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More on the ” German Connection”


My last essay on this topic was written while I was frantically trying to put together this grand puzzle linking my 1840’s German immigrant families, Baumann, Veiock, Gross, and Hoenig families, and the Swiss Flueckigers and Schmalzes,  with the German Harmony Society, that first settled in Harmony, Butler County, Pennsylvania in 1804.  This industrious, religious community fled the religious intolerance and wars of Germany.  They stayed in Harmony for 10 years, sold their lands, and moved to New Harmony, Indiana, where after 10 years they sold their holding, and made their final move in 1824 to French Point, in Beaver County, Pa., where they bought a couple thousand acres of good land, on the Ohio River, and named it Economy

The first of my family (be they in-laws) to move to Old Economy was Henry Gross, an  graduate of Heidelburg University.  He came to Economy in 1848, and stayed for a year, before leaving the community and moving several miles up Sewickley Creek, to Economy Township.  There he bought some land and started a store and a post office.  Popular legend has it that he was building a stone retaining wall.  A neighbor suggested that he plant some roses to reinforce the wall; this lead to the settlement being called “Wall Rose”.  Henry met and married Louisa Hoenig, daughter of German immigrant pioneers of that area.  They had several children, including a daughter Margaret.

In 1847  Old Economy had become a celibate community, due to a spiritual revelation of  Father Rapp, their founder.  While this may have been good for their souls, it had a real dampening effect on their membership’s reproduction, hence no next generation of farmers in their fields and orchard, or workers in their industries (which thrived – they made millions of dollars).  They soon had to hire their work force.

The 1880 US Census for Harmony shows many of these hired laborers, many of whom became residents of the village.  My great-grandfather Gottlieb Flueckiger, and his wife Rosina Schmalz, both from Switzerland, were among these workers., arriving there in 1876.

Friedrich and Catharine Veiock  Baumann were also German immigrants.  They immigrated to Monroe County Ohio, by 1850, and became prosperous farmers.  They had many children, including William.  The family bought another farm in Allegheny County, Pa., and moved there.   Two of their other sons, Johannes and Charles Baumann, and their families were employed as farmers by  Old Economy.

William became an apprentice harness maker, and his work took him to Wallrose, where he met Margaret Gross, and they married.   William’s  older brothers Johannes and Charles, and their families,  both appear on the 1880 US Census for Old Economy, near neighbors to the Flueckigers.  I have a feeling these two families became close friends.  A friend and fellow researcher wrote that her family said “those old Germans didn’t travel far to get married; they pretty much married where and when their wagon broke down”.

In  the late 1890’s, William and Margaret Bauman, and their  children; Henry, William (2), Oscar, Edith, Lewis, and Erma moved ‘down creek’ to Leetsdale, only a mile from Economy Village.  In 1896, William opened a grocery store in Leetdale, that came to be known as “Bauman’s”.  His sons all helped him run the store.

William became the leader of the borough council, and he built many house in the borough.  His son Oscar forged another link with Old Economy Village, which had been sold, and closed in 1906.

Oscar married Amelia (Milly) Flueckiger who was  Gottlieb and Rosina Flueckiger’s eldest daughter.  Gottlieb died in 1903, and his widow Rosina stayed with Milly, and her sisters Alice and Bertha, who had all moved to Leetsdale, when Old Economy was sold to US Steel, to be the site of their new American Bridge Company.

Alice married William Walker in 1911, and they had two children, but Alice died in the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.   Bertha (my grandmother) married Thomas John Dunn in 1913, and they moved to Ambridge where he worked as the shipper for the “Bridge Works”.

William retired from the grocery, and his sons took it over, re-naming it  “Bauman Brothers”  In 1915, William and Margaret moved to DeLand, Volusia County, Florida, where they bought the local feed store.

His son Oscar, and his brothers soon sold off the Leetsdale grocery store, and by the early 1920’s, after Rosina Flueckiger had died, they moved to DeLand to operate Bauman Bothers Feed Store, after their father had retired.  The several Bauman brothers became well-known citizens of DeLand.

Margaret Bauman died in 1935, and William died in 1939.  Oscar died in 1945, after growing a small citrus orchard during his retirement.  His surviving brothers sold off the feed store.  Today it is Paul Hunter’s Restaurant.  Most of the next generation of Baumans stayed in the area.  As WW2 ended, Americans soon all owned cars and were ready to hit the road (especially we Northerners in winter when we had relatives to visit in Sunny Florida).

I have some family photos showing me as an infant in the early 1950s, with my father Art Dunn, and my mother Dorothy (nee Cumashot/Johnson).  We were visiting my grand aunt Millie.  Some of my cousins, from my aunts Lil and Betty Dunn, are shown with us.  When my father died in 1954 (WW2 was not good for his heart), my grandmother Bertha (widowed since 1943) moved down to stay with her sister Millie.  Her daughters, and their families soon moved south, too, and were soon followed by my uncle Thomas Jay Dunn, and his family.

Whew, I think I got this complex story right, especially for writing it with using my notes.

There are probably some errors of grammar, spelling, genealogical relationships, and chronology in this essay, but this is the first time I ever tried to write this updated family history.  I think it works!

Thom Dunn Marti

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