52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #2: Jacob Heinrich Mueller

Jacob Heinrich Mueller is my 4th great grandfather on my mother’s side.  He was born in Darmstadt, Germany in 1798 to John George Mueller and Anna Maria Rhutz (1800-1844).  He immigrated to America in 1828 and settled in St. Clair County, Illinois. He was employed as a blacksmith after he arrived in St. Clair County. Jacob married Mary Margaret Weber in 1832 in St. Clair County.  Together, they had at least one child, John Jacob, my 3rd great grandfather. Jacob Heinrich died on September 6, 1870 in St. Louis, Missouri.  

I love finding out about ancestors who helped settle different parts of America, especially close to where I now live. Jacob Mueller is one of those ancestors.  He arrived in New Orleans in 1828 with two friends.  

As the family stories go, he and his friends (one was the brother of his would-be wife) walked along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River from New Orleans all the way to where they settled in Illinois … St. Clair County … just east of St. Louis, MO.  I live about 2 hours from St. Clair County.     

Can you imagine that adventure?! That’s about 670 miles by highway today … and almost 2 weeks of walking nonstop, 24-7.  It’s amazing what we’re capable of! 

Jacob and his two friends were among the very first (some resources say the first) German settlers in this area … and more followed soon after.  The German influence is heavy in this part of the state, even today. Towns bear German names or were named after settlers’ homes. Businesses bear the last names of the German settlers. Foods we were raised on are a fusion of traditional German and items that were readily available at the time.  Even wine from our older wineries and vineyards bears an uncanny resemblance to what I drank while in Germany a year ago.  In some places, traditional German architecture is still visible.  

Honestly, I don’t know much about Jacob Heinrich other than some dates, what I’ve gleaned from historical writings of the area and, of course, family stories.  He is, however, one of my ancestors I would like to have known.  Anyone or any family who can withstand what he did to get from Germany to Southern Illinois comes from hearty stock … and I’m certainly proud to call this stock my own!  

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