Fingers From Bottendorf To America

From John Vanko
Last updated November 25, 2007

The Finger families of Bottendorf, Frankenberg, Hessen, Germany, have contributed at least five sets of brothers and sisters, and several individual family members, to America. These Fingers are no relation to Peter Finger the Pioneer of York County, Pennsylvania, and his many descendants throughout the Southern United States, nor the Fingers from Switzerland, the Fingers from Berlin, nor Johannes Vinger, the founding father of this website. So if you can tie your ancestry to any of these lines you need not read further.

This is the picture I have been able to reconstruct. Although I believe everything below is accurate, errors have a way of creeping in. Any typographical or logical errors are mine. All data concerning Bottendorf comes courtesy of Dr. Ulrich Stöhr and his original research into the Lutheran church records there (beginning in 1665), and in the Hessen State Archive in Marburg.

So far as I know, for my immigrant ancestors, only Conrad Finger (b. 1865) made certain that all his grandchildren knew the name of his ancestral village - Bottendorf. With the exception of Conrad and his nephew Henry Finger of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, all the other Bottendorf Fingers in America, discussed below, have been tied back to Bottendorf by matching birthdates, matching passenger records, and by the records in Bottendorf of the destinations of emigrants to America.

There is more than one village named Bottendorf in Germany. The one discussed here is in the State of Hessen and not so far from Marburg (something like the capital of Upper Hessen), in Landkreis Frankenberg (something like a county in the US), where the town of Frankenberg is something like a county-seat in America. Frankenberg is sometimes called Frankenberg-Eder in reference to the river that flows through, or by, it. Bottendorf is about three miles from Frankenberg on the creek named the Nemphe.

All Bottendorf Fingers begin with Samuel Finger born before 1568 in Münden, north of Bottendorf. Samuel Finger is recorded as the trout- and bird-catcher of Landgrave Ludwig IV of Hessia-Marburg in 1599 in a document that bears his (Samuel's) signature. Landgrave is a title like Governor, or Duke, or Count, and Ludwig IV was the ruler of Hessia-Marburg in the late 1500's and early 1600's. Samuel is first mentioned in Bottendorf beginning in 1609. He is almost certainly the father of Johann Jost Finger, born about 1610 in Bottendorf.

Continuing with Johann Jost Finger, who married about 1635, and died before 15 Nov 1675 in Bottendorf, we have more definitive records. From Johann Jost we have Christian born about 1637 in Bottendorf, then his son Johannes born the 3rd of March 1661 in Hommershausen. Then his son Johann Kurt Finger returned and died in Bottendorf between 1737 and 1749. His son Johannes was born in Bottendorf in 1726. His son Johannes was born there in 1750, and his son Johann Daniel was born in Bottendorf in 1785. His youngest son, Henrich born 19 November 1817 in Bottendorf, died 1 Jul 1891 near Thorofare, Gloucester County, New Jersey. Henrich is believed to have entered the United States sometime around 1840 to 1845, but the exact year is unknown. Uncorroborated information indicates he may have entered the Port of Baltimore in 1854. The last mention of him in Bottendorf was on November 13th, 1840. Of the descendants of this Henrich Finger I know nothing.

But Johann Daniel Finger, born 1785 in Bottendorf, had another son, Johannes born 7 April 1808, and two of his daughters emigrated. Anna Elisabeth Finger born 19 May 1835 immigrated in 1855, and her younger sister Katharina Elisabeth Finger born 17 October 1838 immigrated in 1860 through the Port of New York destined for Philadelphia.

It is not recorded to whom these sisters were wed, nor if they wed at all. But it is quite possible that they married other Bottendorf immigrants. A number of them did just that. The ship that carried Katharina Elisabeth Finger in 1860 also carried Katharina Elisabeth Ernst, her husband-to-be, and at least five more Bottendorfers for certain, and probably four others.

The next line of Fingers in America takes us back to Johann Jost Finger (1610). He had another son Adam born about 1635-1640, who was buried 5 September 1702 in Bottendorf. His son Johannes was born there in 1664 or 1665. His son Adam was baptized 28th January 1694. His son Johannes was born 1722 in Bottendorf. His son Johann Adam was born in 1748. His son Conrad was born in 1783. His son Henrich was born 19th January 1809, and his son Emanuel was born 3rd December 1840 in Bottendorf. Emanuel immigrated in 1860 on the same ship mentioned above for Katharina Elisabeth Finger, the Bark Geestmunde arriving in New York 27 November 1860 from Bremen.

Emanuel married Katharina Elisabeth Ernst, born 11 April 1842 in Bottendorf, about 1861 in New Jersey. Some of their children were born in New Jersey, but the rest were born in Wisconsin after they moved to Greenfield near Milwaukee. Emanuel and Katharina left many descedants in Wisconsin and throughout the Mid-West.

Emanuel had a brother Hartmann who immigrated in 1866 through the Port of New York and eventually settled with Emanuel in the vicinity of Greenfield, Wisconsin. Hartmann married Katharina, last name unknown. Hartmann may have anglicized his name to Herman, and he may have become a preacher.

