The Voegele Brothers
and the California Gold Rush

See Also:
Home Page for This Genealogy
Genealogy for the Voegele Family

The original story, as passed down through the generations:

Joseph Voegele (1823-1890) and his brother John traveled to California during the 1849 Gold Rush.
They traveled by ship from New York to San Francisco, a route that included a hike across the isthmus of Panama.
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.

My mother Alice (Staebell) Smith and I researched this story in 2017 through 2020.
We discovered the following facts, many of which are at odds with the story we were told:


Three brothers -- Henry, Frank, and John -- journeyed together to California.
Their older brother Joseph Voegele did not join them on this voyage.
Joseph stayed home in New York to marry and raise a family.
not Joseph and John.
The three brothers began their journey in the Spring of 1860, arriving in California in about June.
In late 1863 or early 1864, Frank returned home to Lancaster, New York, where he married in November 1864.
Henry and John Voegele remained in California for the rest of their days.
Because Henry is not mentioned in our traditional story, he must have maintained contact with his New York family.
John did not maintain contact. Perhaps he died.
Or, John might be the "John Vogel" who lived north of Sacramento in 1880 and died in 1886.
Later, probably in the 1870's, Joseph made his own a trip to California in order to search for John.