Heinrich Christoph “Christian” Friedrich Eggers was born on September 13, 1833 in Gadebusch Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. Geadebusch is about fifty miles southwest of Dummerstorf. His parents were Juaquim Eggers and Sophia Strohkirch. Though he goes by different versions of his name throughout his life, he seems to prefer Christoff, Christ or Christian as an Americanized version.
By 1855, Christian was living in Fallingbostel, about forty-five minutes north of Hanover, Germany. In October of 1856, he traveled to Bremen to board the ship, The Mississippi. On November 3, 1856, the ship reached its destination in New Orleans. On his immigration records, Christian lists his occupation as a farmer, his last place of residence was Fallingbostel, and he claimed nativity to “Hanover”. Until the German unification as a nation in 1871, Germans claimed citizenship to the closest province to their home towns. He also said that he was specifically heading straight for St Louis, along with many of the other Germans on his ship.
1856 New Orleans Immigration Records – SS Mississippi – Christ Eggers – pg 1 (First page of the manifest giving the information of voyage.)
1856 New Orleans Immigration Records – SS Mississippi – Christ Eggers – pg 3 (Christ Eggers is listed as immigrant number 106.)
This 1852 painting by David William Moody depicts the New Orleans port of arrival which Christian arrived in.
He would have then boarded a steamship to head up the Mississippi River towards St Louis, arriving at the St Louis Landing in as little as days from his arrival in America. In the 1850′s, the St Louis Landing, as created by James Eads, was the second largest port in America, as only New York was larger. This 1857 illustration of the St Louis Landing would have been the first view of St Louis that Christian saw.
Why Christian came to St Louis, we will never know, however there were quite a few Germans who immigrated with him on the Mississippi who were also heading towards St Louis.
In August of 1861, Christian volunteered as a Union soldier in the American Civil War. His military records show that he was a private in Company F, in the 12th Regiment Missouri Infantry. They also show that he was wounded at the battle of Vicksburg, the date shown is May 22, 1863. He mustered out on September 19, 1864.
A summary of the 12th Regiments military actions tells us that based on the date on his military records (May 22, 1863), he was wounded during the second advance at Vicksburg.
He went on to become a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (“G.A.R.”) Post # 14 in Cedar Hill, Missouri. The Grand Army of the Republic, a patriotic organization, was established in 1866. Membership was open to all veterans who fought for the Union. The objective of the G.A.R. was to provide fraternity, commemoration, and assistance to its members. It promoted the establishment of soldier’s homes, as well as care and education of war orphans. It is also responsible for the establishment of Memorial Day. By 1888, there were 382 posts in Missouri and by 1893, over 500 located in nearly every part of the state.
After his discharge, he moved to the town of Oermann, now called Dittmer, Missouri, and married Lizette Dittmer on May 3, 1867 at “German Greek” in Jefferson County, Missouri. Over the next ten years, they had at five children:
- Henry Eggers (b. 1868)
- Julia Eggers (b. 1870)
- Hanna Eggers (b. 1872)
- William Eggers (b. 1875 – d. 1955)
- Ernest Detrich Eggers (b. 1877 – d. 1943)
By 1870, they are found in census records living in Meramec, Jefferson County. Their home is surrounded by Dittmer relatives of Lizette’s and on the other side by the Springmeyer family. Christian is listed as a farmer and also lists that he has become a US citizen.
Lizette died giving birth to son Ernest, on May 26, 1877, leaving Christian alone with all the children. Within the next year, Christian married Wilhelmina “Mina” Springmeyer. Mina was a child of the Springmeyer family that is shown living next door to Christian and Lizette in the 1870 census. They first show up in the 1880 census together listing Christian as being forty years old and Mina as only 22.
Christian and Mina have six more children together:
- John H Eggers (b. 1880 – d. 1973)
- Emma Eggers (b. 1882)
- Hulda Eggers (b. 1885)
- Herman Eggers (b. 1889)
- Unknown Eggers (b. approx. 1890, d. before 1900)
- Meta Eggers (b. 1893 – d. 1975)
US Federal Census Records
Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 for Heinrich Christoph Friedrich Eggers
New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945 about Christ Eggers
The Levee or Landing, St. Louis, Missouri, an 1857 illustration from Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, Boston, Massachusetts
Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 Record for Christoph Eggers
U.S., Union Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865 about Christoph Eggers
Grand Army of the Republic - Missouri Division – Index to Death Rolls 1882-1940, State Historical Society of Missouri