Foerster Family History

Documenting the Ancestors and Descendants of JOHN PETER FOERSTER, born in Hesson, Ont., Canada on Dec. 12, 1866; died on Nov. 22, 1915, in Evanston, IL; and ROSE KATHERINE SCHMITZ, born in Chicago, IL on Feb. 6, 1871; died on January 6, 1950, in Chicago, IL. MARRIED on May 10, 1892, in Chicago, Illinois.


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Foerster Family History

Narrative recollection of ancestry for John Peter Foerster family prepared by Urban Michael (Trey) Foerster


This family history was researched and written by Marie Foerster and Urban M. Foerster III, the daughter and great-grandson of John Peter Foerster.    It could not have been accomplished, however, without the help of Canadian cousins (Colette Cassel, Mary Letcher, and others) who supplied first-hand information, newspaper clippings, etc.   We are indebted to them, and we wish to express our appreciation.


The roots of the Cornelius Foerster Family can be traced to Muetzenich, West Germany. (Note: The German name is Mutzenich — with an umlaut over the u.)      It is located immediately north­east of Monschau and southwest of Simmerath on the present Belgian border.    It is located in an area which probably was a "swing region" over the centuries, fluctuating between the various lands of Europe, including France and Prussia.

As far back as can be traced/at this date (July 1, 1986) our family roots are traceable to Cornelius Foerster, who was married to Catherine Brandenburg, and whose profession was a farmer in Muetzenich at house #32.    Their close friends included Nicholas Classen and Arnold Lentzen, both farmers.    This information was supplied by the birth registration of Peter Joseph Foerster, who was born on March 16, 1811, at 3 P.M.   This birth certificate is important in that it was Peter Joseph, with his sons, John Mathias and Peter Michael, who emigrated to Canada and thus established this branch of the Foerster family in North America.

According to German sources, there are two little townships that carry the name "Muetzenich." The first is a little village nearly one mile to the German-Belgian border.   The next well-known town is Monschau in the Eifel.    The second place is a very little village in the upper Snow Eifel, nearly two miles to the German-Belgian border.    It consists of only houses, and you can find it only on special maps.    (This is information from birth records supplied by West German government sources.) There is little doubt as" to which Muetzenich our forefathers came from.

What is known about Peter Joseph Foerster— let it be noted that, according to Marie Foerster, she was told that her grandfather's name was Peter John, based upon records Ted and Madeline Foerster got in Canada in 1950.    Let it be further noted that birth documents secured through West German authorities cite Peter Joseph as the one who married Anna Maria Erkens on November 24, 1837, in Imgenbroich, a village due west of Muetzenich.    Anna Maria was born on January 12, 1806, in Muetzenich.    Together they begat five children (all spelled as received from German state birth records):  Gertrud (May 15, 1839), Johannes (Nov„ 11, 1840), Peter Michael (Dec. 16, 1841), Anna Maria (July 15, 1843), Anna (June 13, 1845) and Catherina (Dec.15, 1846).


Concerning the name of Peter Joseph (John), Colette Foerster Cassel together with Marie Foerster have insisted it was Peter John,.    As Marie relates: "First of all, it looks as though my great-grandfather's name was Peter John, not Joseph, as indicated in our history.    I do not know where Ted and Madeline got the name Joseph when they indicated that in the records they obtained in 1950, but the records (and Colette's memory) seem to indicate pretty clearly that his name was Peter John.    It seems logical, too, from the standpoint that his two sons were named Peter and John."

According to Colette Foerster Cassel:    "The most significant information is that our great-grandfather’s name was not Joseph, as indicated in our family history, but Peter John, and that he was married to a lady whose name was Ludwig.    I have checked the bible, written in Peter John's own handwriting, as well as the family record written by Peter Michael, and the name of Joseph was not indicated„   So, I would assume that Peter John is correct."   Note: Colette later wrote that she could find no record of a "Ludwig," and she is satisfied that "Erkins" is the right name — and she suggested that we drop the name "Ludwig" from our history.



