Without a doubt, the most important document we’ve found in our pursuit of George F. Boller’s history is his application for naturalization (citizenship) filed in the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas on March 7, 1837. In that application George, age 43, is applying for U.S. citizenship and is stating that he came to America from the Kingdom of Bavaria in October of 1816. This application is an exciting find since it not only helps confirm George’s birth in November 1793, but it also gives us the time frame – October 1816 – when our Boller family first arrived in America!
(M-0111) Above is an 1816 2-Pfenning coin from Bayern – the German word for Bavaria.
Now don’t let the phrase “Kingdom of Bavaria” confuse you! Remember, we talked earlier about the great changes in the political arena during the early years of George’s life. When Napoleon took control of the Rhine River valley (1812), the result was to incorporate the Rhine west bank territories (including the city of Mainz) into France and the east bank territories into the territories of Baden and Hesse. After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, the Congress of Vienna granted the majority of the east-bank lands to the Kingdom of Bavaria and a territory called Rheinhessen (much of the west bank of the Rhine River, including the economically-vital city of Mainz) to the nation of Hesse-Darmstadt. Other west-bank lands went to Prussia, and were joined to Prussia’s east bank possessions to form the Prussian Rheinprovinz [Rhine Province] in 1824. Many of these alliances were in effect until the German unification of states in 1871, so George F. Boller was very likely speaking of the Rhine River Valley of southwestern Germany when he called his homeland “The Kingdom of Bavaria” when asked in 1837.
When a person applying for United States citizenship filed an application like the one we’ve found here in Wayne County on March 7, 1837, the person then needed to return to the court at a later date to finalize that citizenship. Records cannot be found that George Boller ever returned to court to finalize his application, so apparently, George may have chosen to live the remainder of his days as a citizen of Bavaria living in the United States. His wife, Elizabeth, and all six children were, of course, U.S. citizens by the fact that they were born in the United States.
Church records and other family records indicate that George and the Boller family lost their beloved wife and mother, Elizabeth (Zook) Boller (age 49), to an early death in April, 1840.
Elizabeth is buried at the Paradise Church of the Brethren Cemetery in Green Township of Wayne County, Ohio. A search of the latest Wayne County records (see below) indicate that the Bollers had two plots there, using only one for Elizabeth in 1840. Sadly, her resting place is unmarked. As of this re-editing (2022), I’ve not been to Wayne County, Ohio to visit the cemetery. Hopefully someday, that might happen.
1841 county records indicate that after Elizabeth’s death, George decided to sell some of his Wayne County land.
Once again, Wayne County native, Nolan Gerber (related to the Bollers in Kalona, IA) gives us more info…
“George sold the farm in 1841 and moved to Milton Township Pleasant Home (Yoder Rd. area). He began purchasing land in 1848 in Iowa, but was a boarder with the Blough family in Wayne County in 1860.”
After Elizabeth’s death in 1840, it’s apparent that the Boller family started to re-think their commitment to Wayne County, Ohio. As the three Boller boys were getting older – John was 17, Jacob – 15, and Benjamin – 12, I’m sure each of them were itching, like so many other Americans, to explore the expanding west.
When the western frontier began opening up via the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Amish-Mennonite communities of Pennsylvania were some of the first easterners who sent out scouting parties to seek good land. One such group was sent out in the summer of 1807 by the Amish-Mennonites living in Somerset County, Pennsylvania (in southwestern Pennsylvania). In an early journal we find this entry…
“this party traveled down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh and up the Mississippi to Iowa where observations on several sites were made but no decision reached upon a place for settlement. On their return the party traveled overland through Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.”
So, in 1846, when the Hawkeye State became the 29th state in the Union, organized campaigns (see below) began, recruiting young settlers and investors, like the Bollers, by boasting of rich farmlands, fine citizens, free and open society, and good government.
By 1850, the Amish-Mennonite community was rapidly expanding into Iowa, establishing small communities throughout the eastern portion of the state (see map above – right).
Our Boller records indicate that George, like so many others, was attracted to these new land options found in the west, purchasing…
“forty acres of Government land in the Territory of Iowa, the title deed of which bears the signature of Pres. Jas. K. Polk.”
Doing an on-line search, we’ve found four separate land transactions (see pics above) as recorded on March 1, 1848. These transactions were done through the Dubuque, Iowa office for land purchases and were for three 40-area parcels and one 80-acre parcel in Clayton County. All four parcels are written up under George Boller’s name, but we’re doubtful that George, or any of the three Boller boys for that matter, ever came to Iowa to complete these land purchases in northeast Iowa.
