Gust Christian Theodor Jonas

Gust Christian Theodor Jonas (August) as listed in the 1819 Mecklenburg census was born 2 January 1817 in Kittendorf, Stavenhagen, Mecklenburg, Germany. He is the son of Jochen Friedrich and Mar. Friederike Jonas. We do not know much about his early life. He married on November 8, 1850 to Auguste Marie Sophie Schröder (Sophie), a serving girl in Kittendorf.

On 18 January 1849, Auguste Marie Sophie Schröder (Sophie), a serving girl in Kittendorf gave birth to a son. He was baptized on January 28 and named Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Theodor Schröder (Freidrich) according to the register of the Evangelical Lutheran Kirchenbuecher, Kittendorf Sulten, Mecklenberg-Schwerin. According to the testimony of Sophie at the time of the birth, Gust Jonas (August) was his father. His birth was recorded as illegitimate, later legitimized by the marriage.

Although we don’t know the exact reason Sophie was not married at the the time of Freidrich’s birth, we believe it was because of Mecklenberg rule regarding marriages. After 1820, the Mecklenbergers had a little more personal freedoms, but rules on marriage were even stricter. Marriages could not happen until the estate owner gave permission for the couple to marry. The estate owner frowned on marriage because he didn’t want any families he didn’t have work for. The man was sometimes sent off to another estate in order to separate the couple. He was required to work harder than he did before, to prove to the estate owner he could support his family. Peasants regarded their engagement as a kind of marriage without official sanction. Their children were regarded by the authorities as illegitimate until the parents were given permission to marry officially. Thus, there were a lot of “illegitimate” births recorded after 1820. The pastor, who was an employee of the state, would take the mother’s word for who the father was-the father was often entered in as unknown until the official marriage. At that time it was entered into the record that it was legitimized by the marriage.

A second child was born to August and Sophia on 16 January 1852. Johann Christian Theodor Jonas (John) was baptized 8 February 1852 according to the register of the Evangelical Lutheran Kirchenbuecher, Kittendorf.

Between 1845 and 1854, there was great upheaval in Germany. Liberal pressure was spreading. In the south and west of Germany, large assemblies and mass demonstrations took place. The people were demanding freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, arming of the people, and a national German parliament. By 1848 many states had entered into what was known as the Revolutions of 1848. Turmoil continued into 1849. A large number of liberal delegates left the Assembly, and the republicans who remained became dominant. The Assembly was forcibly disbanded by the military forces of Württemberg. The basic rights given to the citizens had also been abolished nearly everywhere.

German citizens were encouraged to immigrate to the new world. Idealized depictions of life in the new world were spread. By 1852, promises of improved standards of living, religious freedom, and freedom from compulsory military service prompted August and Sophie to join the great migration and immigrate to a better place, America.

Next: The Trip to America.

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