About the Nemmers' Family

Updated: 31 August 2006

A Short History of the Nemmers, Haxmeier, Kass Family

by: Sister Mary Marcellinda, OSF

(Please note the comments at the end of this account)

The Nemmers family tree-making was begun around 1890 by Father John Nemmers (1847-1928), born in a log cabin at Saint Donatus, and pastor of Gilbertville, Iowa, for fifty-three years. The original tree appeared in "The Catholic Tribune" of Dubuque, Iowa, March 24, 1919, together with a written account of the project. It was updated in its present form by Susan Hoxmeier of Alton, Iowa, Frank Hoxmeier of Orleans, Nebraska, and Sister M. Marcellinda, OSF, of Dubuque, Iowa, in 1948. Pictures and accounts appeared in the "Sioux City Journal" in 1950, the "Des Moines Register" of March 24, 1951, and other publications. A company's magazine of 1962 included the following in its writeup:

"The Nemmers' tree shows its share of notable figures. A son of one of the western Iowa Nemmers' families was a member of Admiral Byrd's Antarctic Expedition [Jim Adams note: Clay Nemmers, son of Francis & Vera (St. Germaine) Nemmers was part of the 1946 mapping expedition with Admiral Richard E. Byrd. They mapped over a third of the continent and flew in PBM aircraft from the USS Currituck AV-7 during operation HighJump. The October 1947 National Geographic magazine gives a little information on what they did] and another, Irvin Nemmers of the Milwaukee Nemmers' branch, was featured in Ripley's "Believe It or Not" as having graduated from four universities at one time. He is now part-time Professor of Northwestern University.

Irv proudly points out that the tree lists a number of religious personages, too. Including the tree's originator, Father John Nemmers, there are eleven Catholic Priests (two of whom bear the title of Monsignor), one Jesuit, and thirty Sisters of various Orders."

Michael Nemmers was a famous Church musician publishing many of his compositions. Many others were also musically inclined. An old picture shows grandpa Henry P. Haxmeier playing a cornet, his sons Theodore and John, violins, and Peter a cello. His daughters were proficient with the accordian.

Doctors, dentists, pharmicists, artists, teachers, and many other avocations can be found among the many members of the 160-year-old tree.

Beginning with the trunk of the tree, Johann Nicolaus Nemmers was born in 1783 in Donde-Lingen, Luxembourg, and died in 1857. His wife Catherina Weber was also born there in 1785 and died in 1870. Both are buried in the southwestern section of the Saint Donatus, Iowa, cemetery, with the following inscription in German on the tombstone:

"Here rests in God the respected (the German has "ehrsame.") Johann Nicolaus Nemmers at the age of seventy-three years. He was born in Donde-Lingen, Luxembourg, and died March 7, 1857. May he rest in peace. Here rests also his devoted wife Catherina Weber, born in Donde-Lingen, Luxembourg, descended from (ancestor's names illegible on tomb stone). She died March 25, 1870. R.I.P."

More lines appear at the bottom, but due to many years of weathering much has worn away making it illegible.

On the five major branches representing the two sons and three daughters, Carolina Nemmers was born in 1827 at Donde-Lingen, Luxembourg, and died in 1869. Her husband Theodore Haxmeier was born in 1814 at Leschede, Hannover, Germany, and died in 1871. Bothe are buried in the southern part of the Saint Donatus, Iowa, cemetery tohgether with a four-year-old son, Johannes.

Of their seven children, Heinrich P. Haxmeier, a low German, was born in 1849 on the later Tony Herrig farm near Spruce Creek north of Bellevue, Iowa, not far from where he later farmed and reared a family of eleven children including Margaret Haxmeier, my mother. He had married Elizabeth Maria Gilles September 27, 1871. (Refer to license No. 473, page 150 at the Maquoketa, Iowa, Courthouse.) His wife, born in 1853, came from Luxembourg at about the age of ten to Saint Donatus, Iowa, together with her sister Frances who married Peter Hingtgen, a brother Paul who married Caterine Bourg, and another sister Margaret (twin of Frances) who married Emil Ernsdorff. Their parents were Nicholas Gilles (1820-1869) and Elizabeth Stoltz ( -1871) from Leschede, Hanover, Germany. They arrived in New York in July, 1863, and settled at Saint Donatus, Iowa, together with an influx of Luxembourgers and Germans. (See "Jackson County History," 1879, page 680.)

Henry P. and Elizabeth Gilles Haxmeier's eleven children and spouses were as follows:


Theodor 8/23/1872 11/29/1927 Catherine Welsch 1/26/1878 11/9/1961

Frances 10/19/1874 12/19/1965 Nick Ries 9/29/1857 1/17/1942

John 3/2/1876 1/15/1960 a. Mary Welsch 4/30/1881 3/28/1911
b. Susan Welsch11/3/1884

Peter 10/21/1877 12/6/1962 Elizabeth Berendes 10/19/1884 11/9/1972

Paul 1879 age 12 (kidney infection)

Susan 2/17/1881 9/14/1945 Alois Streff 1/10/1879 5/3/1957

b. Catherine 11/25/1882 7/8/1972 Henry Mangers 10/22/1877 8/11/1978
a. Lucy Gilles 8/23/1885 11/25/1926

Christina 9/8/1884 9/12/1979 John Specht 10/24/1881 10/7/1957

Margaret 3/7/1886 5/13/1953 Joseph Kass 8/9/1883 9/15/1970

Louise 12/3/1888 9/14/1979 Frank Mangers 3/8/1889 4/1/1965

Paul 5/7/1890 6/21/1952 Florence Lampe 3/27/1896

After marriage six couples settled in Nebraska where land was more plentiful and cheaper. Paul, the youngest, farmed the home place when his parents moved to Bellevue together with Catherine who later married Henry Mangers, a widower with eleven children, of Roseland, Nebraska, in 1929. She also cared for her father there until he died in March, 1931. His wife, Elizabeth, had died July 1927. Both are buried in Bellevue, Iowa, as are Theodore and Frances and spouses.