Emanuel and Hartmann had another brother Konrad, born 20 August 1849 in Bottendorf, who also immigrated to America. Konrad emigrated in 1872 destined for New York. But New York was often the first landfall for immigrants destined for points all over America. The immigration facility at Ellis Island may have been their first steps on American soil. From there the various ships may have continued to Philadelphia or Baltimore.

A third line of Finger immigrants begins with Konrad Finger born 1756 to Johannes Finger born 1722 and mentioned above. His son Johannes was born in 1792 in Bottendorf. Three of his many children came to America.

Katharina Elisabeth born 11 April 1827 emigrated in 1855 with her husband Henrich Feisel and their son Henrich. She died 13 Jan 1915 and is buried in Eglington Cemetery, Clarksboro, New Jersey, with her husband.

The second child, Henrich born 9 May 1830, emigrated 1854 (possibly disembarking at the Port of Baltimore) with his younger brother Henrich Michael, born 22 October 1835, who was called, simply, Michael. I know nothing of what became of Henrich Michael.

Henrich (9 May 1830) died the 8th of June 1913 in Glassboro, New Jersey, and is buried in Manahath Cemetery there. He left many descendants in this New Jersey area. According to military records he served with distinction in the Civil War as a medical attendant. He seems to have had at least two wives, at various times, and possibly three. They bore him at least six children. I wish someone could straighten out the seeming conflict in the names of his wives, and which children belonged to which wife.

The fourth line of Fingers descends from Johann Adam Finger born about 1732 to Adam Finger of 28 January 1694 mentioned previously above. He had a son Michael Finger born 1 August 1754. He had a son Johann Adam born 26 April 1787. He had a son Johannes born 1 January 1825. He had a son Conrad born 5 March 1865 in Bottendorf who came to Baltimore in 1881, and an older son Tobias born in 1863 in Bottendorf, who immigrated to the Philadelphia area in 1883 but returned to Bottendorf in 1888 to inherit the family farm.

Conrad is the founding member of the Baltimore Fingers. His surname has died out there today, but his descendants abound.

But Tobias (1863) also had children (by two different wives) that emigrated. His son Henrich, born 1890 in Bottendorf, settled in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and died there the 30th of June 1986. He disembarked the 1st of September 1913 at Philadelphia from the steamship Graf Waldersee with his friend August Geitz, also of Bottendorf. In the early days of the new century he would come to visit his Uncle Conrad in Baltimore. Henrich's half-brother Johann Tobias Finger, born about 1912 in Bottendorf, settled in Vineland, New Jersey, where he was a well-known butcher. Johann Tobias' full sister, Marie, a half-sister to Henrich, emigrated in 1923 at the age of 20 according to the Ellis Island records. Another sister, Katherina Elisabeth (but simply called Elisabeth) born 25 October 1900 in Bottendorf emigrated in 1922 according to Ellis Island records, but 1923 according to Bottendorf records. This line of Fingers has numerous descendants in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area.

A fifth line of Fingers in America comes from Konrad Finger born 1734, another son of Adam Finger (1694). His son Christoph born 1758 had a son Christoph born 1775 or 1776 in Bottendorf. He had a son Jacob born 14 July 1818 in Willersdorf (the next nearest village to Bottendorf) who died in Warren Township, Somerset County, New Jersey on 7 Ocotber 1899. Jacob emigrated, and lived in Baltimore in 1851, and has descendants living in Portland, Oregon, today.

Another line of Fingers in America comes from another son of Christoph Finger born 1758. This son Henrich was born 1796 to a different wife than the Christoph of 1775/1776 above. Henrich had a son Johann Henrich born 6 June 1837 in Willersdorf who emigrated to America in 1857. Johann Henrich used his middle name and was probably called Henrich in Willersdorf, Heinrich in general, or Henry in America. He married Catharina Ungemach (also of Willersdorf but living in Boston after emigrating) in New York in 1859 and had four children. They moved to Michigan and some of their descendants are in Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio, today. Johann Henrich left an intriguing auto-biography.

Johann Henrich's brother, Christoph born 1824 in Willersdorf, lived and worked Boston. He emigrated about 1844 and was already there when Johann Henrich came to New York.

Next, there is Sabine Finger (born 13 January 1903), listed in the records of Ellis Island as having come to America in 1922. Her father was Jacob Finger born 24 June 1846 in Bottendorf. His father was Michael Finger born 25 March 1821 in Röddenau, near Bottendorf. His father was Henrich Finger born 30 October 1788 in Bottendorf, and his father was Konrad born 1756 in Bottendorf and mentioned above.

Sabine had several siblings who emigrated to America: Elisabeth born 30 April 1879, and Anna Elisabeth born 12 May 1883, both half-sisters coming to Philadelphia; full brothers Tobias born 19 October 1893, Johannes born 25 February 1895, and Ludwig born 25 April 1900, all came to America too.

Another son of Conrad born 1783 was Johannes born 10 November 1810. His son Adam was born 3 October 1844. His son Konrad Friedrich was born 13 September 1873, and his son Friedrich was born 14 August 1904 in Bottendorf. Friedrich left Bottendorf for America on 22 October 1927. He is the most recent Finger immigrant to America from Bottendorf.

