Thursday, January 20, 2011

Johannes & Catharine

Family legend has it that one couldn't exist without the other.

Johannes was a talented artist. He won a job to paint Catharine's portrait. That's how they fell in love. Unable to marry in Europe because she was nobility and he a commoner, they eloped to America.

The ship carrying Johannes & Catharine landed at Philadelphia on September 28, 1749. They had just a few belongings and little money. They married and Johannes quickly found a job working with a millwright in Philly. After several years of learning the trade, he moved his growing family to New Jersey to set up his own shop.

Johannes' son Leonard served in the Revolution with New Jersey troops as one of Capt. Hazlett's "Minute Men." He married a girl named Peggy and moved to North Carolina where he was awarded a land grant and took up farming. Eventually they moved on to Tennessee, established a plantation, and raised twelve children. Even with all that, Peggy lived to be 103!

Their son Leonard Jr. moved to Nashville and set up a dry goods store on the public square. Leonard Jr.'s son John, after running away as a teenager, returned home when his dad became ill and managed that business for him until he was well again. Then John started his own business serving the new sewing factories springing up in the South in the 1900s.

One of John's daughters married a fellow from Minnesota with the first name Art and a funny last name. When Art returned from WWII John persuaded him to come to work for him, eventually turning the business over to him.

That's how my name is John today--Johannes was my great-great-great grandfather and Art was my father. Such is the story of many American families, some here for generations, some just starting out. They came here then and they still come here now seeking what Johannes and Catharine found in America in 1749: freedom and opportunity.

One can't exist without the other.


  1. Love this story =)

  2. I never heard the whole story John. I really enjoyed reading about your family. I met your Dad many times when I was a little boy going to Cutters Eqchange for parts. Thanks for most of your posts at this site and the others.