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Ancestors of Bernard Yahna

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This page was last updated on May 05, 2007.

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Generation No. 1

1. Bernard Edward Yahna, born April 16, 1858 in Landskron, Bohemia; died September 09, 1934 in Grand Forks ND. He was the son of 2. Ignatz Jahna and 3. Theresia Langer. He married (1) Kathryn Grun March 01, 1892 in St Henry's Catholic Church, Watertown WI. She was born December 09, 1868 in Watertown, WI, and died July 07, 1954 in Larimore, Grand Forks, ND. She was the daughter of Simon Grun and Kathina Bok.

For more about Barney Yahna and Kathryn Grun, see the Descendants of Yahna-Grun.

Generation No. 2

2. Ignatz Jahna, born November 08, 1828 in Ober Johnsdorf, Landskron, Bohemia; died October 30, 1899 in Richwood, Shields Township, Dodge County, WI.   Buried at St Henry's Cemetery, Watertown WI.  He was the son of 4. Florian Jana and 5. Anna Seifert. He married 3. Theresia Langer August 18, 1857 in Landskron, Bohemia.  However, his obituary says he married in 1859.

3. Theresia Langer, born September 08, 1831 in Ober Johnsdorf, Landskron, Bohemia; died September 17, 1904. Buried at St Henry's Cemetery, Watertown WI. She was the daughter of 6. Joseph Langer and 7. Anna Schmeiser.

Ignatz may have used the name Jana or Yahna. They were apparently all pronounced the same.

Landskron is in the present-day Czech Republic, about 110 miles NNE of Vienna and 90 miles SSW of Wroclaw Poland in Eastern Europe. As far as I can tell, it has from time-to-time been part of Austria, Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, and Moravia.  See the History of Bohemia for more information. 

Ignatz' was Naturalized into the US at the Circuit Court in Dodge County, WI at age 61, on 2/12/1890. It says he immigrated 4/1866 via New York. Though one expert, Ed Langer, says 1867 is probably correct: "He probably came with my great grandfather Johann Langer, who is probably related to Ignatz' wife."  There is an earlier Naturalization record for an "Ignatz Jannisch" in Jefferson County dated 2/22/1859, and a John Jana (from Austria) 9/11/1906 also in Jefferson County. I have not been able to establish a relation to this John Jana though.

Ignatz was from a small farm (5 acres??), #209 in the village of Ober Johnsdorf. In retirement, his father Florian lived in a house at Ober Johnsdorf 88. Theresia is from Ober Johnsdorf #125, which was a farm of maybe 25-30 acres.

One census says he was married to "Treasa", another says "Lizzie", and Sis McCabe Yahna's papers say "Mary ?"

WFT v1 or v2 has a Christina Yahna, from Grant County WI, b abt 1864 d abt 1899. No known connection to these Yahna/Jahna lines.

1872 Dodge County Gazetteer lists:

Yahnee Ignatius laborer Shields Township.

1880 WI census says Ignacious Yahney was 51 as of 6/8/1880. Parents born in Bohemia.

Ignatz' obituary, interpreted from German newspapers in Wisconsin, says Ignatz had 8 children, but there were actually 9, including Edward, who died at about 20, and is not mentioned in the obituary.

** Ignatz Yahna 1829-1899 **

One by one, the old residents disappear from our midst, so that in a few years, not one of the first generation of the German Colonists will be among us. A funeral ceremony was held at St Heinrich's Church [known as St Henry's today] yesterday [11/3/1899] Friday afternoon, for the well-known and well-liked farmer, Ignatz Yahna (or Jahna); who, after a short illness, died at his home in Richwood on Monday 10/30/1899.

Mr. Yahna, an always friendly, upright, industrious farmer, and also a persistent patron of the "World-Citizen", was born in 1828, at Landskron, Austria. When he attained his 21st year, he was drafted into the Army, and participated 1849/1850 in the siege of the Hungarian citadel, Comorn [or Komorn]. Another defender at this battle was our late Pastor DeBecke, under whose leadership St Heinrich's was built. It was here, yesterday, that all the relatives and acquaintances were assembled around the coffin of the deceased, in front of the alter.