One addition to our family of Fingers in America comes from another son of Christian Finger born about 1637 in Bottendorf. This son is Nikolaus born 1659 in Hommershausen. His son was Johann Daniel Finger born 21 July 1686 (some other accounts give 1687) in Hommershausen. His son was Johann Conrad Finger born 5 March 1718 in Wangershausen. His son Bernhard was born 22 October 1744. His son Johannes was born 16 August 1772 in Wangershausen. His son Bernhard was born 30 August 1808 in Wangershausen. His son Johann Jost was born 3 November 1844 in Wangershausen, and his son Johannes was born 8 March 1876 in Wangershausen. He came to America prior to 1902. His descendants live in California and New Jersey today.

So there we have it. Two dozen Fingers coming to America from Bottendorf (or Wangershausen, or Willersdorf), all related, all descended from Samuel Finger, who was born before 1568 in Münden, and who died about 1640 in Bottendorf.

What about the origin of the name Finger? In German the name Finger has exactly the same meaning as in America. We can only surmise that some unknown, unnamed Finger ancestor had an unusual, remarkable, deformed, singular, or perhaps supernumerary digit.

I have observed that the German pronunciation of Finger is a little different than we are accustomed to in America. They pronounce it FING -'r, with a soft G. Say the word FLING, drop the L and add 'r to the end as though it were an afterthought. That's how they say it.

Once again, special thanks to:

Dr. Ulrich Stöhr
Dorfstr 8
35099 Bottendorf, Germany

He ultimately provided most of the data above, corrected the early drafts of this manuscript, and added significant new information. If you are a descendant of immigrants from Bottendorf, and have any information or old photographs to share concerning your ancestor's memories or stories about Bottendorf, I am certain Dr. Stöhr would like to hear from you.

Here is an indented descendants chart of the Fingers named above. All lines end with Fingers in America (having come directly from Bottendorf, Willersdorf, or Wangershausen). Birth years are in parentheses, unless noted. Those who stayed in America are bold.

Samuel Finger (bef. 1568 in Münden, d. abt. 1640 in Bottendorf)

      Johann Jost Finger (1610)

            Christian Finger (abt. 1637)

            .     Johannes Finger(1661)

            .     .     Johann Kurt Finger (d. abt. 1737-1749)

            .     .           Johannes Finger (1726)

            .     .                 Johannes Finger(1750)

            .     .                       Johann Daniel Finger (1785)

            .     .                             Henrich Finger (1817)

            .     .                             Johannes Finger (1808)

            .     .                                   Anna Elisabeth Finger (1835)

            .     .                                   Katharina Elisabeth Finger (1838)

            .     Nikolaus Finger (1659)

            .           Johann Daniel Finger (1686)

            .                 Johann Conrad Finger (1718)

            .                       Bernhard Finger (1744)

            .                             Johannes Finger (1772)

            .                                   Bernhard Finger (1808)

            .                                         Johann Jost Finger (1844)

            .                                               Johannes Finger (1876)

            Adam Finger (abt. 1635/1640)

                  Johannes Finger (abt. 1664/1665)

                        Adam Finger (1694)

                              Johannes Finger (1722)

                              .     Johann Adam Finger (1748)

                              .     .     Conrad Finger (1783)

                              .     .           Henrich Finger (1809)

                              .     .           .     Emanuel Finger (1840)

                              .     .           .     Hartmann Finger

                              .     .           .     Konrad Finger (1849)

                              .     .           Johannes Finger (1810)

                              .     .                 Adam Finger (1844)

                              .     .                       Konrad Finger (1873)

                              .     .                             Friedrich Finger (1904)

                              .     Konrad Finger (1756)

                              .           Johannes Finger (1792)

                              .           .     Katharina Elisabeth Finger (1827)

                              .           .     Henrich Finger (1830)

                              .           .     Henrich Michael Finger (1835)

                              .           Henrich Finger (1788)

                              .                 Michael Finger (1821)

                              .                       Jacob Finger (1846)

                              .                             Elisabeth Finger (1879)

                              .                             Anna Elisabeth Finger (1883)

                              .                             Tobias Finger (1893)

                              .                             Johannes Finger (1895)

                              .                             Ludwig Finger (1900)

                              .                             Sabine Finger (1903)

                              Johann Adam Finger (abt. 1732)

                              .     Michael Finger (1754)

                              .           Johann Adam Finger (1787)

                              .                 Johannes Finger (1825)

                              .                       Tobias Finger (1863)

                              .                       .     Henrich Finger (1890)

                              .                       .     Katharina Elisabeth (1900)

                              .                       .     Marie Finger (1903)

                              .                       .     Johann Tobias Finger (1912)

                              .                       Conrad Finger (1865)

                              Konrad Finger (1734)

                                    Christoph Finger (1758)

                                          Christoph Finger (abt. 1775/1776)

                                          .     Jacob Finger (1818)

                                          Henrich Finger (1796)

                                                Christoph Finger (1824)

                                                Johann Henrich Finger (1837)

Who can add to this chart with Fingers coming to America, perhaps from other locations in Germany?