It can safely be assumed that the emigration to Canada happened between the years 1846-1849.    In Malcom McBeth's "Mornington & Its Pioneers" (1933), in relating the history of St.  Mary's Parish in Hesson, Ontario, John Foerster was a hymn-chanter, along with George Stemmler, "away back in the forties."   Mention of this came before the paragraph beginning "towards the close of the forties."

Why had these Germans emigrated from their country?   Well, at the time of their emigration (1837-50), Prussia was in control of Westphalia, as the region was called.    Westphalia was created by Napoleon for his brother.    It was comprised of parts of the German States of Hesse-Cassel, Brunswick, Hildesheim, Paderborn, Holberstadt, Osnabruck, Minden, etc.  In 1813 and 1814 Westphalia was divided and returned to the former owners.    Hesse-Cassel was absorbed by Prussia in 1866; Brunswick in 1884; Hildesheim (a bishopric) in 1903; Paderborn (also a bishopric) in 1903. Osnabruck was absorbed by Hanover in 1903.

One of the German States that was absorbed by Prussia was Aachen, the city under which rule Muetzenich probably came.    Aachen is located in the Rhineland and was the reputed birthplace of Charlemagne and served as the imperial coronation city of the Holy Roman Empire for 700 years.    The area was made part of France in 1801 and then came under Prussian control in 1815.

According to Fr. Albert Ruetz, C.R.  (Son of John Ruetz, the brother of Suzanna Ruetz Foerster in turn a descendent of Peter Ritz mentioned in chronicled histories) cited stories related to him by his maternal grandmother Hoffarth:

"She told us all kinds of horrible stories of superstitious beliefs and wars.   The war stories she got from her husband, Conrad, talking about his war experience.    This is the main reason why the men migrated to this country.    If they had remained in Germany, they would have been forced into the army."

Based on a 1950 study entitled "Germany – 200 Years" by Kurt P. Reinhardt (Bruce - Publishing Co.), there might have been reasons other than war to leave Germany.

"The peaceful years that followed the Napoleonic wars witnessed a rapid increase of the German population.   At the end of the 18th century the German-speaking lands counted approximately 20-million people, but by the end of the 19th century this figure had more than trebled. This astounding phenomenon is partly explained by diminishing infant mortality and the prolongation of human life brought about by the advances in medicine, public and personal hygiene, techno­logical science, and, generally speaking, by a much greater stability and security of living conditions.    (The State) had appreciated the working capacity of its subjects without being greatly concerned about their social well-being.   This frequently resulted in growing desti­tution among large sections of the rural and urban populations, and this in turn led to occasional waves of mass emigrations to the New World."


Based on the Canadian Mornington Twp. 1861 census, Peter Joseph (John) was 50 years old in the year of the census, thus placing his birth in 1811, which coincides with the West German sources. His wife Anna (Anne in the census) was 55 years old in 1861, thus making her birth year 1806, also agreeing with the West German sources.    This means that Peter Joseph (John) was 30, Anna 35, when Peter Michael was born in 1841.      In using the family records, and with Catherina being born in December 1846 in Muetzenich, it can be assumed that the emigration most probably took place late in 1847 or in 1848.



Hesson, Ontario (1837-47)

The original settlers of Hesson were George and Carlina Stemmler, who left Rotenberg, Germany, in 1837.   They crossed the Atlantic in 40 days with Mr. and Mas. Andrew Biesinger and Mrs. Joseph Letscuss.    They had only §14 in their pockets.

At that time there was a Gorman settlement near the present city of Kitchener (New German District).   When they arrived they worked in the German settlement near Berlin with the harvest. In the fall the group traveled westward to a place east of Macton, where they rented a log cabin for the winter.    That winter, in Mornington Township, the group cleared land and built a log cabin.    By spring, and after a "fierce fight" with other settlers who tried to prevent their settlement by tearing down the houses, three log structures were erected.    Thus, by the spring of 1838, Bethlehem was founded.   The town later changed to Hesson, after a Conservative Member of Parliament who promised during his campaign that, if elected, he would get Bethlehem a post office.    To show gratitude for his service, the people of Bethlehem renamed the settle­ment Hesson.