After the surrender of the Hungarian Citadel, our Mr. Yahna joined the Vienna Military Police, and was subsequently assigned to the Austrian Army in Italy. He was permitted to take off the white coat in 1854. He married in 1859; and in 1867, with his wife and 3 children, he immigrated to America, settling near Watertown, WI to farm.

He had 8 children. Survivors are: 2 sons; Bernard at Kempton ND, and Emil of Richwood; and daughters - Mrs Annie (Thomas) Mooney of Larimore and Kempton, Mrs Mary Ott of Janesville WI, Mrs James Howard and Mrs Edward Seibel of Shields WI, and Ida and Tillie at home in Richwood.

Ignatz and Theresia have a tall worn stone with a cross on top. Here's what can be read:

Ignatz Yahna 8 November, 1828 30 October, 1889 Vater

Theresia 8 September, 1831 17 September, 1904 Mutter

The stones on either side of the above read:

Eduard Jahna died January 1, 1892 at the age of 19 years, 1 month, 20 days

Emil J. Jahna October 12, 1867-December 7, 1955

Anna M. Jahna September 23, 1874-August 12, 1948

The rest of the inscriptions for Ignatz, Theresia and Eduard appear to be Bible verses.

Note that the Anna Yahna mentioned above is not Anna Yahna Mooney, who went to ND, but rather Emil's wife, Anna.

Gertrude McCabe Yahna's papers include a note that looks like an address or partial address for Ignatz. As far as I can make out, it says:

Wohnhaft Zu Oberjohns Dorf

Em Boziske Landskron

Kris (Comitat) Chiulim

Kronland Lohman

Then it says "Perhaps Bohemia or Austria".

Ober means upper, Dorf means village, Kreis means district, and Comitat means county.

At the Mormon's Family History Library in SLC, I found an Anna Yahna in a book called "The Zajiceks", by Frank Campbell 1983. Joseph Kligora b 7/5/1842 in Bohemia married Anna Yahna (or Yanna), who was born abt 1838 in Bohemia. In 1868 they immigrated to Muscoda, Grant County WI. Her name was Jana or Janu in Bohemia. She died 8/9/1880 and is buried at the Catholic grounds in Muscoda. Children were Wencil b 1868 m Mary Meyer, Anna b1871 m Joseph Dostal, Elizabeth b1873 m Joseph Zajicek, and Marg (Margaret or Mary Ann) b 1875 m Wesley True. Perhaps this Anna was Ignatz' sister.

The Mormon's Family History Library index lists "Jana and/or Jahna" in Austria military index, film #1256456, and in Europe Films, "Yan and/or Yahna", #1256498. Johnsdorf is in Europe films 1202369 item 2, 1676837 items 5-6, and 1573090 item 3.

Shields was named after General Shields, US Senator from 3 different states. Wisconsin is Indian for "gathering of waters". Dodge was named after Henry Dodge, Governor of WI Territory. 

One census says a woman named "Lizzie," was alive in this family at the time of the census (1900?) after Ignatz' death, but if she was Ignatz wife, it is odd that his obituary does not mention her as a survivor. This census says Lizzie was born 4/1831.

Her obituary from the Sept 24, 1904 edition of the Weltbuerger: "Im alter von 72 Jahren starb am vorigen Samstag Frau Ignatz Jahna von Richwood. Sie wurde am Dienstag Vormittag nach Trauerfeier in der S. Bernhardskirche zur Erde bestattet." I interpret this to say, "At the old age of 72 years on this last Saturday, Mrs. Ignatz Jahna of Richwood. She'll be honored on Tuesday morning with funeral at St. Bernard's Church and burial."

Theresia was from Ober Johnsdorf #125, a farm of maybe 25 to 30 acres. 

