Sophia (Ross) Pottgen: Alton, Illinois and St. Louis

I recently found out what Sophia’s maiden name was and who her parents were.  This sparked my interest in her even more and so I continued to concentrate my limited research time on her.

I found a wonderful website for the Illinois Regional Archives Depository and learned that they had her probate records.  I called and ordered them (along with a couple of other records pertaining to my Thornton line who lived in this area) and much to my surprise, they arrived just a few short days later!  I was very happy with their quick and friendly service.

Here is what I have pieced together on Sophia Ross Pottgen so far:

Abt. 1813: She is born in Germany to Frederic Ross and Sophia Ketterhoff.

18 Feb 1835:   She marries Francis Pottgen in St. Louis, Missouri.

30 July 1836: Her daughter Louisa Mary Pottgen is born in Alton, Illinois.  (I descend through this line.)

Abt. 1838: A son, Francis Pottgen is born.

1840: Living in Alton, Illinois.

Abt. 1843: A son, Henry Pottgen is born in IL.

Abt. 1846: A daughter, Catherine (Kate) is born.

Abt. 1848: A son, Joseph is born.

13 Dec 1849: Her father, Frederic Ross dies in St. Louis, MO.

20 Nov 1850: Living in Alton, Illinois with her husband and children.

Abt. 1851: A daughter, Sophia is born.

1853: Her husband Francis dies.

22 Jun 1860: Her children are living with a Peter Pattkin in Alton, Illinois.  She is not living with them.

29 Oct 1863: Her son, Henry dies of chronic diarrhea after having served in the Civil War.

22 Jul 1864: An affidavit is signed by an Utten Smith and James Burns for her widow’s pension.  They state that they have known her for 10 years and that for the 5 years previous to his death, Henry Pottgen was the only support of his mother, Sophia.

14 Jun 1865:  James Thornton signed an affidavit for the Civil War Mother’s Pension of Sophia Pottgen.  He said that he received money from Henry Pottgen for Sophia while Henry was in the service of the U.S. and that for several years previous to Henry’s service, James looked after and was familiar with all the interests and affairs of Sophia and Henry Pottgen.  James was Sophia’s son-in-law.

20 Jun 1865: She received a mother’s pension of $8 a month.

9 Jun 1870: She was living in Alton, Illinois with her son Joseph Pottgen.

27 Oct 1874: She writes a will, as follows:

Know all men by these presents That I Sophia Pottgen of the City of Alton County of Madison and State of Illinois being weak in body but of sound mind and memory do make ordain and establish this to be my last will and testament hereby revoking all others and I do hereby appoint James Thornton of the City of Alton County Madison and State of Illinois to be the Executor of this my last will and testament.

First  It is my will that all my Just debts be paid.

Second. After the payment of all my Just debts and funeral expenses I ordain and desire that my real estate being Lot Seven Block twenty in Pope and others Addition be sold at public or private sale as my executor may desire best.

Third. I give and bequeath to my daughters Louisa Thornton and Kate Harris and to my son Joseph Pottgen One Third of my personal estate money etc. to each.  That is to say One Third of my personal property money etc. to Louisa Thornton One Third of my personal property money etc to Kate Harris and one Third of my personal property money etc to Joseph Pottgen. In testimony whereof I have hererunto set my hand and affixed my seal this Twenty seventh day of October in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy four.

Sophia Pottgen  [Seal]

Signed and acknowledged before us the date above mentioned
John w. Coppinger
Phil Thornton
Barney Reilly

11 Jan 1877: She dies in Alton, Madison County, Illinois.

23 Jan 1877: Her will is proven.

7 Mar 1877: An inventory is taken of her estate.

State of Illinois, Madison County}SS
In the matter of the Estate of Sophie Pottgen Deceased.  The following is a full and perfect inventory of all the Real and Personal Estate of the said deceased, so far as the same has come to the possession or knowledge of the undersigned.

Real Estate
Lot Number Seven (7) in Block Number twenty (20) in Pope and others addition to Alton Illinois  Value $500.00

Personal Estate
1 Bureau $12.00
1 Feather Tick $5.00
1 Rocking Chair $2.00
2 Quilts $.75
1 Check  Sundries $1.00
1 Stove $2.00

6 Chairs $2.00
2 Tables $2.50
1 Cupboard $2.00
1 Bedstead $5.00
2 Pillows $1.00
2 Quilts $2.00
3 Curtains $1.00
1 Lot sundry articles $1.00
13 chickens $2.00
a lot of coal $4.00

1 Stove and utensils $12.00
1 clock $2.00
1 Tub $.75
1 box Sundries $1.00
1 Feather tick $5.00
3 Quilts $.75
2 chairs $.50

A certificate of deposit on the first National Bank of Alton Illinois payable to the order of said Sophia Pottgen for the sum of $2300.00

Notes and Accounts
Note, (By Whom Owing) Louis F. Harris, (Date) Feby 8″ 1875, (Rate Interest) 5 perct, (Desperate) desp to (Amount) $200.00

I do hereby certify that the above is a correct Inventory of the Real and Personal Estate of Sophia Pottgen Deceased.
Given under our hand this Seventh day of March A.D. 1877

James Thornton

*****************************************

I still have some questions that I would like answered.

  • What part of Germany was she from?
  • When did she and her parents immigrate?  Did she have siblings?  Did they also live in the area?
  • Where was she living in the 1860 census? Her children are living with a Peter Pattkin, but she is nowhere to be found.  Why wasn’t she with them?
  • Where are she and her husband (and her parents) buried?  I found a receipt for a burial paid to a Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Alton.  I need to see where their cemetery is.  I am hoping that I can stop by and find her gravestone this May.

All in all, I am happy with what I found so far.  After being at a standstill on her line for many years, I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere now!  I am hoping that my trip to St. Louis/Alton might shed a bit more light on her family.  I only wish that I had a bit more time to spend there.

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  • Jennifer Pottgen Gray - April 26, 2010 - 4:41 pm

    My dad is William Robert Pottgen of St Louis, MO. His dad was Wilbur Guenther Pottgen, marrier to Lillian Brauer Pottgen also of St. Louis. I believe Wilbur’s parents are William and Ella Pottgen, but I am not 100% sure I have been to their grave in a cemetery in St Louis where many Pottgen’s are buried. I will send this to my dad, William Robert Pottgen (Bill) who has started a family tree of his own. My dad was an only child. I also have a brother, Troy Pottgen, who lives in Scottsdale, AZ and a sister Heather Pottgen Reiss who lives in Springfield, IL.ReplyCancel

    • Jen - April 27, 2010 - 12:23 am

      Thank you – please do send it to your father! Pottgen isn’t that common of a name, and the majority of the ones I have found either lived in Connecticut or else the St. Louis area. I’m trying to piece the tree together, because I don’t have any doubts that they are all somehow related.ReplyCancel

  • Ruth Ann Pottgen Arado - June 5, 2011 - 11:01 pm

    My father’s name was Robert Lawrence Pottgen, he was a cousin of William’s. Would love to hear from you. Although I do not remember William, I did know Ella. Please forward my email to your dad would love to hear from both of you.ReplyCancel

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