Land of Opportunity: Leaving Maximilian I’s Tyranny, Family Arrives in New York Harbor

Tyranny forces family to leave Bavaria for the land of opportunity, but no welcoming committee greets them as they arrive in New York Harbor.

| Good Old Days

When my great-great-grandparents, Joseph Leis and Agatha Hoover, left Bavaria with their four children, Peter, 15; Agatha, 12; Adam, 8; and Paul, 4, for the land of opportunity, there was no Statue of Liberty or welcoming committee to greet them when they arrived in New York Harbor on June 29,1844. I try to imagine how they felt when they left their family and homeland, with its green countryside and beautiful Bavarian Alps. Napoleon had already left his mark on their country, proclaiming Maximilian I Joseph the first absolute monarch of Bavaria.

In America, immigration provided the human energy that would fuel the farms and factories of a growing nation. Immigrants were cheap labor for the factories and new farms blooming on the prairies of the Midwest. The family settled in Bismarck, Huron County, Ohio. Today the town is known as St. Sebastian.

Ten years after their arrival, Peter Leis married Margrate Irish, who arrived in America from Prussia. Their marriage took place in St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Bismarck, Ohio, on June 10, 1854.

To this marriage 14 children were born; six in Bismarck, and eight in Bellevue, Ohio. John, their eldest son, was my grandfather. John married Emilie Jung. The Jung family came to America via Canada.

After coming to the United States, the Jung family changed their name to Young, the English version of Jung.

The Leis family that arrived 150 years ago is only one branch of our family tree. In graveyards across the country my ancestors sleep. Joseph Leis is buried in St. Sebastian Cemetery (Bismarck) Ohio. His tombstone says:

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February 16-17, 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!