John Frederick Solter - a life sketch

First of all - Dale Webster, husband of one of John Frederick’s Great-great-grandchildren has written a lovely book about John Frederick. Called “The Descendants Of Johan Frederick Solter of Germany, Illinois and Kansas” It was written before the new information about Frederick’s birthplace and early life was available, but it gives good information about his life in the US. A lot of the early detail was developed in the past few years as records became more readily available.

John Frederick Solter was born 21 May 1821 in Borninghausen, Preussich Oldendorf, Westphaila, Prussia Germany. His parents were Franz Heinrich Solter and Catherine Wilhelmine Koester. His name at birth was Johann Fridrich Koester - his mother’s name. His parents did not marry until 1828.

I’ve puzzled over this. Here are some suggested reasons -

German Marriage in 1800's
  • If either party was a serf tied to the land, the lord of the land had to given his permission to marry.
  • Soldiers could not marry until they were discharged, and after posting a large bond that would support survivors if he was killed. This led to many couples living together and bearing children before marriage.
  • Journeymen had to complete their traveling training before receiving permission to marry. They often married girls in the town where they received their training.

I’m guessing #2 on the list. There’s always more research to do.

John Frederick grew up in a little town in Preussich Oldendorf called Offelten. This link shows the location of Offelten in map of Germany He had 2 sisters - Anna Marie Louise Charlotte, born 1817 and Clare Margaretha Luisa born in 1828. Anna Marie married Franz Broekelmeyer in 1842. - Clare Margaretha married Ernst Nierhaus in 1853. Apparently they stayed in Germany. I don’t have a death date for either one of them.

When he was 24 he married Anna Marie Warmann in Blasheim, Westphalia, Prussia. They had 2 sons who were born in Germany - William Frederick, b. 24 September 1846 and Ernest Frederick, born 22 March 1852. Both of these sons came to the United states with them in 1854 - 1855.

In the 1900 census Frederick told the census taker he emigrated in 1854. There is a family story that says they came to America @ March 1855 and Anna and her newborn son Henry died at sea. I’ve never located a passenger list record in 1855, however in 1854 there is one for an F. Solter and family on the Barque Favorite 26 Feb. 1854. No mention of death or a child Henry, however. It’s another mystery that remains to be solved.

At some point Anna Marie died and he ended up in the St. Louis area as a widower with two young sons. In the summer of 1855 he married Louise Hugon in St. Louis. There is a possiblity that Louise came from the same district in Germany that he did and that he knew her before his family emigrated. Again, I haven’t found records, just some coincidences in names and birth dates.

They settled in Edwardsville, Illinois. The location of their property is circled on the map below. They had 6 children together. Their first child, John Fredrick was born there in May 1856. Our great-grandfather Henry Edward Solter was born there in January 1860.

Edwardsville property

Louise died in 1873. Soon after her death Fredrick made an announcement at his church that he was planning to move to Kansas.

Here’s his 1880 census record in Sedgwick County, Kansas. His four youngest children were still with him. The remainder had married and relocated.

  • Name: Frederick Solter
  • Age: 59
  • Birth Date: abt 1821
  • Birthplace Prussia
  • Home in 1880 Payne, Sedgwick, Kansas, USA
  • Dwelling Number 83
  • Race White
  • Gender Male
  • Relation to Head of House Self
  • Marital Status - Widower
  • Father's Birthplace - Prussia
  • Mother's Birthplace - Prussia
  • Occupation - Farmer
  • Household Members - Frederick Solter, Henry Solter, Charles Solter, Louis Solter, Mary Solter

Here's a family picture which was taken sometime close to that census.


Front row: Charles Christian, Louise Margaret, John Fredrick, Sr. and Anna Marie. Back row: Louis F., Henry, (the next three are guesses) William, John Fredrick Jr., Earnest.

Of the four children still at home in 1880, Henry (our Grandfather) married Sophia Gosch in 1881. He remained in the Wichita area until his death in 1945. Mary married Charles Dean in 1886, Louis returned to Edwardsville, Illinois and married Diana Engling in 1892, and Charles married Martha Hummel in Missouri.

In the fall of 1884 John Frederick got on the train and went to St Louis where he married Marie Isabel Klaver, a widow with 2 sons. Marie’s maiden name was Hugen according to the St Louis marriage records. If that seems close to the last name of Fredrick’s first wife it should. The two women were sisters. I don’t have any formal records, but the DNA of the descendants of the 2 sons who came with her to Wichita is a match to ours and that’s the only way it could happen. There's also a very good chance that the family of the Hugen sisters came from the same village in Germany. There's a DNA record that appears to connect them to a family there - again much more research is required to figure it out.

Marie’s two sons sons settled in Kingman Co, Kansas - right next door to Sedgwick and Wichita - and raised families there.

In the 1900 census Frederick and Marie are listed in Wichita, living on S. Emporia. Marie died in 1904. Frederick lived on until 1912.

In 1910 he was living with his daughter Lizzie Feldner and her family on S. Main Street in Wichita.

He died in Wichita at age 91 and is buried in the Solter family plot at Maple Grove Cemetery there.

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