Before I continue on with the narrative of the Valentine Bier family, I want to give a brief summary of his progeny and descendants. I always appreciate a “cast of characters” summary at the beginning of a particularly confusing novel, and this is certainly confusing. Remember: you can always refer back to the Valentine Bier Descendants summary page if you ever get confused. As I’m working on my genealogy, I always like to keep a very brief family tree handy.
Johanna Jiru, taken abt. 1904
Not to spoil the surprise, but the whole family eventually made it to the United States. Also coming along with them was Catherine’s mother, Johanna JIRU. She appears in a number of family photographs and is mentioned in family diaries. No matter if everyone else is frowning in a picture, she always has a spunky grin on her face. She appears to have weighed no more than 80 pounds at any given time. Two of her sons emigrated around the same time as her daughter, Catherine, did. Their names were Frank and Florian and they both settled in Janesville, Wisconsin, as well. I hope to learn more about the Jiru family during our upcoming trip back to Bohemia this summer.
OK, now onto the rest of the family. Valentine’s parents, as previously mentioned, died in his childhood, and I don’t know about Catherine (Jiru) Bier’s father, and her mother, Johanna is accounted for. They had ten kids, and a lot of familiar Rock County names spring up amongst their descendants. Here’s a summary, so share with your friends:
Valentine Bier Family, taken abt. 1890. Back row L-R: Charles, Frank, Louis, Anna, Frances, Amalia. Seated L-R: John, Valentine, Catherine, Johanna Jiru. Kids on laps: Emily, Edward, Carrie
This portrait is a copy of a copy. It was taken about 1890, and in diaries is noted as being the first formal portrait ever created of the family. Note how Johanna Jiru’s bird-like face bears a smile! (Aside: If anyone has the original of this, I’d love a scanned copy. And, I’m always happy to share my information as well.)
Each of the kid’s story is interesting in its own right and will be summarized eventually. For now: shorthand. My goal is to give you a thumbnail sketch of each individual and highlight some descendants’ names in the hope that these families, too, might be directed to the blog. Here we go:
CAST OF CHARACTERS: THE KIDS
John A. Bier. Taken abt 1905.
1. John Bier was born in Ketzelsdorf and died in Janesville. He left home at 15 to begin working as a hired hand in order to support the family. He married Bertha SCHMIDLEY. They had three daughters whose married surnames were ROETHLE, LANNON & MCCUE.
Four generations: Johanna (?) Jiru, Catherine (Jiru) Bier, Frances (Bier) Hanauska, Mary Agnes Bier. Taken abt. 1905 in Janesville, Wisconsin
2. Frances (Bier) Hanauska was born in Ketzelsdorf and died in Wisconsin. She married Wenzel HANAUSKA. Theirs is a good example of families from the same village moving en masse and resuming life in a new location. Wenzel Hanauska’s family was from Ketzelsdorf as well. His sister, Anna Hanauska, married Catherina Jiru’s brother, Frank Jiru, and they both died in Janesville. Frances started working out of the home as a hired girl at the age of 13. Three years’ wages bought the family’s first team of horses. Frances always appears serious and somber in photos, and I imagine that a life of hard work has something to do with it. She and Wenzel had five children. Two boys carried on the Hanauska name in the area, and I went to high school with one of their descendants–Leigh Hanauska Kelz. One daughter became a nun, one remained single, and one became a GANSER.
Louis A. Bier, abt. 1905
3. Louis Bier was also born in Ketzelsdorf and died in Iowa, after farming most of his life outside of Janesville. My dad remembers him as always speaking with a thick, thick German accent, wearing a bushy mustache, and smoking a pipe. He married Frances PARR, who was also born in Austria although I need to determine which town. There are a lot of Parrs around Janesville, and people are always asking me to figure out “how we’re related to the Parrs.” Well, this is about the sum of it. Some of the names of their first generation of descendents in addition to Bier include: MUELLER, PETERS, and KORTH.
Anna (Sister Veronica) Bier
4. Anna Bier was born in Ketzelsdorf and died in Oakland, California. She joined the Little Sisters of the Poor and became Sister Veronica. She took a vow of extreme poverty, begging on the streets to support the mission, and never returned home after joining the convent.
Frank Bier, abt. 1905
5. Frank Bier was born in Ketzelsdorf and died in Iowa. He eventually gave up farming and became a railroad man. He married Mary KLEIN, who was a great friend to the girls in the family. Her family lived “in town” in Janesville. Frank and Mary had 8 children. Three of the boys became priests, and surnames found in their first generation of descendants include Bier, and RADDENBACH. Finally, I think that we can all agree that Frank’s cheekbones are ridiculous and that he is a bit of a dreamboat.
Father Charles Bier, abt. 1905
6. Charles Bier was born in Ketzelsdorf and died in Janesville. He became a priest, starting off a run of Catholic religious in the family that ended in my dad’s generation because, for some reason, neither he nor any of his cousins really seemed to enjoy the seminary all that much. Charles’s diaries, when stacked up, are over a foot thick. His commentary provides much of the color and detail that make this story so interesting.
Amalia (Bier) Bott
7. Amalia Bier was born in Ketzelsdorf and died in Wisconsin. She married James BOTT, who promptly died after the birth of their fifth child. Amalia is the one who caught smallpox as an infant prior to emigrating. Before getting married, Amalia also worked out of the home as a hired girl and traveled between the homes of her elder brothers helping to care for their wives after childbirth. In pictures of her as an old lady she always looks just done with it all, and I imagine that all told, she had a pretty rough life. In addition to one nun, the other children passed on the Bott and SHERIDAN names through marriage.
Caroline Bier, abt. 1890
8. Caroline Bier was the first of the children born in Wisconsin. She lived at home her entire life and suffered from some form of epilepsy.
Emily (Bier) Gassert
9. Emily Bier was born in Wisconsin. She married Joseph GASSERT and raised a family in Milwaukee. One of her sons was a priest and the rest of the next generation can be found under the names Gassert, MEULER, REITER. Of all of the Valentine Bier clan, Emily had the most grandchildren: 26! Despite this she always smiles benignly in her photos.
Edward A. Bier, abt. 1905
Finally, Edward Bier was the last, and was born and died in Janesville. He was born when Valentine and Catherine were both 47 and started becoming an uncle to his older siblings’ children shortly thereafter. In fact his wife, Rosalia ROETHLE was sister to one of John Bier’s daughter’s husbands. Think about that for awhile! Ed and Rosalia had 4 boys, one of whom became a priest and the rest of whom scattered Biers including my own family all over the Rock Prairie. I never met him, but he just always looks so austere in his photos!
Sooooo, that’s it. Remember, names who might be interested in this topic and should be directed accordingly include:
BIER, BOTT, GANSER, GASSERT, HANAUSKA, KLEIN, KORTH, JIRU, LANNON, MCCUEOETHLE, MEULER, MUELLER, PARR, PETERS, RADDENBACH, REITER, SCHMIDLEY, & SHERIDAN
Do any of you remember anything about any of these original ten? Please comment below!