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Early Settlers – Hornung Family, Windthorst, Ford County, Kansas

The surname Hornung can be found throughout the cemeteries of Holy Cross and St. John’s. They can be traced back to Andreas and Anna Marie Schafer Hornung. After the death of her husband in 1849, Anna Marie made the decision to come to America. The family arrived August 3, 1855 in New York City.

Anna Marie was born in 1807 in Germany. In 1831, Anna married Andreas (1807-1849). His death left Anna a widow with five children: Joseph (1833), Christian (1834), Dorothea (1837), Michael (1838), and Theresa (1840).

Anna made the decision to come to America and from New York settled in the “German community” of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio. Christian was skilled in the making of wagon wheels which was essential for military use. Anton and Michael volunteered to serve in the 47th OH regiment. Michael was killed in the Siege of Vicksburg (May 18, 1863-July 4, 1863) and Anton was discharged medical disability.1

After the war, jobs were difficult to come by. The building of the Santa Fe railroad had extended into Kansas and they were looking for people to buy land. The Aurora Colonization Society was formed in 1876 in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio. This led to an influx of German settlers coming to Wheatland Twp. in Ford County and establish the Windthorst community.

Anton was the first of his family to arrive in 1878. Anna Marie came out in 1884 with Christian and his family. Their family experienced the same challenges that all early pioneers faced including drought and hail which would wipe out a years’ worth of hard work.

In March of 1896, Anton Hornung was cooking his dinner, using corn stalks for fuel, on a windy day. His chimney caught fire and soon the surrounding fields were abaze. The fire burned everything in its path up to Kinsley.

Anna Marie passed away on March 3, 1887 and his buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. The descendants of Andreas and Anna Marie faced the challenges and prospered.

Note: The 47th OH regiment consisted of four companies of German speaking immigrants and six of English speaking.

1The Kansas Enrollment of Civil War Veterans states the nature of Anton’s injury. “typhoid fever resulting in injury to hearing”

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