Indentured, Great-Grandmother Thrives in Land of Opportunity

Unfortunate start in land of opportunity leads woman, formerly indentured servant, to find her own way.

| Good Old Days

Elizabeth Shearer Hartzel, my great-grandmother on my father's side, was born March 27, 1836, in Hesser, Germany. She had to be a strong person; she came to the United States alone, because she was to be indentured to a couple who wanted a maid. While she was on the boat to the United States, the husband of the couple who had sponsored her died. When she arrived, the deceased man's widow could not keep her.

She somehow got to Erie, Pennsylvania, where she married and lived.

I was about 2 when she died. I'm not sure whether I actually remember her or whether I just remember pictures of her and what members of our family have told me. She died September 4, 1926.

Arlene Futrell
Stokes, North Carolina

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 



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