Matilda Elisabeth Draeger Kinsel

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of Matilda, but I wanted to continue my occasional blog series featuring some of my ancestors and their stories and she is an interesting one to me.

Matilda Elisabeth Draeger was born in Germany 13 Oct 1839.  As of right now, I don’t know where she was born, who her parents are or much about her life until she married Johann Gottfried Kinsel in 1860 at age 21. 

However, the internets have directed me to a book written by an englishman that was published in 1842 that describes “The Rural and Domestic Life of Germany“.  He paints a picture of small German villages being a lively and interesting place.  He describes how many of the houses have arched dorways and several are painted with bright colors and vines trained up the sides. Women gather at centeral fountains to gather water and gossip.


He describes young German girls of the time like this “The children are odd little objects; thick, well fed and with plenty of hair, in German fashion; the little girls, in bodices which seemed ready to burst with plumpness with their hair in tails. The larger having their tails hanging down theeir backs and the smaller, having theirs brought from the sides of their heads in hanging bows to their ears over which they pass. Most of them were without shoes and stockings.”

On 20 May 1872, Matilda and Gottfried and what appears to be their 6 (!) children  and 448 other passsengers boarded the ship Celestial Empire in Bremen, Germany to join the first wave of German immigrants migrating to the American midwest- in their case, Ohio.


After about 8 weeks of travel, they arrived in New York on 15 July 1872.  And according to the captian, the voyage was not easy. I found a description from the Captains log of this particular voyage (!) and he described it “… have had but 8 dry days during the entire passage; has had 1 birth and 14 deaths…”.  

Matilda and Gottfried settled in Benton, Ottawa County Ohio.  She lived there until her death on 30 Dec. 1922.  When I have more time, maybe I’ll start a “part 2” to cover her life in the U.S.

April 7, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.