George Friedrich Steinhaus

He’s my second great grandfather and probably had one of the hardest lives out of my most recent ancestors. He was born on May 5th in Strosswitz, Germany and it didn’t take too long for things to start going wrong for him. His mother, Johanna, died when he was only 19 months old, which in and of itself is terrible enough. In May of 1852, at the age of 10, he left the port city of Hamburg, Germany on his way to America. He spent three months in the ship’s steerage, and arrived in New York in July of that year, ultimately settling on a farm in Mosel, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and saw some of the bloodiest combat in the civil war. He was ultimately shot in the foot on July 1st, 1863 in the battle of Gettysburg and, after suffering an infection, lost the lower third of his right leg. Medical practices being what they were at the time, I’m sure this was a fairly horrific procedure.

He was discharged from the army in May of the following year. Three years after returning home to Wisconsin, at the age of 26, he married a German immigrant, 7 years his junior, named Marie Antoinette Wagner. They ultimately had 6 children. He worked for a while as a cigar maker before becoming a saloon keeper in Mosel, WI. He and Antonette eventually purchased 40 acres of land in the southeast corner of the township and operated a roadside hostelry and tavern on the main road between Sheboygan and Manitowoc. He died just 5 months after the birth of their last child, Walter, at the relatively young age of only 43. His death certificate lists the cause of death as a skin disease, erysipelas, also known as St. Anthony’s fire. Although easily treatable with today’s antibiotics, left unchecked this disease can lead to sepsis, which is probably what occurred with George.

76da63af-8718-4120-91c3-ba33e8ea2645   George and Marie Steinhaus3

All in all, he lived an extremely hard life. He suffered through losing his mother before he was even 2 years old, immigrating to a foreign land as a young child, losing a leg in the Civil War and ultimately dying at age 43. Thinking about the sacrifices people like him had to make often makes me much more appreciative of the life I live today.