Friedericke Sophie Heuer
Friedericke Sophie Heuer was born on 25 September 1849 in Borntin, Kreis
Griefenberg, Pommern, Prussia (now Borzecin, Poland). Her birth was recorded
in the Goerke Evangelische Church, which served the village of Borntin.
Bertha was baptized in the Goerke church on 30 September 1849. Her sponsors
were Sophie Brockhuss Pizer from Molotow, Dorothea Weber Haise from Weflow,
and Friedrich Ruhnke from Borntin. Bertha was the sixth child and third
daughter of Johann Friedrich and Catharina Sophia Ruhnke Heuer. The Heuer
family had been living in Borntin since 1836, having moved there from
Tressin. Before that the family had lived in Kahlen and was originally from
Neides, where they had lived for more than 100 years.
When Bertha joined the Heuer family she had two sisters and three brothers.
Wilhelmine Caroline Rosaline, the oldest daughter, was fifteen and only one
month from her sixteenth birthday. Her older brothers were: August
Ferdinand, thirteen; Ferdinand Carl, nearly eleven; and Johann Friedrich,
seven and nearing his eighth birthday. Her second sister, Ernestine, was
four years old. Also living with the family was Bertha’s half-brother, Carl
Friedrich Wilhelm Heuer, born in 1829 and
nearing his twentieth birthday. Carl was the only child of their father’s
first marriage to Friederike Louise Ruhnke, her mother’s sister.
Bertha would never know her paternal grandparents, Martin and Louise Heuer,
who also lived with, or near, JohannFriedrich and Catharina Sophia in
Borntin. Grandfather Martin died on 3 April 1847, and Grandmother Louise
died the following year on 24 August 1848. Her maternal grandfather,
Christian Ruhnke, also lived with the Heuers, cared for by his daughter,
Catharina Sophia, until his death on 7 July 1850, less than a year after
Bertha was born. Carl Friedrich Wilhelm,
her half-brother, died on 20 December 1850 at the age of twenty-one. All
three grandparents and Carl were buried in the Goerke church cemetery.
Bertha’s younger sister, Augusta Marie Elizabeth, was born on 7 January
1855. She would be the last child born to Johann Friedrich and Catharina
Sophia. Later that same year, on 16 November, her oldest sister, Wilhelmine,
married Peter Bergin in the Goerke Evangelische Church.
In 1856, the Heuer family had decided to emigrate to America. Bertha was
only seven years old and could hardly have understood the vast difference
this would make in her life. The preparations, the trip to the port at
Bremen, and the voyage to America have been described in the history of her
parents. Even at her young age, the journey would have been filled with
excitement, certainly some discomforts, but most of
all, Bertha’s world was suddenly expanded beyond her dreams. She had lived
only a short distance from the Baltic Sea but may have never seen it. Now
she was on a ship that would take forty-five days to cross an ocean she had
heard the adults discussing just months before. There is no doubt that
Bertha and her family were very grateful when they reached New York City and
Castle Garden, the in-processing center on an island in the harbor, on 5