(for more information see my book "I Am Justina Tubbe ")

Postcard of the village Helpenstell

These families HELPENSTELL, SEELBACH (Wilhelmina HELPENSTELL’s marriage name), KOLB and REIDER were the TUBBE'S neighbors in Nacogdoches/Texas during the first years after their immigration from Prussia. Later on they were connected by several marriages.

In 1850 Wilhelm and his sister Wilhelmine Helpenstell emigrated from their home in the tiny village HELPENSTELL. It is situated abt. 2 miles from ROSBACH, 40 miles east from BONN/ Rhine. The village is on the south bank of the SIEG river. There was no bridge so they had to cross a ford to go to the small town of Rosbach with a lutheran church and a school.

Wilhelm and Wilhelmine's father Ernst Helpenstell and his brother Heinrich H., owned a small area of land including a house. They earned their poor living by farming the extremly small spots of land and perhaps breeding some hens, pigs and a cow for family use only and might have been happy if they had enough to keep them away from starving. The ruins of the Ernst Helpenstell home were still in existence in 1999 when we visited it again with Sarah Tubbe who is a Helpenstell and also a Seelbach descendant.

The late forties of the 19th century brought about severe misharvest and starvation. People sometimes took straw from their own roofs to feed their only pig on. The Helpenstells, after both of their parents' death, applied for permission to emigrate with the authorities in Sept.1849. Probably they then were unable to sell their property, because everybody could himself call lucky if he was able to buy a bread. So they took off one year later in fall 1850 with only 400 Thaler (Sailing passage cost 80 Thaler per head).

There is a family saga telling that on board (perhaps of the Rhine steamer ?) they met the two KOLB-families who had in hands a letter from Texas from their brothers-in-law Henry and William REIDER, telling about free land over there in Texas.

Info about the REIDER brothers : In the US at least Henry REIDER changed his family name into RIDER. Both brothers came to the US with the "ADELSVEREIN" in fall 1845 already and settled in Fredericksburg/Tx in the first winter after the town had been founded. They were comrades with Gerhard ROEHRIG, who built a home in Main Street which today is wellknown as historic "Loeffler-Weber House". Henry and William owned some land. Henry was a soldier in the Fort Scott Martin next to Fredericksburg for some time and later went to Nacogdoches.

Having seen this letter the HELPENSTELLs on the spot decided to not go to Pensylvania as initially planned where Wilhelmina's sweetheart was already waiting for her. Instead they embarked on the sailing ship "ISIS" going from Rotterdam to New Orleans. They settled in Union Spring north of Nacogdoches city next to the county border. Wilhelm changed his name into ‘Willem’ = William. He married and donated land for the HELPENSTELL cemetery, where his first son Henry was buried in 1861, so was Martha, the second child of August and Mary TUBBE, in 1864.

Information for genealogists

Sources :

Lutheran church books in ROSBACH/Sieg river,
microfilms in the Central Church Archive in BRUEHL/Rhine),
civil records in Dattenfeld, land records in Siegburg,
emigration files, Main Archive Nordrhein-Westfalen in Duesseldorf
family sagas in Texas given by Pat Marshall and others.

History : Helpenstell village belonged to the Dukedom BERG until 1806.
In 1806 the French Emperor Napoleon I occupied the whole region which in
1815 became Western part of the Kingdom of Prussia (Rhine province) and in
1871 part of the German Empire.
Today Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany)
State : Nordrhein-Westfalen
Both the village of Helpenstell and the little town Rosbach today belong to the community D 51570 Windeck

IMPORTANT hint: Everybody wanting to do genealogical research in this part of Germany really should be aware of a very special custom there in 16th, 17th and 18th century : Literally every boy got "Johann" resp. "Johannes" as his first given name. This solely seems to be a sign of lutheran belief was not the name somebody was known by.
As to the spelling of names there was no fixed orthography at all in those days. Instead the pastors wrote down the given names the way they heard them, ERNST or ERNEST, KATHARINA, CATHRIN or CATHRINA...who cares ? On top the variety of given names was very, very restricted. So very frequently you will come across several persons with identical names and you may only hold them apart by looking at their parents' names and the villages they came from - a specialty of that region not really facilitating any kind of research...

