A copy of the following document was given to my wife who is descended from these Westendorfs.I recognize it as a family treasure and wish to share it.
Denver, Bremer County, IowaMay 31, 1938
On September 22, 1938, it will be 104 years since my mother was born, whose maiden name was Sophia Selk; my father, Frederich Westendorf was born May 26, 1835.They emigrated from Orentsee, Mecklenborg-Schwerin, Germany in company with my grandfather Deitlov Selk and my grandmother, and uncle Carl Dettmann and his wife and their daughter Louise.My grandmother and Aunt Dettmann were sisters.
They made the journey in a sailing vessel to New Orleans in about nine weeks.Then on boats up the Mississippi river and railroads to New York township, DuPage county, Illinois.They arrived at their destination in June, 1856, but their funds which they had deposited in Hamburg when they left Germany for which they took a draft, turned out to be worthless, and they never recovered any of their money.Grandfather lost about $400.00 and Uncle Dettmann about $900.00.Father sometimes said when he was talking about old times, when he came to this country he was in debt $25.00.
Grandfather and Uncle Dettmann rented a house or shanty to provide a home for their families, and they themselves found work on a railroad which was built west from Chicago about that time.Both father as well as mother hired out to farmers to earn money because they were badly in need of money to pay their debts.Later he also worked on railroads.And still later they commenced farming, renting different farms until the fall of 1865, when father bought a 60 acre farm in the northeast corner of section 8, township 91, range 12 west of the 5th PM in Maxfield township, Bremer County, Iowa.
In October, 1865, we moved to Maxfield, father in a covered wagon drawn by horses, and I remember well the wagon was rather heavily loaded; among other things there was a Kirby reaper and mower combined without the wooden parts of the platform.There were also 2 or 3 colts following the covered wagon, sometimes tied to the wagon and sometimes not.Father was on the road from the time he left home in Illinois till he got to Grandmother's home in Iowa, eleven days.When father left our old home in Illinois, an old neighbor with a buggy or a light wagon accompanied him in Illinois and some distance in Iowa, but after that neighbor had left him, father had some trouble in finding the way especially the further west he got.
I recall that dim, dusky day, the sun had set.My brother Fred and I were playing out of doors; we heard the rattle of a running wagon on the prairie some distance away, when we hollered with all our might, "Father is coming!"
Mother and the five oldest children came by train to Waverly, Iowa; thence by wagon to Grandmother's home where we all stayed the first winter.On the 60 acre farm there was a log house, maybe about 20 rods from the east section line, and maybe 40 from the north section line, now highway 3.In the spring of 1866 it was taken down, and father built a new frame house 16 x 24, one and one-half stories high with a cellar under it (on site it is now standing).
Thus father and mother were the first Westendorf's that came to the United States, and I was the first one that was born here (or came here without breeches on), as far as I know.I was born June 14, 1858, and am nearly 80.Christian Westendorf, Father's brother, and John Schuld and wife, who was Father's sister, came in the Fall of 1870.John and August came in the Fall of 1880, Joachim in the Fall of 1881.The last of Father's brothers that came to the United States was William who came in the Spring of 1883.
With the understanding that I am not a grammarian or philologist, I expect the readers of these lines will excuse the mistakes and failings found in these lines, as they were written for information only, not ornament.
(oldest son of first emigrant brother)