Ernst Albert Bernhard Sielaff, emigrant
Since the middle of the 19th century, a lot of people have emigranted from pomerania, also from the district of Schlawe and the village of Altschlawe. The most inhabitants, who left their homeland to the USA or other countries overseas, are known by name. But always their further live is unknown, because today there is no contact between the descendants of the emigrants and the descendants of their relatives who were remained in the homeland. Only sometimes information excits and one of these cases is the lifestory of the emigrant Ernst A. B. Sielaff.
The following articel was send by John M. Liitschwager, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
The following is from a book "A Genealogical Survey of the Sielaff and
Sieloff Families in the United States", prepared in 1983 by a William C.
"Ernst Sielaff is one of our members at St. Paul's church in German
Born December 4, 1895, Ernst Albert Bernhard Sielaff was the youngest of
14 sons born to Ferdinand and Augusta Kuhl Sielaff. His birthplace, a
farmer's village near the Baltic Sea in Alt Schlawe, Pommern, Germany
now belongs to Poland.
'My father built our six-room house of clay, which dried hard. The
walls were about 15 inches thick and the rye straw roof was eight inches
thick. They started putting the straw on the bottom edge and tied it
down and smoothed it off so it was slick all the way to the peak. A
roof like this would last for many years unless a mold started. If one
did start, we would try to remove it before it did any damage.'
Ernst was baptized as a baby in the Lutheran church in their farmers'
village, a group of homes occupied by farm families with the farm land
surrounding the village. At age six, he started his eight years of
grade school. Subjects were reading, math and religion. Because
Sielaffs moved to a village without a church when Ernst was seven, he
walked five miles to a neighboring village for his confirmation
instruction. 'We met with the minister twice a week for a year before
we were confirmed in 1909.'
'At 16 I decided to go to business school wherre I studied shorthand,
typing and bookkeeping. Later I worked for Siemans Stadt, a big
electrical firm still located in Berlin, but on December 1, 1914, I had
to go into the army.'
Ernst served from 1914 to 1918 and while hospitalized in Germany was
awarded the Iron Cross medal. After World War I, Ernst returned to work
at Siemans for two years. Then from 1920-1923, he was employed by a
firm that made brakes for railroads. During this time, he started
thinking about coming to America because of Germany's problems with
'I had three uncles --Reinholdt, Charlie, and Fred Sielaff -- living in
America. One of their friends, John Geffe, made a return visit to
Germany and my uncles sent pictures, but no addresses, with him to give
to us. It was after this that I decided to write to Whitehall
(Wisconsin) and ask about my uncles. A fellow I knew translated my
letter into English, I type it and mailed it to police headquarters.
Later I learned Whitehall had only a constable, but he took my letter to
my uncle Reinholdt. He answered by writing me that if I was willing to
work, I could find a job. He then sent me a ticket and a 25 dollar
certified check which I later learned I could not cash until I arrived
"The 80,000 ton steamer, a German ship given to England for war
reparation, left Southampton, England, in September, 1923. with Ernst
aboard. After a seven-day trip, they arrived in New York.
'Each of us went through inspections and then was given a large ticket
telling the train conductors where we were going because we couldn't
speak English. I boarded a train for Chicago and in Chicago boarded
another going to Merrillan. At one depot we stopped for lunch and I had
apple pie. This was the first pie I tasted and it was so good I quickly
got another piece. I stayed overnight in Merrilan before taking a train
to Whitehall. That morning for breakfast I didn't know how to order so
I just pointed to another man's plate. He had eggs and corn flakes but
I'd never had corn flakes before so I ate them dry.'
Ernst stayed with the Carl Schaefers (now the Harland Schaefer farm) the
first months. At this time he joined St. Paul's church where Rev.
Arthur Hanke was pastor.
On July 23, 1924 Ernst wed Clara Knudtson, local, in Louisville,
Kentucky. Their first home was a farm three miles southwest of our
church where they lived until 1942 when they purchased the small farm
neighboring our parsonage. Ernst was the accountant for Gunderson
Chevrolet (Dealer for Chevrolet Automobiles) for 10 years, retiring in
1961. In 1972 they sold this farm and moved to Brookside Apartments,
Whitehall where Ernst still resides (as of 1980).
Ernst's family includes one son, Ernst of Phoenix, Arizona, three
grandsons and on greatgrandson. His wife died in May 1979.
Ernst enjoys good health; he bowls with two teams and also cares for
four colonies of honey bees. May Ernst continue to enjoy our Lord's
P.S.: Ernst A. B. Sielaff died on March 24th, 1995 in Phoenix, Arizona