Children of Ignatz Jahna and Theresia Langer are:

1 i. Bernard Edward Yahna, born April 16, 1858 in Landskron, Bohemia; died September 09, 1934 in Grand Forks ND; married Kathryn Grun March 01, 1892 in St Henry's Catholic Church, Watertown WI.

ii. Mary Yahna, born December 23, 1863 in Bohemia; died July 23, 1907; married Art Ott; born Abt. 1860.

Gertrude McCabe Yahna's papers say "Mary Yahna A. Ott"

iii. Theresa Yahna, born October 22, 1865 in Bohemia; died February 13, 1949 in Watertown WI; Burial: February 16, 1949, St Henry's Cemetery, Watertown WI; married (1) Joseph Roch July 26, 1885 in Watertown WI; born Abt. 1860; died 1896; married (2) James Howard 1898; born January 1865 in Ireland; died 1939.

Went by Tess, Tessie, or Tessa.

According to her obituary, she was a deeply religious woman, a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Richwood, and a member of the Alter Society.

iv. Emil T. Yahna, born October 17, 1867 in WI, probably Shields Township, Dodge County; died December 07, 1955; married Anna M. Weber November 25, 1902 in St Henry's Catholic Church, Watertown WI; born September 03, 1874; died August 13, 1948.  Both buried at St Henry's Cemetery, Watertown WI

v. Anna Yahna, born March 01, 1869 in near Richwood, Shields Township, Dodge County, WI; died December 23, 1943 in Larimore Hospital, Larimore, Grand Forks County, ND; Buried: December 27, 1943, Bellevue Cemetery, Larimore; married Thomas Francis Mooney January 13, 1891 in Richwood, Shields Township, Dodge County, WI; born December 04, 1861 in Owatanna, Minnesota; died August 27, 1918; Buried: Bellview Cemetery in Larimore, ND..

Tom Mooney came to Dakota in 1882 or 1883.  Annie came to ND in June 1889.   The 1st Fergus PO was 1/2 mile east of the Mooney farm building. Fisher's Postal Clerk - Stagecoach or Star Route out of Larimore.  The Fishers built a house south of the school in 1904, and equipped it as a PO station. Chris Patterson's store was also built about 1904 - east of the school. And Ole Johnson, a photographer, had a shop west of the Fisher house.

After Tom's death, Anna moved to Grand Forks, where she lived until 1938, when she moved in with her daughter, Etta.

Sue Devine-Drawz says that the Mooney's experienced hard economic times after their barn burned down a second time in the early 1900's. He was a County Commissioner at the time of his death.

From the BLM:

MOONEY THOMAS F 05 150 N 056 W 034 160 272002 PA 12582 10/22/1889

MOONEY THOMAS F 05 150 N 056 W 022 80 251101 PA 4361 05/05/1897

MOONEY THOMAS F 05 150 N 056 W 023 80 251101 PA 4361 05/05/1897

MOONEY WILLIAM 05 153 N 054 W 006 160 272002 PA 2286 07/10/1883

Occupation: Farmer, County Commissioner

Skills: Fiddler

vi. Amelia Yahna, born July 19, 1870 in Shields Township, Dodge County, WI; died February 17, 1943; Burial: Feb 20, 1943 at St. Henry's Catholic, Watertown WI; married Edward John Seibel June 28, 1898 in St. Henry Catholic Church, Watertown WI; born May 16, 1873 in Ireland; died October 05, 1951; Buried at St Henry's.

Occupation: Farmer, Seibel Farm

vii. Eduard Yahna, born November 12, 1872 in WI, probably Shields Township, Dodge County; died January 01, 1892 in Richwood, Shields Twsp, Dodge County. Buried: January 04, 1892, St. Henry's Church, Watertown WI.

Email from Cindy Saniter 11/14/97 says the grave stone for "Eduard" indicates that he died 1/1/1892 at age 19 years, 1 month, 10 days. Cindy says the stones are old and difficult to read.

