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HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN AND AGATHA VOSSLER

            Christian Vossler was born October 10, 1825, in the little German village of Thuningen, state of Wurttemberg. This is near the border of Baden in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest), one of the loveliest wooded areas in Germany.  Thuningen is a village about 7 miles from the city of Schwennigen province of Swabia in Oberampt Tutlingen, near the source of the Danube River and in view of the Swabian Alps.  He was the son of Johannes and Anna Marie Kaiser Vossler.  Johannes Vossler had permission from the state to dig saltpeter wherever he found it.  This he refined and sold.

            Agatha Kaiser was also born in Thuningen December 5, 1831.  She was the daughter of Jacob and Mary Kaiser and was a seamstress by trade.

            Even at the time in Wurttemberg, every little village had its school in which religion was taught.  Wurttemberg, the oldest German state, was the first state in the world to introduce compulsory education.  In Thuningen there was also a Lutheran Church.  There children studied Luther’s Small Catechism, the same Bible stories and old Lutheran hymns we know today.

            Christian Vossler had a very good friend, Christian Gallmann who was also born in Thuningen August 24, 1827, and lived just a stone’s throw from the Vossler home.

            The following is taken from the Early History of Christian H. Gallmann, and no doubt would apply to Christian Vossler.  “After confirmation at age 14 years, Christian Gallmann continued for four more years as a regular pupil in the Christenlehre (Bible Class), or as he called it, Kinderlehre.  He also attended divine services every Sunday morning.  He was told that every boy or girl who missed Christenlehre would be subject to a fine during the next week.  The schoolteacher collected these fines and gave the negligent pupils a severe lecture.  Having been brought up in such a strict way and believing it was good for them, they considered it good for their children and grandchildren as well. “

            Christian Vossler was an apprentice to a wood carver.  He also became a linen weaver and was made a member of the Guild of Master Weavers on April 10, 1842.  He received a guild certificate which told all about him, that he was of good character and complied with the rules, served his apprenticeship and was now a member of the Guild.

            Christian Gallmann was a weaver also.  They did not particularly like the weavers’ trade, for it was very hard to please the many women for whom they had to weave.  The women spun their own yarn, and the weaver, therefore, was obliged to move from house to house with his loom.  He lived, ate, worked and slept among his neighbors and customers.  This kept them busy through the long winter months.  During the spring, summer and fall they had to work in the fields.

            One of the greatest ambitions of these young friends was to own a little piece of land somewhere and at sometime in their lives.  Christian Vossler kept on working at his trade until he was 27 years    old.  Having heard it was possible for a poor man in America to own a farm, the friends determined to work and save their earning until they had enough money saved to enable them to immigrate to the United States of America.

            In the spring of 1853, they were ready to start on their great adventure.  On March 10, 1853, they left for America.  Sailing with Christian Vossler was his friend Agatha Kaiser.  After a very stormy voyage of six weeks steerage, they reached New York City on May 2, 1853.  Their money was almost gone.  They decided to go to Utica, New York, to find a job, as some friends of theirs had settled there.

            In Utica the Christians found employment on a farm and Christian Vossler also worked in the knitting mills there.  Agatha Kaiser plied her trade as a seamstress.  She performed her services so well for her prosperous employer she was asked to remain permanently.

            Christian Vossler and Agatha Kaiser were married on November 13, 1853, in Utica, New York.  Disliking the mineral water around Utica they inquired if there was good drinking water anywhere.  They were told there was good water in Allegany County and Potter County.  In the summer of 1854 Christian and Agatha Vossler moved to Germantown and then to the Eleven Mile, Pennsylvania, where Christian found employment in Walker’s Saw Mill.  Here three of their children were born:  Mary, who died at the age of one month, Johannes (John) and Mary.

            In 1857, the Vossler and Gallmann families bought farms on Niles Hill, about two miles from the village of Wellsville, New York.  It was all hemlock and pine forest at the time.  The roadway ended at the outskirts of the village at what is now the corner of Highland Avenue and Pine Street.  From there it was necessary to use a foot path into the hills where the land was located.

            Both men worked at the Saw Mill at the Eleven Mile from Monday to Saturday.  Saturday evening they took knapsacks with food, shouldered their axes and hiked to Wellsville and up Niles Hill.  There they cleared places for their log cabins and garden patches.  On Sunday night they returned to the Eleven Mile.  In those days not only deer but bear and panthers inhabited the woods.  One night on one of their trips they were followed by a panther for about three miles.

            The operator of the saw mill at the Eleven Mile presented the two families with slab boards for the roofs of their log houses.  These were unloaded under the big pine tree which used to stand at the end of Pine Street.  From that place the two men carried the boards on their shoulders to their homesteads.

