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Migrations From Vechta, Germany to Teutopolis, Illinois

If you are looking for German immigrants in the United States who spent some time in Ohio before disappearing from your genealogical timeline, try looking for them in Teutopolis, Illinois.


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Many Germans, especially Franciscans and their followers, migrated to Teutopolis, Illinois, in the mid- to late 1800's. There they formed the St. Joseph's Diocesan College and the Sisters' School. The village of Teutopolis grew up around these religious institutions. It is unusual to find a college in a village of only 1,500 residents. Teutopolis, Illinois, is one such exception. This little village was founded by John Henry Uptmor, Sr. and a group of German immigrants.

Uptmor was born in Vechta, in the Duchy of Oldenburg, Germany, in 1801. His parents were John Henry and Anna N. (Nordlohne) Uptmor. He married a Miss Dependenuer before he left Germany in 1834. In 1839, following his wife's death, he and his brother, Clement, and seven other families moved to Illinois and formed the village of Teutopolis. Eventually 50 families relocated there, some arriving via Cincinnati, Ohio. But that was just the beginning.

In 1858, nine friars traveled for nearly three weeks from the Franciscan Province of the Holy Cross in Paderborn, Westphalia, Germany, to Teutopolis. The friars were Fr. Damian Hennewig; Fr. John Capistran Zwinge; Fr. Servace Altmicks; Bro. Irenaeus Drewes; Bro. Paschal Kutsche; Bro. Marianus Beile; Bro. Edmund Wilde; and Herman Uphof. Fathers Almicks, Zwinge, and Hennewig were all from Warendorf in Westphalia. Hennewig, later the Very Rev. P. Damian Hennewig, O.S.F., formed a citizen's committee for the purpose of establishing a college. Clement Uptmor served on the committee along with John F. Waschefort, John Wernsing, and Dietrich Eggermann. The result was that eighteen lots were either donated or purchased for the college and funds were raised. John Uptmor was a large contributor.

By 1860, a novitiate was established at St. Francis, Friary. The first stone for the new college was laid in 1861. The Very Rev. Killian Schloesser, O.S.F., chiseled into the keystone over the main entrance "Omnia Cum Deo Nihil Slue Eo." According to the Sacred Heart Province Franciscan Friars, a new group of friars arrived from Germany every year from 1860 to 1876, with the exceptions of 1861, 1868, and 1874. In December of 1861, the Sisters of Notre Dame renamed the St. Mary's Academy of Teutopolis as the Sisters' School. It was presided over by Sister Verena, Mother Superior. She was born on November 28, 1841, in Gross Embach, Germany. Her parents brought her to Baltimore, Maryland, when she was three years old.

On September 15, 1862, St. Joseph's College opened its doors. Rev. P. Heribert Hoffman, O.S.F., served as Rector. He died at the Convent of Teutopolis on October 16, 1868. In 1864, John Uptmor married Mary Anna Yohring, daughter of Jacob and Adelaid Yohring of Bersenburck, Hanover. That same year, the Very Rev. P. Mauritius Klostermann, O.S.F., became rector and continued until 1882. Upon his death, the Very Rev. P. Michael Richardt, O.S.F., took office. On December 12, 1865, Rev. Damian Hennewig died. The same year, Rev. Servatius Altmicks, Rev. Capistran Zwinge and three lay brothers arrived from Warendorf, Westphalia, Germany. In 1867, the Sisters' School built a new facility near St. Francis' Church. For six years prior, the sisters had lived in a house.

In 1875, 89 friars arrived, having been exiled from Germany by the Kulturkampf. The first, consisting of 65 friars, arrived on July 3 and 4, 1875. A second group of two dozen friars arrived on July 12. Two years later two more small groups arrived. Altogether, 106 arrived from Germany.

By 1884, the college had to expand in order to accommodate its 150 students. In 1898, St. Joseph College became an exclusively Franciscan seminary. The first convention of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States was held in Teutopolis on November 28-29, 1915. The monastery exists today as the Teutopolis Monastery Museum and contains 30 rooms of Franciscan history.


Rev. P. H. Hoffman, O.S.F. 1862 -1864

Rev. P. Mauritius Klostermann, O.S.F., 1864-1882

Rev. P. Michael Richardt, O.S.F. 1882-1891

Rev. P. Nicholas Leonard, O.S.F. 1891 to 1893

Rev. P. Hugolinus Storff 1894 - ? of Elberfeld, Rhenish Prussia March 18, 1859


Rev. P. Christopher Guithuis, O.S.F.

Rev. Clement Moorman, O.S.F.

Rev. Floribert Jaspers, O.S.F.

Rev. P. Ignatius Reinkemeyer, O.S.F.

Rev. P. Maurus Brink, O.S.F.

Rev. P. Plycarpus Rhode, O.S.F.

Gerhard Shuette

Brother Leopold Breuer, O.S.F.

Brother Philip Staubtin, O.S.F.

Adam Mueller


Rev. P. Paulus Teroerde O. S. F. - guardian of St. Francis' Convent and Rector of St. Francis' Church; born in Dingden, Province of Westphalia, Prussia, January 27, 1849; moved to Widenbruck in 1870, then Dusseldorf, then Paderborn before being expelled from Germany; ordained in March 1875 in Cologne and emigrated to Teutopolis.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2008.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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