According to the aforementioned "Mornington & Its Pioneers," it was John Mack, the first school teacher, who is credited with suggesting the name "Bethlehem" because the Settlement was the most neglected and the least among the principalities of the London diocese.    It should also be mentioned that some settlers offered the name "Habenicht," meaning "have nothing."

The first mention of a Foerster in "Mornington £ Its Pioneers" is under the entry for Andrew Biesinger:

"Andrew Biesinger and wife settled on Lot 11, Concession 12, in 1847, when the whole country­side was a wild and uninhabited stretch of virgin forest.   Andrew Biesinger, George Stemmler, Peter John Foerster, Anthony Haid, Peter Ritz (Ruetz), Joseph Veitenheimer, and Walter Gohl were the men through whose instrumentality the Roman Catholic Separate School and St. Mary's Parish were established.    The first inhabitants of the Hesson district passed through a long period of penury, but latterly their efforts have been crowned with success, and the community has become one of peace and plenty."

The final mention of the Foersters in the aforementioned book is under the heading of "St. Mary Parish, Hesson"


"Away back in the forties, in the days when Stratford had received its first Episcopal visit in the person of Rt. Rev. D. Power, Bishop of Kingston, and when the Mornington sun failed to penetrate the virgin forests of Mother Earth, George Stemmler and Andrew Biesinger, like another son of old, led their families from Rotenberg, Germany, far across the Atlantic and settled in the low lands of North Mornington.    There they lived alone, like Japheth of Old at Joppa.    During those early days the people were without a priest to serve them.    Later they found a little colony of co-religionists from their native land.   The "Gebet-Stund” or “Prayer Hour” was begun by Andrew Biesinger.    On Sundays and holy days during the Advent and Lenten seasons, he called the faithful to the little chapel annexed to their log cabin school by the ringing of a little bell — an office he held until his death — then going to the altar built by Joseph Veitenheimer, upon which was placed a crucifix and two lighted tapers, he knelt and prayed aloud beginning with the Rosary.    This was followed by the Litany of the Saints of the Cross.   The Prayer Hour was brought to a close by the reading of the Epistle or the Gospel, which was preceded by and ended with a hymn, the chanters being George Stemmler and John Foerster, who were assisted by the entire congregation."

According to Colette Foerster Cassel:    "Peter John (Joseph) and other settlers in Hesson paid the Crown $1 for 100 acres of virgin forest, with the understanding that they would spend at least six months every year on the land and eventually clear off the virgin forest. They built a log cabin on "that land, and I know that my grandfather, John Matthias, was born there, so it is fair to assume that all of the children of Peter John, including Peter Michael, were born there.   The brick or stone house that was built on that farm is still there (1984) and it was occupied until about 1950 by the family of John M. and Mary Haid Foerster.    It was remodeled by Cecil Haid, its present owner, but the original brick house is still there, having been covered by aluminum siding.

"The first school in Hesson dates back to 1859 or perhaps earlier.    It was a public school, with John Mack, a private non-Catholic, as teacher.   During the pastorate of Rev. Francis Breitkopf, C.R. from" 1871-81, the Separate School was built when five trustees were elected. They were George Stemmler, Andrew Biesinger, Peter John Foerster, Anthony Haid, and Peter Ruetz."



Hesson, Ontario — (1848-60)


Nothing specific is recorded in this time frame.

According to Marie Foerster, the children of John Foerster were born and raised there, as well as most of his grandchildren.    They were visited often by members of the John Peter Foerster family, and Marie recalls many happy days spent on the farms of relatives up there. There are only two descendants of the John Matthias family living in Hesson as of June, 1987: Alban Kocher, son of Anna Foerster, and Lloyd Cassel, son of Colette.    However, most of their families are living in nearby towns, and mail for Hesson is now sent to them via the post office in Listowel.

