Francis Berry- Born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany on May 6, 1796
Died in Clarence, N.Y. on June 30, 1878
Elizabeth Berry- Born in Hess-Darmstadt, Germany on July 7, 1802
Died in Clarence, N.Y. on July 7, 1878.
Francis and Elizabeth with their first son, seven year old Jacob emigrated to America in 1835. Here they had four more children- John- B. 1837, Fanny-B. 1839, Henry-B. 1842, Christian-B. 1845.
Their Great Grandson- Earl Berry told me on several occasions that the Berry name was spelled differently when Francis, Elizabeth and Jacob came to America. The German word for Berry is Beere and this was probably the original spelling. It was common practice to anglicize your name after immigration.
Also, according to Earl Berry (May 1980) Francis had been conscripted into and had served in the German Army. He wanted to come to America so his seven year old Jacob would not be required to serve in the Military as he had. In september of 2013 I emailed my Friend Axel Eichendorf in Germany to enquire as to what age he would have been conscripted and how long he would have served. His interesting reply follows-
Your ancestor was 17 by 1813, the year of the Liberation war against Napoleon, so he may have been drafted to fight for the Gloire de France. Hesse-Darmstadt was an "independent" state since 1803, when Napoleon I dissolved the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation but was closely allied as a Rheimbundstaat with Napoleon's empire. The ruler was promoted by Napoleon from Landgraf to Grand Duke in 1806. But Napoleon treated his German "allies" like mere colonies, sources of money and soldiers for his never ending wars.
Napoleon bragged to the Austrian diplomat Metternich: "My French can not complain, as I took care of them. Of the 300,000 men lost in Russia only about 30,000 were French, the rest mostly Germans, Poles, Italians and Swiss." Metternich replied: "Sire, you forget I am German!" And many of the "French" soldiers were not French at all, as Napoleon had annexed large parts of Germany and regarded the inhabitants as French. The Hessian-Darmstadt Light Infantry Regiment had suffered heavy losses during the Russian Campaign, 85%, then too. So in 1813 Francis aged 17 may have been drafted into the diminished Hessen-Darmstadt Army and forced to fight unwillingly against other Germans until after the battle of Leipzig, exactly 200 years ago today (Sept. 25, 2013) when the Grand Duchy changed sides. Francis was certainly serving during the final campaign that ended at waterloo in 1815. Most of the German States, except Prussia, then had more or less professional Armies with long time Service, at least ten years or duration of War. The conscripts were mostly drafted or pressed, second sons of the lower social classes almost sure to become soldiers.
Earl Berry told me in 1980 -when Francis and Elizabeth with their young son Jacob first came to Clarence, N.Y. in 1835 they settled in the area of Shimerville and Greiner Roads. Jacob attended a rural one room school house. During the winters it was the duty of one of the boy's to go early and get a fire started, and get the firewood ready for the day. After school a boy would stay later and prepare the firewood for the next day.
One evening after Jacob stayed late for his duties, the sun had already set and he took a shorter route home across the snow covered fields and woods. All the way home he felt that he was being followed but he could see nothing. When he got home, he told his father and the next morning they went out and looked in the snow and there they found wolf tracks. Wolves had followed him all the way home.
Earl told me that he remembered that Jacob came down for breakfast one morning and began eating when he suddenly collapsed dead in his breakfast.