The Dodge County Pioneer (newspaper) on Jan 14, 1892 includes an obit for Eduard on page 5:

Dodge County Pioneer, Thursday, 14 January 1892, page 5 (translated from German):

On New Year's Day, nineteen year old Eduard Jahna died at the home of his parents in Richwood, Town Shields, after an abdominal inflammation of several weeks duration. On Monday the 4th of January the funeral was held at St. Henry's Church in Watertown.

This was provided to me by Clare Guse via email on 7/13/2001.

viii. Matilda Yahna, born March 23, 1874 in WI, probably Shields Township, Dodge County; died 1957; married John Weix; born August 10, 1876; died May 1963.

1880 Census says Tilda.

John Weix's Soc Sec Number: WI 390-2409

ix. Ida Yahna, born August 12, 1875; died April 14, 1950; Buried: St Henry's Cemetery, Watertown WI; married Otto H. Seibel June 25, 1902 in St Henry's Catholic Church, Watertown WI; born 1875; died 1923.

Fosdal letter of 10/1/1997 says that the Watertown Daily Times 2/18/1916 states:

Mrs. Otto Seibel's nieces are Miss Clara Roche and Miss Helen Yahna. Nephew is Joseph Yahna. All of Fergus ND.

Generation No. 3

4. Florian Jana, born Abt. 1800. He married 5. Anna Seifert.

5. Anna Seifert, born Abt. 1800.

The English name John is the equivalent of Hungarian names: Janos, Jano, Jani, Jancsa, Jancsi, and Csani; and in Slovak: Jan, Janko, Janik, and Jano.  The English name Jane is the equivalent of Hungarian names: Janina, Jana, Janka, Janinka, and Januska; and in Slovak: Jana, Janka, and Jani. According to "Yahners and Others", by Michael Hayden (U. of Saskatchewan), the middle High German word "jan" meant to cut grass or grain in a row.

Child of Florian Jana and Anna Seifert is:

2 i. Ignatz Jahna, born November 08, 1828 in Ober Johnsdorf, Landskron, Bohemia; died October 30, 1899 in Richwood, Shields Township, Dodge County, WI; married Theresia Langer August 18, 1857 in Landskron, Bohemia.

6. Joseph Langer, born Abt. 1800. He married 7. Anna Schmeiser.

7. Anna Schmeiser, born Abt. 1800.

The Mormon's Family History Library in Salt Lake City lists a Joseph Langer naturalization record in Dodge County dated 10-14-1892, from Germany.

This Langer line is somehow connected to the Langer that became a US Senator from ND (or a Rep or Governor of ND).

John Jahna told me via phone (11/21/2000) that Joseph Langer was the father of William "Wild Bill" Langer, the politician and banker from ND. says on 1/31/2002 on the Langer message board: Its been awhile but I got the book that has some info for you. "Wild Bill" was from Casselton. He was born to Frank and Marry Langer. Frank was also in politics. Bill married Lydia Cady and they have four girls. Emma Lydia Mary and Cornelia.

Langer, William (1886-1959) of Wheatland, Cass County, N.Dak. Uncle of Morgan Ford. Born in Everest Township, Cass County, N.Dak., September 30, 1886. North Dakota state attorney general, 1916; Governor of North Dakota, 1932-34, 1937-39; U.S. Senator from North Dakota, 1941-59; defeated (Independent), 1938; died in office 1959. Died November 8, 1959. Interment at St. Leo's Catholic Cemetery, Casselton, N.Dak. See also: congressional biography.

