August Salefski was my recently found 2nd Great Grand Uncle. In my post, Finding Minnie Salefski Kurtz's brother, I outlined how I was able to find her brother from just the few words in Minnie's obituary which stated, "and a brother in Wisconsin".
The more genealogy research I do the more I am intrigued about why people move or how they end up where they do. It is easy to say that our ancestors left the "old country" for a better life in America, but how bad was their life and what did they really expect when they came here? Most got off the boat in NYC and then went straight to somewhere else.
August Salefski and his wife Charlotte Salefski and daughter Augusta disembarked on November 9, 1883 and identified their destination was Connellsville, PA.
But why Connellsville, PA?
Most likely, August and his family moved to Connellsville upon arrival in the US, because his two sisters (Mary and Minnie) and brother-in-law (August Kurtz) already lived there and communicated back to him the opportunities he could find there. His brother-in-law, August Kurtz, worked as a coal miner. Connellsville, PA was a major coal mining center in the US at that time. It is likely that August Salefski found employment in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania.
August and Charlotte Korth Salefski had at least three addition children while living in Connellsville; Mary (1884), Frederick (1890) and Edward (1892). However, by 1900 they don't show up on the US Census records for living in Pennsylvania, but they can be found living in Hamburg, Wisconsin.
But why move from Connellsville, where August was surrounded by family for a move of 800 miles to Wisconsin?
While I haven't been able to find any family stories or documentation on why August moved his family to Wisconsin, I think I have been able to find some clues.
In 1893, the US experienced the greatest depression it had ever experienced up until that time. It was known as the Panic of 1893 and it resulted in wide spread unemployment and saw large numbers of business close as well as runs on banks across the country.
This led to civil unrest as workers many workers were striking at their jobs to force employers to provide them wage increases. In April 1894, the coal miner's union called for a strike that lasted for 8 weeks. It included 180,000 coal miners from across the country. In Uniontown, PA (very close to Connellsville), it turned violent as 1,500 striking coal miners fought with guards which resulted in 5 deaths (all striking coal miners). If August was working as a coal miner at this time, he was probably striking or out of work. At the very least, he had seen his wages fall making it difficult to support his family.
August Salefski and his family attended the St. John's German Lutheran Church in Connellsville. In 1893 they received a new pastor, Reverend Philip Lamartine. He was distressed about how badly the economic conditions were for many of the poor in his congregation and proposed that they gather up all who were willing and go with him to Wisconsin. An article in the Daily Courier (Connellsville) (St. John's Church Will Observe 55th Birthday Sunday - 7/29/1926) stated that about 1/3 of the congregation went with him. According to the Philadelphia Biological Seminary Record, pg 123, Rev, Lamartine led a group of 600 people to live in Wisconsin.
In appears they founded the small Wisconsin town of Hamburg.
August worked the land as a farmer in his new home. There is no indication that he ever returned to Connellsville, PA and until I had contacted some of his descendants, it doesn't appear that they knew they had relatives which lived in Pennsylvania.