Bertha Friedericke Sophie Heuer

Bertha 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 June 1857.