It was about two years ago that I first learned I am a descendant of Martin Tornow.Since then I have been doing research (as time permits) on the history of the Dodge County, Wisconsin Tornow family.This is what I can share with you.
Martin Tornow was born March 18, 1815 in a place called Manschnow.In 1815 Manschnow was in the Brandenburg region of the Kingdom of Prussia.Today it is in eastern Germany and is approximately 40 miles east, southeast of Berlin and about five miles west of the Oder River.I know nothing of his early life other than he married and had two children before migrating to the United States.His wife had the surname Herker and may have been from a neighboring village called Sofienthal.She is most frequently referred to as Anne, but sometimes she is also called Sophia.Where the couple lived after their marriage is unknown.The first child of Martin and Anne was a daughter named Mary who was probably born in 1840.Their second child was a son named Friederich who was born August 21, 1847.An obituary for Friederich says his birthplace was Stettin which suggests that the family may have spent some time across the Oder River from Manschnow in the Pomeranian region of Prussia.
In late 1847, the family decided to migrate to America.They arrived in the Port of New York in May 1848.From there they travelled west to Dodge County in Wisconsin and established a homestead close to the unincorporated settlement called Lebanon.It was here that Anne gave birth to a second daughter, Sophia, in 1850.In 1853, Anne’s sister and brother-in-law (Asa and Michael Rohr) came to the United States and also settled in Dodge County.The two families acquired adjacent parcels of land in Hustisford Township and built their family farms side by side.Unfortunately, Anne was not able to enjoy the close proximity of her sister for very long.It is thought that she died in 1854, but the cause of her death is unknown and her burial site is uncertain.
After the death of Anne, Martin remarried a widow by the name of Friedericke Lehmann-Zache.Another property adjacent to the Tornow farm was owned by a Lehmann.Martin probably met Friedericke through his acquaintance with this neighbor.Friedericke brought to her marriage with Martin two children from her previous marriage:Louise (who took on the name Tornow and lived on the Tornow farm) and Fred (who retained the name Zache and apparently did not live on the Tornow farm). OfMartin’s children from his previous marriage, Friederich stayed with his father and step-mother, Sophia went to live with her Aunt Asa Rohr, and no further mention is found of Mary.Martin and Friedericke went on to have four more children together:Henry (September 26, 1855-1937), Lewis (born 1857), and twins August and Augusta (born in 1859).
As Martin grew older, he passed the farm on to his oldest son Friederich. While Friederich assumed responsibility for management of the farm, Martin and Friedericke continued to live there in retirement until each of them died: Martin on April 15, 1898 and Friedericke on February 16, 1905. Both are buried in the Lehmann Cemetery in Hustisford Township.Son Friederich remained on the farm until his death on July 22, 1915.He and his two wives and two of his children are also buried in the Lehmann Cemetery. Descendants of Friederich continued to work the Tornow farm until the early 1950’s.