            From their location they could hear the ring of another axe in the forest.  Blazing a trail through the woods towards the sounds they were elated to find that their neighbor, Simon Dornow was also a Lutheran from Germany.

            In those days, men hauled lumber to Dansville to be planed, as Dansville was the only place around that had a planer.  Christian asked one of the teamsters to bring him back 1,000 feet of lumber at $4/1000 feet.  It was cork pine (no knots).  The boards were up to 48” wide.  One door on the log cabin was made of just one board 4’ wide.  Aunt Rose told of it.  The bolster racks on the lumber wagons ere 42-43” wide and much of the lumber would not go between the stakes.  From this lumber Christian made furniture for his home.  He was a more able cabinet maker than a farmer.

            When the log houses were built, the families moved in.  The men vowed from then on to stick to their families and farms.  This they certainly did.  Thirteen children were born to Christian and Agatha Vossler on this farm.  The farm consisted of 60 to 80 acres. A frame house was built in the mid 1870’s. Their youngest child, Benny, was born there.  This house is still standing, though greatly remodeled and is now the home of Ann Vossler, widow of Merritt, youngest son of Benny.  The log cabin in which they lived at first was up the hill from the present barn.

            It is told how Christian Vossler and Christian Gallmann walked to the village of Angelica where they purchased a grind stone and rack to use to grind their axes.  They returned to their homes on Niles Hill by foot, carrying the grind stone.  The land was not all cleared as the hemlock trees still stood.  These Christian cut, then peeled the bark, and sold it to a tannery in the village.  The trees were then burned as they had no saw to saw through the hard knots.

            The Erie Railroad was completed in 1851.  When John, the eldest son, was old enough he hauled wood to the Erie Depot in Wellsville.  It was sold to the railroad to fire their locomotives.  He also hauled the bark to the tree tanneries which were in Wellsville at the time.

            Besides the Gallmann and Vossler families there were other Lutherans living in and around Wellsville.  They heard of a Lutheran minister at Eden Valley near Buffalo.  One of the families wrote to him requesting him to come to Wellsville to baptize their children and to hold services.  The pastor complied with their request.  A year later the Rev. Doermann from Olean came to Wellsville and succeeded in forming a Lutheran congregation.  Christian Vossler and Christian Gallmann were among the founders of the First Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wellsville in 1859.

            The times were bad.  It was hard to support a growing family.  The living expenses were high and they had very little to sell.  The wages were very low.  Fifty cents was the common wage for a day’s work.  The Civil War had broken out, 1861 to 1865.  During the war, the two families, with their little children, lived in fear from day to day.  They feared their fathers would be drafted to go to war, but they resolved to stick it out.

            The Vossler and Gallmann families lived on their homesteads near each other for nine years, until Christian Gallmann and family moved to a larger farm on Basswood Hill, near Angelica, as their twenty acre farm was too small for a growing family.

            Christian and Agatha Vossler remained on their farm about sixty years until they were claimed by death.  Grandfather Vossler died February 8, 1916 at the age of 90 years and 4 months.  Grandmother Vossler died on September 27, 1917, at the age of 85 years and 10 months.  There were pioneers in this community.

            At one time the village of Thuningen, Germany, was destroyed by fire and all that remained were about five stone houses and a church in a dell.  These homes dated back 400 to 500 years, surviving two World Wars.  Mathilde Vossler Keeley has pictures she took of these houses while her husband was in Europe in government service.  One house was the Gallmann home and one the Vossler home, which was then inhabited by a Gallmann.  Only the shingles on the roof of the Vossler home had been replaced.  Agatha Gallmann and Althea Gaus also had some pictures taken by Mrs. Christian Braunschweiger (Katie Gallmann) on a trip to Germany to visit her sister who lived near Thuningen.  These show the two houses very close together with a board fence running along the street, as well as the church where they worshipped.  Albert and Virginia Vossler also have pictures of these houses taken when they were in Germany.

            There was a Mrs. Vossler, no known relation, who worked at Lyon’s Tea Room in East Amherst, New York, who has a family genealogy.  She states that the Vosslers were originally Norsemen and that they migrated to Germany from Norway and that Vossler means “hunter” in Norwegian.

            Some of the early genealogy, “Descendants of: Johannes Vossler”, was supplied by Connie Shear Sparbel from her tracing of the branch of the Ursula Vossler Hauser branch of the family.  Ursula was the oldest sister of Christian Vossler having been born in 1815 in Thuningen, Germany.   Her husband, Johannes Hauser died in Germany in 1856.  She came to America in 1861, with five children.  It is in this branch we find our relationship to the Hauser, Flurschulz, and Shear families.  Their daughter, Maria, married Fredrich August Shier (Shear) and their daughter, Louise, married Nick Flurschutz.

Submitted by Marge Vossler 2/2006
Contact for Vossler Family - (Email Link) Marge Vossler

 

 

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