Hesson, Ontario — (1861-1900)

First mention of the Foersters in Mornington Township was in the 1861 census.   At that time the family lived in a one-story log house on 100 acres.    The "Foster" family, as it was written in the census, consisted of Peter, age 50, Anne (wife) 55, John, 19; Michael, 18, and Catherine, 14.


A total of 24 acres were cultivated, with 20 acres under crops in 1860.   There were 76 acres described as "wild."   The farm had a value of $600; their three-year-old horse was valued at $150; and the rest of the livestock was worth $180.    Among their possessions at the time of the census were: "15 acres of spring wheat (200 bushels); 1 acre peas (30 bushels); ± acre oats (30 bushels); half-acre potatoes (20 bushels); 2 acres turnips (300 bushels); 1 ton hay; 4 pounds of wool; 50 pounds of maple sugar; two bulls or oxen over 3 years; two steers or heifers under 3 years; two milk cows; six sheep; six pigs; and, two barrels (200 pounds) pork."

According to the 1863 directory for the township, Peter and John "Ferster" were listed as co-owners of Concession 13, Lot 11.    In 1863, Peter M.  "Ferster" is noted as a "householder" of Concession 12, Lot 12.    In 1870, that "householder" became a "freeholder," perhaps indicat­ing that the land was held free and clear.    So, between 1867 and 1870, the Foersters presum­ably had clear title to Concession 12, Lot 12.

In the census of 1871, there were two "Ferster" families listed.    The first was headed by Ann M., age 65, “widow;" and others listed as:  John, 30 "laborer", Maria, 22, Anthony, 21. By this we can conclude that Peter had died between 1869—71.    The second family was headed by Peter M. 29, "school teacher;" and others listed as Susan, 30; John 4, Henry 2, Peter M. 4/12 (4 mos.).


According to Colette:    "Great-grandfather Peter John died before his wife.   They are buried in St. Clements.    Peter Michael and Suzanna Foerster are buried in Deemarton, northwest of Hesson.    Many Foersters are buried in the churchyard cemetery in Hesson."

The directory of 1878 cited John Foerster    as a farmer occupying 100 acres, Concession 13, Lot 11, at Carthage.    Peter M. Foerster was listed as a farmer leasing 96 acres, Concession 12, lot 18, in Dorking.    By 1882, P.M.  "Ferster" was the freeholder of Concession 13, Lot 11, in Carthage.   John remained the freeholder of his property in the 1885 directory.    However, in that year Peter M. Foerster was cited as the tenant of Concession 12, lot 17, in Hesson. In 1888 the only Foerster listed is John, who occupied Concession 13, Lot 11, in Hesson as a freeholder.

According to Marie, Peter Michael was the first teacher in the country school in Tralee, and the red school house is still standing, but was occupied by a family in 1983. Her father, John Peter Foerster, also taught in this school before he came to Chicago.

In the 1901 directory, there were three Foersters listed:    Anthony, John, and J.M., all as freeholders of Concession 13, Lot 11, in Hesson.    Colette and all of her family were born on a farm west of and adjacent to the original 100 acres, her parents, Anthony and Mary Haid Foerster, having settled there when they were married.    Colette relates: 


"I can remember the first" log cabin where by great-grandmother died — in a bed that had four posters, with a white curtain at the top and around the bottom of the bed, and the door had a broken porcelain knob."   She was referring to the log cabin which was sited at Concession 13, Lot 11.    It is interesting to note that she also makes mention of a Christian Foerster on Concession 5, Lot 14.    This is the only mention of a Christian Foerster in the family records.

In 1924 there were three Foersters listed as freeholders of the same property.    A. Foerster, John Foerster, and Mrs. M. Foerster — the latter being John's wife, the grandmother of Colette Foerster Cassel — and all were located in Britton R.R. 1, then the post office for Hesson.    The last researched directory, conducted in 1931, cites Anthony, John and Mrs. Mary Foerster as freeholders in Concession 13, Lot 11, in Britton R.R. 1.