In the very early days people were known only by their given names. Family names developed not before the 15th century or later. In the Helpenstell area family names came into use even not before 17th cty. This means that the Helpenstell family took over the name of the Helpenstell village they were living in and never left this place.

The old German handwriting is hard to read espeacially on microfilms. Though the original church books are not for public use we double-checked the entries of "our" Helpenstell family in the actual old tomes.

There were some more Helpenstell families living in that area, but their connection to "our" Helpenstell line is unknown.

Data of the emigrants' family

The emigrant's father :
Joh. Ernst HELPENSTELL (known as "Ernst" )
brother to Heinrich HELPENSTELL in Helpenstell
*25.Dec.1774 + 6.Mar.1836 (60 years) in Helpenstell
1.oo 27.Aug.1802 oo Else Marie Heuser . *abt. 1772 +30.July 1815
Children :
1) Anna Katharina HELPENSTELL *23.June 1810
2) Gerhard H. * Sept.19, 1814 +6.Dec. 1816
2.oo 26.Nov. 1815 Anna Catharina DUTZER
* 10.Jul.1787 in Saal, + 8.Jan.1848 in Helpenstell
(her parents : Johann Wilhelm DUTZER & Anna Maria HIMMEROTHER
of Saal, poor farmer)
Their children :
3) Joh. Wilhelm HELPENSTELL *16.Sept.1816, emigrated 1850, see above for more information
4) Joh. Peter Helpenstell * 21.Oct. 1818 +25.Nov.1821
5) Wilhelmina HELPENSTELL *24. Aug.1821, emigrated 1850, see above for more information
6) Katharina Helpenstell *12. Sept.1823 +15.Mar.1825
Immigrant's grandparents :
Rohrich HELPENSTELL in Helpenstell
oo 21.Sep.1768 Agnesa Catharina HUNDENBORN
For more info about their ancestors see my book "I am Justina Tubbe".

Uncle to "our" Wilhelm and Wilhelmina was Heinrich HELPENSTELL * abt.1778, also a poor farmer in Helpenstell,
married before 1810 to M.K.KLAAS (or CLAAS).
They had at least four children :
1) J. Wilhelm HELPENSTELL * 1812, conf. 1823
2) Maria Cath. HELPENSTELL *1813
3) Elsa Cath. Wilhelmina HELPENSTELL *1818, conf. 1833
4) Anna Kath. Henrietta H.* 1822-24

The immigrant's life and descendants

Some descendants of the Wilhelm HELPENSTELL & Mary E.EVERETT family

Wilhelm HELPENSTELL was born Sept.16,1816 in Helpenstell, Kingdom of Prussia (Rhine province), was confirmed in the lutheran church of Rosbach in 1830, he died 23. May 1894 in Nacogdoches Co./Tx. and was buried on the Helpenstell Cemetery, Nacogdoches,Tx.

He emigrated from the village of Helpenstell in 1850 together with his sister Wilhelmina, and went to Texas on board the S.S. "ISIS" going from Rotterdam to New Orleans in fall 1850. He married 21.Nov.1858 Mary Elizabeth EVERETT (*1/1829 + 10.Febr. 1900)
She was a widowed CAROLL and had 2 children :
Sarah A. CARROLL * 1848 +1882 and William F. 'Bud' CARROLL *1854 +1943

The Helpenstell-Everett couple had 7 children :
1) John Helpenstell *28.Sept.1859 + 21.Apr.1920
2) Henry Helpenstell *16.June1861 + 8/1861 ---This was first grave to be put up on the Helpenstell Cemetery.
3) Mary Jane Helpenstell * 21July 1865 +1896
4) Josephine Helpenstell *June 21/1865 + 15.Dec. 1923
5) Albert Helpenstell *11.July 1867 +1.May 1936
                              1.) Albert Frank 2nd
                                                            1.)Albert Frank 3rd *14.Jun1958 oo Debra *18.Jul1961
                                                                                          a.)Lee Ann *21.Jul.1979 oo Brandon Bailey *21.Jul1979
                                                                                          b.) Jeffery Frank *3.Jun1981
                              2.) Eugene +
                              3.) Arlene oo McFarland lives in Lufkin
6) Emma Helpenstell *16. April 1869 + 6.June 1943 oo Thomas E. PHILLIPS
7) Edward Helpenstell *1.April 1871 +15. June 1956
oo 1891 M. Eliz. MATLOCK *1875 +1952
5 Children :
1) James 'Bee' Helpenstell *1895
2) Myrtle Helpenstell *1891
3) Hattie Helpenstell * 1894
4) John D.'Dee' Helpenstell *9. March 1902, oo Gladys Thelma MORROW
(Gladys' grandmother was Christina SEELBACH)
5 children :
1) Edward HELPENSTELL *1924
2) Thelma *1925
3) Llewyn 'Pat' *1924 oo MARSHALL
4) Alice Faye *1933
5) Bessie Lou Emma *1934