While it’s true that the Boller family didn’t pursue their interest in Iowa farmland located in Clayton County, we do know, with complete certainty, that George didn’t stop pursuing land for his boys here in the Hawkeye State.
While we’ve yet to uncover the purchase documents, we know the Bollers purchased eight 40-area parcels (320 acres) in Washington Township in the SW corner of Johnson County sometime prior to 1852. It’s our guess that this Johnson County land took preference over Clayton County simply because of the growing Amish-Mennonite community that was developing in Johnson County and nearby Washington County.
More on all these Iowa happenings in Chapter Two when we discuss my gg grandfather, Jacob B. Boller. But, for now, let’s go back to Wayne County…
You see, the network of Amish-Mennonite communities that stretches today from Pennsylvania to Iowa were all intentionally laid out by those scouts back in the early 1800’s who knew the best places to settle. Which brings us, now, to the six Boller children of George & Elizabeth – all of which ended up living their lives and building families in those same Mennonite communities from Ohio to Indiana to Illinois to Iowa…
Ohio – Elizabeth Boller – born on May 9, 1827 – married Moses Stutzman (b-1823) of Fulton County, Ohio in 1844. The couple had a large family of eleven children – Elizabeth died on February 24, 1882 at age 54, and Moses passed in 1899 at age 75. Both are buried in Eckley Cemetery, Fulton County, Ohio.
Illinois – John Boller – born on February 1, 1823 – married Mary Plank (b-1828) in 1848. The 1850 census shows John as a cabinet maker living in Wayne County, Ohio. During the 1850’s, John & Mary moved their family to Lexington, Illinois, where John died on April 6, 1895 at age 72, and Mary passed in 1912 at age 83. Both are buried at Lexington Cemetery in McLean County, Illinois. Below is the McLean County records from 1863, showing John “subject to military duty” during the Civil War.
Iowa – Jacob B. Boller – born on February 28, 1825 – married Catharine Smucker (b-1825) in 1849, moving to Butler County Ohio, that same year. In 1853, Jacob & Catharine and their family moved to Iowa. Read my gg grandparent’s complete story here.
Indiana – George Z. Boller – born on December 12, 1828 – married Catharine Zook (b-1830) in 1850, moving to Elkhart Township of Noble County, Indiana in 1855, where he became a Mennonite minister. His son, Benjamin F. Boller, eventually moved west to California and his biography contains a wealth of interesting facts…including the story of young George Boller escaping Napoleon’s army by coming to America. George died on May 20, 1883 at age 54, and Catharine passed in 1904 at age 74. Both are buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Lagrange County, Indiana.
Indiana – Magdalena M. Boller – born on February 10, 1831 – married David I. McKibbin (b-1834) of Wayne County, Ohio in 1858, relocating to Elkhart County, Indiana that same year. Magdalena died on December 15, 1894 at age 63, and David passed in 1895 at age 73. Both are buried at Eldridge Cemetery in Middlebury in Elkhart County, Indiana.
Indiana – Christiana (Anna C.) Boller – born on June 8, 1821 – married Benjamin B. Stutzman (b-1822) of Wayne County, Ohio, and by 1855, had relocated, along with Benjamin’s parents, John & Sarah Stutzman; and two other relatives, to northern Indiana, locating in Elkhart County near Goshen, Indiana. Christiana died on November 23, 1882 at age 61, and Benjamin passed in 1895 at age 73. Both are buried at Clinton Union Cemetery, outside Goshen, Indiana. More about this special cemetery on the next page.
According to the 1850 Wayne County census, George’s youngest son, George Benjamin – age 22 – was now living with his older brother, John – age 27; while the youngest daughter, Magdalena – age 19 – was living with her older married sister, Christiana – age 29.
With Elizabeth now gone and the family growing up and moving on, it also appears that George, now in his sixties, sold his East Union Township farmland and relocated to live with family in nearby Milton Township in Wayne County, Ohio (see below) sometime during the late 1850’s.
This 1860 Wayne County census record is our last possible clue of George Boller living in Ohio. Of particular interest here is George’s listed profession – farmer – and his birthplace – Mainz, Germany – yet another great clue to indicate George’s hometown in Germany in 1793.
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.