Henry Goerger / Johan Heinrich Görger

Henry Goerger
Henry Goerger
(Photo provided by Jeanne Goerger)
Catherine Lors
Catherine Goerger
(Photo provided by Carolyn Wolf and Ray Kniepmann, grandchildren of Anna Margaretha Duepmann)
Henry Goerger
(Johan Heinrich Görger)

  • Born: 1 October 1814, Westpahlia, Germany
  • Died: 16 April 1894, Clear Lake, Stearns Cty, MN
  • Parents: Arnold and Maria Görger

Catherina Kniepmann nee Lors

  • Born:
  • Died: 1893, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Parents:
Married: 5 Feb 1842, Germantown, Illinois

Note: Henry may have had a second wife. Census records from 1860 on indicate Henry's wife as "Gasina" or "Rosina". "Rosa Goerger" died on 6 MAR 1893 in St. Louis, MO, and is buried in Calvary Cemetery there.


                        | Gertrude             B. 19 AUG 1843   D.
                        | Edward               B. 18 DEC 1844   D. 20 NOV 1920. St. Cloud, MN
Henry Goerger      \    | Anna Margareta       B. 24 AUG 1850   D. 04 JUN 1911. Albers, IL
      &             }---| Mary G.              B. 05 NOV 1851   D. 01 SEP 1925. St. Louis, MO
Catherine Goerger  /    | Bernard (Barney)     B. 18 JUN 1855   D.
                        | Maria Anna Elizabeth B.    FEB 1858   D.    JAN 1861. St. Cloud, MN
                        | William F.           B.        1863   D. 08 JAN 1929. Pendleton, OR
                        | George (?)           B.               D.    (mentioned in Henry's obituary)
                        | Anna (?)             B.               D.    (mentioned in Henry's obituary)

Johann Heinrich Görger / Henry Goerger

Biography compiled by Jeanne Goerger, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota:

Johann Heinrich Görger, son of Arnold and Maria Görger, was born in Westphalia, Germany October 1, 1814. Stories of him relate how he worked on the docks in Hamburg at twelve years of age. At this same time he decided to go to America and devised several large barrels to hide in during the trip. When he was ready he hid in the barrels until into the journey when he was found out by several sailors. He made an arrangement with them to do their work for food and to keep his presence a secret. Once they reach New York harbor, the sailors smuggled him through customs onto the streets to find the way on his own.

In approximately 1837, Henry joined other Germans settling in Clinton County, Illinois near the newly formed village of Germantown. Here he married a widow, Catherine Lors Kniepmann, at St. Boniface Catholic Church on February 1, 1842. Several children were born in Germantown: Gertrude born August 19, 1943, Edward born December 18, 1844, Anna Margaretha born August 24, 1850, and Mary G. born 5 November 1851.

In 1842 Henry and a neighbor rode by horse to Chicago (a three day trip one way) to help form the first Union Stockyards. Henry raised cattle and oxen to two years for plow and wagon.

Around 1850 Henry joined Col. Wingate's wagon train and headed to California for gold. When they reached South Pass, Henry and others parted from the company to follow rumors of gold in the Columbia Gorge. Their party was hijacked, so they walked the rest of the way to Oregon. Having found no gold, they traveled to Seattle, and obtained work on a freighter going to San Francisco. They found no gold here either, so hooked up again with Col. Wingate's train and worked their way home as scouts for the wagon train. On the way there were caught in a blizzard several days ahead of their train and would have perished had not the Paiute Indians rescued and nursed them back to health. Henry returned to the gold fields some years later and did find some wealth. One example is the purchase of a large brooch that Catherine reportedly wore everywhere.

Early in 1855, Henry's family traveled by Mississippi River steamboat to Stearns County, Minnesota, homesteading near St. Cloud. He became a naturalized citizen September 18, 1860, and purchased 160 acres of land July 1, 1861. By now, other children had been born: Bernard (Barney) June 19, 1855, St. Cloud, MN; and William F. born 1863 St. Cloud, MN. Anna and George are mentioned in Henry's obituary, but other records of theie existence have not been located.

Five year old Anna Margaretha had been left with Anton and Christina Dietz in Germantown, IL, when the family migrated to Minnesota. She married Henry Duepmann and their descendants still live in the Germantown area. William migrated to Ione, Oregon, while Bernard and Edward established their lives near St. Cloud. Many of their descendants still reside in those areas. Catherine and several daughters returned to live near St. Louis, Missouri, while Henry and sons stayed near St. Cloud. Catherine ("Rosa") died in St. Louis in 1893 and is buried there in Calvary Cemetery. Henry died of dropsy at eighty years of age on April 16, 1894. He is buried at Mary Help of Christians Cemetery, St. Augusta, Minnesota.

Edd Goerger of Barney, North Dakota, also wrote a biography of Henry. While some facts are questionable, it is an interesting tale. Click HERE.

Henry became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 18, 1860, while a resident of Stearns County, Minnesota.

On July 1, 1861, Henry was granted title to 160 acres of land near St. Cloud by the Federal General Land Office. The description is:

"The East half of the Southwest quarter, and the West half of the Southeast quarter of Section Twenty-three in Township One hundred twenty-four of Range twenty-eight."

Henry Goerger (1814-1894) The following obituary was published in the St. Cloud newspaper in April 1894:

John H. Goerger, of Clear Lake, 80 years old, died at his home Monday morning of dropsy.  He was one of the earliest settlers here, coming to St. Cloud in 1855. He leaves three sons and three daughters: Ed. Goerger, St. Cloud town; Geo. Goerger, of this city; Wm. Goerger, Clear Lake; Mrs. Depman, Clinton county, Ill.; Mrs. Garlins and Miss Anna Goerger, St. Louis. The funeral takes place at St. Augusta on Wednesday.
(Notes: "Dropsy" was a swelling of the body, and would be known as Congestive Heart Failure today. "Mrs. Garlins" was Mrs. George Gerling [Mary G. Goerger]. "Mrs. Depman" was Mrs. Henry Duepmann [Anna M. Goerger].)

Henry is buried in the cemetery behind St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church at St. Augusta, Minnesota. St. Augusta is a village about 7 miles south of St. Cloud. His grave is in the southwest corner, the first one in row 3, at the base of an old pine tree.

"Rosa Goerger" died in St. Louis in 1893 and is buried there in Calvary Cemetery. There is no grave marker.

Elizabeth/Lizzie - There is reference to Lizzie Goerger in William Bell Mitchell's History of Stearns County, Minnesota, published in 1915, page 540. While not known for certain if she was a daughter of Henry and Catherine, is is believed they were the only Goerger family living in the region at the time.

TRAGEDIES. 1861. Lizzie Goerger, a little girl three years old, whose parents lived about two miles west of St. Cloud, while passing by a tub of hot water which her mother had been using in washing, one day in the early part of January, slipped and fell into the tub, being so badly scalded that after lingering for about two weeks death came to her relief.
Update, March 2004 - "Elizabeth" is one of the children listed under Henry Goerger on the 1860 Federal census, St. Cloud district. She was 3 years old on the 1860 census.

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