LANGER, William, 1886-1959;  Senate Years of Service: 1941-1959; Party: Republican

LANGER, William, a Senator from North Dakota; born on a farm in Everest Township, near Casselton, Cass County, N.Dak., September 30, 1886; attended the rural schools; graduated from the law department of the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks in 1906 and from Columbia University, New York City in 1910; was admitted to the bar in 1911 and began practice in Mandan, N.Dak.; State’s attorney of Morton County, N.Dak., 1914-1916; moved to Bismarck, N.Dak., in 1916 and continued the practice of law; attorney general of North Dakota 1916-1920; legal adviser for Council of Defense during the First World War; unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1920; Governor of North Dakota January 1933 to July 1934, when he was removed by the State supreme court; again Governor 1937-1939; unsuccessful candidate for nomination for United States Senator in 1938; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1940; though there was an attempt to block his seating, Langer took his seat in the Senate in 1941; reelected in 1946, 1952, and again in 1958, and served from January 3, 1941, until his death in Washington, D.C., November 8, 1959; chairman, Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service (Eightieth Congress), Committee on the Judiciary (Eighty-third Congress); interment in St. Leo’s Catholic Cemetery, Casselton, N.Dak.


American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Barber, Charles M. "A Diamond in the Rough: William Langer Reexamined." North Dakota History 64 (Fall 1998: 2-18; Smith, Glenn H. Langer of North Dakota: A Study in Isolationism, 1940-1959. New York: Garland Press, 1979.

From "Rural Cass County" (husband, wife, town/township, page):

Langer, Emil Knack, Lena Casselton 200

Langer, Ernest Stangler, Beatrice Casselton 197

Langer, Frank A. Hegerm Minnie Casselton 199

Langer, Joseph Schmidt, Rosa Casselton 197

Langer, Joseph Weber, Christine Casselton 177

Langer, Joseph Jr. Zimprich, Emma Casselton 199

Langer, Joseph lll Weis, Margaret Howes 443

Langer, Julius E. Zimprich, Christine Casselton 198

Langer, Lawrence Trandsem, Cora Casselton 177

Langer, William (Bill) Cady, Lydia Casselton 177 ND Maverick

According to Don Drimmel, of Wisconsin, a Schmeiser is a catapulter.

In October 1999, I received a letter from Suzanne and Dick Hershey, 2229 Old Colony Road, York, PA 17402, (717 741-1868) regarding a Schmeiser/Smyser reunion in Germany in June of 2000. The reunion will mostly be spent in Dinkelsbuhl "a beautiful, old walled city in an area where many of the Schmeisers still live. There would be a sightseeing tour to the house where the Martin Schmeisers lived in the 15th century and a look in the church book where the Schmeisers attended in the 17th century." Also, "About 600 years ago our forefathers lived in Dinkelsbuhl. In 1731 the Smyser brothers separated from each other. The one stayed in Germany; the other one went to the New World, Philadelphia."

The following is from Laurence Smiser's web page (

Schmeißer/Smyser Family Association

The Schmeißer's as Peasants

The first record of our family, dating from 1436, is to be found in the archives of the counts, later princes, of Ottingen and is the written confirmation of the feudal tenure of "Der Schmeißer", a peasant of the Mönchsroth Cloister ln Himmelreichstall (now: Himmerstall), Frankonia. He was born in 1405 and was the beginning of a long line of flourishing Frankinian farmers. The family lived and today still lives in the area around Dinkelsbühl.

The family divided with the brothers, Hanns Schmaißer (born ca. 1510) and Wolff Schmaißer (born 1523), in the beginning of the 16th century. The two branches came together again in the 1970's after decades of intensive research by Paul Schmeiser (Mannheim). The first born son, Hanns Schmaißer, like his great-grandfather in Himmelreichstall, was the Mönchsroth Cloister's peasant in Schönbronn, while his younger brother, Wolff, became a peasant of Dinkelsbühl's Leprosenpflege St. Leonhard in Wolfhartsbronn (now: Wolfertsbronn).

Several members of the Schmeisser family were elevated into the nobility. Emperor Maximilian II appointed Ambros Schmeißer, Court Chancellor to the Archduke of Austria, Karl II, in 1570 and later consul "an der Türckhischen Porten zu Constantinopl" (1576-1582). His father, Augustin Schmeißer, had already carried a family cost-of-arms before 1530, which shows two crossed martels of a white and red background. It is spoken of as a "redendes Wappen" (speaking coat-of-arms). In 1568 and 1573, the brothers, Andreas and Hans Schmaisser, were elevated into the nobility by Emperor Maximilian II, and in 1585, Erhart Schmaißer and his cousins gained nobility through Emperor Rudolf II.

