THE STORY OF CATHERINE LINK HERRON (CLARK)
Let’s begin our story with Catherine’s (or Katie’s or Grandma Clark’s) parents, Jacob and Anna Link, who were born and married in a small village in the province of Wurttemburg, the southwest part of Germany. Alsace and France were to the west, Switzerland to the south and Bavaria to the east. To quote Catherine “on a clear day we could see the Swiss Alps, 60 miles away.” Where might that little village be? After 104 years, how different?
This we know, Jacob and Anna were born in 1810 and 1812. In 1854 they had a family of six or seven children.
Anna 16 married Henry Martin, Rochester, New York
Barbara 14 married Christian Effinger, Buffalo, N.Y.
Catherine 12 (June 11, 1842) married George Herron, Cayuga, Ontario and Mich.
Jake 8 Married Dorothy Mino, Cayuga, Ontario (Farm)
John 6 Married Ellen Wilson, Grand Is., in Niagara, R.
Mary married Christian Limberg, Grocer, Buffalo
Martin (born in Canada ?) married two wives, (Wilson), Grand Island, Niagara R.
Two years earlier there had been a mass migration of Germans to the United States, Canada and South America. This was in the days of the Iron Chancellor, Herr Von Bismarck when Prussian domination was at its height and military conscription started at age 14.
Jacob Link worked for his brother, a master stone mason, and as was and is the custom, people lived in villages but owned about an acre of land outside of town. As new babies came to the Link family a goat was added to the family possessions and hitched with the cow were used to plow the garden plot, which also contained fruit trees. Catherine used to tell of delicious sweitzkins (plums or prunes). The mother, Anna, and children raised the food for the family. They tended geese and ducks from which the feather beds were made.
The elder children attended school and learned their catechism and learned to read. They were of the Lutheran faith but had not been confirmed. The school may have been a church school.
However, as the boys, eight and six years old, were approaching military age, the family and other relatives, including a brother, Martin and family, decided to sell their home and come to the New World. They gathered their finest possessions, including their bedding, and went by train to Le Havre, France. They booked passage on a sailing vessel and spent 51 days blowing to and fro and finally landed in Montreal. Most of their possessions, including their feather beds, they were forced to leave at Le Havre. The family spent almost three months desperately ill and seasick on shipboard. Food was bought from the steamship company and cooked on braziers. Jacob was the only one well enough to cook it.
Perhaps the steamship company helped them secure land. At any rate, they settled near Cayuga, Ontario in Haldimand County on 100 acres of land, twenty-five miles south of Hamilton, and a few miles north of Lake Erie. They lived in a German community and “attended a German Evangelical (Efangalish) church”. Catherine, a big girl of 12, speaking only German, went to school and was put in a class with six-year olds. She attended only two weeks and quit, never to go back.
They built a log cabin, cleared some land, and eventually probably hauled wheat six miles to Cayuga to be ground into flour. Their cabin was on the River Road not far from the Grand River, a wide beautiful stream. Cayuga today has 747 people and according to natives “is about the same as always”.
Catherine told of a visit to the uncle who came from Germany with them. Uncle Martin Link and family lived five or six miles south, nearer Lake Erie. She told of eating bread baked in an outdoor oven, huge loaves as big as the circle one’s arms could make. One slice, she was sure, would suffice but the feathery whiteness and crustiness was so delicious that she ate two.
Before Catherine was married at 19 she earned her clothes by going out to spin for a dollar a pound.
Some of the girls in the neighborhood went it to Buffalo, about 40 miles to the east, to do housework where they found German churches and communities and husbands. Catherine’s three brothers and herself married neighborhood young people, but three sisters married “outsiders”.
Jacob, doubtless, ordered his family’s life. He saw to it that most of his family married other German boys and girls. In later years Jacob became a rather shrewd cattle buyer. In the winter he shaved shingles. Hand-made “shakes” required very sharp tools and from years of turning a grindstone for her husband, Anna developed a large tumor on her shoulder which at her death “broke and filled her body with a green fluid”.
Ten or more years before they died Jacob and Anna moved to Buffalo and lived near and under the watchful eye of a daughter, Mary Limberg. Jacob and Anna lived to be 85 and 88 years of age, dying in 1895 and 1900. After her husband’s death Anna lived with Mary Limberg in Buffalo. In August 1900, Kate Herron Clark (Catherine) and her daughter, Estella Herron Cochrane, hastened to the sickbed of Anna only to find that she had been buried three days.
In June 1958, after 58 years, Estella Cochrane with her daughter returned to Cayuga and a little crossroad place called Kohler. The store had stood for decades. Behind it is a school, “not the original one”. Nearby is a church since 1897. To the east is a Lutheran Community, a few miles from Kohler. The Kohler church, however, is Evangelical. A Kohlerite said, “Our religion is here”, as he pointed to his heart. He may have meant that it was not dogmatic.
In the early church history there were three “classes” in different neighborhoods which met in the homes and were served by a traveling clergyman. One class, the “hinter” class may have taken in the Senior Jacob Link family, as hinter means back and the River Road was back country.
Some years later in the time of Jake Link, Jr., a church was held in the Kohler store uniting the three “classes”. Curtains were pulled down over the shelves, chairs and altar set up and services held. Jake Link, Jake Kohler, and Jake Nablo took the lead in establishing the “store” church. In 1897 the transfer was made to the present brick church.
In 1958 many fifth generation families of Links live on substantial farms. The land is clay. Crops are hay, grain, corn, and cattle. “I never sold a load of manure in my life,” said one farmer proudly. The houses are large brick with modern kitchen and bath. The barns are big red symbols of prosperity. Some houses have built-on apartments for a son and family. It is a community that suggests continuity and frugal comfort and love of the land.
Only one son of Anna and Jacob Link, Jake, Jr., lived and died in the home community. Now, perhaps a thousand descendants are scattered over the United States and Canada.
This chapter is included in the original booklet printed by Lorraine Cochrane Mains that included the other three stories/chapters about Catherine Link Herron that are included in this web site. It was not included in the Wilderness Chronicle series. I know of only one extant copy belonging to my aunt, Kay LaCombe. I have copied it verbatim (within the limits of my typing). I believe this booklet was written in 1958. However, the more consistent tone of the other three chapters indicate that they may have been rewritten several times. This chapter seems to be less polished and more draft-like.
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