Traveling in a group of 16 Wends from DRACHHAUSEN and TURNOW, this family appears to be from DISSEN, a small village between Cottbus and Drachhausen. They   go to FORT MADISON with the rest; via the “Elise” to NEW YORK CITY, arriving 16th July 1853. The name is misspelled on the ship’s roster as “Stoppuna,” though several of these letters are open to interpretation.


1.    Hans STOPURA, 41, Farmer

2.    Wife: shows as Caroline (AKA Christina), 37

3.    Christian STOPURA, 13, m

4.    Hans STOPURA, 11, m

5.    Mariana STOPURA, 7, f

6.    Christina STOPURA, 3, f


They joined and attended St. John’s Evangelical Church (today known as the United Church of Christ) in Fort Madison. It was in their records that the change in the spelling of their last name, to “STOPPER” was first observed. It is possible they grew tired of correcting people, and this was the most common way people misspelled it.


On 28th September, 1857, about four years after their arrival in Fort Madison, under the name of “John STOPPURA,” (and also signed by “Christinus STOPPURA”), a deed is recorded for purchase of the west portion lot #1080, 37.5 X 50 feet. This is an extremely small parcel. It is purchased from fellow Wend, Martin GUTKE for $125 down with a mortgage for $100, with an undefined amount of interest. It is notarized by H. F. STEMPEL.


In the 1860 Federal Census, Hans’ name shows as “George STOPURNA” and wife Caroline appears as “Christine STOPURNA” which is the name she appears to use from then on. They have a worth of $350 in real estate and $50 in other property. The children’s names are the same, but the sexes differ from the ship roster. The oldest of their 4 children does not show as living with them.


The oldest child, Christian, would have been 20 by this time, and he is not found in the family or in Fort Madison. It is not known if he is simply an adult and moved on, or if he has died. It might be that he was really a “she.” On 6 Oct 1859, a Caroline STOPURA marries Conrad Loesch, in Fort Madison, her age would appear to be the same as the missing son’s, “Christian’s,” on the ship. Caroline and Conrad have one child that has been found Maria Ida Loesch, 18 Jan 1861, in Fort Madison. Caroline could have been a female child and her name switched with Christiane, (her mother) on the ship. Perhaps she had only one child and then died. Loesch is not known to be a Wendish name.


 The other three children are still at home, son “Hans,” now know as “John” is a laborer. The youngest child Christian, (or Christina, f, on the ship) shows in the 1860 census as a “male,” and “Christian.”


1861-1865 Civil War Index Records show a John J. Stopper, AKA John “Sens” Stopper, fought in Civil War, for Company K, 16th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, as a Private. Since the military requires a middle name or initial and Wends often do not have them; perhaps he was saying "Hans” as a middle name, or “J” could have been for “Junior,” which he definitely used later.  This would be the first record found of any of the Iowa Wends serving in the Civil War. John Jr. would have been about 19 years old, in 1861.


By 1870, John Stopper Jr. has returned from war and is married to Emily Nisserzeiher.


John Sr.’s daughter, Marianne STOPPER is found married to Martin Chaume’, in the St. John’s Church books, having sons, Elmer, in 1874 and Otto in 1875, and daughters Florenza, in 1877, and Alaska, in 1879. The family is not found in the 1880 census, or 1885 Iowa census, which may be due to the unusual spelling of the name.


In the 1880 census, the names have really changed. “John STOPPER,” now 66 and Christina, now 63, live on 3rd Street, in the 4th Ward of Fort Madison. He works at the saw mill, she is keeping house; the children are gone.


Also in 1880, John STOPPER Jr. has perhaps died and his wife Emily has moved back home with her parents, Bernard and Minnie Nisserzeiher (both 55), in Washington Township, Lee County. Emily has 3 daughter’s, Clara (born 1871), Emily (born 1872), and Elsie (born 1876).


In 1885, Iowa Census, John is age 72 and Christina is 67.  They live two doors over from their life long friend Fred GULLICK and wife his, Mary MUSCHICK GULLICK in Lee County, Jefferson Township, Family #66.  Fred was an 11 year old child on the same ship when they came over, in 1853, the same age as their 11 year old son Hans, later known as John STOPPER, Jr.


In the 1910 census a 59 year old, Christian STOPPER (born about 1851), is married to Emma Halbeck, (possibly Halbash) is found in Lincoln Township, Clark County, MO; with 2 daughter’s Stella (19 year old typesetter for the newspaper) and Myrtle (16). He is a barber and has been married 29 years to Emma who has had 5 children, three of whom are still alive. They live next door to Henry Lang, another possible Wend. Frank and Barbara Halbeck, 74 & 72, live next door and are likely Emma’s parents. Their name is smudged, but the “e” appears to be a “u” and the last two letters could be “sh.”


The son that lives might be Elmer STOPPER, born 9 September 1882, in Iowa, who later lived in Missouri and Nebraska, as a hospital accountant and had one daughter, Margaret in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1915.


Additional Fort Madison Church records exist, that have not been examined at this time.


(Revised July, 28 2008)





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