Archiver > AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN > 2006-01 > 1136849827

Subject: Re: [A-H] Roll Call - Wersal & Sellner - Minnesota
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 18:37:07 EST


I am from Lamberton and had a Mr. Sellner as my high school music teacher for
a while. He played the cello and I believe his first name was David. That
was about 1948-49.

My German-Bohemian ancestors who settled in Severance Twp near New Ulm were
al from the Pilsen / Plzen district of Bohemia. New Ulm settlers also included
many families from the Bohemian Forest.

Wenzel / Wensel was a popular Bohemian first name.

German-Bohemians often called themselves Austrian because they were Austrian
citizens under Kaiser Franz Josef. Sometimes Germany popped up as a place
of origin because the person giving the data to the census taker did not know
for sure so they relied on the fact that the people spoke German.

You might do best by joining the German-Bohemian list at Rootsweb. Those
list members are more apt to be able to help you unless someone on this list
knows your surnames and has some idea where they originated.

Prussians tended to settle north of the river in Bismarck Twp (my
Prussian-Polish grandfather was from there). They were usually Lutheran while the
G-Bohemians were mostly Roman Catholic.

I found a lot of good information about where different groups of immigrants
originated in the Centennial History book of St. George's parish in West
Newton Twp -- the parish my ancestors attended. There was also a lot of "good
stuff" in the centennial editions and related book published by the Fairfax

Check with your county courthouse for naturalization records for any of your
ancestors. There are three documents associated with that process and any
one of them might contain birth data.

If Sleepy Eye has/had a newspaper (Is the Herald Dispatch still published??)
there may be good information in that as well as in parish centennial books.

Also search the web with the name: Elroy Ubl New Ulm
This should find information on the books that Elroy has put together from
research in old German and English versions of New Ulm Newspapers. A lot of
the history of New Ulm and surrounding territory is included as well as many

It should also be worthwhile to look in the country historical society.

I believe a lot of G-Bohemians also settled in Sleepy Eye....especially the
ones who came a little later when land near the Minnesota River was all taken.
I believe this because when I went to a wedding anniversary barn dance at
the Wendinger farm just north of St. George church some years ago a fellow at
our table told how he had a terrible time finding a bride to whom he was not
related in West Newton, Severance and the general area around New Ulm. He
finally found a girl to marry in Sleepy Eye. As the wedding plans evolved they
both submitted guest lists and most of the names were the same!!! They were

Have you searched the ships lists on line at ProQuest? They may also have
them at the MN State Historical Society. They are indexed and you may be able
to find arrival data by searching with your last names. You may find the
date they arrived there if it was not too early.

Ellis Island ships lists are also on the Internet for passengers arriving
before 1895.

Leo Baca has published books called: Czechs to America
The books include immigrants with German as well as Czech names --- anyone
they could identify as coming from Bohemia. You should be able to find that
series (maybe in New Ulm at the public library or GBHS library, at the MN
Historical Society or at the Czechoslovak Genealogy Society International library
in St. Paul.)

If you have time, go to New Ulm and visit the German Bohemian Heritage
Society library there. Angie Portner (Mrs,. George Portner) is the librarian --
contact her to find out when it is open. They have a very good collection of
Heimat (homeland) books and other literature associated with German-Bohemians.

Angie's husband still speaks the old German-Bohemian dialect.

I was able to find several German cousins now living in Regenstauf and Bad
Windsheim and Nuernburg by searching lists of former residents of my ancestral
birthplace found in the Mies Heimatbuch. I found 7 families with that
surname. That told me where they had lived (all very close to my great
grandfather's birthplace) and what their first names were. I then searched the German
white pages at to find any of those names. There were many
hits but I chose the ones living in Bavaria and wrote to 50 families.
I received 16 replies among which were my cousins. They did not know much
family history except that there were Richter in the family and some of them had
gone to America. However, when we met in 1997 it was obvious that we were
related. One of the women looked so much like my grandmother she chould have
been her twin.

Since your Wersal grandfather came to the US before he was 20 years old, he
did not have any military service so there will not be a military record for
him in Vienna. Look for him as a boy of 8-12 in the Ellis Island ships lists.

Alfred Piwonka is one of the most expert on surnames from the Bohemian Forest
and north.

If you write to him ask him simple one line questions in a list. (I believe
my ancestors were German Bohemian; Their names were Wersal, Sellner. I am
searching for their birthplaces. Do you have any information on those
surnames? ) Tell him if it is OK for him to reply in German -- you will get a
quicker reply if that is the case.


In a message dated 1/9/2006 9:34:24 AM Mountain Standard Time,
In 1901, Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, my great grandfather, Joseph Wersal, b.
December 26, 1878, Austria or Germany, married Estelle Adelaide (Attille or
Tillie) Sellner, b. 1878, Austria or Germany. The Wersals immigrated to
in 1886 to 1890, coming to the Sleepy Eye, Minnesota area. The Sellners
immigrated to America in 1901. They too settled in the Sleepy Eye,
area. My belief is that the two families may have known each other where
lived prior to coming to America.

There were at least four Wersal boys that immigrated and lived in the
Sleepy Eye, Minnesota area, Wensel, George, John and Joseph. There may have
a sister too. My great grandmother, Estelle Adelaide (Attille or Tillie)
Sellner had at least one sibling, a sister Anna that came to America. Anna
married Phillip Wranschetz. The father of Tillie and Anna is Joseph F.
who died February 23, 1923, I assume in the Sleepy Eye area.

Donald Nelson

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