Between the years 1850 and 1870, some 200 of the 1,500 residents of Wolfurt, Austria emigrated to the United States. Wolfurt, is located in Vorarlberg, the westernmost state of Austria. It borders three countries: Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Tyrol is the only Austrian state that shares a border with Vorarlberg. Many of the Wolfurt residents settled in or near Sandusky County, Ohio. They included families with the surnames Fischer, Flatz, Heim, Kalb, Reiner, Schneider, Dur [Dehr], Gmeiner, and Bohler.
Below is a memoir by John Gephart S[ch]neider, who came with relatives to Sandusky County, Ohio in 1853. The memoir was transcribed and provided by descendant John Fischer.
From the time I, John Gephart Sneider [also spelled Schneider], left the Old Country until the present date, March 15, 1915.
I left my old home, a village by the name of Wolfart, not far from Lake Constance, Voralberg, Tirol, on the 18th. Day of February, 1853, with my two uncles, Messrs. Flatz, and an Aunt Johanna Flatz, Martin Schwerzler, Joseph Bohler, Martin Kalb and their families. We went though Switzerland and part of Germany, and got to Antwerp, Belgium, in five days, from where we shipped for America February 28, 1853, in a sail boat by the name of Petrol, and in forty-nine days we landed in New York (April 18th). April 24th, 1853 we got to Fremont, Ohio.
My two Uncles bought forty acres of land east of Linsay. I worked for them that summer for the passage they payed for me to come to this country. In the winter of 1853 and 1854 I was trying to learn the cabinet trade by Adam Miller at Fremont, but he called me a dog, which I could not stand and left him, and went to Scott Township, and worked for Jacob Zimmerman on the farm that summer, and worked for other farmers until in the Spring of 1856.
In the Fall of 1855 I was taken with the Ague and could not get rid of it. I was told I had to change climates before I could get rid of it, so in the Spring of 1856 I went to Iowa where I had some Old Country friends. When I got to them they were ready to move to Minnasota, and they wanted me to go with them, so I did, and staid with them that summer; but they said the winters were very cold, so late in the Fall I came back to Ohio again, and went back to my old friend, Zimmerman in Scott Township. I staid with him that winter of 1856 and 1857, and done the chores for my board, and went to English school for three months.
In the Spring of 1857 Joseph Bohler and I started for Kansas, and each entered a piece of Government land at a Dollar and a Quarter an acre. In the Spring of 1859 the Gold Excitement of Pikes Peak came up; then Joe Bohler and I sold out in Kansas and made preparation to go to Pikes Peak, four in company. Each bought a yoke of cattle and wagon in company. Then we went to Leavenworth City and bought provisions for six months, then started West. As we got out a couple hundred miles we met hundreds of gold seekers coming back, who reported it was no good.
We having plenty of provisions with us, we concluded then to go to California. The five years and four months I was in California I worked in the gold mines, but I was not one of the lucky ones to strike it rich. When I went in the mines I had $150.00, and after working five years I came out with $750.00. Then in December, 1864, I started for Ohio to see my Father, Brothers and Sister whom I had not seen for nearly twelve years. My Father and Mother, with the family, came to this Country in 1859, six years after I did. My Mother died four days after she came to Fremont.
Coming back to Ohio from California, I made the trip by water, and passed through Panama about where the Panama Canal is located now. The Winter of 1864 and 1865 I made my home with Father, Brothers and Sisters in Rice Township on the farm my Brother Leonard lives on now. In the Spring of 1865 I went West again to Iowa, and worked for a railroad company, firing a construction locomotive at Two Dollars a day. If I had been a younger man, I would have learned the railroad business, but I was then in my thirtieth year, and too old to start in to become a railroad engineer. At that time they all had to start as firemen. Then at beginning of winter of 1865 and 1866 I came back again home.
On October 22d, 1866, I got married to Mary Ann Reineck, and located in Fremont for one year. I then bought six acres of ground of Flat Brush, a mile west of the Corporation of Fremont, and put buildings on it, and made that my home for forty six years. My Wife was the mother of twelve children (one died when nine weeks old; the other eleven we raised to manhood and womanhood). My dear Wife died April 24, 1908. She had been sick and ailing for over five years, and for over two years helpless. My girls and myself have taken good care of Ma. It was done for her all that could be done for a sick person.
After I was married and moved to town I went to work at Carpenter work for Mr. John Stierwalt, and worked for him twenty-seven years. Then Mr. Stierwalt quit carpenter business, and then I contracted for myself until my dear Wife died. After my dear Wife died, my younger children and I stayed and kept house at our home in Ballville Township until a year ago last July 1914 (moved July, 1913). I then sold the old home to R. W. Jackson. Since then my youngest daughter, Mary, and I have made our home in Fremont.
Birth of myself, Wife and Children: -
John Gebhard Sneider, born June 12, 1836, married to Marry Ann Reineck Oct. 22, 1866. Mary Ann Reineck Sneider, my Wife, born Nov. 10, 1847, died April 24, 1908.
There was born to us twelve children, as follows:
Balbina Susana March 31, 1868,
John Martin November 5, 1869,
Frank Joseph August 6, 1871,
Mary Josephine September 11, 1873
Eleanor October 30, 1876
Gephart August 27, 1878,
Ida Rose May 9, 1880, died July 10, 1880,
Wilhelm Oct. 15, 1881,
Johanna Adeline December 2, 1883,
Bernhard June 9, 1885,
Ann Mary June 9, 1888,
Roman Isidor March 14, 1892.