From Germany to Ohio in the 1820s
Jacob Link was born November 28, 1825*, in Wuerttemberg, Germany. His parents were probably Mennonite. In his second year, they took Jacob and emigrated by ship and wagon to the Ohio River Valley of the United States. He had at least one sibling, a brother named Christian who later married and settled in the Kent, Ohio area.*
Jacob grew up in Mahoning County, Ohio, which today is dominated by Youngstown. In the year 2000 census, Youngstown had a population of 83,026. In 1860, Youngstown was home to about 5,300 persons.
Jacob married Elizabeth Fishel on October 29, 1846*, a Thursday. Elizabeth had been born in Columbiana County, Ohio* in 1829, although there are family trees showing her born in Pennsylvania. The 1870 census, almost certainly based on first-hand reports from the family, showed Elizabeth born in Ohio, so the Columbiana County birthplace is likely correct. Columbiana County is also directly below Mahoning County where Jacob lived. Elizabeth's parents, were both from Pennsylvania.
Jacob and Elizabeth had eight children:
Infant B: 1847 D: 1847
Susannah "Susan" B: 4 May 1849 D: 1911
Anna "Mary" B: February 1851 D: 10 May 1872
George B: 1853 D: 18 June 1870
Margaret B: 12 February 1857 D: 17 April 1921
Melissa Jane B: 1859 D: 27 February 1862
Emma B: 1864 D: 12 May 1872
Charles Ulysses B: 19 January 1869 D: 20 December 1938
MENNONITE AND AMISH COUNTRY IN NORTHERN INDIANA
No records of service in the War Between the States have appeared for Jacob. In 1860, he was listed in the census at family home in Greene Township with the occupation of "farmer." There were apparently no children born into the family between 1859 and 1864, the approximate period of the war. This could have been for any number of reasons, including the uncertainty of the times or simple preference. Following the Civil War's conclusion in 1865, the couple was ready to undertake major changes in their lives and moved to the northern Indiana county of Elkhart to start a new life there.
The area of Indiana they moved to was home to many Mennonite and Amish emigrants from Germany, so it is possible there was a connection either through church or friendship that attracted them. Many other Mennonite families that had emigrated to Ohio from Germany also moved further west at this time, a trend of the expanding nation. There were often opportunities available for industrious families closer to the frontier where towns were being built and wooded areas cleared for farmland. Jacob and Elizabeth purchased or more likely established a farm between two small Indiana villages, Nappanee and Wakarusa.
Both Nappanee and Wakarusa remain small towns today. Jacob and Elizabeth attended Holdeman Mennonite Church, four miles from their farm home just outside Wakarusa. The church, founded in 1851, continues today.
The last of Jacob and Elizabeth's children was Charles Ulysses Link and the only child born in Indiana. Born on January 19, 1869, the Ulysses used as his middle name was in honor of the Union general voted in as President of the United States that year, Ulysses S. Grant.
Just five months and seven days after Charles' birth, the country was joined for the first time ever by the Overland Route, a transcontinental railway linking the Central Pacific Railway coming up from Sacramento through the Sierra Nevadas and the Union Pacific which had forged west from Omaha. The nation was shrinking, and travel across it suddenly became a matter of days rather than months.
For more of Charles Ulysses Link's story, click here.