Some descendants of the Wilhelmine SEELBACH-HELPENSTELL & Bill SEELBACH family

More info about Wilhelmine HELPENSTELL >>>see Wilhelm HELPENSTELL, above, too
* 24.Aug.1821in Helpenstell, 1835 confirmed in Rosbach church,
+ 4.Feb.1902 in Nac., buried on the Helpenstell Cemetery

When in 1850 she decided to emigrate together with her brother she was still unmarried.
For her parents and grandparents look up her brother Wilhelm (above).
She married in Nacogdoches :
oo 14.May 1858 Wilhelm 'Bill' SEELBACH, *14.Sept.1833 in BIRKENBEUL, small village abt.10 miles south from Helpenstell,
                                                                      +14.Jul.1918 in Nacogdoches, buried on the Helpenstell Cemetery
They had 3 children :
1.) John William'Will' SEELBACH *3.May 1859 +16.Oct.1950
oo 1888 Levinia HAMILTON *5.Dec.1850 + 3.Feb.1962, 7 children
2.) Sarah Elizabeth SEELBACH *28.3.1861 in Lynn Flat +1936, Lacyville, Nac.Co.
1.oo 28.Jan.1880 John Robert WINGATE *1848 + 28.Jan.1902
2.oo of Sarah S.oo 1905 Thomas Hollis FOOTE
1 child : Ruby Wilhelmina FOOTE
6 children : 1.) John Wilhelm Wingate *1881 +8 months old
2.) Walter B.E. WINGATE*7.Apr. 1883 + 4.Oct.1957
          oo 1914 Stella Mae HOLBROOK
1.) John Wilhelm WINGATE *1915 +1989 oo Alberta Mary PENALBER
2.) Stephen Leon WINGATE *1916 oo Nona CHANDLER *1938
4 ch.: Jerry Leon, John Walter; Sandra Elaine, Miles Allen
3.) Beuna Mae WINGATE 1920 + 1991 Baytown /Tx
oo 1937 Thomas Oliver HILL* 2.Mar.1910 + 1.Aug.1985
5 children :
1.) Sarah Beth HILL * 15.Jul.1938 oo 1959 John August TUBBE *10.Sept.1937
1 child: Tamberley 24.Jan1961 oo 1989 Thomas BROWN
2 ch.: Thomas Von August BROWN *23.Oct.1992
         Alexandra Regan *4.May 1995
2.) James Edward HILL *1941 +1975
oo 1963 Barbara Jean BRAY, 1 ch.: John Luke
3.) Walter Oliver HILL *1943 oo1966 Edna Ann STEWARD
2 ch : John Walter HILL * 4.Feb.1973,
         Michael James *1.Jul.1775
4.) Jackson Hardeman HILL *1945
oo Deanne Debra DAILY, 1 ch.: Dawn Cherie
5.) Stella Dianne HILL *1949 oo 1983 Bruce Courrtney GREEN
4.) H.Ernest Alwin WINGATE oo 1942 Dorothy Juanita SELF ,
8 children : Gene Alvin WINGATE, William Walter W., Dale Alwin W., Mary Jane W., Gayla Joyce W.,
                 Cyntia Ann W., Dorothy Marie W., David Wayne W.
3.) Noah Kee WINGATE oo Ina Ethel BOATMAN
4.) Etta Lorena WINGATE oo Frank TILLIS
5.) Mae Pamela WINGATE oo Iva Estell MAYES

Map of the land owned by the Helpenstells in Western Province of Prussia :

For questions or additional infos please mail

GiselaLaudi  (provider)

HOME English        Home German