John and spouse are buried at La Motte, Iowa. The boy Paul is buried in the Spruce Creek cemetery; records were later transferred to Bellevue, Iowa. Peter, Susan, Christina, and Margaret and spouses are buried at Orleans, Nebraska. Paul is buried at Saint Donatus, Iowa.

Margaret Haxmeier, daughter of Henry P. and Elizabeth Gilles haxmeier, was born March 7, 1886, on a farm between Saint Donatus and Bellevue, Iowa, and attended the Catholic school and church at Saint Donatus as did her future husband Joseph N. Kass, a son of Nicholas and Mary Margaret Wenner Kass. He was born August 9, 1883, on the first farm directly east of Tetes des Mortes (later Saint Donatus). They were married February 6, 1907, and settled on a farm ten miles north of Orleans, Nebraska, where Alma (Sister M. Narcine, OSF) was born December 3, 1907; Regina (Sister M. Marcellinda, OSF), June 26, 1909; Lawrence, October 14, 1910; and Adolph, September 26 1912. Later they were in cattle business with Joseph Lenemman 1 1/2 miles northwest of Orleans, where Christina was born August 7, 1916. (The buildings of that place no longer exist.) Later they returned to their former place, and when the Catholic school was built in 1920, they bought a farm 1 1/2 miles north of town, where Margaret was born March 29, 1923.

After Lawrence was killed in a car accident June 21, 1931, they moved to town. In 1950 they moved to Hebron, Nebraska, where George and Christina Kass Willms and Albert and Margaret Kass Fink and families lived. The tornado of May 9, 1953, that destroyed about seventy homes, the Church property, and much of the business district, fatally injured three people including mother--Mrs. Joseph Kass--who died four days later. Dad then lived with Margaret and Christina and in a trailer. He spent his last years in a rest home at Campbell, Nebraska, where he died September 15, 1970, of an aneurysm. Both parents and Lawrence are buried at Orleans, Nebraska.

Alma Kass entered the Franciscan Convent in Dubuque, Iowa, June 22 1925, and died of an obstruction July 8, 1959.

Regina Kass entered the same order August 15, 1927, ans is still living (1981).

Adolph Kass married Eleanore Klein of Saint Joseph, Bode, Iowa, January 21, 1941. To this union nine children were born: Marjorie in 1941, William in 1943, Richard in 1946, Donald in 1947, David in 1949, Dean in 1950, Eileen in 1951, Leonard in 1953, and James in 1954. Adolph, an FAA employee, was killed in a head-on craxh while returning home from work October 13, 1971.

Christina Kass married George Willms, August 25, 1936, at Orleans, Nebraska. Their seven children are: Imelda born in 1938, Melvin in 1939, Dwaine in 1940, Joyce in 1942, Elaine in 1944, Dennis in 1945, and Eugene in 1947.

Margaret married Albert Fink, January 19, 1942. Their eleven children are: Leona born in 1942, Donna Jean in 1945, Anthony in 1946, Gerald in 1948, John in 1949, Ronald in 1951, Dale in 1953, Benjamine in 1959, Daniel in 1960, Lawrence in 1964, and Charles in 1965.

Further developments of the Kass family history are purposely omitted because a detailed account is being compiled from their origins in Luxembourg to the present time by Rebecca Rea, Box 354, Merrickville, Ontario, K0G1N0, Canada. Becky is the daughter of our cousin Regina Thome Weber 320 Parkview Drive, Box 527, Gilbertville, Iowa 50634.

This short account was compiled by Sister M. Marcellinda Kass of Mount St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa, May 30, 1981, for her nieces and nephews, and their offspring should they, too, be interested in the genealogy of their ancestors. God bless them all!

07 December 1999
I am a descendant of Emil ERNSDORFF and Margaret GILLES and have spent 11 years researching their families in the FHL films of the Luxembourg records.
Sister's account says that Margaret GILLES' parents, Nicolas GILLES and Elisabeth STOLTZ, were "from Leschede, Hanover, Germany". Both Nicolas and Elisabeth were born and married in Luxembourg, and all their children were born in Schuttrange, Lux. It is possible that they were in Leschede at the time of their emigration, but I have not found any indication that this is so.
Margaret DeForeest
mdefor at nwlink.com
You can contact Margaret via e-mail at mdefor at nwlink.com

The 1948 Nemmers family tree is available from Miss Mary Kay Leytem, 2257 Washington, Dubuque, Iowa 52001. Clay Nemmers has also made copies and may have some available.