52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Small

Ferdinand Hagedorn was the third child of Carl and Marie Louise Hagedorn. He was born on September 23, 1833 in Hannover, Germany. Ferdinand sailed on the Neptune to America, along with his older sister and brother in law Anna Marie and Victor Witte, and their children Marie Lissette and baby Helene. They left Bremen, Germany in late April and arrived in Galveston on June 13, 1850. The passenger list shows his age as 12 but he was actually 17. According to oral family history, photographs, and written descriptions, the Hagedorns were all very thin and short in stature. This may have given the impression that Ferdinand was much younger than he really was. It is also possible that since records at that time were handwritten, the number “7” was simply incorrectly recorded as a “2.”

Ferdinand travelled to Austin county with his sister and her family. He remained living with them, and the 1850 census lists him as a farm laborer. Ferdinand’s parents arrived in Texas later in 1853 and lived in Washington County, adjacent to Austin County. Although we do not know how or specifically when Ferdinand died, we do know that it occurred prior to 1860, as he does not appear on the census. His father donated land for what would later become the Jaeger Witte Cemetery, and it is believed that Ferdinand is either the first or second individual to be buried there.

Ferdinand’s life was cut short. One wonders what his life might have been like if he had been granted more years. We will never know, but we can imagine he arrived in Texas filled with the hope of the possibilities he might find but were not to be.

1850 census, taken October 15, 1850

The grave shown below is believed to belong to Ferdinand. It is included in a group of three graves all with a single headstone reading “Hagedorn.” It is believed that the other two graves, which are closer to one another, are that of his parents.


4 thoughts on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Small

  1. John M. Stewart

    Thank you for this vivid and perceptive entry on Ferdinand Hagedorn! Marianne Meyer (2015), local historian from Weibeck Germany, says he died in May 1855. As her source, she gives the church books of Fischbeck on the Weser river.

    A Mrs. (Helen Hagedorn?) Stilson wrote in a letter to a relative that Ferdinand graduated from Texas A&M in 1882 and then died soon after of typhoid. But I suspect she was mixing Ferdinand up with one of Adele Rogalla von Bieberstein’s children: Frederick “Fritz” Bieberstein (1857-1883). So it must have been the latter who died of typhoid.

    Christiane Haun mentioned that people were dying of yellow fever in Texas in 1853 … maybe this was what happened to Ferdinand? (Just speculating.)

    1. Fritz is the one who died from typhoid. I have a copy of his senior thesis, which is interesting. I’ll be writing something on him soon. Are Marianne Meyer and Helen Hagedorn Stilson still alive? If so, could you put me in contact with them? My email address is g.zemanek.1@gmail.com. Thanks! George Zemanek

      1. John M. Stewart

        Bad news there, I’m afraid. I see that Helen died in 2006: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/houstonchronicle/name/helen-stilson-obituary?id=26984803
        She was from the branch of the Hagedorn family who settled in New Jersey (descendants of Rudolph), but then later she moved down to Houston.

        Marianne Meyer died in 2018, but my students and I translated her books on Weibeck and its emigrants into English, and I’m looking at self-publishing the translation to distribute via Amazon & Co.

      2. One of the things that makes me so sad about genealogy is that when I formulate a question, I find out that the people who may have had answers have passed away fairly recently. Please let me know when you publish your book.

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