When my distant Soeder cousin Susan and I researched our immigrant Soeder ancestors, we found a mystery.
Bernhard “Barney” Söder, a miner born in Solingen, North Rhine-Westphalia, and his wife Maria, brought five children to Baltimore in 1853 aboard the ship Aeolus: Georg (1841-1927), Ludwig, Magdalena (1843-1922), Maria Phillipine (b. abt. 1846), and Dorothea Söder (b. abt. 1851).
Detail from the 1853 passenger list of the “Aeolus,” Bremen to Baltimore. The origin of Bernhard, Maria and eldest child Magdalena is given as Solingen.
Their destination on the ship’s passenger list is given as Ohio, but instead, most of them stayed in Baltimore.
Bernhard and Maria tried farming with their son Georg near Randallstown, but gave it up. They remained laborers.
Magdalena married a thriving Mount Winans blacksmith, Frederick H. Bealefeld, Sr. She opened a saloon/restaurant and amassed substantial property. Bealefeld’s blacksmith shop was on Mt. Washington Boulevard southwest of the city.
A number of Frederick Bealefeld’s descendants served in the Baltimore Police Department, including Frederick H. Bealefeld, III, until recently, Baltimore’s Police Commissioner.
Portrait of Magdalena Soeder Bealefeld, taken at the Russell Studio, Baltimore, Md. (courtesy of Susan Rozar)
Maria Phillipine married John Frackmann or Freckmann, also a blacksmith. Like Magdalena, Maria ran a restaurant, but on East Madison Street in the city of Baltimore proper.
Dora married a George F. Jackson and moved to New York.
But what happened to Ludwig, or Louis, Söder?
Years passed without locating him. But in 2011, we returned to a lead we’d previously passed over: A Louis Sader (1841-1973) buried in Minneiska, Wabasha County, Minnesota, turned up on findagrave.com, now with an excerpt from a biographical sketch and a drawing of “Mr. and Mrs. Louis Sader.”
Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Sader from History of Wabasha County, Minnesota (Winona, Minn: H.C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1920), courtesy of Kathryn Hill.
Two Wabasha County local historians, Tom Mauer and Kathryn Hill, had posted the memorial online in the course of their work documenting cemeteries and citizens.
Sader family plot marker, St. Mary’s Cemetery, Minneiska, Wasbasha County, Minnesota (photographed by Tom Mauer)
We excitedly contacted them, and Ms. Hill kindly provided the rest of the sketch. Thanks to Minnesota’s excellent digital resources, we were quickly able to acquire his death certificate and an obituary from the Minnesota State Historical Society.
Grave of Louis Sader, St. Mary’s Cemetery, Minneiska, Wabasha Co., Minnesota (photographed by Tom Mauer)
The 1920 biographical sketch confirmed that Louis Sader originally spelled his last name “Soeder,” his parents were Barney and Maria, and that he had come from Baltimore.
According to his biographical sketch, 18-yr-old Louis Soder ran off to join the 1st Maryland Regiment of the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Later he became a teamster for the army until the end of the war.
“Then, having made up his mind to seek his fortune in the northwest, he came to Wabasha County, Minn., and took a homestead of 160 acres in Watopa Township.”
After hardship and privation, Louis Sader eventually succeeded as a farmer, married Angeline Cuvener, and had six children: Barney, John, Elizabeth (Sader) Doyle, Margaret (Sader) Kramer, Gerharth, and Eva (Sader) Day.
One thing in his biography is puzzling. We know from the passenger list of the Aeolus that the Söders, including 10-year-old Ludwig, journeyed to America in 1853. Yet in his biography, Louis claimed that he and his parents had been born in Pennsylvania. The 1870 census records his place of birth as Maryland.
Is it possible that he did not remember? Could a 10-year-old boy forget the harrowing voyage across the Atlantic? If not, then why did he obscure his German immigrant origin? Susan continues to investigate.