Louis) was in France
during World War I in 1918, there was a battle at a
farmhouse in the Alsace-Lorraine area. Louie felt
Lillian said she always remembered that story, because at the time, she was studying about Alsace-Lorrraine in school. When she later told me this story on tape, it was somewhat more vague.
There are several facts which lend credence to this story: Frederick Carroll Neisel recalls that his uncle Louie fought in the Argonne Forest -- Louie had told him, and they had slides showing it. This is a wooded region in northeast France near the Belgian border. Alsace-Lorraine is also a region in northeast France, which was under German control, 1871-1919 and 1940-1944; thereafter, under French control. We know from one of Louie's letters that he was in the Sept. 26, 1918 Battle of Meuse-Argonne. (On the Meuse River, Argonne Forest -- Germans retreated.) The Family Bible record shows that the first child of his parents was born in Germany, and her name was Carolina Anna Louisa Neusel; however, if this story is true, then Carolina Anna Louisa was actually the third child of Wilhelm and Wilhelmina. We know for sure that she was buried in America.
The reconcilliation to the story ends here. But, we can reason things out a bit more: We know for a fact, that when one child died, future children were often given at least one of the names of the deceased child. For example, one of their future children named Anna Neusel, was apparently named after Carolina Anna Louisa. But, Carolina Anna Louisa did not die in Germany -- she died in America, at the age of two! Can it be possible that there was even another Anna, who died in Germany, and they kept trying until one named Anna did survive? And as for Louis, he had several names: August Ludwig Neusel in German, and August Servis Neusel in the Family Bible. We could assume that he did see a grave with one of his names on it. The only thing which does not conform to the story, is that one would think that if there were two children who died in Germany, they would be recorded in the Family Bible -- and they are not; unless one really stretches the imagination and figures that because of the anti-German sentiment in America, they did not wish to record any ties they had to Germany.
There were also stories that one or two of their children died on the ship, enroute to America. While it's true that many children died on these journeys, we have no record that Wilhelm and Mina had a child (or children) who died at sea; however, it is possible that they had two children who died while they were still in Germany.
Since I have not been able to certify what part of Germany that Wilhelm and Wilhelmina were from, my best guess is that Wilhelmina Ackerhaus was from Hoerde (a town -- or city -- which still exists); and that Wilhelm was probably from the Alsace-Lorraine area -- which ties in with the French/German spellings of the female names.
There is one mystery which really baffles me. In the office of the Massillon Cemetery (where the "Massillon Neisels" are buried), they had a file card which read:
Neisel 1881 Dau of John Potters
Translation, according to the woman who showed me this card:
"A daughter of John Neisel was buried in Potter's Field (cemetery for those who cannot pay for a grave in the regular one) in 1881."
First of all, we know of no "John" Neisel, except for the son of Robert and Shirley Henline-Neisel. In the Latter Day Saints (LDS) records, I found 11 by the name of Johann Neusel in Prussia and/or Germany (same thing). (Johann and/or Johannes -- pronounced Yo-hahn, is "John" in English.)
Only one -- Johann Georg Neusel (Prussian) who was
married in 1882 -- had a date close enough to consider as
a possibility. Stretching the imagination, perhaps
Johann Georg was Wilhelm's brother who had a daughter to
a previous wife who died, so he sent his daughter over
here with Wilhelm and Wilhelmina in 1881. And,
perhaps that little girl did die at sea. That would
account for the rumor that one or two of their children
died on the ship. AND, the LDS records show a
Katharine Neusel, christened 1880, Prussian, father:
Johann Neusel. This is
We did not see a grave for their daughter who was born in Germany and died in America in 1881 (Carolina Anna Louisa Neusel), nor was there a grave for their second infant daughter (Matilda Neusel) who was born and died in Massillon in 1886.
My conclusion is, Katharine Neusel, daughter of Johann (John) came with them to America, died at sea, and was buried in Potter's Field. Carolina Anna Louisa Neisel, daughter of Wilhelm and Wilhelmina, was probably buried in Farmington, Ohio. (In German script, Warmington could very well be Farmington.) I have no idea where little Matilda was buried -- there was no card for her in the office at the Massillon Cemetery. But another question remains: if Wilhelmina was a stowaway, how did she manage two little girls on the ship?
Wilhelmina died of pneumonia at the age of 89 in 1948.
Following is her obituary:
MRS. MINA NEISEL Mrs. Mina Neisel, 89,
died Sunday at 11:30 p.m. at her residence in Riverside
Rd., RD 3 Massillon. She is survived by three
daughters, Miss Pauline Neisel at home and Mrs. Anna