Martin Schmaißer, born on August 14, 1660 in Trieber (now: Tribur), was a descendant of the afore- mentioned Wolff Schmaißer of Wolfertsbronn. He was a subject of Dinkelsbühl and a peasant of the Dinkelsbühl Heiliggeistspital. He also managed a farm in Riegelbach which he had acquired on February 6, 1710. On May 6, 1710 he married Anna Barbara Kucher in Markt Lustenau, the daughter of the master miller Johann Georg Kucher of the Rotmühle. On April 15, 1730, Martin Schmeißer sold his property in Reigelbach for a good profit and prepared his family for the trip to the New World. The unfortunate consequences of the Thirty Years's War (1618- 1648) and especially the Palatine War of Succession (1688- 1697) in which the troops of the French king, Louis XIV, ranged far and wide over the Palatine ravaging and murdering were certainly inducement enough for emigration.

It had been scarcely 50 years since the first German immigrants had reached Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the three mast ship "Concord" (October 6, 1683), but they had obviously sent confident reports back to the old homeland so that many families decided to seek their fortunes in a new world.

Martin Schmeisser himself never reached his goal, but his widow and her children: Anna Hargaretha, 20 years old: Matthias, 16 years old; and his younger brother, Ceorg, 9 years old; set out together on the arduous journey. They embarked from Rotterdam on the British sailing ship, 'Britanha", (probably a so-called English gulleyship, a late form of the Spanish-Portuguese galleon) under Captain Michael Franklin and landed -- with a stopover in Cowes harbour on the Isle of Weight in the English Channel - on September 21, 1731 in Philadelphia. The ship was approximately 90 ft. long and brought 104 male immigrants, with 37 under 16 years old, and 81 female immigrants, with 45 under 16 years old, (a total of 267 immigrants) to America.

The 16-year old son, Matthias Schmeißer (in America: Smyser), took care of his mother and siblings alone. He developed a textile trade which was the foundation of his later fortune and to which he brought much helpful knowledge as he had learned the weaving trade. However, he turned soon to farming. He acquired on May 3, 1745 good arable land three miles West of York, Pennsylvania (the seat of the United States of America government from September 30, 1777 until June 27, 1778). The first large family reunion took place on this farm exactly one hundred years later. Meanwhile, the descendants of the immigrant family numbered 1,200. The family association was founded during this reunion. Only fourteen years after the immigration, his farm, called "Ruegelbach" after Matthias' birthplace, was approximately 500 acres.

Samuel Smyser, born October 29, 1813, was Matthias Schmeißer's great-grandson and heir to the old farm, "Ruegelbach". He also owned land west of Penn Street and south of Princess Street in York, a region called Smysertown until its incorporation into York. He sold 73 acres of this land, which belonged to West Manchestar township, in 1887 to the city of York for $ 29,300 for the building of the York Fair Grounds. The Samuel Smyser Lewis State Park, located east of York and above the Susquehanna River, carries his name.

The Schmeißer/Smyser Family Association, soon 150 years old, is blossoming again. The family reunion, already become a tradition, takes place alternately in West Germany - with an obligatory visit to Dinkelsbühl - and in the United States with an obligatory visit to York, Pennsylvania.

The next Schmeiser/Schmeißer/Smyser reunion, in Germany from July 30 until August 6, 1989, is being organized by the historian, Edwin Schmeiser (Nieder-Olm). He has already received a large number of commitments from family members, also from overseas. The Schmeiser Family Association would gladly accept any further ideas or commitments of participation for the reunion this year.

Child of Joseph Langer and Anna Schmeiser is:

3 i. Theresia Langer, born September 08, 1831 in Ober Johnsdorf, Landskron, Bohemia; died September 17, 1904; married Ignatz Jahna August 18, 1857 in Landskron, Bohemia.