Anecdotes About Our Family



The Laborn Family and the "Poison Ship" Rudolph

In 1857, the Laborn family crossed the Atlantic aboard the sailing ship Rudolph. A man on board, posing as a doctor, administered poison to the passengers, claiming it was medicine. Many died, including Carl and Sophia Laborn, who were crossing with their four daughters. One of the daughters, Fredericka, told the story to a newspaper reporter in 1923. The story is transcribed on this web page...

The Voegele Brothers and the California Gold Rush

As told to me by my mother, Alice (Staebell) Smith:

Joseph Voegele (1823-1890) and his brother John traveled to California during the 1849 gold rush. They found a little gold, but not much. Joseph returned to New York in about 1855 without John, and John was never heard from again. Joseph made a trip back to California to search for his brother, but had no luck. While walking back to his home in Lancaster NY on his return from California, Joseph caught his young son Joseph playing hookey from school.
Years later as an adult, the younger Joseph (1862-1934) would visit California and Washington on business trips and use the trips to continue the search.

Result of research into this story:


Brothers Henry and John journeyed together to California, not Joseph and John. They made this journey some time between 1860 and 1863. Joseph stayed home in New York during the 1860's, raising his family. Later, probably in the 1870's, Joseph did make a trip later to search for them.

Beatrice Mesker's Life Story

In 1909, Beatrice Mesker, then about age sixteen, wrote a brief chronicle of her life. Primarily she describes the death of her father in 1906 and the illness and death of her mother the following year. The story is transcribed on this web page...

Louis Mesker's Train Accident

In 1896, my great-grandfather, a fireman on a train, injured his spine when his train derailed. The story is transcribed on this web page...

Susan Gragg Pierce's Train Accident

In 1923, my great-great-grandmother Susan Gragg Pierce was struck by a train, resulting in the loss of her lower legs. The story is transcribed on this web page...

Christine Nuwer's Diary

According to verbal tradition passed down through the generations of the Nuwer family, the immigrant Christine Nuwer wrote a diary describing her 1843 voyage from Alsace to America. Research shows, however, that Christine Nuwer never existed. What about her diary? Attempting to separate fact from fiction on this web page...


Comments? Suggestions? Send a letter to Brian...