(Alternate spellings for this surname: Verheien, Verheier, Verhayen, ver Hyen)

Johann was born on 11 February 1810 in house number 108 in Hasselt, Rhineland, Prussia,* and baptized in St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Qualburg, Rhenish Prussia, (Westphalia) on the same day. He was the son of Herman Verheyen and Joanna Eva Josten. Like his father, he became a day laborer. Also like his father and his grandfather, Lambert, Johann lived in Hasselt, Rhineland, Prussia.

On 3 May 1841, Johann married Bartholomea Elizabeth Zadelaer in Materborn, Rhineland, Prussia, less than five miles from Qualburg. Their children followed shortly thereafter: Herman, born 20 March 1842; Frederick, born 22 May 1844; Margaret born 23 October 1846; and Johanna, born and baptized on 23 November 1848. All the children were baptized at St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Qualburg.

The year 1848 saw many uprisings in present-day Germany and throughout Europe. Fearing revolution, Johann emigrated in early 1849, at the age of thirty-nine, from his ancestral village to St. Louis, Missouri, according to the emigration records. Accompanying him were his wife and four children and his brother Jacob and his family: wife Johanna and their three year old daughter Helena. In addition, there were others from the same village: Jacob’s brother-in-law, Johann Verhaalen’s family (wife Johanna and their three year old daughter, Elizabeth), and the Wilhelm and Alexandra (Westermann) Well’s family: Catherina, around eleven years old, Wilhelm, age six, and Franz, age three, and the mother-in-law, Johanna (Hendricks) Westermann. All were listed on the emigration record from Qualburg destined for St. Louis.

Although their village was a few minutes’ walk from the Rhine in northern Germany and less than 100 miles from the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, they left from the port of L’Havre, France. After a voyage of fifty-three days on board the Oregon, they arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 27 April 1849. Somewhere on their trip, their youngest daughter, Johanna must have died. She is not listed on the death records in St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Qualburg nor on the arriving passenger list. The family traveled upriver to St. Louis, then to Milwaukee, where the Johann Verhaalen family settled. Then, Joahann Verheyen and his family returned to St. Louis where they settled shortly after the Great Fire, which started on 17 May 1849.

The fire destroyed many of the steamboats on the riverfront and a large part of the city by the levee. The family took part in the rebuilding of the city. Also, at this time, cholera was running rampant in St. Louis. They survived this epidemic in their first year in the city. However, according to the records at St. Joseph’s, the German Catholic Church at 11th and Biddle in St. Louis, Johann died on 14 August 1850. It must have been a devastating blow for his thirty-five-year-old wife left with three young children in a strange city larger than she had ever lived in before.

What happened to her and her children? See the biography of Bartholomea (Zadelaer) Verheyen.

*(Hasselt was a small village close to Qualburg where St. Martin’s Catholic Church was located. Qualburg was close to a larger village called Kleve/Cleve. These villages in Westphalia in northwest Germany are fewer than twenty miles from Nijmegen, in the Netherlands.)

Written by Joe Armour
February 2019
© 2019, St. Louis Genealogical Society

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Last Modified: 06-Jun-2019 11:53