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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Nathman Family

Three hundred and ninety-six passengers set sail from Antwerp on February 20, 1850, aboard the Jane Williams, bound for America and eager to build new and better lives. Among those passengers were members of Bernard Heinrich Nathman's family from Bosensell, Westfalen, Prussia. Family members included Bernard Heinrich, age 35; his pregnant wife, Francisca, age 34; his daughter, Maria Francisca, age 9; and his sons, Bernard, age 5 and Joseph, age 9 months. According to Nathman family legend, the family tried to slip another daughter, Maria Gertrude, on board as a member of another family. Authorities intervened, and Maria Gertrude had to stay in Germany with relatives. Many years later, Maria Gertrude immigrated to America with her own family.

The Jane Williams arrived in New York City on April 13, 1850. The Nathmans settled initially in St. Mary's, Elk County, Pennsylvania, where they had two children: John (b. August 1850); and Frances (b. June 1852). The family remained in Pennsylvania for about ten years before moving to Festina, Iowa.

During the Nathmans' stay in Iowa, Bernard Heinrich purchased land, Maria Gertrude was married in Germany in 1861, and Maria Francisca was married in Iowa in 1862.

Seeking opportunities and perhaps an adventure, Bernard Heinrich and his sons, Bernard and Joseph, traveled to Oregon in 1866. A photograph of Bernard Heinrich and Francisca carries the following inscription on the back: "Great Granddad Walked across Isthmus of Panama and from San Francisco to Gervais, Oregon with son B. A. Nathman." A brief account of their journey survives: "In 1866 Bernard Henry and his sons, Bernard Anthony and Joseph came to Salem, Oregon by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Bernard Henry and Joseph were dissatisfied with prospects in Salem, and returned East after a few days leaving Bernard with $20.00 cash and a position in a blacksmith shop."

By 1870 Maria Francisca and her husband, Bernard Woe, had established a home in Festina, Iowa; Bernard Anthony had settled in Gervais, Oregon; and Maria Gertrude, her husband, Anton Daldrup, and their family had immigrated to America and settled in Remsen, Iowa. The rest of the family, including Joseph, John, and Frances, had moved to Nodaway County, Missouri. In Missouri, Frances married Simon Weber in 1873, Joseph married Sophia Weber in 1874, and John married Anna Richard in 1874.

The Nathmans' primary connection to Oklahoma is through Joseph, Bernard, and Frances. According to a Ponca City newspaper, Joseph Andrew arrived in Oklahoma Territory in 1895 and purchased 160 acres about 5 miles northwest of Ponca City. He was a pioneer in Oklahoma Territory and lived to see the Twin Territories merge to become the state of Oklahoma in 1907. Joseph died in 1923, and Sophia died in 1921. Both were buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Ponca City.

Frances and Simon Weber lived in Missouri before moving with their family to Lincoln County, Oklahoma about 1903. Simon's name appears on a section of land in the Sac and Fox Indian jurisdiction in South Keokuk Township. By 1910 they had moved to McClain County. Frances and Simon had eleven children. Frances died in 1914 in Norman, and Simon died in 1917 in Kansas City, Kansas. Nathman descendants remained in the Norman area.

Charles Anthony Nathman, a descendant of Bernard Nathman of Gervais, Oregon, married Barbara Ann Mouser on June 2, 1958. Like the Nathmans, the Mousers were Oklahoma pioneers, and many of Barbara's descendants remained in the state. Charlie and Barbara raised three sons: Michael, born in Portland, Oregon; and Daniel and Steven, both born in Oklahoma City. They lived in California, Oklahoma, and Texas before retiring to their home on Tenkiller Lake near Vian that they purchased in 1974. To honor their family's immigration story, Nathman descendants decided to purchase an Oklahoma Family Tree Leaf.

Well into the twenty-first century, Nathman descendants lived in Mustang, Claremore, Tulsa, and Vian, Oklahoma.

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