In 1983 the only two remaining descendants of John Joseph Foerster residing in Hesson were Alban Kocher and Lloyd Cassel.   Alban is the son of Annie Foerster Keener, the daughter of John M. Foerster, who lived on the farm in Hesson until he died.    Lloyd Cassel, who also lives in Hesson and has a huge dairy farm, is the son of Colette Foerster Cassel and grand­son of Anthony Foerster; great-grandson of the original John M.

Marie Foerster states:    "I visited the original farm and was invited into the house, which is now owned and occupied by the family of Cecil Haid.    It had been completely remodeled, but it was very familiar to me because of the many happy days I spent there as a child and in later years.   They retained the walls of the brick house, which had replaced the log cabin in which my father and his brothers and sister were born, and they covered the walls with aluminum siding.    They replaced the earthen cellar with a cement basement, and they destroyed the old kitchen and "summer kitchen," as well as the small "outhouses," pig pen, etc.    Two wells which stood in front of the house had been filled in.    Immediately I recognized that the new modern, all-electric, kitchen had originally been the dining room; that two small bedrooms on the first floor had been converted into their living room, the old parlor converted to a TV room, and another bedroom is now a very modern bathroom.    I did not go upstairs to see the bedrooms, but I could recall vividly how we had carried oil lamps when we went up to bed — and who could forget the chamber pots under the beds, the washstands, etc.

"I had thought that the entire 100 acres had been cleared of virgin forest, but that is not so. I remarked that I could see trees at the back of the 100 acres, and the Haid girl told me that there are still 12 acres of the original bush, as they called it.


































Catherine Foerster (No information about her)

 Mary Foerster — Married Joseph Kreutz

Gertrude Foerster — Married Joseph Kreger and moved to Erie, Pa.

 Anna Foerster — Married Frank Hessel and moved to Remus, Michigan

John Matthias Foerster — Married Mary Heid and lived in Hesson, Ont.

Peter Michael Foerster — Married Suzanna Ruetz and lived in Hesson, Ont.




Children of JOHN MATTHIAS FOERSTER, born Nov. 5, 1840, married on Feb. 8, 1869 to MARY HAID, born March 4, 1849.


Anthony Foerster, born Oct. 22, 1869

Mary Ann Foerster, born July 9, 1871

John Foerster, born April 8, 1874

Teresia Foerster, born July 15, 1876

Catherine Foerster, born June 28, 1879

Annie Foerster, born April 21, 1883

Ludwina Foerster, born July 2, 1885

Olive Foerster, born May 14, 1888




Children of PETER MICHAEL FOERSTER born Dec. 16, 1841; died July 12, 1909 and SUZANNA RUETZ born Nov.10, 1840; died March30, 1896.  Married In St, Clements, Ontario, on January 31. 1865.


Peter Joseph — Born 12/4/186B; died 12/16/1865

John Peter — Born 12/12/1866) died 11/22/1915

Married Rose Catherine Schmitz, born 2/6/1871; died 1/6/1950

Henry — Born 2/6/1869; died 4/9/1923 Married Anna Meyer

Peter M. — Born 11/14/1870; died?? — Married Susan Schwartz

Francis — Born 2/18/72; died 6/13/1931 Married Catherine Schmidt

Annie Maggie — Born 1/4/1875; died 8/18/1875

Joseph — Born 1/6/1876; died 5/21/1943 Married Myrtle Riggs

John Matthias Andrew — Born 3/6/1879; died 11/9/1939 Married Linda Ballou

Maury Ann — Born 8/19/1881, 3/14/1922 Married Michael Griffin

Nicholas — Born 4/30/1884, died??

James born 1/24/183&, died??



Owner of originalUrban Michael (Trey) Foerster
Linked toFamily: FOERSTER/SCHMITZ (F8)

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